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One Chapter Ends, Another Begins

I've previously detailed what a special person Dwane Stowe was. On June 20, 2020 at 12:20am, he passed on and joined his loving wife Juanita. This was a pivotal point in our lives. Often I say, "Darin and I were caring for Pops". The reality of the situation is that this wonderful 95 year old truly cared for us. We miss him everyday.

COVID-19 was still raging on and we had been in lockdown for over three months. We tidied things up around the house, made arrangements for our home and pets, then left. No plans, no destinations mapped out, just packed a few things and left on June 22, 2020.

As we drove away in our converted Sprinter Van, we called and canceled appointments and indefinitely postponed whatever else was pending.

We took Hwy 1 North and stayed as close to the coast as we could for this leg of the trip. Our first stop was Morro Bay for some fantastic fish-n-chips and chicken tacos. Morro Bay is beautiful, you should definitely stop at the Lil' Hut Fish-n-Chips place. I had begun letting family and friends know we were on the road and my oldest brother mentioned a little spot that I had not heard of after all this time of dashing up and down the west coast. Moonstone Beach is an absolute gem to be treasured. We spent the night just about 30 yards from the crashing waves.

This was my morning coffee view. I love the cool ocean air; warm days and cool evenings are just perfect for me.

After our morning walk and stretch we continued on up Hwy 1 and stopped in Moss Landing at a produce stand. We bought the best miniature avocados I've ever eaten. They were about the size of golf balls but were packed with flavor. There are many roadside stands on Hwy 1, just pick one.

Driving north on the coast of California means I get to see my favorite uncle! Remember that doorbell saga from previous posts? Well, thankfully Darin is an electrician and the saga was concluded this trip. Good news, bad news situation. Good news is I hooked it up correctly; bad news is I had stapled a wire. The staple was perfectly placed across the two wires to make a connection which caused the doorbell to fail... Moving on.

From San Francisco we crossed the Golden Gate Bridge and took exit 445B to Hwy 1 North. How I have missed this route before, I'll never know. This drive is truly over the top. The curves were intense and the views were spectacular. We caught a great sunset overlooking Bodega Bay and drove to just north of Jenner, CA for the night. This spot was a very large pull out (Cliff) overlooking the pacific ocean. There was another van in the area, we asked if they would mind us parking nearby, they were ok with it. The morning view was like an abyss with the fog.

We entered Oregon at about 4pm on June 25th and continued up the coast, Gold Beach is always a beautiful sight. Actually all of coastal Oregon is a must-see. We parked for the evening just south of Dune City. These dunes are gigantic! Lots of fun to walk over and make your way to the beach. So far for this part of our journey we weren't that great at figuring out how to scope out the best spots. We grabbed opportunities as they presented themselves and our luck was holding firm. We found a quiet little dirt road off Hwy 101 that led to a gate. We turned around and backed up close to trees and bushes for the night.

We were still just basically driving without a plan. This trip started out due to heart-break and turned into a re-set, re-connect journey. As we cruised up Oregon and crossed the Columbia River we decided to aim for Bellingham Washington. My little brother lives there and is a great cook when it comes to his backyard spit barbecue. We made great time actually and arrived in Bellingham at 9pm. Check out these views of the Oregon Coast and the Pig Roast:

We stayed a couple of nights and made a tentative plan of where to go next. Hwy 2 out of Everett Washington goes all the way across the country to the Great Lakes and beyond! Darin and I still had no idea what this journey would hold for us, We still had the 'go-go-go' mentality and quickly made our way to Leavenworth WA. We went through some beautiful spots along the way.

We were attempting note taking, journalling and picture taking... Although we do improve, we struggled with relaxing and taking our time.

After we walked through Leavenworth we drove east toward the Idaho state line. We made it to Chattaroy WA and pulled into Bear Lake County Park. This park was very cool! The dirt/gravel road that led into the park had an old gate that had not been closed in years. There were 2 options to go partially around the lake. We drove both and since I was a bit nervous about the No Overnight parking sign we picked a spot that was just off the path. At some point a big truck pulled in behind us and also stayed the night. It was a bit chilly, just how I like it and we got a great night's sleep.

Not long after entering Idaho we pulled over for breakfast at Jo Mamas Coffee and Crepes at 5814 Hwy 2, Priest River, ID. COVID-19 was still in full force so of course we did the drive up window. The lovely young lady told us about Priest lake, north on ID State route 57. This area is absolutely amazing. The primitive camping opportunities were plentiful and had limits of 2 weeks stays. There were spots to 4x4 to within steps of the lake. The hiking trails were great for our level of intensity, which varies from mild to intense depending on our mindset.

Since we were crossing Idaho in the Panhandle we made it to Montana pretty quickly with the promise to ourselves to return on another trip to spend more time in Priest Lake.

Kootenai National Forest was an added bonus for our day. Who knew? Waterfalls and a rope bridge!?! We are in... Honestly we thought we were stopping at a rest area or road-side stand. Little did we know we were walking into another highlight of our journey.

As we approached we realized there was a hiking trail and decided to give it a go. We spent about an hour and a half there exploring and enjoying the natural beauty. We came across a second sign pointing to the left for the bridge and to the right for the falls. We started with the bridge. We met a few people along the way and heard about how the bridge had changed over the years. Apparently it was quite easy to get it swinging years ago, thankfully it has been reinforced. I knew Darin would do his best to get it swinging once we got on it. I learned this on a trip to Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland.

After a nice short hike we re-crossed the bridge and headed to the falls. The power of the water was incredible. These photos do not do them justice. We walked along and discovered a few spots to get close to the falls. In fact, we were able to walk right out onto the rocks where the water was crashing down. We climbed an 8-ft rock wall and made our way back to the van, the sun was starting to get low and we still needed to scope out a place to sleep for the night.

We continued a short way on Hwy 2 to Libby, MT and turned right on a random dirt road. We drove up for about a mile and pulled into a wide area off the road overlooking the canyon and Hwy 2. When I say 'wide' in this instance it was about as wide as our van. Check out this spot! This is when we really started trying to figure out the best way to discover good spots other than dumb-luck.

Next stop is Glacier National Park and beyond. By this point we had decided we were going all the way across the country. Please subscribe and follow our journey.

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