September 2018 Road Trip – Oregon: Multnomah Falls, Bridge of the Gods

August 26, 2018, I was up and on my way early Sunday morning. I had a 4 1/2/ hour drive to Fallon where I would be seeing a couple of friends from high school and staying overnight. Over the next few days, I stopped off in Reno and spent time with more friends from high school, then headed up to Washington State via Susanville, Klamath Falls and on up over Mount Hood into Portland Oregon on Thursday, August 30th. I decided to take a drive to the Columbia River Gorge and Multnomah Falls. I had the opportunity to make a few visits to this area over the two years that my son had lived in Portland. Last year in September of 2017 the Eagle Creek Fire went through the area and I wanted to see how things looked. I discovered that the exits to Crown Point/Vista House were open as well as a couple of nearby smaller falls and hiking trails. Beyond that Highway 30 scenic byway was closed to the larger Multnomah Falls. So I got back on I-84 and drove to the exit for the Multnomah Falls. I pulled into the parking lot and made the short walk through the tunnel that goes under the freeway……it was good to see that the Lodge and the falls themselves had come through the fire unscathed. The parking lot on the side of the falls, of the freeway, was fenced off as well as a portion of Highway 30 that goes beyond the falls. Tourists are still able to make the 1/4 mile walk to the upper bridge but the trails beyond that are closed due to fire damage. The falls as always were beautiful and I never tire of seeing them. It was really sad to see so much of the area closed off and the fencing which took away from the natural setting and beauty of the area. After leaving the Falls I got back on Highway 84 and made my way to the Bridge of the Gods. Along the way, I saw the exit to one of the state parks and the fish hatchery was closed off, I could see for miles where the upper hillside was burned as well as some areas where the fire came all the way down to the freeway.

The drive from Multnomah Falls to The Bridge of the Gods is just 13 miles. The Bridge of the Gods is a steel truss cantilever bridge that spans the Columbia River between Cascade Locks, Oregon and Washington state near the Bonneville Dam. There is a $2.00 toll to cross. There is a Native American Legend about The Bridge of Gods you can find at this link https://en.m.wikipedia.org.

After crossing the bridge I made a left onto Hwy 14 and followed the scenic route along the Columbia River Gorge to Washougal where I then caught I-5 to Gig Harbor/Key Peninsula/Olympic Peninsula area to spend 3 weeks with friends and family.

September 2018 Road Trip – Nevada: Elko, Lamoille Canyon

My next stop was Elko, Nevada to spend a couple days with my cousin, so I headed out of Las Vegas about 1 PM as I had a 6 1/2 hour drive to make. Because I can not drive that many hours straight without a break and because that stretch of road is long and nothing for miles I knew it was going to take me longer to get there, plus I ended up feeling really tired and just needed to close my eyes for a bit, so at one of the rest stops I fixed myself some lunch and slept for about 15 minutes. After that I was fine but I did not get into my cousins until 9 PM that night.

The next day, Saturday, August 25th my cousin, Walt and his wife, Lynette took me on a drive to Lamoille Canyon….21 miles outside of Elko. Lamoille Canyon is a glacier-carved canyon in the Ruby Mountains and is one of the most beautiful ranges in Nevada. The scenic drive is just 12 miles one direction with self-guided interpretive signs describing the geology of the canyon. It’s hard to believe after traveling through much of Nevada that is desert, rock, dust and pretty barren that one would find this beautiful canyon. There are plenty of hiking trails to explore with Island Lake being an easy two-mile hike. I wish I was in better shape and did not have bad knees so I could do more hiking and get into the backcountry a bit more. In addition, there are places to camp as well as picnicking which is what we did, we brought some lunch and found a really awesome place nestled in among the trees after a short trail walk. A few weeks after my visit a terrible fire went through this Canyon so before you pay a visit be sure and check the updates.

September 2018 Road Trip – Las Vegas, Nevada

I classify myself as an RV traveler, even though at times I am stationary for several months as I work at whatever current job I am doing. As I have mentioned in other blog posts I came to Phoenix in January of this year to take a job here. One of the things that I am lucky to have with this job is “flexibility”. One of the agreements I arranged with staying and working here was to only work 75% of the year so that I could go visit my family, friends and pursue my “adventurous” spirit. So with that in mind, I spent several months saving up funds to take a 5-week road trip which turned into 6 due to my car breaking down (more on that later). For this trip, I was not taking my RV, but just going in my car because for one it was cheaper and I was going to have plenty of places to stay the majority of the time. This was my first summer in Phoenix and the heat was downright miserable, so by the time August 23rd arrived (my departure date) I was more than ready to hit the road and get to cooler weather. On my departure date, I worked until 11 am……I had been packing for a couple of days so everything was ready to go except for a few last-minute items, so within a half-hour, I was in the car and on the road.

My first stop for the night was Las Vegas……The drive from Phoenix to Las Vegas is about 4 1/2 hours but I don’t ever seem to make it in the time frame that mapquest says I should. Maybe it’s because I don’t drive hard and make too many rest stops. I just like to drive at my own pace and take in the adventure and the scenery. To me taking a trip isn’t just about getting to my destination as fast as I can, it’s about the journey getting there. So for me to get to Las Vegas to my hotel was about 6 hours. I had booked a room at the Boulder Station Hotel and Casino online through “Hotwire” for $57.00. I had originally looked to get a room closer on the Las Vegas strip but the additional casino fees were expensive. Boulder City has the casino fees as well but they were cheaper. So anyway the Boulder Station Hotel and Casino worked out just fine. It was really nice, I had a big room with a king-size bed and my window overlooked the pool. I right away got into my swimsuit and went to check out the pool which was really nice also. The water was a little cool getting in but once in, it was fine.

Boulder Station was built on 27 acres at the corner of Lamb Boulevard and Boulder Highway.  The site was chosen in 1986, as the company believed that the east side of Las Vegas was under-served and because of its easy access from I-515. Groundbreaking of the $85 million Boulder Station began on August 5, 1993. The project’s ultimate cost was $103 million. Boulder Station opened on August 23, 1994, with a fireworks show.  It was the first new hotel-casino to open on the east side of Las Vegas since 1979. Boulder Station’s design is of Victorian architecture.

Day 2 – I was up about 9 AM as I had a ticket for 10 AM to the Neon Sign Museum which was only about a 10-minute drive from the hotel. Founded in 1996, the Neon Museum is a non-profit dedicated to collecting, preserving, studying and exhibiting iconic Las Vegas signs for educational, historic, arts and cultural enrichment. The museum campus includes the outdoor space known as the Neon Boneyard, a visitors’ center which is housed inside the former La Concha Motel lobby and the Neon Boneyard North Gallery which houses additional rescued signs and is available for weddings, special events, and photo shoots.

My next stop was to the Bellagio Conservatory and Botanical Gardens. I had my first visit to Las Vegas in March 2016 when I met up with my friend Becky from Washington to celebrate her birthday. We had 4 great days and did and saw so many things and one of our stops was to the Bellagio and I just loved the Conservatory. The Bellagio has 5 seasonal themes throughout the year and I wanted to see the new one on display which was called “That’s Amore 2018” which was a French/Italian theme and it was beautiful.