Wednesday, April 2, 2014


Although it was a travel day we took our time Sunday morning. Knowing that we didn't have too far to go - about three or four hours, meant that we had the morning to ourselves. It was probably about 11:00 am by the time the cabin and cockpit were ready for departure.

As mentioned, our plan was to take the I84 and the 30 west towards Portland, stopping off at the first Walmart to do our shopping. After all, Oregon is sales tax free. It was a good plan and would have saved us money, but in the end the traffic of metropolitan Portland scared us off.

How much easier and quieter highway 14 over on the Washington side looked. 

So, that's what we did. And yes, we did pay for it with the taxes in Washington - enough that it makes me wonder - but then I think of the traffic again and no, we did the right thing for us.

Of  course, this meant going back over the Bridge of the Gods at Cascade Locks. By the way, it was $1.50 each time we crossed, so with this final trip over we were up to $4.50.

You can just make it out but that is the Washington State sign - right in the middle of the river.

The last time we stood here two days before we went right to Stevenson and Carson, today it was left.

A pleasant, albeit curvy ride along the 14 west towards Vancouver - Vancouver Washington that is.

While the Interstate on the Oregon side rides at the River level, the 14 in Washington climbs quite dramatically providing really nice views of the Columbia - not that you could tell that from my vantage point. 

No more pictures of the ride once we hit the Interstate. I don't know - I never seem to be able to find things to take pictures of when we are on the Interstate just trying to make time. 

It was a fairly easy ride, although a bit busy for our tastes, up to Puyallup on the I5.

We had decided to make Puyallup our destination because it had all of the stores we needed in one area. A Home Depot for sleeping with a Walmart right beside it, a Bank of America (which we use in the USA because it has an agreement with our Bank here in Canada so we are not charged withdrawal fees), a Vitamin Shoppe and a Vapor Store. 

When I had found all this on the google map I also noticed that there was a lake with a trail and a playground right behind the Walmart. When we arrived at around 3:00pm, we all needed to stretch our legs. 

It was sure busy though. I was the only one that ventured into the playground with Cassia - both Derek and Rufus bailed. Can't say I blame them - it was over the top busy - it seemed like Puyallup has only one playground! Being a nice Sunday afternoon didn't help either I guess.

I thought this was a pretty neat picture of Cas.

Really jumping ahead now - to Monday. With all the errands we had to run Monday morning we didn't get out of Puyallup until 1:00pm! Since we took the 405 we didn't even see Seattle - here is downtown Bellevue instead.

Definitely happy to see this sign - although it only took about an hour from Puyallup to where the 405 meets back up with the I5 it was very very busy. So glad that Derek was driving - what a star!

This is the first sign referencing Canada we have seen in more than five months! 

We were sure to stop at the Smokey Point rest area (mile 208) to use the RV dump. We had missed the first rest area with a dump because we couldn't believe our eyes that there was actually a dump at a rest area - by the time we figured it must be true it was too late. The next rest area we were sure to stop but that one didn't have a dump! The next one we looked for the sign but didn't see it until it was too late and so missed that one too! Sheesh. So - at Puyallup I did my research. Very handy if you are heading back to Canada and want to lighten your load.

We stopped again in Bellingham to visit Trader Joe's and a few other shops. If you can believe it - we didn't have enough beer! We can bring in the equivalent of 24 bottles or cans of beer - each - or to be precise 287 oz. We were short and there was NO WAY we were going to cross without all the beer we could take - not with the price of beer in Canada versus the USA or the choices of good craft beer. 

It wasn't until about 6:00pm that we were back heading north. Where did the day go! I thought we would be comfortably sitting at Derek's mom's place by this time.

Thankfully the border was only about 20 miles away but we also had to do another 30 kms from there. Confused with all the miles and kms? Us too! It's hard to go back to metric.

Ok - so if we were going to be held up at Customs, what about this guy! California license plates with a skidoo on his truck - any bets that he is headed to Alaska? We ended up being parked beside them - I waved and gave him a thumbs up - a pretty neat 'RV' - it's road worthy - right?! Guess so, he made it that far…..

The good news was that by the time we got to the border at around 6:30 pm, it was a fairly short line up - maybe 10 minutes or so.

Now, if you have been with us for a while you will know that we have no luck with borders. Getting in to the USA is by far the worst but coming back home is at times also quite the ordeal. 

But not today! I had a list - the guy read it - Derek listed off all the places we had been (with a play by play of the weather) and we were in! 


I was almost - ALMOST - disappointed! No good story to describe to you with that kind of welcome!

We're HOME! 
Traveling is good but coming home is even better.

We crossed at the Sumas crossing - from there we made our way to Highway #1 heading east to Chilliwack where Derek's mom and sister live. It's an agricultural area surrounded with mountains - still snow capped - mountains.

It always feels a bit weird when we first get into Canada - everything is so - Canadian looking.

Thankfully we arrived just before dark - 7:15 pm - you just have to LOVE the later light hours. Derek's mom had moved since we were here last, so we first had to find our way to her place. We saw her car, we parked behind it, we all got out and we headed in.


It was quite the winter, wasn't it? 

It was good, it was bad. In a future post I'll give you a run down of our thoughts (favourites) and stats (mileage and gas expense).

Tomorrow Cassia and I head to Vancouver Island for a week while Derek and Rufus strike out on their own. They are going to check out our home for the summer. As you can imagine - the Wood Clan doesn't separate very often - it'll seem a bit strange. 

Cas and I are going to do some sightseeing, and most likely head to the Royal BC Museum and Imax, so I should have some good stuff for you next post.

I have shared pictures twice over the years of our trips to Victoria - we generally go in the spring and in the fall - if you have missed them and are curious they are here: Island Vacation and  Cassia and I go to Victoria. I'll post this trips pictures when we get back next week.



If you are looking for more of Rantin' n Raven we are not hard to find out there in the social media world. We are on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest. See you there!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014


Following our two hiking days at Ainsworth State Park, on Friday we made our way back ten miles to Cascade Locks. We were happy to do so - it's a neat little town - we highly recommend it. Plus, we had a brewery to visit. 

But first we parked back at the Visitor Center parking lot to get a few more posts up and for Cassia to spend some more time on the playground.

With the sunny skies we all made the walk over to Thunder Island.

Looking across the Columbia to Stevenson, Washington.

This is what you see when you come through the tunnel to the Marina area of Cascade Locks. Hard to miss that there is a Brewery in town.

But first, we had an ice cream run to make. Here's the tunnel that everyone must pass under to get to this area - 12 feet is the max. height. Good to know.

Blue Goo. Better not to ask - right?!

Then off to visit Thunder Island Brewing Co. Here is Derek talking with one of the Owners. Because of Oregon's wanky liquor laws, we had to sit outside. All good with the Scotch Porter being our favourite.

We did take a quick tour of their brewing area however. 

We had planned to spend the evening at Thunder Island Brewery, but with Cassia not being allowed inside we just had the flight and left. It was still early so we decided to head over the Bridge of the Gods and drive the three miles to Stevenson Washington. A fellow at the gas station had told us about Walking Man in Stevenson and Backwoods Brewery, a little further up in Carson. 

Before we knew it we were in Stevenson, parked and walking to Walking Man
A happening place with lots of people inside and sitting out on the patio. Plus! Washington permits kids - yaaaa!!!!!

Ha! A bit of a side trek here. So - here are the restrooms (washrooms to us Canadians, but that will just get you a blank stare in the USA) - I wasn't sure which to choose - embarrassing I know. So I went back out to Derek and told him of my dilemma. Since he had struck up a conversation with our neighbours he asked them. 'Whichever one you are - you use' she says. Ok - no wrong answer here. I chose the 'Readers' door - figuring that Derek was the dreamer. I won't digress into a spiel about women and men, readers and dreamers! Ha!

One of - if not the - most interesting restrooms I have been in. The walls were covered with quotes. I thought this one was pretty good!

A pretty nifty faucet system too. Nice to know the water temperature - right?!

Anyway, back to the beer. We sure enjoyed our flight - some quality beer coming out of Walking Man - and the Black Cherry Stout!! Amazing! Pint worthy after the flight.

Cassia and her local friend, Liberty, playing a few games on the iPad.

We spent the night on the streets of Stevenson. It was quiet traffic wise but we were right - and I mean right - beside the train. By this time we had been along the train for a few weeks so we were actually getting used to it - a bit.

The next morning we went in search of a coffee shop in Stevenson to charge our computers and get a post up.

Were we in luck to find Robbie's Coffee House! Here's Robbie and her husband Bill out front, taken just as we were leaving following our extended stay.

It is such a cozy place it was hard to leave - and the conversation with Robbie and Bill was great as well. Nice that Robbie provides drawers full of toys for kids and special menu items for little ones - Cas had the milk and cookies. Mom and Dad couldn't resist the cookies either.

Our little station. If you find yourself in Stevenson, stop in and see Robbie and tell her hello from the Wood Clan!

On our way back to the van I stopped in across the street to Robbie's shop the Tin Roof Rusted.

A cute little shop with lots of new and repurposed items. 

After spending much of the afternoon at Robbie's we left to head over to Carson, just seven miles east. 

A pretty funky place suitably outfitted in wood. 

WoW! Two stouts on tap - our kind of place. We also tried the Brewberry Wheat - a very nice blueberry, the Big Cedar Red, the Clearcut Pale and the Coppermine Amber. We enjoyed them all.

After three thin crust pizza disappointments in the last few weeks, we were glad to finally get a generous, filling and tasty pizza. 

What a nice day.

So, two days and three breweries. It was fun to be able to bounce over to the north side of the Columbia River for a few days and then make our way back over to Oregon. After spending a few hours at the Backwoods Brewery we returned to our Cascade Locks parking spot for the night. 

The plan was to head west on the I84 in the morning, to finishing off viewing a few state parks along the 30, and then into Troutdale to visit Walmart.

It didn't happen like that at all - as per the Wood Clan - a change in plan.

I'll get that post to you - the last one in the USA, up tomorrow night.


If you are looking for more of Rantin' n Raven we are not hard to find out there in the social media world. We are on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest. See you there!

Monday, March 31, 2014


Here I am - just back from a vacation! 

Nope - not a physical vacation - although it sure has felt that way here at Derek's mom's place, but more of a mental vacation. 

We've quite enjoyed being semi-couch potatoes this last week since we arrived back into Canada. Plus, we have been getting some much needed family time in with Derek's sister and kids. Cassia was over the top excited to finally be back with her Grandma, Auntie and cousins after a year away.

But of course, on the blog we are still on our trip - so let's get back to our tour of the Columbia River Gorge area in Oregon.

If you recall, we were last at Hood River. Following that, we made the move a little west over to the town of Cascade Locks and then another ten miles further to Ainsworth State Park.

Another view along the Columbia River.

On our way to Ainsworth State Park we stopped in at Cascade Locks - a small, but quaint town. We drove down to the locks area which is now an island with a park, a visitor centre (which is closed right now), a museum and a brewery. Ha! Yup - a brewery. 

And - a very good playground. We spent quite a bit of time here by the time we finally left Cascade Locks - we were back and forth to this spot three times.

Because the visitor centre was closed - but still provided wifi, and there were no 'no overnight parking' signs, we decided we would spend the night. 

While I worked on a few posts, Derek and Cassia went to look at the locks.

There is a bridge over to a small island - here's Cassia at the end of it looking towards the Bridge of the Gods.

The train - ever present along the River Gorge - came right by us at Cascade Locks. 

A picture of the same area the next morning - the mist had moved in.

We knew it wasn't open until Thursday, and this was Tuesday, but we decided to walk over to the brewery - Thunder Island Brewing Co.,  to take a look.

Then on to Ainsworth State Park. Pretty quiet in the middle of the week. We parked in the upper area - nice but heavily treed - cool for this time of year. I bet the trees are much more effective with the heat of summer. But still - nice for $16 per night with water and electric. The showers are not push button but for some reason the shower head is at about eye level.

What we liked most about the park was the access to a challenging hiking trail.

A nice picture of Derek and Cas.

The white stuff.

On this trip we have seen many hearts drawn on natural features - rocks and trees. Graffiti, really. Nice to see a natural heart. Derek pointed it out to me as we walked by - good eye.

Kids and dogs - right?!

Some kind of husky heaven for Rufus. The poor guy - he's been more of a sand, desert and rock dog than a snow dog. Now FIVE year old Rufus - his birthday was March 22 - just 2 months and 6 days ahead of Cassia.

I took this picture because it was a fascinating area within the trees - an outcropping of large round rocks covered with moss. 

The first hike we did was in the afternoon when we arrived. We weren't quite sure where we were headed. The sign said to Horsetail Falls Trailhead but we had no idea if it would take us to falls and if it did, how far we would have to go to get there. After about a mile we turned back home. Good that we did because just in the door it started to rain.

The next day we headed out again - in the morning. We also cut out a portion of the hike to give us more energy to go further. 

We saw on our map that there were indeed falls, so we kept with it - although it was quite the hike. Here is Derek talking with a family from Wisconsin. 

Cassia just wanted to get back to the snow.

Coming around a corner, our first view of Horsetail Falls

Pretty amazing - right?! You just gotta love a falls that you can walk under.

There goes Rufus.

 I'm on the other side now - for a few minutes it gets very windy and wet.

The trail continued after the falls and so did we.

This was an overlook of the Columbia River.

This is highway 30 which departs from the Interstate just east of the State Park.


This time mom went over the 'fence' to take a picture. The drop off is very steep a few feet from where I am standing. I think a guard rail may be in order.

Just before the second falls, now about one mile from Horsetail Falls, is this water wall. Not sure what else to call it.

The switch back down to the falls - a bit tricky.

But well worth it. Here's view of the river from the falls.

Continuing on down…..yup - I'm always last. Stopping for pictures of course.

Hmmmm…… not good. I'm not really a pedestrian bridge person at the best of times. 

But what are ya going to do. Yes - we all crossed - one by one - not once but twice. Sheesh.

All for this and a little bit more of the trail.

We are now at Oneonta Falls. 

Since we had now come at least 1.5 miles and had to return, we had our snack and turned around.

Going back under the Horsetail Falls.

One last picture of my hiking mates near the end of the trail.

We were all bushed by the time we got back to the van. But a good hike. A bit of a trip from the campground but it can also be accessed from parking lots along highway 30. Again, I was creative with my pictures, by the time we were heading back the trail was actually quite busy. 

We spent two nights at Ainsworth State Park, heading back to Cascade Locks on Friday to visit the town again and the brewery. Turns out that we took a quick visit to Washington and two more breweries, in addition to a lovely little coffee shop in Stevenson.

For now, we are cozy here in British Columbia. In a few days Cassia and I will head over to Vancouver Island to visit with my family. I still have lots to show and tell you about from Cascade Locks back to Canada, which I'll try to get posted this week. 

After that I still have lots to tell you all about our summer and future plans.


If you are looking for more of Rantin' n Raven we are not hard to find out there in the social media world. We are on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest. See you there!

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