Seattle Journals

Two Week Road Trip Through the Northwest USA

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A June 2009 trip to Seattle by whenilk38

Mount St Helens Photo, Seattle, Washington More Photos
Quote: In June of 2009 I took a solo road trip near, but not always on the huge interstate road system through our Northwestern States. I created a trip journal and titled it "Don't Fence Me In."

Don't Fence Me In - Introduction

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I recently completed a 15-day, 7,500-mile trip from my home in Augusta, GA to our great Northwest and back. It was one of the few places in the United States that I had never traveled, even though I did fly into and out of Seattle once, back in the early 1990s. I had never driven through Montana, Idaho, Washington or Oregon. My wife wasn’t interested in seeing that part of the country, so she said she wouldn’t mind if I went alone. Thus started the journey I will hold as one of the best experiences in my life. I would have liked to have Judy go with me, but I also know that I would have missed out on driving—she does all the driving when we travel together—and some of my hiking....Read More

Day 1 - South Dakota

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Corn Palace in Mitchell, SD Photo, South Dakota, United States
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The only bad part of this trip, if there was a "bad part," was the drive to get into position for the sightseeing. I had to drive 1,500 miles to Sioux Falls, South Dakota before I could start taking pictures. I also had to drive home from Denver, Colorado over the flat plains of Kansas and on down to Georgia over familiar and boring territory--well, boring to me, because I had traveled it so many times in the past and had seen virtually everything along the way. All of the preliminary planning really paid off, because I know that I visited places that millions of folks drive right on by without ever knowing they are so close to a breathtaking sight. My best ex...Read More

Day 2 - Wyoming and Montana

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Devils Tower Photo, Wyoming, United States
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Having awakened at my hotel in Rapid City and breakfasted at a buffet, I headed west into Wyoming and Montana with a destination that night in Bozeman. I had a beautiful day until I had passed Billings and then the rain came, and it came with a vengeance. Of course, I was through with my sightseeing for the day by then, so it was a minor distraction to my driving. Earlier in the day, I went off the interstate to see Devils Tower, the monument that was featured-and probably introduced to many moviegoers-in "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," the Steven Spielberg film starring a young Richard Dreyfuss. It is very easy to get to Devils Tower and ba...Read More

Day 3 - Montana

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Mission Mountains Photo, Montana, United States
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My third day turned out to be one of those days when nothing goes right. I left Bozeman is a light drizzle, but the clouds soon parted and I thought I was going to have another bright sunny day. I only had about 200 miles to drive before I reached Missoula, but I had gone from rain to sun to rain again. Still, I had hopes that my travel north would get me clear of the weather. I started up the Route 93 from Missoula to Flathead Lake and immediately was in a construction zone. It was Sunday, so I wasn't concerned about men and equipment, but the road was torn up, and I mean it was down to the sub-layer of mud. I drove over it for about 30 miles and was about to turn around and ...Read More

Day 4 - Washington

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Sunshine Mine Memorial Photo, Seattle, Washington
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This was one of the best days on my trip. I started out of Missoula and drove across the narrowest part of Idaho to Coeur D'Alene and then on to Spokane, Washington. Along the way I stopped near Kellog, Idaho to visit the Sunshine Mine Memorial. There is a special exit at mile marker 322 on I-90 just for the memorial, which commemorates the tragedy which occurred in 1972 when fire broke out in the mine. 178 men were working in the mine, and 91 were lost. There is a statue of a miner surrounded by headstone markers as a remembrance of the men and the event. When I got to Spokane I took a planned detour on Route 2 that took me over to Coulee City. Just after...Read More

Day 5 - Western Washington

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Mount Rainier Photo, Mt. Rainier National Park, Washington
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No, I didn't go up in the Space Needle or to the Boeing Aircraft Plant while I was in Seattle. I did take two scenic loop drives, one around Mount Rainier and the other up to the Johnston Overlook at Mount St. Helens. My trip around Mount Rainier on a scenic loop road was not what I had expected. I wasn't able to get very close to the mountain, and there was a lot of forest to block the view. It was a neat enough trip, however. I was also disappointed to learn that the road from Randle was not passable down to Wind Ridge, the eastern viewpoint for Mount St Helens. I had to drive all the way out to I-5 and head south for the Johnston Overlook instead. Harry Johns...Read More

Day 6 - Oregon

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The Trail to Wakeenah Falls Photo, Oregon, United States
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I stayed in Portland for two nights--kind of a resting up place, since it was the middle of my trip--but I did take an interesting drive while there. Interstate 84 goes along the Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorge, and has numerous state parks, so I set out early Wednesday morning to explore the numerous attractions along the gorge. The parks feature some spectacular waterfalls. I had to hike up to a few of them, so I got good exercise, too. It was a four-mile round-trip, and all uphill for the first half. Whew! However, I did it all with frequent stops, and it was well worth the effort. A babbling brook was running alongside the trail. In some plac...Read More

Day 7 - Columbia River Gorge Revisited

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Clumbia Rriver Gorge from Portland Women's Forum  Photo, Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, Oregon
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Leaving Portland on I-84, I got off at Troutdale, Exit 17, and drove over the Historic Columbia River Highway. It winds up to the top of the bluffs and then provides several viewpoints from the top. There are two points in particular that you don't want to miss. The Portland Women's Forum State Park and Crown Point State Park. The highway up to Crown Point is scenic, and includes some sleepy towns and parks, but I was warned not to miss a large sign on the left side for the Portland Women's Forum. I found it and turned off into a short road and a parking lot. The view from there is perfect, and takes in a couple of large homes on the ridge, the Columbia River Gorge to the eas...Read More
Perrine Memorial Bridge - Twin Falls, Idaho Photo, Twin Falls, Idaho
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Leaving the capital of Idaho in my rear view mirror, I drove to Bliss at Exit 141. I took the Thousand Springs Scenic Byway from there to Twin Falls. It follows the Snake River most of the way, and features several small waterfalls. The road eventually leaves the Snake and enters Twin Falls at the southwest corner of town.There is a Visitor Center up near the Perrine Memorial Bridge, where I was able to get some directions and tips on the best viewing areas. From there, I drove down into the Snake River Canyon to the Riverfront Centennial Park. The view of the Perrine Bridge from there was unfettered. The bridge is very photogenic.A three-mile drive down Falls Avenue took...Read More

Day 9 - Utah

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Scenic Alpine Highway - Mt Timpanogos Photo, Utah, United States
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Today was the penultimate day of my sightseeing, and it was alsoillustrative of my theme, "Don't Fence Me In." I started out of Salt Lake City with the intention of seeing Timpanogos Cave near Provo, Utah. I took Exit 285, Route 92 on I-15 and drove east into American Fork Canyon. Route 92 becomes the Scenic Alpine Highway as you enter the Wasatch Mountains. By the time I reached the gate into the alpine loop up to the cave, the waiting list for tours was three to four hours. Here is a tip for you, so that you don't have my disappointment. If you are going to visit Timpanogos Cave, make advance reservations. Cave tour tickets frequently sell out, especially on weekends and holiday...Read More

Day 10 - Colorado

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Mount Evans, Colorado Photo, Colorado, United States
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Today I only did one sightseeing activity, but it was the "ultimate Trip" for this whole itinerary. Imagine riding on the world's biggest and scariest roller coaster, and you might come close to this, but not quite close enough. I drove up to the summit of Mount Evans on the highest paved road in the USA. It was fourteen miles of two-lane road with no guardrails, numerous blind hairpin turns, and bicyclists competing with the automobiles. Around every turn was a new surprise. sunday is probably not the best day to drive to the summit, as there is more traffic than on any other weekday. I won't even attempt to name all the peaks and lakes and such in the photos, but most of t...Read More