And, we’re OFF!  Our goal was to be on the road by 9am to be at our campsite by 5:30pm for dinner.  This time frame accounted for the multiple stops we were making along the way.  I am happy to announce that we were on the road by 8:45am and to our campsite by 5:30pm and this was with quite a big hic-up in the plans.  

The first three stops on our list went smoothly.  We got the girls some rain pants, as it looked as though our trip would be a wet one, fixed some dripers at the Portland house and got to see our very dear friends and exchange birthday wishes before we hit the road.

However, just 5 minutes down the street after leaving our friends’ house Azul, our Sprinter van, started acting bizarre.  The anti-lock break light, check engine light, cruise control and 2 more warning lights associated with the breaks came on along with a rattling noise on the driver’s side.  Eek!  What on earth was that all about.  Justin pulled over and we tried restarting the vehicle a couple times as well as checked all fluids under the hood.  Nothing changed and fluids were all full.  We were feeling very thankful to have the trailer brakes as a good backup if Azul’s brakes were to fail. Brakes are nothing to mess with though so we started calling the dealers around which was tricky due to the fact that not all Mercedes dealers work on Sprinter vans.

Some were closed due to the fact that it was a Saturday though one did answer and was very helpful.  He thought it sounded like a wheel speed sensor that went wacky therefore tricking the system into thinking the van was in need of using the anti-lock breaks.  The guy said we could get in that day but he closed in 2 hours from the time we talked to him.  Unfortunately, we were 3 hours away.  So, we did the next best thing and changed our travel plans to be at the dealer first thing Monday morning.

We carefully drove to Umatilla, OR for our first overnight stay of the trip.  We stayed at a marina overlooking the water.  It was Father’s Day the next morning so we all enjoyed pancakes with lemon curd.  The girls are so lucky to have him as a Dad and they just love him so much!

Justin was able to go on a short bike ride with the girls.  I was going to stay back at camp but the more I got thinking about them going off on their own and the prospect of them riding up to a highway bridge that had a bike path running along next to it, the more I got nervous about it.  So, I ended up running along with them as they biked (we didn’t bring my bike since I didn’t think my injured shoulder would be ready yet for biking).  Once at the base of the bridge, to my relief, the girls decided it felt too scary to bike within deafening earshot of the highway.  The bike path was separated from the highway by a fairly high divider wall but giant tractor trailers were speeding by at 70mph!!  We all agreed it felt scary.

On the bike ride/run we found a neat little spot where the water of the Columbia River was splashing up along a gravel jetty protecting the marina.  It felt so magical because there were spots you could only get to by wadding in the water to little islands made from the jetty erosion.

There was also another fun gem that Justin and the girls discovered.  There was a huge building near the marina that housed extra gravel.  It doesn’t sound like a super fun place but when you climbed to the top of the giant gravel pile inside their house it was like another world.  We could see a human and some animals had used it as an overnight space more than once.  I can see why.

Further along our journey to the Mercedes dealer we were in the area of Richland, WA.  While there we found a neat little museum called REACH.  This town was the area in which the WWII top secret Manhattan Project was put into play in 1943.  The US was in a race with Russia to come up with nuclear weapons to win the war and US scientists needed a location to produce the needed uranium and plutonium elements necessary for a bomb.  Hanford, WA was the place.  The residents of Hanford were evicted out of their homes, some with only 30 days notice. They brought in thousands of workers who lived in a “trailer park” of company-provided aluminum trailers, that looked a lot like our Airstream.  More than 3,600 such spaces were made.  The plutonium facility was of course successful in its mission and an atomic bomb was created.  Pretty crazy history! There is so much to learn in this world.