Come with us to great western United StatesPublished 7:00pm Saturday, October 1, 2011
A group of us recently returned from a 12-day tour of the western United States, logging in over 4,700 miles and visiting 10 states by Amtrack and motor coach.
We departing by motor coach on Sept. 6, stopping every two hours for a short walk and stretch.
Our first night was in Minot, N.D. We changed our plans the next day and traveled to nearby Stanley, Mont., rather than Whitefish, Mont.
Track conditions at Minot still are not suitable due to all their recent rain and flooding they have experienced there.
The day-long ride gives us a chance to move about and socialize with beverages, meals and snacks available along the way. We could sitesee in the observation car as we crossed the North Dakota plains, skirted the Missouri River and crossed into the Big Sky County of Montana. After an all day ride we taken by motor coach to our home for the night in Whitefish.
On the third day we arrived in the beautiful city of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, with a population of 44,000. Coeur d’Alene is French and named after the Native Americans who lived along the rivers and lakes of the region.
The name, translated into English, means, “Heart of an awl.” According to Good Morning America Coeur d’Alene has the largest Christmas display in the U.S.
The lakes draw major ski and golf enthusiasts along the awesome sandy shorelines. It a golfers paradise with the only “Floating Green” in the world. Two of our golfers were able to take the boat ride to the green as the golfers do to play out the hole. We spent the overnight in Moses Lake, Wash.
Our siteseeing the following day began in the magnificent Multnomah Falls, Ore. The falls creates drops over 620 feet in a series of basins. The falls, located on the Columbia River, is the fifth highest waterfall in the U.S. and is Oregons’ most natural state attraction.
The Bonneville Lock and Dam, on the Columbia River, is a historic landmark and serves the Northwest. Located in the Columbia River Gorge are hydroelectric generators and fish ladders that allow salmon to bypass the dam and continue upstream. It takes more than 150 people to operate and maintain the lock and dam each year.
The salmon and other fish are each counted by a worker, registering More than 700,000 fish migrating upstream yearly.
Our evening stay that evening was in Portland, Ore.
We enjoyed the beautiful scenery and drive in Oregon. We headed for Gold Beach, Ore., where we toured the International Rose Test Gardens, spread over four and a half acres with more than 400 varieties of roses, in a beautiful settings.
They were still in the peak of full bloom.
That afternoon we traveled to the Sand Dunes in Florence, Ore., for a thrilling ride on a dune buggy across the white sand beaches.
As we continued down the scenic Gold Beach coast, we took a photo stop where a couple of whales made an appearance.
That Sunday we were in Eureka, Calif. We left early for a Rogue River jet boat ride through the Rogue River Canyon.
Throughout our 64-mile venture we spotting two small black bears, bald eagles and a large salmon bagged by one of the nearby anglers.
As we pulled over and walk up to a scenic lookout for lunch we picked some of same wild black berries, the bears may have enjoyed, which were very tasty. Our order for lunch also included a blackberry cobbler.
Following our ride we continued on for a drive through the Redwood National Forest, which boasts the tallest trees in the world.
Some of the trees reached upwards of 368 feet and 12 feet in diameter.
At the Paul Bunyan Gift Shop we encountered a interesting family of five. This young family traveled more than 7,000 miles across the United States (Kentucky to Alaska) on a special bicycle built for the five.
Now they were promoting their story with a book, to help defray their expenses. Some of us bought their book and it was very interesting.
We are almost halfway into our vacation tour with so much more to see. The sites and destinations to follow will be in the next newsletter. A date will be set for a get-together of all of the 40 people who joined us to share stories and pictures. Until then, enjoy the changing of the season.
A look ahead
As we turn our calendar to October, fall is officially upon us and we are ready for it. We are looking forward to the vibrant colors here in Minnesota.
Saturday: Fall leafing cruise on the La Crosse Queen on the Mississippi River. This is a three-hour narrated cruise with a special dinner buffet. Conditions permitting, we will “Lock up” on Dam No. 7.
Oct. 19: Church Basement Ladies, “A Mighty Fortress is our Basement.” Fee is due by Tuesday.
Nov. 9: Old Log theater in Excelsior presents “Everybody Loves Opal.” Registration due by Oct. 20.
Dec. 3: “A Country Christmas,” at the Lowell Lundstrom theater in Lakeville
Dec. 31 – Jan. 1: New Years Eve Gala, “Hair Spray,” at the Chanhassen dinner theater.