July 03, Arkansas to Seattle

Since leaving Mount Magazine State Park in Arkansas in late April we've slowly worked our way northwest back to the Seattle area, encountering lots of lovely sights along the way and just missing some very serious weather.

We took about a month, mostly in northwest Arkansas, Missouri and rural Kansas, getting to Council Grove, Kansas, for the annual Memorial Day weekend rendezvous with other members of the Porter clan. Not that long after crossing the Mississippi River at Memphis there was record flooding there and all along the river. A week after passing by Joplin it was hit by a killer tornado that destroyed a third of the town. Similar weather patterns sent a twister within 10 miles of our RV park near Lyndon, Kansas, one night while we huddled in the park's underground storm shelter. Let that be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Limestone bridge near Eureka Springs, AR

Sunset near Lyndon, KS

After all that troubled weather, we happily joined the Porter clan for the annual Memorial Day weekend rendezvous in Council Grove, meeting my siblings in Chanute first. Randy and Ginny, Roxanne and Lowell, Eric, Margie and I toured several Richardson family sites on the Friday before Memorial Day, including the birthplace of our father, and cemeteries in Thayer, Ames, Moline and Wichita where ancestors going all the way back to Barney Richardson (born 1818, we believe) are buried. Then on Saturday and Sunday we got to visit with aunt Dorothy and uncle Gene, cousins Jane and Rich from Kansas, and cousins Rex and Ann (from Wisconsin and Minnesota, respectively). Our traditional walk through Council Grove's Greenwood cemetery Sunday morning included the usual telling of family tales (remarkably consistent over the years) and the planting of flowers at the grave sites of many kin. Rich and Jane hosted the usual tasty lunch that followed at the Hays House, and Gene and Dorothy hosted the supper at Pizza Hut and dessert at Dairy Queen next door. Great to see so many family members and get caught up on their activities.

Eric's suprise/early 60th birthday celebration

Four of Barney's great-great-grandchildren

Assembled at Greenwood Cemetery

Uncle Gene examines late 19th century vet tools

John Murphy (taking notes), Jane Murphy and Rich Porter at Greenwood

Cousin Rex grins & bears our 60th birthday song at Pizza Hut

From Kansas we pushed on to southeastern Colorado in early June, hoping to camp at the Great Sand Dunes National Park, but found the campground full so couldn't stay. Fortunately, Colorado National Monument, near Grand Junction, is less popular and we enjoyed our two days there in one of our favorites places. We next made a relatively quick dash through the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone, spending only two days between them.

Great Sand Dunes National Park

Colorado National Monument

Snow-covered Grand Tetons

Iced-over Lewis Lake in Yellowstone

When we finally got into Washington State we stopped in Pullman, hoping to pick up some Cougar Gold cheese at the WSU creamery, but found it closed on a Saturday. Fortunately, it was available at a local grocery store for not too much of a premium, so we picked up a few tins for Seattle family (and one for ourselves, naturally). The north Cascades still showed lots of snow, but the passes were open. Indeed, all throughout the northwest we saw brimful rivers and streams, evidence of the heavy winter snows and spring rains.

Grand Coulee Dam on the Columbia River

Snow in viewpoint parking lot at Washington Pass

Diablo Lake in North Cascades National Park

Bank-full Skagit River near Rockport

Since arriving in the Seattle area we've rented a car and been staying in an RV park in south Everett (about 15 miles north of Seattle), making the usual rounds of doctor and dentist visits for the last two weeks. We've a few more followup appointments in the next couple of weeks, but don't expect any complications. It's not been all work and no play either, as we've gotten to visit with Gaynell and Thad, Roxanne and Lowell, and Keith. Two weeks ago, Keith and I took our Honda Shadow motorcycles up into the Cascades along the Mountain Loop Highway for three days of camping. We discovered a great campsite at the edge of the Sauk river where a small dirt road had been washed out by the river. There was a nice beach and campfire pit, but our last night there was exciting as the Sauk rose enough to drown our fire and threaten our bedding. I even set an alarm for 4 AM so we could check the river level, finding it within two feet to our tarp, but that's as close as it got.

Distant cascade across Sauk River

Keith close to the foot of the same cascade

Keith, by the way, has quit his contract job at Microsoft because the long commute across Lake Washington was hurting his injured back, and is now in Europe with his buddy Mike Poston (from Phoenix) for several concerts (one in Paris and two in Milan). Seems Mike bought the concert tickets and made hotel reservations some time back, planning to take his girlfriend. Subsequently they broke up, and so Mike offered them to Keith, who flew to London on the 23rd. They've been traveling about Europe by rail, and Keith will fly back to Seattle on the 7th. Hopefully he and I will get to make another cycle camping trip into the Cascades (or perhaps over to the Olympic Peninsula) before we head south for Lake Tahoe at the end of the month.

Margie and I are both excited about the Richardson family rendezvous set for then, after which Margie will fly (from Sacramento) to Houston for two weeks (lots of Jonny time), while Keith and I join Dick Scott and his son Austin (from Memphis) for yet another motorcycle camping trip through the Sierra Nevada range.

Love to all,
Riley & Margie

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