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Just Call us the Gerhke’s

February 8th, 2011

Edward and Margaret Gehrke, a childless couple from Lincoln, Nebraska, began traveling together to the national parks in 1915, when they stopped at the Grand Canyon on the way home from a trip to San Francisco.

For the next quarter century, traveling first by rail and then in a succession of new Buicks, the couple would visit all of the national parks that existed at the time. During each summer journey, Edward snapped photographs and Margaret recorded their adventures in her journal. The journals and photographs were eventually given to the Nebraska State Historical Society.

In the 1930s, Edward built a “house-car,” but he died in 1939 before they could drive it to a national park. In 1948, Margaret traveled once more by train to Rocky Mountain National Park, the couple’s favorite destination.

The National Parks: America’s Best Idea (PBS)
Gerhke’s journal pages from Nebraska Historical Society

Mr Chiots and I enjoy traveling, especially by car. We tend to go camping, hiking and all those kinds of activities while vacationing. We favor traveling on the back roads and talking to local people. A while ago we decided that we were going to visit all the National Parks. I visited many of them growing up, as my family enjoyed long driving/camping vacations seeing all the wonderful things this country had to offer. There are a few parks that our minivan never made it to, so I’m excited to add those to my list, especially Crater Lake. Mr Chiots is super excited to see all of them, but is especially looking forward to Mr Rushmore.

We have visited the Smoky Mountains several times and were able to visit Acadia on our trip to New England this past fall. We live fairly close to Cuyahoga National Park and have spent a lot of time hiking/driving around it.

This summer we will be spending a week in Seattle with friends, so we decided to drive out through the Northern States, visiting Theodore Roosevelt, Glacier and North Cascades National Parks. Our friends will fly out and meet us in Seattle. While there we’ll visit Mt Rainier and Olympic National Park. On our way home we’re planning on coming down through Oregon to finally check Crater Lake off my list and then head back through Idaho and Montana to visit Yellowstone, Mt Rushmore, the Badlands and any others we can fit in.

Of course we’ll be driving our MINI and hopefully pulling a little teardrop trailer we’re hoping to build this spring. We’re planning on starting a new blog just to document our travels, a journal of sorts and we may make a video diary our trips, since that’s what we do for our day jobs. I’ll be sure to let you know when that is up and running so you can check it out and see what we’re up to.

The only problem with taking three and half weeks off in the summer is that it severely cuts into my gardening time. But driving out through the northern states isn’t an option in the winter. Since you all had such great tips for our trip to New England, I figured I’d ask for any great tips, restaurants, places to see and things to do on our trip. We have yet to nail down our exact route home and we’re pretty flexible with time on that portion of our trip.

So any great suggestions for things to see/do while in Seattle? Any great recommendations for our travels to out west and back?

39 Comments to “Just Call us the Gerhke’s”
  1. ami on February 8, 2011 at 9:07 am

    Fun! I love epic road trips. Looks like you’ll be passing just north of me in Idaho. It’s definitely worth a swing down to Sandpoint area to see Lake Pend Oreille (Hope is especially lovely).

    Reply to ami's comment

  2. Diane on February 8, 2011 at 9:08 am

    Cant wait to read about your adventures. I’ve always wanted to travel long distances and see lots of different places.

    Reply to Diane's comment

  3. Stone Soup on February 8, 2011 at 9:33 am

    I love that Gehrke’s were in Maine. Bangor is just north of us! Although Acadia is out of the way for us and summer traffic is horrible, it is well worth the trip. I try and make it every summer with a pitstop at Thuya Gardens in Northeast Harbor, where my husband and I got married!

    Reply to Stone Soup's comment

  4. goatpod2 on February 8, 2011 at 9:36 am

    My parent’s and I have been doing a lot of traveling as of lately. We’re planning another trip in 2 weeks.


    Reply to goatpod2's comment

  5. erin on February 8, 2011 at 9:45 am

    If you have time, go north of Seattle to LaConner, Washington for a short bit. It’s a nice, quaint little artsy town. For some quirky fun, I recommend a “Duck Tour” in Seattle. Seattle is so fun, so much to do and see, you won’t get bored!

    Of course Olympia Nat. Park is a must.

    As you travel south, make sure to visit Cannon Beach, OR and stop by the Portland Rose Garden on the way.

    If you make it to Lincoln City, OR, about 16 miles away is Drift Creek Mennonite Camp, a GREAT little Christian camp with amazing directors and beautiful lodging and scenery. A great, out of the way, sort of place for quiet relaxation. They will have some weeks of children summer camp, but depending when you go, you might miss that.

    It’s absolutely gorgeous out there, enjoy!!

    Reply to erin's comment

    • Susy on February 8, 2011 at 4:11 pm

      Thanks for the tips, we’ll add those things to our list of places to go.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  6. Kathie on February 8, 2011 at 11:48 am

    You know I live just 20 miles west of Glacier National Park’s west entrance. I’d love to cook you a meal and give you the local’s tour.

    Reply to Kathie's comment

    • Susy on February 8, 2011 at 4:12 pm

      Sounds great, I’m in the process of planning the length of travel for each leg out to Seattle and how long we hope to spend in each National Park on the way out. I’ll send you an e-mail when I figure out when we’ll be in Glacier.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  7. susan on February 8, 2011 at 11:49 am

    What a great adventure! I’m really looking forward to traveling with you — virtually, that is.

    Reply to susan's comment

  8. Mary S. on February 8, 2011 at 12:12 pm

    If you like back roads, be sure to drive up Hwy 61 in Minnesota (from LaCrosse to St. Paul). Beautiful views of the Mississippi River and some wonderful state parks along the way. Hwy 35 on the Wisconsin side is also pretty. Sounds like a great trip. My family took the train from St. Paul to Portland a couple of years ago. North Dakota and western Montana are L-O-O-O-N-G!

    Reply to Mary S.'s comment

    • heidi on February 8, 2011 at 6:22 pm

      I agree with Mary; the bluff country is beautiful!!

      Reply to heidi's comment

  9. kirsten on February 8, 2011 at 12:57 pm

    you know, i kept reading to see if you’d tell us a little about your own travel journal with the postal cancellations!

    Reply to kirsten's comment

  10. kristin @ going country on February 8, 2011 at 2:03 pm

    Glacier is amazing. Too bad you won’t be going as far south as Utah–there are some really impressive parks there. Arches, for example. Maybe next time.

    Reply to kristin @ going country's comment

    • Susy on February 8, 2011 at 4:13 pm

      Yes, next trip. We’ll be taking many more of these kinds of trip, including one where we plan on driving up the Alaska – yeah – we’re going to drive to Alaska!

      Reply to Susy's comment

      • kristin on February 9, 2011 at 8:58 am

        The last military move we made, we drove from interior Alaska to Arizona. In July. And our air conditioning broke. I can’t really recommend driving in the Southwest in July without air conditioning, but the Alaska/Canada part of the trip was great. If long.

        to kristin's comment

      • Susy on February 9, 2011 at 9:02 am

        I can imagine how hot that was – ugh – when we were driving through Death Valley in High School our AC gave out – talk about HOT! Nothing like the 5 degrees we’re having here right now.

        to Susy's comment

  11. margaret on February 8, 2011 at 3:19 pm

    I’m sure you will have fun with your summer travel, we will have fun following your adventures.
    I love your journal with the park stamps, would love to have one. Do you remember where you purchased it?

    Reply to margaret's comment

  12. margaret on February 8, 2011 at 5:02 pm

    Thank you! I like the photo also. Our boys have done the State Park Jr Ranger program in Ca. Our man child, 21 yrs old, got lovely patches from each of the parks when he was younger. Young buck, 8 yrs old, gets ink stamps from the parks. I’m sure the tight economy has something to do with it.

    Reply to margaret's comment

  13. Una on February 8, 2011 at 5:11 pm

    Sounds like a fun trip. We did a mini version some years ago, just the western states. Crater Lake is beautiful; we live about 2 1/2 hours away. The drive up the Umpqua river (driving east from Highway #5) is gorgeous; it is, in fact, what suggested to us that we should move here when we retired. If you like books make sure you set aside some time for Powell’s bookstore in Portland.

    Reply to Una's comment

  14. Jamie on February 8, 2011 at 9:44 pm

    I currently live in Bellingham, WA. It’s about 2 hours north of Seattle give or take traffic… You guys should definitely drive up I5 and take Chuckanut Drive up the coast. Not only is it beautiful, but there are a ton of amazing hikes that all start from Chuckanut. Fragrance Lake and Oyster Dome are a few of my favorites and if you make it to the top of Oyster Dome, you can see beautiful views of the San Juan islands.

    Bellingham itself is also beautiful! We are right on the puget sound with an amazing park that sits along the water. It’s definitely worth the drive up.

    Reply to Jamie's comment

  15. deedee on February 8, 2011 at 10:15 pm

    i can’t wait for that new blog! it will be amazing:) another one of my dreams (in addition to the at!) is to get an old restored airstream and travel to all of the great places around the country:)

    Reply to deedee's comment

  16. Wendy on February 9, 2011 at 12:49 am

    What great fun! I’ve always wanted to do something like that, but most of it will have to wait until our retirement years. Can’t wait to live vicariously through your travels!

    Reply to Wendy's comment

  17. Sense of Home on February 9, 2011 at 12:58 am

    Looks like you will be driving right by me on your journey, wave as you go past. Enjoy!


    Reply to Sense of Home's comment

  18. vegetable garden cook on February 9, 2011 at 1:33 am

    Well, I’m a native Portlander so you’ll be running through my stomping grounds. I highly recommend going through the Columbia Gorge (pick out a hike to go on) and the Oregon Coast. There’s more great restaurants than I could ever count. If you are into good beer, Portland is the place to be. Watch a movie and/or stay at one of the many historic renovations of McMenamin’s theaters (actually I think there is one or two of these now in Seattle).

    So much to do, so little time!

    Reply to vegetable garden cook's comment

  19. Melanie G on February 9, 2011 at 8:41 am

    If you go somewhat through Milwaukee, you should definitely check out the vegetarian restaurant Beans & Barley. Their cheddar-walnut burger is the best burger I’ve ever had, meat or otherwise! My best friend lives in Milwaukee and when we lived in Chicago for a time, I’d visit her often. This has been one of our favorite spots ever since!

    Sounds like an amazing trip!!

    Reply to Melanie G's comment

  20. Carrie on February 10, 2011 at 4:18 am

    When going through North Dakota and Teddy Roosevelt’s park, definitely check out Medora. Its a fun little town with lots of stuff from “back in the day.” Also, depending on what you’re looking for for stuff to see, Rugby is (one of the) geographical centers of North America. Although, it looks like you are going along I 94 and Rugby is North on Highway 2. I would actually recommend Hwy 2, lots more small towns that are easily accessible from the highway, not so much when you take the interstate.

    Reply to Carrie's comment

  21. Brenda on February 10, 2011 at 7:59 pm

    If you have time, you might like to visit Whidbey Island, a little north of Seattle. Lovely artist colony, fresh fruits and veg, and a wonderful little beachfront bakery called the Knead and Feed. Enjoy!

    Reply to Brenda's comment

  22. Brenda on February 10, 2011 at 8:00 pm

    PS–Please, PLEASE try the K&F’s Marionberry pie. You won’t believe it!

    Reply to Brenda's comment

  23. Jenn M on February 12, 2011 at 7:08 am

    I live on Whidbey Island, between Seattle and Bellingham. One of the most beautiful spots to visit is the Deception Pass State Park. The view from the bridge (the only way onto the island besides ferry/plane) is breathtaking, especially at sunrise/sunset. It is one of the worlds most photographed bridges…the park is on both sides of the bridge – many different hiking spots and views for pictures. I’ve been reconnecting with old high school friends, they visit and their opinion is that the bridge/park views are the best. They think I live in the most beautiful spot in the world. Whidbey has MANY historical spots, Rhodedendron gardens, historic embattlements, etc. Several small towns on the island have been host to movies starring Sandra Bullock, etc. The closing scene in the POSTMAN starring Kevin Costner was filmed on one side of the park.

    Nearby is Mt Erie, by Campbell lake – from the top you can see the entire valley – Mt Baker (another beauty) to the San Juan Islands, etc. And if you can ever make it at Tulip Festival time……oh my goodness! Happy trails to you – a note on your teardrop trailer – have you visited the SistersontheFly blog? love it! many vintage trailers.

    Happy trails to you! Loved reading the story and your plans – brought back wonderful memories of my family’s camping adventures when I was a kid. Lakes, national/state parks….that’s what you do with FIVE kids. Priceless.

    Reply to Jenn M's comment

  24. Jenn M on February 12, 2011 at 7:14 am

    Almost forgot that a visit to Anacortes on the next island (FIdalgo) is great – a nice “walking” town, historic community and gateway to the San Juan Islands – the wonderful Mr. Burl IVes made this his home. A sailboaters dream….

    Reply to Jenn M's comment

  25. Do-It-Yourself | Chiot's Run on April 6, 2011 at 4:46 am

    […] of planning a tiny teardrop trailer that we’re going to build for our travels (remember that month long trip out west we’re planning this summer?) I think we’re DIYers because we love to do things for ourselves, […]

    Reply to Do-It-Yourself | Chiot’s Run's comment

  26. Jannett on April 6, 2011 at 1:47 pm

    do check out the scenic beartooth highway ( and the quaint small town of red lodge ( at the highways starting point to the ne entrance to yellowstone park.

    Reply to Jannett's comment

    • Susy on April 6, 2011 at 1:48 pm

      Thanks for the tip – will add this to my map!

      Reply to Susy's comment

  27. Grace on April 6, 2011 at 1:50 pm

    We live in Seattle with our 2 kids and take our vintage Shasta Trailer all over the Northwest. We love going as a walk-on from downtown Seattle to Bainbridge Island. The downtown is great, and you can’t miss Blackbird Bakery. If you have a car (or local bus) head up to Rolling Bay neighborhood to Bay Hay and Feed.

    If you go to Mount Rainier, you can go through Enumclaw to highway 410. Go to the top of Chinook Pass for a great walk around Natches Peak (an easy afternoon with great views); if spring/early summer, just go see the snow on Tipsoo ‘lake’.

    Please drop me a note off-line and I can narrow down seattle-area delights for you.

    Reply to Grace's comment

  28. Beegirl on April 6, 2011 at 7:32 pm

    How on earth did I miss this post??
    You know how much I love the Gerhke’s!!! How exciting!! Teardrop trailer…sigh..I’m dying here.. LOVE those too. Can’t wait to see more! We have family in Bellingham. It is so beautiful there.. We would love to do some kayaking in Vancouver. Last time we were out there we did get to spend some time at Mt. Baker and Nooksack (I think) Falls.

    Reply to Beegirl's comment

  29. Proof for the Disbelievers | Chiot's Run on June 22, 2011 at 4:47 am

    […] since Mr Chiots and I mentioned that we were building a teardrop camper people keep asking for photos. We were joking the other day that no one really believes that […]

    Reply to Proof for the Disbelievers | Chiot’s Run's comment

  30. Peter on April 29, 2016 at 2:00 am

    hey how was your trip? Did you make it to mt rainier ? North cascades natl park? Would like to hear about what you thought of those two places.

    Reply to Peter's comment

    • Susy on May 19, 2016 at 10:42 am

      It was fantastic. We made it to Mt Ranier and loved it. Crater Lake was our favorite, we also loved Wind Cave National Park and Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

      Reply to Susy's comment


This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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