There's No Place Like Home...
Trip Start May 01, 2003
15Trip End Sep 01, 2003
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We arrived in Sun Valley to spend two days in the famed resort and see our recently-transplanted neighbors, The Ryans. The Sun Valley Lodge was quite bad and got us off on the wrong foot. Rooms were bad, service worse, but it is the only show in town. We would recommend trying at to rent some time from vacancies at Les Saisons, a brand new timeshare in downtown Ketchum which indicated it rented owners' time. The girls were interested in seeing some of the figure skaters rehearsing for an ice show the next day at the Sun Valley Lodge ice rink, they had never seen real ice skating and were mesmerized. We had some babysitting our first night there, so we had dinner at East Avenue Bistro, which was excellent, and later drove around the valley to get the lay of the land. The valley is beautiful, but different than we had expected, with more open land and fewer trees than we had envisioned. Must make for great bowl skiing in wintertime. The next morning we also had a sitter, so we had a quiet morning coffee and people-watched; Sun Valley is not that different from Mill Valley, we concluded, and we are itching to get back home
Aug 17 (Day 108) Mc Call, ID
We had our first travel setback, when a highway closure out of Sun Valley turned a 160 mile drive into a 300 mile slog on a rerouting. The drive took us back into the desertlike plains south of Sun Valley and through Boise. The drive really improved when we took ID-55, a scenic parkway north from Boise and along the Payette River. Stunning canyons of pine, miles of serious whitewater, kayakers and river runners galore and almost no one heading into McCall. McCall is a small resort town situated on Payette Lake in Western Idaho. Our stay at Hotel McCall was situated right at the lake shore and after the long drive, we took the girls to the beach almost immediately. They built sandcastles, oblivious to the ever-present smoke from nearby wildfires and major tanker plane and helicopter operations taking water from the far end of the lake. That evening we came across a brand new ice skating rink which had open skating. Despite neither of us skating since elementary school, we decided to rent skates and take the girls for their first ice skating experience. Unfortunately we forgot our camera for this one. The girls were a little bewildered, but wanted to keep going back on the ice until our backs gave out.
Aug 18 (Day 109) Joseph, OR
Our drive to Joseph would take us through some interesting scenery along the Idaho and Oregon borders, including the Hell's Canyon area
Aug 19 (Day 110) Walla Walla, WA
We wanted to see the Washington wine country just over the Oregon border and had a fairly non-descript drive from Joseph. We stayed at a B&B in a residential and college campus area. The town of Walla Walla and the surrounding vineyards could not compare to the Wine Country in San Francisco, and so we investigated a few vineyards, of note were Seven Hills, L'Ecole No. 41 and Ruloh. We had a nice walk through the residential area until Isabelle was knocked over by a puppy and later took a face plant with bloody lip and scratched face. Since then, whenever Izzy has seen a dog she says "doggy boo-boo" so we hope she will not be scarred for life. We had a wonderful dinner and some local wines at Grapefields on Main Street in Walla Walla.
Aug 20-21 (Days 111-112) Mt. St. Helens, WA
We had a long drive from Walla Walla but it was well worth it once we headed west from Yakima towards the foot of Mount Rainier, which suddenly reared in front of us as we twisted and turned along a roaring glacier melt stream
Aug 22-24 (Days 113-115) Seattle, WA
It was Kirsten's first time in Seattle and we used the stop there to recharge the batteries before our final push down the coast
Aug 25 (Day 116) Port Townsend, WA
This morning, we took the Suburban across to the Olympic Peninsula via the Bainbridge Island ferry, which departs from downtown Seattle. The short 45 minute ferry ride was pleasant and scenic. We drove another 90 minutes north to Port Townsend, a very picturesque town that sits on the northeast end of the peninsula. This town is the most tourist-friendly in Olympic. Although we stayed at the reputedly "haunted" Castle Manresa, the only frightening element of our stay was the shabby state of this old, creaky former seminary
Aug 26 (Day 117) Quinault, WA
The Quinault Lake Lodge was a pleasant enough overnight at the southern border of Olympic Park. There are more rain forests nearby to explore, but we mostly let the girls play along the lakeshore, had an early dinner and turned in for the night. It apparently rains a lot here. The lodge had a two story rain gauge bolted outside, measuring the seasonal rainfall in feet, with 7 feet so far this year
Aug 27 (Day 118) Portland, OR
This was a mistake. We thought we were going to be close to the Willamette Valley wine country and a local winery suggested a hotel when we were making reservations. Turns out this hotel, called The Rivers, was practically in downtown Portland but really not close to anything of interest. Our energy is running low at this point, so we enjoy the hotel grounds, take the girls for a blackberry hunt along the Willamette River and go to bed early for a 300 mile drive to Gold Beach. Are you detecting a sense of urgency here?
Aug 28-29 (Days 119-120) Gold Beach, OR
Long drive down I-5 through Eugene, then 126 to the Oregon Coast and down 101 to Gold Beach. Two frustrating things about the drive. Number 1, drove through Coos Bay, home of legendary runner Steve Prefontaine, and saw nary a reference to this fact. I mean, "Pre" was the only thing going for this town and the chamber of commerce missed it. Second, I have to drive completely past Bandon Dunes (top golf course in the country) because the girls are napping and to stop in the pro shop will wake them
Aug 30 (Day 121) Mill Valley, CA
We wake up, say to the girls "we are going to Mill Valley today" and they run out to the car. We are all ready to go home, and all that stands between us is a 409 mile drive. We stopped for gas once and knew we were close to home when we saw premium for $2.55 a gallon. Another stop for a burrito in Willits. That was it. Did we stop for the beautiful sea stacks near Brookings, OR? No. The towering splendor of the Avenue of the Giants in Humboldt? Nope. As fast as our GPS could reel off the miles, we were on a mission. Besides, after this journey, anything in California is a day trip! We got home, kissed the ground, kissed our faithful Suburban and are staying around Mill Valley for a while.