Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Down a bit, right a bit and down a bit more...

So up early for a final run along the sea for me. Back home and pack. We head out of Seattle on a sunny morning to our next stop Portland. Now we have been winging it quite a lot – not booking accommodation etc - so as we headed towards Portland we we’re a little apprehensive to know if there would be room at the inn for us. At least we have the fall back that we can always sleep in Jeremy, not easily or privately but it can be done. We weren’t sure that parking on the side of the road in a suburban street and spending the night not sleeping was really “us” yet, god damn it we’re British after all! So using our new $10 cell phone from [the dreaded] Walmart we called ahead and they had room for us; once again we would be split up but it was cheap. And again, Tim lucked out with a lovely room down stairs in the shady quite area of the house with a dorm of boys, whereas I lost out with a small packed room, with no air-con, but a loud whizzy fan and the delights of the busy road outside the open window with a large, loud, snoring, bowler-hat wearing American oaf. Needless to say I was out the door bright and early for an explore and a lovely run around some park on a high hill with a massive reservoir. (I hope I’m not getting too technical - it was early, i was tired!)……after getting back, showering then finding my husband who had been consuming the free bagel breakfast we headed off.

Next stop would be Oxbow National Park, lovely big trees and fire pits, we turned-up and there was plenty of room for us, so unpacking our bits from Jeremy and paying our nights fee, we headed back into the City of Portland to have a look. It’s a pretty city, but pretty much like any other. The real bonus was that there was free Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream stand where we also got some USB sticks in the shape of an ice cream, fun fun fun and Just what you need on a scorcher of a day (though we did just miss out on getting our photo taken with a plastic cow).

Our main reason for going in was to try and get the snowboard bag back to Blighty. We went into UPS and chatted to a lovely lady who once she realized that the bag was full of stuff and not just a snowboard (because “they’re quite thin aren’t they?”) we had to provide lots more info. Armed with the dimensions and weight she typed in the info and gave us the cost: a whopping $700….now what we have to weigh up here is, is our “stuff” worth this much? As we stood there trying to work-out the conversion, (464GBP) we said thanks but no. So it would seem we’d have the bag for some time yet. Anyway you never know when you’ll come across snow again on the West Coast of America!?!?!?

Back at our campsite, we set up our bed and as we were sorting things out we had a welcoming committee from Disney….a lovely young deer came to say ‘Hi’ and hang out with us for a while, now we know the rules “ keep the wildlife wild, do not feed the animals” but it is so very tempting to have a pet deer for the evening but he decided to leave us when Tim started throwing up violently behind a tree (like I said it was hot day and I think he got sun stroke, poor Timmy Tim). So that was our camping in Oxbow, the following morning Tim was feeling 100% better (after going to bed at 8:00pm), I ran around the park and river, then headed back, packed up next stop who knows……

Actually our next stop would be Hat Rock – a place you will probably never hear of again (though this would be a shame)! We came across this campsite in the heat of the day, it was the first time we had actually had Jeremy’s air-con on (opening the windows just made us hotter, and closing them again made us hotter still)… that Jeremy even has a/c is amazing; the fact it works really well? what a delight!
…anyway so Hat Rock, this is a massive hat shaped rock, in the middle of barren land, which is the closest we have come to being in a desert, it was HOT BABY! We decided to both go in and see if we could stay, our first excitement was that there a pool, please let there be room for us? And what a delight to be greeted by Sally a lovely American lady who absolutely loves us Brits and everything British, she is a gem indeed.

We got a lovely site for Jeremy under a tree and close to the pool, which was our first port of call. It was so nice to be somewhere with lovely facilities, we did our washing then as we sat down eating our BBQ dinner we made a decision to have a day off, I know you must think that this travelling lark is like a holiday and it is, don’t get us wrong but it is really draining driving on highways in the heat and always having to plan where we will be the next day, so the next morning I went for the hottest run in the world and Tim stayed in bed under the tree in the shade.

We went to see Sally and hope that it was ok for us to stay another night, thankfully it was, so a day without driving and just chilling by the pool was in order after we had breakfast, we sat outside in the shade with our big map deciding where to go next and when the heat got too much we headed inside to power up the Toshbook and see what was on our route and where to go. We we’re joined at our table by a lovely retired couple, Bev(erly) & Cal(vin) Sherman, we offered to move but they insisted we stay and thereafter we chatted for ages. They are practically locals, they come from Heppner, but have a fifth wheel (BIG caravan to you & me which attaches to a BIG pick-up truck like an artic-lorry) at the boat-club just down the road but always come to see Sally as she does the best breakfasts (‘tis true). We had a lovely talk with them; it was obvious that they really adore their family who have now all grown up and left home - bless them. They invited us round to see them later that evening. I went to the counter to settle up with sally to be told that she was buying us breakfast just because we’d come all that way and we’re British… what a surprise and what a nice lady. Its common knowledge that all Canadians are nice; let me tell you there are some pretty good Americans too!

So, a relaxing day in the 100°F heat by the pool – dipping in and out to avoid frazzling… just nice not to be driving anywhere really. Later we headed down to see Bev & Cal, but there was a pot-luck dinner going on with their friends in the boat club and with too much British reserve couldn’t interrupt them so we had a walk around then headed for home.

The following day, another HOT run, then back to pack up and go, but not until we’d had another superb breakfast. As we sat outside Bev & Cal turned up for their breakfast as usual and we explained our Britishness and were suitably told-off! Apparently they had told their friends we’d be turning up the previous night and were looking out for us but we walked along the other side of the building - DOH! So we were invited down again before we left, as Bev had made us a “care-parcel”, like I said lovely people. So we promised we would head down to the fifth wheel and see them. Breakfast was once again magnificent and - once again - on the house (apparently because there was a bit of a wait!)… we left a good tip! We packed up and said our goodbyes to Sally leaving her with mum’s address for when she’s next in the UK (she’s yet to do Wales and there’s a lovely little cottage on the river Wye you know).

We kept our promise and headed to see Bev & Cal, and what a lovely caravan 5th wheel thingy it is, they even have fake grass as a carpet where they have their table and chairs outside, honestly it’s like a little home from home. Bev was getting very excited as the family and all the grandchildren would be coming to stay for the 4th of July weekend, she was going to be in baking mode for the next week in preparation for the event. We sat and chatted about where we were going and where we had been, during which Bev wheeled out her own concoction: Pretzel Salad! Kind of hard to describe (but a bit like a savoury cheesecake which is actually quite sweet… wacky Americans!), anyway, it was dee-lish! Then the time came for us to hit the road. Bev handed over our delicious “care-parcel” of crackers, cheese, grapes and cherries a delicious feast for us to have on our journey. Such lovely people… hope you had a great 4th of July!

So good bye to Hat Rock - a very pleasant find indeed, our next stop would be Boise, pronounced Boy-Zee, apparently the Americans dropped the French pronunciation, lazy Yanks! Boise is the capital of Idaho, so we’re hoping for big things.
This was another long hot dry drive in near desert like conditions with flashes of bright green as you drive by irrigated fields (it is the potato capitol of America after all… even has a potato museum and no, we didn’t go).

We found the Boise Hostel (which was actually in Nampa); the place was lovely – more like a big bungalow and we even got our room (for $30 night!), you do kind of forget how nice it is just to be able to go to bed, rather than having to inflate it every night. The place was shared with a PhD student from Germany (Heidi – yes, really!) studying plant disease; a religious guy called BJ who organizes cruise holidays (we’ve got his email address!) and Ken – ex-Navy guy and verrry fit! We had a great nights sleep, I got up and ran along the straightest of paths, in the hottest of heats. On my return, the owner was in the garden and offered for me to pick some of his strawberries for breakfast… what a treat!! Then into Boise to see what the capital had to offer, now don’t get us wrong - Boise is lovely, really clean, some lovely gardens, bars and cafes but it just seemed too clean and so quiet for a capital city (think The Truman Show).

Whilst walking around the city we were stopped twice by the same woman handing out flyers for a hairdressers salon and twice asked if Tim would be interested! After the second time we chatted for a while and she said if we came back through Boise, so give her a call and go for a drink! Boise is also the place where Katy’s long and often fruitless search for a hat came to an end… a nice straw trilby which you will no doubt see in many pictures from now on.

We had a nice lunch then the heat got me and I flagged, we found the tourist info office with air-conditioning where we chatted to a very helpful man who gave us lots of info for our next stop - Yellowstone and the surrounding area, while we cooled-off. Feeling better we headed back to the hostel, and chilled for the evening watching the most amazing thunder storm erupt, it was like watching in a movie, and my god there was some heavy rain, the stuff that really gets you wet. On the plus side, next day’s straight-run was a lot cooler.

Yogi & Booboo here we come - but not just yet… bit too far for one day’s travel so we stopped off in Idaho Falls (via the Craters of the Moon). Idaho Falls was notable only for the most amazing downpour of rain which greeted us as we exited the supermarket with our bbq goodies (it was a bright blue sky when we went in 20 minutes earlier)! A quick look at the soggy buns and a re-think found us in Chilies Restaurant followed by an early but sleepless night as we watched the tent become detached from the van… some muttering and rope tieing later and all was secure. I got up for a run, Tim was left to find the free coffee and some internet access, Idaho Falls was all out ready for 4th July celebrations, god bless America, they love a good national holiday, so there we leave you on our way to Yellow Stone, next instalment coming soon.....


  1. Good to know that you've met some wonderful and friendly people... but then you deserve that... you're both wonderful and friendly yourselves.

  2. And I like your new little pet deer......super cute xx