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Sep 16 - Twin Falls to Carson City Nevada

Base Jumping, Long Drive, Walmart overnight

sunny 23 °C

We've been off-line, in Yosemite National Park for the past 4 days, and this is the first of two updates to the blog.

We got up early, hooked up TaJ and then headed down to the Perrine Bridge to see if anyone was base jumping. Sure enough, there was a fellow there challenging the record for most jumps in 24 hours. The record is 64. Unfortunately we did not get his name, but he was very entertaining. When we got there at 9:30am he had completed 12 jumps since 7:30am, and we watched jumps 13 and 14.

The base jump itself takes just 22 seconds from jump to landing 500 feet below, along the Snake River. He then doffs his parachute, and begins the ascent back up to the bridge. This takes 12 minutes. As soon as he gets back up top, he dons a new chute, hops on a bike and rides out to the centre of the bridge for the next jump. Fascinating. This guy is in shape.

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We had plans to get as far across Nevada as we could for the day, so we took off promptly at 10:00am and with a one hour time gain when we went back into Pacific Daylight Time, we arrived 800 kilometers later at Carson City Nevada. The drive is through basically the same scenery, repeated over and over again. We did climb a significant pass and TaJ paused for a picture at the top.

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I drove three hours, Jenny drove two and I finished with anther 3 hours. We arrived at 7:30pm, took a walk around Walmart to stretch our legs and turned in for night. A busy parking lot, but it really quieted down around 10pm, even though the store was open 24 hours.

We got up on the morning of the 17th, with plans to purchase groceries and then meet up with our travel buddies George and Karmen Reid, in Lee Vining California, the gateway to Yosemite National Park, the highland area.

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Our next entry will cover the time we spent enjoying the Tioga Road region of Yosemite.

Posted by Rooseboom-Scott 18:20 Archived in USA Tagged snake_river base_jumping nevada_drive Comments (1)

Sep 14, 15 - Twin Falls Idaho

Base_Jumping, Falls, Scenic Drives, Snake River Canyon

sunny 16 °C

We drove the 450 kilometers from McCall Idaho to Twin Falls in just under 5 hours. Once again up and down hills. We skirted pas Boise, getting ready for a college football game between Boise State and New Mexico. Game time just a few hours away as we passed the stadium and people already in the parking lot. They take their football seriously down here in university towns.

By the way, we wondered was Boise stood for. Turns out it is "wooded" in French, so named by the early voyageurs who came to this area in search of animal pelts and found a heavily forested region, so Idaho uses Boise in the name of their capital city. Boise has a population of about 250,000 and is the state capital.

We did a stretch of driving on I-84 heading east from Boise. The speed limit along here is 80 mph, and we tawdled along at about 65 mph so we got passed by semis, cars, trucks, other people towing trailers and passed no one ourselves. This is one of the reasons we don't like expressways. Our gas mileage plunges if we go any faster. We've been holding 16 miles per gallon by keeping our pace a bit slower.

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So, we got off as quick as we could and took the Thousand Springs Scenic Drive from Bliss to Twin Falls. Beautiful country here, a fertile valley that runs alongside the Snake River. Stop after stop for explanations of the places along the road. TaJ needed a picture taken too:

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At one stop we learned the history of the Basques, who came here to herd sheep. While tending their flocks of up to 2000 sheep, usually with the help of a Border Collie, they lived in this kind of tiny house:

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This statue of a sheep herder and his horse needed me in the picture:

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Farther along the road we came to the Thousand Springs. These ever running springs replenish the Snake River with water coming up from the aquafer through cracks in the volcanic rock which forms the basis of the area.

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The natives used the river for Salmon, catching a winter's supply of fish:

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Twin Falls is another neat little city. Busy, with the main way north over the bridge at the centre of town:

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On decent weather days people base jump from the bridge, and land on a plain at the bottom. The whole flight takes just 22 seconds from jump to landing and then as much as 25 minutes to climb back up to do it all over again. Refolding the parachutes takes 90 minutes. So a lot of work for a very short thrill ride. No one was jumping due to the rain.

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There is some very interesting history here. The area around Twin Falls was a semi-desert before 1903. At that time a diversion plan was made for the Snake River and a series of canals was built to distribute the water over 360,000 acres, converting into highly productive farm land. The system put in place back in the early 1900's still exists today, including a hydro electric dam which produces enough electricity for 9000 homes.

Here is one of the founders of the water distribution system, along with a new friend:

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The canyon is 500 feet deep and you can walk right to the edge:

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Tesla has a recharging station at the Visitor Centre. We asked this guy how long it takes to recharge and how is it paid for. In his case, free recharges were part of his purchase. As for how long it takes, up to 90 minutes if you need a full charge.

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We got up on Friday morning to high winds and cooler temperatures, which means no base jumping again today. We were hoping to see someone jump off that bridge. We headed down to Shoshone Falls Park, the site of the largest waterfall, and also the location of the water diversion project and the hydro dam.

Today, the falls has just 500 cubic feet per second of water flow, about normal for this time of year. We included a picture at full flow for comparison.
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Once again, the Shoshone Falls was discovered by Canadians although the discovery was reclaimed by Americans.

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The cliffs are high and we took turns taking pictures of each other:

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In the top left of this picture, you can see the dirt ramp built for the 1970's failed attempt to jump the canyon Evil Kenevel. It was broadcast nationwide at the time, but was more farce than feature. I remember watching it live when it happened.

The river and the bridge are spectacular sights and well worth the visit.

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Jenny and I will return to this area again, probably in 2019. There is so much to see and do in Idaho that it simply must come back into our travel plans on a future trip.

While we were here we got a mobile RV repair guy to check out the brakes on our R-pod. Turns out that the sewer pipe falling off in Alaska had cut one of the wires to the brakes. Thanks to Ron's Mobile Repair we now have our trailer brakes back.

While here we have been staying at the Oregon Trail RV Park. Owner Mark has been greatly entertaining and full of interesting information about the local community. At $37 a night for a full service park this is good value for the money.

Posted by Rooseboom-Scott 16:09 Archived in USA Tagged twin_falls shoshone_falls thousand_springs snake_river Comments (1)

Sept 12, 13 McCall, & Warren Idaho

Who knew Idaho would be so interesting, Where are potatoes grown in Idaho, Historic Drive

sunny 22 °C

We found ourselves in paradise here. The McCall RV Resort is the best RV spot we have every stayed in. This place is extremely well kept, the staff very friendly and helpful. There is a hot tub, steam bath, swimming pool, private bathrooms that are beautiful and spacious. They even pick up your garbage right at your site.

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Besides that, McCall is a great little town of 3,000 people. The population swells in the summer to 16,000 with summer visitors. Lakes, hiking, river rafting, boating, fishing...it is all here. Then it quiets down in the fall, but zooms right back into tourist mode for the winter, skiing, snowmobiling, etc. fill out the population once again.

Who knew? We didn't. Idaho was not in our plans until the wildfires pushed us a bit more east than we had planned. Couer d'Alene was an eye opener, as was the drive south along the Salmon River to get to where we are today. Scenery that will knock your eyes out.

Today we spent the morning on a walking tour of McCall. We had coffee at Mountain Java, down by the lake.

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While walking along the lake we talked to a lady about to go paddle boarding, and she told us about a gold mining community 40 miles out into the wilderness, Warren, Idaho. We went to the local forest service office and they gave us a map, along with a CD and descriptive pamphlet outlining the drive along the Wagon Train Road. That will be tomorrow's adventure.

Some neat sculptures on the street here as well. This one is called the "Bearing Wall"

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We had lunch at a local brewery. We shared an Elk Burger and each of us had a brew.

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Our Honda with a town building:

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We wiled away the rest of the day trying to get caught up on finances, and we have a problem with the cable back home in Aylesford. Arn, Jenny's brother is living in our house for a bit, and we got the cable tv restarted for him, but it has not yet come back on. Some time on an internet chat with Eastlink, and we hope the problem has been worked out.

Wednesday was our day to take the drive to Warren, and perhaps stop in at a Hot Springs in another tiny town out there. Warren has a population of 5 full time people, but in the summer that number swells to 50 or so, plus the tourists who make the backroad drive to see a slice of gold mining history. Back in the 1862 gold was discovered and at one time Warren had a population near 1000. Placer mining came and went, and Chinese came in to work the placer claims at a later date. Over 350 Chinese lived here at one time, they even have their own cemetery.

The drive is through the remains of a 1994 fire that devastated the area. It is still pretty desolate in places.

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Along the way is the quaint little spread of house known as Secesh. Near the end of the Civil War, people fled both the south and the north for the gold fields of Idaho (again, who knew all this history existed?) They did not live in harmony with their neighbours and named their area after the Secessionist movement that brought about the civil war.

This is an old Stage Coach Stop on the road to Warren. The town even has a small cemetery, with just 35 graves

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The old river bed near Warren itself looks very much like you are in Dawson City, in the Yukon. From 1912 to 1942 dredges gathered the last of the gold from the river. All that is left is some rusted equipment and piles of gravel spit out the back of the dredges. Much of the town has fallen in on itself.

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But many buildings have been revived by ancestors of the original miners, and there is a sense of pride in the community in the people we talked to.

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An old water cannon, used to blast overburden from the gold bearing dirt stands in front of the local ranger station.

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The old one room school still stands. When it was originally built back in the 1860's the N in Warren was backwards and has stayed that way ever since. In 1934 a town meeting decided not to change the error.

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On our way back from Warren we stopped for a soak at the hot springs at Bergdorf. This hot spring has been a privately owned business since the 1860's and is rustic and pleasant. The water temperature at the outlet is 113 F and the pool is about 100 degrees F. A nice break from our day long journey. $8 per person is a small sum to pay to soak in the history of the place.

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Our time here is at an end and we will soon be moving south, to Twin Falls, for a two night stay. We are getting laundry done and up to date once again.

We have now decided to move on towards Yosemite National Park. There is a change in the weather coming tomorrow, and, although still smoky, the prospects of north winds, and a bit of rain have opened up our plans once again.

Lastly. We will have travelled almost the full length of Idaho from North to South, and have yet to see a potato farm, so we googled where they are grown. The Southeast 1/4 of the state is the potato belt. We will not see that area until a future trip.

Posted by Rooseboom-Scott 18:12 Archived in USA Tagged potatoes gold_mining warren_id mccall_id Comments (2)

Sep 10/11 - Couer d'Alene, on to McCall, Idaho

Car servicing, Couer d'Alene is a nice place, the drive on Highway 95 south to McCall

sunny 34 °C

Did we mention that we are now at Day 113 of our adventure. Seems like only yesterday we headed out from Aylesford on this jaunt.

It was time for an oil change on the Pilot, as well as tire rotation. Since we have been in mountainous terrain I also wanted a check on the brake pads. We just past 23000 kilomneters since we left home, and in an abundance of caution we got things checked out. We have a problem with the brakes on TaJ, but since she is considerably lighter than the tow vehicle we are living with it for the moment. When we get a bit farther south and can get an appointment with an r/v repair shop we will get them looked at.

Couer d'Alene turns out to have a really nice downtown park, and the shops downtown are pretty nice as well. We spent much of Sunday afternoon wandering. The smoke was cleared for our day and it was sunny and fairly hot. A breeze off the lake cooled thing down in the late afternoon.

There are street sculptures, many of them for sale:

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There is also a moose children's story that is based on the park in the centre of town about a moose and his mouse friend:

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There is a great kids water playground, and it was busy on this hot, late summer Sunday:

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The boat harbour boasts a 3300 foot long dock which can be walked. It has a bridge to let the boats out of the harbour. It should be noted that we did not see a single sailboat...this is power boat country:

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We had cable for the first time in quite a while, so we got to watch a bit of the build up of Hurricane Irma's approach to the Florida Keys. We visited the Keys last year so our memory of the drive out to Key West is still vivid. We cannot imagine what it will look like in a couple of days.

We got up at the crack of dawn on the 11th and hooked up TaJ and got to our appointment with the repair shop on time.

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A family run affair, these people are really friendly. It turns out our brake pads are just fine, so no extensive time required to get our oil change and tire rotation done. We were out of there by 9:30am and took a quick look for some new clothes at Macys before heading out for McCall, about 430 kilometers south, in the mountain time zone.

The drive was through some pretty spectacular scenery. Here is the view from above Lewiston, with the serpentine road that used to be the main route into town before the modern highway 95 was completed.

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The road down from the viewpoint is so steep we had incredible fuel mileage:

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The entire trip south looked much like this and, along the way, we did see a couple of active fires. A giant Sikorsky Helicopter with a water bucket was working this fire but were unable to get a picture.

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Our arrival at McCall Campground and RV park was the low point of the day. A forlorn looking campground, with trees that wept sap on every site. Only about 15 of 40 sites filled, this was bad. After a short search on the internet, we quickly exited that dump and headed for something better, although more expensive. We ended up in the very classy McCall RV Resort. Wow, what a difference, and only $7 a night more than the last place wanted.

We need good internet as we have planning to get done on our route south, and we need information on fires, etc. in order to decide which way to go. Will we make it to Yosemite? Maybe, but if the fire situation there worsens we might have to abort that part of our trip. For the next few days we will have some luxury. The showers at this place are to die for. Big and spacious, as well as private.

We will explore McCall, a well known resort area of Idaho, for the next day or two while we figure out the next steps.

Posted by Rooseboom-Scott 19:54 Archived in USA Tagged mccall_idaho couer_d'alene highway_95 Comments (1)

Sep 5 to 10 - Back in the USA

Midway Border Crossing, Colville Walmart, Log sorting, all night long, Riley Creek Campground, Coeur d'Alene, Wildfire smoke,

sunny 25 °C

Our trip south from Mabel Lake began in a bit of wild fire smoke. We decided to head into the middle of Washington state, aiming for the small town of Colville for a one night Walmart stay. We headed down Highway 97 towards Kelowna and then switched to the smaller, less travelled highway 33, which would lead us right through the Joe Rich fire, which had forced some 600 people to evacuate their homes just a week ago. Lots of smoke as well

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The fire area was right on the highway, and although mostly extinguished now, we could see how close this fire got to devastating this small community. We've heard that the fires in the Western US are just as severe as BC's, and the smokiness continues as we head south. We cross in the US at 1:00pm at Midway, a sleepy little 9am to 5pm crossing. Jenny has thoughtfully put all our produce into a single bag and we let the border guard examine the contents. Unfortunately, we lost our three potatoes to obscure rules about what can and can't cross between countries. :)

We arrived at Colville around 3pm, after a back road drive that wound up and down over hill and dale. We really do love the backroads on our travels. So much nicer than pounding along an expressway at 70 mph. Yes, we are in the states and will use miles per hour, fahrenheit temperatures, and so on. We'll still quote distances in kilometers as that is how our odometer is set up.

Colville has one great big thing, and it is a log sorting yard. That log sorting yard is right across the road from the Walmart store. Massive machines moving logs here and there to and fro on at least a 100 acre site. Logging trucks come in, a giant moving crane lifts off the full load of logs and puts in on the pile. The logs are fed down a conveyor and sorted by size into new piles, which are then loaded onto other trucks and sent off to mills. Mind boggling! Did I mention noisy, oh yeah, a constant level of sound, 24 hours a day.

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We bought a new Trac Phone for our time in the states. Our Eastlink phone would cost us $5 a day if we wanted to use it here...we plan on 84 days so that would be $420. We bought a phone, plus a card for air time, as well as some data, for $60.

Our night was not too bad. The log sort went on most of the night, but we got used to it. Then suddenly, at 4am, it stopped and there was quiet for 3 hours. We did a bit of shopping and headed off towards a three night stay at Riley Creek US Army Corp of Engineers campground just over the border into Idaho. Another lovely drive, up and down once again on an almost empty road.

Riley Creek is a beautiful place, right on the Pend Oreille River. The smoke was so thick on our way in that the other shore of the river was shrouded in haze. Our campsite is treed, and has both electric and water, for just $27 a night.

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Our friends George and Karmen Reid arrived late, after a long drive from Jasper, Alberta. We had pre arranged to make supper for them and we ate just as dusk descended. By the time we were finished it was pitch black and we turned in. Of course, campfires are not allowed.

We are in need of some car servicing, so part of our next day's tour of the area was to find a car repair service where we could make an appointment for some needed work on the Honda Pilot. We have discovered on our travels that appointments are needed for just about any service. The four of us headed off on a day long local tour. We stopped in Coeur d'Alene, a lovely city of 50,000 on the shores of the lake with the same name. The name is based on a local native tribe, and loosely translated means "Heart of an Awl" on the basis that the natives were very shrewd and tough to negotiate with.

We found an auto repair shop for a Monday morning appointment and stopped for lunch at a local brewery, of course. George can smell them out at this point in his travels. The day continued very smoky and the scenery blanketed in haze. The smoke is definitely having an effect on people. We saw very few runners and many people were wearing face masks. There are health warnings to take it easy, and that is what we are going to have to do. A short walk at the campground left us feeling less than perfect.

The next day the four of us headed on a scenic drive that had been pointed out to us at a visitor centre. Again, a smoky day. We are beginning to think we might need to change our route south as we move forward. The fires are thick in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana, as well as BC and Northern California, and the smoke swirling all through the area. There is no rain in the immediate forecast and the fires are expected to continue. Jenny and I will look at our route plan once we get into Coeur d'Alene for a planned weekend stay.

Our scenic drive was semi-scenic. Deep smoke blocked out the views:

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We came upon flock after flock of wild turkeys:

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The highlight of our drive was the stop at the Ross Creek Cedars, a grove of ancient trees. It was an amazing walk through massive trees. We will let the pictures tell the stories. This was the first time in days that we were not surrounded by fire smoke.

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We stopped for lunch at a floating restaurant in Hope Idaho.

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We had a great last evening with our buddies. They have a George Foreman Grill and we used it to make Rueben sandwiches which turned out great. We parted the next day, George and Karmen headed for Missoula, and us to Coeur d'Alene. We stopped for coffee and internet time at a Safeway in Sandpoint, and as we came out to depart, there was the Reid's and their Airstream.

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Now, after a night in Coeur d'Alene, with some decent internet we have decided to alter our route south in the hopes of avoiding the smoke. Our goal is to get to Yosemite National Park, in California. We had planned on going south through Oregon but the forecast is for a return to severe smoke in the next few days. We will now head south through Idaho, and then cross Nevada in the general direction of Reno. We are not planning of making any reservations on this leg, rather we will make decisions as we go based on how the smoke forecast is. We expect to arrive at Yosemite on September 18.

Posted by Rooseboom-Scott 06:28 Archived in USA Tagged colville riley_creek corp_of_engineers_camping ross_creek_cedars wildfire_smoke Comments (2)

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