Pacific or Bust - July, 2011

Sharp barnacles and seaweed covering the rocks in an Olympic Peninsula tide pool.

Statistics:

Dates: 20 days from July 4th to July 24th, 2011

 

Areas Explored: the Northwest U.S.A., i.e. the Driftless Region, the Upper Mississippi, Dakota badlands,  Yellowstone Valley, Montana Rockies, Eastern Washington, the Cascades, Olympic Peninsula, Oregon Coast, Oregon high desert, Snake Valley, Wyoming's high plains, Black Hills, and southern Minnesota.

Transportation: 2009 Dodge Grand Caravan

New Frontiers: This was our longest road trip to date.

Cast: Scott, Jessica, & Andrew

 

Trip Notes: Day 1: Drove from Chicago, starting afternoon, to Lake Delton, where we saw fireworks and then slept at Mirror Lk SP, WI. Day 2: Hiked Mill Bluff SP, explored the Minnesota Mississippi River, and had fun at the Mall of America, ending the night in St. Cloud, MN. Day 3: Drove a great distance from St. Cloud, across North Dakota, to Roosevelt NP, ND. Day 4: Explored Roosevelt's distant North Unit and returned to Medora a second night fearing rain. Day 5: Beat the rain, and after a nap and safari, drove west into the Montana plains, ending the day in Pine Creek, MT. Day 6: Thoroughly explored Yellowstone's wilderness at Lamar, Hayden, and Canyon , and then camped in West Yellowstone, MT. Day 7: Drove northward through the Montana Rockies and swarms of flies to Spokane, WA. Day 8: Explored the Grand Coulee Dam and then climbed the scenic road into the Cascades, camping at Ross Lake NRA along Devils Lake. Day 8: Descended the Cascades, explored Whidbey Island, and crossed Puget Sound to land on the Olympic Peninsula. Ended the day high up the rainy mountain near Port Angeles.  Day 9: Explored the Olympics, ending up at the log-covered beaches between Rialto and Kalaloch. Day 10: Hiked the rain forests before heading south across the Columbia to Astoria, OR. Day 11: Poked around the beaches of northern Oregon and slept at the fishing town of Depoe Bay. Day 12: Continued down the Oregon coast to Florence and then headed inland, sleeping in Roseburg, OR. Day 13: From Roseburg headed up the Umpqua River to Crater Lake NP, and then down into Tulelake before heading to Mount Shasta, CA. Day 14: Rounded Shasta and headed into the alkaline lakes of the high desert of southeast Oregon. Ended the day in Nampa, ID. Day 15: Drove across Idaho's Snake Valley, visiting Craters of the Moon, and ending in Idaho Falls. Day 16: Saw the Grand Tetons and then explored the lake region of Yellowstone, before heading east to Buffalo Bill SP, WY. Day 17: Crossed the scenic Bighorn Canyon and mountain range, ending across the plain at Keyhole SP, WY. Day 18: Explored Devils Tower and the Black Hills, ending our trip in Wall, SD. Day 19: After a trip through Badlands NP, headed through Mitchell, and into Minnesota's cereal country, sleeping in Jackson, MN. Day 20: Drove into Wisconsin, to Cambridge, and back into Chicagoland via US-12. (see route below)  

Our route with numbers indicating places where we slept overnight. (See above for details.)
An unscientific map relating our near constant elevation changes.
Sights and Sounds of the Northwest (via youtube.com)
  We went on a very similar trip last year. (My poor engine!) See it here.

Here is a slightly amusing video of me taking down our "summer home" in Pine Creek, MT.

Rolls of Film: Click on image to see caption, full-size image, or slideshow. 
 
Roll 1: from Chicago to Livingstone, via North Dakota
Camping at Mirror Lake SP near Wisconsin Dells.Camping at Mirror Lake SP near Wisconsin Dells. Mill Bluff in southern Wisconsin's Driftless Region.Mill Bluff in southern Wisconsin's Driftless Region. Colors at Mill Bluff, WI.Colors at Mill Bluff, WI. The view we were afforded after a steep climb up Mill Bluff.The view we were afforded after a steep climb up Mill Bluff. Andrew was on a scavenger hunt, and found is feather.Andrew was on a scavenger hunt, and found is feather. Boats docked at Lake Pepin along the Mississippi.Boats docked at Lake Pepin along the Mississippi. Stretching out our legs on the banks of the Mississippi River.Stretching out our legs on the banks of the Mississippi River. We relaxed for a bit at the St. Croix River's mouth.We relaxed for a bit at the St. Croix River's mouth. Andrew is trucking at the Mall of America in Bloomington, MN.Andrew is trucking at the Mall of America in Bloomington, MN. Nickelodeon Universe in the middle of the Mall of America.Nickelodeon Universe in the middle of the Mall of America. New Salem, ND, seemed to be worshipping Baal or something.New Salem, ND, seemed to be worshipping Baal or something. Welcome once again to Roosevelt NP near Medora, ND.Welcome once again to Roosevelt NP near Medora, ND. The The "Glory Glory Allelujah" prairie dog. We were so in love with TRNP, we stayed two nights.We were so in love with TRNP, we stayed two nights. A wild horse at TRNP, grazing the valley of the badlands.A wild horse at TRNP, grazing the valley of the badlands. Another mighty TRNP bison bull.Another mighty TRNP bison bull. The money-shot! This horse was being crowded on a hill at TRNP.The money-shot! This horse was being crowded on a hill. Whenever night fell, there were sure to be elk around.Whenever night fell, there were sure to be elk around. Textures of dry ground and cottonwood near our tent at TRNP.Textures of dry ground and cottonwood near our tent at TRNP. Pondering our journey at the annual TRNP campsite.Pondering our journey at the annual TRNP campsite. Painted Canyon overlook, TRNP, ND.Painted Canyon overlook, TRNP, ND. We drove up to the lonely and distant north unit of TRNP.We drove up to the lonely and distant north unit of TRNP. A bison loking down the Little Missouri River.A bison loking down the Little Missouri River. There are many grand vistas in the north unit of TRNP.There are many grand vistas in the north unit of TRNP. Prairie grass of North Dakota.Prairie grass of North Dakota. An overlook in TRNP's north unit.An overlook in TRNP's north unit. TRNP prairie grass and sky.TRNP prairie grass and sky. Family shot in TRNP.Family shot in TRNP. Motherhood at TRNP's north unit.Motherhood at TRNP's north unit. This bison cow is probably used to passing cars.This bison cow is probably used to passing cars. A lone horse patrolling TRNP's prairie.A lone horse patrolling TRNP's prairie. The south unit's badlands at sunset.The south unit's badlands at sunset. We went on several car safaris through the fifty miles of roads.We went on several car safaris through the fifty miles of roads. Sunset light painting the canyons at TRNP.Sunset light painting the canyons at TRNP. Beautiful shot of the badlands at TRNP.Beautiful shot of the badlands at TRNP. The moon rising over the North Dakota badlands.The moon rising over the North Dakota badlands. Sunrise above the Little Missouri on a cloudy day.Sunrise above the Little Missouri on a cloudy day. The flooded Yellowstone was also experiencing an oil spill.The flooded Yellowstone was also experiencing an oil spill. Scott is reading graffiti from explorer William Clark on Pompey's PillarScott is reading graffiti from explorer William Clark on Pompey's Pillar. We heard news about Yellowstone up ahead at Pompey's Pillar, MT.We heard news about Yellowstone up ahead at Pompey's Pillar, MT. The Rocky Mountains finally come into view in Montana.The Rocky Mountains finally come into view in Montana.
 
Roll 2: from Livingstone to Sequim, via Yellowstone
Roll 3: from Sequim to Astoria, in Washington 
The Olympic rain forests south of Port Angeles.The Olympic rain forests south of Port Angeles. I did not know goats could be so dangerous.I did not know goats could be so dangerous. We here and there broke through the rain cloud tops.We here and there broke through the rain cloud tops. Hurricane Ridge, high up in the Olympic Mountains.Hurricane Ridge, high up in the Olympic Mountains. Scott looking for a bathroom on Hurricane Ridge.Scott looking for a bathroom on Hurricane Ridge. A beautful, loud grouse displaying his goods on Hurricane Ridge.A beautful, loud grouse displaying his goods on Hurricane Ridge. Lake Crescent shoreline.Lake Crescent shoreline. Heart o' the Hills rain forest. We camped in the van.Heart o' the Hills rain forest. We camped in the van. A bald eagle fishing in the Lake Crescent notch.A bald eagle fishing in the Lake Crescent notch. The Pacific Ocean! At last!The Pacific Ocean! At last! Huge driftwood at Mora Beach.Huge driftwood at Mora Beach. Mommy and Andrew at Mora Beach.Mommy and Andrew at Mora Beach. Another moody Mora Beach view.Another moody Mora Beach view. The endless texture of a piece of Mora driftwood.The endless texture of a piece of Mora driftwood. Forks, WA, is obsessed with Twilight.Forks, WA, is obsessed with Twilight. Shoreline near the mouth of the Hoh River.Shoreline near the mouth of the Hoh River. Exploring the rocks near Forks.Exploring the rocks near Forks. The Pacific Ocean, as the tide rolls out.The Pacific Ocean, as the tide rolls out. This means we can explore the tide pools.This means we can explore the tide pools. The rocks yielded tons of starfish and barnacles.The rocks yielded tons of starfish and barnacles. The rough edgy barnacles.The rough edgy barnacles. Anemones in a Pacific tide pool.Anemones in a Pacific tide pool. Walling the beach in Olympic NP.Walking the beach in Olympic NP. Another shot of the Olympic beach as the tide rolls out.Another shot of the Olympic beach as the tide rolls out. Starfish along the Olympic shoreline.Starfish along the Olympic shoreline. Watching our step between the rocks.Watching our step between the rocks. Mommy and Andrew waving hello.Mommy and Andrew waving hello. The mouth of the Kalaloch River near Kalaloch Lodge.The mouth of the Kalaloch River near Kalaloch Lodge. One of many banana slugs near our beachside campsite.One of many banana slugs near our beachside campsite. Putting that driftwood to work at South Beach in Olympic NP.Putting that driftwood to work at South Beach in Olympic NP. Good night from South Beach, WA.Good night from South Beach, WA. Rain, rain go away. South of Queets, WA.Rain, rain go away. South of Queets, WA. Andrew plans our route through the Quinalt Rain Forest.Andrew plans our route through the Quinalt Rain Forest. This explains why it hasn't stopped raining in days.This explains why it hasn't stopped raining in days. Exploring the Quinalt Rain Forest for the first time in 7 years.Exploring the Quinalt Rain Forest for the first time in 7 years. This is what happens when it rains every day for a month.This is what happens when it rains every day. A fallen mega-tree in the Quinalt Rain Forest.A fallen mega-tree in the Quinalt Rain Forest.

 
Roll 4: from Astoria to Roseburg, in Oregon
 
 
Roll 5: from Roseburg to West Thumb, via California
 
 
Roll 6: from West Thumb to Chicago, along I-90
 
Photos copyright 2011 by S. Plencner or J. Bezold All other content copyright 2011 by S. Plencner