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Pacific NW 2011

a travel blog by Kugs on the road

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Hitting The Road Again

Seattle, United States

Well, I'm back on the road again. I flew to Seattle this morning by way of Newark, NJ (Why do I always end up in Newark?). The plan is to tour parts of the Pacific North West, as well as a few other area's along the way. Some of the highlights of this trip should include Mt. St. Helens, Howard Hughes' Spruce Goose, The Bonneville Salt Flats, The Great Salt Lake and lots of good food. Of Course I have a few surprises up my sleeve too.

My Flight landed in Seattle at 12noon, I picked up my rental car (a 2012 Cadillac Escalade with 8 Miles on it). Then I headed to the Space Needle, I'm sure in 1962 this was an engineering marvel. Today, not so much, but it is still cool. It just seemed dwarfed by the surrounding buildings.

You do get a nice view of Seattle from up there. How many Starbucks can you spot in this photo?

Then I checked into my hotel and went to diner at Bizzarro Italian Cafe. You know your in for a unique experience when your greeted with a sign that says "Nobody is Fine with water". Then you start to notice the rest of the decor, including a fully set table hanging upside-down from the ceiling. I believe this restaurant was started by a bunch of theatre actors that found they were getting more experiance running restaurants than they were at acting. So they opened Bizzarro.

WOW, What a diner. This has to be one of the best meals I have ever eaten. I had the Clam Linguini, fresh Manila clams From the Puget sound tossed with House made linguini in a white wine butter sauce with crispy House cured pancetta and roasted jalapeno. I normally would shy away from someting with jalapenos, but this was the perfect amount of heat.

permalink written by  Kugs on the road on September 12, 2011 from Seattle, United States
from the travel blog: Pacific NW 2011
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Breakfast, A Henge, Jimi, Ships & a Bouncy Bridge

Olympia, United States

I think this is a Henge. It dosn't call itself a henge, It in fact has no name, no plaque to explain it's existence. It's just a group of squared arches sitting in the middle of an office park. It's the office park Henge.

But Before the Henge was the breakfast, I stopped at Voula's Offshore Cafe. Yup, Another DDD stop, Where else would I eat. I ordered the Greek Hobo. Greek sausage, onions, mushrooms, hash browns, and eggs scrambled together and topped with Feta cheese. It was good, but not great. I thought about ordering the Chinese Pancake, which is a plate sized pancake with an egg and chopped ham dropped into the uncooked side then flipped. But after my Florida trip, I'm still not ready for pancakes.

When I started out for the Cemetery I selected the Jimi Hendrix folder on my MP3 player. As I turned into the Cemetery Purple Haze started playing. I wasn't surprised that it was a very peaceful and tastefully done memorial, But I was surprised by the 70 year old couple from Minnesota that were taking pictures of each other at the memorial. As they drove off I swear I heard Foxy Lady blasting from their car.

Then I took a drive up to the USS Turner Joy A Destroyer commissioned in 1959, Same year I was Commissioned. The Turner Joy's claim to fame is that it sank the first enemy ship in the Vietnam war essentially bringing the US into that fight.

On the way back from the Turner Joy I drove past 4 decommissioned Air Craft Carriers that are in storage as the "Ready Fleet". The one pictured here is the USS Independence; next to her are the USS Kitty Hawk, The USS Constellation and the USS Ranger. There have been requests to have the Ranger and the Kitty Hawk donated as floating Museums, but so far the constellation and the independence are scheduled for scrapping.

Do you remember seeing the footage of the bridge in 1940 that twisted so bad in the wind that it destroyed itself. Well I ended my day driving over the replacement for that bridge. It seemed fairly solid.

permalink written by  Kugs on the road on September 13, 2011 from Olympia, United States
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Mt. St. Helens

Newberg, United States

I spent most of my day driving through the Cascade Mountains. Of course the highlight of the day was a stop at Mt. St. Helens. Most of the way there it wasn't looking good, the skies were overcast and the clouds were hanging low. The closer I got to the Mountain the thinner the clouds got. As I pulled into the parking area the Sky opened up and it became clear and sunny. I was extremely surprised both by the amount of area that is still devastated 30 years after the eruption, and by the amount of new growth that has been planted in the blast area around the Mountain.

To show you how much rock, ash & mud came from the eruption. This A frame House was built before the eruption at ground level about 30 Miles from the Mountain. After the eruption the lower level of the House was several feet below what is now ground level.

Of course one of the strangest Phenomena is how the hot ash from the eruption petrified this Bigfoot.

permalink written by  Kugs on the road on September 14, 2011 from Newberg, United States
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The Spruce Goose

Yachats, United States

First stop today was at The Evergreen Aviation Museum in McMinnville, OR. The Centerpiece of this museum is Howard Hughes' Spruce Goose. Centerpiece is a bit of an understatement; The Spruce Goose fills the entire building. It has a wingspan larger than a football Field. The tail of the plane is as tall as a 5 Story building. The cockpit is 30 feet off the ground. The silver plane in the lower right of the picture is a DC-3 that is parked under the wing of the Spruce Goose. There is also a B-17 (same plane as the Memphis Bell) parked under the tail. Basically, This plane is Huge. Sure there are other planes made now days that are bigger, but remember 2 things. First this plane is made of wood, not some lightweight alloy like aluminum. Second, this is a seaplane, this plane is designed to take off and land in the water. Not some smooth runway. The rest of the museum was fairly cool also. One thing they do that I haven't seen in other Aviation Museums is for a few dollars more you could climb inside the B-17 display. I was fortunate enough to get about a 15 minute one on one tour of the plane. Standing inside the plane gives you a new appreciation for how difficult conditions were for the crew of the Memphis Bell and the other B-17s.

Next stop was the 45th Parallel, Why? Because it's there... I've stood on the Artic Circle, The Center of the contiguous United States, The Southern most point of the contiguous United States, So why not the 45th.

I ended my day watching the sunset over the Pacific Ocean. I know this isn't the best sunset I've photographed, but anytime you can end your day walking 100 feet from your hotel room and watching the sunset on the Pacific is a good day.

permalink written by  Kugs on the road on September 15, 2011 from Yachats, United States
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A quiet day driving through the mountains

Weed, United States

I started my day stepping out of my Motel room and walking over and watching the Ocean for a while. Then I spent the rest of the day driving through the mountains into northern California.

I stopped for the night in the town of Weed, CA. Although the town does have a sense of humor with slogans like "weed like to welcome you". There are some serious issues here. It seems that about 95% of the town suffers from Glaucoma, but they do have a doctor here that will write them a prescription for that. I think the desk clerk at my hotel had really bad Glaucoma. I had dinner at a family BBQ restaurant next to my hotel, probably the worst meal I have had on this trip. I had the Ribs; they were dry, full of fat, just awful. The odd thing was the waitress never asked how things were. I think she knew. I also think the cook may have had Glaucoma too.

permalink written by  Kugs on the road on September 16, 2011 from Weed, United States
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Donner, Party of 5... oops to late, 4

Carson City, United States

Back to a little hit & run tourism today. First stop was The Folsom Prison Museum. Not the best prison museum I've been to, Yes, I've been to others. One of their big displays was a 9 foot tall Farris wheel that a prisoner made with over 250,000 toothpicks. I guess he had some extra time on his hands.

Next was the Bonnie & Clyde Death Car. Yes the actual car they were driving when they were killed by a Police ambush in Louisiana. In hindsight it probably would have been better if I took the picture of the side with the bullet holes. Trust me, they're there.

So, did you hear the one about the cannibal that passed his Mother in the woods... sorry, I had to make the joke. On the site is the monument and a small museum. There is also a large construction project going on next to the museum. Perhaps they're building a diner or snack bar, about 150 years to late for that. Seriously though, the memorial is well done, there are plenty of artifacts on display found at the site. As well as plenty of historical information to explain what led up to what happened here. One interesting note, the base of the monument is 22 feet tall. The snow that stranded the Donner party was also 22 feet deep.

permalink written by  Kugs on the road on September 17, 2011 from Carson City, United States
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Drive Across Navada

Wendover, United States

All I did today was drive across northern Nevada @80mph. Well I kept seeing signs that said 80, turns out I was on I-80, oops. After spending 5 days in this car I discovered today that it has a sunroof, not that I needed it before with all the overcast weather I've had. It will however come in handy for the rest of the trip. I ended the day at the edge of the Bonneville Salt Flats. Tomorrow I drive to the flats, Salt Lake City, and up towards Idaho, gona get me some taters.

permalink written by  Kugs on the road on September 18, 2011 from Wendover, United States
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A busy day in Utah

Tremonton, United States

I started the day at the Wendover Aviation Museum. This is a very small understated museum considering the important part this airfield played in bringing WWII to it's end. This Airfield was used both to train the crew of the Enola Gay as well as develop and test the necessary modifications to the B-29 and the "Little Boy" Atomic Bomb. There really isn't much to see here. The museum owns the original 5 buildings on the airfield, but only the operations building is used as the museum. They only have one airplane on display, a C-54 similar to the cargo plane used to transport parts of the bomb to the Enola Gay for her mission. The plane is in bad shape and needs a lot of work.

The Bonneville Salt Flats. Home of the Bonneville International Raceway. I drove to the race area and at first was lucky that a private event was scheduled for today, I had a good chance of seeing someone run their car rather than just see a big empty lake bed. Ten minuets after I got there they locked down the area to clear the track for a run. Five minuets later he took off, then I saw a puff of smoke, He blew the engine right off the line. Two minuets later we heard the bang. It was going to be at least an hour before anyone else was ready to make a run. I could have driven out to the pit area but I just wasn't comfortable driving a rented 2012 Escalade out on the Salt Flats. So on to my next stop.

You know I love a good henge. The last place I would expect to find one is in the middle of the Mormon capital of the world. Of course the Stonehenge skilled nursing and rehabilitation center needed a lawn ornament, so why not.

While I was driving north on I-15 to my next stop I saw the Hill Air force Base Aerospace Museum. I couldn't resist. I only had an hour and a quarter before they closed and literally lock the gates. So I had to move fast. I was able to find several planes in their collection that made this worth the stop. A B-17G, a B-29, a B-52G and a C-130B.

Then back on the road. Time was running low. Maybe it's just me, but I don't recall seeing any public shooting grounds in NY.

I finally made it to the Golden Spike Historic Site at 5:08pm. They close at 5:00. I'm staying in a hotel about 20 miles north of the site. Will I try again tomorrow? I don't know. That will take up most of my morning. I don't know if I can afford the time. From what I have read I'm not sure it is even worth it. The actual golden spike isn't here (it's at Stanford University). The two trains that met here aren’t here (they were sold for scrap) The trains here are imposters. This isn't actually the spot were the railroads met (that's in Colorado) this is just the spot were they held the ceremony. So maybe I saw all I needed to see. Maybe it's best to just keep heading north.

permalink written by  Kugs on the road on September 19, 2011 from Tremonton, United States
from the travel blog: Pacific NW 2011
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Idaho, It's not Just Potatos. OK, it is...

Boise, United States

How could I go to Idaho and not go to the Idaho Potato Museum. The museum has lots of potato planting and harvesting equipment, as well as many facts about potatoes. Of course a large collection of potato mashers and Mr. Potato heads.

My next stop was going to be a tour of the world’s first Nuclear power plant, but they were closed until next Summer. I decided not to wait. it seems that more nuclear reactors have been made in central Idaho than anywhere else in the world. I guess they need the power to bake all those potatoes. So I moved onto the next stop 10 Miles down the road. The Craters of the Moon National Monument. These lava beds were created between 2 and 15 thousand years ago and made it very difficult for the early settlers to pass through the area.

Last stop, Twin Falls Idaho. The Location of Evel Knievels Famed Snake River Canyon Jump. Because the actual Jump site is on private property, it isn't possible to go to the site, but the arrow in this pic shows the dirt ramp he used to launch the Skycycle.

The trip is winding down. Only a few stops left tomorrow and Thursday. Then I'm on the redeye home Thursday night.

permalink written by  Kugs on the road on September 20, 2011 from Boise, United States
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A pen and a henge, Two big stone Structures

Goldendale, United States

This morning was going to start with a quick trip to the Old Idaho Penitentiary Museum followed by a long drive to southern Washington. When I arrived at the penitentiary I found that they were on winter hours, noon to 5pm. I had about 2 hours before they opened. I was about to leave when I noticed a small Mining Museum next door. So I went in to kill some time. When I signed in the woman working the museum asked where I was from. Come to find out, she was from Brewerton; her family built and operates the Fort Brewerton Blockhouse Museum. We ended up talking for close to an hour. Then I went over to the woman’s prison and looked around there, still I had 45 minutes to wait, and a long drive ahead of me. I got in my car to leave and drove a few blocks to a gas station. Filled the tank and got ready to hit the road. Fifteen more minuets till the pen opened. I drove back and took the quick tour. It was worth the wait. I got on the road about 1:30pm. Fortunately I would be crossing back into the Pacific Time zone, gaining an extra hour.

My next stop was the granddaddy of all henges, The Sam Hill Stonehenge in Maryhill, WA. Is probably the first of all the "Clonehenges". But Sam didn't just build this to attract attention. While Sam was in England during WWI he saw the original Stonehenge and was told that it was used for human sacrifices. He remarked "humanity is still being sacrificed to the god of war." After returning home from the war, Sam wanted to pay tribute to the 13 men from the area that did not return home. He didn't want their sacrifice to go unnoticed. That thought reminded him of Stonehenge. On the pillars within the circular structure are 13 bronze plaques with the names of those 13 men. Sam completed this memorial in 1929. This is considered to be the first memorial to WWI solders in the United States.

permalink written by  Kugs on the road on September 21, 2011 from Goldendale, United States
from the travel blog: Pacific NW 2011
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