On August 20th we were in Kennewick Washington and we had decided that we wanted to see the eclipse so Joe looked into how far we would have to drive to get into the “zone of totality.” We decided that Cascade Idaho, which was in the zone and on our route to Yellowstone, would be ideal. We found a reservoir with free parking and waited for the show. There were about 40 of us, mostly families, the kids did a 30 second countdown to totality. It was great fun. It was certainly worth the ten hour, scenic, drive to get two minutes of viewing. This was the first solar eclipse we have ever seen, to be outside at mid day and have the world go dark was really weird, eerie, amazing and cool.
Friends of ours had told us that they really liked Idaho and strongly urged us to spend some time there. We are so glad we took their advice. The drive along the 95 and 55 through Hell’s Canyon was stunning. The city of Boise had a nice vibe and Twin Falls “the gateway to Snake River Canyon” is a beautiful area. We stopped to see Shoshone Falls just outside of Twin Falls which to be honest was a bit of a disappointment but only because it was late in the year so the falls were not at their fullest and most impressive.
Our last stop in Idaho was Craters of the Moon NM. We have visited several volcanic areas in our travels (El Malpais NM in New Mexico and Hawaii) and Craters is more of the same but certainly worth a visit. The visitor center has a great display illustrating the geology of the area and the North Crater Trail to the spatter cones is really neat. Please click here to view our August Flickr album.
We spent a lot of August driving, from Alaska to Whitehorse, through BC into Washington and then through Washington into Idaho for the eclipse. While in Washington we visited North Cascades NP where we did a spectacular hike, our favourite so far in terms of scenery and views. Cascade Pass/Sahale glacier, Wow, just wow. I had heard criticisms of this park in that it seems to say”look at all the mega structures we have built” well, yes there are dams and power lines but we still felt the scenery and views more than made up for it. Did you know that North Cascades NP has the highest concentration of glaciers in the lower 48? Do not miss this park!
Cascade Pass Trail
On our way to Mount Rainier NP we stopped in Seattle for another visit, we love this city.
The Luna Girls of Alki Beach
Luck was with us as we continued to Mount Rainier NP, no smoke, great weather and the wild flowers were still in bloom. We hiked the very popular Skyline trail and it is popular for good reason, stunning views. We could see Mount St.Helens, Mount Hood and Mount Adams from Panorama Point-incredible! Please click here to view our August Flickr album.
Although it has been a wonderful five months for us, the highlight has to be our week in Brooks camp. Brooks is famous for its brown bears, located in the Katmai National Preserve, the bears are in abundance during the salmon run in July.
Too many fish!
We were especially lucky because during our stay the salmon were at their peak. If you want to see bears, get close to bears and feel safe doing it this is THE place.
At one of three viewing platforms
Brooks is an amazing, special, place there are not enough superlatives to describe it so I will let our photos speak for themselves.
Please click here to view our August Flickr album.
Most if not all RV travelers stop in Whitehorse on their way to Alaska. The Walmart in Whitehorse welcomes RV’ers but it is not a place you would want to stay for long, the parking lot is FULL of RV’s so no privacy and not scenic. However, it provides a great opportunity to meet fellow travelers, stock up on provisions and take a much needed break from long driving days.
We did not have great weather in Alaska in August of last year so we were hoping our luck would change this time. July is supposed to be better for weather and indeed it paid off to get there earlier in the year. We did not realize the views were so fantastic along the Glenn highway, WOW. You just cannot beat Alaska for scenic driving, you just have to have a bit of luck with the weather.
We skipped both Kluane NP in the Yukon and Wrangell St.Elias NP in Alaska last year, with the rain and cloud we just felt it was not worth a visit. This time we had to wait out a few rainy days but once the weather cleared we got to enjoy both these parks and once again WOW. Kings Throne summit hike in Kluane had incredible views and was one heck of a workout.
King’s Throne summit
Likewise, the Bonanza Mine Trail in Wrangell St Elias was stunning. We also did a guided walk out on to the Root Glacier in the old mining town of Kennecott within the NP which was a great experience. Alaska never disappoints!
We spent June exploring beautiful BC starting in the Okanagan Valley. We felt like we had been dropped into Italy, vineyards, farms and rolling countryside-loved it! Sadly we were just a bit too early to feast on the local fruit. After a few days in Kelowna we continued on to Vancouver, stopping in Abbotsford to meet Haans, a Mercedes mechanic that Joe has corresponded with regarding our truck.
We took the ferry to Nanaimo on June 7th and spent two lovely weeks on Vancouver Island. At times we miss having a garden so it was a treat to spend a day in Butchart Gardens; the roses were in bloom and just perfect.
taking time to smell the roses
We toured almost the whole island stopping in Tofino and Ucluelet as well as going up north to Telegraph Cove to go whale watching. We were really hoping to see Orcas but luck did not favour us in this endeavor however we did see a super pod (200+) of White Sided Pacific Dolphins and several humpbacks.
White Sided Pacific Dolphin
We preferred Ucluelet to Tofino, quieter, more homely. In Ucluelet we tried surfing for the first time which was fun, exhausting and humbling. I know this is the surfing capital of Canada but the water is just too darn cold for me, I could not feel my feet and hands by the end of the lesson so next time I try surfing it will be in the tropics! By the end of June we were well on our way North, stopping for a few days in Whistler to enjoy the scenery. It was already getting too hot for us so we were happy to continue North to cooler temps. Spring 2017 Flickr album.
On our way to BC from Ottawa we were keen to spend some time in both Wateron Lakes and Glacier NP’s. We had heard a lot of good things about these parks and they did not disappoint. As it was still early in the year we could not summit the higher trails but the short and steep Bear’s Hump trail in Waterton Lakes with its excellent views was a great introduction to the park.
The view from Bear’s Hump trail
Since most of the summits had snow we stuck to the trails ending at waterfalls and with all the precipitation this past Winter the falls were full and beautiful. To our delight there was a big group of Bighorn Sheep right in the town of Waterton, the rangers explained to us that we were lucky to see them because later, as it gets warmer, they head up the mountains. Joe was able to take some great photos of them.
Glacier NP on the U.S. side was even more spectacular. We loved the Many Glacier campground, we had a great spot on the water with fabulous views. We even saw a grizzly mom with cubs on the adjacent rock face. We did a couple of fantastic hikes in this park; Grinnell Glacier-too much snow to get to the glacier but great views nonetheless and Scenic Point trail from Two Medicine campground.
Enjoying the views on Grinnell Glacier trail
This time of year we could not drive the famous “Road to the Sun” so that remains on the to-do list however we could easily appreciate the beauty of this area and would be happy to return. Please click here to view our Spring Flickr album.
We crossed the border into British Columbia in early April and started the very long drive, approximately 4400km back to Ottawa. There is lots to see in BC, it is a beautiful province and we have only started to explore there. Last year we spent lots of time in North Western BC; Smithers, Prince Rupert, Stewart and the stunning Salmon Glacier but this was our first time driving through the southern area. We really liked the drive on the 5A between Merritt and Kamloops-gorgeous, we even saw a couple of Bald eagles close to the road.
We spent a couple of very enjoyable days with friends in Nelson, a cool, quirky town with some lovely shops. It is always nice to break up long driving days with a couple of stationary days. As we worked our way East we stopped in Grasslands NP in southern Saskatchewan. Saskatchewan is a province we drive through with few stops but we had the time and inclination to visit Grasslands and Big Muddy Valley. Grasslands was beautiful and we saw plenty of wildlife including Bison, which we were both very excited to see. This animal is big and impressive, Joe spent spent a long time happily photographing a group that was right by the road. In addition to Bison we saw Pronghorns, Prairie Dogs and we think we saw either a wolf or a very big coyote. We also saw the most beautiful group of horses we had ever seen, big, strong, healthy and beautiful coloring, each one very different. We saw them in the distance so Joe pulled over and they came running, they must belong to someone. They stayed by the truck, probably sheltering out of the wind as it was crazy windy there, and allowed us to photograph them.
I had read about Big Muddy Valley, in fact, National Geographic put it on their “Places of a Lifetime” list for Canada. It sounded neat but sadly after visiting so many incredible places in North America Big Muddy Valley was underwhelming. It is neat, not what you expect to see in Saskatchewan but it just cannot compare to, say, Alberta’s badlands.