We travel frequently and have for the past 20 years. Several trips have been to other countries and Mexico has often been a favorite winter destination. We have also enjoyed many trips in the U.S. and here are a few of our criteria for those interested. We like to go to some popular places, tourist destinations and also to many out of the way, off the beaten path places, our own version of Blue Highways, avoiding the Interstates. However, we do use them to get from Point A to Point B more quickly.
Traveling with our dog was easy with a motorhome but in a car, we have to find pet-friendly accommodations, thus reservations ahead of time. That’s a good idea anyway and we use several resources in addition to calling the hotel directly. Our GPS is fairly reliable although she can get confused at times and then we still use a paper map or Atlas. The Waze app works well too.
How do you put a month long, 6000+ mile road trip into a narrative that’s interesting, easy to read and that we can visualize? Photos, each worth a thousand words, would help. This review is a bit long and so was the trip. I will try to capture the essence of a fabulous experience. Some might ask why would you do this; others would say, why not do this if you can? Reading this piece without spending time on the suggested web sites will take about six minutes. If you explore the web sites, you’ll need much more time.
We started from Santa Fe on August 24 for a trip through the west by going east. That makes no sense at all unless you understand that we needed to go visit Susie’s 103 year old mother in Oklahoma City, a day’s drive through the panhandle of Texas, nothing noteworthy. There are some noteworthy things about mother but that’s another story. There are a couple of awful smelling feed lots near Amarillo, probably beef for McDonalds.
From OKC we headed through Kansas to Nebraska, stopping for the night in Lexington but it was Chadron, Nebraska that caught our attention the next day because of a museum there devoted to the origin and development of the fur trade. Who knew? If you’re ever close, it’s worth your time and a visit. http://www.furtrade.org/
On to Mt. Rushmore in Keystone, S.D. and a helicopter tour of the area that included not only that great granite sculpture of the four presidents but also the unfinished monument to Crazy Horse and a bird’s eye view of the surrounding mountains and valleys. https://www.nps.gov/moru/index.htm
Continuing northwest, we headed for the Battlefield of the Little Bighorn National Monument in Montana. It was a moment of reflection on how we have all but destroyed another people and their way of life. https://www.nps.gov/libi/index.htm I am including these various web sites for those who want to learn more and there are pictures on those sites.
Coram, Montana, is near the entrance to the “crown of the continent” Glacier National Park https://www.nps.gov/glac/index.htm We were able to take the “Going To The Sun Route” all the way through the park and exited into Canada. The road and the scenery are sheer beauty, pun intended. The night before we had stayed at “Under Canvas”, glamping as it’s called, and had a great night’s sleep outside in the fresh Montana mountain air, sans smoke from the fires. Earlier in the evening we had drinks and dinner at the Belton Chalet in West Glacier. http://www.beltonchalet.com/index.php It’s an historic inn and was a stop on the original Great Northern Railway. The hundreds of wild fires in the west have adversely affected Glacier as well as many other communities in the northwest. The 100-year old Sperry Chalet, well-known to hikers, burned to the ground in the Sprague fire and many trails and roads are closed.
The single lane for customs into Canada near Waterton, Alberta, took about 15 minutes and we were off and away to Cranbrook, BC. to start our drive across BC toward Vancouver. Customs either did not see our dog or didn’t care and although he needs papers to cross borders they did not ask. The next two stops were both on water, the first on a lake in Osoyoos, BC and the second on a river in Kamloops, BC. Both are part of the Okanagan Valley, a richly producing area for fruits, vegetables and vineyards. If you’re ever in Kamloops, do visit the Brownstone Restaurant. We thought it deserved a Micheln star: http://www.brownstone-restaurant.com/ Excellent menu and much of it locally sourced. We ate in many good restaurants and cafes. This one gets first prize. We did not keep a record of every eatery although that would have been interesting for all the foodies out there.
Harrison Hot Springs, BC lives up to its name by virtue of extremely hot waters that, to provide a good soak, must be cooled coming out of the ground very near the lake on which the hotel and spa are located. It’s about an hour and a half east of Vancouver. The two places we visited in Vancouver included Stanley Park http://vancouver.ca/parks-recreation-culture/stanley-park.aspx and the Disney-like fly over Canada. www.flyovercanada.com/
Puyallup, Washington is the site of the Washington State Fair and it was a good stop en route to the Oregon coast. http://www.thefair.com/ From there we headed on toward our next 3 night stay very near Yachats, Oregon. If you know that coastline, you know it’s rugged, raw beauty. And, in good weather it’s spectacular with the tide pools, the surf, the colors and the ocean breezes. https://www.goyachats.com/
Mt. Shasta, CA was our next stop and among all the chain hotels/motels we liked the Best Western Plus properties as much as any. There’s an exception coming up but it’s not a chain. And our lodging on this trip had to be “pet-friendly.” Then we were off to Calpine, CA, a small ranching community north of Truckee and Lake Tahoe. We visited with two friends, extraordinary people, who built their own log house some 23 years ago on a 55 acre property that has a view of the mountains across a grass valley. We will see them again this winter in Mexico.
The next stop was a visit with a son at his recently acquired vacation home on Lake Tulloch, California. It’s hard to find on a map. It’s near Copperopolis and is a reservoir fed by the Stanislaus River with three dams at the other ends of the lake. Ideal weather and being on a lake again made us think about possible options for relocation. Ever since we sold our country property on the Chama River in NM 3 years ago, we have talked about what’s next. No answers yet. It’s a process. We like being near or on water.
San Francisco. This city needs no description as it beckons many visitors and although crowded and dense, it’s still a beautiful place perched there on the edge of the bay with the Golden Gate and Bay Bridges connecting it to Marin and the East Bay. Then there’s the peninsula going south along the Pacific coast. We spent a day in San Fran with daughter and two grandchildren as it was the first visit for those two. Fisherman’s Wharf was the main locus and focus, with the Zephyr Hotel being right there.
Then it was off to Calistoga for a weekend of celebrating the wedding of oldest granddaughter Claire who with her partner Jake had chosen the Triple S Ranch for her wedding venue. http://www.triplesranchnapa.com/. I had the honor of officiating but the highlight was a special gathering of families and friends for a couple days of just being together in an exquisitely attractive and comfortable setting at the edge of Calistoga: https://www.indianspringscalistoga.com/?gclid=CL6_jJiTzdYCFQQMaQodADEH-w&ef_id=Wc%40uJgAABLDjL5lU%3A20170930144558%3As This was made possible by our oldest daughter (mother of the bride) and son-in-law who had been long time visitors to Indian Springs and although they now live in the Northeast they are still frequent visitors to California where Claire was born and where they started their careers more than a quarter century ago.
One month to the day, August 24- September 24, we were getting ready to start the final leg of this trip back home to Santa Fe. We stopped to see a former colleague and good friend in Larkspur and then took I-80 east and stopped for the night in Winnemucca, Nevada. On to Grand Junction, CO the next day and following day too a right turn for a scenic drive and stopped for brunch in Saguache, CO at the Oasis Restaurant. It’s not on any main route but it’s one terrific restaurant. We often looked for cafes that seem popular with local folks, judged by the number of cars parked nearby. That and Trip Advisor steered our appetites. More roads through the mountains among golden aspens and finally we connected to US 285 in Antonito, Colorado, and a straight shot back home to The City Different.
- Travel is a great learning experience whether you are interested in history, geography, natural beauty and the environment, or special destinations and places that are known for being engaging and appealing.
- There are friendly, helpful people everywhere and talking with them about their work, their lives, and their families makes any trip more interesting and colorful.
- Taking time away from ordinary routines to experience the extraordinary elevates body, mind and spirit and provides a refreshing experience that carries us forward to more such times ahead.
- Special times with families that require people to travel to the same place makes any trip worth the time, effort, energy and resources required.
- Finally, there is a profound sense of enormous gratitude for being able to take this trip, to enjoy the sights and scenery, and to have had such an opportunity to go wherever we wanted easily and comfortably.