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August 29, 2014 / Jim Fenton

Northwest Day 15: Back home

Monday, August 4, 2014

Odometer: 2358

The trip home from Chico was rather uneventful. After a last sample of rural life (but lots of trucks) on I-5 and I-505, we were back in the Sacramento-San Francisco corridor and into the traffic and familiar craziness of the Bay Area. We had lunch out before returning home: there wasn’t much food in the house.

We needed to be very careful not to drive in the garage with the car-top carrier on. While it was a little disappointing that we got only three days of camping out of a 15-day trip, we saw a lot and it was a nice reminder of the 1993 trip Kenna and I took and of many trips Kenna took when she was young. We were happy to introduce all of this to Celeste.

Mileage today: 215 miles

Ending odometer: 2573

This article is the last installment of a series about our recent driving vacation to the Pacific Northwest. To see the introductory article in the series, click here.

August 29, 2014 / Jim Fenton

Northwest Day 14: Behind the Scenes

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Odometer: 2127

Allen Elizabethan Theatre

Allen Elizabethan Theatre

Our daughter, Celeste, enjoys working behind the scenes on theater productions at her high school. So it made sense for us to take a backstage tour of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. We got a good start from our hotel for the tour that we had booked in advance.

The tour began with a short talk on the Shakespeare Festival and its history. Then we broke up into smaller groups; ours was led by a young woman who is an assistant stage manager for some of the productions, which aligns perfectly with Celeste’s interests. In addition to seeing some of the backstage equipment, our tour leader talked a lot about what it’s like backstage during the productions. We also got to see some of the costumes, and a glimpse of the process they go through to change over one of the theaters from one production to another, which they go through sometimes twice daily.

After a little shopping in the gift shop, we continued south into California. It started to get smoky as a result of forest fires in the area, the Bald Fire and the Eiler Fire. We had planned to make a side trip through MacArthur-Burney Falls State Park and Lassen National Park, but along the way an electronic sign warned us that Highway 89 was closed due to one of the fires. Disappointed, but realizing that it was probably really smoky in that direction anyway, we continued to Chico, enduring some traffic jams due to bridge construction over Lake Shasta.

Sundial Bridge

Sundial Bridge, Redding, CA

Kenna had heard about the Sundial Bridge in Redding, so we went to see it. It’s a beautiful footbridge with adjacent parks, from which we were able to watch people on jet-skis zip about underneath. We also took a short stop at the town of Tehama, where one of Kenna’s grandfathers had lived along the Sacramento River when she was young.

For dinner this evening, we stopped by the restaurant at Sierra Nevada Brewing Company. The food was quite good and the beer, as expected, was very fresh and available in a dizzying array of varieties.

Mileage today: 231 miles

This article is part of a series about our recent driving vacation to the Pacific Northwest. To see the introductory article in the series, click here.

August 29, 2014 / Jim Fenton

Northwest Day 13: Ashland and the Shakespeare Festival

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Odometer: 2078

Having gone through the brochures available at our hotel, we weren’t sure how to spend the day. There were some rafting trips and similar expeditions, but they are relatively far away, and we had tickets to see A Comedy of Errors at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival this evening. So we just had breakfast and headed to Ashland to look around.

Lithia Park musician

Musician in Lithia Park, Ashland

We were greeted with all sorts of interesting shops: several bookstores, a kitchen and home gadgets store, clothing, etc. We had a very enjoyable day exploring downtown Ashland and strolling through Lithia Park adjacent to the Shakespeare Festival buildings. We stayed until about 4 pm so that we would have time to return to the hotel, clean up, and have dinner before returning for the show.

Because we expected crowds in Ashland just prior to the evening shows, we had dinner near our hotel in Medford at McGrath’s, a fish restaurant chain reminiscent of The Fish Market restaurants near home.

We then drove back to Ashland, arriving in plenty of time for the performance. The production of A Comedy of Errors was an adaptation set in the Harlem section of New York City in the 1920s, the mistaken identity the result of freed slaves being separated following reconstruction. It was a creative and fun adaptation that also taught us about some of the challenges facing African-Americans at the time. This was far from the stuffy Shakespeare that I have often come to expect.

Overall, Ashland was a delight. We expect that we will be back before long.

Mileage today: 49 miles

This article is part of a series about our recent driving vacation to the Pacific Northwest. To see the introductory article in the series, click here.

August 25, 2014 / Jim Fenton

Northwest Day 12: Crater Lake to Medford

Crater Lake

Friday, August 1, 2014

Odometer: 1891

After packing up our campsite and taking a short hike in LaPine State Park, we drove the relatively short distance to Crater Lake National Park, and it was a beautiful day for our visit. After a brief stop at the north rim, we spent more time at Rim Village, including lunch at the snack bar and a little browsing in the gift shop. We then walked over to Crater Lake Lodge, another classic national park hotel, and wished we had lunch there. I don’t remember having seen the Lodge on previous visits, and it was closed for extensive rebuilding at the time of our 1993 trip. There was an informative exhibit on the history of the Lodge showing the reconstruction process.

Crater Lake Lodge

Registration desk at Crater Lake Lodge

Following our visit to Rim Village, we continued to a viewpoint further south and took a short hike to another viewpoint to see the Phantom Ship, a small island in the lake, before continuing our trip to Medford.

We decided to stay in Medford as a jumping-off point for visits to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, since hotel accommodations there were tight. We wanted to see some of Medford as well, so for dinner, we went downtown to a restaurant located in the former train depot. Medford’s downtown is quite pleasant, about as one might expect for a small city of that sort.

Mileage today: 187 miles

This article is part of a series about our recent driving vacation to the Pacific Northwest. To see the introductory article in the series, click here.

August 25, 2014 / Jim Fenton

Northwest Day 11 – Nowhere

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Odometer: 1682

Maryhill View

Columbia River from Maryhill Museum of Art

Leaving The Dalles, we backtracked to Maryhill Museum of Art, back across the Columbia River in Washington. We initially were only going to drive by, but were drawn in by their grounds and excellent sculpture garden, which reminded us of the Cantor Sculpture Garden at Stanford. There were also excellent views of the Columbia River and Mount Hood.

Stonehenge

Stonehenge Memorial

Nearby was a reconstruction of Stonehenge, which was built by local philanthropist Sam Hill as a memorial to local soldiers killed in World War I.

We proceeded back across the Columbia and south on US 97. The road was desolate, the landscape more reminiscent of the Mojave Desert (minus the cacti) — basically not a lot to see. Celeste suggested the name for today’s blog post — Nowhere — based on the scenery on the road. We got an enjoyable late lunch at an Italian restaurant in Madras, Oregon, and drove on to Bend.

Just north of Bend is Tumalo State Park, where Kenna’s family had stayed when she was young. Unfortunately it was full, so we continued south through Bend toward LaPine, where AAA says there are several campgrounds. We started with LaPine State Park, and, lo and behold, there was space available. Facilities at Oregon state park campgrounds are excellent so we consider ourselves fortunate to be here. There were more families than we have seen at the previous campgrounds, but our tent feels dwarfed by the many very large RVs around us.

Mileage today: 209 miles

This article is part of a series about our recent driving vacation to the Pacific Northwest. To see the introductory article in the series, click here.

August 25, 2014 / Jim Fenton

Northwest Day 10: Mount Rainier and onward

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Odometer: 1448

Mt. Rainier, Emmons Glacier

Mr. Rainier with Emmons Glacier

After breakfast, we packed up camp and went back into Mount Rainier National Park via the Sunrise entrance station. After a long uphill drive with many scenic views, Sunrise was a typically good National Park visitor center. The ranger suggested a hike that was supposedly about 0.6 miles each way, but which turned out to be a little closer to a mile, which aggravated Celeste’s sore ankle a bit. The hike gave us a good view of the Emmons Glacier, which had receded quite significantly in the 21 years since our last visit. We had hiked from the campground to the tip of the glacier in 1993; that would clearly not have been practical any more.

 After the hike, we drove down to White River campground, which also has a picnic area, for lunch before heading out.

Our drive took us over a couple of mountain passes and by a ski area, and then down to Yakima and then south. It got quite warm, up to about 104° according to the car thermometer, although it tends to exaggerate. When we got to our intended camping spot, Maryhill State Park, it was full, and without much in the way of alternatives, we drove across the Columbia River to The Dalles, Oregon, where we stayed in a very pleasant and quite new Fairfield Inn. Dinner was at a downtown pub where we were able to sit outdoors and avoid being over air conditioned.

Mileage today: 234 miles

This article is part of a series about our recent driving vacation to the Pacific Northwest. To see the introductory article in the series, click here.

August 25, 2014 / Jim Fenton

Northwest Day 9: Seattle to Mount Rainier

Mt. Rainier

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Odometer: 1322

On the way out of Seattle, we drove by a few of the local colleges. First was Seattle Pacific University, a small college in the Queen Anne neighborhood of Seattle not far from our hotel. Then we drove to the University of Washington, which has a large and park-like campus in the northeast part of Seattle. Finally, we drove by Northwest University, a small Christian college in Kirkland that a friend from church is attending. It’s of course impossible to evaluate schools by driving around their campuses, but it gave Celeste some points of reference for when she does begin looking at colleges in earnest.

Silver Springs

Roasting hot dogs at Silver Springs Campground

We then drove to Sunrise, on the eastern side of Mount Rainier, stopping in Enumclaw, a pleasant town that reminded us of Angels Camp (California), for lunch. When we got to the Sunrise entrance gate, we were dismayed to learn that the campground, White River, is full. Kenna and I had a memorably good stay at White River in 1993, and we have been hoping to share that with Celeste. After consulting with the ranger and with a National Forest visitor center just outside the park, we found available space in the Silver Springs Campground in the national forest nearby. The campground was wonderful and very similar to White River, including proximity to a stream we could hear in the night. We bought some firewood and roasted hot dogs for dinner. A wonderful night of camping!

Mileage today: 126 miles

This article is part of a series about our recent driving vacation to the Pacific Northwest. To see the introductory article in the series, click here.

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