Our Adventures Heading West!

Stay tuned as we add pictures and stories from our trip - we ship out on July 6th from NYC!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Day Nine...

July 14, 2010

This morning we woke up and headed to the beach to see the tide pools. We then drove out further on the island to see the seals sunning on the rocks and playing in the ocean. We completed our drive down the Oregon coast, and were continually amazed with how beautiful it was. We passed into California and continued down 101 to the Redwood National Forest. We were amazed at the size of these incredible towering trees. We of course got a few photo ops in, and did the typical tourist shot in the base of a hollowed out giant tree (see above ☺). On our long drive south, the trees seemed almost never ending, as we felt we had a lot of ground to cover today to get down to the San Francisco area so that we can have a full day of sightseeing there tomorrow. During our drive we tried to book a hotel in San Francisco and it turned out it was not our lucky day. There is a marathon and a huge convention all on the same we planned to arrive into town. After many calls (while searching for cellular service in the giant Redwoods), we found an available room, and were thankful to have a place to stay (rather than camp in the middle of Union Square downtown – probably wouldn’t go over so well…). Because reservations in SF were close to impossible, we decided to stay outside of San Francisco tonight in Petaluma and we’ll get up and drive the quick hour into the city in the morning. We are excited for a double-decker bus tour around such a cool city!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Day Eight...

July 13, 2010

Our first stop today was Oregon City – the ending point for many Oregon Trail travelers. It was a little underwhelming compared to the pioneer museum in Baker City. However, there was a memorial rock marking the end of the trail, along with replicas of pioneer homes and a garden typical of what pioneers would have planted. On our way out of town, we did a quick tour of downtown Portland. We stumbled upon a live music event in one of the squares. It was very cool to see people enjoying their lunch breaks with a Starbucks and a little live music. Portland had a very earthy and laid-back feel, and was also very clean and "green". We only had a little time to explore the city because we had to head south to find a campsite for the night, but would have loved to see more of this river town. Eventually, we made our way over to highway 101 and began the drive down the Oregon coast. The Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area was quite the sight to see. We got our exercise running up the sandy hills to catch our first glimpse of the Pacific Ocean. After our winding drive down the coast further, we ended up at Sunset Bay campground in the Oregon State Park system. On our way there, we realized that the park is basically out on an island, and it turned out to be an incredibly beautiful site. We set up the tent and walked out to the beach to watch the sun set behind the cliffs and rocky sea. We snapped some great pictures as the sun disappeared away. We then headed back to make a fire and roast marshmallows. Once we went to sleep, we were glad we picked up extra warm blankets in Portland because it was another cold and windy night in the tent.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Day Seven...

July 12, 2010

After a better night’s sleep, we got on the road heading west on I-84 passing through Boise and not much else on the way to the Oregon border. Once in Oregon (woohoo, we made it!) we stopped at Baker City to visit the Oregon Trails Interpretive Center and Museum. The museum is located a few miles off the highway, and we realized later that it sits directly on a bluff overlooking the wagon trails taken by pioneers that are still visible today. A wagon train exhibit overlooked the fertile-looking Baker City valley below. Inside the museum we explored life-size dioramas of pioneer wagon train scenes. Children riding in wagons, women tending the wagon and children and men driving the herds of animals were a few of the many exhibits. A very realistic video re-creating the historic sites and events along the trail was playing throughout the museum and we purchased a copy along with many useful books and photographs. The museum attendants were so kind as to give us free teacher kits to add to our supplies as well. On our way out, we listened to a live musician playing old west songs on the guitar and the banjo. We filmed a few songs, as we know the boys will get a kick out of hearing them too. We hopped back into the car to make our last stop on the trail: Oregon City!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Day Six...

July 11, 2010

After a freezing night sleep at our site in Yellowstone, we packed up and headed south out of the park into Teton National Forest, which is just as stunning. We got some great shots of the mountains and even went on a little moose hunt… no luck, and carried on south to Soda Springs, ID. Soda Springs is made of mineral salt springs that the pioneers called “Beer Spring” because of the natural soda springs they could drink. We took some pictures of the nearby geyser, which after Old Faithful was a bit underwhelming, but to pioneers it was probably a welcome site. We continued on small country roads to get to Craters of the Moon State Park. 2,000 year old lava covers acres of land forming a landscape that looks so foreign astronauts practiced navigating here because it would help them prepare to walk on the moon. It truly looks like an alien place and we can only imagine what the pioneers thought when they arrived here years ago. We walked along the paths winding through the lavabeds, and even went down into an ice cave, which was so bizarre considering it was over 80 degrees above ground. After leaving Craters, we thought it would be good to get to our campsite on the earlier side and we headed straight to Glenns Ferry and Three Island Crossing. This is the site where pioneers would ford the Snake river – opting between taking a ferry or fording the river alone. It’s difficult to imagine getting a wagon across such a river, and we were thankful for the modern bridges of today. We found a campsite in Three Island State Park and set up the tent. After dinner we started a fire and roasted some marshmallows to make s’mores. Oregon is on the horizon for tomorrow!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Day Five...

Oops - it's a late night and we accidentally posted the pictures in reverse order again... apologies!

Day 5…

July 10, 2010

We decided to start off our day with a good hearty breakfast since we would be camping the next two days, so we headed to the main street in Cody to fill up at “Irma’s” – at Buffalo Bill’s Original Hotel. The hotel had its tourists, but definitely had its share of local flavor as well – many cowboy hats and friendly bikers. Our next stop was “Old Trail Town” which was made up of original restored frontier homes, furnishings, and home goods. Original frontier wagons lined the streets and we got the feel of what it would actually be like living in a frontier town out west. There was even a restored schoolhouse complete with desks and classroom supplies from frontier days. On our way west toward Yellowstone we stopped by Buffalo Bill Dam Historic Site. Just as we go to the dam site, it started to drip huge drops of rain and we sprinted back to the car (albeit feeling the altitude as we ran!)) The rest of our drive through Buffalo Bill National Forest was beautiful. Wyoming is just amazing – the incredible rock cliffs, winding rivers, and the contrast between the brilliant blue skies, green trees, and yellow-flower-spotted countryside is just stunning. Yellowstone proved to be another natural wonder. We barely made it a few miles into the park before we saw our first buffalo! On the way to our campsite we spotted some deer and got some great photos of a huge elk (with the help of Jenn’s great new telephoto lens!). We set up camp to reserve ourselves a site (Yellowstone is quite busy on weekends in the summer we found out!). We heard Old Faithful was due to put on her show within the next 40 minutes, so we hopped in the car and headed back up. While waiting patiently for the famous geyser to erupt, we saw more wildlife – a chipmunk munching and an osprey circling above. Old Faithful turned out to be a bit late, but the show was worth the wait. We then headed back to the campsite to make dinner and get some sleep. We are continually amazed by how tired we are after our days of travel, and we are reminded that the pioneers walked alongside their wagons, slept on the earth beneath them, and got up at sunrise to do it again. Our comfort is knowing that we have a bed and shower awaiting us at the end our journey, whereas the pioneers had the duty of building a home when they arrived. What an amazing fete they all accomplished in reaching Oregon.

Friday, July 9, 2010

FYI for Days 5 & 6

If you're following along, we'll be headed into Yellowstone, the Grand Tetons, Craters of the Moon and other sites in Idaho for the next two days. We'll be camping both nights, so posting will be unlikely for a few days. Stay tuned!

Day Four...

July 9, 2010

We packed up our campsite and were surprised to find the site had wi-fi, but alas we had no power outlets, hence our delayed posts. We drove the quick hour to Fort Laramie in Wyoming and were pleasantly surprised at the efforts that were put in to restore the site to its original state. Hosts walked the grounds in pioneer and soldier apparel and filled us in on the details of what Fort Laramie was like during its heyday. We toured the cavalry barracks, the store room where pioneers stocked up on goods, the soldier saloon (where we enjoyed some sarsaparilla), “Old Bedlam” the building where the bachelor officers stayed (sort of like a more primitive frat house was our impression!), the captain’s quarters, the jailhouse, a garden where a laundress demonstrated washing soldiers’ uniforms as well as tending crops and lastly the visitors center. We popped in the center to watch a quick video about the fort and acquired more teaching supplies (and they even gave us a teachers’ discount!). Our next stop was Guernsey, WY where we saw preserved wagon ruts and imagined the thousands of wagons that traveled through. On our way to Cody, WY we stumbled upon Hell’s Half Acre. This stunningly beautiful canyon is where the Sioux used to herd buffalo toward in order to capture the animals once they had fallen over the cliffs. After soaking in the grand beauty of it, we got back on the road to head to our destination for the night.