Traveling out of the Pacific Northwest in our old rv these last 18 years, we have pushed into the Cascades and Rocky Mountains many times retracing the route discovered by Lewis and Clark in their Voyage of Discovery in 1804. Through the rugged Lemhi and Lolo passes they were trying in vain to follow Jefferson’s orders to search for a waterway from the headwaters of the Missouri River across the Rockies to the Columbia River and the Pacific Ocean. While their observations certainly added to the negotiations with the British for Oregon, it was the settlers that made occupation a reality and forced the British back to the 49th parallel. Finding a way that a Conestoga wagon could handle was the key, and the Oregon trail through the wide South pass in Wyoming opened the floodgates for hundreds of thousands of settlers heading west by the 1840’s. Coincidentally, that is the kind of route we need for the big old rv, our Conestoga wagon, traveling up the Columbia Gorge and across the Great Basin heading eastbound for Texas.
Birch Bay, Washington. The beginning of many great trips.
Deschutes and Columbia River confluence.
Along the way, we spent a week in Reno, “The Biggest Little City in the West”, cleaning out my father and uncle’s motorcycle garage. A sure way to meet interesting people is to advertise a tool sale on the back streets of Reno. From survivalists to mechanics to 80 year old couples with 8 bikes, guys who know a good torque wrench and want a drill press make for a fun morning.
Reno garage sale.
Boondock free-camping towards Utah, we tried to keep a low profile, which is not easy in a Winnebago. And sure enough, after an enjoyable evening watching it snow, camping on an abandoned tunnel bypass road, we were awoken at 0630 by the I80 detour crew: “You’ve got to move along, we’re rerouting all I80 traffic through your campsite!” “Right, no coffee, just drive!”
Antelope Reservoir, Oregon
Carlin Canyon tunnel bypass road, Nevada.
And across the Bonneville Salt Flats we came. Rattled into Salt Lake City with a cracked exhaust manifold, so gratefully we can stay with son Connor while repairs are made. Nobody ever said a pilgrimage was going to be easy.