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  Chicagoland MG Club:Driveline
NAMGBR 14th Annual Convention
July 6-10, 2005 - Olympia, Washington
Hosted by: The MG Car Club Northwest Centre

Olympia Trip to MG2005, Part 3
See photos on line here.

On July 10, the six of us skipped the farewell breakfast and headed north toward Olympic National Park and Victoria, BC. We drove to Port Angeles, WA to purchase our ferry tickets to Victoria. We checked the location of the ferry docks before touring to Hurricane Ridge visitor center in Olympic Park. As we headed into the park the skies were clear and blue and the mountains were spectacular. All of the vista turnoffs were on the left, so we decided to catch them on the way back. At the visitor center, there were tables for picnics so we prepared our sandwiches and had lunch. While we were there, the weather took a turn as clouds and rain moved in obscuring the view of the mountains. We decided to eat inside as the temperature had dropped dramatically. By the time we were ready to leave, the clouds covered the mountains and valleys. We drove back toward the coast but all the views were covered by clouds. It was a nice drive anyway and we got back to the docks with several hours to spare. We used the time to purchase our tickets and take a walking tour of Port Angeles. There weren't many stores open on Sunday afternoon, but there were a number of craft and gift shops welcoming customers. We got back to the docks about two hours before loading and walked through the town's visitor center and a wharf building that had been converted to retail space and a museum. Finally it was time to load the cars. We were directed into an area surrounded by motor homes, SUVs, and even a semi. As I was pulling on I bottomed out on the ramp. We parked the cars on the lower deck and walked up to the passenger deck to enjoy the cruise. We pulled away from the dock accompanied by two Coast Guard inflatables. It was just three days after the London bombings and these were our escorts. They each had machine guns manned on the bow and stern and two huge outboards. They were obviously designed to move. A fishing boat was anchored a little too closely to our path and one of the boats sped ahead to question the people on board. It was quite an experience. We docked in Victoria and it was time to drive our cars off. I started the engine and Ann asked if the car sounded right. I said, "Sounds great to me." Then I gave it a little gas to move out into Victoria and realized that bump was the exhaust. We had to drive all the way through Victoria to our hotel with straight pipes. Every time I saw a police car or motorcycle, I backed off the accelerator and coasted past. Ann turned to me and commented, "I didn't think this car could make so much noise!" It can and does. When we got to the hotel, I found one of the clamped joints had come apart. Roger helped me push it back together and all was well. Our arrival in Canada had been well announced.

We had met Diana's sister Gail and her husband David Sunday and made plans to drive to Butchart Gardens Monday morning. They met us at the hotel and we toured out to the gardens. It was a thoroughly enjoyable ride ending at the most beautiful gardens I have ever seen. We spent the morning strolling through the gardens. We had lunch in the gardens before stopping at the gift shop for mementoes. Then we took pictures of the cars in the garden and drove back to downtown Victoria. We split up to shop and sightsee. We agreed to meet at the Irish Isles Pub for dinner. This was quite an experience as they had thirty (yes, thirty) beers on tap. I was in heaven and hell at the same time. I knew there was no way I could sample all thirty beers as I had to drive back to the hotel. When I ordered my third, I felt a sharp pain in my leg warning me that was enough. Now I have to go back to sample the rest, but I am going to stay within walking distance next time.

July 12 was as beautiful as Monday. The six of us had been invited to a home cooked meal at Gail and David's so we drove to the little town of Sooke on the south coast of the island. We walked through the local public garden, through a pine forest and down to the shore. The temperature dropped as we walked into the forest and it was even cooler at the waters edge. The drive took us through several small towns and forests. We went back to the hotel, freshened up, and drove through Victoria to dinner. Gail is from England and her front lawn was a gorgeous cottage garden. Their home was a Craftsman style bungalow. We sat under a trellis in the back yard and enjoyed a very pleasant chat and beverages. For dinner, Gail had prepared fresh salmon, boiled potatoes, fresh green bean and peas, and for dessert, Gail had made cheesecake trifle with fresh strawberries. We dined extremely well that night. Later we said our goodbyes and drove back to the hotel to pack. It was almost time to head east.

July 13 was cool and sunny again as we headed north to Sydney for the ferry ride to Anacortes, Washington. We arrive early and went into town to explore the port and spend the last of our Canadian currency on pastries at a bakery. I had no difficulty driving onto this ferry. We went up to the passenger deck and proceeded to enjoy a leisurely cruise through the San Juan Island passages. We left the ferry and sat in line a long time to clear customs. Finally, we were on our way south toward Seattle before turning east. We spent the night in Yakima, Washington. We walked to nice restaurant for dinner and back to the hotel where we called it a day.

July 14, we left Yakima heading toward Oregon and Idaho. Our plan was to travel as far as we could that day. We were now on I-84 in a high desert area. It was in the 90's and we stopped at a rest stop to let us and the cars cool a little. We made it to Twin Falls, drove into town to get rooms and found the entire town was full because of a golf tournament. This was the only stop on the trip we had trouble getting a room. We found a nice older motel about eight miles east in Eden, Idaho. This turned out to be our last day together. Oscar and Diana had been called to a family emergency in Texas and Roger and Shirley accompanied them back to Illinois.

July 15th we said our goodbyes. The Gonzales and Goebberts drove south to I-80 and home, while Ann and I drove north on 84 toward the Tetons and Yellowstone. We left the interstate at Idaho Falls and drove back into the Rockies on two lane roads. Again the scenery was magnificent. We stopped for brunch at another small restaurant with excellent food in Swan Valley Idaho. Then we were back on the road toward Jackson Hole Wyoming. The road follows the Snake River and there were many beautiful vistas. We drove through Jackson and turned into the Jenny Lake loop. We stopped at the first turnout to take down the top so we could enjoy the mountains better. As there was no room in the boot for the top, we strapped it on to the luggage rack. The Grand Teton Mountains are truly spectacular and we found it much easier to see them by looking over the windshield where the top had been. We left Teton Park and almost immediately arrived at Yellowstone's South entrance. We spent the rest of the day cruising around the park. We saw a lot of buffalo and some deer and coyotes, but no moose or elk. One of the rangers said most of the animals had moved into the higher elevations to escape the heat. We stopped near the grand canyon of the Yellowstone for a walk along the banks and to get our hands wet in the river. We stopped for gas in the park and Ann met a woman from Washington traveling to Cody for a motorcycle rodeo. Then it was time to head for the East Gate as the road was under construction and closed every evening at eight. We had called the night before to make reservations at Shoshone Lodge, a pleasant group of tourist cabins just outside Yellowstone. We had dinner that night at Buffalo Bill's Pahaska Teepee and I enjoyed a local ale called Moose Drool. I like to ask for local beers as we travel. I had many very tasty local brews on this trip. That night we were looking at the map and discovered the Little Big Horn Battlefield was just fifty miles off our route. Neither of us had been there, so we decided a side trip was in order.

On July 16th, we left the Pahaska area and drove toward Cody Wyoming. We were on the road early and stopped for breakfast at the Irma Hotel. It is the oldest hotel in Cody and, of course, one of Buffalo Bill's favorite stops when he was in the area. There were lots of bikes in town for the rodeo, but we were heading for Hardin Montana for the night. First we had to cross the Big Horn Mountains in northern Wyoming. The climb from Lovell to the summit proved challenging to man/woman and machine. The road rose from 5,000 feet to almost 10,000 in less than thirty miles, including one eight mile stretch of 10% grades. It didn't help any of us that it turned out to be the hottest day of the trip with temperatures rising to 99 degrees. We made it through the pass and headed down to Ranchester where we picked up I-90 and headed up to Hardin and the battlefield.

A cool front came through in the morning of the 17th, and we really enjoyed touring the Little Big Horn monuments and battlefield. The temperatures were in the 70's and the ranger told us it had been 107 two days before. After touring the battlefield, we began our journey east in earnest. We had just two more major stops on our itinerary, so headed for Sundance Wyoming and Devils Tower National Monument. We arrived at Sundance, checked into our hotel, and headed up to the monument. The entire drive was a pleasant now that it had turned cooler. We came over a rise and saw the tower in the distance. Naturally, I had to stop for pictures with several views as we approached. The park has one of the largest concentrations of prairie dogs left in the US. There towns were on both sides of the road. They are cute little rascals, but you don't want to get too close to them as they are known to bite and carry some nasty diseases. After wandering around the monument area for a while we drove back to Sundance for dinner and our hotel.

July 18th, was another beautiful day. Our destinations for the morning were Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse. The Mount Rushmore area has certainly changed since we were there last. There is now a grand entrance and parking decks to handle the crowds. When we were there, volunteers were pressure washing the sculpture as they had darkened from pollution. We left Rushmore and drove to the Crazy Horse Monument, which has shown some progress over the last thirty years since our last visit. The face of the sculpture is now complete and the horse's head has been roughed out. The original sculptor died years ago, but his family carries on the project. It will be many years before it is complete. It is funded entirely by private donations and income from the visitors' center. We had lunch at the Laughing Water restaurant in the visitor center. We left Crazy Horse and drove toward Rapid City and I-90. We were finally ready to get home. We skipped Wall Drug and made it to Murdo, South Dakota. We found a hotel and called it a day.

July 19th, we got and early start drove past Mitchell and the Corn Palace, to US 81. We turned south to Nebraska as Ann had never been there before. We picked up US20 and made it to Waterloo Iowa. This was our last night on the road. The next morning we left Waterloo and drove into Illinois. It was nice to be home again.

We covered just less than 5600 miles in nineteen days. We traveled interstates and beautiful mountain roads. We spent seven incredible days in the Pacific Northwest with friends new and old. The cars performed almost flawlessly. Oscar and Diana's windshield misfortune was the only serious calamity.

We have been home for over two months now and I can't wait for our next journey. We have three cars committed so far for the drive to Gatlinburg for MG2006 in June. We hope you can join us.

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