Connecting US 20 was on KLCC radio today. I can't post a direct link but if you go to KLCC and use their Search feature to search for "us 20", one of the first links to come up will be our interview. Hope you enjoy it.
Day 40: The Pacific
The last day of our Connecting US 20 adventure started in Eugene, OR. Sal and I took another side trip off US 20 for an in-studio interview with KLCC Radio’s Music, Arts, and Culture host Eric Alan. We had a great time talking with Eric and look forward to the broadcast of our interview early next week. Eric is going to notify us when the interview will air and is going to post an extended version on the Web after the original interview airs. We’ll pass along the info when we get it.
From Eugene, we backtracked up I-5 to Albany where we left US 20 the night before. Traveling the stretch of US 20 from Corvallis to Newport that we have covered so many times Sal and I talked about our trip, what we learned, and what comes next. It was a good time for reflection as we drove from the sunny Willamette Valley to the clouds and mist of the Oregon Coast.
We arrived in Newport at 3:52pm, 8 minutes ahead of schedule. A group of Coast friends (Kathy, Rand, Rhonda, Jill, Nolle, and Tom) and Sal’s daughter Tessa and her 4 children awaited us. Let the celebration begin!
The next hour and a half was a blaze of color and activity. Using the colorful cheesecloth, we celebrated around the “US 20 Boston 3,365 Miles” sign in Newport. A professional photographer friend (thanks Jon!) was there to take the “official” pictures of our return. We'll get those in a few days and will publish when we do. Meanwhile, we’re posting some of the ones a friend and I took.
From the sign, we moved to Nye Beach to complete our Atlantic to Pacific journey. More celebrations with cheesecloth and the finale with our toes in the Pacific. (Still processing the video so like the “official” photos we’ll post the results in a day or so.)
We arrived back in King City a little after 10pm, the end of a long day and our bicoastal adventure.
Thanks again to our Facebook Friends for following our adventures. Your positive comments and support throughout our trip gave us fuel to keep going. Super thanks go to Barbara Sherman at the Regal Courier for her great articles, the Newport Visual Arts Center and Oregon Coast Council for the Arts for all their local promotion, to the Libraries and our library hosts for their gracious assistance, and to the many interesting people we met along the way. All affected us in positive ways.
Last but certainly not least, thanks to our dear departed Gracie Strom, who inspired our sense of community and to whom this project is dedicated.
The day we’ve known was coming finally arrived: Our last #connectingus20 event. As I mentioned yesterday, this was a bittersweet time for us as we prepped for our guests. No dread or other bad thoughts, just a little sadness that our great adventure was coming to an end.
We had 8 guests for the event in Burns. For this event several of our guests brought books they had written. One of our initial goals was to have authors adorn their own books and we had 3 guests that did just that. Their amazing talents were evidenced in the beauty they created around their books. Before Burns, we had only had 2 authors who adorned their own books. Yesterday we had 3 authors attend and adorn their books. It was fun to talk with the authors about their books and learn a bit about their process.
Many thanks to our host Claire and the Harney County Public Library for promoting our event. The support of folks like Claire is instrumental in the success of the events. We couldn’t do this without their help in gaining local visibility.
It was hot and beginning to sprinkle as we loaded up the car after our event. By the time we were 30 miles out of Burns we were in a dust storm. 30 miles further and we were in yet another thunderstorm, our 3rd hard rain/high wind storm in 7 days. We finally drove thru the storm and when we came out the other side it was 20 degrees cooler than when we left Burns. Felt a bit like stepping back into early Spring weather after 2 days of summer.
The drive to Eugene was still a beautiful one. We’ve driven this route many times before and it never fails to impress with great scenery, highlighted by the views of the mountains near Bend.
We’re off to KLCC in a bit for an interview about our US 20 adventure. Sal and I are looking forward to passing some of what we learned to KLCCs listeners.
Afterward, we’ll drive the final stretch of US 20 into Newport and complete our drive of the 3,365-mile route. We’re hoping to see many of our friends and supporters in Newport as we complete the journey and dip our toes in the Pacific to complete the coast-to-coast drive. Party time!
Our planned low-key day turned out to be one filled with learning and beautiful scenery.
While figuring out what to do yesterday, I remembered that the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge was near Burns. The Refuge came to national attention during the now-famous occupation of the site by the Bundy family and their miscreant followers. We were curious what the refuge was really like, so we headed south to check it out.
The refuge is a gorgeous place, an area of ancient sea/lake beds surrounded by mountains. The damage done to the Refuge by the Bundy miscreants has largely been repaired. Fortunately, they didn’t seem to damage the great little museum on the grounds and we were treated to beautiful displays of birds that are found in/near the refuge. The sheer number of bird types was amazing. I’m posting a few images so everyone can get an idea of what the museum was like.
After wandering around the grounds for an hour or so, we wound up by a small lake at the edge of the visitor area. There were 4 people there who knew an amazing amount about birds in general and birds of the Refuge in particular. We talked with them for quite a while until the mosquitoes feeding on us got to be too much to handle.
Back on the main road we drove south to the village of Frenchglen. Quaint little town, one of the few towns in the vast eastern Oregon desert. Drove back to Burns and had dinner in a little family-owned Mexican restaurant. Nice ending to a low-key day.
We have the last event of #connectingus20 today at the Harney County Library. After the event, we are headed to Eugene for a radio interview about our trip with KLCC radio on Wednesday followed by a scheduled 4pm arrival in Newport that same day.
This is a bittersweet time for Sal and me, as this phase of the project winds down. It’s been a great adventure, made even better by the comments and encouragement we’ve received from our Facebook Friends, blog readers, and our library hosts. We truly appreciate you.
Our last day in Idaho dawned warm and sunny. We got a mid-morning start and made good time getting to Boise. US20/26/30 all run concurrently west with I-84 from Mountain Home to the south side of Boise. Was fun to drive 80 miles an hour again for a while. Navigating thru Boise on US 20/26 was a bit tricky but my navigator Sal got us thru.
US 20/26 takes a winding path as it leads north and west out of Boise with US 20 finally separating from US 26 near Parma, ID. A short drive down US 20 got us to the Snake River. On the other side was Nyssa, Oregon, where we were welcomed to Oregon by the Nyssa Police.
We were taking our Oregon border picture when a Nyssa police cruiser drove by. As he was driving by, the officer said “You can’t take a Welcome to Oregon picture without ME!” He did a quick u-turn and pulled in behind our car. The officer walked up to where we were standing near the sign and said hello. He was making sure we were okay and was curious why were taking a picture there. Sal replied we had driven 3,000 miles to take that picture. We talked with Officer McGinnis for a while about the project and asked him to take a picture with us. He kindly agreed. After the picture he told us "Welcome to Oregon" and wished us safe travels. What a fun way to start the Oregon leg of our trip.
Today is a day for reflection and remembrance. We plan a low key day in preparation for our last library event of #connectingus20 on Tuesday.
Our next-to-last event was a great success. The day dawned bright and sunny, a big change from the previous day. We had 8 guests that participated. It was an extra special day, as a friend of Sal’s from her radiation treatment drove 4 hours to see her and a lady who knew Sal’s mother Gracie came to say hello and pay her respects. Several young people added to the fun. The young ones always serve to make our events more fun with their creativity and unbridled enthusiasm.
The Mountain Home library is a beautiful facility with a long history. (See our Mountain Home web page for more info about the history.) They are very proud of being one of the few remaining libraries with a history going back to the Carnegie libraries of the early 1900s.
This library is quite modern, with multiple creative workstations and a set of 3D printers to see the results. They make this technology available to all their library card holders. They even have an in-house coffee shop featuring the slogan “No Barristas, Just Librarians”.
The library also has an extensive doll collection from around the world. A (very) small sample is attached.
We appreciate and thank our host Kurt for his promotion and support of our project. And we appreciate our guests, who are the ones that make our events fun and inspirational.
Sal and I took a short drive after the event back over part of US 20 we covered the day before. Seeing the gorgeous landscape without angry clouds made a big difference.
We are headed to Burns, OR today for our 12th state and final event of this trip.
This day was a travel day from Idaho Falls, ID to Mountain Home, ID, a distance of just over 200 miles. Short day, into the hotel early, smooth sailing on low traffic roads.
Or so Sal and I thought. The only part that proved correct was the low traffic part.
It was raining lightly when we pulled out of Idaho Falls. It started raining a lot harder as we left the city limits. We drove in and out of rain for the next hour or so. Stopped in Arco, ID for a “pit stop” and a drive thru the nation’s first city powered by nuclear energy.
Rained off and on for the next two hours of so with a few sun breaks. Got to see some beautiful countryside when it wasn’t raining. We were moving toward a very large storm that looked like it was passing to the north and would be gone by the time we got to where it was.
When we hit the edge of the storm it was raining so hard we could barely see the road ahead. It was in the mid-30s outside and we could see ice in the stuff hitting the windshield. A truck passed us with fresh snow on the windshield. I thought to myself “uh-oh, trouble ahead”.
A mile or so further and the rain turned to sleet/snow mix, rapidly accumulating on the road. The stuff hitting the windshield sounded like thousands of BBs. Couldn’t see more than 25 yards or so. Everyone in our lane slowed to about 25mph and cautiously maintained the distance between our vehicles. We drove in this for about 30 minutes. Trucks passing in the other lane threw up a heavy slushy spray that left us temporarily “blind”. We witnessed numerous lightning strikes before and during the storm, something unusual in a snow storm.
We slogged on thru the mess. As we reached the edge of the storm we also started rapidly losing altitude and before long emerged into bright sunshine.
This was our 3rd wicked storm on this trip. Hope it’s the last.
Event in Mountain Home today, our next-to-last one.
Day 34: Event in West Yellowstone MT
The day dawned cool, cloudy, and wind free, different from the day before when I toured Yellowstone by myself. Sal and I drove the lower part of the Grand Loop Road on our way to West Yellowstone, MT. It was the only way to get from Cody to West Yellowstone without going around the park, a six-hour drive at best. Besides, any opportunity to visit Yellowstone is a good one.
We were short on time, so we only visited one geyser/hot spring area. As I mentioned yesterday, Sal was just here a few years ago. She, her daughter, and her granddaughter Zeda had spent 5 days in the park, so she was revisiting areas she’d recently been to. That didn’t distract from her enjoyment of seeing the park again.
We crossed into Montana about 1:45pm, our 10th state so far. Shortly afterward, we arrived at West Yellowstone.
Our event in West Yellowstone was great fun. 10 guests joined us, a mix of adults and young people. This was an enthusiastic group that enjoyed the program and interacted with us and each other throughout the event. The adorned books (video) were quite creative and gave us more beautiful art to work with. As with other events, the part our guests enjoyed the most was the cheesecloth toss at the end of the event (video). Sal volunteered to be the covered person this time. She did a fine job of bursting free at the end, accompanied by clapping and laughter.
Many thanks to our host Steve and our enthusiastic and engaged guests. Sharing stories, laughing together, and understanding our message of support for libraries and the services they provide to their communities are the fuel we need to keep us going on this project.
West Yellowstone is a popular tourist spot and we enjoyed our brief tour. We crossed into Idaho about 15 minutes after leaving West Yellowstone, our 11th and next-to-last state. Having only seen the dry southern part of Idaho, I really enjoyed the lush green alpine countryside as a contrast.
Overnight in Idaho Falls. Headed to Mountain Home, ID later today.
The long-anticipated exploration day in Yellowstone arrived sunny and warm, at least in Cody. It was a fun day, another full of “wow” moments. Due to time constraints this morning I'll post more pics this evening.
Cody is about 60 miles from the East Entrance to the Park. It was a nice drive west, with some interesting sites just getting there.
The strange house is perched on a hilltop just past Wapiti, about 40 miles from the park. One is never quite sure what will turn up riding America’s byways.
Buffalo Bill dam was the tallest concrete dam in the world when it was finished in 1910. Still in operation today, it has been renovated several times to keep it serviceable. There is a huge reservoir behind the dam and much of the shoreline is state park, which becomes the Shoshone National Forest as we get closer to the East Entrance of Yellowstone.
Made it to the entrance about 10:30am. Handed the ranger my “America the Beautiful” pass and ID to gain entrance. (Anyone 62+ should have an AtB pass. One time $10 fee gets lifetime entrance to National Parks. Yellowstone is $30 just to enter if you don’t have a pass.)
One of the first scenic treasures after entering the east side of the park is Yellowstone Lake. Am going to stop here and do more posts about Yellowstone later today. Sal and I have an event in West Yellowstone, MT in early afternoon and have a long drive ahead. Please stay tuned for more.
Day 32: Travel Day to Yellowstone’s Door
Sal and I pulled out of Casper mid-morning in beautiful sunshine. Looks like it’s going to be that way for the next few days. Glad to see it; touring Yellowstone in the rain didn’t sound like fun.
On our way to Cody, WY we passed by/thru several interesting areas, the first being Hell’s Half Acre, just west of Casper. The formations in this relatively small area (320 acres) reminded us of what we saw at Bryce Canyon 2 years ago.
Continuing on west, we turned at Shoshoni to follow US 20 north/west, traveling first thru Boysen State Park and past picturesque Lake Boysen, then thru Wind River Canyon a few miles north. This gorgeous, rugged landscape found us going “wow” and “look at that” for many miles. Simply beautiful country.
Our final stop on our journey toward Cody was Hot Springs State Park just north of Thermopolis. The park claims to be the world’s largest mineral hot springs. Not sure how they arrived at that but we’ll take their word for it. This was a good warm up for today’s activity, exploring in Yellowstone.
I remembered that my family passed thru Thermopolis and Yellowstone when I was 12 years old. It was a bit eery driving the same road I traveled with my now-deceased parents and my sister in the summer of ’62. Time truly does fly by.
We had planned to stay at a hotel near the park entrance but a series of snafus with that hotel caused us to go back to Cody for 2 nights. It’s a half-hour further to the park but a much better lodging situation.
Yellowstone explorer today for me while Sal stays behind to work on her art and prepare for our show opening. She was here about 4 years ago with her daughter and granddaughter vs. 37 years ago for my last visit, so she’s a bit less interested in exploring today than I am.
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