Autumn on Abajo – October 2020

Early in October, my brother Rollie and his fiance Tata arrive in their motorhome and set up alongside our backyard fence.

Rollie and Tata arrive for a visit
Rollie and Tata

The next couple of weeks are filled with numerous shared meals, great wine, several outings to the mountain, going places in their jeep that would not be possible with Suburban, and music either inside or out almost every day.

Our first outing is a trip up Abajo Mountain to Pine Flats where Clifford and I camped during he summer.

Heading up Abajo Mountain
Rollie and Tata on the jeep trail

The jeep trail takes us through the aspen forests rich with color.

After a picnic, we get out our instruments and play a few bluegrass tunes.

In the mid afternoon, while there is still sunlight on the mountain, we head back down. There is a stand of maple on the lower slopes that is especially brilliant and I want to catch them before the sun gets too low.

Clifford continues his work on the Carnicom Institute Disclosure Project, but I’ve done all that I can for that, so I am free to go on outings with Rollie and Tata for picnics and sight-seeing.

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.

Divide Bridge Heading South – September 2018

Saturday September 29: We get up a little earlier than usual and I get tea made for the thermoses. We have a quick breakfast of yogurt and fruit before we finish packing, and we are on our way before 10:00. We are leaving the Bass Creek Recreation Area in the Bitterroot Valley of western Montana where we have been camped for the last couple of weeks. Our destination today is Divide Bridge campground in southwestern Montana.

Destination in southwest Montana

The wind is fierce as we go through Hellgate Canyon on the east side of Missoula. We are relieved that it lets up some as we head further east, but even so, stopping for gas at Deer Lodge, we are surprised at how cold the wind is.

Reaching Divide Bridge Campground, we find a spot with grass still green and shrubs showing autumn colors. Our set-up is minimal, as we won’t be staying long.

Cougar at Divide Bridge Campground
Autumn Colors
Visit to the Big Hole River

Of course, I visit the river right away.

Big Hole River

In the evening, we work on our projects – dulcimer and CI Legacy for Clifford, while I continue editing Princes and Priests and prepare another blog of our travels. We have nachos for dinner, as that is easy and tasty, and head to bed earlier than usual. Travel days are tiring, but at least we have a pretty place to stay.

Sunday September 30: I am up early to use the restroom and see that it is a drizzly morning The neighbors have a nice big campfire, so I go over to say “hi.” We have a nice visit before I go back to Cougar to make tea for the thermoses, as we are planning on leaving to meet Tye and Tammy at Lewis&Clark Caverns.

Saying “Hi” to the neighbors who are set up by the river

However, the drizzle turns to sleet, which turns to snow. Since we don’t have a current weather report, we are a bit undecided about the wisdom of driving over Pipestone pass to meet them, not knowing what the weather is on the pass or on their side of the mountain. In the end, we drive out to the highway where there is cell service and cancel our plans to meet them. I am very disappointed, but again, discretion is wise.

Snowing at Divide Bridge Campground
Snowing at Divide Bridge Campground

By afternoon, the weather clears up and had we had communication, we might have been able to still pull off a get-together, but oh well, sometimes things don’t work out the way I’d like them to. At least it is pretty here and I spend time walking about, taking photos of the snow on autumn colored leaves in the morning and photos of the river in the river in the afternoon.

View from the campground

We are short on power today; I edit until the laptop battery is dead, then play viola for awhile. Dinner is cooked and eaten by lantern light. Even though we normally use our electronic devices a lot, there are always things that can be done without power. Tomorrow we will be continuing south and we will see what the weather brings our way.

Abajo Mountain Outings – Autumn 2017

Sunday October 29, 2017 – 40/70 Clear blue sky today.

We decide to go for a drive up Abajo Mountain, the backdrop of the little town of Monticello, Utah. The Suburban is leaking fluid, so we only make it as far as the Dalton Springs Campground where we stayed when we came in September to check this town out. I only take a couple of photos before we turn around and head back to town. This is rather a disappointment.

Aspen on Abajo Mountain

Back at our place, the job of moving in continues with cleaning the shed, storing tools, and fixing the gate to the backyard, among other things.

Wednesday November 1, 2017 – 35/60 and mostly clear.

My most favorite time of day is sunrise. Living in town means I don’t have a natural setting for the sunrise, but I do like seeing it send rays through the fence of the back yard. The big trees just outside the fence seem to glow as the early morning sun hits the naked branches. The sunrise and the trees are a joy to me.

Sunrise through the fence

The tree at the corner bathed in morning sunlight

Thursday November 2, 2017 – 59 is the high, sunny and windy.

Since it is sunny, I want to go for a drive up the mountain, but we have projects to take care of. However, in the later afternoon, Clifford decides that we can go for a drive, after all. We park at a kiosk that describes the trails in the area and off we go for a hike on a rather sketchy trail. The sun is already behind the mountain, so the landscape is in shadow, but it was still a fun hike. In taking a closer look at the kiosk map, we realize that this is not the trail head at all and we were just following game and cow trails. Haha.

Gnarly old oak tree

Clifford on the “trail”

The valley below

Sunday November 5, 2017 – high is 55, partly cloudy.

Even though we have lots left to do, I suggest that we go for a picnic on the mountain while there is still some sunshine. I didn’t think Clifford would want to go, but he agrees, so I make thermoses of tea and sandwiches, and off we go. 

Heading to a picnic spot on Abajo Mountain

Aspens on the mountain

A very interesting beehive

It is kind of chilly up here and I am glad for the warm poncho that I keep in the car. It is a cat-and-mouse game to catch brief moments of sunlight on the aspen and oak trees.

Catching the sunlight is a cat and mouse game as clouds move across the sky

After our picnic, I gather oak leaves to take back to decorate a rather ugly shelf in the kitchen.

Walking through the oaks to gather leaves

Sunlight on the fallen leaves

In spite of the coolness of the mountain, we had a fun outing, and it was good to have a break from the work of getting the lab and a home space functional.

Driving back to the valley

Winter Journey – Colorado River Canyon – November 2016

Colorado River

Sunday November 13th is catch-up day: After taking photos of the Colorado River, I write in my journal, check email and bank balances (hotspot internet is very marginal, but better than nothing), and do some editing for the Montana author. We figure out where the propane smell is coming from – the regulator will have to be replaced. The campground is nearly empty today, so I walk about salvaging leftover firewood.

Walkabout looking for firewood

Beautiful blue sky day

Once the sun goes behind the mesa to the west, the temperature drops considerably, even though it is still light out.

The sun goes behind the mesa to the west

I take a few more photos of the river before making a campfire to extend the daylight time outdoors.

Colorado River downstream in the late afternoon

Colorado River upstream in the late afternoon

When it is too dark to read or write by the light of the campfire, I come in and make applesauce with some of the apples that I had gathered back in Idaho, amazed that they have lasted so long.

Monday November 14th is a town day for us and we head to Moab right after breakfast for groceries, laundromat, and several other short errands. Back at camp, I put groceries and clean clothes away, thinking about how Mom and I, after a trip to the laundromat when I was a kid, would fold heaps of clean clothes while my younger siblings would scamper off with piles of folded clothes to be put away. I call my sister Lillian to share the memory, but no answer, so just leave a message. Lots of memories, lots of feelings to work through.

The mesa to the east takes on a rich color as the sun sets

Winter Journey – Canyonland NP – October 2016

Autumn colors in Price, Utah

Monday, October 17th, the mild morning temperature turns cooler as the wind shifts from SW to NW.

The wind shifts, cooler with rain clouds

Leaving Price, the wind does not hamper us, but once we reach I-70, it is problematic.

Leaving Price, Utah

After getting gas at Green River, Utah, we decide to take a frontage road that parallels the highway, since we are having a hard time maintaining interstate speed. Turns out this road is not maintained and it is a very rough ride until we rejoin I-70. At one point we have to stop because the hitch support post slips and hits the ground.

Stop for damage report

Near the junction with Hwy 191, which will take us south to Moab, we pull into rest stop located on the top of a barren windswept mesa.

Barren and windswept landscape

In spite of the wind, we have a picnic, partially protected by one of the shelters, before we get set up for the night. Quite a switch from last night’s lovely spot.

Tuesday, October 18th, we leave the rest area shortly after 8:00 a.m., as we were advised to be at the Willow Flat Campground in Canyonland National Park by 9:00 a.m.

Heading to Canyonland National Park

It is a small and popular campground that is filled daily by 10:00 a.m. We arrive shortly after 9:00 and are pleased that the first site, a pull-through with a view, is available. The temperature is mild enough that Clifford sits in the sun to study and I am able to play cello outside after we get set up.

Perfect site for us

In the afternoon I walk down to the Green River Overlook, a view of the Green River as it cuts its deep meandering channel across the desert.

Green River Overlook

and later Clifford and I walk down in time for photos at sunset.

Green River at sunset

Last rays of the setting sun

Sunset at the Green River Overlook

We are very pleased to be here.


Wednesday, October 19th, I make a small campfire this morning, as I especially appreciate the quiet time outdoors before the busy-ness of the day.  Today we make a sight-seeing trip to the Shafer Trail Overlook,

Schafer Trail Overlook

the Grand View Point Overlook,

Grand View Point Overlook

the Orange Cliff view point,

Orange Cliff view point

and then stop for a picnic at the same place we had a picnic last time we were here, over three years ago.

Canyonland picnic area

In the evening, I walk down to the Green River Overview.

Mesa to the east of Willow Flat Campground near sundown

In the neighborhood

Sunset light at Green River Overlook

Clifford has a sore throat this evening, which is not good. We use remedies that we have with us and hope that he feels better tomorrow.

Road Trip – Newton-Drury Parkway – May 2015

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Camping at Prairie Creek

Sunday May 10, 2015: It is overcast this morning. I take a few photos before building a little campfire to keep me company while I write in the journal.  Here it is May and a campfire and a wool poncho are welcome parts of my life.  I love this weather.

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Big Leaf Maples are huge and covered with golden-green moss that looks like fur.

By time I am done writing, it is too sunny for good photos in the forests what with bright splashes of light and deep shadows. But I go for a walk, anyway, just because the forest is so wonderful.

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Light and shadows in the forest

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Trees along the Newton-Drury Parkway in Prairie Creek State Park

Back at camp, I download photos and edit until my laptop battery is dead. Then Clifford and I decide to go for a drive up the Newton-Drury Parkway, which is a road right through the heart of the redwood forest in the Prairie Creek State Park.

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Driving the Newton-Drury Roadway

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Shamrocks and ferns, as well as moss, grow out the decaying wood of dying and dead trees

In addition to driving the 10 mile length of the road, admiring the great trees as we go, we stop and follow paths to a couple of the most outstanding trees in the area.

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Clifford and Carol in the Prairie Creek Redwood forest

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The Corkscrew Tree

The Corkscrew Tree is a redwood famous for the unusual entwining growth of its four trunks. It looks quite different depending on the angle at which one approaches, but it is no doubt unique, no matter where one is standing.

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Corkscrew Tree – a very twisted Redwood


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Clifford looking up at Big Tree

The other famous redwood in this forest, Big Tree, is a single trunk 20 feet in diameter with a 68-foot circumference. This wonderful giant is about 1,500 years old.

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Clifford and Carol at Big Tree

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Big Leaf Maple leans precariously as Clifford looks upward at other tall trees

The big leaf maples are also amazing… so very tall with great branches reaching out, covered with moss like golden-green fur.

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Moss-covered Big Leaf Maple

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Leaning Big Leaf Maple

I am in such awe of these giants of the earth and reluctant to leave them, but on back to camp we go. I continue reading “Legacy of Luna” by Julia Hill, admiring her great courage and stamina to stand up to adversity of all sorts while living for two years in an old-growth redwood near Eureka, done to bring awareness to environmental issues and logging practices.

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A redwood like Luna, but smaller. Could I live in her branches for two years?

As I walk in the forests in the evening, I look up at the old-growth redwoods around camp and consider what it would be like to live in the upper stories of one of these giants, never setting foot on the ground for over two years.

I am so in love with trees, tall trees, short trees, straight trees, leaning trees, crooked trees, furry trees.  I’ll dream of trees tonight.

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“Furry” trees

Bass Creek Camping – October 2014 – Part 8

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Sunny autumn skies – camp tree

Mostly sunny this morning, but a very damp 35 degrees after yesterday’s rain.  The campfire is reluctant this morning, but after awhile a cheery blaze warms me as I sit with my cup of coffee and “A New Earth,” reading about the pain-body, the condition where one identifies with one’s pain so much as to lose touch with the real person.

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Keeping my coffee warm

After breakfast I walk across the meadow, irresistibly drawn to the aspens on the hillside.  This time I find a game trail that ascends at a comfortable angle and I am soon at the aspen grove.  I take lots of photos even though the angle of the sun is not ideal.  There is quite a breeze, causing the leaves to shimmer and sparkle as they dance about.  It is really quite marvelous and I thoroughly enjoy being there.

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Leaves shimmer and sparkle as they dance about

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I walk with trees

Back at camp, I have a long cello session broken by wood gathering in the deep woods behind the camp.  I realize there is so much more to explore.  I did not have the energy for it earlier in our stay, but I feel like I’m missing out on something important.  Well, next time….  The twigs and branches that I find are really quite wet, so I reluctantly leave the magical woods

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Magical woods

and walk across the meadow to gather twigs and branches that have had more time to dry in the sun and the wind. Back at camp I continue with playing cello until Becka calls.  Someone made her angry and she calls to talk about camping because it makes her feel better.  We plan a camping date for next summer, perhaps right here.  Clifford needs to use my cell phone for a business call, so I give him the phone and head on back to the aspens.

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The sun shines low from the west

The sun is now low in the west, shining through the gap between mountain peaks.  It is cloudier this afternoon, so I have to wait for sunnier and still moments to get shots with the glow of the leaves as the sun shines through them.  Back-lit leaves of plants and shrubs also get my attention.

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Even while I wait for these photo-opp moments, I am thrilled to be here on the mountain with these lovely trees.

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Lovely aspens dance for me

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Hard to say good-bye while the sun yet shines

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Still saying good-bye

I can’t bear to leave until the sun has settled low enough that no more sunlight illumines the grove. Finally I say “good-bye” and head down the  hill, picking up chunks of wood on my way.  Back at camp, it is time for another campfire, hot tea, and journal writing. Bass Creek has been good for me.  Every day I breathe in the fresh air; I am surrounded by mountains, tall ponderosa at the meadow’s parameters look down on me, dark mysterious woods invite me to explore, and golden aspen dance for me – they have all shared their strength with me.  I am feeling healthier and more peaceful being here at Bass Creek. There are even moments of joy.  I hope to carry this joy with me as I move forward to what lies ahead.

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Moments of joy

Bass Creek Camping – October 2014 – Part 7

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Misty drizzly morning

Tuesday October 21: We were going to put the big tarp over the Pony yesterday since there is a forecast of rain, but we were too tired and cold when we got back from hiking and figured we could do it this morning.  Then it started raining in the night, so it is too late to put up the tarp.  Too wet for a fire this morning – I could build a fire, but can’t read and edit in the rain, so it is an inside morning.

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Rainy day at Charlie Waters Campground

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Mossy tree trunks, all in a row

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The rain emphasizes the moss on the tree trunks

Later, when the rain lets up a bit, I decide to go for a walk across the meadow,

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Our campsite as seen from across the meadow

and once there, emboldened by my successful hiking yesterday, I hike on up the hillside to the grove of young aspen that I have admired from a distance.

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Hiking to the aspen grove

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Nearing the aspen grove

It is pretty here, even if there is no sunlight to bring a glow to the leaves.  I walk amongst the trees, admiring their autumn colors and smooth cool bark. I could be an aspen tree.

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Walking with the aspens

By time I get back to camp, my shoes, socks, feet, and sweats are wet; I change clothes and wear slippers the rest of the day as I only have the one pair of shoes with me.   Another oversight in planning and packing – of course I know better, but sometimes things fall through the proverbial crack.  I haven’t gotten all my ducks lined up properly this fall.

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Rainy view from the Pony

I finish editing “Against All Odds” and then edit photos from our British Columbia trip until the battery on the laptop runs out.  That is the drawback to camping without enough sunshine to inspire the solar panel to create electricity for us.  Time now to write in the journal – real paper, real pen – no electricity required. Chilly outside all day, but the Pony is cozy, so we don’t mind.

Bass Creek Camping – October 2014 – Part 6

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Blue-sky day

Monday October 20, 2014 – It is going to be sunny today, but I make a small campfire for the warmth until the sun reaches the campsite, enjoying my morning ritual of fire, coffee, and journal.   After breakfast we make a quick trip to Stevensville for ice and a few groceries.  Back at camp, we decide to hike the Bass Creek Trail which leaves from a parking lot at the end of the campground.  Based on the doctor’s recommendation, I’ve not been exerting myself, but every day that we are here, I feel better.  There may not be another chance to hike the trail with a great blue sky and sunshine while we are here.  We drive around to the parking area, although it wouldn’t have been terribly far just to hike to the trail head.  I have a small thermos of tea, my hiking sticks, and the Canon G1X.  I am going to mosey along taking photos while Clifford goes on ahead.  I will only go as far as I feel totally comfortable with.

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I am thrilled with the sunlight coming through the aspen trees, turning yellow to golden.  The western larch are also a rich autumn color.

AutumnBass_G1x 407Although I can hear the creek below me, the dense growth often obscures the sight of it,

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The creek below the trail

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Colors of autumn

The further up the trail I go, the chillier it is.  As we were getting ready to go, I discovered my day pack was left at home by mistake.  It was warm enough at the camp that I didn’t think I would need more layers than what I am wearing, but now the windbreaker and gloves in the day pack would be most welcome.  Reminder to self to have the extra layer just in case.

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Patches of sunlight on the trail

So, I hike from one sunlit patch to another, stopping to take photos whenever autumn leaves catch my attention.

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AutumnBass_G1x 437Several times I stop, thinking I will turn back, but after resting on a rock in the sunshine and drinking some of my hot tea,  I go on, eager to see what is beyond the next bend in the trail.

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Around the next bend in the trail

Eventually, it is the deepening shadows on the trail and the chilly wind that forces me to turn back.  I am glad that my stamina was not the determining factor.

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Trail in shadow

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Deepening shadows on the trail

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Down the trail toward the lingering sunlight

I hike briskly back down the trail, not stopping until I reach the trail head, where the last of the afternoon sunshine brings a bit of warmth.

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Last light coming through the trees

Back at the campsite, I am too cold to play cello, so go on inside the Pony to warm up.  Make a hot cup of tea and get on with editing.  Clifford has hiked considerably further up the trail than I did, so it is a while later before he comes.  Then we have dinner and I continue editing.  I am nearly finished with the book I am working on.  I download the photos taken today and am pleased with the beautiful autumn colors.  I am looking forward to doing some photo editing soon.  And off to bed with vision of golden trees dancing in my head.