Wednesday August 29: Early morning at the Seeley Lake Campground in the Seeley-Swan Valley of western Montana, I go down to the lake to take photos in the mist. The ambiance of mist and fog appeals to me.
I fix yogurt and fruit for Clifford and myself, make coffee for the thermos, pack a little bag of clothes, and wait for my brother Rollie to arrive with his motor home. He and I are going together to Sun River on the other side of the mountain from the Seeley-Swan Valley where this campground is located. Clifford will be staying at the campsite with Cougar, holding down the fort, so to speak.
Riding in the front of a class-A motor home is quite the vantage point for seeing the scenery, but it feels like a long drive from Seeley Lake to Sun River. There is certainly a lot of variety in the landscape and I especially enjoy seeing the rivers, something that I miss living in Utah.
Although I grew up in western Montana, I also lived within view of Crown view for twenty years, so there is a familiarity with seeing the scenes from the east face of the Rockies.
Once we arrive in
Sun River, we find Matt and a fishing buddy, Lexie. It is good to
see him. After Rollie gets the motor home set up, we all walk down
to the river just to see the river. Tomorrow will be the fishing
I make dinner for
all of us in the motor home and we visit until late. Rollie’s
couch is my bed tonight.
Tuesday August 14: Today is moving day. Although we like where we are at Bass Creek Recreation Area in the Bitterroot Valley of western Montana, we are heading to Cabin City, a campground on the Montana side of Lookout Pass. This will allow visiting with my daughter Katie and her family in Wallace, Idaho, without pulling Cougar over the pass.
When we arrive at Cabin City, there is almost no one there, but the spot we would have chosen is already taken. Oh well, that is the way it goes sometimes. We pick another nearby spot that will allow both shade for the RV and access to the sunshine for the solar panels, a bit of a challenge in this forested campground.
After we get set up,
we have tuna sandwiches for lunch and proceed with our usual
activities. In the evening, the hosts, Susi and Tom, come around and
we chat with them for awhile. We met them here a couple of years ago
and discovered at that time that Susi is the youngest sister of a
really good friend of mine from high school days. “Small world….”
Wednesday August 15: Pretty light on the forest this morning, in spite of the forest fire smoke.
Today we are going to Wallace to visit Katie and her family; my son Saul is there, also, doing some work for Katie. My wellness visit is in Kellogg, just 12 miles down the road. The doctor at the clinic there was my doctor when we lived in Wallace and I still want to see her, but it will be the last time, as she is moving to Texas and I am one of her last patients in Idaho.
After the doctor visit, Clifford and I go to dinner with Katie and her friends. There are several conversations going on at once, so it is hard to talk to Katie to see how she and her family are doing. We’ll be back next week, so will visit more with her then. It is late by time we get back to Cabin City, but I read until midnight before heading to bed. Clifford, as usual, stays up with his projects until the wee hours.
Thursday August 16: Today we take care of the mail that we picked up in Wallace yesterday, having forwarded it there. Later, we make a trip to post office in St. Regis, the nearest town with a post office, and then dinner at the famous $50,000 Bar & Grill at the nearby Haugan exit. The food is plentiful and the gift shop has lots of fun stuff. I buy a top for myself and a T-shirt for Clifford, kind of a splurge, but worth it.
Back at camp, I walk about taking photos and then read most of the afternoon. While it might not be the most productive way to spend time, it good that I have the option to do just that.
Friday August 3: We finish moving out of Terry (our 30-year-old RV) and into Cougar (our new-to-us RV) in the Bretz RV parking lot in Missoula, Montana, where the two are parked side-by-side. We wait for my daughter Ang and her friend Rama to arrive, as they are taking Terry to give the old gal a good home and keep her in the family.
It is afternoon by time Clifford and Cougar are ready to head across town, while I follow in my Forester. Reserve is a very busy main street across Missoula, and we get separated when I stop at a red light. It is a bit nerve-wracking for us, as Cougar is a lot big bigger than Terry, and the backup camera is not working. Due to the traffic, it takes us a good long while to get across town, but finally after Clifford has made it highway 93, I catch up to him and we continue southward down the Bitterroot Valley, arriving at the Bass Creek Recreation Area in late afternoon.
Coming into a popular campground on a Friday afternoon is not the best timing, but unavoidable in this case. There is only one spot available and we are grateful that it is a big pull-through. There is not much shade at this site, but the sun will be good for the solar panels and since we now have have an awning, we will be fine. Our view is a good-size meadow with a hillside of trees across from us. By time we get set up and have dinner, it is quite late. We are happy to be here.
Saturday August 4: I spend much of the day putting things in place, unpacking and relocating, trying to find room for everything. In the afternoon, I hike a ways up the trail, but decide not to go too far alone since a bear and cub have recently been seen in the area.
By evening, everything is pretty much in place. We sit out on our patio, enjoying the warm evening air and the view. Bed before midnight.
Sunday August 5: I go for a walkabout first thing this morning and take a few photos. This campground is one of my favorites, being in the mountains with a creek nearby and a good hiking trail.
In the afternoon, Clifford and I meet Ang and Rama at the Lumberjack on Graves Creek Road for a late lunch. It is great to see them, and the hamburgers here are quite good.
Returning to Bass Creek, we see that Rollie and Ninja have arrived and he is setting up in the spot right across the road from us, which will be handy for getting together to play music.
After Rollie is set up, we hike up the trail a ways to that sweet spot where the creek is calm. Sure is good to be here.
at camp, I organize and reorganize, still figuring out where things
go in our new space, and then catch up on my journal, as writing got
behind last week as we moved from Terry into Cougar. That was a big
deal and other activities were pushed to the back burner. Before
heading to bed, I finish reading the James Doss book that I started a
few days ago.
Thursday July 26: Today we are leaving Lolo Creek and heading south through the Bitterroot Valley in western Montana to attend the Hardtimes Bluegrass Festival, held on a ranch south of Hamilton. We arrive about noon and are very fortunate to get a good spot, almost exactly where we were last time, on the edge of the ravine and under a big ponderosa pine tree. My brother Rollie arrives a bit later, parking in the level lot below where we are set up.
making lunch for the three of us, we wander around to listen to some
musicians jamming and to visit
with people Rollie knows –
and he sure does know a lot of
Friday July 27: Clifford and I run errands in the morning, then listen to the scheduled bands on stage in the late afternoon and into the evening. Dinner is super late, but it was a fun day.
Saturday July 28: I am up by 7:30 and walkabout to take photos while things are quiet.
I text Becka to wish her Happy Birthday. After breakfast, Clifford studies and plays his dulcimer while I edit.
In the early afternoon, we head down to the stage area to listen to the bands that are playing today. All the bands are good, but we do have our favorites. The music ends about 10:00 p.m. Back at the camper, Clifford fixes himself a late dinner and I read until after midnight.
Sunday July 29: After I get up, I go for a walk so Clifford can sleep awhile longer. After breakfast, we head to the stage area so we can watch the bands that are playing gospel music. Rollie has been jamming with a group that will be playing this morning, so we want to be sure to watch them.
In the afternoon we go listen the last of the scheduled bands, and Clifford buys us tasty saucer sandwiches for lunch. After the last band finishes up, many people in the audience help with tearing down, including Rollie and me. Clifford is dealing with an injured shoulder, so is not able to join us. Before the kettle corn vendor tears down, I buy two big bags of popcorn for the price of one – best popcorn ever!
Monday July 30: As soon as I’m up, I start packing the outside stuff – tables, chairs, and so on. We have a quick breakfast and then finish packing up, as we are heading out this morning. Today is an exciting day for us, as last week when we were on our way to Barnes & Nobles in Missoula, we stopped in at Bretz RV on a whim. To make a long story short, we bought a newer and bigger RV. We have been considering this change for several months, looking at a few RV lots and doing research online. Bretz had a 2009 Cougar in the size, weight, floor plan, and price range that we need.
We didn’t have time to move from Terry (our 30-year-old RV) into Cougar before the bluegrass festival, so today is the day we start moving from one to the other. We park Terry and Cougar side by side in the Bretz parking lot and begin moving preparations.
Tuesday July 31: We spend all day moving from Terry into Cougar, making trips out to get containers and shelving, as well as new bedding (Cougar has a larger bed than Terry). The saying that one has to scramble eggs to make an omelet sure describes the process. By evening, I have things orderly enough for us to sleep in our new bed, but there is still a lot of stuff to move.
Moving continues over the next couple of days, and by Friday we are ready to take Cougar on her maiden voyage. We give Terry to one of my daughters, so the old gal will stay in the family.
Thursday July 12: Today we are leaving for Montana. I have spent several days getting the camper packed and things ready for us to leave, but there are always last-minute things to take care of. Clifford has to pack lab items and he has a call with a CI consultant. It is 4:00 in the afternoon before we are finally on our way.
After a brief stop in Moab, we continue on north. The route between Moab and Price, Utah, being rather barren, is not my favorite part of the state and I’m glad when we reach the Price Walmart where we’ll spend the night. We set up in the back lot with a tree beside us, balancing between the hiss of the street light and the rumble of a semi engine. We pick up a few supplies, then opt for an easy soup dinner tonight.
Friday July 13: We finish stocking up and get a much earlier start today, winding our way through the scenic canyons of Utah south of the Salt Lake City complex.
We arrive at Diamond Campground south of Spanish Forks in early afternoon. Although most spots are taken or reserved, we find a pretty spot with shade and privacy.
It seems quite hot here after having gotten used to the cooler elevation of Monticello. After a tuna sandwich, we take naps, avoiding the pesky bugs for awhile. Later on, we play frisbee, which I’m not very good at, but it was fun. After dinner, I have my usual routine of reading and writing in the journal before bedtime. Clifford always has books to study and his ham radio gear to work with.
Saturday July 14: We are spending the day here at Diamond CG so as to make our run through Salt Lake City on a Sunday morning. It is quite delightful having a day to hang out – reading, writing in the journal, playing viola, playing frisbee and going on a walkabout on the nature path with Clifford – like a real vacation!
Sunday July 15: We are up at 8:00, and soon packed and on our way. It does help to get across Salt Lake City on a Sunday morning, but even so, it is my least favorite part of any trips we have made north and south. Sure wish there was some other efficient way to get from Montana to southern Utah.
We arrive in Idaho Falls, Idaho, in the later afternoon and get set up along the stretch of grass and trees bordering the side parking lot at Walmart. After getting a few supplies, we go to Panda Express for dinner, as I am too tired to cook tonight. It is too hot to feel like doing much. This sure would be a good time to have a picnic table in the shade!
Monday July 16: We leave Idaho Falls about 10:00 a.m. and it is always exciting to cross over into Montana.
We stop in Dillon to see my cousin Bill and his wife Sally. Sally has a small, but gorgeous yard. We can’t stay long, as we need to reach our next camping spot and get set up, but it was nice to see them for a little while.
When we reach Divide Bridge Campground, I am excited to see a spot available by the Big Hole River. This is exactly the spot I was hoping for, but when I get out to help guide us in, I find that the mosquitoes are abundant and voracious. So, we drive to the far side of the campground away from the river, but don’t see any spots that we like. The compromise is the row of sites in between the dry side and the river. It is nice here with lawns and shrubs, but not so many mosquitoes. We find a spot with a tree and after getting set up, we sit out at the picnic table with cool drinks.
I am happy to be in Montana, and soon I’ll be seeing my kids and my other siblings. Montana, here we are!
Thursday May 10: We are leaving for Tucson today to participate in the StopGeoengineeringTucson Conference in Tucson, Arizona, an event being put on by activist Matt Landman. Clifford has been invited to speak, along with several environmental activists.
It is a hot dry windy drive from Monticello through the barren land of the Navajo Reservation in northeastern Atrizona. Sand/dust twisters are frequent and we are even hit by one that crosses the highway, shoving us over at least a foot or two.
As we approach Snow Flake, Arizona, just north of Show Low where we will be spending the night, we see ponds, trees, and green fields. What a difference!
We arrive in Show Low in the early evening, find our motel, then meet up with our webmaster, Kaylee, who will be joining us at the conference. While Clifford naps, Kaylee helps me make small changes to the CI website, as well as setting up a gallery on my photography website. Good to see him and to have such personalized web assistance!
We go out for a late dinner, visit awhile – lots to catch up on – and then bed way too late.
Friday May 11: After showers and making tea for the thermoses, we are on our way. It is even hotter today, still dry and windy, but at least the landscape is more interesting, especially as we go through the Salt River Canyon. I would have liked to stop for photos, but the pullouts are on the wrong side of the highway, and Clifford is eager to get to Tucson.
Arriving in Tucson, we find our air B&B. It is locked and we can’t get in, so we hang out in the little courtyard. Eventually, in a round-about way, we are given the combo to unlock the door. The place is funky in a grungy sort of way, but it was the only place available this weekend. So, we will make do, including me giving the kitchen a cleaning before it is suitable for our needs. We are joined by others who will also be participating in the event.
Saturday May 12: We leave our B&B early, without breakfast, so we can get spots in the parking garage at the event center. We had been told there would be a food court open, but unfortunately, this is not the case and finding food during the day takes a bit of a scrounging around. A Panda open nearby and a Starbucks are most helpful.
The conference goes well, as all the speakers are exceptional as they speak on their topics.
After the conference, we all help with cleaning up the auditorium. Back at our B&B, a group of folks gather in the small front room and interesting conversations ensue. Later we all walk to a street where night-life is active and we find a place where food is still being served. It is way too noisy for me (and Kaylee, also, I’m thinking), but everyone else seems to have a good time.
Sunday May 13: Mother’s Day. Many of those who attended the conference, either as speakers or audience, turn out for a protest against the environmental toxins that are being deliberately introduced into the atmosphere. It was interesting to see teenagers, young families with small children, middle-age folks, and the senior group all participating in this protest.
There are lots of us who are aware and care about what is being done to our Mother Earth and her delicate atmosphere.
As the protest winds down, we say good-bye to our friends and begin the trip home. It is not as hot and windy today. I am excited to see saguaro in bloom for the first time, but it sure is hard to get photos as we drive. A brief stop at a possible camping area helps out.
At Salt River Canyon, we stop at a couple pullouts, but the shadows are already too deep for good photos.
We also stop briefly at the Visitor’s Center at the bottom of the canyon.
Beyond that, the landscape is quite barren and I knit more than watch the scenery.
Tonight we enjoy a nice room at Motel 8 in Holbrook, Arizona. The long drive through the hot dry desert, as well as lack of proper nutrition and sleep these past few days, has been exhausting. I am glad for the comfortable room and head to bed as soon as I can.
Monday May 14: After the continental breakfast, which was quite good, we hit the road – another 325 to Monticello, most of it through the deserts of northeastern Arizona.
We take a break from driving when we cross the San Juan River in southern Utah, exploring the campground there.The river is a joyful sight to me!
Although we are now in Utah, we still have a ways to go.
We arrive in Monticello in late afternoon. It was an important and jam-packed few days, but I’m really glad to be back home.
Thursday March 29: This morning, we – Clifford, Rollie, Ninja, and I – are going to the Grand Canyon National Park, about 12 miles to the west of our boondocking spot on FR 307 off Arizona State Highway 64. I make tea for the thermoses and a picnic lunch, and off we go.
Our first stop is the Visitors Center at Desert View, located at the very east end of the park. We tour the Watchtower, an amazing and beautiful architectural work of art, inside and out. The architect and builder, Mary Colter, was a woman of great vision.
I take photos of the canyon from Desert View. The lighting is not the best, but it is what it is.
After we leave Desert View for more sight-seeing, we stop at a picnic pull-out and enjoy our picnic lunch.
Then we drive on to Grand View Point, hoping to find the Rim Trail so Ninja can get out and walk with us, but no such luck, so he stays in the car.
Next is Yaki Point and we find the Rim Trail. We have an enjoyable hike along the rim before we head back to camp.
Along the way back, we stop to explore other dispersed camping areas on highway 64, but we like the spot where we are the best.
Back at camp, we enjoy a campfire and play music until it gets too chilly.
Then I make dinner for all of us and play a game of cribbage with Rollie. Later Clifford and I have a discussion about ozone and ether, topics of interest in connection with his research. And bed late.
Friday March 30: We are going to the Grand Canyon again this morning, leaving earlier and planning to be back in time for lunch here. No need to make a picnic, and since Rollie is going to buy me a latte at the Desert View Gift Shop&Store, no need for thermoses, either.
At Desert View, as we enjoy our hot beverages, we take more photos and chat with a couple from Pennsylvania.
Today we go to Navajo Point, Lipan Point, and visit the Tusayan Museum.
We take lots of photos at every point and then return to camp in time for peanut butter and jam sandwiches. Easy and tasty!
Rollie and I explore further up the road from where we are camped and find a much larger campsite, one that could work for us in the future, should we come this way again.
We have breakfast burritos for dinner by the campfire, a pleasant and relaxing end to our couple of days here.
Saturday March 31: We start packing as soon as we are up, leaving FR 307 once we are all ready. It has been a good spot, but it really is time for us to get back to Monticello. Rollie is going to caravan with us that far, which will give him a day to relax and get his laundry caught up before he heads on north to Montana.
We backtrack to highway 89, then travel north until we reach the junction with highway 160, which runs east across the northern tier of Arizona.
There are some crazy drivers here, passing when it is not safe to do so. There is a roll-over near Kayenta… not surprisng, but still sad for those involved. There is a long delay before we can go on.
Arriving at the junction to highway 191, we turn north and soon we are in Utah and back to our home base, no longer nomads for the time-being.
It was a lot of miles, with many good camping spots and beautiful places to see, photograph, and hike. Plans are already underway for a trip to Montana in this summer…..
Wednesday March 28: 31 degrees this morning, a bit on the chilly side at our campsite on forest road 525 outside Sedona, Arizona.
Today is moving day; we will be heading north toward southeast Utah. I make tea for the thermoses; Clifford is soon up and we begin packing. Once we are ready to go, we see that our tail lights are not working. It is a blown fuse and replacing the fuse doesn’t help. Rollie helps figure out what is causing the short, and we are soon on our way with Rollie right behind us.
At Sedona we turn southeast at the junction to Arizona State Highway 179 and take this scenic route to the Visitors’ Center/Ranger Station where there are great views of Bell Rock (except for the jet trails which are really not good for photos or our health).
We watch a documentary of this red rock desert area, and then we are on our way.
The landscape changes dramatically once we are heading north on I-17, leaving red-rock country behind. We are headed to Cameron, north of Flagstaff, Arizona, for an overnight stay at a quiet truck stop (yes, this one was quiet the last time we were there), but Clifford sees a sign that indicates that the Grand Canyon is only about 65 miles away, so there is a quick change of plans.
We take the junction to highway 64, which leads to the Grand Canyon from the east. There are a few miles of forest service land between the Navajo reservation and the park boundary, and there we find dispersed camping on forest road 307.
We get set up on a spur road, a pretty spot with junipers and sage, and a small mountain behind us.
We pick up trash and rebuild the fire ring before I make nachos for dinner for all of us. Clifford has a call with his brothers, so I go over to Rollie’s camper for a game of cribbage. Later, back our camper, dishes are done, but I’m too sleepy to write in the journal. Off to bed, happy that we found this nice spot and that we have the Grand Canyon to look forward to.
Tuesday March 27: The sky looks better today; it would have been a good day to go sight-seeing and taking photos of the red rocks around Sedona, Arizona. Oh well, hard to know.
I visit Rollie and we look at maps, as Clifford has mentioned going to Jerome while we are here. After breakfast, Rollie and I play music outside in the sunshine; sure nice to be able to do that. The neighbor in the airstream comes over with his guitar and joins us, which is great fun. Afterward, he shows us his airstream – big enough for his wife, four daughters, a big dog, and himself full-time. An airstream sure would be a nice way to go, so well designed to utilize space.
Then we make a trip to Jerome, Arizona, once a mining town on the side of the mountain, now a tourist place.
It was hard to find a place to park, but once we did, there was lots to see and do: we looked inside the old Catholic church,
went through a museum (guess it is not the main one), popped into a few other shops, and had a tasty lunch at Mile High Cafe. Fun outing.
Back at camp, as it almost looks like rain, we set up the screen house again and anchor it down so Rollie and I can do music outside even with a breeze and a sprinkle. Another neighbor comes over to take photos of us as we play, and a perky college girl traveling in her car during spring break comes over to chat after she gets her tent set up. Sometimes a village can be quite fun.
I don’t fix dinner tonight, since we had a big lunch in Jerome, but still play a game of cribbage with Rollie before heading into the evening routine and to bed.
Monday March 26: It is clear and calm this morning, so we – Clifford, Rollie, and I – decide to go sight-seeing in the Sedona area. By the time we are ready to go — what with showers, breakfast, and making a picnic lunch, then driving to Sedona and finding the recommended scenic road — jet spray has started to mar the sky and the wind is kicking up. In spite of that, we continue as planned.
We go to the Dry Creek View Point, which we find to be very popular, even on a Monday morning, with the trail head parking lot full and cars parked along the road.
Hard to imagine what a weekend would be like. We hike the trail a ways; very scenic, except for the jet trails and haze in the sky. Of course, I take lots of photos anyway and will come up with a few to save.
We also drive out Boyton Road as far as the pass. There are some pull-outs, but way too many people. Really, the weekends must be a bit of a nightmare.
Back in town we go to to the Sedona Community Park for a picnic. It is a nice park, lots of tables with shelters, lawns and great trees… and we almost have the place to ourselves.
On the way back to our camping area on FR 525, we drive the Red Rock Loop Road, which is also very scenic and not nearly the traffic. We stop at a pull-out and hike up a little knoll for a great view of Castle Rock, which was the most interesting part of the outing, in my opinion.
Back at camp, I download photos and then make dinner for all of us. Tidy up the kitchen, but no dishes tonight. A game of cribbage, followed by writing in the journal wraps up the day.