Monday, June 30, 2014

Day 8: Grand Forks ND to Ashland WI via a water park and more Route 2

Along the Bakken Formation in North Dakota is a significant increase in the number of rigs for oil (and some natural gas) now that the extraction technology has improved. Lots of people coming up to the area to work on the rigs (or setting them up) and normally lower-paying service jobs are advertising at 2x the normal rate (hotel service for example). For housing, there is a big shortage of housing in general, I believe the rents per square foot are the highest in the country (source), and there are three main types of new housing.

First are permanent structures that are mostly long-term residence hotels, similar to the ones in Winnemucca during the recent silver rush.
Permanent housing

Second are slightly more temporary structures that are basically the standard trucking container built into apartments and stacked 2-3 high in leveled off areas near the rigs.
Temporary housing

Third are just leveled off dirt lots with 100's of RVs parked on them. (sorry, no picture came out for them)

The changes from the last time we drove down Route 2 a few years ago were myriad, and one other notable addition was the large number of new drilling rigs or rigs under construction.

Today's journey was mostly about playing in the water park in Grand Forks, so didn't roll out of town until about 3pm Central, then gently rolled down Route 2 through Grand Rapids MN and ended up in Ashland WI for the night. Tomorrow should be an easy ride to my parents in Upper Michigan, looking forward to some non-travel days for a couple weeks.
Tin Man

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Day 7: Malta MT to Grand Falls ND via lots of Route 2

Iron butt day today, 500+ miles, saw a cool part of the Missouri river at Wolf Point, Scandinavian Heritage site in Minot, and lots of wind (but no bugs) and rain along Route 2. Finally landed at the hotel at midnight (Central) and hitting the sack now. Tomorrow possible second iron butt day to arrive in Michigan, but probably will split into two parts.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Day 6: Kalispell MT to Malta MT via Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park looks cool but an avalanche prevented us from driving through fully. Saw mountain goats licking rocks. Hit a lot of bugs. Now listening to the baseline of some songs blasting from the bar across from the only hotel within 200mi with any vacancies. That was a badly structured sentence :)

Friday, June 27, 2014

Day 5: Spokane WA to Kalispell MT along Route 2

Super nice day, started out a bit rainy, cleared up in the evening. There is a giant 3-on-3 hoops tournament going on in Spokane, kind of cool with lots of closed down streets and people playing basketball all over the place. The hotel was overrun with athletic teenagers and their parents. Route 2 is beautiful once you get into the countryside, we stopped at Kootenai Falls which has a very unstable footbridge across the Kootenai River. Tomorrow should be a tour through Glacier National Park, some of the roads may still be closed due to snow ...

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Day 4: Bend OR to Spokane WA via the Columbia Gorge

A bit longer day (~390mi), pretty intense rainstorms off and on, lots of lightning near Kennewick WA. The Columbia Gorge is extremely large, hard to grok until you see it in context (though it consumes much of the context). Lots of wind turbines around, volcanic rock everywhere. Hint: good taco truck in Kennewick (Tony's Tacos).

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Day 3: Klamath Falls to Bend via Crater Lake

Another short day in terms of mileage, but Crater Lake is a pretty interesting place to visit. Unfortunately much of the East Rim Way was closed, so we went around the West Rim Way instead. Surprisingly, it rained and was about 40F at the rim (about 7000') with fields of snow still left from the winter. Last time we were here it was around the same time of year, sunny and no snow at all.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Day 2: Chico CA to Klamath Falls OR via Lava Beds

Not a super long day, but a bit of a late start in the morning. The drive to Lava Beds was fairly hilly and the temperature cycle on our Sprinter is a different profile than I'm used to. Maybe it's a diesel thing, but it seems to rise quickly to a new plateau under load. Could be just a temperature gauge feature as well that doesn't average as much of the past into the current reading as I'm used to. Anyway, we were able to get cleared by a ranger to go caving (white nose disease in bats), so we explored quite a few of the lava tubes that were in the vicinity of the visitor center. Klamath Falls is only about an hour away, so we are here for the night, and perhaps tomorrow will be Crater Lake and then up to Bend and maybe Mt. Hood.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Day 1: Piedmont CA to Chico CA - the summer drive of 2014 begins

Started in Piedmont CA (175350), first stop in Chico CA after a bit of a late start. Sprinter van seems to be behaving well, will post pictures and other updates tomorrow, planning to hit the Lava Beds National Monument and go caving.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

1973 Saab 96 - Seattle to Berkeley at sub-light speed

Seattle on Sunday morning
Berkeley on Monday morning
800 miles, 35mpg, only a few fixes (backwards facing and non-functioning radiator fan anyone?) en route