Monday, September 26, 2011

Butenhoff Summer Road Trip... Week 2

After packing up from camping in Glacier, we had a long day's drive to Portland, OR to see Mike's brother Chris & his wife Teresa. We got in about 8pm & were happy to have a fabulous meal waiting for us!!

Our first weekend with them, we headed to Mt Hood area to do a little camping/hiking...
... so we headed to the Timberline Lodge & hiked a few miles along the Pacific Crest Trail. 

 Then we headed to Trillium Lake & walked around there for a while as well as take in a different view of Mt. Hood.

Brandon & Chris hunted for perfect rocks to skip

A "peek" of Mt. Hood!

Eventually it was time to head back to camp for relaxation & dinner, of course!  Although with Brandon, there is little relaxation & he was able to sucker Teresa into playing catch with him!
Apparently it rarely rains in this area this time of year, so we did like the locals & left the rain fly off our tent.  We have NEVER not put our rainfly on... it was a little weird for us.

The next day we headed to the Sandy Creek area to do a nice hike to Ramona Falls. 

The boys found lots of "old man's beard" growing on the pines!  Brandon thought it was cool!
It was a warm day & it felt good when we finally made it to the falls.  We enjoyed a snack break & aired out our feet a bit!   It was amazing how cool it felt in that area... we actually got chilled!

We found a tree that is one Brandon wide!

We had a nice hike back but were amazed how warm we got, once again, after leaving the falls area!  Our hike was about 7 miles in all & worth every step! 

The brothers in the old growth forest

We spent the week back in Portland just hanging out while everyone worked, including Mike.  He would head to PSU with Chris & work from campus.  So the kids & I found things to do & just enjoyed hanging out.  On one of our days, we spent the day at the Oregon Zoo...
... it was a really great zoo & we had a beautiful day for it!

We always enjoy seeing the elephants since our MN zoo doesn't have elephants.  The kids both liked the baby, who turned 3 this year!

The kids both had a map & helped to guide us around the zoo... I was just along for the ride! 
 And we saw EVERYTHING.... it was a fun day at the zoo!

Another day we road the light rail from Chris & Teresa's house to PSU to meet up with Mike & Chris for lunch & a tour of campus...

We found Mike outside the library eating his noodles from one of the food carts as he had a conference call to scurry back to...
 ... so we had to go check out his remote office setup in one of the study rooms before he had to get back to work!

Chris gave us a tour of campus & showed us around the Physics building, including the lab area where he gave the kids some great Physics lessons.  It is no wonder his students enjoy his classes... he is a good teacher!

Another day, Chris took part of a day off & we headed to the falls area off the Columbia River Valley... our destination was Horsetail Falls.  We did a nice loop hike up & around, taking us to Ponytail Falls, which is above Horsetail and then at the bottom, we walked up a gorge a little ways.

 There is a cool log jam that you have to climb up & over... not nearly as easy as it looks.  The boys went to check out what was beyond the log jam while Melanie & I hung back as it was quite tricky & slippery climbing, making it difficult to maneuver it with her.

Horsetail Falls

 Orgeon is known for their many microbrews... so we did our fair share of sampling various brews throughout the week as well as visiting a few brew pubs! 

On Friday of that week, we headed for the Oregon coast to spend the weekend out there... it was also Chris & Teresa's anniversary weekend, so it was extra fun getting to go back to the area we all were 6 years ago!
Brandon was about 20 months old the last time we were here... but it was a "first" for Melanie to be at the coast & certainly a first for Brandon in the sense that he'll remember it this time! 
The kids immediately did what kids do... ran & went to dip their feet in the water... and it was COLD!   
But they didn't seem to mind the cold... funny how kids are!

Happy Anniversary Chris & Teresa (2011 above)... 6 years ago on this day, we were all on this beach (outside Newport) watching them get married... (6 years ago, below)

We spent the day exploring all along the coast & had to check out the 500yr old spruce near Cape Perpetua. 

The kids loved looking for seashells & sand dollars.   They were on a quest to get a whole one... not an easy thing to find!  Sunday we headed to a beach that is known for having lots of sand dollars... we found a lot, but not whole ones.  Mike & Chris both almost found one in the water as they waded... but one was crushed as a wave crashed in & another was a complete circle but was missing the front part.  Oh well... it was fun looking!

Later we stopped at Cape Kiwanda... Brandon was very eager to climb the big sand dune!  He got Chris & Mike to go with him... & he made it up effortlessly & had to wait for the old guys to catch up! 
As luck would have it, there is a fabulous brew pub right on the beach, so we enjoyed a late lunch & some fabulous beers... and the guys even took a "to-go" beer to enjoy on the beach! 
 Brandon wanted to head up the sand dune again... so this time I went with him!  What a climb... that kid is an animal.  I didn't slow him up too much... but man was I beat & he wasn't even phased.  No sooner did we get back & he decided he wanted to go again.  This time he went on his own... & then Mike decided to try & take a short cut up & surprise him.  Brandon was up & back down before Mike even had a chance to get close to the top!

Chris dug a deep hole... the kids thought that was fun!

The sun was going down & it was time to head back to Portland... we had an AWESOME time with Chris & Teresa!!  Monday morning we had to hit the road again & start our trek home, with a stop in Yellowstone on the way... stay tuned for our 3rd & final week of road trip fun!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Butenhoff Summer Road Trip... Week 1

In August, we set out on a 3 week road trip.  We were gone 24 days, traveled 5436 miles & spent over 110 hrs in the car driving.  We went through 6 states & caught Badlands National Park in South Dakota, Glacier National Park in Montana, Portland & the Oregon Coast, Craters of the Moon National Monument in Idaho & rounded it out with Yellowstone/Tetons in Wyoming.  It was an AWESOME trip!

We left Sat, Aug.13 & had reservations at the KOA in the Badlands for night 1.  We got there in time to do a little exploring/hiking around. 

The kids LOVE staying in the Kamper Kambins for our "on the road" overnights & it is much easier than setting up our tent for just one night.  The KOA was very near the campground in the park, so we were able to catch the "Night Sky" program that evening.  They had a nice presentation & had 3 telescopes set up where we got to see the surface of the moon & a nebula... and then it was off to bed. 

We had a long day driving on Sunday (over 12 hours in he car) with our next stop for the night in Missoula, MT.  After getting into that KOA for the night, we quickly headed out to find a late dinner...
 ... & as luck would have it, we are in microbrew country so we found a great brew pub for dinner called the Iron Horse.

Melanie was excited to get her turn on the top bunk this time!  She was finally old enough to notice who got top bunk & wanted her fair share!  After a good night's sleep, we only had a 2-3 hr drive before getting to Glacier!

The next day, we got to Glacier by about noon & got our camp set up, ate a quick lunch & then headed out to do a little exploring in the afternoon. 

First we headed to the visitor's center to get some information & pick up the Jr Ranger books for the kids.  Then we went up to the Avalanche Creek area & first had to go down & check out the river.
The kids had fun skipping rocks & throwing them too! 

It felt good to NOT be in the car, smell the fresh air & stretch our legs in such beautiful country.  With that said, we headed out on a small little hike/walk. 
The big trees are pretty cool... nothing like the Redwoods, but cool none-the-less.  The kids had never seen trees so big! 

That evening, the kids started working on their JR Ranger booklets... they love those things & it keeps them busy around the fire, allowing us a little time to sit & relax!

The next day, we headed back to the Avalanche Trailhead but this time to do the hike to Avalanche Lake...
It was 2 miles to get back to the lake with a 500ft elevation change, so quite do-able for the kids & they did well! 
What a beautiful view! 
We hiked all the way to the backside of the lake before turning to head back down. Our total hike was about 5.5 miles.

 After that hike, we drove the road up to Logan's Pass.  The kids had finished their Jr Ranger books & wanted to get their badges... and Brandon had been hoping to see snow & have a snowball fight.  He got his wish!
We took a hike from the visitor's center to Overlook Lake.  The first part of it was through a lot of slippery snow. 

 Along the way, we ran into some mountain goats.  They weren't too skittish of us but also didn't beg or come too close. 

We passed some other hikers who told us there were some big horn sheep just further up the path from where we were going to turn back... so we HAD to continue on!
And about 1/2 mile further, we found them... hanging out on a rocky hill side (just above Mike in the picture below on the left)... 
 ... there were at least 12-15 of them.

We had a great hike... about 4.5 miles in all with another 600ft elevation change! It was getting late (almost 7pm), so Melanie got a piggy-back for some of the way back to help us go a little faster & as long  as she has done a good job hiking for most of the hike, I'll give her piggy-backs on down hill areas.

For our last full day in Glacier, we thought we check out the more western side... so we headed over to Bowman Lake to do a hike to Lower Quartz Lake.
 It was a much different look from the other side as the mountains here weren't as tall or rocky...
 & we were in/out of burn areas from a fire a few years ago.  It was a warm day too, so once we got to the lake, we had a snack break & cooled our feet in the water!  We did about 6 miles this time with an 1600 ft elevation change, but since it went up & down a hill, we actually got to do it twice!

On our drive back from the one side to the main area, we passed through a nothing town (literally 2 buildings) of Polebridge.  We had to stop into the mercantile & got a few fresh baked items for breaksfast the next morning. 
As luck would have it, right next door was the Northern Lights Saloon! It was this tiny cabin (below) but they had a 3-person group playing music outside, a nice area to sit & some local microbrews on tap.  They even had a pretty good menu, since it was getting late, we ordered the kids dinner as we figured they'd fall asleep before getting back to camp. We opted to just have an appetizer with our beers & have a late dinner back at camp after the kids were in bed.
It was a great way to end our Glacier experience... the next day we'd head out bright & early for a long drive to Portland!

(Up next... Portland & Oregon)