Saturday, July 24, 2010

The End of a Journey

Our road trip did eventually end.  It was two weeks on the road traveling light and stopping where the mood struck us.  DH loves to travel this way......and we enjoy it too although it cannot replace the relaxing nature of an all inclusive at a beach......still need to throw in one of those trips every now and again.  
Our final four days took us up through central Oregon and Washington.  We were all very surprised by the terrain as we had anticipated encountering more densely forested areas of lush vegetation.  Instead we found near desert conditions with tumble weeds blown across the highways by massively strong winds.  We are guessing the area is prone to these gale force winds as the countryside was also peppered with windmills as far as the eye could see.  There were lovely spots of green oasis winding along with the river which tended to be where the camping areas were.  As we neared the Canadian border, there were lots of areas of irrigation devoted to fruit production....but not nearly as intense as across the border.  Our stay at Rufus Lake Park near Chief Joseph Dam warned us of rattle snakes in the campgrounds and while we did get a little visit from some wild was from a Yellow Bellied Marmot and thankfully not a rattle snake:)  
We we told by other more seasoned campers that the rattle snakes liked to keep warm in the mounds of lava rock sprinkled throughout the campground.  Good to know since Ike gravitated towards these lava rock mounds almost immediately.  We took an unanticipated tour of the Chief Joseph Dam the next day and were treated to a surprisingly informative tour by the Army Corps of Engineers.  My husband and I are both engineers (geeks) so maybe that explains our interest.....but still I think worth the stop for any passers by.  We did not realize that the Chief Joseph Dam is second only to the Grand Coulee Dam in power generated, and produces enough power to supply the entire metropolitan area of Seattle.  We were fortunate that one of the generators was pulled apart for maintenance to expose how elegantly simple the whole process is.  The scope of the project is immense though and would have been amazing to see under construction.  We were lucky that we showed up just a few minutes before noon which is a scheduled tour time.....I believe their tour times run every two hours.  We spent a good hour with our guide and there were even some interpretive displays for Ike to play with.  With the recommendation of our tour guide we then headed into Brewster for an amazingly delicious Mexican lunch at Camperos......another unexpected surprise.  
We were served a cabbage salsa with chips which I am going to have to try to was surprisingly good and we even asked for a second plate.  The portions were huge and lunch was about $7 per person.....Ike could only eat half of his plate.  We also stopped into the little market across the street which carried mostly Mexican products.  We bought some sweet buns (much like these) from their bakery (super yum), some hot sauce we had liked from a previous trip to Mexico, and several bottles of tropical flavoured pops.  I could have looked longer in there......but we did have to get on the road.  A bit more driving and we were back in Canada safe and sound. The next few days were spent in the Penticton, Kelowna and Vernon area.  These areas are the hot spots for summer vacationing in British Columbia, and it was warm.  
The beaches were plenty along the lake and we spent a morning at one along with a bit of time in a community rose garden.  We thoroughly enjoyed Kelowna's indoor water park operated by the YMCA.  It had an inexpensive admission of $25.50 for a family up to 5 people and had swimming areas, wave pool, river run (with and without waves), a toddler play zone, two huge water slides, hot tubs and a surf zone.  We easily spent 3-4 hours there and it was perfect for the days that were just too hot outside. While Penticton and Kelowna are both summer towns containing all the cutesy tourist crap you'd expect of a summer tourism town....we found Vernon to be much more true to its original state and really enjoyed the little town.
Well our trip is done and soon, I'm sure, DH will be planning out the schedule for next years road trip.....maybe Vancouver Island??  Now we are knee deep in laundry and are preparing for our next trip back east:)  What will I miss most about this's difficult to say....we saw so many interesting things.....and I didn't come close to mentioning them all.......But I know I will be missing the RT44 Sonic Strawberry Limeade.......if you get the chance to try it........and ask for only 1/2 of the ice:)  Oh....and go during happy hour to get one for half price!

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