Monday, June 28, 2010

Rolling on.....

Getting ready to hit the road tomorrow...two Wally World nights (Moses Lake, WA and Coeur d'Alene, ID) and then we hit Missoula, MT for 4-5 mights before moving to Butte, MT for a week. We want to be parked over the holiday weekend and definitely hope to get in some good riding. We have friends in both Missoula & Polson so should have fun.

I'm also hoping to get a better aircard signal. So many photos to upload for Alaska. Right now I've spent over 24 hours trying to get one day uploaded and I still don't have Ketchikan all uploaded. Grrr.... LOL!

So please be patient about the Alaska will get done...eventually. LOL!

Till next time - keep on rollin',
Donna & Stu

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Cruise to Alaska – Day One - Departure Day

Well, we made it to the port at Seattle without much fanfare. Our shuttle service picked us up 15 minutes early, traffic was easy and our check-in smooth. Being on a smaller ship definitely helped.

Once on board we quickly found our room and dropped our carry-on luggage. Lunch was the order of the day. The buffet was open and there was plenty of food to chose from. Stu tried a couple of beers….once we finally found a table.

We took a tour of the boat after lunch, finding the OUTSIDE pool (we had thought it might be an inside one, oh well…LOL!) and checking out all the various facilities. We were impressed with how much was packed into a smaller boat. Our room is close to the elevator and stairs at about mid-ship. Good location and not a lot of motion felt (similar to our location on our Panama Cruise).

From there we headed back to our room and found two of our five bags had arrived. By the time they were unpacked we heard the signals for the safety drills. We grabbed our vests and headed downstairs. Another nice thing about a small boat…easier to take the stairs between decks…there are less of them. LOL!

Back to our room and one more bag had arrived. Unpacked it and headed up to the pool deck level for the departure party. We left about 30 minutes late (not sure why). The sun finally started to shine a little and we snapped a few shots. The temperature quickly dropped and Stu headed back to get our jackets….that was when the last bag had arrived, fortunately.

Once again, back to the room and unpack the last of the bags….just in time for dinner. We had opted for the late seating, 8 PM, so that we wouldn’t feel rushed to leave. Much nicer than the earlier seating. We had picked a table for 8 and two of the other three couples were already there.

Both wives were school teachers (Patty & Jan) and both in California. They had a lot to talk about. Patty’s husband, John, worked in the Post Office and they were both retired. Jan went back to work and her husband, Big Al, was a retired painting contractor. He now works part-time at a golf course and they have moved from CA to Arizona and love it.

After dinner Stu took a shot at the casino and I headed back to the room to relax. No winnings….oh, well.

Tomorrow is a day at sea and we plan to pretty much veg out. (Departure day photos at SmugMug)

Till next time - keep on rollin',
Donna & Stu

Mt St Helen's National Monument, WA

We returned from our cruise on Monday and chores came first. While I did laundry, Stu took the Freightliner (Freddie) in for some service work. When he got back at noon, the gorgeous weather sent us out to take a short trip on the motorcycles. We took about a 40-50 mile ride, just to get our bike legs back under us and then stopped for a movie. We had wanted to see the A-Team and since it was still playing....we both really enjoyed it.

Thursday morning the sun was still shining....a rarity in this area. We mapped out a route to visit Mt St Helens which we had wanted to see before we left the area. We had also heard it was a great motorcycle ride. Since it would be a 300+ mile day with lots of photo opps, my bike stayed home (sorry Twister).

The first part of the trip was the same as when we headed to Mt Rainier...and still beautiful. Gorgeous scenery...had to snap a few more shots. LOL!

We stopped for lunch in the interesting town of Elbe, Washington. We had passed this on our way to Mt fact, Elbe is the fork between the routes to Rainier and Mt St Helens. We knew we needed to be "Sidetracked". Whether you want food, drinks or lodging, at the Rail Road, you can do it train style. Family owned and operated, lots of quirk factor, good service and fresh food made to order. What more could you ask for?

We took our fork in the road and headed off towards Mt St Helens. A few more small towns and a lot more gorgeous scenery awaited us. At times we could view Mt Rainier in the rearview mirrors and Mt St Helens to the front. Wow!

I think everyone knows the history of Mt St Helens, but we couldn't believe that this was the 30 year anniversary of the eruption. Where did the time go? Much of the forest has been replanted but some is being allowed to return naturally.

We stopped at the Hoffstadt Bluffs Visitors Center for a drink and leg stretch. The view was amazing providing a panorama of the mountain and surrounding changes.

Inside we found a nice gift shop, restaurant with outside seating and some historical displays of the area. We opted for sitting outside to enjoy our iced teas. We also got to watch the helicopter tour arrivals and departures.

We continued on our way...making many photo stops and enjoying the beauty of the area while being a bit staggered by the enormity of the blast area. Rather than blather on more, I'll let some of our photos speak for themselves.

We hit the end of the road and it was closing time for the observatory so we headed back home. We did get to see some major steam rising from the top of the mountain!! Needless to say, the views were different coming from this direction. We saw more waterfalls and stopped at the beaver dam we had seen when riding up.

At mile marker 19 we stopped for some dessert (?? dinner) at the 19 Mile Restaurant & Gift Shop. We were greeted by the owners and their pups who were chatting with some folks on their way to their cars. They told us to go in and pick a seat. Talk about a beautiful setting....overlooking the river. Once again, great service and amazing homemade cobbler. We opted for the strawberry rhubarb (Stu also had the chili) was the best I've had in years! Topped with creamy vanilla ice cream...yum! You can read a review from Fox News here.

The only wildlife we saw all day, other than ants, was a ground squirrel near the top of the mountain. That changed on the way home as we rounded a corner and there stood a deer looking at us. Moving to the side of the road, they headed into the woods and then turned and watched us...glad they were solo!

To learn more about Mt St Helens, I recommend this website from the US Forest Service. To see the rest of our photos, check our SmugMug album. We got home around 9:30 pm...we had left the house about 10:30 am. Great day!!!

If you have to choose between Mt Rainier and Mt St Helens, we definitely recommend Mt St Helens due to the history involved. But we hope you don't have to choose and get to see both!

Till next time - keep on rollin',
Donna & Stu


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