I thought I had skied some of the most extreme terrain yesterday at Moonlight Basin, until today when we skied The Ridge at Bridger Bowl. A new lift at Bridger make accessing this terrain a cinch- Dave felt like he was cheating. The hike is mangable, but the skiing is unreal. I honestly don’t think I’ve even been in that steep and technical ever. And considering this was a bad snow day and I came down grinning from ear to ear just further makes me want to ditch the high cost of Aspen and make Montana my home.
Two weeks into our vacation, and I think we’re finally on ‘vacation.’ No significant driving or responsibilities for a full 6 days! But first, a recap: July 7th we arrived late in Seattle after a quick overnight in Boise with our friend Jeff on Sunday. I haven’t been to the NW since jr high, so was very excited to check it out again. We stayed with my friend Lane – a college buddy from J-School and the student paper. Lane lives in a cool little apartment in the Queen Anne neighborhood of Seattle. Cool happening area with good coffee (of course!) and good restaurants. Dave and I did the mini Seattle tour – coffee, Pike’s Place Market, West Seattle for seafood and a great sunset.
On Wednesday the three of us took off for the Olympic Peninsula where Lane and I were to climb Mt. Olympus with Summit for Someone – a benefit for Big City Mountaineers. Dave took the four days to check out the peninsula himself while trying to get some work done in the nothing town of Forks. You can pretty much find an internet cafe in any town in America at this point I think. The climb was awesome – but very tiring. Pictures tell a better story – here’s the link: http://picasaweb.google.com/jessica.j.downing/SummerVacation2008
Basically it was four days of walking about 42 miles, with a semi-technical accent of the pyramid of Mt. Olympus. Olympus is the highest peak in the Olympic Mtns at 7963 feet. But we started at sea level (well, 200 ft above). As it was a benefit climb, we had a guide, Craig Van Hoy from GoTrek Expeditions. He’s been doing the SFS climbs since the second year of its existence. I’ve never been so happy in my life to take off a backpack and hiking boots. While I didn’t get heel blisters, I really though my pinky toes might fall off…
Back to Seattle Sunday night, then a nice breakfast with another college friend on Monday morning. Dave and I decided to add a detour to our trip and visit Bellingham. I’ve heard great things about this town, and always wanted to check it out, so figured we were so close, might as well. We found a cheap hotel, hopped on our bikes and rode downtown. Found a burger joint, asked the waitress if there were any parks/beaches, and she directed us to a cool park right on the water. Best thing about this park was the coffee shop right in the middle. So we got some coffee, sat on the beach, and watched the sunset. Definitely will need to do a return trip in the winter, as this could be a place to move to…
Then comes one of our longest days in the car yet. We had been suggested to take the North Cascades highway rather than the Interstate to get to Idaho. We did, and it was beautiful, but long… My favorite thing about Washington is the amount of farmer’s markets and fresh food you can get. We stopped a lot for cherries and strawberries. Yum. Lunch in Omak, Wa, on the edge of one of the Indian Reservations. Delicious Mexican food, and then found a used book/coffee/internet cafe shop across the street. Very friendly people in Omak. After a few more hours of driving, we finally made it to Sandpoint. Got the last campsite in the closest campground and watched the sun set over Lake Pend Oreille. The next morning we got up, drove into town, once again hopped on our bikes and proceeded to check out town. Anyone want to move?? I’m sold on Sandpoint. Found a cute 1910 bungalow – 3 bed/1bath, w/ detached garage – for $240k!!! Oh, and the public beach with the sea planes coming in and out, the people boating on the lake, wow, nothing about this town I didn’t like. Great coffee shop too. 🙂 Then down to Cour de’Alene. Got lunch at a Greek restaurant and took our Gyros down to the beach. Also a cool town – would have liked more time to explore.
Now off to Bozeman. We stayed with another college friend for two nights. So we had a full day in the BoZone to explore. Went to the Cat’s Eye cafe on high recommendation for breakfast, and was not disappointed. Then went to visit Patrick at work at Mystery Ranch backpacks. Got the factory tour and dave got a new pack! He’s excited. Then camped out in the Bozeman Public Library for a few hours before meeting up with Patrick again to go climbing. We were almost successful until it started downpouring… oh well, at least it was a pretty drive. Then a long drive through Eastern Montana and North Dakota – not near as ugly as I thought. Camped in a city park in Fargo – which was quite entertaining. Now we are in Three Lakes, WI at my family’s cottage, possibly my favorite place in the world. Three Lakes even has a coffee shop now! This place makes Carbondale look like a booming metropolis. I’m excited to relax, water ski, play in the sea kayaks and canoe, and just do nothing for the next week.
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