The Kessel Run

The route to Seattle is long, extra long when you’re headed the wrong way.

In Lewistown Montana with the WINs and Jenna, I had two key destinations planned – Fourth of July in Osakis, Minnesota with Janet, Duane, Wally and more, and a visit with Kylee and Jeffrey in Seattle. I was not well positioned for either one. Especially poorly positioned for both.

The route from Lewistown took me through Miles City (I’ll get back to this one), Rapid City, Pierre, and Bismark – about 1,200 miles — but well worth it. The week at Janet and Duane’s lake house was fantastic as always and remains one of my favorite destinations.

…the Millennium Falcon…the ship that made the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs.
–Han Solo

Of course this left me over 1,800 miles, by the shortest route from Bainbridge Island, my Seattle area stop. So over 3,000 miles from Lewistown to Seattle. Hmm. Off I went, back to Bismarck and Miles City, and … wait, Miles City again?

It seems like you have to go through Miles City entering or leaving Montana from the east. I’ve been to Miles City before, and it’s a nice place, but the past few months I’d been there 3 times.


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Suddenly I wanted out, out of Miles City and out of Montana. In the morning I made the Kessel Run – driving with no stopping point in mind. I kept going until late in the evening when I found a spot in a rest area in the maze of construction zones that is I-90 through Idaho. I’d gone 656 miles – well beyond my prior longest one day drive of 360.

A couple more stops and I made it to Bainbridge Island, a small island in Puget Sound right across from downtown Seattle.

This visit allowed me to meet Jeffrey, Kylee’s boyfriend. We had a great time taking in Seattle and Bainbridge Island. Jeffrey is a very likeable guy.

The only real downside of Bainbridge is the transit back and forth to the mainland. It just takes too long to get back and forth with lots of waiting for the ferry and tough traffic on both sides. Next time I have to find a way to stay in the city even if it’s a hotel.


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[ List of places visited is not shown on this browser ]

Wrapping Up Year 4

My fourth year on the road ended in a new RV, with some time in Washington’s Olympic Peninsula, visiting Kylee in Seattle, and moving out of Arizona (huh?).

Hard to believe it’s been four years.

In this post:

  • From Washington to South Dakota
  • No Longer Arizonan
  • Year 4 Map

From Washington to South Dakota

Leda and I first stopped in Quilcene, a tiny town on the Hood Canal somewhere between Olympia and Port Townsend, where I promptly rubbed a tree with my brand new 5th wheel. The tree is fine and I’ve yet to repair the damage to the outside shower hatch, but the estimate is about $500, so yea. But enough of the lowlights, one of the highlights of the stop was going to the top of Mt. Walker. It was a clear day and you could see the Seattle skyline and Mt. Rainier across the water.

Mt Rainier appears to float above the clouds. 86 miles away it still dominates the skyline. This shot is from the top of Mt Walker near Quilcene, Washington.

Next up a trip to Seattle on the Kingston to Edmonds Ferry to see Kylee. No, not with the 5th wheel, it was tight enough just in the truck – had to fold in the mirrors to get on board.

ferry pulling into port
My ride from the peninsula to the mainland – the Kingston to Edmonds ferry
Murray and Kylee with the Seattle Space Needle in the background
Kylee and I get an elevated view of the Space Needle and the rest of beautiful Seattle.
Seattle skyline from Gasworks Park
Murray in front of the Seattle Troll
Seattle Troll

Leda and I then went to Port Townsend to see Leda’s brother. Love this place, I’ll definitely be back.

In nearby Sequim (pronounced skwim) which is between Port Townsend and Port Angeles I took two days of driving lessons with the new 5th wheel. Well worth it. Better late than never.

A bunch more stops before Leda headed to Oregon to see the total eclipse and I made a crazy long one day drive from the peninsula to Spokane. Leda met back up with me there where we had lunch in the diner from Benny and Joon. Then we went through Idaho, Montana and Wyoming to Box Elder South Dakota (a suburb of Rapid City).

Fergusons’ Cafe from the movie Benny and Joon
Mary Lou’s Milk Bottle from the movie Benny and Joon

No Longer Arizonan

The point of going to South Dakota was to change my residency. I’m now a South Dakotan. It’ll save money on vehicle registration and state income taxes. South Dakota plates are sort of a badge identifying full time RV’ers.

The Maps

Holy cow, 68 locations in the past year and I didn’t even get east of the Mississippi. Lots of Arizona and southwest locations traveling with the WINs and hanging close waiting for Kylee’s graduation. Definately too many places (and I probably missed one or two).


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[ List of places visited is not shown on this browser ]

Run for the Border

Gotta get to Canada Before …

er, before … well, I don’t know. Maybe I need a taco before they run out.

Now, I know it doesn’t sound like much of a run – two weeks for about 830 miles, but it’s RV time. You might make the drive in a day or two by car. In the RV time slows down and the journey is the thing. This one was fast, definitely a run.

I left Reno on May 29th and went to Susanville, California on the recommendation of my good friend Ray. This place had plenty of small town charm. My neighbor had a BMW RL1200 and knew the area really well which led to some great rides through the mountains.

Main Street, downtown Susanville, California
Main Street, downtown Susanville, California
The Susanville City Hall (left) and the Masonic Temple. Downtown Susanville, California.
The Susanville City Hall (left) and the Masonic Temple. Downtown Susanville, California.
Antelope Lake
Antelope Lake

Ray said the drive north out of Susanville was really something – it did not disappoint. I really need a dash cam. As you’re winding through the tall pines, every once in a while you come to a a little gap and all of the sudden there’s

Mount Shasta
All of the sudden there’s this giant bright, bright white mountain, overwhelming everything else, and then it’s gone

I spent a few days in Mount Shasta City at the foot of the dominating peak. All the locals know it’s an active volcano. They all know the geologists say it will likely erupt again (in the next 200 years). And they know the lahar and pyroclastic flow could relegate Mount St. Helens’ eruption to footnote status. Still, there they are, in the foothills, captivated by the majestic peak.

Roadside Oregon

A short mountain ride from Gold Hill, Oregon is the Oregon Vortex roadside attraction where people and things appear to get taller or shorter depending on where they are standing. Now the science guy in me wanted to chuckle, but I’ve got to admit the outdoor demonstrations were pretty impressive. I’d also note that my phone’s GPS could not get a fix within 2 miles of this spot (queue Twilight Zone music).

Which one is taller?  The ground is level, checked by a carpenter's level and I checked it with my phone also.
Which one is taller? The ground is level, checked by a carpenter’s level and I checked it with my phone also.
The ground really is level.
The ground really is level.

Speaking of Twilight Zone

Two days later, with a stop to see one of my favorite authors, Neil Stephenson, speak, I was at the border – Port Angeles, Washington.

Port Angeles is a small city (pop. ~19,000) across the Strait of Juan de Fuca from Victoria, British Columbia. It does have quite a bit of charm.

Downtown Port Angeles
Downtown Port Angeles
Port Book and News (movie location) Port Angeles
Port Book and News (movie location) Port Angeles
Bella Italia (movie location) Port Angeles
Bella Italia (movie location) Port Angeles

Victoria

6/16 – Victoria, BC. You get to Victoria by ferry – it’s on Vancouver Island and there are no bridges. Taking the RV across was prohibitively expensive. I also decided not to take the motorcycle across since I still don’t have a reliable GPS I can use offline. So, I boarded Keira for a few days and took the ferry to Canada.

The MV Coho, loading in Port Angeles for trip to Victoria, BC, Canada
The MV Coho, loading in Port Angeles for trip to Victoria, BC, Canada
Port Angeles from the ferry to Victoria
Port Angeles from the ferry to Victoria
Approaching Victoria
Approaching Victoria
Victoria Harbor
Victoria Harbor
BC Parliament
BC Parliament

Victoria is a maze of twisty little two lane streets, very densely populated, vibrant and cosmopolitan like New York, but it’s uber clean and the people are way nicer. It is the capital of the province and a hot spot for tech and design professionals.


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And Now …

It’s back to the desert.