One More Outing – November 2019

Wednesday November 20th, the day after our return from the Colorado trip, it rains all day, and by Thursday, the rain has turned to snow, but not a lot of snow, just icy.

Rain all day and the birds come for seed

By Saturday, with a sunny sky and warmer temperatures (43 degrees), we decide to explore boondocking spots past the Wind Whistle Campground where we stayed on our way back to Monticello in October. It is too chilly to sit out for a picnic, so we have our picnic in the car, but we happy to be out and finding new places to camp.

Exploring in the Canyon Rim Recreation Area
Snowy LaSal peaks seem to float above the valley

On Monday, we make a trip to Blanding, where I ace my Utah driver’s test. Stopping briefly at Recapture Reservoir on the way home, I take photos of the reservoir with the snowy Abajo Mountains in the background

Recapture Reservoir with snowy Abajo Mountains in the background

Walking to the post office on Tuesday is darn chilly, with a high of 28 degrees and a stiff wind. I’m eager to mail the San Juan calendar to family, as two of my photos were chosen as insets to the main pages.

A cold day for walking

Thursday, Thanksgiving, I send photo greeting to family and friends via text and messenger. Dinner is a little fancier than usual, but not the huge production that it was when I had a family at home. Light snow falls all day.

The photo used for Thanksgiving greetings

Snow continues on Friday. We drive to the market for a few groceries and the Merc for more birdseed. I enjoy watching the birds through the sliding glass doors and the birds are glad to have the seed. In addition to the usual juncos, sparrows, and finches, there is a flock of red-wing blackbirds. Even the ravens come to the yard and when they drop down, everyone else leaves.

At first light, the birds start coming, mostly the redwind blackbirds here
Ravens are King

This past week has been focused on pre-travel preparations, cleaning and reorganizing inside Cougar, paperwork, and preparing house and yard to be left for the winter. In addition to travel preparation, I’m also focused on writing blogs and editing for three authors, trying to get as much done as I can while internet and power are readily available. Although Clifford’s ear has bothered him a lot, he continues with his projects and his packing for the winter journey.

Happy to have a warm home on these chilly days

And thus ends November 2019.

Wind Whistle, Utah – October 2019

Tuesday October 8 – I take photos at sunrise from our overnight camping spot in the San Rafael Swells BLM land at exit 131 off I-70 in central Utah. This was a good place to spend the night and it doesn’t take long to be ready to leave on the last leg of the journey back to home-base.

Sunrise at San Rafael Swells
Sunrise at San Rafael Swells

The landscape from San Rafael Swells eastward is sometimes very scenic, sometimes very barren. I-70 winds its way through the badlands and canyon lands, with frequent steep grades. At exit 187, we turn south onto highway 191.

Utah landscape along I-70
Utah landscape along I-70

As we approach Moab, the deep red of the canyons, which makes this area famous, makes its appearance. We bypass the exits to Canyonlands National Park and Arches National Park as we head into Moab for lunch at the brewery and groceries at the market.

La Sal Mountains

As we continue south on 191, there is a stop for construction. The wait can be up to two hours or more according to the sign and the length of the line, but we are fortunate that we only wait 15 or 20 minutes before moving on. Although home-base in Monticello is within an hour’s drive after the construction, we decide to extend our trip by one more stop, taking a side road to Wind Whistle Campground in the Canyon Rims BLM Recreation Area.

Canyon Rim BLM Recreation Area

Wind Whistle is a small campground, more suited to tents than to RV’s, but well cared for by the host. We find a pull-through spot, a tight fit, but we make it. After getting Cougar set up, I go for a walk on the nature trail while Clifford gets his ham radio antennas set up.

Our campsite at Wind Whistle Campground

After dinner, Clifford sits outside to play dulcimer while I write in the journal. At sunset I take photos of the west-facing mesas. What a pleasant last camping spot before home.

Sunset reflects off west-facing mesas
Soft golden light at sunset

Wednesday October 9: I am up in time to take photos at sunrise. It is mostly sunny today, but so windy that neither Clifford nor I spent much time outside. We hear of wind, snow, and cold in California with power shut off to 70,000 people. We feel very fortunate to be here and able to live comfortably with our solar power and hot spot for internet. I work on blogs and editing today while Clifford works on his ham radio propagation detection program.

Sunset again reflects off west-facing mesa

Thursday October 10: Photos at sunrise again this morning, but the air, the light, the clouds are always changing – it is all like new to me.

Photos at sunrise

After breakfast, we hike the nature trail together, warm in the sunny places and chilly in the shady sections.

Back at camp, we pack up and are on our way a little after noon. We are happy to have found this little treasure of a place, but it is time to return to home-base. We arrive in the early afternoon, having been gone for only three months this time. It seems like it was longer due to the many places we camped and alll the people that we saw on this northern journey.

Due to the increase in elevation between Wind Whistle and here, the wind is bitter cold as we park and level Cougar, but the house is warm and smells good, and it feels harmonious inside, out of the wind. Now that we are here, we will be switching gears and focusing on other things, mostly in connection with Carnicom Institute, but we are already planning our next departure date.

San Rafael Swells, Utah – October 2019

Monday October 7 – Clifford and I have enjoyed our time at Great Basin National Park in eastern Nevada, but it is time for us to continue the journey to home-base in eastern Utah.

I only have time for a couple photos before we get packed up and begin today’s travels, leaving the park at 9:30 a.m.

Last morning at Great Basin National Park
Grey Cliffs

Today our destination is the San Rafael Swells west of Green River, Utah. We travel highway 50 to Delta, Utah, and then zig-zag through prairie and canyon country of western Utah to I-70. We continue east, traversing the ups and downs and curves of the mountains and canyons of central Utah.

Western Utah from Highway 50
Western Utah from Highway 50
Zig-sagging through western Utah
Western Utah from Highway 50
Western Utah from Highway 50
Sevier Lake in western Utah, the remnant of a prehistoric lake
Western Utah from Highway 50
Western Utah from Highway 50
Autumn colors in central Utah
I-70 – Central Utah Canyon Country
Central Utah Canyon Country
Central Utah Canyon Country
Central Utah Canyon Country

I take a lot of photos, but hard to get good shots from the moving vehicle. I’ll have a lot to sort through.

It is a long day of travel for us, about 250 miles, and we are ever so glad to reach the BLM land at the San Rafael Swells, I-70 exit 131. We explored this area several years ago, so know that we can find a place to spend the night. We pull off the San Rafael Road at the first level turnout and do a minimal set up, as we will leaving in the morning.

San Rafael Swells BLM

We have soup and toasted cheese sandwiches for an easy dinner, and are treated to a beautiful sunset before the day ends.

Sunset color begins
New Mexico sunset from San Rafael Swells

Family and Friends at Bass Creek – September 2019

Friday September 13: My siblings and I and our significant others are getting together here at the Charles Water Campground in the Bass Creek Recreation Area in the Bitterroot Valley of western Montana. Clifford and I arrived yesterday afternoon, and my brother Rollie arrived soon after. Even though Clifford and I had to run into Missoula for errands today, we are back in time to join in the potluck at Rollie’s campsite, where we all gather around a big campfire for conversation and good food. It is such a joy to spend time together with these people!

Because it is already near dark when we gather, no photos are taken except for attempts at catching the beauty of the rising full moon.

An attempt to catch the rising moon

Saturday September 14: The high point of today is getting together with Rollie and friends of his to play bluegrass music and share dinner around another campfire. The low point is finding that mice have gotten into Cougar, which means scouring stove, pans, counters, and so on, and setting traps in the evening.

Sunday September 15: My siblings, by good luck and some finagling manage to get together again for photos, since we didn’t get group photos on Friday. We take photos of each other as couples and the sibling group, but enlist the help of a neighbor camper to take photos of the whole group of us. Quite the deal with the sun casting bright lights and shadows, as well as the humans being their sometimes goofy selves! We have a good time and lots of photos to sort through.

Clifford and Carol
The bunch of us

Shortly after that, dear friends of mine come out to visit. We hike up the Bass Creek Trail and chat about all our projects and the meaning of our lives. It is great to see them and I manage a few photos of the creek as we walk and talk.

Bass Creek
Bass Creek
Getting my photo taken at Bass Creek

Wednesday is a day of more bluegrass music with Rollie and his bluegrass friends, as well as the usual activities around camping.

Thursday morning is rainy and I enjoy the opportunity of taking photos of the creek before my sister Lillian arrives.

She and I are going to drive over the mountain to visit my daughter Ang. As always, Ang has huge projects going on, and she is waiting for our arrival with a fire in the firepit, steaks and wine ready, as well as fresh veggies from her greenhouse.

I have learned that there is an app called Snapseed that a cell phone users like for editing photos. Since I have largely switched to using my cell phone as my main camera, Ang downloads Snapseed for me, and then we have fun trying out some of the tools that it offers.

Daughter Merri arrives and we have a great meal and a good time talking. Since I have to drive, wine is exchanged for tea, and the lively conversation carries on. Lillian takes photos of my girls and me before we reluctantly pull ourselves away from the campfire and head on back to Bass Creek.

Me with two of my girls

What a great fun day!

Last Days at Seeley Lake – September 2019

September 10 & 11 are our last days at Seeley Lake Campground in the Seeley-Swan Valley of western Montana. We’ve certainly enjoyed our beautiful and peaceful spot here, but we have to move on so we can see family and friends before we head back to home-base in southeast Utah.

The great trees at our campsite

On one of these days we visit a friend who lives in the valley. He sure knows about good food and we have a superb lunch. It is a really good visit.

An outing up the valley

On the way back to our campsite at Seeley Lake, we explore another lake and at a pullout alongside the highway, I have only one minute to take photos as the last light of the setting sun is reflecting off the water.

Reflection of the setting sun

The next day, I have a campfire in the morning, my last chance here.

Coffee and journal at the campfire

During the day, I spend as much time as possible at the lake. I love seeing how the light changes the look of the lake and the mountains.

Midday at Seeley Lake

It is also a good day to play our instruments outdoors.

Afternoon light begins to color the clouds
Evening light across the lake

In the evening, we pack up as much as we can so as to get an early start in the morning.

Rainy Days at Seeley Lake – September 2019

September 8 & 9: Drizzle to rain and back to drizzle has everything wet here at the Seeley Lake Campground in the Seeley/Swan Valley of western Montana.

Rainy morning walk
Rainy morning walk
Trail along the lake on a rainy day

Now and then the sun breaks through, and Clifford and I take advantage of these moments to play our instruments outside and to repair the leak in the gutter that is allowing water to drip under the awning.

Campsite at Seeley Lake Campground
The meadow as the sun breaks through for awhile
Viola comes out to play when the sun shines

I enjoy walks down to the lake and out into the meadow, and when it is raining too hard to be outside, I write blogs and finish editing a book for my daughter Ang, glad for the a dry warm space to carry on with projects. Clifford mostly works with his ham radio.

It doesn’t sound like much, but we are both quite busy all day.

Lakes and More Lakes – September 2019

Saturday September 7: It is a cloudy drizzly morning here at Seeley Lake Campground in the Seeley-Swan Valley of western Montana where Clifford and I are camping, having arrived just a couple of days ago.

Campsite at Seeley Lake Campground

I make coffee and then walk to the lake, taking the trail past the beach and along the shore to the woods. I have my journal and sit on the bench that overlooks the lake, but is too drizzly to write, so I just read a poem by Mary Oliver and listen to a morning meditation on my cell. It is a nice peaceful way to start the day.

Trail along the lake to the woods
My favorite bench

By time I get back to our campsite, Clifford is up and we have breakfast. Today we need to go to Seeley Lake (town) to pick up our mail, so we decide to take the opportunity to explore a bit, going first to Lake Placid, discovering some dispersed camping spots on the way to this lovely mountain lake, and then taking the loop back to Seeley Lake.

Creek crossing on Lake Placid Road
Lake Placid
Lake Placid

The only problem is that what is on the map and what is on the ground don’t relate much and we end up at a place called Hidden Lake. It is an okay place for tent camping, but we wouldn’t try bringing Cougar here.

Hidden Lake

The road back to Seeley Lake is sketchy and we are not even 100% certain we are on the right road until we reach the outskirts of town. We pick up a few groceries at the market, then head back to camp. I play viola while Clifford naps, and later, after dinner, he plays dulcimer while I get the next photo/travel blog ready to post. It certainly was a fun day!

Arrival at Seeley Lake – September 2019

Thursday September 5, Clifford and I leave our campground at Swan Lake Recreation Area in northwest Montana, heading south on Highway 83 through the lovely Seeley-Swan Valley. Great mountains rise up on either side of this valley, the Mission Range to the west and the Swan Range to the east. Our destination is the Seeley Lake Campground, about 60 miles down the valley from Swan Lake.

Mission Range in the Seeley-Swan Valley

We arrive before noon with numerous sites to choose from, although the three sites right along the lake are taken. We decide to look more closely at the loop where we have not previously camped, as the level sites were always taken. However, this morning, this loop is open and we pick a really great spot, level and spacious, with tall western larch and Douglas fir, and a view of the meadow.

A great spot at Seeley Lake Campground

Although I loved our spot at Swan Lake and thought nothing would compare to it, this spot at Seeley Lake, being more natural and wild is every bit as inviting to me. As soon as we are set up, I explore the lake closest to this loop, which happens to be where the water lilies flourish.

Seeley Lake

Friday morning is overcast with a drizzle, which doesn’t keep me from walking down to the lake for photos.

Drizzly morning at Seeley Lake
Drizzle turns to rain

As the drizzle becomes a steady rain, it turns out to be a good day for inside activities. Clifford works with his ham radios and I edit my daughter Ang’s novel Regent’s Way and write blogs. Cougar is cozy and we are comfortable.

A good day for indoor activities, cozy in Cougar

Last Days at Swan Lake – September 2019

Clifford and I close out August and begin September at Swan Lake Recreation Area where we have been camped for two weeks.

A favorite spot at the Swan Lake day-use area

One day we make a trip to Bigfork to the laundromat and a stop at Harvest Foods Market, which is a way bigger and better store than any other Harvest Foods I have ever seen.

Sign at the laundromat

On our way back to our campground, we go exploring. We find our down to Swan River where three young women are putting in kayaks to float the river. They ask me to take photos, which I do, of course.

Women on Swan River

Then on we go to a fishing access, which turns out to be a small lake in the mountains, Horseshoe Lake. The water is kind of murky along the shoreline, but there are turtles on the logs, which are fun to see, and the reflections on the water make it quite a pretty place.

Horseshoe Lake

Another day, since we will soon be leaving the area, we go to Bigfork again, this time to check out the brewery, having a local on-tap beer with our lunch, sitting out on the outdoor patio overlooking Flathead Lake. This is quite the lark for us, since we seldom eat out and seldom have beer. But it was fun!

View of Flathead Lake from patio at the brewery

The other days at the campsite are full of our usual activities: research, dulcimer, flying, and ham radio for Clifford; walkabouts, photos, blogs, editing, journal writing, and viola for me. Soon it will be time to move on, but for the moment, we are enjoying the peaceful beauty of this campground and nearby Swan Lake.

Sunset at Swan Lake

More Swan Lake Days – August 2019

August 26th through 30th are full days spent at our campsite at the Swan Lake Recreation Area in northwest Montana. Being retired, we are busier than ever with our projects. Clifford is doing some research in connection with his non-profit – Carnicom Institute, flying via flight simulation software, working with his ham radios, and playing the dulcimer. I walk around the campground and down to the day-use area alongside Swan Lake to take photos, write blogs, edit books for a couple of authors, and play viola. Now and then we get a bit of rain, and for the most part, the weather is mild for August.

Sunrise at the Swan Lake
Leaves after the rain
One of my favorite spots at Swan Lake day-use area

Every morning I sit out to write in my journal, sometimes going down to the lake and sometimes making a campfire at our site. A book of poems by Mary Oliver is a daily inspiration to me.

Journal and coffee at a morning campfire

A couple of times we drive to the pull-out about a mile from the campground where we can get cell service. I post a blog and send texts to my kids and siblings while Clifford downloads whatever software he needs for his next project.

Swan Lake view at the pull-out

One highlight of these days is a visit from a CI supporter who happens to live in the area and who treats us to a great dinner at a fancy place in Bigfork – Show Thyme. If you are ever in Bigfork, check it out.

A bit of excitement is the bear that was seen by our RV neighbors at the day-use area and then seen at the other loop of the campground. On one of my walks to the lake, I could smell a musky odor and knew that the bear had recently passed by. Clifford, on his bicycle, also smelled the bear and saw fresh scat. The hosts are very attentive and make sure everyone keeps a clean camp, so we don’t expect trouble.

Evening light at Swan Lake