5000 miles

Had a great two weeks on the road this summer — from home to Portland, to San Francisco and back — and intended to write about it but will have to settle for a few photos and brief descriptions.

Leif and I left home on July 31 headed for the Bighorns in Wyoming, then Seattle and Portland for college visits and to meet up with Diane. The three of us drove together to San Francisco, then I had to drive solo home while they spent another week driving to L.A. and San Diego in a rental car before flying home.

On our first day, Leif and I stopped at my grandpa Elmer Johnson’s birthplace, Stockholm, South Dakota, and visited my great-grandma’s grave.

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That night we had supper in the Walmart parking lot in Pierre and slept in a little campground near the Badlands.

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In the morning we drove through the Badlands and then hiked to the top of Harney Peak. Great place, great hike.

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Then we were off to the Bighorns. After a hairy 15-mile drive on a forest service road, we reached the trailhead for an overnight backpack in the Cloud Peak Wilderness. It was an incredible 27 hours at Lake Solitude (pictured below) and Mistymoon Lake — one of my favorite backpacks ever. Beautiful scenery and lots of great hiking in the alpine tundra above the tree line. Unfortunately my battery died before Mistymoon, so I don’t have any pics, but I’ll get some from Leif’s phone later.

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From the Bighorns we drove to Yellowstone and the Tetons, spent a night in Idaho Falls, then beelined across Idaho and Oregon to Salem. We visited a couple colleges, then went up to Seattle for a day. I showed Leif the school I attended as a freshman (Seattle Pacific University), and we got a glimpse of Mount Rainier and visited Pike Place Market and the waterfront.

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We took the ferry across to Bellingham and stayed at a state park before meeting my old friend Mike in Olympia for an evening of sailing and a night on his boat.

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We headed down to Portland and visited a couple more schools, then picked Diane up at the airport. Had a couple great days in Portland with Mike and his family, then headed down the coast, spending a night at Harris Beach State Park.

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The next day we drove down to San Francisco via the Redwoods.

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Spent the night urban camping on our friends’ roof and then spent a day showing Leif Chinatown, Coit Tower, Lombard Street, Fisherman’s Wharf, and a cable car before returning to Kurt and Kate’s in the Mission.

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The next day I dropped Diane and Leif off at the rental car lot and started a grueling journey home. Spent the night with some more old Seattle friends in Carson City (Steve and Sally Root), then did a 1000-mile day to Evergreen, Colorado, where I visited my cousin and his family. Drove to North Platte the next day, then home, with a stop in Minneapolis to visit Cedar.

It had been a long time since I’d driven to the west coast, which I used to do every couple years. It was an epic journey and a lot of fun connecting with old friends.