Back in the USA. Our next leg of the trip took us east on Route 20 and into the North Cascades Natl. Park. Venturing out on the Diablo Lake Trail, we were suppose to go to the top of a mountain and an overlook of glaciers. Taking a detour, we were led to the North Cascades Institute. This facility provides a variety of natural and cultural history courses. Living quarters, cafeteria and classrooms are in a fabulous mountain setting. We were both drawn to signing up for the next class.
Driving out of the Cascades, we noticed a strong burning smell and smoke rising from the engine. Luckily, we were able to coast off he highway and into a campsite located just off the road at Lone Fir, a US Forest site. I guess the mountains of the Cascades had been the last straw. After determining the problem, the following day Alan drove with limited brakes, downshifting 100 miles south to Wenatchee, WA. The Columbia River Valley produces around 60% of the apples for the U.S. and there are numerous boutique wineries but we had not realized that succulent peaches,nectarines, pears and plums are also grown in this area. the peaches and nectarines were perfect, definitely a two napkin requirement for eating these juicy, sweet treats.
The gravel and mountainous roads had been hard on the RV. We spent the next two days in Wenatchee and then into Spokane, getting new brakes for the front end, two new tires and a ball joint replacement. Driving toward Yellowstone Park along the Madison River Valley, we spotted many guide float trips fly fishing for trout on the river. Never one to miss an opportunity to go fishing, we stopped. Alan was able to catch a trout on the first cast. On our entry to Yellowstone, a Bald eagle was causing a minor traffic jam as he surveyed the area. Animal sightings in the park are accompanied by a line of traffic on both sides of the road. The following morning, we watched the spectacle of Old Faithful and then spent a lazy afternoon next to Yellowstone Lake.
Outside of Grand Teton Natl. Park, we camped along the Wind River. The sky was so clear and the night so dark we were able to see millions of stars and the Milky Way--indescribably beautiful. The evening was accented by a lovely fire, one of dozens we have had over the past months. Continuing south into Utah, we met Bob and
Stan , two Harley bikers. They were part of a group of 500 bikers riding from St. Joseph, MI to Sacramento, CA in a rally tracing the route of the Pony Express Trail, around 2000 miles.
Headed through the gorgeous canyon drive down to Wellsville, where we visited friends. In their agriculturally zoned city home, they grow much of their own fruits and vegetables and have several chickens providing eggs for their family--a lovely pastoral setting. As we continued our drive, we passed road signs, "Antelopes entering highway at 55mph". Thankfully we did not have any such encounters. Stopped a couple days at Mesa Verde. The cave dwellings of the Anasazi have always intrigued me. These communities started 1400 years ago, building their homes on the sheltered alcoves of canyon walls. Looking around it is hard to fathom how they managed to thrive in this setting for almost 700 years before moving on.
We had snow flurries as we drove though the mountains toward Taos. Approaching the town, we spotted another unusual community, Earthship. These homes are built with natural and recycled material and use water harvesting, and solar and wind electric power.(website-www.earthship.com)
They can function100% off the grid. Very cool to see an area successfully functioning in this manner.
Taos (pop 6500) is an artist community. There are over 80 galleries in the area and almost 30% of the population are artist. Perusing the galleries and partaking in gourmet southwestern cuisine, we enjoyed visiting this lovely town. Now, it is time for the manatees to leave the byways and hit the highways for home.