It’s been a while since I’ve had the time to blog about our adventures. We have done a lot of miles over the last several weeks! We actually hit the 10,000 mile marker on this trip (since we left San Angelo, Texas in April).
Over and over on this trip, I have been reminded of Proverbs 16:9 “We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our path.”
I can’t really explain it, but I have had a mental block for planning our trip past Washington State. I couldn’t figure out why. It seemed simple, but every time I looked at it, I would hit a brick wall and get really frustrated. Trip planning is usually a fun thing for me. It was beginning to make me wonder if we weren’t supposed to go that way. I had no idea about the wildfires at this point of planning. I always pray over my planning because I only want to go where He leads. I was praying for God to show me the places we needed to go in both Oregon and in California. Nothing…hmmmm…can’t find anything available for the dates I’m looking for, nothing close to the Interstate like we like, nothing in our price range, no boondocking places we can get to in our big rig…nothing. I still don’t completely understand, but it was obvious to me, we were supposed to take a different route this time.
Our original plan was to take I-90 from Ohio to Seattle, then head down the west coast, and eventually back east to Texas. In Montana, we started getting hit with smoke from the wildfires. It progressively got worse the longer we were there. I was a little bummed because it was so beautiful! We dipped down into Yellowstone National Park for a few days, and it was smoke-free while we were there (More about that in a minute), but when we returned to Montana, the smoke was really bad. It was giving us headaches and causing asthma issues for Miss Emily. We were ready to get out of the smoke. On top of that, the national forest we had planned to camp in for a couple of nights, was one of the ones on fire! That was a little crazy! We just kept driving until we could see the sky in Idaho. We had one clear night in Idaho, and once we hit Washington State, we were back in it. It wasn’t too bad the first couple of days, but the wind shifted and it got much worse. It’s a little unnerving to not be able to see the sky for days on end! I guess you might get used to it if you lived somewhere where fires were common, but that’s one huge benefit to having a house on wheels. We could move, so we did. We made the decision to completely alter our route and go a different direction. We checked out the wildfire map online and chose a route that went as far away from them as possible. It’s kind of crazy to just drive with no definite destination in mind and to not know where you will sleep each night. But, all that really mattered at that point was to get out of the smoke!
God always provides for us. We don’t always understand when He redirects us, but we embrace it, and press on. We ended up in Utah, which was not in our original plans, but what a pleasant surprise it has been! We have just about caught our breath enough I can share the highlights of our stops along the way.
So, here goes…
Montana – We stayed at Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park. It was a decent park. We planned to use this park as a “home base” while we did a little exploring of the area and of Yellowstone National Park. It worked out ok. It was close to the Interstate, but it was a little further from Yellowstone than we would have liked. We were not familiar with the smaller roads/terrain around Yellowstone, and didn’t want to end up in a pickle in our big rig. All things considered, I’m glad we did it this way. We enjoyed the tour of the . It’s an uphill one mile walk up to the entrance though, and in the smoke, it was tough! Once inside, it was great! It was really different from other caves we’ve seen. There was lots of bending, stooping, waddling, and even sliding at one point! The difficulty is rated at moderate to difficult, but aside from the hike up in the smoke, it was a lot of fun!
Wyoming – We opted to leave Our Moving House at the state park in Montana and take our tent supplies into Yellowstone. We had reserved a good size campsite in the Bridge Bay Campground inside of Yellowstone. It worked out great. The weather was perfect for us, although it got pretty chilly at night! We enjoyed the natural features of the park, but it was so crowded. Much of it felt very commercialized. I was surprised when we had to pay for Tyler to do the Junior Ranger program! What??? That is the first time we have come across this. It was only $3, but still! That said, we learned so much about the geysers and hot springs. We got to see Old Faithful erupt twice while we were there. We saw some cool wildlife: bison, elf, and chipmunks. We were hoping to see a bear (from a distance of course), but no luck this time. Being our first time there, we tried to hit all of the main features. They are pretty spectacular!
Back to Montana – We returned to Montana, back to our rig. We took a slightly different route on our way back. I’m so glad we did! We came across Earthquake Lake. There is a small visitor’s center that tells the story of the night of August 17, 1959 when an earthquake hit the area, sending the side of the mountain down into a campground in the canyon below. It also caused the Hebgen Lake bed to shift, flooding the valley below. Today, this valley is known as Earthquake or “Quake” Lake. What used to be a forested campground is now under water. If interested, this is a great article about it.
Leaving Montana was tough. We had to cover our noses and mouths with damp cloths as we drove through the Missoula, MT area. The next campground we had planned to stay a couple of nights at was in a national forest area which was on fire. The smoke was really thick. So, we kept driving until we hit Idaho.
Idaho – We landed at a cute little RV Park right off the Interstate. Crystal Gold Mine RV had availability for one night, so we took it. A full-hookup site sure beat a truck stop for the night…and I was able to get some laundry done! It looked like a fun place. They did tours of the mine. I think the kids would have gotten a kick out of it if we had more time.
Washington – The next day we headed out and made it to a little park about 30 miles west of Spokane. Peaceful Pines Campground worked out great for a one night stop. We got there early, went into town and got some groceries, and Paul and I even went on a date that night! 🙂 Our biggest problem at this point was we were ahead of schedule for our reservation at the park we had booked near Seattle, and we were coming in on Labor Day Weekend. We needed somewhere else to land for a couple of nights and everything seemed to be booked up. We ended up finding a golf course that also had an RV Park right off the Interstate. Sun Country Golf Course and RV worked out just fine for a couple of days. We aren’t golfers, but seemed like there were a ton of people enjoying the course. We were able to go into Seattle on a tour we had booked, which was great. Highly recommend taking a tour with Earl with Puget Sound Tours. He is quite a character! When we got back to the RV park after our tour in Seattle, we had to make a decision. The fires to the north and south of us had grown and the wind had shifted, blowing everything our direction. The RV Park was full of people who had evacuated their homes. It was feeling like we needed to get out of the way. By staying there, we were potentially taking up a space that someone else needed. The park was super kind and let us donate our already paid for night to the sweet couple next to us, who was on pins and needles waiting to see if they had lost their home, and we headed out the next morning in search of clear skies.
Oregon – I hate that we had to fly through Oregon. We were following the Oregon Trail on I-84 (backwards…LOL!) and saw several neat places I would have liked to have stopped at such as trail museums and old homesteads. It was just so smokey, so we pressed on. Many farmers were soaking their crops to protect them. We ended up staying the night at a really nice rest stop just before exiting Oregon. It was kind of tucked into a valley, so the smoke wasn’t terrible. We grabbed the end site, cooked up some steaks, had dinner, and crashed for the night. We love it when states allow over-nighting at rest stops. They are usually much quieter than truck stops, but not all states allow it.
Idaho – We drove right through Idaho without stopping. I can’t believe we had done so many miles and still couldn’t see the sky! It was very unsettling! We were beginning to wonder if we were ever going to see it again!
Utah – Then Utah! Utah is the first state we came to that wasn’t on our original set of plans for this trip. We found a state park not far off the interstate and decided to try our luck for the night. It was still smokey, but considerably less than it had been. We pulled into Willard Bay State Park at about 6:03 pm. The lady was just about to leave for the day, but turns out she was a fellow Texan, and opened back up for us. 🙂 God bless her! She could get us in a full-hookup site for 2 nights! Hallelujah! By this point, we are all exhausted, coughing, and slightly hoarse from breathing in all of the smoke. The kids were troopers through this entire time. They did their school work in the truck going down the road and never complained one time about anything!
By the next morning, we could see clouds in the sky! The smoke was finally shifting! YAY! We did a little research and learned that we were on the north side of the bay and that there were quite a few available first-come sights on the south side of the bay, and they were 50 amp sites. SCORE! Our 2 nights suddenly turned into 4 nights. We just needed a couple more days to catch up on…. well everything, and come up with a new game plan.
We suddenly found ourselves in our third unplanned week in beautiful Utah at the gorgeous Deer Creek State Park off the beaten path, surrounded by majestic mountains, a lake, and incredible fall colors! What a pleasant surprise it has been! It is just what we needed…cooler temps, beautiful scenery, clear skies, and time to catch our breath. We even took an awesome train ride through the area!
We are a new trail back home to Texas, but that’s ok. And, we may have to make adjustments to this plan, but that’s ok, too. I want to be on the trail God places us on. In the meantime, I’m just soaking up the unexpected, incredible beauty around me. We may never know why the west coast didn’t pan out for us this time, but I’m ok with that. Just taking a day at a time…walking by faith…following where God leads.
Proverbs 16:9 “We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our path.”