Wednesday October 2: Clifford and I are leaving Craters of the Moon National Monument in southern Idaho this morning. We have been camped here for the last several days as we waited out the storm that descended on the northwest, but today looks like a good day to travel.
It is 26 degrees as I hike up the trail to the lava knoll and take a few photos at sunrise.
Then we pack up and are on the road by 11:30, traveling US highway 93 through miles and miles of lava fields, which give way to farmland. After stopping for supplies and gas in Twin Falls, Idaho, we continue south into the more rugged Nevada landscape.
Our destination is Great Basin National Park, but today we are planning on stopping in Nevada at a wayside stop that we see on the map near Jackpot, Nevada. However, when we get there, we don’t see it, so we continue on, not knowing where we are going to spend the night. Eventually snow-clad mountains make an appearance in the distance.
We watch for other wayside pull-outs and find a good one just before Wells, Nevada. We park and level Cougar, with a small stand of junipers making a buffer between us and the highway. We are pleased to find this relatively quiet and scenic place to spend the night. We even have cell service!
Tuesday October 1: It is 27 degrees this morning at Craters of the Moon National Monument where Clifford and I are camped. We had planned to leave this morning, but due to a forecast of possible snow flurries or freezing fog, our plans are changed. At first we consider leaving this afternoon, but with snow off and on this morning, we decide to stay.
Since we are here today, we take advantage of the opportunity for another outing. We drive to the spatter cones and take the short hike to look down into the gaping holes left by these eruptions.
From there, we hike the trail that leads to the North Crater, but only go as far as Big Crater. One can only imagine the cataclysmic event that caused this caldera.
Then we stop at Inferno Cone, where I hike to the top while Clifford waits in the car. This turns out to be the best hike of all, as the top of the cone is flat with trees and shrubs and great long scenic views in all directions.
at camp, we have chili for dinner and work on our projects: editing
and journal writing for me, and Clifford is designing a program to
model ionospheric propagation and ham radio communications. Snow
flurries off and on remind us that we made a good decision to stay
Monday September 30: It is a chilly day at Craters of the Moon National Monument in southern Idaho where Clifford and I are camped. The storm we were staying ahead of caught up to us here yesterday with a skiff of snow and today the chilly temperatures remain: 26 degrees this morning, even though it is still September.
I go up to the lava
knoll, but it must be too cold for my cell to work and no texts are
sent. But I do take photos of the snow on the surrounding hills.
We had planned to drive up to Stanley to explore the countryside, but after cleaning up mouse droppings (ugh!) and scouring pans and counters, we don’t have enough time for a drive. Instead, we walk over to the Visitors Center to watch a movie on Craters of the Moon. We see that this area does get a lot of snow in the winter.
We work on inside projects, and since Clifford was able to get his hotspot to work, we even get on the net for awhile to check email. I make another trip to the lava knoll just before sunset. Chilly, but the light is pretty.
After dinner, I pack
up the kitchen as much as possible, as we plan to leave in the
morning. It has been fun here, but we want to get to Great Basin
National Park before the weekend crowd arrives.
Sunday September 29: Not only can I smell snow, I can see the snow this morning at Craters of the Moon National Monument in southern Idaho, where Clifford and I are camped. It is only a skiff, but foggy, which seems strange as there are no streams or rivers nearby. I dress warmly before walking to the restroom and then hiking up to the lava knoll where I can get cell service to send a text or two. Mostly I am excited to take a few photos in the misty ambiance.
Today is mostly a day of inside activities, being too chilly to be outside with the heavy overcast and wind.
Saturday September 28: When I open the door this morning, I smell snow. I don’t see snow, but I know it is not far away. I hike to the top of a knoll on the trail that goes past the amphitheater to the North Crater Flow Trail where we hiked yesterday. From that knoll, one can get enough cell signal to send a text, or even a photo now and then.
Rain starts at midday, so activities are mostly indoors. For me: journaling, blog writing, and editing Regent’s Way, the next book in a great epic fantasy series by an author whom I know. Clifford gets his ham radio set up. His phone has better cell reception than mine, so his hotspot works intermittently and he is able to take care of some of his projects using the net.
the afternoon, the rain lets up and the sun comes out, so we drive
the loop again and I take more photos.
at camp, before starting dinner, I hike up to the top of the knoll
again as the light is really looking good to me. As I walk back to
the campsite, the daylight ends with a striking sunset.
the evening, Clifford starts the generator and we have power for
lights and for charging our devices, which allows us to carry on with
our projects. We are very fortunate, as we see neighbors in tents
who turn in early to escape the dark and the chill of the night.
Friday September 27: It is 35 degrees this morning at the McFarland BLM Campground where Clifford and I spent the night on our way to Craters of the Moon National Monument in south central Idaho. Since we didn’t unhitch last night, it doesn’t take long for us to be packed up and ready to go this morning.
The valley widens, the road is flat and straight, some of our easiest traveling ever.
We arrive at Craters of the Moon about noon and find that the sites are small, very close together, and most are designed for tents or small rigs. In spite of this, we find a nice pull-through spot with our own little ravine and lava piles that will provide a little privacy from nearby neighbors.
After we get set up, we drive the scenic loop, stopping at a couple pull-outs to hike a bit.
We plan to explore a bit more another day, but for now, Clifford needs to nap after the drive, and I settle in to do some editing until the laptop battery runs out. After dinner I have time to write in the journal before starting the bedtime routine.
are happy to have arrived and to have found a nice spot where we can
hole up if the storm catches up to us.
Thursday September 26: Today we are leaving our campsite at Bass Creek Recreation Area in the Bitterroot Valley of western Montana and heading south on highway 93, down the valley and over Lost Trail Pass. The time in Montana has been great and I am sorry to be leaving, but climate and weather are dictators, so we are heading south.
The Bitterroot Mountains are beautiful and rugged, with a dusting of snow. It is hard to get photos from a moving vehicle with a dirty windshield and tinted side windows. Oh, the frustrations of a photographer/documentarian – me.
Once past Darby, the highway narrows, becoming more winding and there is no shoulder. It is pretty, but not a great place to be towing.
Fortunately, as we draw closer to Lost Trail Pass, which will take us into southern Idaho, the highway is much improved with shoulders and passing lanes. It is very slow going up, over, and down the pass, steep and winding, but it is a good highway and not scary like the previous shoulderless section.
The mountains open up into rugged foothills and we soon see the Salmon River and autumn colors. We stop in the town of Salmon, Idaho, for gas, and then take highway 28 southeast, which on the map appears to be a straight stretch and the closest intersection with I-15, our intended route home. This is new territory for us and, indeed, the highway is straight and the landscape scenic.
About 30 miles south of Salmon, we turn in at the BLM McFarland Recreation Area. This campground is small without much privacy, but it is clean, with water available and vault toilets. We are grateful for the convenience of this campground and our peaceful night.
Clifford checks the weather, as we are trying to keep ahead of a big storm descending on the northwest US. It looks like our plan to get to I-15 will put us going through Salt Lake City during the thick of the storm, so a route adjustment is made. We will head, instead, to Craters of the Moon National Park to the southwest of us where we can camp until the storm passes. I’m doing a little secret happy-dance, as I have wanted to go to Craters of the Moon for several years.
Thursday August 8: My daughter Becka and I have had a great time visiting long-time friends in Pasco, Washington, but she needs to get back to her summer job in Wallace and it is time for me to see how “holding-down-the-fort” has gone for Clifford at Sloway Campground in western Montana.
When Becka and I leave Pasco, she takes a scenic detour that takes us to a self-serve produce stand where we buy melons, blueberries, and honey, and then to a produce store full of good-to-eat food, where I buy more honey. What a fun detour.
we get as far as Coeur d Alene, Becka takes me to this cool place
along Coeur d Alene Lake where we sit on a platform above the water
to have our very extra delicious lunch and adult beverages. My
goodness, traveling with Becka is So.Much.Fun!
Back in Wallace, we unload stuff at my daughter Katie’s Bernard Building, as Becka and I will be moving over there from the 4th Street house where she has been staying. Her apartment is next to the big central kitchen and I will spend tonight in a smaller, but very sweet apartment, just down the hall. Becka’s apartment is topsy-turvey at the moment, full of stuff from the previous owners/tenants. I spend the afternoon, while she is at work, cleaning and reorganizing, so by the time she gets off work, it looks quite nice and homey.
Merri is also in Wallace, working this weekend as a cook at the same
place where Becka works. When the girls get off work, we go up on the
roof of the Bernard Building, four stories up, relaxing in the cool
of the night as we share a bottle of orange muscato. Too late, too
tired for anything else, we soon all go off to bed.
Friday August 9: Becka makes a really great breakfast for me, Merri, and herself. (Katie is sick, so couldn’t join us.) We run errands around town and had planned to go out to eat lunch before I leave for Sloway, but every eatery is either closed or too busy. We buy food at Harvest Foods and have a picnic in Becka’s front room instead, which worked out just fine.
On the way back to Sloway, I stop at the artesian well, Elmer’s Fountain, not far from Wallace. The water there is so good and the place has a pleasing ambiance. I notice a trail that I have not seen before and am tempted to follow it, but instincts tell me that I should head on back to Sloway.
I have a relaxed drive over Lookout Pass, back to Montana, where Clifford is eager to hear about my travels. Traveling was fun, but it is also good to be back “home.”
Friday August 2: Today is a day of walkabouts taking photos, mostly of the Clark Fork River at the Sloway Campground where Clifford and I are camped, just off I-90 and a little east of St. Regis, Montana. Since we have had several travel days, I have a to-do list of things that were put on a back-burner, and most of these are taken care of today. Clifford has his project list, mainly ham radio and playing his dulcimer.
Saturday August 3: This morning I take coffee and journal and go to the picnic table by the river to sit in the sunshine while I sip and write. After breakfast, I work on more of my projects, including backing a day pack for my trip to Wallace, Idaho, to visit my daughter Katie and her family, and daughter Becka, who is spending the summer in Wallace, working and visiting Montana/Idaho family.
I had planned to leave for Wallace tomorrow morning, my daughters
convince me that I should come over this afternoon, as there will be
a live band playing on the streets this evening. So, I finish
packing and getting things ready for Clifford to be on his own for a
is a lovely drive to Wallace, I-90 winding its way through the Coeur
d Alene and St. Joe Mountains and over Lookout Pass into Idaho. At
Wallace, Katie and her husband Jeremy show me around the three-story
brick apartment building that they have just purchased. It has an
interesting history in that a large family lived there and then the
building was apparently abandoned with food still in the cupboards,
clothing still in the closets, dishes and books and other personal
items still in place as if the family expected to return any moment.
While there may be a perfectly ordinary explanation, the place has an
ambiance of intrigue.
I do laundry while Katie and Becka finish their evening jobs, then we listen and dance to music until the bands wrap things up – late!
I stay with Becka at Katie’s 4th Street house, which happens to be the house where Clifford and I lived in the upstairs apartment when we lived in Wallace a few years back. There is a bit of nostalgia in being in Wallace and staying in the 4th Street house. And I love having this time with my girls!
Sunday July 14: As soon as we get up, I make tea and coffee for the thermoses. After yogurt and fruit for breakfast, we pack up the little that needs packing – we weren’t here long enough to really unpack much. Everything is in place and we are ready to leave Diamond Campground, south of Spanish Forks, Utah, by 9:00 a.m. This was such a beautiful spot, I am sad to leave.
Heading north on Highway 6, we soon enter I-15 and everything is good until we get to Provo. Without warning, we enter a construction area where the lanes narrow and curve this way and that, and the speed limit does not slow traffic down nearly enough. We are nearly side-swiped by a semi trying to come alongside, but he pulls back and we make it through okay. After miles and miles of fast-paced traffic, it is such a relief when we finally make it through the Salt Lake City complex.
We stop for lunch at Tremonton, Utah, then continue on north, still on I-15 until we reach the Devils Creek Reservoir, north of Malad City in southern Idaho.
We pull off to check out boondocking here, and driving past the marina and the RV park, we find a fishing access at the far end of the reservoir. We park here and while Clifford naps, I walk down to the reservoir to take a few photos. The water is low, but the hills are very green for this time of year. I talk to a nice family of grandparents, parents, and kids playing and fishing at the water’s edge.
Clifford is refreshed from his nap and we continue on.
A big thunderstorm near Pocatello, Idaho, cools the air from upper 90’s to mid 70’s, but once we are out of the storm, the temperature climbs again.
We are grateful to arrive at the Idaho Falls Walmart and find a spot to park along the edge of the lot where there is strip of grass, a few trees, and thistles blooming on the ridge above. We stock up on supplies and sundries at Walmart, then walk to the nearby Panda express for dinner.
Back at Cougar, we sit outside to enjoy the lovely sunset and the pleasant coolness of the evening, chatting as we watch the moon play hide ‘n seek with the clouds.
A hiss gives us but a second warning before the sprinkler system comes on. Our backsides are soaked by water hitting us full-blast as we dash inside, rescuing cell phones and books as we go.
is not a restful night, as each time the sprinkler comes on, the
water hitting the side of Cougar is deafening. There is also a lot of
traffic, lights, and city noise – but it is convenient and free.