Sunday January 12: There is a little frost on the outdoor tables this morning at Cactus Forest BLM dispersed camping area where Clifford and I are camped, having arrived yesterday afternoon. This area is northwest of Tucson at the Red Rock exit and about 10 miles off I-10. It is a unique area due to the density and variety of cacti that grow here, truly a forest of cacti. Not the best place for little kids, dogs, or big rigs, but for us, one of our best finds.
I take photos at sunrise, but soon hustle back inside to warm up.
Later, when it warms up, I walk the road, surprised at the number of people camped here, as it is hard to see other campsites due to the dense growth.
We play our instruments outside, work on various other projects (ham radio for Clifford; editing and blog-writing for me), and I finish reading Old Lady on the Trail. This has been an interesting book to read, since Clifford and I did a fair amount of backpacking when I was in my 60’s, but not anything like Mary Davison.
evening sunset provides the opportunity for the classic
Thursday January 9: Clifford and I have enjoyed our stay at Elephant Butte New Mexico State Park, but today is moving day and we are heading further south. Although our destination is Quartzsite, Arizona, we will only go as far as Lordsburg, New Mexico, today.
It is a chilly 27 degrees as we pack up and the drive is windy, south on I-25 and east on I-10, all the way to Lordsburg. After stopping for gas, we make our way to Veterans Park on the outskirts of town. Clifford discovered this place by doing some research and it proves to be a good spot to spend the night. Hardly anyone is here this time of the year and we are able to pick a spot along a row of picnic tables and small bushes. We park and level, happy to be off the highway and out of the wind.
I mostly read the rest of the evening, but step out for a nice shot of the sunset.
Clifford is focused on music for the dulcimer. The wind picks up in the night and there is a bit of rain.
Friday January 10: Due to the wind, we decide to stay here at Veterans Park today. I walk out to the gate in the morning and plan to walk about later when it is warmer, but it is too windy and I stay inside Cougar the rest of the day. Thanks to cell service here, we are both able to continue with projects.
Saturday January 11: It was a chilly 22 degrees overnight here at Lordsburg, but calm this morning.
After a quick breakfast and making tea for the thermoses, we are on our way, east on I-10, grateful for the calmer day.
we approach Tucson, the desert basin is a sea of water and mud flats,
which is something we’ve never seen before on our travels through
this area. Driving through Tucson on a Saturday morning is a good
move and we get through the city without any problem.
Red Rock, we turn off I-10 and take the frontage road to the county
road that leads to Cactus Forest, the BLM dispersed camping area
where we will be staying for a couple days.
When we arrive, most of the sites big enough for RV’s are taken, but the one we camped in last year is available. We pull in and get set up almost exactly where we were a year ago.
It is like visiting old friends as we recognize various cacti that we became acquainted with when we were here before.
Sunday January 5 to Wednesday January 8: The days go sweetly by as we tend to our projects: dulcimer and ham radio for Clifford; walkabouts for photos, writing blogs, editing, playing viola for me. We are really enjoying our spot on the bluff overlooking Elephant Butte New Mexico State Park where we are camped.
We make a couple of
trips to Truth or Consequences, once to get updates on my laptop and
another day to run errands in preparation for leaving Thursday. It
has been a good stay, but it is time for us to head to Arizona.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
September 10 & 11 are our last days at Seeley Lake Campground in the Seeley-Swan Valley of western Montana. We’ve certainly enjoyed our beautiful and peaceful spot here, but we have to move on so we can see family and friends before we head back to home-base in southeast Utah.
On one of these days we visit a friend who lives in the valley. He sure knows about good food and we have a superb lunch. It is a really good visit.
On the way back to our campsite at Seeley Lake, we explore another lake and at a pullout alongside the highway, I have only one minute to take photos as the last light of the setting sun is reflecting off the water.
The next day, I have a campfire in the morning, my last chance here.
During the day, I spend as much time as possible at the lake. I love seeing how the light changes the look of the lake and the mountains.
It is also a good day to play our instruments outdoors.
In the evening, we pack up as much as we can so as to get an early start in the morning.
Saturday September 7: It is a cloudy drizzly morning here at Seeley Lake Campground in the Seeley-Swan Valley of western Montana where Clifford and I are camping, having arrived just a couple of days ago.
I make coffee and then walk to the lake, taking the trail past the beach and along the shore to the woods. I have my journal and sit on the bench that overlooks the lake, but is too drizzly to write, so I just read a poem by Mary Oliver and listen to a morning meditation on my cell. It is a nice peaceful way to start the day.
By time I get back to our campsite, Clifford is up and we have breakfast. Today we need to go to Seeley Lake (town) to pick up our mail, so we decide to take the opportunity to explore a bit, going first to Lake Placid, discovering some dispersed camping spots on the way to this lovely mountain lake, and then taking the loop back to Seeley Lake.
The only problem is that what is on the map and what is on the ground don’t relate much and we end up at a place called Hidden Lake. It is an okay place for tent camping, but we wouldn’t try bringing Cougar here.
road back to Seeley Lake is sketchy and we are not even 100% certain
we are on the right road until we reach the outskirts of town. We
pick up a few groceries at the market, then head back to camp. I play
viola while Clifford naps, and later, after dinner, he plays dulcimer
while I get the next photo/travel blog ready to post. It certainly
was a fun day!
Thursday September 5, Clifford and I leave our campground at Swan Lake Recreation Area in northwest Montana, heading south on Highway 83 through the lovely Seeley-Swan Valley. Great mountains rise up on either side of this valley, the Mission Range to the west and the Swan Range to the east. Our destination is the Seeley Lake Campground, about 60 miles down the valley from Swan Lake.
arrive before noon with numerous sites to choose from, although the
three sites right along the lake are taken. We decide to look more
closely at the loop where we have not previously camped, as the level
sites were always taken. However, this morning, this loop is open
and we pick a really great spot, level and spacious, with tall
western larch and Douglas fir, and a view of the meadow.
I loved our spot at Swan Lake and thought nothing would compare to
it, this spot at Seeley Lake, being more natural and wild is every
bit as inviting to me. As soon as we are set up, I explore the lake
closest to this loop, which happens to be where the water lilies
Friday morning is overcast with a drizzle, which doesn’t keep me from walking down to the lake for photos.
As the drizzle becomes a steady rain, it turns out to be a good day for inside activities. Clifford works with his ham radios and I edit my daughter Ang’s novel Regent’s Way and write blogs. Cougar is cozy and we are comfortable.
Clifford and I close out August and begin September at Swan Lake Recreation Area where we have been camped for two weeks.
One day we make a trip to Bigfork to the laundromat and a stop at Harvest Foods Market, which is a way bigger and better store than any other Harvest Foods I have ever seen.
On our way back to our campground, we go exploring. We find our down to Swan River where three young women are putting in kayaks to float the river. They ask me to take photos, which I do, of course.
on we go to a fishing access, which turns out to be a small lake in
the mountains, Horseshoe Lake. The water is kind of murky along the
shoreline, but there are turtles on the logs, which are fun to see,
and the reflections on the water make it quite a pretty place.
day, since we will soon be leaving the area, we go to Bigfork again,
this time to check out the brewery, having a local on-tap beer with
our lunch, sitting out on the outdoor patio overlooking Flathead
Lake. This is quite the lark for us, since we seldom eat out and
seldom have beer. But it was fun!
The other days at the campsite are full of our usual activities: research, dulcimer, flying, and ham radio for Clifford; walkabouts, photos, blogs, editing, journal writing, and viola for me. Soon it will be time to move on, but for the moment, we are enjoying the peaceful beauty of this campground and nearby Swan Lake.
Wednesday July 17: This morning my brother Rollie and his little dog Ninja come out to the Bass Creek Recreation Area (Charles Waters Campground) in the Bitterroot Valley of western Montana where Clifford and I are camped, as of yesterday afternoon. After he arrives and gets his motor home set up, he takes me to our sister’s place where my car has been stored all winter. All we are doing is getting the battery out to trade in on a new one. I say all, as I stand and watch as he wrestles with the tight space and the difficulties of getting the battery out.
Back at camp, we get out our instruments to play some bluegrass music. I’ve gotten better with playing fiddle tunes on the viola, so it is a lot of fun to get together. For dinner, we sit at the picnic table at our site, and I almost get skunked at cribbage.
Thursday July 18: Clifford and I make a trip into Missoula to get a new battery for my car and we go to Barnes & Nobles for our bookstore fix. Back at camp, Rollie and I play music again, dinner at the picnic table again, and I lose at cribbage again. LOL
Friday July 19: Rollie puts the new battery in my car, so now I have wheels. In the evening, several of my siblings and their spouses come to our campsite for a potluck dinner. So fun to chat with all of them, and I am so busy talking and eating that I don’t take enough photos!
Saturday July 20: Today is Alberton Railroad Days, a money-raiser for the town of Alberton, Montana. My daughter, Ang, is the president of the non-profit that puts on this event. Vendors, music, a parade, an Antique Auto show, and a shoot-out are among the activities. Rollie and I play bluegrass music as our contribution. After he and I play for our allotted time, he goes off to play with the Old Time Fiddlers, while I join up with another daughter, Merri, to look for the Golden Spike, which has been hidden with tricky clues to its whereabouts. No one finds the Golden Spike, so the pot will be bigger next year. It is late by time Rollie and I return to camp at Bass Creek.
Sunday July 21: Today good friends come to visit. Ken and I have been friends since we were in 7th grade orchestra together. Ken, his sweet wife, Shelley Anne, and I hike up the Bass Creek Trail to a lovely calm section below a waterfall. It is so enjoyable to spent time together, having known each other for many decades.
Monday July 22: Today Rollie and I drive out to see our sister, Lillian, who lives not far from where our dad grew up, and about fifteen miles from where we are camped. We have lunch on the patio, appreciating the time together. While Lillian and I do some of my mending, Rollie plays fiddle tunes for us on his mandolin.
Back at camp, our sister, Nancy, comes out and we hike up the trail, enjoying the sounds of the creek tumbling alongside us. Back at camp, while I make nachos for dinner for all of us, Rollie and Nancy play their mandolins. What fun family days!
Sunday July 14: As soon as we get up, I make tea and coffee for the thermoses. After yogurt and fruit for breakfast, we pack up the little that needs packing – we weren’t here long enough to really unpack much. Everything is in place and we are ready to leave Diamond Campground, south of Spanish Forks, Utah, by 9:00 a.m. This was such a beautiful spot, I am sad to leave.
Heading north on Highway 6, we soon enter I-15 and everything is good until we get to Provo. Without warning, we enter a construction area where the lanes narrow and curve this way and that, and the speed limit does not slow traffic down nearly enough. We are nearly side-swiped by a semi trying to come alongside, but he pulls back and we make it through okay. After miles and miles of fast-paced traffic, it is such a relief when we finally make it through the Salt Lake City complex.
We stop for lunch at Tremonton, Utah, then continue on north, still on I-15 until we reach the Devils Creek Reservoir, north of Malad City in southern Idaho.
We pull off to check out boondocking here, and driving past the marina and the RV park, we find a fishing access at the far end of the reservoir. We park here and while Clifford naps, I walk down to the reservoir to take a few photos. The water is low, but the hills are very green for this time of year. I talk to a nice family of grandparents, parents, and kids playing and fishing at the water’s edge.
Clifford is refreshed from his nap and we continue on.
A big thunderstorm near Pocatello, Idaho, cools the air from upper 90’s to mid 70’s, but once we are out of the storm, the temperature climbs again.
We are grateful to arrive at the Idaho Falls Walmart and find a spot to park along the edge of the lot where there is strip of grass, a few trees, and thistles blooming on the ridge above. We stock up on supplies and sundries at Walmart, then walk to the nearby Panda express for dinner.
Back at Cougar, we sit outside to enjoy the lovely sunset and the pleasant coolness of the evening, chatting as we watch the moon play hide ‘n seek with the clouds.
A hiss gives us but a second warning before the sprinkler system comes on. Our backsides are soaked by water hitting us full-blast as we dash inside, rescuing cell phones and books as we go.
is not a restful night, as each time the sprinkler comes on, the
water hitting the side of Cougar is deafening. There is also a lot of
traffic, lights, and city noise – but it is convenient and free.