Cabin City Days – August 2018

Saturday August 18: It is less smokey this morning and very pleasant sitting outside writing in the journal.

Later, when the temperatures warm up and the flies become bothersome, we set up the screen house over the picnic table, giving us place to eat, write, and play music without the pesky flies.

Sunday August 19: A walk in the forest is a lovely quiet time for me this morning.

A quiet walk in the forest

In general, the day has the usual things going on: writing, reading, editing for daughter Ang, and taking photos (Carol); ham radio and CI Legacy Project (Clifford), with the addition of being stung by a wasp (Carol) and going bike riding around the two loops of the campground (both of us).

Monday August 20: It is hard to tell overcast from smoke haze this morning. In spite of the somewhat dreary sky, I walk around both loops of the campground. We are the only people here; even the hosts are gone.

Smokey morning walk

In the afternoon, there is a knock on the door and we are surprised to see my son Saul. We invite him in and I make tea for the three of us. He is headed to an organic farm and has stopped here to spend the night. We have a nice visit and after he gets his camp set up, he joins us for dinner. Since he travels a lot, we get out the atlas and share thoughts about where he and we have been and where we all might be going in the future. Maybe our paths will cross again.

Late afternoon light at our campsite at Cabin City

Tuesday August 21: I walk about taking photos in the mist this morning. Then we invite Saul for breakfast and chat a bit more before he heads out.

Walking in the mist

Today I am going to Wallace to visit Katie and her family. Katie, her daughter Justice, her mother-in-law Sue, and I go to lunch. Really nice to visit with all of them. Being in Wallace also gives me a chance to go to the laundromat, my favorite second-hand store, and the market before I drive back over the mountain for a late dinner with Clifford.

Katie and Jeremy at the Wallace Coffee House

Wednesday August 22: After my morning quiet time and breakfast with Clifford, I start cleaning out my car. Katie needs to have our remaining stuff moved out of her basement, so yesterday I put as much as I could into my car. It it is too much to take back to Monticello, so I will be sorting and getting rid of books and other items. I find it hard to get rid of books, but in reality, it is not likely I will ever have time to read all of them.

Later, Clifford and I work on the back-up camera issue and find a spot where we can put the receiver (adhered to an aluminum pizza plate stuck in the bathroom door) so that the signal carries all the way from the back of Cougar to the monitor on the Suburban dashboard. It takes a bit of jury-rigging, but it works.

Afghan for great-grandson Oliver

I finish the knit afghan for the newest member of the family, great-grandson Oliver. Bicycle, dinner, viola practice, and reading complete the day for me. Clifford continues with his projects and is up until the wee hours, as is normal for him.

Thursday August 23: It is smokey again and we have caught another mouse. Did it come with us from Bass Creek or are the mice a problem here? When camp host Susi comes around, I ask her about the mice and it does appear they have been a problem the last couple of years.

Smokey drive

Today Clifford and I go to St. Regis again, as there is wifi at the Visitors’ Center. I send the completed Princes and Priests synopsis to Ang, while Clifford downloads a big music file. We have lunch at a cafe here, but it is not nearly as good as the meal we had at the $50,000 Bar&Grill earlier in the week.

In the evening, I make plans with Rollie regarding a trip to Sun River (near Great Falls, Montana) to visit my son Matt. Clifford will stay with Cougar at Cabin City.

Friday August 24: I make coffee and sit outside for awhile before getting ready for our trip to Couer d Alene. I have another doctor checkup, and once that is finished, we run errands in CdA.

Smokey Couer d Alene Lake

On the way back to our campground, we stop in Wallace so Clifford can help make decisions about what to do with the rest of our stuff in Katie’s basement. We fit what we can into my car and the rest will be given away. Katie is cooking steaks on an outdoor grill, but due to the lateness of the hour, we have to head back to camp rather than staying for dinner. She sends a juicy steak home with us, which we thoroughly enjoy.

Journey South – Wallace to Monticello – October 2017

Sunday October 15, 2017  – It is a beautiful autumn day in Wallace, Idaho, and a bittersweet walkabout taking photos of the gorgeous colors, knowing that we will soon be leaving this behind.

Autumn colors in Wallace, Idaho

Tuesday – Clifford and I pick up the Uhaul truck, a 26-footer, in Couer d Alene this morning.  The day is devoted to loading the truck, first CI boxes and furniture, and then apartment and basement stuff.  We are lucky that the forecast rain has held off for most of the day.  By late afternoon, the loading continues in the rain.

Rain in the afternoon

Wednesday – Packed to the hilt, the Uhaul truck left Wallace first thing this morning.  We hired Mike, someone we trust, to drive it to Monticello, Utah, and take care of unloading, while Clifford and I follow behind in the Suburban towing Terry (our camper) at a much slower pace.

Whatever remains in the apartment is packed in Terry or the Suburban and we are on our way by late afternoon.  We stop at the Wallace Coffee House to say good-bye to Katie and the boys, and then we are on our way to Alberton.

Saying good-bye to Katie and the boys

It is a beautiful drive with the western larch turning golden.  However, due to the lateness of the day and the rain, taking photos through the tinted windows of a moving vehicle is not very successful.

Rainy drive over Lookout Pass

Arriving in Alberton, we set up in the parking lot across from the bar.  I am happy to see Ang and Oden, as they are in Alberton for play practice.  We visit awhile and after they leave, Clifford and I eat a simple dinner before heading to bed.

Thursday – It is a pretty autumn morning here in this mountain valley. After Merri texts me that she is up, I walk to her house to visit and have tea with her before she heads to her job. She gives me a ride as far as Ang’s road.  Ang picks me up and we go up to her place where she shows me the progress she has made on the greenhouse.

Looking good in the cabin

The last little chicken, queen of the greenhouse, eats out of Ang’s hand,

 Back in Alberton, Ang, Clifford and I head over the River’s Edge for lunch together.  I will miss being close enough to regularly visit my daughters.

Petty Creek drive

Going to Missoula Walmart for tires for Terry is a waste of time, since once there, they inform us that they are too busy to do it.  Back on I-90, we head southeast toward Butte, watching the autumn scenery,

Autumn colors in southwest Montana

Snow in the mountains of southwest Montana

stopping at the rest area near the junction with Highway 1 for the night. After dinner, we both read until bedtime.

Friday – It is windy and chilly this morning.  Clifford takes a shower and we discover that some of our clothes are wet from rain leakage.  Bah humbug.

View from the rest stop at the junction to Highway 1

We have stayed in touch with Mike and his son, who are on their way back to Wallace after unloading and dropping off the Uhaul truck in Monticello.  Our paths will cross today in Dillon, Montana, where we plan to stop for lunch.  It is fun to meet up with them and chat about our journeys.

Leaving Dillon, we run into rain and then quite the sleet storm as we head up Monida Pass.

Rain south of Dillon

The approaching sleet storm

On the Idaho side of the pass, the sleet eases with only occasional rain showers.

Entering southern Idaho

The wind, however, is much more troublesome. We are relieved to reach Idaho Falls where we pull off at Walmart for new tires for Terry.  We spend the night in the parking lot, as do other RV travelers. It is likely that the wind has encouraged many to pull in early this evening.

 Saturday – Clifford takes a shower while I visit Walmart, and soon we are on our way.  On I-15, on the outskirts of Idaho Falls, an overturned camper blocks one lane of traffic.  This is both sad and disturbing, and I can’t help but wonder if a gust of wind caused this accident.  At Pocotello we exit looking for Denny’s for brunch, but end up driving in circles until we give up on the idea.  A box of cheez-its becomes our brunch instead.  In retrospect, cheese and apple slices may have been a better idea had we known we wouldn’t be able to stop for a meal.

Nearing the Utah border

Southern Idaho scenery

A favorite rest area just north of the Utah border

Utah, here we are

The drive continues until we reach Perry, Utah, just south of Brigham City.  We find the Walmart there, glad the day’s drive is done.  A colorful sunset brightens the last moments of the day.

The view from Walmart parking lot

After dinner, we both stay up reading until midnight.

Sunday – Today we leave Perry and drive through the Salt Lake City complex, no mishaps, stopping at Cracker Barrel in Springville for a late lunch, happy that that leg of the journey is behind us.  Once we turn onto Highway 6, we are amazed by the continuous parade of traffic, including many RV’s, heading north toward Salt Lake City.  Hundreds of people are returning home after a weekend of camping in the National Parks to the south.

Northern Utah scenery

What a relief to reach Price and get off that busy highway, finding a spot to set up in the back parking lot of Walmart. Another colorful sunset brings the day to an end.

Another sunset from a Walmart parking lot

We fix a simple dinner and read until late.  I finish “Coyote Waiting,” …just in time, as tomorrow we will arrive in Monticello.

 Monday – There is not nearly so much traffic this morning, which makes driving a little less stressful.

Southern Utah scenery

Once we reach Moab, we stop for a few groceries at City Market as we know that they carry a line of organic food.

Autumn colors in Moab

And finally the last leg of the journey, the 50 scenic miles from Moab to Monticello, arriving in mid-afternoon.

Autumn colors are we near Monticello 

Robert, the realtor comes by with the keys and we enter our new abode and a new chapter of our lives.

Our new abode and lots of boxes



The Journey’s End – Return to Idaho – May 22, 2017

Monday May 22nd – It is early, but I am awake when Ang and Oden stop at the lot by the Alberton Town Park where we had parked for the night.

Raindrops on shrubs in the park

Oden is just finishing up his Drivers’ Ed class for today. It is great fun to see them; I make French press coffee and we chat for a few minutes until Ang has to leave for a meeting in connection with organizing the Alberton Railroad Days coming up in July.

Ang and Oden

Ang and Oden

We arrive in Wallace in mid-afternoon and have a little time to visit with Katie and Jeremy before beginning the huge unloading process, bringing in only the perishable food and most needed items to begin with. Later we have dinner with Katie, Jeremy, and family. So nice to see them all again.

The house and family in Wallace: Becka, Katie, Justice; Finley in front

Wallace Walkabout: Jeremy and Jude with newest family member – Scarlet

Wallace: power, internet, and hot showers! Family and friends.

Jude and friend JD

Justice and Finley

Finley, JD, and Jude at the pizza joint

Flowers and the beautiful Coeur d Alene River.

Our poppy is really putting out the blossoms this year

Volunteer pansies in our flower/vege bed

Phlox after a rain shower





Coeur d Alene on the west end of Wallace

And for the first time in months, I play my good cello… and what a pleasure that is! Traveling is quite the adventure, but there are some great things to enjoy while we are here in Wallace.

Winter Journey – Montana to Utah – October 2016

Heading toward Butte

It is still windy this morning, Friday, October 14th, as we leave the rest stop near Anaconda (Montana) and much worse as we head south at Butte. Driving is exhausting and the gas mileage is poor. When we pull into Dillon for gas, we decide to check out the KOA there. Even though it is the most we have ever paid to camp anywhere, in addition to getting out of the wind, we have electricity, free wifi, showers, and laundry facilities. Not only that, it is located right alongside the Beaverhead River and we are surrounded with lawns and trees. I am happy we are spending the night here.

Camped by the Beaverhead River

Surrounded by lawns and trees

Saturday morning, October 15th, while clothes wash and dry, we have showers and breakfast and get packed up. Of course, morning photos of the river are taken.

Morning photos of the Beaverhead River

Monida Pass between Montana and Idaho is barren and gradual – much easier on Blazer than the passes east of Butte, which was our route last year.

Entering southern Idaho

Much of the route across southern Idaho is flat and kind of boring, until we near the border between Idaho and Utah.

Southern Idaho landscape

We stop at the last rest stop in Idaho, a sweet spot with lots of trees, walking paths, picnic tables and benches tucked in here and there, and foot bridges over dry stream beds.

Walking paths at a rest stop in southern Idaho

Walking the paths, I discover a huge untended old apple tree; apples that have fallen blanket the ground beneath the tree. I fill my coat pockets with slightly bruised apples, which soon become applesauce.

Old apple tree

Sunday, October 16th, after a good solid rain in the night, the foot bridges now arch over small streams. I gather more apples. We leave the rest stop and soon are driving in heavy rain in Utah.

Rugged mountains of northern Utah

Driving in the rain

We take I-84 to the east near Ogden, bypassing Salt Lake City. It is a slow, but interesting drive through the canyon country.

Canyon Country

When we reach Price Canyon, we discover that the BLM campground where we had planned to spend the night is off-limits to us. So, on to Price and drive around a bit looking for an inconspicuous place to park a 19-foot camper. On the edge of town, a vacant baseball field parking lot is the perfect spot.

Home for the night in Price, Utah

The Winter Journey Begins – October 2016

Being gone for six months requires a lot of planning and preparation, both as what to take and what to leave behind. Decisions based on last year’s experience: What to do with the houseplants, which I love and some of which I have had for many years? Although someone came to tend them, being left all last winter in a 50 degree apartment was too hard on them; I decided it would be better for them to go to homes where they will be warm and looked after. Gradually over the summer I gave them away, but it was sad to pack up the last of them. Many of them will be with my daughters and hopefully wood-heated cabins will stay warm all winter. Which cello to take? I find the most joy in playing the Snow cello, but fear that the camping venue will be too hard on it. I couldn’t get it insured, so I finally decided on the old stout German cello, but the good bow, and a wide selection of pieces to work on.

Journey from Wallace, Idaho, to the Rest Stop near Anaconda, Montana

We leave Friday, October 7th, more than a month earlier than last year.

The journey begins

Hopefully we’ll avoid the snow that accompanied us all the way to Arizona last winter. We spend the night in Alberton in the parking lot next to the park and walk up to Merri’s in the rain for dinner. Good conversation and good food; bed late.

The next day, Saturday, October 8th, we drive out to Ang’s place. I lend a helping hand with the greenhouse construction, a drop in the bucket compared to what they have done so far and have yet to do, but at least I can say I helped.

The greenhouse under construction – lots of veges in the future

Sunday, October 9th is bottle-cutting day – a demonstration that Ang is doing using wine bottles that will become “bricks” in a straw/clay-built wall, the tops becoming wind-chimes. Raining hard most of the day.

Monday October 10th, Rama and Luther, Ang’s property-mates, help us figure out some electrical issues we have with Terry (our 19’ Terry Resort camper); a new converter is ordered and will be shipped to Katie’s house in Missoula. We say our good-byes and head for Missoula.

Leaving Two Raven

As we are going down Reserve (a main thoroughfare across town), our winter travels come within an inch or two of a complete disastrous halt as a vehicle in the oncoming lane of traffic makes a left turn across traffic right in front of us. Clifford swerves sharply to avoid a collision, Terry fishtailing like crazy. We pull over as soon as we can to assess damage. Miraculously, we did not hit the car that cut in front of us, nor did the fishtailing camper sideswipe anyone. Clifford thought he may have hit the guy and as we look closely, we see a new scuff mark on the bumper that could have been caused by a fast brush against something. Literally an inch or two difference between a serious wreck and the continuation of the journey. On to Katie’s house and park in front of the vacant lot next door.

Tuesday, October 11th, I am invited to join Katie and Justice on an outing that includes a trip to Saddle Mountain to secure things on their property there. I had dressed to run errands with Clifford, so do a bit of tip-toeing through the snow to take photos in my street shoes.

Snowy road to Saddle Mountain

Katie on Saddle Mountain

Views from Saddle Mountain

Then we go on to Quinns’ Hotsprings to soak in the hot water and savor an adult beverage before driving back to Missoula.

Wednesday, October 12th is errand day. We take Terry to Les Schwab to have tires flipped, run errands, and then out to see Mom. She is doing much better. She shows us her current projects and then while Clifford naps, she and I visit and play cribbage, which she wins. The hardest part of being gone all winter is not being able to see her until spring. Then on back to Les Schwab to pick Terry up and back to Katie’s place.

Thursday, October 13th, Rollie comes and helps us put in the new converter in trade for a cup of fresh-made organic French press coffee. By 1:00 we are packed up and ready to roll. Very pretty autumn colors along the Clark Fork River as we drive I-90 east toward Deer Lodge, our first gas stop. From there onward, it is quite windy; we are glad to reach the junction of I-90 and hwy 1, as there is a rest stop near the junction where we will spend the night.

Snow in the mountains near Anaconda, Montana


Rest stop near Anaconda – home for the night

Priest Lake – August 2016 – Part 5

 Sunday August 28: I get up at 8:00, but what with one thing and other (getting water, making tea, and a visit to the lake), it is 9:00 by time I get around to a campfire. It is only 53 degrees out, so I figure I am entitled and since Mel gave me some good firewood, I have plenty of wood so don’t need to be stingy with my campfires. Since the email on my cell phone doesn’t work right, I decide to go ahead and delete everything, thinking it only affects the phone. Unfortunately, I discover when I check email on the laptop that I have deleted everything in my inbox across all my devices…. Uh, oh, not good. I have to spend some of my precious battery time on retrieving as many emails from the trash as I can. Oh, what a bother.

Autumn foliage around the campsite

Cello in the afternoon, but not as long as usual, as I got a late start. Mel comes by: he is sending another musician my way – he wants another concert. Turns out this young woman, who comes by with her husband and two little boys, is a professional cellist!!! I think she should be the one to give a concert! I don’t play for her family, but we do have the nicest chat. After dinner, since it is not quite dark yet, I make a campfire and sit out to write in the journal; as darkness comes on, I get a lantern so I can continue to write as I enjoy the campfire.

Monday August 29: I get up at 6:30 (5:30 Pacific) to use the restroom and could stay up, since it is beginning to get light out, but it is so chilly, I decide to get back into bed. As I doze off, the squirrels start dropping cedar and fir cones. The cedar cones are green and heavy with sap, and they hit Terry’s roof with loud kerthunks. Next my phone tells me I have a message; someone from the east who doesn’t realize it is not yet 6:00 a.m. here in Idaho, then the garbage truck comes in to pick up garbage. Why is it that garbage trucks always come early? Okay okay, I’m getting up. It is still early, chilly, but an excellent time for a campfire and some quiet meditation time. After breakfast, I walk down to the lake to take a few more photos and around the campground again.

Down to the lake again

At campsite #9, I strike up a conversation with the couple there who are obviously packing up to leave. I want to know if they liked this spot, as it is the one I’d like to nab next time. We end up having a great conversation, sharing travel adventures, before they have to get on with their leaving preparations. Would have been fun to have met them sooner!

When I play cello in the afternoon, Mel comes by, pulls up a chair, and it is a concert for an audience of one! Later, I go for a hike on the trail that starts on the other side of the campground, the Woodrat Trail.

Woodrat Trail

Priest Lake through the trees on the Woodrat Trail

I am more concerned about bears than woodrats at this time of day, but hike about a half-mile in. Between logging and forest fires, this is not the prettiest forest, but it is interesting.

Interesting forest

After dinner, I begin packing up loose stuff, as we will be leaving in the morning.

Tuesday August 30: I am up before Clifford, take a photo of the sun rising over the lake through the trees, and then take care of outside things like folding up tarps and table cloths.

Sun rising over the lake

After Clifford is up, I finish packing up the inside while he takes care of his radio gear and bicycle. Mel comes by to say good-bye to us. We get Terry hitched to Blazer and take a last look around. It has been a good spot for us. Good-bye Priest Lake; maybe we’ll see you next summer!

Priest Lake – August 2016 – Part 4

Friday, August 26: Not quite as chilly this morning, so I make only a small campfire, as it will soon be warm enough to move to the sunshine.  Mel, the camp host, has told me that a neighboring camper, Nancy, plays piano and that he has invited her to come over to our camp so I can play a concert for the two of them! So, I go over and introduce myself to her, a woman younger than me, traveling and camping alone for her vacation. In the later morning Mel and Nancy do indeed come over and I play the cello for them, talking about each piece, everything from selections from “Lord of the Rings,” fiddle tunes, Bach suites, and a piece written by a dear cellist friend of mine. It is quite an informal and fun concert! Later Nancy and I drive down the road a couple miles to a little village to get a few basic groceries and great ice cream cones. After this little outing, she and I walk along the lake, chatting and enjoying the lovely setting.

Walking along Priest Lake with Nancy

In the evening, after dinner, as I go out to make a campfire, I see that Nancy has a good campfire already going, so I walk over to her campsite and visit with her until bedtime approaches for all of us.

Saturday August 27: I get up a little earlier this morning so I have time to have a campfire and say good-bye to Nancy, who will be leaving on the next leg of her journey. After breakfast, I walk around the campground and down to the lake; not nearly so crowded and noisy as last weekend, thank goodness.

Down to the lake

Perhaps it is because of the changing season: we notice the squirrels are busy as can be, first knocking cones out of the trees and then scurrying around, carrying them off to a den somewhere — AND the trees are dripping sap on us.

Picnic table at our campsite

The picnic table is especially susceptible, which makes it hard to sit there to write and work on projects, but even sitting by the campfire, I had sap drip on my head: talk about a hair product to create a tall mohawk!! I could make my hair stand straight up until I finally got the sap washed out. And I have to be careful where I sit to play cello. Do a little editing on Alex’s book, but laptop battery is low, so my time is limited. I call my mom, who is in the hospital (again). Luckily, my brothers and sisters who live close by keep a good eye on her and took her to the hospital before she got so sick as last time. She is feeling better and should be able to go home in a day or two. After dinner, Clifford and I sit outside in the dark to have a cup of tea, enjoying the mild evening temperatures.

Priest Lake – August 2016 – Part 2

Friday August 19: I go for a walk along the lake first thing this morning, not as far as yesterday, but with more excursions down to the water’s edge.

Excursion to the water’s edge


Sitting on a rock

I sit on a rock, desiring to do a “lake meditation,” but am too easily distracted by sounds: birds, boats, whatever. Playing cello and reading Alex’s book are the main focus of my day. Very noisy here today: ski jets on the lake, a chainsaw, a dirt-blower (like a snow-blower) used by our fastidious host to clean around the campground, excited kids, crying babies, whining dogs. It’s almost as bad as being in town.

Saturday August 20: I am up at 6:00 a.m., in time for the sunrise.

Sunrise at Priest Lake

Since it is a cool 45 degrees out, I decide to have a campfire this morning. I use a couple pieces of the firewood I brought, but mostly gather twigs and small branches from around the campsite. Make a cup of yerba matte and sit by the fire to write in my journal. Nice and quiet this time of the day.

Campfire with yerba matte and journal

Later, as I’m playing the cello, a couple of girls are curious enough to engage in conversation and I talk them into coming over and trying out the cello. That was fun for them and for me. In the afternoon, Clifford and I walk along the lake trail past Osprey, the next campground up the road. I’m going to explore it a bit more another day.

Walking the trail to Osprey with Clifford

Sunday August 21: Another cool morning and I make a campfire with wood I gathered on our walk yesterday. I try the technique for quieting the mind, per Alex’s book, but too many distractions: Mel stopping by, Clifford getting up, the fire needing tending, and so on. Today is a quieter day, as many campers leave fairly early. I finish the book, briefly check email on the tablet, and have just enough power on the laptop to edit one chapter for the Montana author whose book I have been editing. Power has been inadequate here due to lots of trees and not much sunshine on the solar panels; we are grateful for the shade, which has kept us comfortable, but not being able to use my laptop puts a crimp in my editing and blogging. Glad I have the cello and play it a couple of times today.

Walking the trail to Osprey

In the afternoon, I walk along the lake trail to Osprey by myself and walk around its long loop, checking out possibilities for next year. After dinner, Clifford and I sit outside, as the temperature is quite mild, but it is past my bedtime, so I soon head to bed.

Monday August 22: In the night last night, my tooth problem flared up, which is not a good thing, but an ibuprofin helped. Today, since we are going to town, there is no time for a campfire, so I stay warm and cozy in bed until Clifford is ready to get up. Then we head off to Priest River, about a 25 mile drive, to mail some government forms that we finished filling out over the weekend. We get all the way there before I discover that the papers to be mailed at still at camp. I am super annoyed at the waste of time and gas to drive down here, but we make the best of it by going on to Newport and getting groceries at the Safeway there. We check out a couple of small campgrounds on our way back to Outlet Bay, including one near the little village of Coolin on the SE shore of Priest Lake. 

View of Priest Lake from Coolin

Even though we still have papers to mail, we have a nice little outing.

Priest Lake – August 2016 – Part 1

Our trip to Priest Lake in northwest Idaho begins with internet research to find out where the forest service camps are located, followed by a couple of phone calls.  Seems that more and more campgrounds require reservation, which is a drag for those of us who come and go depending on weather, health, and finances. I settle on the campground at Outlet Bay after a call to the camp host: other campgrounds either have no water, are over-crowded, or too far north for us.

Wednesday – August 17: Almost everything was packed yesterday, so this morning is just watering the little garden and the houseplants and getting the cold food into a cooler. Even so, we get a later start than hoped for, and almost as soon as we leave Wallace, we run into road construction, which further slows us down.

We make brief stops in Coeur d Alene for gas, propane, and a few groceries before we head north to Newport, WA. We encounter road construction much of the way, chatting with a flagger for several minutes at one stop. At Newport, we head east on highway 2 to the small town of Priest River and then north again, on highway 57. Finally we arrive at Outlet Campground, later in the afternoon than we had planned, but luckily several of the first-come sites are still available and we pick the one that suits us best.

Glimmers of Priest Lake

All the sites along the lake are reservation-only, but from our site, we can see little glimmers of the lake through the trees. Our site is roomy, though not as far off the road as I like. We are surrounded by cedars, Douglas fir, and a variety of shrubs, offering a fair amount of privacy. It takes us awhile to get set up because the parking pad is not level. Once things are in place inside and out, Clifford takes a nap while I walk down to Priest Lake, admiring its clear blue expanse of water.

Clear blue expanse of water

When it cools off, I take the cello out and play for awhile. Figure since I’ve hauled it all the way up here, I’d better make use of it! Once Clifford wakes up, we have nachos for a late dinner.  Before heading to bed, we admire the reflection of the rising moon on the lake, happy to be out of town.

Moon rising over Priest Lake

Thursday August 18: First thing this morning, I go for a walk on the trail along the lake shore that I noticed yesterday. The trail goes right next to the lake-side campsites, but once I am past the campground, the trail is pretty with some autumn colors and views of lake through the trees.

Lake through the trees
Autumn colors at Priest Lake


The Lakeshore Trail at Priest Lake

Back at camp, I talk to Mel, the 83-year-old camp host making his rounds, then make tea and write in my journal. After breakfast, I take out the cello and serenade the lake and the trees. 

In the afternoon, I begin reading the manuscript of a book written by very special and interesting friends of ours, Alex & Ardeth Merklinger.  I have to read on Clifford’s tablet, which is not the easiest way to read a book, but that is what I have. Later on, a strong wind comes up very suddenly and the calm lake is now white-capped with hefty waves rolling into the shore. Quite exciting, really.

Waves come rolling in


White caps on Priest Lake

We have chicken ‘n rice and veges for a tasty dinner. After clean-up, I take a shower before heading to bed, washing off the warmth of the day and the dust of the trail. 

Road Trip – One Night Stands-Part 2– May 2015

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Pony in modified set-up at Chickahominy Reservoir

Tuesday May 26: It is 43 degrees this morning, brisk, but comfortable as I walk about the Chickahominy BLM Campground in southeastern Oregon, taking photos before we pack up.

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Morning at Chickahominy Reservoir

I make tea for the road, along with hard-boiled eggs, cheese, crackers, and apples to eat as we go – a  traveling picnic. On the way out, I stop to chat with the camp host for a moment and to admire the rock collection at the host site. She points out a particularly rich vein of obsidian, like a sparking river running across the ground, and she encourages me help myself to some obsidian. I feel like a kid in a candy-store as I walk along the vein picking out just the right pieces to carry home.

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Buttes and mesas…

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More buttes and mesas

We backtrack a few miles to Riley and continue eastward on state highway 20, traveling through more sagebrush. The landscape changes near Burns with a broad valley and farmland being in contrast to most of what we have seen in this part of the country.This is followed by more rugged mesas and buttes, and farmland again as we near Payette, Idaho.

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Followed by farmland

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After Payette, heading north on state highway 95, the landscape features large treeless hills. We have a lively discussion about whether these are mountains or not. I say no: they are hills, mesas, or buttes – but they are not mountains in my book. Clifford disagrees, but maybe just to be poking fun at me.

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Surrounded by trees and shrubs

At Midvale, about 30 miles further north, snow- peaked mountains come into view with treeless hills in the foreground, reminding me of southeastern Montana. Another 50 miles or so brings us to our next campground, Evergreen. What a different landscape than yesterday’s home-for-the-night. Now we are surrounded by trees and shrubs of all sorts, with a lively creek flowing alongside the campground. We are the only people here, so have our pick of the sites. We decide on a pretty spot furthest from the highway and do a modified Pony (our pop-up tent trailer) set-up. I look around and find enough firewood to make a delightful campfire to go with our dinner: home-made soup for me, beans and hotdogs for Clifford. It is great to have some daylight left to relax before we go to bed.

Wednesday May 27: I didn’t sleep well and wake up with my head screaming, possibly from propane leaking as the bottles were changed on the lantern last night. Ugh. I make mint tea from sprigs of mint I keep in a vase of water and as I move about packing up, I begin to feel better. We take our time getting packed this morning, preparing tea and another traveling picnic to eat as we drive.

Our next destination is Lee Creek along highway 12, but I don’t know if it is in Montana or Idaho. We stop at the ranger station in New Meadows, a thriving small town just north of Evergreen Campground, and learn that Lee Creek Campground is on the Montana side of Lolo Pass.

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Salmon River near Riggens, Idaho

As we travel north, the valley narrows and rugged barren mountains dominate the landscape. We see a great number of vehicles parked by the highway as we approach Riggens, where the Little Salmon and the Big Salmon Rivers join forces to become the powerful Salmon River. Stopping for gas, we find out that hundreds of fishermen are here for the salmon run. Vehicles line the sides of the road and RV’s fill every pull-out for miles past the little town.

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Looking ahead – a long steady climb

Beyond Riggens, before Grangeville where we will head east to Montana, is a long long long climb – part of the Hells Canyon Recreation Area. Go Chevy Blazer Go!!!

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Quite the view

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Looking back to where we were – we’ve come a long way.

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Whew – we made it. On the very left is the traffic sign that shows we are now going to head downhill.

At Grangeville – whew, we made it! – we buy gas, groceries, and ice since there will not be towns of any size along highway 12. We leave Grangeville on highway 13, a narrow winding mountain road with no shoulders, driving in the rain.

Dup New Home G1x 991The very lovely Clearwater River comes into view and we are pleased to see that its banks are full.

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The Clearwater River

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The highway is narrow and winding

At Kooskia, we take the junction onto highway 12, which isn’t a whole lot better. The mountainous drive is lovely with the Lochsa River tumbling alongside, but the road is winding and narrow. We check out several campgrounds on the Idaho side of the pass, as we are weary of traveling, but do not find any that really seem right to us.

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Lee Creek

Finally we cross Lolo Pass and, entering Montana, we leave the Lochsa River behind and soon arrive at the Lee Creek Campground. A wonderful spot right alongside the creek, with lots of trees and shrubs for shade and privacy, is available. When I say “hello” to the creek, I am almost ready to cry with relief that we do not have to go anywhere for at least a week. We’ve seen some interesting country and had good places to camp, but too many miles in the last three days for me. We get the Pony set-up, full mode this time, and have nachos for dinner because it is a tasty and easy dinner. I am so glad to be here!

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Ready for a rest