Diamond to Southern Idaho – July 2019

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.

Packed and ready to leave Diamond Campground, south of Spanish Forks, Utah
Leaving the campground toward Highway 6

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.

Southern Idaho landscape north of Malad City

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.

Devils Creek Reservoir

Clifford is refreshed from his nap and we continue on.

Heading north on I-15

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.

Thunderstorm near Pocatello, Idaho
The landscape changes as we near Idaho Falls
Beneath the sagebrush are glimpses of great lava fields

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.

Thistles bloom at the edge

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.

Great sunset seen from Idaho Falls Walmart parking lot

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.

It 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.

Diamond Campground-Utah – July 2019

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

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

Bluff above Diamond Campground
Mountains of northern Utah in the distance

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

A trail off the bluff to campground below
Discovery Trail

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

Double rainbow after the thunderstorm

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

Dusk on the hillside above camp
Fading colors of sunset

On the Road Again – July 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

Central Utah Canyon Country

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

Diamond Campground
A great spot in the shade

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

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

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

Last Days in Monticello – June to July 2019

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

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

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

Amateur Radio Field Day from Base Camp

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

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

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

The fence provides a place of refuge from the wind

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

Summer Solstice on Abajo Mountain – June 2019

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

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

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

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

The bog is now a pond
Wild iris are blooming everywhere

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

We find a pretty spot for a picnic

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

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

Wild lupine and sage are abundant at the overview

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

Canyonlands Here We Come – June 2019

Wednesday June 19: Clifford and I enjoy a leisurely morning with our friends, Kaylee and Ren, who are here visiting us on their way to Arizona in preparation for their upcoming wedding. Clifford and Kaylee work on the Carnicom Institute website, while Ren I visit and drink her delicious coffee substitute.

Even though they have to leave this evening, we decide on an outing to Canyonlands National Park, as Ren has never been there. We are taking the road over Abajo Mountain and our first stop is a viewing area on the far side of the mountain. The wildflowers are in bloom and it is really lovely here on the mountain.

View of LaSal Mountain from Abajo Mountain
Wildflowers on Abajo Mountain
Kaylee and Ren on the sagging bench
The viewing spot on Abajo Mountain – bench to the right looks out to Canyonlands

Our next stop is “Newspaper Rock,” a rock panel covered with petroglyphs. There was vandalism at some point, but the panel has been protected and is in very good condition, for the most part. It is fascinating to look at all the etchings, recognizing what some are and trying to guess at the meaning of others.

Newspaper Rock
Newspaper Rock
View from the parking lot at Newspaper Rock

From there we continue west through BLM land until we arrive at Canyonlands National Park. It was quite warm on the mountain, but much more so here in the lower elevation of the canyons. We stop at the Visitors Center to see the displays, then continue on the scenic loop.

Scenic drive through BLM land toward Canyonlands National Park
It is very surprising to see this pond in the otherwise arid region
Scenic drive through BLM land toward Canyonlands National Park
Iconic formation seen from Needles Visitor Center

We stop at Pothole Point to hike the loop. Even though Clifford and I have hiked this loop before, it seems the cairns have been moved and a portion of the loop is missed. However, it is much too hot to go back and redo it. As it is, we appreciate the unique formations and the shade of rock overhangs.

Kaylee, Ren, and Clifford on the Pothole Point Trail
Looking toward the Needles District from the Pothole Point Trail
Formations seen along the Pothole Point Trail
We missed part of the loop, but too hot to go back
Where did it come from?
Enjoying the shade of an overhang

Our last stop is a side road that gives us a closer view of the iconic Wooden Shoe Arch.

Iconic Wooden Shoe Arch in Canyonlands National Park
Good-bye to Canyonlands for this trip

Back at home base, the guys nap (Kaylee has a long drive ahead yet tonight), while Ren and I chat as she writes wedding invitations and I edit photos. For dinner, we all sit outside at one our bistro tables, enjoying the mild evening temperature. Then our friends finish packing their car and are soon on their way. We wish them well and look forward to seeing them on our journey south next winter.

Walking West in Monticello – June 2019

Tuesday June 18: After starting out clear in the early morning, today is a mix of clouds, thundershowers, and hail.

Getting up at 6:00 per my new sleep plan, I dress warmly and head west toward Abajo Mountain, walking through town to catch the morning light when the sun rises. I end up in a part of town I’ve never seen before. A couple residents are getting ready for their morning power walk and I talk to them briefly. However, I notice that they keep an eye on me until I am out of sight heading back toward our place. I walk for over an hour, a good outing, and already getting quite warm by time I arrive home.

I make coffee and sit outside to write in the journal, all this before Clifford is even up. The rest of the day proceeds with our usual activities, but I’m noticing that getting up this early and not really getting to bed early enough is taking a toll on me. Adjustments will have to be made.

The highlight of this day is the arrival, in the early evening, of our friend and CI webmaster, Kaylee, and his fiance, Ren, a very lovely young woman. They will be getting married in July, and we are very pleased to meet her and very happy for both of them. Due to the stormy weather and hail this afternoon, we have to figure out where they are going to sleep, as they had intended to camp in our backyard. In the end, finding a dry spot under the big pine trees, they do indeed set up their tent there. We provide an extra rain shield and an electric heater, should they need it.

Ren and I fix dinner for all of us. It is really nice to have a companion in the kitchen and it gives us a chance to get to know each other. After a very tasty shared dinner, we ladies do clean up and head to bed, while Clifford and Kaylee stay up late talking, catching up on past and current events in our lives.

Life in Monticello – June 2019

The week of Monday June 10 to Sunday June 17 is highlighted with a visit from an independent film maker who is interested in Clifford’s research and who spends some time interviewing him. It will be interesting to see how Clifford’s work dovetails with other researchers who will be interviewed for the documentary in mind.

Most mornings I am able to sit outside for my journal and quiet time. I am pleased to see more poppies, the nearly hidden climbing rose, and volunteer flowers making their appearance.

The heart of a poppy

One morning, having arisen at dawn, the color to the east is quite pretty, so I quickly put a poncho on over my pj’s and walk to the end of the street to take photos. I can’t really get away from buildings and powerlines, but I am liking the early morning light on the grasses and silhouettes against the cloudy sky. The next morning, I walk a different direction to catch more of the morning light at sunrise.

Eastern edge of Monticello
Silhouettes

I had watched a Youtube video of Dr. John Bergman, who is quite an inspiration due to his unique understanding of health. His discussions on high blood pressure and on sleeping are helping me think of different ways to stay healthy. One is to go to bed earlier and get up earlier. There is more to it than that, but I figure it is certainly worth a try. It is because of moving to a different sleep cycle that I am able to get up before sunrise to do these walkabouts for photos, but I’m also realizing that with our lifestye, Clifford being quite the night-owl, it is hard for me to get to bed as early as recommended.

During my morning walkabouts, I see that most people have yards that are neat and tidy, and I am inspired to redo a long-abandoned flower bed on the far front of our lot. It was easy to ignore it, but now I’d like to fix it up. Clifford takes care of the outside-the-fence patches of lawn, and now we are looking much better here.

Clifford’s work in the lab continues, while I continue with writing blogs, editing for several authors, sending literary agent letters, and taking care of CI email.

June Comes to Monticello – June 2019

The days of early June see warming temperatures with the highs in the mid 70’s most days. It is pleasant to sit outside for morning coffee and journal writing, sometimes in the sun, sometimes in the shade, sometimes moving from one to the other.

Journal writing at the picnic table

A purchase of marigolds and petunias, which I plant in a couple of pots, bring a little color to the backyard. There are also some wildflowers, astors perhaps, blooming and the grass is green, so the backyard is a pleasant place to spend time.

Wildflowers
Pine trees produce their “blossoms’
The backyard with a bit of color from marigolds and petunias

I am thrilled that the poppies on the outside bed are blooming. Looks like there will also be hollyhocks blooming, although maybe not before we leave for the summer.

Most of the activities of these days could be done by the maid or the secretary. Where or where are they! For my part, I continue writing blogs and editing for Ang and a couple of other folks. Clifford’s research in the lab continues.

Clifford in the lab

We don’t go on any outings other than a trip to Cortez, Colorado, for groceries and sundries. Due to the winter snow and spring rain, the landscape is quite green, a prettier drive than usual.

May in Monticello – May 2019

Tuesday May 21 to Friday May 31: These last days of May are punctuated by inclement weather. Lows are mostly in the low to mid-30’s and highs vary from 40 to 70 degrees. Rain, sleet, and snow make for interesting interludes between the sunnier days. Some days I can sit outside in the morning to write in the journal, but most mornings journaling happens at the writing table at the sliding glass door.

Sitting outside on a sunny morning
Sitting inside on a chilly day
Inclement weather

Clifford is focused on his work in the lab, the most important being the development of a process for protein separation.

Work in the lab

The to-do list for busy work continues with consolidating our various car insurances, involving much time on the phone. Where is our secretary when we need him (or her)?!? In my morning quiet times, I try to see a positive aspect to all the daily activities that I would gladly turn over the maid and the secretary.

In spite of the busy work that eats precious hours of the day, I continue editing photos, writing and posting blogs, playing viola or cello, and editing for my daughter Ang, making good progress on Emperors and Exiles, the second trilogy of the current series.

The only outing other than errands is to a view point where I can take photos of Abajo Mountain cloaked in new-fallen snow.

Abajo Mountain cloaked in new-fallen snow

As May draws to a close, I am encouraged to see the appearance of some kind of mint family blooming in the back yard, as well as the the promise of rose and poppy blossoms to come.