Time to Head West Again- 2017

It’s time for another pre-trip post about my upcoming wandering around the American West, and area I love and have visited a number of times in the past. The major difference on this trip will be the fact that I have a good camera, as opposed to the point-and-shoot cameras I had on all the previous trips.

This is unique trip in that it starts with an event that caused it to be postponed until early September – the wedding celebration of my friends Nikole & Kathi Labor Day weekend in Northern Illinois.

Effigy Mounds National Monumnet

From there it’s a quick stop along the Mississippi River in Northeast Iowa at Effigy Mounds National Monument, I site I visited back on a rainy afternoon back in 2006, but should have spent more time at.

Selfie in the Badlands, 2006

The next few days will be spent bouncing around the various sites and landscapes of South Dakota’s Black Hills.

Control Room, Delta-1, Minuteman Missile NHS, South Dakota

Mount Rushmore, 2002

This will be my 4th visit to the Black Hills and I’m excited to be revisited a few of my favorite places, most notably Badlands National Park, Minuteman Missile National Historic Site and Mount Rushmore National Monument.

A sunny day in 2002

I’ll finish my Black Hills days with a stop at Devil’s Tower National Monument in Northeast Wyoming. I’ve had many different types of weather on my visits to this iconic symbol of the American West- fog & clouds in 2001, sunny skies in 2002, and torrential rain in 2006. I’m hoping for the best which would allow me to finally hike the whole trail at the base of the tower.

Keath, Tone & I in Grand Teton NP in 2001

Keath & I on a Snake River float trip 2001

The next stops are another I’ve visited as a child and on a number of trips as an adult, two of my favorite parks- Yellowstone & Grand Teton. One of my most memorable visits to this area was in September of 2001, when I visited with my friends Keath & Tone. We were in Yellowstone when the tragic events of 9/11/01 happened.

Old Faithful, September 2001

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, 2006

Terrible Grand Teton selfie 2006

There is a reason I’ve been smitten with these two parks since I was a child. They are gorgeous and diverse, and the very best of what the National Park System has to offer.

Missouri Headwaters State Park, 2009

After my time in Yellowstone, I’ll spend a couple days in Central Montana, exploring a ghost town, a few Lewis & Clark sites & two college towns with breweries I want to visit, Bozeman & Missoula.


From there the journey will follow closely the path of the Lewis & Clark expidition through the Lolo Pass on the Idaho/Montana border, via Lewiston Hill at the junction of Washington, Idaho & Oregon, and the Columbia River Gorge as it travels westward.

Columbia Gorge 2005

I have almost no pictures from previous visits of Portland, Oregon, where I’ll be spendin 3 days of this trip. My only visit to Portland was in August of 2005, and it was almost 100 degrees which limited my sightseeing considerably. Portland is often referred to as ‘Beervana’ due to it’s proliferation of microbreweries, which will be a focus in my days there.

Fort Clatsop, Lewis & Clark NHP, 2000

There’s no way I’d stop a trip like this in Portland without heading to the Pacific Ocean, as who knows when I’ll have a chance to visit again. So after my time in Oregon’s biggest city, I head to the coast via Lewis & Clark’s 1804-05 winter home at Fort Clatsop, a site I last visited back in 2000. From there I head inland to check out a couple more college towns and their vibrant scene, Eugene & Corvallis.

Newberry Crater National Volcanic Park, outside Bend, Oregon 2005

The last real part of the trip I have planned is a stop in Central Oregon’s most populous city, Bend, to visit a friend from my time in Chicago. As this post is written, much of this region is on fire, with a number of large, as of yet uncontained forest fires raging and filling the city with smoke & ash. I’m hoping this will have cleared up in three weeks when I visit.

Minidoka Interment NHS, Central Idaho, 2009

After Bend, it’s the long drive home. The sights and stops on the way home will depend on time & budget. I may stop and visit friends & family in Salt Lake City, Denver & Lincoln if time allows. I may have to drive the 2000+ miles back in a few days.

I’ll be doing my best to post pictures & video on social media, via this blog’s Facebook page, my personal Facebook, Twitter & Instagram accounts, and, of course, my Untappd account. I will hopefully be posting on this blog when I get back.

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