Traveling Along with Steve & Jan

April ~ October 2007





We arrived at our home in Barberton, Ohio the middle of April.   There were the usual odds and ends tasks like a roof repair, a few weeds to pull, and the installation of new deck lights.  There was the coach to clean inside and outside.   We took out the winter clothes and replace with summer clothes and load the refrigerator and pantry with food.  


While in Barberton, we had the opportunity to visit with the Daishers, the Reuschers, the Kozarevics, and Denise Moore.  It is always great to see friends.  We had time to drive to Cleveland one evening to see the Rat Pack in concert at Playhouse Square.  This show honors three great performers and singers of the 21st century – Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Sammy Davis, Jr.  We would like to thank Tara Todd for securing tickets to this fantastic performance for us.


In about a month’s time, we were ready “to crank it up and move it out”.   We are heading west – to prospect for adventure for the summer months.  Our first stop is Shipshewana, Indiana home to a large population of Amish and a huge flea market.  Jim and Linda Needham arrived right after us and together we shopped till we dropped.


Our next stop was the Great Lakes Area Spring Spree (GLASS) Rally held in Berrien Springs, Michigan.  The GLASS Rally takes place every year over Memorial Day weekend.  Some years ago, we were the chairmen to organize and coordinate seminars for the Rally.  This year, we helped the members of the Northern Lights Chapter monitor seminars during the Rally and the members of the PALS Chapter serve donuts and coffee on the morning of the last Rally day.  Each Chapter receives a stipend for the volunteer work they perform during the Rally. 


The GLASS Rally is a fun, educational, and interesting Rally.  On the first night, we won a $10.00 Rally gift certificate.  Steve enrolled in a Safe Driver Class which he found informative and Jan participated in safety classes such as the use of hand signals used by the co-pilot when backing the RV and how important supplemental brakes are on a tow vehicle.


Lemon Creek Winery had a small bus take GLASS Rally goers to their fruit farm.   The Lemon Family established the farm in 1834.  With rolling, clay loam hills and the moderating effects of Lake Michigan, this farm grows some of the best grapes in Michigan.  The grapes are used to produce a diversified wine selection.  This farm also grows a variety of fruits which is then made into sparkling fruit juices.  Our favorite is the Sparkling Raspberry – we bought a case.


Heading westward, we drove into Iowa and then into Nebraska were we experience a thunderstorm showering us with 5 inches of rain overnight.  The rain came down so hard it washed all the bugs off of the Coach’s windshield and gave the Coach and the truck a good cleaning.


In Wyoming, we picked up the Oregon Trail and followed it into Idaho.  Montpelier, Idaho is home to The National Oregon/California Trail Center.  This educational Center was a great find.  We stepped back in time to the days of the Old West as we journeyed over 2,000 miles on the Oregon Trail with the help of an Interpreter – better known as our Wagon Master.  As we walked the Trail, we came upon a live cast of pioneers whose dialogue and stories made this historical adventure come alive.  The Center also housed the local historical museum and an art gallery.  We wished we could have stayed longer but it was time to move on down the road.


Lava Hot Springs, Idaho is a charming little town with warm water attractions.  It is named for the two major lava flows that traverse a valley in southeastern Idaho.  Long before the white man discovered the natural order – free hot mineral waters rising from the ground, the proud Indian nations of the Bannock – Shoshone tribes gathered here to bathe, rest, and worship the Great Spirit.  For centuries, the Indians paid tribute to the Great Spirit for the curative powers of these springs and this area was set aside as neutral grounds for all Tribes to share in the waters’ healing powers.  


In Lava Hot Springs, the State of Idaho operates two bathing complexes.  One hot bathing complex has three pools each containing different water temperatures.   The other complex offers an Olympic size swimming pool with moderate water temperatures.   At night, we watched the moon appear over the mountains while soaking in the warm waters.   Steve could be found all hours of the day relaxing, swimming, and enjoying the Olympic size pool.   All of our stress disappeared in these waters.


We arrived in Oregon the first weekend in June.   As we drove across eastern Oregon the outside temperatures got increasingly warmer – no make that hotter. 


We arrived on Sauvie Island, where we will be volunteering with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife during the next couple of months, and were greeted with a big smile by Karen, our Volunteer Coordinator and Office Manager. 


Sauvie Island is approximately 10 miles west of downtown Portland on Historic Highway 30 at the junction of the Willamette and Columbia Rivers.   This area is named for the early French Canadian, Laurent Sauvé.  Sauvé was an employee of the Hudson Bay Company and operated the company’s dairy on the Island to supply products to Fort Vancouver.  Prior to Sauvé, Lewis and Clark mentioned the Island which they called Wapato Island, in their journals.  They found large beds of arrowhead or wild potato (called “Wapato” by the Indians) growing here.  They also reported large numbers of waterfowl.  For centuries prior to the Hudson Bay Company, the Island was the summer and fall home to the Multnomah Indians.  They hunted, fished, and gathered Wapato and other plants for food.


Today, the Island is a major wintering and resting area for large numbers of duck, geese, swans, sand hill cranes, and many species of small birds.  Bald eagles are a common during the winter months.  The island supports over 250 species of birds, 37 species of mammals, ands 12 species of amphibians and reptiles.    Prime use of the area is management of wildlife and its habitat.  Over 1,000 acres are farmed on Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife lands to provide winter foods for waterfowl and other wildlife.


Over 40,000 vehicles drive onto the Island everyday.  Many come to enjoy bird watching, to fish, launch boats, hunt in season, picnic, and swim (and yes, there is a clothing optional beach).  Many people enjoy picking their own berries or purchasing fresh fruits and vegetables at the farm markets. 


Our volunteer assignment finds us involved with a variety of assignments.   Helping at the Kids Free Fishing Day was lots of fun.   Our task was to help children under the age of four casts a miniature, handmade fishing rod complete with reel into a small child’s pool.   The challenge to the child was to attract a magnetic wooden fish head to a magnetic wooden fish tail.  This task was harder than it looked.  Yet, when a youngster's fish was completed the smiles on the kids’ faces were priceless. 


Another activity we got involved in was the annual 4th of July Marathon Run on the Island.   Over 1,200 runners converge on the Island to participate in a fund raiser for the Island’s Fire Department. The Fire Department is building a commercial size kitchen to help with future fund raising activities.  This years Marathon Run is guaranteed to provide at least $5,000 to this goal.  We had the opportunity to tour the fire house and their future kitchen will be magnificent. 


Each participant receives a bowl of strawberry shortcake upon completion of the race.  This is where we came in.  In order to provide strawberry shortcake for each runner, the strawberries had to be prepared.   The strawberries are donated by a local farm and on a designated day, folks gather at the Grange Hall to wash, slice, and prepare the strawberry topping for the shortcake.   Knowing that this activity needed many hands, we volunteered to help “prepare the strawberries”.  What we did not know was that there were 40 flats of strawberries needing attention.  Luckily, 30 volunteers arrived to tackle the project.  We were introduced to the Island residence and made many new friends.  This is another good reason to volunteer!


We have has the wonderful opportunity to visit with many friends during our stay in Oregon.   Bill & Sara Buckingham, whom we met in 2001 when we hosted at Champoeg State Park, are the curators of the Pioneer Mothers Cabin located on the grounds of Champoeg State Park.  They drove to Sauvie Island and together we went to lunch at a relatively new restaurant call The Hawaiian.  We enjoyed a clam chowder, fish and steak all cooked with Hawaiian seasoning.  For drinks we tried Passion Fruit.  This restaurant rates in our top ten favorite restaurants in the lower 48 states.


In addition to the Buckinghams, we visited with Brian and Kay Murray, whom we also met when we hosted at Champoeg State Park. Our friends Jim and Liz Rottinghouse and Josh Ebright came also came to Sauvie Island for a visit.  We met these folks at Fort Stevens State Park when we hosted there back in the winter of 2002 – 2003.  It has been wonderful to reconnect with our friends to talk about old times and share each others recent experiences.  Another great reason to volunteer!


We drove to Washington State twice to visit with family and friends.  Our first trip was to Bellevue where Steve’s Cousin Diane Masin and her family, Husband Don and Son Daniel, reside.  A farmer’s market gave us a chance to purchase beautiful flowers for the Masin’s dining room table.  We had a chance to celebrate three birthdays - Diane, Daniel and Steve.  Yet, the best part of the weekend was sharing our experiences and enjoying each others company. 


On our second trip to Washington State, we visited with Peter and Molly Breed.  Molly is the volunteer coordinator within the Pacific Region of the U.S Forest Service.  The last time we visited with these friends was during the summer of 2004.   It rained the whole weekend!!  Yet, we had a wonderful visit with Molly and Peter as we caught up with the events taken places in our lives.  By the way, the rain stopped long enough for us to watch a parade; in which, Molly’s Boss, dressed as Smokey the Bear, entertained the crowd.


It has been thirty five years since Oregon built a new state park.  On July 7th, L.L.”Stub” Stewart State Park was dedicated as Oregon’s first new full service sate park since 1972.   The Park was named after Loran L. “Stub” Stewart, a man who served nearly 40 years on the State Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee and the Oregon Parks and Recreation Commission.  He was involved in the planning of this Park before he passed on in 2005.  The development of “Stub” Stewart was supported by funds from the Oregon Lottery and the Land and Water Conservation Fund. 


After the dedication ceremony, a tour bus gathered us up for an interesting and educational tour of the new facility.  Two camping loops and fifteen cabins later, everyone gathered for a delicious outdoor barbeque cook-out.  After the ceremony, we sat down with Jim and Liz Rottinghouse, who were hosting at the Park, to digest our lunch and rest our bones.


Another drive to Washington State was just across the Columbia River (near Portland) to Fort Vancouver National Park.  Fort Vancouver was headquarters for the Hudson Bay Company, a trading post for British Columbia, Oregon, Washington, and Idaho.  The fort’s warehouses stocked supplies for the brigades, the Indian and settler trade, and for the 20 to 30 other Company posts.  The fort’s shops bustled with activity, manufacturing as many items as possible.


Officer Row, located near Fort Vancouver, is a long block of perhaps fifteen homes built at the turn of the century for Officers in the U.S. Army...   General George Marshall’s residence is opened for tours.   Today, the Grant house is used as a restaurant.  The homes on Officer’s Row are also used as offices for businesses or private residences.


The city of Portland is comprised of a variety of special interest neighborhoods.  One of the communities in northeast portion of Portland is known as Hollywood.   In the neighborhood of Hollywood, stands a historical non – profit movie theater known as The Hollywood Theater.    The movies shown at The Hollywood are documentary in nature.


One such movie, “El Immigrant”, is an award – winning documentary that examines the escalating Mexican and American border crisis.  The movie tells the story of a young Mexican migrant worker who was shot and killed crossing into Texas during one of his many journeys north.  The film documented the ever – heightening tensions along the U.S. – Mexican border and puts a name and a face on one of our generation’s hottest topics.  We found this movie interesting as we have volunteered in the area of Texas where much of the movie was filmed.


Another movie shown at The Hollywood , “Dr. Bronner's Magic Soapbox”, tells the story of eccentric soap maker and philosopher who escaped from an insane asylum in 1947 and went on to create the counterculture’s favorite cleaning product.  The peppermint infused, all – natural, multi – purpose soap is famous for its eco-friendly production and 3,000 word label, designed, in Dr. Bronner’s words, “to unite all mankind free”.   We enjoyed the movie as we have been using Dr. Bonner’s peppermint liquid soap in the shower for many years.   Perhaps we can claim that we are “cool man – cool”.


The Pearl District is another neighborhood located in Northwest Portland.  It is a neighborhood full of renewal and transition.  As a former warehouse and light industrial area, its evolution as creative center blossomed – as an enclave for artists, writers, designers, entrepreneurs, filmmakers and other inspired pursuits – breathing new life into the area.  Home to the United State’s first modern streetcar system, an eco – friendly park, “green” building and urban renewal district – Portland’s Pearl District remains true to it missions.


We participated in an all day walking and tasting tour along the tree – lined streets of the Pearl District.  We walked along cobblestone streets and viewed vibrant public art.  The fragrance of the brewing hops from local breweries and then sampling the breweries products was lots of fun.   We tasted everything from coffee, to freshly baked bread, to vegetarian pizza, to chocolates.  What an interesting and delicious way to learn about such a unique neighborhood in Portland.


Of course, there are many tourist activities around the Portland area.  One day we drove to Mount St. Helen and watched the steam rise from the center of the mountain.   How incredible to see the regrowth of plants and the return of wildlife to the area.  After 27 years will Mount St. Helen erupt again?  Most surely it will.  We just do not know when the eruption will occur.


In 1800, the Lewis and Clark expedition discovered the mouth of the Hood River.  Since then, explorers and pioneers discovered the dense forests and rich, fertile soil of the Hood River Valley – now internationally famous for its fruit industry. 


The Mount Hood Steam Excursion Train travels through the Hood River Valley to the foothills of Mt. Hood.  Dating from the early 1900’s, the Excursion Train is comprised of enclosed Pullman coaches.  We traveled from the City of Hood River to the town of Odell.  A live narration along the three hour journey related local history and key points of interest.  In addition to tourists, the train is still used to carry fruit and forest products to market. 


Touring along the Columbia River in a paddleboat was relax full and scenic.   The cruise was called the “Landmarks of the Gorge”.  The Columbia Gorge Sternwheeler is an authentic triple – decker paddle wheeler, a replica of the boats that cruised the waters of the Columbia River in the late 1800’s. The sternwheeler is 147 feet long, 36 feet wide, and the paddlewheel is 17 feet in diameter.  It will accommodate up to 600 passengers or 200 passengers for a sit down dinner.


Speaking of dining, the food aboard the sternwheeler was delicious northwest cuisine.  Upon boarding the boat, a continental breakfast was served.  Of course this being our first time, we had already eaten breakfast.  But, true to natural instinct, we ate again.  Then came a luncheon buffet with chicken, beef, and all the fixings you could eat.  Then, in mid afternoon came desert with cheesecake, lemon bars and all the fixings.


In between all the eating, the captain told us about the history of the area and pointed out interesting landmarks such as Multnomah Falls, Beacon Rock, and Bonneville Locks and Dam.  Perhaps the highlight of the cruise was going down then back up the Columbia River in the locks.  The difference in water level between the upper waters and the lower waters that day was 66 feet.  It took about 20 minutes to lower or raise the boat in the lock.  Fascinating!!


Getting to see friends across the United States is one of our greatest pleasures.  Getting together twice with a couple doubles our pleasure.  One such dear couple is Bill and Sara Buckingham.  We had gotten together over a Hawaiian lunch when they had the opportunity to visit us on Sauvie Island.  We drove to their home, in Champoeg State Park, to do lunch together just before we left the Portland area.  We had lunch at Michaels Sausage Company restaurant where you can bite into one of the best tasting kosher hot dogs west of Chicago.  From there, we wanted to visit the Portland Japanese Garden. 


Created for rest and repose the Japanese Garden is a 5.5 acre formal garden featuring five garden styles:  Tea Garden, Strolling Pond Garden, Natural Garden, Sand and Stone Garden, and Flat Garden.  It was designed by Professor Takuma Tono in 1963.   The Garden is asymmetrical in design and reflects nature in stylized form.  Landscapes are maintained at a human scale so that a visitor always feels part of the environment rather than being overpowered by it. 


Upon entering the Garden, the hope is to realize a sense of peace, harmony, and tranquility.  After passing through the antique gate, we stepped through the Wisteria Arbor that was designed as a frame for the antique 5 – tired stone pagoda lantern given to Portland from its sister city Sapporo, Japan.  The Sand and Stone Garden is the most abstract of the d forms.  It features the stark simplicity of weathered stones rising from a bed of sand ripple raked to suggest the sea.  We definitely felt the mood of peace and harmony as we explored The Japanese Garden.


Of course, after all that walking, we needed nourishment and what better place than Papa Haydn to satisfy ones craving for sweets.  Steve ordered a banana coconut cream pie which consisted of: coconut pastry cream layered with fresh bananas and topped with bittersweet chocolate whipped cream in a shortbread crust.  Jan had the Italian boccone dolce which consisted of (is your mouth watering yet?): Swiss meringue drizzled with dark chocolate, layered with fresh fruit and Chantilly cream.   I am sure that every bite contained over 1,000 calories.  But who cares!  Remember, we had just taken a walk through The Gardens!


We ran across a very unique restaurant on the east side of Portland.  The Tin Roof is a restaurant that has a menu designed for our four legged friends.  We were looking for a casual place to eat.  Steve found this restaurant on the internet and we decided to take “the girls”.   Upon our arrival, we were escorted to an open, year around patio.  Immediately, the waiter brought out two bowls of water - one for Angel and one for Precious.  Then came the menus – one for “the girls” and one for Steve and myself.  Angel and Precious each had a bowl of ground beef with mushrooms and rice.  We had mushroom, bacon, and cheese burger.  The girls had so much food they got their own doggie bag to take home.  This was the first time we had ever eaten at a pet friendly restaurant.   We all had a great evening out on the town!


Suddenly, it was time to ready the coach as it was time to leave Sauvie Island.  The Staff gathered for a going away luncheon.   We would like to take a moment to thank the Mark N., Manager and his Staff at Sauvie Island for their kindness and help in making our volunteer assignment so rewarding and pleasurable.


The next day, we started the engine, hooked the tow vehicle onto the rear of the coach and we headed southeast to Redmond, Oregon for the Family Motor Coach Association’s 78th International Convention.  The night before the convention, we parked at Black Butte RV Resort located on the Metolius River in the heart of the Deschutes National Forest.  We entered the Deschutes Count ry Fairgrounds on Steve’s Birthday.  That night we celebrated Steve’s Birthday by riding the Crooked River Dinner Mystery Murder Steam Train. 


We left the train station in Redmond for the four hour ride from Redmond to Prineville.  Before the trip started, Miss Sally (an actor) was murdered in the Redmond Train Station and we had the next three plus hours to figure out “who did it?”  As the train moved down the tracks, we dined on Prime Rib (for Steve) and Cordon Blue (for Jan).  All the while, we watched as six actors performed trying to convince us that they did not commit the murder of Miss Sally.  In the end, neither Steve nor I figured out who committed the murder.

One of the highlights of any International Rally is the private VIP Thank You night sponsored by our coach manufactures Prevost Car and Parliament Coach.  This is an evening to renew friendships, participate in a fun activity, and partake of delicious food.

We were picked up at the fairgrounds and transported to the Eagle Crest Resort were we were greeted by the President of the Prevost Car Company.  This year the party’s theme was titled: A Timberland Trail Adventure.  As the theme suggests, lumberjacks demonstrated the jobs of a logging crew, such as “whistle punk” or “high climber”.  The whistle punk’s job was to act as a safety lookout.  The high climber (also known as a tree topper) ascended tall trees and cut off limbs as he climbed.  Then, he would chop off the top of the tree.  Another skill demonstrated was the art of log rolling – staying on top of a floating log while using a walking motion to “roll” the logs. 

During the reception, everyone munched on appetizers such as smoked creek trout, camp sausage chunks, and stuff- stump mushrooms.  The Sawdust Trio played and sang lumberjack songs while professional lumberjacks taught us how to throw an ax, climbed a tree, chop a tree, and more.  Before dinner, the American Lumberjack Association performed a series of logging techniques such as the underhanded chop, the double buck vs. stock saw, the standing chop, the hot saw and log rolling in the form of a completion.

Dinner was billed as a logger’s camp mess.  Each dinner course was named as a cut.  The first cut was sweet jack slaw; the second cut was BBQ Tri Tip, northwest salmon, and spice rub pork; the third cut was huckleberry, wildberry, and apple cobblers, brownies, cookies and heavy sweet cream.   Everyone had lots of fun “logging” and a full belly by the time the buses returned to take us back to the fairgrounds.


Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife along with Oregon State Parks operated a booth at the FMCA International Convention to promote volunteerism in the two agencies.  Jan volunteered in the booth along with our good friends Jim and Liz Rottinghouse.  We estimate that over 200 Convention attendees visited our booth to learn more about volunteer on public lands.   Perhaps, we will be volunteering with some of these people in the near future.


After a fun filled FMCA motor home convention, we started our eastward journey heading towards Idaho.  Stopping at Givens Hot Springs in western Idaho we soaked our bones in warm mineral waters.  We love to explore hot springs, and Givens Hot Springs is a great place to unwind and to rest and relax.  We spent a couple of nights there reflecting on the fantastic summer we had just experienced in Oregon.  From Givens Hot Springs, we continued eastward and arrived at Camas National Wildlife Refuge to begin our next volunteer assignment for the period mid-August thru the first week of October.


Camas National Wildlife Refuge is located in southeastern Idaho, 36 miles north of Idaho Falls.  The Refuge comprises over 21,000 acres of which half of the acres are lakes, ponds, and marshland.  The reminder of the acreage consists of grass/sagebrush upland and meadows.  Camas Creek flows for eight miles through the length of the Refuge and is the source of water for many of the lakes and ponds.  The National Wildlife Refuge system has preserved major waterfowl areas along the migratory flyways.  Camas NWR is one of many links in the chain of refuges in the Pacific Flyway.  When we arrived, we were greeted by Rob Larranaga, Refuge Manager at Camas for the past 4 years.


The present site the Camas NWR was once a favorite hunting ground of the Native American tribes.  In the late 1800s, the area became part of a large livestock ranch and then, later the land was divides units and crops were cultivated for livestock feed.  After being a stage coach stop in the early 1900s, crews from the Works Progress Administration (WPA) constructed the headquarters buildings, water control structures, and bridges in the 1930s.  Camas NWR was established in 1937with the primary purpose to manage the habitat to benefit nesting waterfowl, and to provide resting and feeding habit for spring and fall migrating ducks, geese, and other waterfowl.


Camas is visited by a variety of migratory visitors such songbirds (yellow-headed blackbird), waterfowl (tundra and trumpeter swans), water birds (great blue heron) and the white-faced ibis), hawks, and owls.  Non-migratory birds include the ring necked pheasant and sage grouse. 


Camas has a wide assortment of mammals that are regularly observed such as muskrat, beaver, cottontail and porcupine.  One day, we came upon a coyote walking along side of the Refuse’s driving route.  The coyote was aware of our presents; but, none-the-less, was set on a mission of looking for food.  Occasionally, one might see a long-tailed weasel, badger, and red fox.  Rodents such as meadow vole, ground squirrel, and deer mouse are hunted by the refuge predator looking for a meal.  Camas is unique because of the large variety of big game animals present in such as small area.  Many a times, we came upon white-tailed deer and moose grazing in the marches bad willows along Camas Creek.  The Refuge is home to elk, moose and antelope.


Of the endangered and rare species, Camas NWR has its share of inhabitants.  Bald eagles are present throughout the winter months.  In 1983, the Refuge erected a nesting tower to re-introduce the endangered peregrine falcon.  Six years later, they nested successfully in the tower and have done so every year since.  Trumpeter Swans nest on the Refuge nearly every year. They are present at all seasons, but along with tundra swans, are most abundant during the spring and fall migrations.


Potatoes are another huge crop grown in this area.  Potatoes are harvested during the fourth week of September and the first week of October.  Everyone is involved in the harvesting of potatoes.  I mean everyone.  The businesses and schools close for the two week period.  The two major jobs in the operation are sorting potatoes and driving the potatoes to storage.  These jobs pay around $11.00 per hour and the working day is 15 to 16 hours long.   Anyone who can drive a stick shift goes into the fields to fill their truck with potatoes.  Anyone who does not drive sorts potatoes. 


The Refuge is very much under-staffed.  Without volunteers, most of the basic maintenance would not be done.  The Refuge has a Manager and one maintenance employee Farrell Downs.  When we arrived there was another volunteer couple, John and Sharon Dollar, who was carrying the load of mowing, watering, painting, landscaping, cleaning, and many more jobs on the Refuge.  The Dollars are seasoned Camas volunteers as this was their fourth year volunteering on the Refuge.  They taught us about the operations of the Refuge, where the supplies were located, how to travel around the area, and what to see and tour.  Together, we worked as a team shoveling gravel, laying concrete, keeping the computers and printers up and running, watering the lawns and much, much more.  Thank you John and Sharon for all of your help and kindness.


Another one of our road trips was an hour and a half drive from Camas NWR to the Grand Teton and the National Elk Refuge in Jackson, Wyoming.  First, we stopped at the National Elk Refuge Headquarters to learn more about the Refuge’s history. The Refuge was established in 1912.  That year, the first winter census showed about 20,000 elk residing in Jackson Hole and the Hoback River drainage.  Today, the herd numbers have increased due to the acquisition of additional acreage and the restrictions placed upon livestock grazing on the land.


 As the story is told, Teton Jackson, in the jail for being a horse thief, sells his cabin in 1885 to Robert Miller.    In 1898, the Miller House was constructed.  In August 1912, Congress appropriates $45,000 for purchase of lands to create the National Elk Refuge.  By 1914, the Miller House and 1,240 acres become the nucleus of the Refuge.  The Miller House is placed on the National Register of Historical Places, in 1969.  Then, in 2001, the Miller Barn was included on the list.  After extensive renovation, the Miller House was opened to the public as a historical site in 2005.  Tours of the Miller House are given daily by the volunteers of the Refuge.


Teton Jackson legacy continues to this day.  A mountain range, named the Grand Teton, bears his name along with the city located at the base of these mountains named Jackson Hole.  Today, Jackson Hole is bustling town attracting tourist from all over the world because of its million dollar view of the Teton Mountains.


On our way back to Camas, we stopped at Green Canyon to soak in the warm mineral waters again to soak away the stress we do not have.  Warm mineral waters are very beneficial to cleanse the skin of the bather and to promote improved blood circulation.  I bet you are thinking, “Wow, those Mondls must have race car blood circulation due to all the hot springs in which they have soak”.  Well, maybe that is true.  We just know they warm mineral waters relax us and sooths our soul. 


Every fall, staff and volunteers gather early in the morning, on the Camas Refuge, to count Sandhill.  The Cranes are beginning their migratory flight along the Pacific flyway.  This event takes place in Mid September before the sunrises.  In fact, we set up the camera’s tripod and took some of the most spectacular shots one has ever seen of the sun rising over the mountains of Idaho.


We left the Refuge Headquarters at 6:30 in the morning.  Each observer had an area of the Refuge to watch and count as the Sandhill Cranes either flew over the area or were on the grounds of the Refuge.  In less than two hours, the observers counted more than 500 Cranes. We drove to the furthest point on the grounds and counted over 180 Cranes flying in a V formation.  Later, as we were driving the tour route on the Refuge, we suddenly came upon 60 Cranes in a pond.   We must have surprised the birds as suddenly the flock flew into the sky from the water resulting in a mad counting frenzy on our part.


In addition, to our counting of Cranes, we saw and photographed six moose – two bulls and four cows.  Along the roadside, we came upon two, very large porcupines.  Needless to say, we did not lower our windows to take any pictures of these guys.  In the Refuge’s fields, there were herds of deer numbering three maybe four dozen.


So as you can imagine the morning was exciting and full of birds and critters.  We have been told by many tourists that Camas NWR is the best location to observe wildlife.  Many a tourist, who has visited Yellowstone National Park, has told us that they did not see one moose in the Park.   At Camas, it is almost an everyday occurrence to observe a variety of birds and animals in their natural habitat.  Luck Us!!


We had another opportunity to visits with Brian and Kay Murray as they stopped by Camas NWR on their way eastward to spend time with their daughter, their son and their families.  We drove out on the Refuge early in the morning and right before the sun settled in the evening.  The wildlife we observed was amazing. 


Kay said she had never seen a bull moose.  On one of our outing not only did we observe a bull moose with his mate but, next to the cow were her two baby twins.  Then, we happened upon a herd of perhaps 60 to 70 elk.  One of our photos shows a group of males.  Another photo, of a lone buck on a hill, reminded us of the Hartford commercial on TV.


We had been on the Refuge almost an hour when Brian, Kay, Steve and I had the thrill of a lifetime.  We were following this herd of 60 to 70 elk across the fields.  Suddenly, the whole herd looped around and crossed the road in front of our vehicle.  We grabbed our cameras and began to shoot pictures of the herd crossing in front of us. 


When we returned to the Coach, we immediately download the photos into the computer.  Our photos were a little blurred due to the running of the herd and the dust they were kicking up off the ground.  Yet, the elk had provided us with a scene that could best be described as an everlasting, breathtaking memory.   We believe the Murrays will never forget their visit to Camas NWR.


Spud Harvest is an annual event taking place the last week of September and the first week of October in Northern Idaho.  We are sure you have heard of and probably have eaten many times the famous Idaho Russet Potato.  Idaho’s economy is heavily dependent upon a successful Spud Harvest.   Every business and all of the schools close their doors for two weeks while everyone harvests potatoes.


There are potatoes galore. Harvesting in the fields begins at daybreak and continues long into the night.  Anyone with a driver’s license is asked to drive the huge dump trucks and enormous 18 wheelers that are overflowing with potatoes.   The potatoes are transported to huge earthen covered barns for storage.  In these storage barns, the potatoes will stay fresh with cool temperature – about mid 40’s – for about four months.   Our tour of a local potato processing plant, Larson Farms, showed us how potatoes are washed, sorted, and boxed for companies like Green Giant and bagged for your local grocery store.  Never again will we look at potatoes as a lowly vegetable.


All too soon, it was time to start up the Coach’s engine and head back to Ohio.   The drive eastward was beautiful with the fall leaves appearing on the trees in the mountains.  We had a chance to visit with Joe and Carol Mottet, in Iowa, and catch up on a few years of memories.   We arrived at our home in Barberton only to learn that just a few weeks prior a storm hit the area.  Our home was dry and the only clue of the storm was a few branches down in the back yard.  Of course, branches helped us start our nightly campfires.


Thanks to all who helped make this summer’s adventure a memory to remember.  Hopefully, our paths will cross again in the near future.  Until then, our very best wishes to you and your Family for a healthy and safe fall season and a Blessed Thanksgiving full of joy and happiness.

Thanks for "Traveling Along with Steve & Jan".