I still remember right before our return to the US when we were still onboard in Panama, sweating out the 90+ degree temperatures Tate asked me what I wanted to see most on our RV trip (this was before we even knew what we would travel in) and I answered “Why, the giant Redwoods in California of course!” Being brought up in the south where the largest trunked trees are short (albeit beautiful) Live Oak trees the idea of seeing some trees, hundreds (or more) feet tall with trunks as big as a house, was enthralling and something I’d drive across the country to the northwest point in California to see them. But in the end we skipped the Redwoods and actually all of California.
We spent basically a month in South Dakota, a month in Montana and a month in Washington State. This is a much faster pace than we enjoyed while sailing (typically 3 months in one port was our “fill” moment) but still slow when you have a truncated timeline. Really our only hard schedule this whole trip has been the arrival of Tate’s Dad (Mr. Logan who also came to visit us in Isla Mujeres, Mexico on Sundowner in the March of 2015) in Flagstaff in early September. Now that it was getting to be the middle of July that left us with roughly 6 weeks before we needed to pick him up in Arizona. 6 weeks, holy smokes that’s nothing!
We thoroughly enjoyed our wet but fire laden time near the rainforest and when we departed we fully intended to go south through Oregon and high tail it to the Redwoods National Park. BUT once we actually got on the road I pulled out our old trusty Atlas (yes, a real PAPER map) and calculated the distance to the Redwoods and possible other stops in California before continuing onto the deserty areas and found that it would be 700 miles “out of the way” to go to the Redwoods before heading back East and so we really had some thinking to do.
The high costs and difficulty (impossible in most places) to free camp in California has been preached to us from a variety of sources since South Dakota…We all know that California is one of the most expensive states in the country and that they tend to be more “rule happy” than the rest. This really doesn’t bode well for our kind of lifestyle, one that is on a budget.
Even though we were always stead fast on going to California (I mean how could we NOT we are RIGHT here) the apprehension has built until finally in Portland, Oregon I made the call to instead head back East.
I said you know…we have seen a lot of trees. I mean the last few months have been in forests really. We’ve seen some pretty big trees in Glacier, Snoqualmie National Forest and the Hoh Rainforest (Olympic) and I honestly have gotten my fill of the giant things. I’m always in awe of the living Giants but is it worth all the expense and time to go see the Redwoods. In the end is was not. We go where the wind takes us and the wind was taking us to the desert, a landscape we haven’t yet got to enjoy on this trip, which is ending in a couple of short months.
I know California is a BEAUTIFUL state with so much to offer in terms of Parks (Redwood, Sequoia, Sierra Nevada just to name a few), food, wine, beaches, mountains etc. The list goes on and on but for me California is sort of like Europe. It’s probably better for us to see all of what these places have to offer later in life when we have more money to truly enjoy it. I’d love one day to take a couple of weeks and go to the Redwoods and also Napa Valley and maybe San Francisco. It would probably take years to see the whole state and well we just don’t have that right not. So we skipped it.
We turned east at Portland, not really knowing where we would go. We stopped at a Flying J for a couple of nights on the East side of Oregon and then headed into Idaho and to a few camping spot about 20 miles West of the Crater’s of the Moon National Monument which is an area created by old lava flows and explosions out of the Earth’s crust (ages ago) so it’s full black volcanic rock looking stuff with HUGE craters in the Earth’s surface that look like a bomb went off. Very interesting place, though it’s in the middle of nowhere Idaho.
The drive through Oregon and into Idaho was Beautiful! I have to say that the driving portions of our trip have been some of the most enjoyable for me. The scenery is usually breathtaking and it’s like a hike without all the work. The giant windows in our Class A RV have really paid for themselves in spades. The view only is definitely a pro when considering buying a Class A. Class C’s are basically the same as a Class A of the same size but with truck windows. We are up high in RA and enjoy a fantastic panoramic view of the Country as we drive along.
I NEVER get tired of seeing the Pacific Union trains cross back and forth along our routes.
We are always treated to spectacular views of water and mountains.
Our campsite near Crater’s of the Moon monument was really dusty and kind of noisy near the road but I did a couple of jogs around the area and found the scenery on top of a nearby “hill” to be stunning. I loved seeing the farmland at the bottom of the mountainscape.
Crater’s of the Moon itself did not disappoint and Tate and I went on a 1.8 mile hike called the “North Crater Trail” which was just incredible in terms of varying conditions and surfaces on which to hike. A very very sad thing happened though. After all the footage was taken, both video and photo, I accidentally deleted most of it when transferring it to the computer. We only have the first 20 mins or so of a few hour hike and the end of the hike was the most spectacular. Oh well…lesson learned and hopefully I don’t destroy any footage moving forward.
We only stayed in the Crater’s campsite about 3 days before checking our Atlas again and finding that the Grand Tetons National Park was only 4 hours away…Of course we had to go check it out. But that is for next time.
The days keep ticking down on the RV trip. Both Tate and I talk frequently about the boat, what to bring back with us from the States and what we need to do once we get back (bottom job and some rigging) and how we can’t wait to arrive once again to the Swimming Pool in the San Blas Islands while we wait out our time for the Panama Canal crossing and eventual Pacific crossing. Our next “big sail” is going to be the Pacific, estimated to be 4,000 from Panama to the Marquesses. I think it’ll be a good thing being super refreshed from our time in the States. But who knows..with the way we change plans nothing is certain, except that we’ll be back in Panama before the end of the year.
Check out our shift in plans and visit to the Crater’s of the Moon Monument in Idaho in our new video!
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