The fabulous journey started on Saturday 20 June 2009, with an easy 589km (366 mile) run through Washington state, picking up Jerry and Dan along the way, and finishing in Pendleton, Oregon.
Unfortunately, a planned detour to the small town of Ella, to surprise “our” Ella with the town named after her, had to be abandoned when a bridge had been washed away in recent rains.
The next couple of days took us through Hell’s Canyon National Park, along the Ponderosa Pine Scenic Byway through Idaho, over a number of mountain passes, along the outskirts of Sawtooth National Forest, and continued down to the town of Arco. After checking into a motel, we visited the Craters of the Moon National Monument – one of the highlights of the trip.
The Craters of the Moon is described as “a vast ocean of lava flows with scattered islands of cinder cones and sagebrush – a weird and scenic landscape.” An Oregon-bound pioneer once described it as “the Devil’s Vomit.”
In 1969 the Apollo 14 astronauts visited the monument to explore the lava landscape and to learn the basics of volcanic geology, in preparation for future trips to the moon.
We awoke on Tuesday morning to a little bit of drama. Dan discovered that his Pick-up had developed a leak on the fuel tank sender unit. Although a brand new seal and sender unit were fitted before the trip, it turned out to be a sub-standard replacement part. Charles had similar problems the morning before we left Seattle and had to fix it before we got onto the road.
After a two-hour delay we were finally on our way, but decided to miss the planned detour to Grand Teton NP, and carried on to Pinedale, Wyoming, for our overnight stop.
We left Pinedale early Wednesday, travelling through Rock Springs, and entering Utah at the town of Manila. The landscape is quite like the Karoo plateau back in South Africa.
After a very short stint in Utah we entered Colorado at the small town of Dinosaur! (Seriously). The landscape now changed to a very cowboy movie-like landscape.
Next was the 2,520m Douglas Pass. Charles’ Countryman started to lose power, and after an initial fault-finding effort we carried on, only for the car to cut out in the pass. We later found some rust debris had got caught in the fuel filter, causing the blockage.
If you would like to read the rest of this story, order your copy of Issue 22 of The Mini Experience. <plumshop>37</plumshop> <plumshop>38</plumshop>