Pacific Northwest, 9 Days on the Road…GO!

Hi. How are you? Boy, that was a long break, huh?

Too long. Did you miss me?

I’m sorry.

Listen…life happens, right? I mean, other shit comes into focus in your life while some other things fall out of focus. That’s just the way things go sometimes. It’s just life. It happens to everybody. I did feel a little judged for my flip-flop of focus though. I mean, I’m not mad at you or nothin’….you guys were just calling it like you saw it…I know I looked to have lost my way. I wasn’t doing what you guys thought I should to be doing with my time. I know how it looked. It looked bad from the outside. It looked like I abandoned my need and my love to ride my bicycle. But, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

So, the the reason for the distraction was a Jeep. A 1995 Jeep Cherokee XJ, to be exact. That’s it. That’s all it was. Her name is Ol’ Blue. See….here is a shot on the day my wife, Maria and I bought her (top) and a fairly current shot of her with a 2″ lift and bigger 30″ tires, (bottom) gettin’ flexed and shitty in the local mountains by my house.

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So, that’s her…that’s Ol’ Blue. See, nothin’ to be scared of.

Come to think of it…I’m a little sad that you guys actually thought that buying, working on and spending time in an old Jeep took over the real estate on my heart for my love for and obsession with bicycles.

God, you guys…that hurts a little….only a little though. 🙂

But that’s enough, let’s move on. Right? I mean, I’m back, so let’s focus on that, OK? Let’s all take a deep breath, and look at the positive. I still love you guys and I still love all things bicycles…it’s actually still my favorite….and rest assured we will talk more about that in the next episode.

OK? OK.

So, I thought I might tell you peeps a little story. It relates to Ol’ Blue, a 3427 mile road trip and all the great places Ol’ Blue took us. So, get your hot cocoa, brandy or relaxing beverage of choice and hunker down for an enlightening tale of a normal guy and gal doing pretty much normal shit in our 23 year old Jeep. Sound good? Cool. There will be lots of pictures, so it’ll be fun, I promise.

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Unfortunately there was zero time for any bike riding on this trip, so the bikes stayed home. 😦 Any who, we packed Ol’ Blue up the night before. Obviously we’ve been planning (I’ve been obsessing) on what stuff to bring or not to bring for about a week or so. We have to pack wedding clothes, work cloths for three days of work for Maria, camping gear as we will be camping a possible three nights, but for sure two. So needless to say, when all was said and done, Ol’ Blue was packed to the gills….even the back seat was full to the roof.

So, here’s the itinerary:

  • Leave early on a Saturday, get to Santa Cruz in time for my Cousin Brady’s wedding.
  • Leave Santa Cruz early Sunday morning to get my wife to Vegas for a work conference by 4pm Sunday evening (which we pull off BTW).
  • Stay in Vegas until Wednesday afternoon (around 1pm)

As we leave Vegas Wednesday afternoon, and head in to the desert North of Las Vegas, the trip at this point has now kinda become our own…we aren’t on a strict timeline any longer. We don’t need to be anywhere at certain times….we can stop more, enjoy the scenery and relax a little.

So….

  • We get on the road to Carson City Nevada from Las Vegas, Wednesday afternoon.
  • Arrive in Carson City in time for dinner and hit the hay.
  • Early departure Thursday mornin’ to start the trip to Fort Klamath Oregon.
  • We camp in Fort Klamath Thursday night.
  • Break camp and leave early again to take a scenic route and still get into Portland Oregon by the mid afternoon.
  • Stay the night in Portland Friday night.
  • Leave Portland (early…you guessed it) to head straight to Seattle Washington and get to the next campsite early Saturday afternoon.
  • Camp at Lake Sammamish Saturday night.
  • Break camp and head to Seattle for most of Sunday
  • Leave Seattle Sunday at 3pm to drive straight through Oregon and into Redding California to stay Sunday night.
  • Leave Redding super early Monday morning to make the drive all the way back to Anaheim, arriving home at 10pm…just in time to sleep and get to work Tuesday morning.

Trip Map 2

Ol’ Blue is loaded and ready to go. It’s 3:30am Saturday morning. We hit the road and head up to Santa Cruz, taking the 101 Freeway which is one of my favorite drives North.

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We made it up to Santa Cruz by 10:30am, met with the Champ (that’s my sister…check it out what I mean by “Champ” here) and my Aunt Mary for lunch. Hang out with them for awhile and get ready for the wedding. We are taking a shuttle to the wedding in Felton from the hotel. My wife and I get ready and head down to the shuttle pick up area. I get down there and find that some of my other wonderful cousins are already waiting. Family always makes me feel amazing. There is another shuttle going to another wedding. The Champ and my Aunt are heading down to meet us, don’t see us and board the other shuttle…I am trying to yell to them, but can’t because I am laughing too hard. They actually board, try to find a seat until they realize that they don’t recognize anyone in the bus. I am now waiting at the door of that shuttle as they are exiting in hysterics. It was funny, and a great start to a wonderful celebration. We all load the right shuttle and head into the magical Redwoods that is Felton California.

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My cousin Brady and his beautiful new wife Siobhan. I love them!!

The wedding was magical! Almost all of the rest of my cousins were there, all of my aunts and uncles, it was such a fantastic time. So much fun and so much love-energy in the air…honestly, you could literally feel it. I felt lucky to have taken part in the celebration. I stood on a chair at one point after the wedding, and yelled for everyone’s attention and then toasted the new husband and wife….”Here’s to you two….I love you both!” My aunt Lee Ann told someone next to her…”that’s my Nephew…he hasn’t even started drinking yet.” It was funny.

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The Champ and my wife had a great time drinking and celebrating, like they always do when they get together. They’re so goddamn funny!!

It was early, like 5:00am early, we were up and loading the Jeep to take off to Las Vegas. We had to get Maria there around 4:00pm to help set up their booth for a convention that she had to attend.

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That was a 528 mile, 9 hour drive, but we were determined. The drive was really awesome. It took us through the beautiful California wine country, the not-quite-as-pretty-Bakersfield, amazing Tehachapi, through the Mojave Desert and in to Las Vegas. A lot of different landscape to see. Really awesome!

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We made it to Vegas!

So once we got to Vegas and we got Maria all set up, we met up with two of her closest friends Ayesha and Tina, who drove in from Orange County to spend some time with her in Vegas. I got all set up and worked as well for part of the three days that we were there.

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…some cocktails and poolside lounging happened a lot as well. It was a nice visit. We had a great time.

Come that Wednesday, we departed Vegas around 1pm to start the drive to Carson City Nevada. We decided to take the 95 all the way up. The 95 runs pretty much along the California/Nevada border. It was 100% beautiful desert driving. Ol’ Blue was doing stellar.    20180523_131815                                                                                                     20180523_132759

After an hour or so of desolate desert driving we came in to the town of Beatty, Nevada.20180523_142736

Beatty was a cool little town, and a good place to stretch the legs and grab some gas. At this point in the drive we could stop “rushing” as we had no deadlines to meet. We just wanted to get up in to Seattle Washington by Saturday afternoon to see my oldest son,  Nolan, he had moved up to Seattle to stay with his mom a few years earlier (read about it here). He got out of school Saturday afternoon and we wanted to be up there waiting for him. The plan was to camp together with him Saturday night, wake up Sunday morning and spend the day with him until 3pm when he had to go to work.

We continued North from Beatty to get to Carson City. When we were almost there, Maria said, after looking at her phone for awhile, “hey, the ruins of Fort Churchill is right up here a little bit, let’s stop and check it out”. We are suckers for history, and ruins and shit.

I said…”done”! So we did.

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Fort Churchill is an old Army Post that was in operation during the 1860’s. It was also a stop over for the Pony Express. It was really cool, and definitely worth the stop. So after that unexpected wonderful stop, we got into Carson City on Wednesday evening, just in time to grab a bite to eat and crash at a shitty Motel 6. Nothing really to report from Carson City, it was mainly a place to lay our heads for a few hours. That being said, we woke up early, grabbed some coffee and started the drive to our campground in Fort Klamath, Oregon…such an awesome adventure so far!

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Eventually getting on the 395 and back into California, watching the surrounding landscape change was amazing. It was really beautiful. We drove by some pretty bodies of water, like Honey Lake and Eagle Lake…really gorgeous.

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We made it to Merrill, Oregon, a little town right over the California/Oregon boarder about mid-day. We stopped at a little general store and bought some food and ate it there. Next stop, Fort Klamath, Oregon.

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Here is a shot of Upper Klamath Lake, Oregon

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Our campsite at Jo’s Motel & Campground

We set up camp at this little establishment called Jo’s Motel & Campground. Maria picked it because it is close to Crater Lake. We went out of our way to route the trip through this area of Oregon because we really wanted to visit the lake.

Once we arrived at the campsite, we realized that Jo’s was actually a quaint little motel with “camping” in a back yard type setting with a building in the middle of the “yard” for bathrooms and showers. It was a smidgen disappointing, but hey…this is an adventure, right?

We set up camp and made dinner all while getting eaten alive by mosquitoes.

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Obligatory camp Yahtzee. 🙂

Besides the mosquitos biting us, we saw that there was a storm a brewin’, so we moved everything into the tent…chairs, table, stove, dinner, Yahtzee, coffee pot and cookware.

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When we finally decided to hit the hay, the clouds were pretty thick and sure enough, as we expected we might, we slept in a full blown thunder storm. It rained hard. Being from Southern California, I can’t remember the last time I heard rain like that…and never have I slept in a tent during a storm like that. Waking up in the morning we found it still raining, although not crazy hard. So it was a good thing that we had brought all of the stuff in the tent. We proceeded to enjoy breakfast in the tent…left over tri-tip from the night before, scrambled eggs, fresh percolated coffee, and may favorite campsite, breakfast treat, the Mountain House Biscuits and Gravy.

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The rain let up a lot by the time we were done with breakfast. Once we finished eating we started to break camp and get going to see Crater Lake. I couldn’t wait to see it! We finished breaking camp in a light drizzle, loaded the Jeep and drove 100′ to the shower building in the middle of the campground. That warmed us up nicely….we were now on the road to Crater Lake…

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It was a breathtaking drive up to the lake. For those who don’t know or who have never been. The lake is the result of a collapsed volcano. It is the deepest lake in the United States at over 1900′ deep. It is known for it’s deep, deep blue color of the water which is just rain fall and snow run off, as there are no inlets or outlets to or from this body of water. Because of that fact, the sediment sits at the bottom of the caldera undisturbed resulting in incredibly clear water as well. It’s really amazing.

I’m telling you, it was absolutely breathtaking. Other than seeing Nolan, this was the highlight of the trip. The pictures below really do it no justice….and that makes me a little sad.

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We could only stay for a little while at Crater Lake before we headed off to Portland Oregon. It was snowing up by the lake…it was cold, and Ol’ Blue doesn’t have a heater that was operational at the time of this trip.

It was a beautiful drive up to Portland though, we opted to stay on the two lane highway and drive through a huge national forest. Nothing but trees for miles and miles!

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20180526_064536_001We rolled in to Portland in time to check in to our hotel and find a place to eat. We found a stellar spot for dinner called The Screen Door. It was really, really good! We had a great dinner!

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We woke up early the next morning to leave for Seattle to see Nolan. We were actually going to drive in to Lynnwood, Washington just north a bit from Seattle, so we can see Nolan’s house and where he lives. This was the first time I had been up there in the 3 years that he has lived in Washington. After seeing Nolan we were going to camp at Lake Sammamish. And then head in to Seattle for the day until Nolan had to go to work.

20180526_10281220180526_154458We stopped at a brewery close to the campground to have some dinner with Nolan…the pizza was good and the beer was OK. We got to the campsite and set up camp…the campsite at Sammamish was crappy and crowded.

20180526_150127But, it was a place to crash. After hanging with us at the camp site and playing some Yahtzee, Nolan ended up deciding to make the drive back home to sleep in his own bed….the boy loves his sleep. The next morning, Nol met us back at the campsite for some breakfast. That was awesome.

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Once we were done eating breakfast, we broke camp, followed him into the city and on to the MoPop Museum for a bit. After we were finished there, we took the Monorail type public transit downtown to visit Starbucks on Pike Place.

20180527_07584320180527_082125_00120180527_08394220180527_10513420180527_103014image20180527_12530220180527_125648It was an outstanding day…short, but outstanding. We got back to the cars, said our goodby’s, Nolan went to work and we started the long drive to Redding California.

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Welcome to California?

So that’s pretty much the whole trip. The drive home was long after our night in a shitty little Hotel in Redding California. It was amazing when we were passing so closely by Mount Shasta around 11pm when we rolled in to Redding. It was huge…looming in the dark, only being lit by a full moon. We made our way home on the 5 freeway the entire time…such a boring stretch through the Central Valley….12 hours from Redding to Anaheim.

We were tired when we got home, but we had an amazing time. It was an adventure in the truest sense….the kind of adventure where you take a 23 year old Jeep that is pushing 240,000 miles on a 3400+ mile road trip….that kind of adventure! I thought it would be cool to share it with you.

In case you were wondering, I am going to be writing again much more consistently here. I’m serious. It’s fun and I miss writing for you goofs.

Thanks for coming by and taking a read.

Next post will, more than likely, be about this beast, my new bike! The RSD Middle Child!!

See you soon!

XOXO

Ron 🙂

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