Tag Archives: northwest overland rally

Day Nine- NW Overland Rally

So on day nine we awake at the North West Overland Rally in Pine, Washington. The growth this rally has had is incredible. Last year camping directions were “go find a spot out there”. This year we were given a defined space, and we really stretched our boundaries with tent-trailer, shelter, and Abby’s tent.

The rally is an opportunity to meet other overlanders, take a few classes on living and traveling out of a 4×4 vehicle, take group drives with various skill levels, and attend workshops on recovery, cooking, driving, and other related topics.

I am always glad to meet up with old acquaintances and meet new ones. Abby quickly found Jack from Adventure Trio. They are both close to the same age and have tons of miles in remote travel. While Abby has spent her time in a Jeep, Jack and his family work from motorcycles. I ran into John Reid who we have had contact with at other events.

There is also the opportunity to meet new people and learn about their travels, equipment, etc. once again this year I have great neighbors and last night enjoyed good conversation around our Little Red Campfire unit. Henrik who I will interview on the podcast just finished two-years on the road with his wife and owns a company that has designed a security drawer system for full-sized oick-ups. We spent the evening talking travel, business, and equipment. I used to feel out of place at the events because I am often surrounded by retired CEOs, highly successful business owners who have either sold their company or can work from the road, or self-made men who live off their previous success. I now see it as opportunity to learn about success and gain nuggets of truth from hard-working individuals who also know how to enjoy their triumphs.

One of my goals is to find storage solutions for our rig. I want to either buy or build a drawer and storage system that helps us stay organized while on the road. I’ll be talking to allot of vendors and DIYers.

I can’t sigh off today without mentioning some the equipment being demonstrated and sold here. Adventure Trailer of course has the rig I will build someday, a fully livable JK. I will be doing an interview with them as well. AEV is also out here and brought there 4-door Wrangler along as well.

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Day Seven….Heading in to Olympia

Day Seven….hard to believe we have been on the road for a week. Having the ability to sleep in on Lopez Island and use it as a base was a good option. The island is very friendly and a far cry from the hustle and bustle of San Juan Island. It was also great to let my guard down and not worry about bears for a change on this trip. Instead there is an infestation of rabbits.

I really want to understand more about how this place has become a safe haven for the bunny population. Its seems there are no natural predators, never saw a single sign of coyote, fox, or even feral cat. Hawks and eagles were spotted, but not in enough numbers to diminish the population.

We did venture to San Juan island for a few hours. To ferry the Jeep over it cost about $24 for a round trip ticket. Once on the ground we decided to find sea food. With limited parking, dogs in tow, and a tight budget, finding a spot was difficult. We eventually wound up at a grill on the main drag. We picked up an order of crab sliders, beef sliders, and some sweet potato frys. The tab still came in around $40, but it made the wife happy….so I was happy.

We cruised around to the state park area to do whale watching. We had to buy a discovery pass, which is required for all Washington parks. A trip to the gift shop and $30 later we had a pass for the year, we will never use again. Glad I could chip in….

We saw a few porpoises but no whales. Still a good trip. We headed back to the docks, parked the rig in line, then used the two hours to walk around with my wife.

In our early dating life, we often hung out in harbor and inlet towns. Often she would tag-along when I was doing a class or working a wreck. After long hours of working a dive, I would decompress with her walking allot of the shops in places like Barnagate, Strathmere, and Long Beach Island. It was good to shop with her again. I even got real seafood. While she watched a glass artist, I scored BBQ clams. I slurped down two baseball-sized crustaceans while she looked on in horror.

Today it was on to Olympia to see Melissa’s cousin. This put us on the only interstate we have done on this trip (except 95….but its a two-lane road anyway). Going through Seattle was a nightmare. I was pretty shaken by the time we checked into a cheap motel for showers and down time.

At Kelly’s the pups had an opportunity to run free. Kelly has three young women who rent rooms, all highly intellectual and very conversational. We talked travel, lifestyle, education, environmental issues, and raising meat rabbits, etc.

More later….time to crash…..
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Day 5 Lopez Island and the Ferry Ride

Made it to Lopez Island today. The ferry ride was a great new experience for the crew. I have been on several before, but driving an expedition rig and a trailer was new. Since Melissa and Abby had not been on one this size, I stayed with the pups close to the Jeep and let them go to the upper deck.

The ferry service cost us just shy of $90 for a round trip. The upper deck area offers a full cafeteria style dinning. Since we got the ferry with a little over two-hours to spend, we ate lunch off the tail gate as we waited. A two-hour wait normally would stress some people out and by some of the conversations around us, most were still in the “hurry-up and wait” mode. For me it was a mandatory decompression time. I took the opportunity to sit with my pup, eat from the back of the rig, and catch a quick cat-nap.

I was also able to watch the protest of an out-of-control 10 year-old as he was telling his mom that he “could not support her decision to not allow him to go to the wharf” and that “he was frustrated with her for bringing ham and cheese and not turkey and cheese”. Some people should not be allowed to procreate. It really made me wonder how a kid gains so much power, let alone the vocabulary to express him self like that. I’m thinking there has been more counseling and less butt-whipping going on in that house. It also made me very proud of my own kiddo and though sometimes she can pull a few stunts here and there, for the most part she is a great kiddo.

A 45-minute ride and then off the ferry and into our base camp for the next few nights in the beautiful Spencer Spit State Park. Melissa picked this place from our research work the weekend before. She found a great campground for us and probably the best site in the whole park. On top of that it was a pull in spot so getting the trailer in was easy.

The site is surrounded by lush greenery and plenty of room for us to set up a full base camp for a few days. We are testing a new sun screen on this trip that came from Cabela’s, and due to the light rain and bug population, I think we are going to be pretty happy with it. It took about 20 minutes to put up, including time to read the directions. Will have a full summary of it after the trip.

So taking a much needed break now, with plans to drive and explore the island. There are other islands to check out- such as San Juan, but I am fighting the urge to leave camp. I need time to just do nothing. I’m not even breaking out the RC truck I brought along. Instead, I need time to be quiet and still to allow God to renew my strength and spirit.

Taking the opportunity now to just sit in silence….so signing off for now….

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Day Four- Mike and Ruth

Day Four. Took off from Bonners Ferry this morning from the worst Best Western I have been in. Avoid the Best Western unless you want to be treated with mediocrity.
We left around 6am with the plan to stop off in Quincy to see long time friends Mike and Ruth in Quincy, Washington. Mike was not only a good friend, but later on he hired me for my first job as an instructor, which was key to putting Adventure IQ on the map.

We opted out of boing US 2 so we could make good time. As luck would have it, 30 miles from Spokane Interstate 90 was shut down. We detoured over to US 2 anyway.

Mike is now a pastor and I enjoy not only our frequent trips down Memory Lane, which always seem to get better, but also our spiritual discussions. Mike has been a bigger influence than he knows and Ruth has always provided insight for me.

As a young instructor, Mike showed me the ropes and guided me around obstacles that could have derailed me. He also gave me the freedom to explore and learn. I owe him a debt of gratitude for giving me a shot to be where I am today.

After a great lunch, good conversation, and Ruth’s apple pie, we headed down US 2 towards Lopez Island….6 hours away. Knowing we were not going to make that far, the plan was to get an hour or two outside of Quincy to make the drive on Monday easier.

We found a spot in the hardly populated NFS Thousand Springs Campground, about 90 minutes from Quincy. After paying our fee and setting up tents, we realized why there were so few residents. The place was overrun with mosquitos. There are enough of these pest to start another malaria epidemic. Using my last check, I bought three bundles of wood. I figured between the smoke and the cans of bug spray, I could protect Clan Anderson from any assault. I was wrong, they were persistent in their attacks.

Still, Melissa fixed a great meal and we spent the evening playing drums together and a few rounds of Zombie Dice.

In the morning we are waking early to hit the road to make the ferry to Lopez Island. A bit nervous since I have no idea where it is and need to be there by 1230.

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Day Three of our NW Overland Expedition- Glacier to Bonner’s Ferry bwo Canada

Third day on the road. Great overnight in Glacier. Really wish we could have seen more– but so much of the park is closed due to snow. We picked up our yearly pass, paid $23 for a camp ground and $23 for wood. Melissa cooked up her awesome pita pocket meal. Note to self- make sure the pita pocket bread doesn’t freeze or it will break apart when re-heated.

I got some hang time in my hammock, played with my pup a bit and we got to weather a short thunderstorm with lightning hitting as close as three-hundred meters. It was great hanging with Melissa by the fire while we both wrote in our journals.

This morning we were up and out of camp and on dirt by 8am. We attempted to take the dirt road just out of Fish Camp, but it came to an abrupt end around the 8 mile point due to snow. We turned around and made tracks for Bonner’s Ferry with lots of dirt road stops along the way, which also included a stop-off for Huckleberry Pie for breakfast. We also stopped at the middle fork of the Flathead to let the pups run crazy.

Part of this trip was to explore old US 2. Once west of the hustle and bustle of K-town it was everything I hoped for. Windy turns with mountains, lakes, and beautiful scenery. Taking our time we made the 4-hour journey to Bonner’s Ferry in 6-hours.

I got us checked into a hotel so I could drop girls and guns off- grab a quick shower, let Melissa hit the laundry mat and then I dashed for a quick crossing of Canada. Because I am short on time (for dinner) I will cover that in another blog when I can dedicate time for the “incident-free” trip….hope you get the sarcasm.
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Day Two…. Clearwater National Forest to Glacier National Park

Day two of our trip and things are going well. Ok… I got a little cranky…Ok…really cranky. I find if I have too much windshield time I am done for the day once we hit a camp site. My inner introvert comes out and I need to recharge by myself. I wasn’t getting it. I was feeling like a hired guide at one point and leading a team of rookies in the outdoors. Of course this wasn’t the case and after everyone was off and in slumber-land, I had some time to journal, read, and get a few hours of undisturbed sleep….like three of them.

The morning started off really well. After navigating our way back on to the main road (HWY 12) we made a few stops to reconnect. The first was breakfast at a quiet overlook on the Lochsa River. The second was in a prepared, yet reclusive park-and-walk area, the Bernard Devoto scenic walk. Here we found an area passed up by many, and for us, it was a peaceful place we could laugh and joke as a family.

We hit rain about an hour before Lolo, so we delayed pulling off the top until the sun came out. We also dodge a few Deer on the pass, and almost had one for a hood ornament. We missed her by only a foot or two. Any delay and our trip would have had another kind of excitement.

A few hours after crossing into Montana, we made our way up towards Kalispell along HWY 93. We went on the east side of a huge lake I don’t recall the name of at the moment, and too tired to walk back to the Jeep to look at the map. There was steady traffic along the lake road, but to my surprise, no one tail-gated or became aggravated with the driver in front. Pretty different as you make your way from Boise to Hailey on HWY 20. People seem to live a bit easier here.

We made a lunch stop along the border of a Bison Range and a bird refuge. Montana has done an awesome job of keeping rest stops and picnic areas attractive and well kept. Melissa made a few bagel sandwiches, I fell asleep with mine on the cool picnic bench.

We have been a bit wishy-washy on visiting Glacier National Park. I didn’t want to have to push hard for anything on this trip. We rolled into the park around four, made camp, and Melissa started dinner. We could probably do an entire blog on just the meals she has created for this trip.

We were probably over-thinking the Glacier part of the trip. Abby is on crutches so she is pretty limited to what she can do on this trip. She is my hard-core hiker so for her to be sequestered to a chair is difficult for here. We are all glad we made the trip in…it is a nice break from the road.

Watching what we leave out tonight. We are in bear country and there have been bears in the campsites this week. It is illegal to shoot one, however- I will go to jail if need be to protect my family if one comes in and is being a pain.

In the morning we’ll do a quick tour of the park, then head for Bonner’s Ferry. I am dropping the girls off at a hotel and heading for Canada. Tonight, we are all sitting by the fire and working on journals. Probably should’t bring out the bongos and djembe….too many close neighbors….

Side note…I have a ton more pictures to post once I hit the hotel in Bonner’s Ferry that are on my ipod—-it doesn’t have a 3G connection….heck I am happy/sad there is a 3G here in Glacier….kind of takes away from the “disconnection” of life….

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NW Expedition- Blue Road Fetish

First day of our NW Expedition. Sitting in our camp site on FS Road 107, right off Hwy 12. We took off at 6 am from Boise. Rig has run great pulling our Expedition Box we built last year with Greg. We opted to travel I 95 up to Grangeville.

This one is about folly. Following the small two lane roads as well as dirt to see towns that just might be on a map.

In Grangeville we hooked up with Ft Dix and Camp Bullis buddy Brent Conrad. Brent now work as the IT guru for the Forest Service and is based on one of the best assignments. Since they have a team of FS Smoke Jumpers, and Brent knows I have jumped out of a few planes, he hooked us up with one of the rookie jumpers to give us a tour.

Don’t let “rookie” fool you. Before getting a shot at become one of the elite of the Forest Service, all jumpers have to put in their time as Wild Land Fire Fighters. I not only enjoyed the info we learned, but the demeanor of our guide was awesome. I’ve only met one other smoke jumper and the ego was pretty huge. Everyone I met at the station in Grangeville was pretty humble.

After we toured and caught up with Brent, we headed towards Missoula with the idea to find camping along the way.

So after jocking the trailer down a really remote path (backwards) we settled on a tight little spot to camp. There is bear in the area as well as wolves. Abby will camp with both dogs in her tent to help alert if there is any danger tonight. We are trying to bear proof everything including trying to stay scent free.

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Road Trip to Nuts

Screen shot of the website for the museum in Bastogne

Screen shot of the website for the museum in Bastogne

One of the most memorable road trips was 1990. I was stationed in Germany in the late 80’s and early 90’s. The cold war was in flux, we still had Soviet tanks ready to rush the Fulda Gap, Checkpoint Charlie was the gate from the Island of Freedom known as West Berlin, and Aircraft stood on alert ready to respond to what was sure to be the end of mankind as we know it.
There were still numerous living vets from WWII who would talk about the war, mostly the moments outside of combat. Didn’t matter if it was an American, German, patriotic citizen of Luxembourg, or friendly Belgian, I could even get arrogant French vets to open up a bit. My interest had grown about the history of the war and since I had a grandfather who had fought and was wounded at the Battle of the Bulge, I really wanted to see the battle grounds in Luxembourg and Belgium.
I headed out early on a rare day off with a buddy Kent Wilkinson. Kent was a Senior NCO and I had just made NCO status. The respect was there. I have always had the ability to keep professional relationships and private life separate. He was a great leader who would later make Chief. The road trip would be the last time I would see him for several years. I did serve under his brother on a QRT (quick reaction team) in Desert Storm, but I would run into Kent many years later when I was playing drums for Narrow Road.
We cleaned off chow at the mess hall early and headed towards Luxembourg in my Suzuki Samurai. Our first stop was in the tiny museum dedicated to General George S. Patton. It was honestly one of the best collections of WWII history I have ever seen. Both Kent and I took our time and quietly walked through the museum, stopping every few moments to discuss the displays.
Out of know where in accented, but very good English a man approached us as were looking over a set of German machine guns, “You want to see the weapons?”
Not sure of his intent I politely answered back, “Yes we see them”.
“No, no, no…you want to see them? I’ll take you to see them”
Kent and I both went on alert. Both of us were having flashbacks to all those Armed Forces Network commercials about terrorism and the movies we were forced to watch in the base theater every year emphasizing the danger of militant extremist kidnapping us and then leaving us for dead in some barn in the middle of the Eifel Mountains.
“Sure” I responded, probably surprising Kent. I was in the middle of a horrible divorce and really didn’t have anything to lose. Kent was single, so he had a whole life ahead of him. I figured that balanced us out.
Over the next few hours we were given the “behind-the-scenes” tour of the whole museum. It turned out the man taking us around was the owner and curator of the museum. He knew every weapon, canteen, vehicle, etc of the place. Most of it he had collected on his own. When he found out my grandfather was a t Bastogne, the day got even better.
We spent the rest of the day going to small unknown battle fields, visiting with locals, and checking out farms that had old tanks he was still trying to buy from farmers (many had been transformed into farm equipment.)
We eventually made it to the “Nuts” Museum, where we received first class treatment and had a guided tour. The Bastogne War Museum covers the Second World War, from the fall of 1944, and then focuses on the Battle of the Bulge.I found it interesting that not only key events of the battle were covered, but also the day in the life of the men who endured the harsh conditions with death constantly knocking on the door. In addition, the museum also provides a forgotten element, how the civilians lived during the German occupation, then the battle itself, and post hostilities.
After the tour we then left to see a few more battlefields and then treated to a feast in a local gaust haus/ tavern/ pub. On tap was a local wine from the monastery and on the table was horse. Yes, horse and being the polite guest I consumed. Not sure what the big deal is about eating horse meat, it was pretty good.
Having a local guide that isn’t going to kill you, traveling with someone who has an equal level of interest in learning, and having the desire to see new things is the perfect ingredient for day trips like this. I wish I had pictures from the journey, but they have been lost or destroyed (the ex) along the way, but I still have my memories and experience of the adventure. I haven’t spoken to Kent in years, but think of this trip often.
Please check out the website for the Museum in Bastogne http://www.bastognewarmuseum.be/page,Bastogne-War-Museum-General-introduction,94.html

Idaho Scenic Byways

DCIM100GOPROThis is the time of year to hit the scenic byways of Idaho. These are great one-day and even multi-day trips that most vehicles can handle. If you have been a steady reader of the blog or the podcast, you know we love to hit these 4-wheel adventures. Idaho has so much to offer.

When researching, make sure your first stop is to http://www.visitidaho.org/scenic-byways/ where you can order your free travel guide. While the guide lacks many of the details to plan out your trip, it does give you enough of a view to pull out the map and do some planning.

Go Prepared

While some trips don't require this much recovery gear, trips on backcountry byways requirs that you go completely preparred

While some trips don’t require this much recovery gear, trips on backcountry byways requires that you go completely prepared

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But before you head out- think of how you pack for the trip. Remember Idaho’s byways range from rural to remote. Be sure you have any emergency gear packed for the trip such as first-aid, good communications, extra water, tools, etc. Some of these byways skirt alongside backcountry areas so help will not always be a phone call away. If you have a breakdown or other emergency- you need to be prepared to stay for awhile. In my other article I briefly outline what we take on trips such as the Owyhee Backcountry Byway, one of the most remote byway trips in Idaho.

I keep a road atlas with me to do over-the-hood planning while on the road. They are great for reference along the way

Shutter Bugs

253No matter where you start out from, there are great options for awesome scenery. Be sure to pack your camera and if you are really a shutter bug, pack those once-in-a lifetime lenses you rarely pull out. This last winter I had my dad along Sawtooth, Payette River, and Western Heritage byways where he had opportunity to shoot pics of Antelope, a young brood of Sand Hill Crane, and a few other hard to get close to animals. In addition, great scenery abounds on the byways so packing a tripod and a wide angle is a must. Pack extra batteries, throw in a dust cloth for the lenses, and maybe an extra memory card. There are even opportunities for the iPod photo enthusiast so keep your car charge handy.266

Soak in the Sites

  IMG_6040 Stop off at the small museums, wineries, and state parks along the way. There are great stops along the way like Craters of the Moon National Park along the Peaks to Craters Byway or Huston Wineries along the Snake River Byway. Most have great mom and pop diners for lunch, keep cash on hand for some of the better stops. Better yet, throw in your own picnic. We usually throw in lunch for the day and stop for dinner or start off with breakfast in a non-chain dive. IMG_6043I love driving but need a break from hours of windshield time. I like to find an area where we can park and either pull out sandwiches or I can do a quick burger or two on one of our portable grills. I even throw in a few lawn chairs to relax in.

Journal It

Capture moments along the way and post in the journal

Capture moments along the way and post in the journal

DCIM100GOPROThere are 30 official byways in Idaho. I recommend creating a special journal for the adventure, and log each one with thoughts to scribe, postcards, pictures, museum tickets, etc.

 

Sometimes we will take a few days to do one or more byways- and camp along the way. This is where our home built Explorer box designed by Compact Camping Concepts is a huge benefit.

Sometimes we will take a few days to do one or more byways- and camp along the way. This is where our home-built Explorer box designed by Compact Camping Concepts is a huge benefit.

For more information checkout the article just released from Magic Valley Times-News http://magicvalley.com/lifestyles/recreation/scenic-byway-adventures-adventure-guide/article_8f53f418-d7d0-11e3-aaf4-001a4bcf887a.html

In addition, I have a few write up on my own byway tours at AdventureIQ.com including these two…

https://adventureiq.wordpress.com/2012/02/20/465/

https://adventureiq.wordpress.com/2013/06/24/touring-the-owyhee-back-country-byway/

And if you see us on the road out there-stop and say hey! We just might have a sticker or two for you!

Our Trailer Build in Pictures

Last year a buddy of mine and I built my expedition trailer. While I still need to do a full blog article, I thought I should at least share the pictures of the build…based on what I could find on my hard drive…so here you go– more details to follow.

Not in any order–random pics I found

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