Steven Ginn Photography

2006 Summer Road Trip

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The following journal entries were originally written and emailed, roughly on a daily basis, to a number of folks during a road trip Pat, John and I took during the late summer of 2006. We traveled through Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Alberta Canada, British Columbia Canada and Washington state.

The trip took us through the John Day Fossil Beds, Craters of the Moon National Monument, both the US and Canadian side of Glacier National Park, through Banff, Lake Louise and Jasper. We also spent several days sampling the wine and food in the Okanogan's. Near the end we rested several days in northeastern Washington at Pat's sister's cabin before returning home.

Day 1 (Saturday, 9/9)

Portland OR to Mitchell OR

We drove 290 miles from Portland to Mitchell . We drove I-84 to Dalles then down Hwy 197 south to Maupin then Bakeoven Road to Shaniko then the Shaniko/Fossil Hwy to Fossil. From Fossil to John Day Clarno Unit then we took a back road through Richmond (a ghost town) ending up just east of Mitchell. Before checking into the Oregon Hotel in Mitchell we drove to John Day Painted Hills Unit and did a couple of short hikes and took some early evening photos of the Painted Hills. We drove back to Mitchell and checked into the hotel and had dinner at the Little Pine cafe right next store. The interesting part was that when we order an "entire" bottle of wine the waitress asked us to show her how to open it. They don't drink much wine in Mitchell, we where lucky they had any at all.

Day 2 (Sunday, 9/10)

Mitchell OR to Boise, ID

We drove 264 miles from Mitchell to Al and Sarah Ames' house in Boise (Sarena's parents). We started out the day with a very nice breakfast at the Little Pine Cafe again, where they asked us when we walked in if we wanted a bottle of wine, we said no. After repacking to car and car top carrier to make it easier to load and get to what we needed we drove east on Hwy 26 to the John Day Sheep Rock Unit and visited the visitor center (worth the visit) and took a hike on the Blue Basin trail which is a hike I remember from what I think was a old high school field trip. From there we continued east on Hwy 26 to Ontario, OR and then I-84 for Bosie. We reached Al and Sarah's house just in time for a great Grilled steak dinner for which Al had John grill the meat since we have some sort of reputation as good cooks. I was asked to pick the wine out. :-)

Day 4 (Tuesday, 9/12)

This was our long day of travel, the odometer reading at the end of the day read 1246 miles for the trip which means we went 440 miles during the day which took us a total of 10 hours however the car's computer indicates that we were actually underway for only 7 hours. During the drive we were constantly surrounded in smoke and at one point we were able to observe fires on the slopes of the Bitterroot Mountains. In generally the drive was pretty interesting with a lot of scenery to look at.

Our route took us north/east on Trail Creek Road (narrow and unpaved) out of Sun Valley/Ketchum intersecting with US93. We drove US93 north out of Idaho into Montana until we reached US2 (east) into Glacier National Park, where we stayed at the Village Inn at Apgar (wait until you see the photos of the view right out the front door of our room!). We drove over to Lake McDonald Lodge and had dinner.

Day 5 (Wednesday, 9/13)

This day we only drove from Apgar over to Many Glacier Hotel via the "Going to the Sun" highway across the continential divide. This road was a very narrow and picturesque route with many stops along the way for photos and general looking at the scenery. We completed the route to Many Glacier Hotel by taking US89 from St Mary's up to Babb where we then drove12 miles west back into the park to reach the hotel.

The highlight, of my day at least, was taking a large number of photos of a couple of Big Horn Sheep that wondered into the parking lot at the Logan Pass Visitors Center. I was able to get so close that some of the photo's I got when I zoomed in resulted in the head of the sheep being bigger than the frame. Ask me another time how I felt when I discovered that I had lost a number of these photos, fortunately not all, when one of my new 4 GB SANDisk Extreme IV cards reported it was corrupted. Since I can still see most of these of these when viewing the card with the camera, I am just unable to download them, I hope to be able to figure out a way to recover them. Needless to say, that card is sideline for the rest of the trip, but fortunately I brought a bunch of cards with me. (the following was written by Pat) Meanwhile Pat and John did a quick 2 hour hike up out of the Logan Pass to the Hidden Lake view point. On the way they spotted a pair of ptarmigans, a hoary marmot, a couple Rocky Mountain goats and they also spotted the same Big Horn Sheep after the animals had wandered up the hill away from the parking lot. The view from the top was pretty spectacular even being able to spot back to the tip of Lake McDonald where we had started the day.

The sun disappeared mid-morning and the weather turned windy and cold by the end of the day and before dark the clouds where definitely obscuring the tops of the peak. The forecast is for snow, I hope that it reaches down to the lodge we are staying tonight and tomorrow night! It is kind of weird, however, since yesterday evening it was blue sky and 80 degrees.

Day 6 (Thursday, 9/14)

Pat says the update for today should say "It rained, it snowed, we kept driving.". This is not too far from the truth, it alternately rained and snowed most of the day as we toured more around Glacier National Park. We drove south out of Many Glacier to Two Medicine Lake on the way there took some interesting photos of a blackened forest (looked like a forest fire no more than one year old) with heavy snow falling on it, then back to St Mary's Lake and took some more photos of Wild Goose Island as it threatened to clear up but never did.

At Diane's recommendation before we left, we stopped at the Hotel/Lodge in St Mary's for a very late lunch and some huckleberry cheesecake. Apparently it was suppose to be the best cheesecake ever, but we got plain cheesecake that had just come out of the freezer with huckleberry syrup on top. Although in general the lunch we had was pretty good there.

We drove back to Many Glacier and downloaded all the photos. Just now, while I was typing this, it cleared up some more here and we ran out and took what I hope turns out to be some nice photos of the tall snow dusted peaks around this lodge. Alhough it was a bit tough due to the setting sun shining straight into the camera!

Tomorrow, it's off to Canada via the Canadian side of this park, known as Waterton Lakes. We, don't know where we are staying, much less if it will have anyway to connect to the internet, so I will send the next message as soon as possible.

Day 7 (Friday, 9/15)

It continued to rain and snow on Friday, which has made the sight seeing a little harder to do. The total milage for the trip is now at 1690, we drove about 220 miles on Friday.

Friday was the day of bears. While leaving Many Glacier we spotted a mother black bear and two cubs and right after that we spotted two grizzly bears, we have photos of both sets of bears. From Many Glacier we drove to Waterton Lakes Park in Canada where again there was a mother black bear and two cub bears and on the way out of the park right after rounding a corner there was a young (maybe one year old?) black bear standing in the middle of the road. It ran off before we could get any cameras out to take it's photo.

From Waterton Lakes we drove north through Pincher Creek and then west on Hwy 3 all the way to Fernie B.C. where we spent the night. On the way we stopped at a place called the Frank Slide, right next to a town called Crowsnest Pass, where in 1903 a slide fell of the side of a tall mountain and basically destroyed the town of Frank. The slide is very impressive, search google for "Frank Slide".

We ended the day having something of an adventure with dinner. We had picked a place out from the visitor guide info in the hotel but when we got there it was permanently closed. So we decided to try one of the ski lodges, Island Lake Lodge, for dinner at the other end of town. It turned out that it's driveway was 10km (6 miles) long and was a dark, wet, muddy, pot holey, windy and sometimes slick road going up into the mountain. After a while on this road we were sure that we must be on the wrong road except that there were signs telling us to keep going. This was not the type of road that anyone would casually drive out on for dinner. We figured that the place was probably going to be a dump by the time we reached it but we had gone far enough on the road that we decided we need to at least see it, although it was very tempting to just turn around. Much to our surprise when we reached the lodge it was a very modern log building with a very nice restaurant. The meal turn out to be outstanding if possibly a little expensive at $300 before tip.

Day 8 (Saturday, 9/16)

We left Fernie and drove Hwy 3 over to Hwy 93 and then north to Radium Hot Springs and then east into the Kootenay National Park still on Hwy 93. Once we intersected with Hwy 1 we went a short distance south to tour Banff but decided to continue back north to Lake Lousie once we discovered Banff was packed with people. We spent the night at Lake Lousie at a hotel in the village, not at the Chateau up at the lake (that would have cost us over $500 for the room of one night).

We mostly did a relaxed drive stopping a few times to take photos of the park, however it was still cloudy, rainy and snowy.

We tried to have dinner at the Lake Lousie Chateau, but at each of the dining rooms we tried to get into we were told that they were full up for the entire night. While this could have been true because it was very busy, I prefer to believe that they just would not seat us in their fancy dining rooms because we were scruffy and unshaven! :-) So we ended up eating in a restaurant down in the village where again we had a waiter who did not know how to open a bottle of wine, this person claimed that he was normally a morning waiter and he had to ask for help from another waiter to deal with our wine order.

Day 9 (Sunday, 9/17)

We got up early to a clear sky and did a sunrise photo session at the lake. We then took a hike around the lake. After taking a shower and checking out of the hotel we drove north on Hwy 93 and stopped frequently to take photos of the tall snow dusted peaks on beautiful sparkling clear day. We eventually made it to Jasper where we spent the night.

The scenery and the drive this day were fantastic, very dramatic and steep slopes leading up to tall peaks and large glaciers. A person could spend a lot more time than this. This area definitely deserves another trip with more time spent exploring the country side.

On Monday we are heading down to the Okanagan area to start a couple days of wine tasting in Canada's premier wine producing area.

Day 10 (Monday, 9/18)

This day was taken up primarily with a long drive from Jasper, AB to Penticton, BC at the south end of the Okanagan Lake. Other than the 500 mile drive, the interesting part was we had an excellent dinner at the Heritage Inn in Naramata. Good food and wine and "very" pricey.

Day 11 (Tuesday, 9/19)

This day we spent the entire day driving to different wineries around the area and tasting as much of the wine we could that had not already been sold out for the season. Apparently the crowds were good this year and there was a lot of wine that was sold out already. We had another excellent dinner at the Vanilla Pod in Summerland. I finished the meal with a '77 Wares Port, Pat had a 15yr Japanese whiskey and John had a Sumac Ridge Pipe port style wine. Again good food, and wine and a bit pricey.

Day 12 (Wednesday, 9/20)

We started heading south on our way to Marie's cabin in Mazama. On the way we stopped at a few more wineries. By the time we reached the border to cross back into the US we had 72 bottles of wine in the car that we had to declare. The duty on bringing wine back into the US from Canada is not too bad, essentially after the first liter of wine it's 28 cents per liter for as much as you want for personal use. Since a bottle of wine is only 750ml that translates into 21 cents per bottle we paid US customs. We saw another bear this day, this time it was crossing the road just before we reached the cabin.

Day 13 (Thursday, 9/21)

So far not much happening, Relaxing in the very nice cabin and not planning on doing much other than drink more of the wine we brought back with us.

Day 14 (Friday, 9/22)

We continued to relax at the cabin, we took a drive up to a 7000 foot peak near Hart's pass, the road was snowy and if you are the faint of heart type of person on high, steep and very narrow mountain roads this would not be the road for you even if it was not snowy!

Day 15 (Saturday, 9/23) LAST DAY!

We drove all the way home to Portland. Not much happened during the day other than we drove the entire way without stopping. The total mileage for the trip was 3424 miles. This trip was a lot of fun and I definitely enjoyed it, but then I got to drive the entire way! :-)