“And they first took their journey according to the commandment of the Lord … ” Numbers 10:13
Well, it had to start somewhere. Arkansas seemed as good a place as any. A 13 year cicada hatch, 90-plus degree weather, and the Ozarks full of life signaled the beginning of summer and our long, hot trip to the last frontier. We stayed with the family for a few days before little Brooks surprised us with a grand entrance back in Jackson. Slowly, we said our goodbyes, first to Marmie, then to Josh, Kati, Mare-mare, and sweet Eliza Jane. Saturday, we spent our last evening with Papaw as early summer fireflies urged us northward. After a humbling Bible study Sunday morning, we hit Arkansas number 5 and started making our way home. I won’t burden readers with sticky sap that I feel like posting, but I must offer an earnest thank you to all of our family and friends that made us believe that we will truly be missed. It is for you that we are going to document the trip here, and we certainly hope you will feel a part of the journey (I must admit, narcissism on my part motivates quite of bit of the log as well. I’ll try to stay within myself).
Day 1: Arkansas, Mizzou, and Iowa
“Therefore God give thee of the dew of heaven and the fatness of the earth, and plenty of corn.” Genesis 27:28
Wow. It is hard to believe we are doing this again. We left the Ozarks loaded for bear. You could hardly see little Frogger in the back, but we finally turned her around, and she is truly in a new world. She seems to sing quite a bit louder now that she’s not facing the back of the truck, but she was as good as gold. The Missouri mountains seemed to go by quickly, and as we approached Kansas City, we thought that it would be a shame to go through without sampling some of the world’s most famous BBQ. Arthur Bryant’s seemed to be the ticket (you barbeque aficionados might be familiar) , and we had the beef and pork sandwiches, perhaps the best baked beans on the planet, and about a gallon and a half of sweet tea (that ended up costing us a few minutes down the road). Turned out to be the early highlight of the day. We were planning on staying the first night in a motel, but the weather looked nice, so we thought we would camp, but most of the parks were closed on account of nearby flooding. It seems that the Missouri River grew restless and invaded farmland and campground alike. So, we are shacked up in the good ‘ol Motel 6 in Sioux City, Iowa (home to some rather famous sarsaparilla). Tomorrow, we plan to visit Mt. Rushmore and Deadwood, but prolonged T-Storms threaten to derail our outing. We are still pretty spooked from having driven through the infamous Alabama tornadoes a month ago, but we press on.
Lots of this in the Midwest… (Missouri)
and this. (Iowa, maybe you’ve heard of it?)
Arthur Bryant’s World Famous Barbeque, Kansas City, MO
That’s the backseat. Our daughter is back there somewhere.
Day 2: South Dakota
“I would hasten my escape from the windy storm and tempest.” Psalms 55:8
Our second day on the road, and already, we’re ducking severe storms. After just a couple of hours of driving, we decided to sit out a storm at a convenience store near Spencer, South Dakota. As things appeared to calm down, we resumed our westward march, right into the belly of the beast. Our impeccable timing put us into hail near Mt. Vernon, just as the meteorologist announced that the worst of the storm was descending on, you guessed it, Mt. Vernon. We stormed through ourselves, ice peppering the Family Truckster, and she finally spit us out into the high plains of western South Dakota. Beautiful, friends!!! An amazing contrast of bold blue skies and rich green farmland led us straight to the Badlands. We trekked through the Badlands National Park, took a few pictures, and made our way to Keystone and Mt. Rushmore. Frank, although I didn’t get your advice until after the fact, you make a great point to forgo the eleven bucks when you can see the thing from the road for free. It didn’t help that swirling thunderstorms pushed us quickly onward to Deadwood. Unfortunately, we passed on cheap cabins in Keystone in favor of camping in Deadwood. Once more, however, the weather forced our hand, and threats of severe early morning storms spooked us into seeking more secure lodgings for the evening. Deadwood seems to have changed very little in the last century and a half, for it seems as though the casinos outnumber the traffic lights. We are in a hotel at one of them (names really don’t seem to matter, every hotel sits atop a thousands whirring slot machines) and are looking forward to the live Wild West shows tomorrow. (This post is a little pic-heavy, but why not? I wouldn’t mind some input on whether or not we should cut down on the number of photos in the posts. Thanks.)
Rosemary has been so good, she got a little treat, some of which got into her mouth.
I’m rocking “Midnight Train to Georgia” with all the soul of an ear of corn (which surrounded us).
The Missouri River acting very naughty.
Really? We can’t catch a break with this weather.
Momma and Frog at the Badlands
Henry Ward Beecher outside of Mt. Rushmore. Those who are familiar will understand why this picture alone could justify the entire trip.
Not many get to see lightning and George Washington in the same frame.
The thunderheads were more exciting than the Presidential heads.
Day 3: Deadwood, Eastern Montana and The Rockies
“Then shall the lame man leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute sing for joy. For waters break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert.” Isaiah 35:6
Very little to report. Hoping to experience the Wild West that Deadwood had to offer, we spent a little time downtown in the ol’ saloon. A reenactment of Wild Bill Hickock’s murder left quite a bit to be desired, and the street showdown was even worse. Sadly, the lure of the slot machine seemed to be the big draw, and those interested in real history are left pretty disappointed. Mid-afternoon, we left the Siren Songs of Lady Luck and the Deadwood casinos and drove about halfway across the beautiful state of Montana. As we left the rocky deserts of southwestern South Dakota, we see that rivers continue to present problems across the Midwest and into the foothills of the Rockies, thus fishing prospects are looking pretty dim. We were fortunate enough to leave I-90 for several hundred miles and enjoyed a pleasant cruise through scenic farmland and high green mesas. We encountered very little traffic until we reached Little Bighorn and the return to 90. We paused to visit the cemetery of Custer’s men, and as I gazed over the battlefield, I felt relieved that I never had to do battle with an unrelenting enemy (or a timid one for that matter). Then it was onto Billings and beyond. We found a public campground near the turbid Yellowstone in Columbus, MT, and hunkered down for what appeared to be a thunderous evening. Well, the thunderstorms never showed, but the traffic through the campground seemed to rage through the night. We couldn’t be sure, but we figured that maybe the local casinos drew passers-through after they set up camp. Regardless, I’ll take rain and lightning over that ruckus.
Wild West indeed! Deadwood, MT
Little Bighorn, MT
Day 4: Livingston, MT and Paradise Valley
“Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.” Psalms 90:2
Ahhh. Some familiar country, then! Today we drove just a couple of hours into Livingston, and we decided to camp just a few miles down the road from a cabin where we stayed two years ago on our drive down. The fly shop was no use, other than to tell me what I already knew … NO FISHING!!! Well, there was that one stream. Owned by that one rich family. Charging that one hundred dollars a day to fish. No thanks. Sort of. I made the mistake of going to that stream anyways, and immediately realized my error. The only clear flowing water for a thousand miles revealed at least 20 or so hungry trout IN ONE SPOT. All we could do was watch them rise and play in the shallows near the private bridge. So it goes. After setting up camp, we drove to Chico Hot Springs, ate a decent meal at the poolside grill, had a coffee at a nearby bakery, and went back to camp. As a storm sloooooowly made its way into the valley, we braced for the worst. By now, we were high into the mountains, and apparently, damaging winds and severe thunder and lightning were a dread of the past. The light rain made for some sweet napping, and after that, we had a hot meal of Mountain House teriyaki chicken and rice, and settled in for a cold night. Despite the chill, it sure feels good to be back in the mountains. We even had our first campfire in who-knows-how-long. Kenny, our neighbor at the campground, was nice enough to give us a little fruit, and I certainly wish him the best on the summer in Yellowstone.
Starting to get to the good stuff! Driving towards Livingston and the Absoroka Mountains.
Overlooking Paradise Valley and the Yellowstone River from the Pine Creek campground road.
The girls taking in fleeting sunshine in Paradise Valley.
Day 5: Bozeman and Montana State
“A wise man will hear and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels.” Proverbs 1:5
I don’t want to get too excited here, but we had a great day. Unfortunately, some of that day included a trip to Walmart, although, they at least had some waders for sale. I had scheduled a meeting with Montana’s professor par excellence, Dr. Michael Reidy, and things went very well (I’m strongly considering Montana’s State’s history doctoral program). He offered his house for the night, and his suggestions for application were more than helpful. After a tasty pizza lunch, we drove around town, and eventually landed at the headquarters of fly fishing’s trendiest and most ridiculously expensive beneficiaries, Simms, by golly. The empty cubicles perplexed us, and later we discovered that while they produce and market fashionable streamwear, they don’t sell a stitch in Bozeman. They leave that to retailers with their own price mark-ups (I digress). We relaxed tonight with grilled cheese, cable TV (man it just sucks you right in!) and a soft bed. At any rate, we had a great stay here, learned a bit about the surroundings, and found plenty of reasons to come back. Goodbye Michael, so long Arlo!
I’d be okay if I never left Montana.
Day 6: Warshington
“For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be.” Matthew 24:27
We leave the lightning to the east, and travel forward west and on to Olympia. Although we covered over 700 miles today, most of it passed quickly. We crossed Idaho in a flash, and only paused a brief moment to view the Coeur d’ Alene area. Then came eastern Washington, massive stores of hay and potatoes, and the Columbia River, home to that bold, living dinosaur, Sir Sturgeon. We didn’t see any of the massive fish, and pullouts displaying signs that read “Watch for Rattlesnakes” moved us hastily through the valley. Windmills and solar panels greeted us further west, and by the time we reached the peak of Snoqualmie Pass, we were quite ready to see family. We will spend three or four days in Olympia with all sorts of aunts, uncles, and cousins, and probably won’t report until we hit the road mid-week. Maybe we’ll finally have a fishing report, but I think we’ll do more kicking back than anything (and we have to look for a new cooler.) It has been an awesome ride so far, we’ve put some serious miles on the new differential seals, and have experienced some amazing country. We are grateful for the prayers and well-wishing, and hope you all have enjoyed the journey with us thus far.
Columbia River, Eastern Washington
Snoqualmie Pass, gettin’ closer to Seattle
“Let a little water, I pray you, be fetched, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves.” Genesis 18:4
Although we were getting along pretty well, we’ve been glad to get the rest that staying with family in Olympia offered. Rosemary had another birthday party (two weeks after the fact), our first full day, and we haven’t stopped eating since. So the truck won’t be getting any lighter. Fortunately, we are on the down slope of the Rockies, and with a new air filter, maybe’ we’ll get a little better gas mileage than we’ve gotten so far. While we are sad to leave everyone here, we have miles to go before we stop. We’re looking at Vancouver tomorrow, and then we’ll probably spend at least a few days in B.C., and, Lord willing, perhaps a fishing report. I’m not too sure about getting any wireless in Canadia, so I can’t promise much in the way of updates, but here’s to hoping. We’ve had a blast here, and thanks to all for the support, feeding, bedding, and especially, spending time with Rosemary. She needed to see someone besides her parents.
Finally, someone besides Mom and Dad!
Playground, of course
Where’s Mr. Busy?
Balloons and flowers work everytime
and so does palabo.
Now she’s ready to hit the road!
Day 12: Seattle to Vancouver
“Arise, take thy wife (and thy daughter) lest thou be consumed in the iniquity of the city.” Genesis 19:15
Too much city, too many people, this is crazy. I think we got off easy when it came to traffic, and still it took two hours to go not very far in two hours. Anyways, we finally made it out of the madness, and into Canadia. We took a shot and called some relatives neither of us had ever met, and naturally, both Uncle Jona and Auntie Cecil were more than willing to host. They let us stay in a 15th floor condo just outside of downtown Vancouver, took us to supper, and drove us around the ‘Couv for an evening. What a beautiful city. Clean, eh? And government has never been so popular. Very homogeneous as far as buildings go, but very modern and
communist, uh, clean. We weren’t expecting the tour, but our gracious hosts took us through downtown, around Vancouver’s version of Central Park, and capped the evening with the world-famous 218 flavors of ice cream at, uh, a, uhh, famous ice cream emporium. So famous one doesn’t have to remember the name of it. Wonderful town, great new people, and a hearty breakfast before we head into the Canadian interior. Thanks, guys, you didn’t have to play tour guides, but we were glad that you did. We’ll definitely call you next time we come through.
Seattle in a flash
Downtown Vancouver is just over my left shoulder
Vancouver, the city that never profits
Day 13: Fraser River
“For he maketh small the drops of water; they pour down RAIN.” Job 46:27
A beautiful, though very wet, ride today. There is no doubt that we are climbing further and further north. The forests have turned alpine, some of the streams glacial, and the weather very cold and damp. Just our style. Much of our drive along the Fraser River was sunny, making our picnic a delightful occasion. PB and J, some sunshine, and a waterfall (don’t think you can see it in this picture, oh well) marked the halfway point, and the last of the pleasant weather. Farther along 97, rain sort of settled on the land, and we drove through several hundred miles of drizzle until we came to a suitable place to camp. Not really, but it was late enough that we had little choice. Because of a newly purchased tarp, I was able to set up the tent while staying rather dry, and Rosemary went to sleep pretty quickly. When it’s all said and done, if you can keep things dry (which takes a little prep and patience) raindrops on the roof are the perfect way to get to sleep straightaway in bear country.
Not a bad spot for a pinic
Fraser River, floodin like a madman
Day 14: Yellowhead Highway
“We glory in tribulations also knowing that tribulation worketh patience.” Romans 5:3
Getting warmed back up on the road by now, and we had concerns for the next stage of our journey. I had concerns, rather. So far, no one was able to tell me which route, 97 and the Alaska Highway all the way in, or the scenic Cassiar, would be more suitable to fishing. I figured that since I spent some of Rosemary’s college fund on a BC fishing license, I should probably justify the purchase. Turns out that we had no need for worry, however, for upon our arrival at the crossroads (Prince George, which Frog though was a real prince I had to meet up with) we were notified that a bridge on 97 had been taken out by another disgruntled waterway. We were pretty pleased that we could revisit the Cassiar Highway, a surprise on our journey two years ago. Naturally, it rained most of the drive from Prince George to the absolute middle of nowhere where we camped. But wouldn’t you know it, when we pulled into the provincial campground on Seely Lake (yeah, like The Color Purple), the heavens closed up, the waters subsided, and I even got in a little fishing. Caught a swell 4 inch trout, too. A real beaut. The mosquitoes are starting to get pretty thick, and even the Thermacell seems ineffective. I’ve donated over a pint of blood to the woods of central BC, though begrudgingly, but I’m not expecting the complimentary apple juice.
Touted as the “World’s Largest Fly Rod”; as you may have guessed, the scenery took a turn for the bland
Another picnic, this time with a zebra
Day 15: The Cassiar
“And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea …” Genesis 1:26
Well, not quite. The Cassiar gave us our first chance to show Frog how to cast. She liked if for exactly one minute and a half. Since it wasn’t on the fly, I believe she thought we had a low opinion of her and opted to chase butterflies and throw rocks in protest. At any rate, the fish weren’t biting there … but … they soon would be. I finally got a few minutes to really test my mettle in a true BC trout stream, and Hannah Creek provided some thrilling action. We couldn’t stay for too long (don’t really want to get into it, but all concerned parties silently agreed that rambling on was perhaps the most prudent move), but some dry action on top was enough to satiate my piscatory longings for a spell. We matriculated (thanks, Coach Stram) down the rest of the Cassiar, and by day’s end, had traversed the entire 450 mile roadway, and we arrived at its junction with Hwy 1 to Alaska around midnight. But our day didn’t end where the Cassiar did. It just wouldn’t. The first motel was closed (we pushed through thinking hot showers and mattresses waited at the end of the highway), and the second may as well have been at $130 plus. So we went out of the way to the closet campsite, six miles east. After that turned into an apparition, we finally settled on the famed Watson Lake, nearly 20 miles in the wrong direction. But the stay was free (don’t really want to get into that either). And although we saw enough bears on the roadside to give us chills just thinking about camping, the night went along without incident or rain. Three nights in a row on the ground, and I’m loving it. We’ll probably get a motel in Whitehorse tomorrow night so, uh, that, uh Rosemary, that’s it, sure, can clean up and get a good night’s sleep. I hope securing lodging then will be the opposite of what it is now.
That’s my girrrrlllll!
He was bigger in real life, honest.
So was he.
The Stikine River, which splits the Cassiar Highway nearly in half
Day 16: Yukon and Beyond
“Then we turned, and took our journey into the wilderness …” Deuteronomy 2:1
If this post sounds like I’m complaining, its because I am. Not that we aren’t enjoying the trip the immensely (we are). Not that camping isn’t still fun (it is). Not that we are tired of peanut butter and jelly (well, not all of us anyways). In fact, we are in surprisingly good spirits, and the mood remains light. It’ just all the gouging they do up here. You mean to tell me that it costs a hotel in Whitehorse $140 a night to operate a room? Dadgum thing doesn’t even have A/C (that’s right, and I hate to admit that I paid that kind of scratch for no air, but I got excited, you know). But before all of that business, we found a beautiful river on the BC/Yukon border that seemed promising enough. We (I) took a wrong turn but it led right down to the banks of the Rancheria River, which supposedly boasted Dollys, whitefish, and greyling. All I found was cold water and mosquitoes, but the surroundings were out of this world. I could not have set us in a better place if I had meant to. After a lot of casting, we made our way to Whitehorse, where we sit hundreds of dollars lighter. We dined next door at a renowned barbeque joint that actually produced a pretty good rack of ribs. After we waited for nearly an hour. But, we did run into some lovely folks that graduated from App in the 70s, and aside from the hot room, slow internet (an extra $6.25 for wi-fi if you can believe it), no continental breakfast and six dollar gas, we are finer than frog-hair.
Good-to-go on the Ranchiera River