Episode 401 Reflections of a Road Trip (2)
You regular podcast listeners may remember a recent podcast where I talked about the importance of reflecting upon our life experiences. In this specific instance it was our annual fall road trip.
We reluctantly left the beautiful Jackson Hole area and drove west over the pass and down into Driggs, Idaho. Our bike mechanic at home use to live in Driggs so we wanted to stop and see the town a bit. We ended up driving east again up a valley towards the local ski resort and went for a hike on the west side of the Tetons. Evening saw us rolling west along the Snake River and stopping for the day in Idaho Falls.
We were not impressed with this town until the following morning when we decided to get out our bikes and test the area on two wheels. Our opinion of the town changed instantly. We found the Snake River again as it moved through town.The community has put a lot effort and money to make the river front memorable. A greenway and bike trail run along the long dam that blends in with the falls in the town. The open space and beautiful fall foliage was highlighted by the many artistic benches that invite you to pause a while and enjoy the day. We found a farmers market along the river and a trail that is still being developed.Then we stumbled on some office building that looked more like southern plantation house or mansions. The grounds and buildings were beautiful.
We didn't get out of town before lunch. We drove along an empty highway that lead us out to the Creator of the Moon National Monument. It is an interesting stop in this barren place that is the result of massive geological activity millions of years ago. If you want to see lava beds this is the place.
Our next home exchange was scheduled for Sun Valley, Idaho which was our next stop. We stumbled on a great little bakery and coffee shop along the road. It was closed. The woman who owned it was inside and opened the door for us. Great coffee and fresh walnut/banana bread was our reward.
Our condo in Sun Valley was beautiful and of course you remember free. We felt so lucky. We spent four days there. We biked every day on paved trails. We ate great food and drank good coffee. The locals called it "slack time" for it was between the busy summer and the even busier winter ski season. We loved the slow pace.
Of course this is Hemingway country - Sun Valley and Ketchum - and we accidentally stumbled on a monument to him just a short distance off a bike trail.
On the base of a monument it read:
Best of all he loved the fall.
The leaves yellow on the cotton woods,
Leaves floating on the trout streams,
And above the hills - the high blue windless skies.
Now he will be part of them forever.
It was a fall day and the verse seemed so very appropriate.
Our next drive took us farther west and a bit north. Days end found us in Prairie City which I talked about in the previous podcast about this trip. After that great evening we found ourselves the following day in the John Day Fossil Bed area of Oregon. This is one of my favorite areas of the west. It is so open and yet rugged with canyons. Massive geological events created a masterpieces in landscape. We always slow down and then stop over and over again - always in awe.
Our drive led us up out of the fossil beds and then down into the Columbia River Gorge. Our last home exchange waited us in Hood River, Oregon. This exchange was located out of town in a huge beautiful house with a very friendly and independent cat: Jake.
We really enjoyed Hood River. Three nights and three brew pubs. Craft beer is important in this town and we wanted to experience what we could. We even topped one evening in a most friendly wine bar with local music and local wine. It was such an enjoyable evening we knew it had to be the last night of our trip. We would go home the next day.
We had enjoyed wonderful biking in Hood River. They have a beautiful trail that use to be a main highway high on the hills just south of the Columbia River. Incomparable views and complete isolation from cars. The colors, the silence and the terrain made for an unforgettable ride.
Then there is the river front park that has been developed into a wonderful community space for bikers, picnickers, dog owners, wind surfers, paragliders, boaters and walkers. The Columbia River and gorge is so very beautiful. Once again we hit perfect fall weather and felt like the luckiest people on earth.
We had been on our trip for sixteen days and felt like we were ready to head home and so the next day we drove around three hundred miles - I think. We didn't keep close watch on miles. I just know that we really enjoy the last days drive up and out of the gorge and then through the Yakima Valley and then over Stevens Pass and the Cascade Mountains. We found ourselves in heavy traffic before we could turn off onto a small road that lead us through the Skagit Valley and along Chuckanut drive to our house.
There is something about a fall road trip that always satisfies that lust for something different. You drive around the bend. You pull over. You go in the little store. You bike or walk along a quiet trail. You find ourself in a unique pub or restaurant. You hear some local music. There are so many memories that will make the winter that much more enjoyable.
I can't say enough about a fall road trip.1
This is Retirement Talk with something to think about.