We are back on the West-Coast

…. and that is a good thing. We crossed the country from Bemidji, MN to Wallowa, OR.

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We took our sweet time for the 1500 miles/2400 km crossing but we also did not spend a lot of time in any of the locations we stopped along the way. The most time we spent in Dickinson, ND where we visited the Theodore Roosevelt National Park and the Enchanted Highway.

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While traveling on I94 the landscape changed dramatically once we passed Bismarck, ND. Forests and lakes slowly turned into the treeless prairie of the “Great Plaines”. The prairie did not give way until we reached the foothills of the Rocky Mountains near Billings, MT. From there we rolled through Missoula, MT into Coeur d’Alene, ID and into Lewiston, WA. The short 80 miles/130 km trip after crossing the Snake River from Lewiston, WA to Enterprise, OR was some of the tightest and most curvy road I drove in a 20 ton vehicle. That kind of road separates the boys from the men.

At the moment we are located in Wallowa, OR surrounded by the stunning Wallowa Mountains, the Eagle Cap Wilderness and the Wallowa Whitman National Forest. We will stay here until 5 Sep 2017, the day after the Labor Day holiday and the official end of the US tourist season. There is plenty of excellent hiking around here and the dogs and I have started exploring the trails. There are also some local breweries nearby to be evaluated. Life is good.

Tomorrow is the day of the great 2017 American eclipse. Here in Wallowa the show will start at 9:10 AM, reach it’s maximum at 10:26 AM and finish at 11:30 AM. We will experience 97% of totality. I am very much looking forward to the spectacle.

I know it’s getting old, but I have to ask. Are you enjoying the Donald show yet? To quote Heather Heyer, the young lady that died in the Charlottesville nazi rally a week ago; “if you are not outraged, you are not paying attention”.

Stay tuned, there is more to come.

Moving on

We have been sitting still for more than three weeks amongst Minnesota’s 10000 lakes. Our stay here started slow and has now reached a glacial pace. For the first 3 weeks it was simply too warm for extended outdoors activities. We did short daily hikes and swimming with the dogs in one of the lakes. That was it. Now, that the temperatures have drop we are getting ready to leave.

It turned out that it’s almost impossible around here to find single-track trails as we know them from the western parts of the US. During the snow-free season Minnesotans seem to spend their free time either sunbathing on lakes, fishing or boating. Nobody hikes. The few single-track trails we found were badly overgrown and appear only to be used during the winter for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. What we found are lots of paved long distance trails, many of them are conversions of former railway lines to trails. It is telling that many of these long distance trails display “no motorized vehicles except snowmobiles” signs.

We spent our time hiking on the Migizi and North Star trails and went swimming with the dogs in Cass Lake and Pike Lake. On a side note, the amount of bald eagles soaring overhead is truly astounding. Life for large fish-consuming birds in northwestern Minnesota seems to be good.

One lesson learnt traveling the country is how difficult it is to find good bread. By “good bread” I mean bread of sustenance and taste that has not been baked in a distant manufacturing facility and has not been treated with food preservatives and put into a plastic bag. By “good bread” I mean artesian bread that manifests the skills of a talented and thoughtful baker. It seems like we spend a significant amount of time trying to find a decent baker in every new location. In many places we were unable to find such a source.

Our initial plan was to move from Bemidji, MN to Ketchum, ID. We changed the plan slightly and will instead travel from Bemidji, MN to Wallowa, OR (1400 miles/2250 km). After a few weeks in Wallowa we will eventually travel to Ketchum. While Ketchum will be in the path of 100% totality during the 21 August solar eclipse, Wallowa is approximately 50 miles/80 km north of the path and will consequently only observe 95% of totality.

Traveling west will be exciting, it feels almost like traveling home. To quote the Doors, the west is the best. Our next stop will be in Medora, ND for a visit to the Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Stay tuned.