2010 Keep it short, right? hahahahahaha Part 1

familyMo and I have an inside joke.  I worry things to death and she thinks in a very straightforward way.  I have 12 thoughts to every one of hers.  Her thoughts are usually practical and help get things done.  My thoughts are usually all over the place and don’t accomplish a lot.  Last night as the evening settled in to a close along with the year, I thought a lot about what I learned this year.  This morning at 4am I woke up thinking about all the things we did this past year, all the changes, trying to decide what and how much to write.  Lots of the stuff I thought about wasn’t the least bit blog worthy, and other stuff was probably not blog appropriate. Somehow, in the early morning in the dark, I realized how important the family times were this year.  This great group includes Mo’s siblings and their offspring, my four kids, grandkids, great-grandkids, friends that are so dear they count as extended family.  We managed wonderful visits this year with lots of people who are important to each of us, and who are scattered all across the country.

I was delighted this morning when I opened the “Travels with Emma” blog and found lovely collages of the previous year.  Ahh.  Perfect.  With kudos to Judy for her idea, I decided that would be the simplest way to try to share and summarize the year just past.  If it gets too long, you can just click that little x on the upper right corner of your screen and ‘poof’ I’m gone. With that in mind, I decided to write exactly what I wanted to, with pictures! I did figure out some of the things I learned this year, but that is fairly boring, so I won’t elaborate too much.  For instance, I learned that I don’t have to spend a lot of money, and I learned that I could actually wait to get something I think I desperately want.  See what I mean?  Silly stuff for someone just turned 65.

January 2010January was momentous for me.  I retired from 30 plus years as a soil scientist with the USDA-NRCS and celebrated with a 14 day cruise through the Panama Canal.  Mo and I spent many sea days actually relaxing and the five port days were perfect.

Our cruise with Celebrity on the Solstice was wonderful, and we spent days in Cartagena, Colombia, in Costa Rica, and three ports in Mexico. 

We came home to the manufactured home where I lived in California and put it up for sale for the last time before returning to Rocky Point and a reasonably mild winter.

February 2010In February, we took a short trip to McMenniman’s Brewery at Edgefield in Troutdale (about 300 miles north of Rocky Point east of Portland) and enjoyed a day trying out finely crafted beer and walking the gardens.  The day was fabulous for me, since I spent a couple of hours in the Ruby Spa getting a facial with all sorts of amazing aromatic oils and soft lights.  It was an easy trip since Mo was already in the area house and dog sitting for her brother away in Hawaii.  When we returned home to Rocky Point, the winter was already fading and we actually started raking pine needles that month.

We moved most of my furniture out of the mobile in California to Rocky Point and  I spent much of the month fixing up my part of the house, painting my bathroom, doing all those little things that feed my nesting spirit.  It was my first winter back in Klamath since I left in 2006 for California and I was so grateful to be home again, with my daughter and grandkids just a few miles away in town. Just so you don’t get confused; Rocky Point is part of the Klamath Basin, which I refer to as Klamath, although I may call Klamath Falls (city) Klamath as well.  It doesn’t help much that there is a “Klamath” in California, both the river and the town, and the national forest.  Just to be clear. 

March 2010Since March in this part of the country can be incredibly tiresome, we planned a trip to the warmest place in the US that we could think of, Key West.  It wasn’t THAT warm, however, with the coldest March on record, but we still wore shorts and enjoyed the velvet balmy air.  I learned that Key West wasn’t the least bit tacky if you looked in the right places.  I loved it.  We spent time on the water, exploring the Dry Tortugas for a day, kayaking the lagoons on the bay side of the keys and eating.  Lots of amazing seafood, key lime crepes for breakfast, and still brilliant in my memory is a crab stuffed shrimp with key lime hollandaise.  We walked everywhere in Key West, and the rental car developed a thick layer of dust while we explored the side streets and took photos of conch cottages and turquoise water.  We flew to Miami and rented a car for this trip, but cruised through the gorgeous state parks dreaming of the winter when we will take the MoHo south and spend it in Florida.


April 2010Winter showed up again at Easter in Rocky Point, but by April we were able to slip out of the MoHo barn and travel north to Silver Falls State Park near the town of Silverton, Oregon.  We spent a nearly week camping in the rain, hiking the falls, and enjoying a visit from my daughter, Deborah who lives in Portland. Silver Falls is the largest state park in Oregon, and certainly one of the most beautiful.  We camped without hookups, since the electric sites were all reserved by a flotilla of baby fiberglass rv’s, but it wasn’t a problem at all.  We stayed warm and comfortable and had a wonderful time.  We visited the Oregon gardens, reveling in all the brilliant early spring blooms, toured the town of Silverton, and spent a day trying out more finely crafted beers from 100 or so breweries at the Oregon Garden Beer Festival. I learned that I could actually drink a full, entire beer if it was really good.

That’s part one of my year summary, with two more to follow.  It’s a great pastime for a snowy New Year’s Day at home. I love going back over the memories, looking at the pictures, reading my own blog and trying to sum it up.

October 1 Boondocking on 447

Ely to Reservoir (38) Yesterday, as we left Ely, we both thought that our last night out would be a great time to actually boondock. Looking at the map, there were many miles of open range, what looked to be a lot of BLM land, and we imagined that finding a wide place to pull out would be simple. 

What we didn’t count on was the temperatures in late afternoon along our route.  Nevada is hot.  Most of the time, Nevada is hot.  I know this, but after all, it IS the last day of September.  After turning north on 447 from the Sparks area we started looking for a boondock site.  What wasn’t at first noticeable on the map that I was using was that many miles of the route were included in the Pyramid Lake Indian Reservation, not a place to try to camp without specific permission.

Ely to Reservoir (39) The other problem was the temperature.  It was five o’clock in the evening and the gauge read 100 degrees.  Stopping for just a few minutes to take a break and let the dog walk around a bit gave us a pretty good indication that we couldn’t really settle in until the sun went down, or we found a shady side of the hill.  We continued past Gerlock, and after several miles found a wide place in the road that would suffice, but I had a vague memory of a small lake and camping spot where Mo and I had stopped on a day trip in 2003.  There was nothing on my map, but the phone, when it worked sporadically, showed some green areas a bit distant, so we kept going.

Ely to Reservoir (45) The best moment of the day was rounding a steep curve and dropping down to the small reservoir, then realizing that the closed gate wasn’t locked.  The signs indicated private property but allowed recreational use if the rules were followed.  After some maneuvering, we settled the MoHo into a wide spot on a bumpy road, managed to get level, and opened up the fans and doors to the cooling evening breezes.

We camped with the slide closed, but still had plenty of room to cook a good supper and relax with a movie.  I have to thank Laurie Brown once more for helping us to finally understand our inverter!  We have traveled in the MoHo for two years without understanding that the tv and dvd would work if the inverter was on. 

Reservoir to home (1)The night was starlit and perfectly still, and even though we were fairly close to the road, the closed gate and complete absence of traffic made it feel perfectly safe. I watched the sun rise this morning over the basalt hills and felt incredibly grateful for this perfect last night.  Our trip home today through Alturas is on familiar roads and landscapes.  Mt Shasta will rise up in the distance to mark the passage and tell us we are close to home. 

I will call my daughter, we will stop at Fred Meyer for gas and groceries for home, we will dump the tanks at our local city park on the way out to Rocky Point. This trip of 7,714 miles will end, and it will be time to start thinking about the next one.

There are a few more photos for this last day of travel linked here>

reservoir to RP (21)


September 28 Highway 12

A LOT of photos for this day of traveling Highway 12 are linked here>

Torrey to DuckCreek (15) Today was a driving day.  We weren’t sure where we would end up, and only knew that the route would follow Scenic Highway 12, one of the most dramatically beautiful drives in the west.  I have traveled this route before, on other trips, but each time it is a new experience.  Each time the aspens on Boulder Mountain are a different shade of green or yellow, the canyons varying shades of clarity, red or hazy.  Today there was a lot of haze and smoke and I wondered if possibly there were forest fires going on somewhere.  We haven’t watched TV or listened to a radio in many days now, so I really have no idea what is going on out there.

Torrey to DuckCreek (22) When we left Torrey this morning it was windy and chilly enough for long pants and sweatshirts.  Gasoline cost a staggering 3.29 per gallon, with the advertised 3.09 per gallon only for 85 octane ethanol, not something we want to put in the MoHo.  We never would have made it up all those grades!

The road is two lane, very rough along much of the way, with many steep grades and curves, including the hair-raising 14 percent downgrade off the hogback.  We thought we might like to hike Calf Creek Falls, both the Upper Falls and the Lower Falls have trailheads not far south of Boulder.  But it was hot, much too hot to leave the cat in the MoHo Torrey to DuckCreek (30) without air conditioning even if we could take the dog.  The white hot heat made hiking seem much less attractive to us anyway, so we decided instead to make it a looking and driving day instead of a hiking day.

Bryce Canyon National Park is on this route as well, a few miles south of the highway ,and we decided against braving the crowds to be tourists at the overlooks.  We both have hiked Bryce in the past, and most of the trails are steep and hot, even though gorgeous. Even outside the park, however, the colors of the hoodoos are every possible shade of orange sherbet, pink, cream, white, and red.  It’s pretty to look at, but not inviting to hike because the rocks are soft red claystone, crumbly and shifting underfoot.  My soul love is slickrock, and solid cliffs of Wingate, so I am content to enjoy the colors and the hoodoos and move on.

 Torrey to DuckCreek (67)I spent part of the drive reading aloud to Mo about 90 different hikes in Canyon Country in the WOW hiking guidebook I bought back at the Capital Reef Inn.  So many of the truly great hikes in this part of the plateau involve many miles of rough driving down the Hole in the Rock Road just north of Escalante.  The road is the gateway for many famous slot canyons and the canyons of the Escalante River, but they will have to wait for another time for us.  I read about backpacking the 38 miles through Pariah Canyon and wondered if I have a trip like that still in me.  It’s all downhill, mostly on the canyon floor wading in the river, with slots so narrow you have to carry your pack in front of you to slide through.  Maybe someday.  It could be a lifetime trip like my Cataract Canyon raft trip turned out to be.  Who knows.  But today, driving highway 12, I added it to my bucket list.

Torrey to DuckCreek (81) After a short break and walk at Red Canyon, we turned south on Utah 89 toward Kanab, and then turned west on Highway 14 toward Cedar Breaks National Monument and Cedar City.  At the top of the pass, again at 10,000 feet of so, is the lovely Navajo Lake where I camped a bazillion years ago when my kids were just little.  It was a different time of year, with the green aspen I remember so clearly all now fiery yellow, gold, red, and peach.  We stopped for the night at Duck Creek Campground in the Dixie National Forest since the Navajo Lakes camps were closed for the season.  Tonight we had our last campfire in the mountains to accompany a card game before we watched the night sky darken.

I am amazed at how quickly the landscape shifts as we travel.  It often isn’t a gradual change, suddenly we are in desert, then in spruce aspen high mountains, back to sage, red rocks to cream and buff clays, and back again.  Tomorrow we will leave the mountains behind as we enter the Great Basin landscape of the west.  Once over this last mountain, the basin and range will meet us on the way through Nevada and finally home to Klamath Falls where Basin and Range meets the Cascade Range.

Torrey to DuckCreek (108) A favorite book in my library is “Basin and Range’ by John McPhee.  It’s the Sand Creek Almanac of the west, only better.  If you ever read it, the wild spaces of Nevada will never bore you.

September 18 Johnson Shut – ins

The rest of the photos for this day are linked here>

ShutIns (3) Heck of a name, right? I found this place on Google Earth, trying to locate a place to camp somewhere between Henderson and Joplin where we are going to visit my son tomorrow.  Hot.  Right now it is hot, about 90 degrees or so with 65 percent humidity.  On a Saturday afternoon, we are sitting comfortably air conditioned in the MoHo, waiting for a bit of evening coolness before we take a bike ride around the campground.

When I picked this park, I had no idea what in the world the name meant, but after today, hiking the “shut-ins”, I now know it is a place where hard rock narrows the river to a wild canyon, eroded boulders forming plunge pools and natural slides just made for summer play.  Even though it is September, the park was full of people playing in the river. We watched families cavorting among the rocks and watched a young boy, terrified and ShutIns (10) stranded high above a rushing torrent, slide down safely into his father’s arms.

Our hike on the Shut-ins trail, however, took us far from the noisy kids deep into the oak-hickory woods surrounding the Black River.  It was hot, but still good to get out and walk 2.5 miles or so in an environment totally new to us. There were lots of lizards, no snakes, but turtles both in the water and on the trail.  Occasionally there was a breeze, just a bit of coolness to blow away the gnats whirling around our faces.  It was fun, really it was.

The visitor center here at the state park is new, only completed in 2005 after a break in the Taum Sauk dam sent 1.3 billion gallons of water raging through the park, scouring the landscape and destroying everything in it’s path.  The Black River Center is constructed from stone and wood and houses truly interesting and informative exhibits about the park geology, vegetation, animals, and the history of the flood.  More than 1.5 billion years of geologic history is exposed here, including several varieties of rhyolites from volcanic activity.  I am from an area of recent volcanic activity in the west, with no idea that volcanic rocks existed anywhere in this part of the world.

ShutIns (21) I took advantage of the free backpacks that the center allows campers to check out, and mine was a “tree” backpack, with several tree identification books, magnifiers, a couple of pair of binoculars, kerchiefs, and coloring crayons, of all things.  The flip chart hardwood tree identifier was perfect and I managed to identify a few trees at least.

As the evening comes, the sky is clear of clouds but still a bit murky, whether from haze or humidity, I can’t tell. Because we didn’t have a reservation, our site is in the equestrian portion of the park, used for overflow camping, and we have a large area to tie our horses, and a manure pit across the road.  May sound a bit strange, but it does give us a very open space to camp, with a night sky that is pitch black except for the stars.

September 16 Audubon State Park, Kentucky and Evansville, Indiana

HendersonKY (8) I walked in a hardwood forest today that measured up to my imaginations.  One of my dreams for this trip was to experience the thick green life of a hardwood forest up close.  I thought that would happen in Minnesota, or maybe New York, but instead it happened here in Kentucky, on the banks of the Ohio River.  The John James Audubon State Park in Henderson has several hundred acres of climax hardwoods, some more than 200 years old.  The major trees are beeches, sugar maples, basswood, several varieties of oaks, tuliptree, catalpa, huge sycamores, ash, elm, and the Kentucky coffeetree.There are 61 varieties of trees here, including some rare species. 

The museum was built by the CCC, another incredibly fine example craftsmanship and art.  It houses the greatest number of original Audubon paintings of any museum in the world.  There are original intact copies of all four volumes of the Birds of America, published in 1837. What I didn’t know until today is that these books are nearly 3 feet tall, in order to represent the birds at life size.  In addition to the art, the museum had artifacts of his life and the displays told the story of his life work, his children, his devoted wife, his connections with people in power in the early 19th century.  It is a fascinating story. You cannot imagine the incredible detail and beauty of an original Audubon painting without seeing it.

HendersonKY (4) When we pulled into the state park campground last night, we were a bit disappointed.  It seemed too close to the highway, too open, and a bit tattered.  I had seen the park on Google Earth and was expecting something different, I guess.  The night was warm and humid and when we went for a walk the sounds of crickets and other bugs was almost deafening.  We slept well, though, and this morning our explorations of the museum and the rest of this gorgeous state park, which includes hiking trails, two small lakes, and a golf course, more than made up for the deficiencies of the campground. 

EvansvilleIN (33) This afternoon was warm and humid again, but not at all uncomfortable, and we drove back across the Ohio River to Evansville, just a few minutes north of our camping location here in Kentucky.  Evansville has a thriving historic district, and we drove the streets ooohing and aaahing at every corner as more and more huge old homes came into view.  I did wonder just how many photos I could take of these houses, but they are irresistible. We ended the day with a long walk along the greenbelt, a beautiful parkway punctuated with art and walkways, memorials, and bronze plaques detailing the long storied history of this river town.

Lewis and Clark passed by here on their voyage to the Pacific Ocean, and John Wesley Powell rowed past this town when he paddled the full length of the Ohio River before he became a geology professor and then later explored the Colorado River. Hardwoods and history.  Our days have been filled with both in a part of our country that I never have experienced before this trip. 

EvansvilleIN (41) We talked about our last cross country trip, and how different this seemed to be.  Somehow that trip, while interesting and wonderful, didn’t pass through landscapes that were so new to us.  Texas still felt like the West, and I had been in Florida so the south wasn’t completely new to me either.  Somehow this world, all the way from Eastern North Dakota, through the north country of the UP, to these woods of Kentucky, somehow they feel brand new.  These are landscapes I have read about in the history books, in Barbara Kingsolver’s Prodigal Summer. I’m glad for the chance to follow this river, the heartstream of a huge part of our country.

The rest of the photos for this day are linked here.