krisdriving2018Well, the timeline informs us that it was one year ago today that we left Pagosa Springs for our very first trip to Washington State.  What a trip that was

We had been evacuated from our campground hosting positions due to the 416 fire outside of Durango and there was no clear end to the fire closures in sight.

The Fearless Bus crew cleaned up Bridge Camp in the San Juan National Forest, watched ash fall from the sky, and studied the amazing orange sunsets as the fire grew larger.  We worried about the campers in Durango as highways and roads were closed. We were anxious for our Ranger friends and their families. We even hosted a few Durango families as they got away from fire ravaged neighborhoods.  It was so early in the season for such a devastating event.  

The next concern was our area around Pagosa.  One of the Forest Rangers informed us that dry lightening was a real danger. Over the weekend he had responded to more than a dozen small fires sparked by lightening.

After Bridge was closed, we headed down the mountain to last year's spot at Ute Campground.  We weren't sure what our next steps were but we knew that the folks up in the Lewis River area of Washington really needed camp hosts and over the next two days the decision was made.  We said goodbye to one of the most beautiful spots on this earth and pointed the bus northwest. 

The first challenge was to get around Durango!  We had a long, mountainous climb in hot weather as we headed west and I was afraid Old Stinkey wasn't up for the challenge.  Thank goodness she made it - although the needle hovered around overheating at many points and that makes me crazy.  I worry about our old girl. I hadn't thought about passing through Moab...

We made it out of Colorado and into Utah to higher gas prices (unexpected) and higher temperatures.  Moab was an incredible ride - so wish we'd had a chance to stop and take some pictures.  The middle of the desert was over 100 so we just made time.  It was a long day driving and we approached the cities at night.  Let's just say I spent more than thirty years driving in Chicago and it didn't compare to Provo and Salt Lake City drivers.  We'll just leave it at that.  We made it north of the city and pulled into a rest area for the night.  On to Idaho.

I hope we never have to return to Idaho.

There is perhaps no greater view in the United States of America than the one coming to the Columbia River Gorge.  Well, let me back up - we drove all day and most of the evening before setting up in an incredibly beautiful rest area in Oregon on the south side of the Columbia.  We had made it over the hills and mountains further west and were coming back to lower elevation.  This early part of the day, a glorious sunny day, was when we first saw that gorge!  Incredible - I finally felt we had made the right decision and were going to love being in the Pacific Northwest.  

With great excitement - and a little bit of vertigo - we crossed the Columbia on one of those impossible bridges and began the final climb from Carson, WA to our new home in Cougar.  We had no idea what to expect.  We climbed another steep and seemingly endless mountain pass through the Gifford Pinchot National Forest.  This time it was the downside that was a bit scary - started smelling the heat on the brakes.  We rolled downhill, past the Mt. St. Helens lookout, past the Swift Reservoir which was the first of our campgrounds, and on into Cougar, WA. 

After putting a few gallons of Diesel in the tank, we headed over to Cougar Camp to meet our new Managers and co-hosts.  The managers ended up being just terrific - love to Ardie and Rob!  Paperwork, exhaustion, keys, and clearing the camp site and we finally got our spot and met our amazing neighbors and co-hosts for the summer, Liz, Seleana, and Dez.  Looking back, we had no idea what a wonderful experience this would be and how much we would come to love our new family.  

We accomplished so much last summer -we took over very challenging camp hosting positions, we made it to the Pacific Ocean, and wemet some of the greatest people we've run across in all of our travels.  We did not, however, find the Sasquatch.  We will be back.patrickandsasquatch