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.

Colorado Interview – November 2019

Saturday November 16: After saying good-bye to our friends in Loveland, Colorado, Clifford and I drive to the Embassy Suites Hotel in Boulder. The accommodations arranged for us are quite luxurious. Our 4th floor room is as far away from the elevator as possible, a ways to lug our stuff, but the room is nice. From our vantage point, we can see a Trader Joe’s just a little over a block away. While Clifford naps, I walk there to get fixings for meals in our room.

Sunday November 17: We are both up by 5:30 a.m., which is way way early for our routine. We get ready and arrive in plenty of time for the interview, which is in a small neighboring town. The televised interview is an hour and the focus is on Clifford’s research. This is a venue that is different than our usual ways of dispersing information, and hopefully an opportunity for more people to become aware of the work.

Clifford on TV

After the interview, we return to Boulder and the rest of the day is spent at our hotel. Clifford naps and I write in the journal, post a blog, and other such stuff.

Monday November 18: We forgot we were entitled to a complimentary breakfast and have fruit & yogurt in our room before we pack up and begin the journey back to Monticello.

Leaving the Embassy Suites

It is a bit tricky getting back on I-70, as GPS is confused, but eventually we are heading west on a road that takes us through Golden Canyon before joining I-70 west of Denver.

Golden Canyon
Back on I-70 West

Going through the Glenwood Canyon, we pull off at Bair Rest Area and Clifford naps while I saunter about taking photos of the river.

Colorado River in Glenwood Canyon
Glenwood Canyon
Glenwood Canyon

Rested, we continue on to the Econolodge in Grand Junction, finding the hostess to be friendly, fresh-baked cookies at the check-in counter, and a comfortable room. I fix soup and sandwiches for our dinner and then, since we have had a jam-packed few days, we head to bed earlier than usual.

Late afternoon sunlight turns formation at Grand Junction a golden color

Tuesday November 19: Temperatures are still mild today, but it is very windy and spraying mars the sky. At least we are ahead of the winter storm that has been forecast.

Back in Utah

Soon after entering Utah, we leave I-70 at the junction to 191 south. Road construction is still going on between Moab and Monticello, but luckily our wait time is fairly brief.

Road Construction on 191

Once we reach home-base, we unload Suburban and then relax for the evening. Rain starts here in the evening, but in Colorado, where we just were, the snowfall is heavy, and some roads in Boulder, part of I-70, and the Golden Canyon are closed. Whew – that was a close call.

Monticello, Utah to Loveland, Colorado – November 2019

The early days of November are relatively calm and sunny days warm enough for us to spend time time in the back yard. Writing in the journal while Clifford plays dulcimer is especially pleasant. Most of our day is spent on projects: I am catching up with travel photo blogs and editing for a couple of authors, while Clifford focuses on music for the dulcimer, ham radio, and preparing for the televised interview to be held mid-November near Boulder, Colorado.

Sunrise at home-base in Monticello
Recapture Reservoir seen on trip to Blanding
Clifford playing dulcimer in the back yard

Clifford’s ear bothers him most days, but we continue with an itinerary for the trip to Colorado, planning on seeing friends in Loveland for a couple days before going to Boulder for the interview. I have some reservations about traveling to northern Colorado this time of the year, but the forecast is favorable for safe travel.

We leave on the 13th and our destination today is Rodeway Inn in Glenwood Springs, Colorado. Travel is smooth and easy compared to towing Cougar, which we are not doing this time. There is a stop for construction on highway 191 between Monticello and Moab, but luckily we didn’t have to wait too long, just long enough for me to jump out and get a couple of photos, but not nearly as long a wait as the line of traffic headed the other direction.

La Sal Mountains in the distance
Wilson Arch north of Monticello, Utah
Taking photos while stopped for contstruction
The oncoming line of traffic extends as far as one can see … waiting

It is canyon country for much of the 250+ miles today, most of it on I-70 east.

Utah Canyon Country
Formation at Grand Junction, Colorado
Colorado Canyon Country
Approaching Glenwood Springs – traveling on I-70

The Rodeway Inn is comfortable with room for both of us to set up laptops, free wifi, fridge, and coffee maker. Since we don’t feel like going out for dinner, we are a bit limited, but make do with what we have with us. Since there doesn’t seem to be anyone else in the motel, I even get out the viola and run through some of my fiddle tunes while Clifford works on his projects.

Monticello Days – October 2019

The latter half of October includes emphasis on our projects, especially those that require steady power and internet. For me that is blog writing, editing photos, and editing for a couple of authors. I especially enjoy my quiet mornings in front of the sliding glass doors that look to the east.

Looking to the east at sunrise

I’ve been cleaning Cougar, getting ready for the winter trip. Clifford works with his ham radio, CI research papers, and writing music programs, as well as taking care of business that can’t be easily done on the road. He has also been preparing for the televised interview that he will be doing in Boulder, Colorado, in November.

The weather is changing and by the 20th of October, we see a covering of snow.

Skiff of snow

Also on the 20th, the Carnicom Institute Newsletter, which we have been working on for several weeks, has undergone its last revisions and I am glad to hit PUBLISH and send it on its way to our mailing list. My granddaughter Jasmine has her baby today, a big healthy boy. Congratulations to her and her husband Bart! And Clifford decorates for Halloween.

Cllifford clowning around with his skeleton buddy

By the 26th, the weather has warmed up. With a clear sky and a forecast of 60 degrees for today, we leave our projects, make a picnic, and head up Abajo Mountains to enjoy a day in the outdoors. We first go to Monticello Lake, which is low, so not as pretty as before. Quite a few other people are there, it is windy, and we don’t have a level spot to park for our picnic… so we leave and go to Pine Flats, taking the other road in to explore, finding a nice spot where we’ve never been, level and out of the wind. We set up our table and chairs and have our picnic. Then, while I saunter about taking photos, Clifford plays dulcimer.

Piicnic at Pine Flats

When the sun goes behind the mountain and the shade creeps over us, we pack up and head back down the mountain. What a great way to spend the day. Two days later, the temperature is down to 18 degrees and more snow. What a switch.

Back to more cold and snow

October in Monticello has gone by quickly, the days filled with meaningful activities. We hear of hardships around the country and the world, like the fires in California, and are so very grateful for the safe and comfortable place we have here when we are not traveling.

Writing about the end of of October is not complete without mentioning my dear mom. Although it has already been three years since she passed on, it seems like she is just a phone call away.

Just a phone call away… or so it almost feels….

Trip to Abajo Mountain – October 2019

Monday October 14: A few days after our return to home-base in southeast Utah, with a sunny sky and the promise of a day in the 60’s, Clifford and I make a trip up Abajo Mountain for a photo outing.

We first go to Monticello Lake, which is especially blue with the blue sky above. I walk around to the dam so as to get a better angle of sunlight behind the scrub oak that grows on the hillside around the lake.

Monticello Lake
Walking around to the dam
Grasses growing on the dam
Sunlight through the scrub oak leaves

A strong breeze comes up, and we decide to go on to Pine Flats which may be more protected. Someone is camped in our spot, so we stop in the aspen grove and I take a few photos there.

Our last stop is the Buckboard Campground because the aspens there are quite photogenic, especially along with the scrub oak, all in their autumn colors.

Aspen at Buckboard Campground

Then back down the mountain and the afternoon is spent with our various projects.

Down the mountain

The mountain outing was lovely and back at home-base, I am appreciative of the sturdy house protecting us from the wind, as well as the electricity that allows our numerous projects to continue.

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.

Diamond Campground-Utah – July 2019

Saturday July 13: Clifford and I are spending today camped at Diamond Campground off highway 6, south of Spanish Forks, Utah. This is a beautiful campground and a day here is a day of restoration before we continue the northward journey for the summer.

For a morning walk, I hike to the bluff above the campground, walk the length of it, enjoying thistles in bloom and various meadow grasses that live here. In the distance are the mountains of northern Utah.

Bluff above Diamond Campground
Mountains of northern Utah in the distance

Eventually I find a trail that leads down off the bluff, coming out at the far end of the campground. As I walk back to our campsite, I notice the great variety of trees that grow here, providing beauty, shade, and privacy for all of us who are camped here. After breakfast, Clifford and I hike a ways on the Discovery Trail, which runs along the creek and parallel to the campground. Kiosks along the way provide the history of the area, as well as describing the plants and animals that live here.

A trail off the bluff to campground below
Discovery Trail

In the afternoon, while Clifford works with his ham radios, I edit manuscripts for the authors I am working with. Sitting outside, Clifford plays his dulcimer and I review photos taken this morning. A thunderstorm with wind and rain causes us to take the awning in and move our activities inside. However, after the storm passes, we are treated to a most gorgeous double rainbow.

Double rainbow after the thunderstorm

Right at sunset, I head out for one more walk, taking the Discovery Trail up an incline to a different bluff. My feet and legs are thoroughly wet from the grasses along the trail, but it was well worth the effort for the view.

Dusk on the hillside above camp
Fading colors of sunset

On the Road Again – July 2019

Thursday July 11: I am up early this morning for last preparations before leaving on our summer trip northward. I make coffee, write in journal, and prepare thermoses of tea before Clifford gets up. After smoothies, we finish packing the last minute items, making sure bathroom, kitchen, and lab are in good order.

The to-do list has been very helpful, as most everything has been taken care of ahead of time and what’s left is on a check list so we don’t get down the road and wonder if we remembered such-and-such. It is 1:45 p.m. by time we finally pull out of base-camp, as I like to call our place here in Monticello, Utah.

I take photos as we travel, saying good-bye to the southeast Utah canyon country. It is 100 degrees by time we reach Moab and hot all the way to Price. Increasing winds make the last portion of the journey harder and we are very grateful to pull into the Walmart parking lot, driving around to the far side to park out of the way. Although it is still hot here, it is not as windy in town.

Castle Rock – Highway 191 north of Monticello, Utah
Wilson Arch – Highway 191 north of Monticello, Utah
Approaching Moab & LaSal Mountains in the distance – Highway 191, Utah
Southeast Utah Canyon Country – Highway 191
Utah Badlands near Price

I’m too tired and hungry to feel like shopping, but after taking time for a late lunch, I go in to buy supplies while Clifford naps. It is dark but still warm outside when I finish up in Walmart. I put perishables in the fridge, but let the rest go and head to bed.

Friday July 12: This morning we pick up a few more supplies, and after fruit & yogurt for breakfast, we are on our way. The wind is not so bad this morning, but there is a crazy amount of traffic on highway 6, and we are very relieved to get off this busy winding highway at the turnoff to Diamond Campground, south of Spanish Forks, Utah.

Central Utah Canyon Country

Diamond Campground is one of our favorite overnight places, being located in a scenic valley off the highway. The downside is that most sites are reservation only. We consider ourselves fortunate to find a really great spot with shade on a Friday. It is one of our easiest set-ups with the pads being level enough to not even need the levelers.

Diamond Campground
A great spot in the shade

After lunch, Clifford gets his ham radio set up and I spend most of the afternoon walking around the campground, hiking the Discovery Trail, and hiking to the bluff above the campsite near sunset.

A creek runs through the campground and it so GREEN here
Milkweed gone to seed
View from the bluff near sunset with Cougar below

After dinner I edit today’s photos, grateful that we will be here another day, a day to relax before the big push to Montana.

Last Days in Monticello – June to July 2019

The days of late June and early July are focused on accomplishing all we can while we are still here in Monticello with power and internet. Lots of editing and photo/blogs on my side, while Clifford continues with ham radio and research.

Editing – the map of Purt that accompanies The Novels of Shannon series by A. MacDonald

We had thought about taking Cougar up to Abajo Mountain for Amateur Radio Field Day, but decide instead to make better use of our time by staying in town and just doing field day from base camp, as I like to call our place.

Amateur Radio Field Day from Base Camp

I make a comprehensive organized list of what needs to be done or packed for our summer trip and begin working on that. Cougar is thoroughly cleaned and reorganized. Accounting, CI email, and reviewing the Carnicom Trust are among the not-so-fun things that we take care of. Along with the giant to-do list, we spend time outside, enjoying our back yard, whenever we can.

We discuss taking a different route to Montana this time, but in the end decide to take the same route north as last year and a different route home in the fall. The upside is more time with my family, the downside is that we won’t go to Olympic National Park. However, we will look for different places to camp while in Montana so as to add variety to the journey.

The temperature varies from a low of 40 degrees to a high of 88 degrees, not bad for this time of year. The wind, from a breeze to unpleasantly blustery, is more or less constant. Fortunately, our wood fence blocks some of it so we can still be outside for a bit most days.

The fence provides a place of refuge from the wind

With an eye on the forecast and an awareness of traffic around the 4th of July weekend, we decide to leave after the 4th and set the 11th as our leaving day so as to drive through Salt Lake City on a Sunday morning.

Summer Solstice on Abajo Mountain – June 2019

Friday June 21 – I wake up much earlier than normal and being unable to get back to sleep, I get up, make coffee in the French press, take a few moments for quiet time, and then write in the journal, sitting outside in sunlight filtering through pine boughs.

Today, to celebrate Summer Solstice, we are going for a picnic on Abajo Mountain. After the morning routine, which includes the ham radio net that Clifford checks into daily, we head up the mountain. Today we go to Pine Flats, thinking that we will go to the spot where we camped last June for Amateur Radio Field Day, but a big party is blocking the road.

Last June we camped in the pines beyond this stand of aspen

Too bad, but we decide to go in further on the main road and around the bog area to see what we can find. Due to abundant snow melt and spring rains, the bog is now a pond and wild iris are blooming everywhere.

The bog is now a pond
Wild iris are blooming everywhere

The road is above water, but muddy and Clifford has to gun Suburban to get through it. We certainly would not be able to bring Cougar up here. We find a pretty and level place to park where the road becomes a 4-wheeler trail. Clifford sets up table and chairs and gets his books out, while I wander about taking photos and gathering a few rocks for the backyard landscaping. After awhile, we have our picnic of nachos and hot tea.

We find a pretty spot for a picnic

By the time we are finished with our picnic, the wind has picked up and it is getting a bit chilly here on the mountain. We pack up and head out, but take time to explore a bit, finding other potential camping spots, should we decide to come up with Cougar for this year’s Field Day.

Before heading back to base camp, we drive further over the mountain to the view point where we stopped with our friends just a couple of days ago. Sage is abundant here and I want to pick enough to make a couple of sage bundles for smudging.

Wild lupine and sage are abundant at the overview

Back home, checking messages, I learn that my daughter Becka and her driving companion, on the journey from Atlanta to Missoula, Montana, are in mid-Wyoming and it is snowing in Bozeman, their destination. I’m guessing she is not thrilled with that! While Clifford continues with his projects – CI research and ham radio – I unload the rocks, edit photos from our outing, and play viola before starting dinner. Before I know it, bedtime has arrived; Mary Oliver poems close out the day for me. Clifford, as usual, stays up late working on his projects.