Adventures in the Villa



2021-05-29 – Springtime in the Rockies caravan… Estes Park, CO – Day 3 – Rocky Mountain National Park

Today was a real thrill. Today’s drive was what Rocky Mountain National Park is all about. We drove from the RV Park (elevation 7,729) to the Alpine Visitor Center (elevation 11,796), passing the high point in the road at elevation 12,188…!

I took about 5,000 pictures. I’ll try to condense them down here…

There are several ecosystems visible from the road – forest, snow, rocks, tundra… It changes at every turn…

In the photo above we can see outside the RMNP. The entire Park is surrounded by National Forests…

At the Forest Canyon Overlook, the pathway was totally covered with snow. We decided to skip this path… We are at elevation 11,700, and we can feel the effects of the altitude…

We are now above the tree line. Nothing but tundra consisting of tiny plants, miniaturizing themselves as a way to survive…

Below are the Lava Cliffs…

Here we see the Gore Range – mountains reaching as high as 12,928′.

We have arrived at the Alpine Visitor Center, elevation 11,796. My Hemoglobins are starving! There is about 14′ of snow on the ground…

Our drive back “down” was exciting! We are driving on the edge of the world!

And then it started to snow!

The rest of the drive down was uneventful. Near the park entrance we saw these funny looking animals…

We believe they are either mule deer or elk?

Quite serendipitously we stopped by the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center. I noticed the detailing…

Something seems familiar… I Googled it…

Beaver Meadows Visitor Center, also known as Rocky Mountain National Park Administration Building, is the park headquarters and principal visitors center of Rocky Mountain National Park. Completed in 1967, it was designed by Taliesin Associated Architects, and was one of the most significant commissions for that firm in the years immediately following the death of founder Frank Lloyd Wright. It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 2001.

Who knew!

So that concluded our time in Rocky Mountain National Park…

We had a drivers’ meeting to discuss our drive to Colorado Springs on Monday – Memorial Day. There are three pages of detailed driving instructions to travel the 145 mile route… Colorado roads must be amazing! (Apparently 20-30 miles of the 70 are under construction, so we are taking back roads…!

This evening, after the meeting, we returned to Bird and Jim, a local restaurant (“Colorado Cuisine”). This time we brought friends… We enjoyed craft cocktails, Smoked Pheasant Chowder, Short Rib Sliders, Colorado Trout, Beef Tenderloin, and something they called the “Carnivore Plate” – Elk Tenderloin, Lamb T-bone, and Wild Game Sausage. And a bottle or two of wine.

And an enjoyable time was had by all…

2017-11-02 to 06 WBCCI South Coast Unit Rally, Borrego Springs…

We’ve been home from our odyssey for almost three weeks now, and it’s time for a regularly scheduled weekend rally with WBCCI South Coast California Unit.  The Airstream owners club is divided into 12 regions and several hundred local units.  South Coast California Unit includes people from Orange County and portions of San Diego, Riverside, and Los Angeles Counties, although there is no specific geographical boundary for any Unit.

Borrego Springs is a tiny town set in the center of the giant 650,000 acre Anza-Borrego Desert State Park:


The State Park is named after an early explorer who passed through here on his way from New Spain to Alta California in the 18th century.  A local sculptor created this image of General de Anza:


We arrived at Borrego Springs RV Resort at about 2:30 on Thursday, Nov. 2, and by the time we were set up it was time for Happy Hours.  There are six Airstreams here, the day before the rally officially begins.  We brought a special treat to Happy Hours:  Imported Wine!


Happy Hours ensued and we headed to be early…

On Friday, we had a beautiful morning.  My brother, who has been wintering in Borrego Springs for six or seven years now, sent a text asking how we liked Borrego.  I replied by sending this photo:


He replied with this photo of Bellingham, Washington, and the 6″ of snow they got overnight:

2017-11-03 Borrego-Bellingham


This morning we walked to town, just to get some exercise, and to stop in at the Visitors Center to get some information on local hiking spots.  The town is pretty quiet on a Friday morning:


Why they have a mail box here is beyond me…

We continued into town, walked around the traffic circle, and we saw this sign:


This guy must have a booming business!  Where else could you possibly find gravel or boulders here in the middle of the desert?

Friday evening was our usual “heavy hors d’oeuvres” happy hours.  We have 20 Airstreams in attendance.  This is the first time we have seen many of the club members in five or six months!  It was great to catch up…!

Saturday morning, after breakfast with the club, Lynda and I went to the State Park and did an “easy hike” into Palm Canyon.  It was a three mile round trip, with a native palm grove at the top of the canyon:


The rest of the day was spent recuperating from this “easy hike”,  Remind me to stay away from “moderate” or “difficult” hikes!

On Sunday we drove to see Font’s Point.  It is an overlook offering a spectacular view of the Borrego Badlands.  The fun part was a 4 1/2 mile drive (each way) over sand:  four-wheel-drive required!


The view shows the work of erosion and seismic activity over many, many years:


It was quite exhilarating, being all alone in the midst of this environment!

Sunday evening there were only 8 Airstreams left, most folks having returned home at the official end to the rally.  We had a shared meal in the clubhouse…

Monday morning we hitched up and returned home.  An enjoyable time was had by all…








































2017-10-02 Westbound; Bend, Oregon…

We bid farewell to Silver Falls and headed southeast to Bend.  We need to climb over some mountains to get there, so we were rewarded with some lovely views:

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2017-10-02 Oregon 02 Views 02

More woods and mossy trees:

More fall colors (ie: dead leaves…):

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We also had awesome views of Mt. Washington:

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We arrived in Bend, OR, population 80,000, elevation 3,623.  We parked at Scandia RV Park, and set out for a walking tour of downtown; the Deschutes Rived flows northward through town, with nice walking paths and views to the lovely waterfront homes across the river:

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We found some ducks enjoying dinner:

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And more fall colors:

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We found the dam that keeps the river under control:

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We stopped into the Crater Lake Spirits tasting room and sampled some of their finer spirits.  Then, as dusk approached, we went to Zydecko for dinner:

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And an enjoyable time was had by all…













2017-09-24 Westbound; Bellingham via the “Washington Alps”…

We left early and headed towards the west.  Our destination today is Bellingham, WA, home of my brother Jim and his wife, Pam.  There is no nice direct way to get from Grand Coulee to Bellingham, so we are taking the scenic route through the “Washington Alps”.

The first several miles of our travels the landscape was very similar to what we saw in Eastern Washington yesterday.  One exception were the “haystack rocks” scattered about the landscape. These rocks were carried along with the glaciers as they receded and were dropped randomly across the countryside.

2017-09-24 Washington 01 Haystack Rock

Soon the landscape was taken over by apple trees; it appears to be time for harvest:

2017-09-24 Washington 02 Apples

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We passed by beautiful Lake Pateros…

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At about 10:00 am we rolled into the western-looking town of Winthrop.  It has old west storefronts, wood plank sidewalks, and lots of trinket shops.  After a stroll up and down the street we decided to have a late breakfast/early lunch at Three Fingered Jacks Saloon and Cafe:

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We had surprisingly good food!

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We walked around the town and found this bridge over a nice little river:

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And some beautiful fall colors:

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We continued into the “Washington Alps”, beautiful, tall, snow-capped mountains, through the towns of Twisp and Mazama. We went through Washington Pass at 5,453′ and Rainy Pass at 4,862′.  It was all quite scenic!

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We soon arrived at an overlook at Diablo Lake:

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We finally came out of the mountains and drove through Rockport, Concrete, and Sedro Woolley, eventually reaching the 5 and arriving at Larrabee State Park.

We maneuvered through the trees and into a nice, long, but very sloping and non-level site.  However, we were able to get set up quickly.

2017-09-24 Washington 10 Larrabee State Park

We then left the Villa and drove to Bellingham, more particularly its southern neighborhood of Fairhaven.

We met up with my brother and his wife.  Happy hours ensued on their deck overlooking  Bellingham Bay, Lummi Island, and beyond to Victoria, BC…

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An enjoyable time was had by all…

















2017-09-20 Westbound; From Bozeman to Missoula…

We had an easy morning, and left Bozeman at about 9:00 am.  The countryside is beautiful:

2017-09-20 01 Montana 01 River

As we drove we got to thinking; we Googled some information on our recent drives:

City                                    Elevation

Hill City, SD                      5,159′

Buffalo, WY                     4.646′

Billings, MT                     3,123′

Bozeman, MT                 4,820′

Butte, MT                        5,538′

Missoula, MT                 3,209′

We’ve been going up and down, climbing up mountains and cruising down into valleys. Out side of Butte we climbed to about 6,400′, until we saw snow on the ground next to the highway:

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The temperature read-out on the dashboard dropped down to 37 degrees… And then the windshield started getting wet, but we could not hear rain.  Yep:  Snow!

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Certainly a first for us on this trip.  (I think the last time I drove while it was snowing was on the way to Mammoth Mountain in 1982…)  Obviously, at 37 degrees, the snow was not sticking to the road, but we slowed down a bit.  It was quite a trip!

We eventually arrived in Missoula and checked into the KOA.  It is probably the nicest KOA we have stayed at.  Huge sites, lots of grass, moderate number of trees (good for satellite TV), and just around the corner from lots of suburban shopping centers, in case we need anything.  (We don’t…)

We took the advice of the folks at bisl in Bozemon; we went to The Pearl Cafe for dinner. As avante garde as bisl was last night, The Pearl is not.  Traditional French Bistro. Wonderful.

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We shared the Charcuterie plate, then we shared Bison Tenderloin. And a bottle of Gigondas…

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We asked for some lunch recommendations for tomorrow.  An enjoyable time was had by all…

















2017-09-19 Westbound; From Billings to Bozeman…

We left Billings and headed to Bozeman.  We climbed some mountains, and we cruised down into some valleys… Montana is beautiful!

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The snow-capped mountains and the cloud-filled skies were beautiful, and we moved easily along.  We moved into the RV park, and set up the Villa.

Bozeman is a great little town; population is about 45,000; it is home to Montana State University.  It was founded by John Bozeman in 1864.

In 1863 John Bozeman, along with a partner named John Jacobs, opened the Bozeman Trail, a new northern trail off the Oregon Trail leading to the mining town of Virginia City through the Gallatin Valley and the future location of the city of Bozeman.

At about 1:30 we drove into downtown Bozeman, parked the truck, and then walked the streets.  The downtown area is about 10 square blocks, all of which have been designated as an Historic District, and it is a lovely place:

2017-09-19 Montana 09 Bozeman

2017-09-19 Montana 10 Bozeman

The more we walked, the colder it got.  The clouds grew blacker:

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We stopped into a artisanal distillery for a tasting and just to get warm…

Then we selected a restaurant called bisl for an early dinner.

It was Spectacular!

I’ve posted pictures of the food on my Facebook page, but suffice it to say that this is the best restaurant we’ve found in all of Montana…!

We were the first people through the door at 5:00 pm when they opened.  We opted to sit at the kitchen counter, where we could see and interact with the kitchen staff of chefs and preppers.

2017-09-19 Montana 14 Bozeman Dinner at bisl

It was great fun.  About halfway through the meal we realized that the owner was sitting at the table just behind us.

Not only was the food and the environment excellent, they gave us recommendations for restaurants in Missoula, where we will be for the next two nights…

After dinner we walked back to the truck and returned to the Villa.  An enjoyable time was had by all…
















2017-09-18 Westbound; Through Wyoming and into Montana…

Long travel day today…

2017-09-18 Map Wyoming

We left Crooked Creek RV Park at about 8:00 am, in the very, very cold… We traveled north through Hill City, then Deadwood; we turned west and crossed over into Wyoming.

The drive was easy, uneventful, and a little boring…

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Then we turned towards the north and on the horizon we could see snow-capped mountains, off to the west:

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As we continued north, towards Montana, we saw more…

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The actual views were better than these photos show…

We crossed over into Montana:

2017-09-18 Map Montana

And we headed into Billings, MT.  We stopped of at Costco to stock up on Kirkland Vita Rain bottled water (fake Vitamin Water, with even fewer vitamins than real Vitamin Water…) We have been looking for these since New Brunswick and Nova Scotia – none of the Costcos we found carried it.  I have had to substitute real Vitamin Water, and it is a poor substitute…

So we happily checked into the RV park; again we were exhausted – it was a long day… almost 400 miles, almost double of our preferred pace.  But there was no reason to stop any sooner; tomorrow we move to Bozeman.

Happy hours ensued, and an enjoyable time was had by all…







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