After 13,000 miles and 7 months of wandering the back roads of 17 different States and 6 Canadian Provinces, we finally turn north towards our home in Alaska.
Off and on we had also spent over 3 months camped in my mom’s backyard hanging with her and helping with needed maintenance around her home.
Once departing SoCal we were like horses heading back to the barn, our migration instincts kicked in and our pace quickened or so it felt.
As we closely monitored the weather situation in Canada and Alaska it looked as though we would need to slow down and spend a little more time in the Northwest before crossing the Canadian border.
A late spring was producing persistent snow storms, icy roads and well below freezing temperatures continued to keep the northern latitudes gripped in winter.
Luckily our only planned northbound diversion was to stop in Eastern Oregon and hang with our goods friends the Motsko’s.
They graciously allowed us to spend almost two weeks parked inside the perimeter of the Fort Motsko compound. This was a very welcome respite for us and the pups with 5 well maintained acres to call home.
During our visit Denise and the pups housesat while Mark and Phyllis spent several days on the Oregon coast with our other good friends the Habecker’s.
At that same time I flew to Chicago to look at a possible overland truck chassis to purchase. That trip report is for another upcoming post.
Most evenings found the six of us consuming Mark’s tasty grilled and smoked meats, drinking excellent locally brewed IPA’s and reminiscing about past adventures while working for the National Park Service, it was all very enjoyable.
Day trips included fishing with Mark along the beautiful Metolius River which is nestled up close to the base of the Cascades.
I photographed while Mark expertly offered his line to the fish while wading in gin clear water.
The headwaters of this Wild and Scenic River erupt from deep underground at just one location, Metolius Springs near the base of Black Butte.
In the meantime Denise, Donna and Phyllis hiked for miles in Smith Rocks State Park following the beautiful Crooked River.
Eventually weather conditions improved up north and again it was time to continue our migration home.
Regretfully we departed Oregon and our friends and wander into Washington where we find the dramatic landscapes of the Columbia River drainage and views of snow capped volcanoes.
Looking for a spot to have lunch we pull off interstate 90 and stumble onto one of Washington’s premier winter rock climbing destinations, known as Vantage or Frenchman’s Coulee.
Located along Washington’s Historic Sunset Highway it is a very scenic drive.
We find a spectacular site situated along the edge of a 300′ basalt escarpment and decide to stay the night. This was not a spot where we allowed the dogs to run free.
Parked on the edge of the cliff we enjoy fantastic views of the Columbia River gorge, the distant Cascade Range and glorious sunsets. We end up spending three nights.
It was easily one of the most dramatic campsites we had recently come across.
We arrived midweek and there were only a few day climbers around and the area was quiet.
But by Friday evening we were surrounded by tents, vans and car campers. Many of these folks had come all the way from the wet, rainy western side of the range for the weekend.
The dry side of the range has become the place to hike and climb during the winter months, we could certainly relate to that concept.
Our first evening on the edge was not much fun as it blew all night at a steady 30-40 mph and gusted to 55 mph.
When one is parked on the edge of a 300 ft. cliff during an extreme wind event it is very hard to get a good nights sleep. Eventually the wind calmed allowing as to explore this unique area.
We hiked down canyon to the base of Frenchman’s waterfall where the pups ran freely across the desert while we scrutinized the stunning rock formations.
Hiking up to the Feathers, a formation of columnar basalt pillars, we found climbers on dozens of 100ft off width cracks.
Watching the young climbers we reminisced about our own days of climbing in the 70’s and 80’s in places like Yosemite, the Eastern Sierra and Joshua Tree NP. Those were the days!
Finding it had to leave we again head north towards the Okanogan Valley in Canada. This spectacular valley produces some of Canada’s best wines and is where wine tasting is more than just a pastime.
As we spend more time along the eastern side of the Cascades the more it seems we find what makes us happy.
Open spaces, dramatic landscapes, friendly people, excellent beer and good friends can make for very enjoyable environments.
Upon entering Canada we encounter snow in the higher elevations but daytime temperatures were warming up nicely.
We focused on managing a daily driving schedule that didn’t overwhelm us as we completed the final 2500 mile segment of this fantastic winter adventure.
Don’t miss our latest video ” Exploring The Dry Side”. Watch it in HD with the stereo cranked up for best results.
Next we drive the Alcan home to Denali, stay tuned.
Keep you posted!