On the Road to Montana – Hip Camp to Butte Rest Area – August 2021

Smoke Shrouds the Landscape

On Sunday morning, August 15, Clifford and I prepare to leave our Hip Camp as soon as possible to get through Salt Lake City in a timely manner. The further north we go, the smokier and hotter it is.

Smokey Northern Utah Landscape
Wildfire Smoke Dulls the Utah Landscape
Devil’s Creek Reservoir in Southern Idaho Obscured by Smoke

South of Pocotello, Idaho, we experience one of the worst things for travelers – a blow out on the RV. Yikes! Fortunately Clifford is able to maintain control and we get safely stopped alongside I-15. In the 95+ degree weather with absolutely no shade, Clifford begins the ordeal of changing the tire, having to unhitch and jack up the RV, and the whole tire-changing routine is done with semis whizzing by at breath-taking speeds.

Blowout on Cougar on I-15
Beyond Repair!

As he is finishing, a fellow stops to help and even though the tire has been changed, this man is able to take care of the problem we’ve been having with the RV brakes. A piece of serendipity.

Southern Idaho

We arrive at the Idaho Falls, Idaho, Walmart in early evening with the intention of getting new tires. This Walmart does not have the tires we need and we spend the night in the crowded lower parking lot along with other Rvers.

Setting Sun,  Idaho Falls, Idaho

First thing Monday morning we find the Big O Tires and they fit us into their busy schedule. With new tires, we continue the northward journey. It has been a long hot day and we are looking forward to arriving our destination – the Divide Bridge BLM Campground south of Butte, Montana.

We have stayed at this campground along the Big Hole River several times. At the turn off to the campground, we are disappointed to see that it is closed, as it is being used as a fire-fighting staging area. Why was this not posted at the exit??? We have no choice but to continue on up highway 43 until we find a spot big enough to do a U-turn with Cougar and then make our way back to I-15.

Back to I-15, Southern Montana

Hooray for rest areas, especially those that are large with clean facilities. We pull into the one south of Butte and park at the far end as the sun sets red. The smoke is so dense we can scarcely see the surrounding countryside. This will be our spot for tonight and we are grateful for safe accommodations.

Hooray for Rest Areas
Ominous Red Sunset

On the Road Again – Monticello to Hip Camp – August 2021

Provo River

Although it’s only been three months since Clifford and I returned to Monticello from last winter’s Arizona home, it feels longer since so much has happened. We’ve sold the lab/home base and gotten rid of almost everything we own. Even though I was not enthusiastic about moving to Monticello, it is still hard to leave all that was good and stable about being here.

Leaving Monticello

As we leave this time, it is different than ever before, as there is no home base to come home to. Cougar (our 24’ RV) towed by the old Suburban is IT. It is our full-time home now. We finish last-minute items on the final to-do list and are on the road in the early afternoon of Thursday, August 12th. It is a hot (99 degrees in Moab as we go through), hazy (wild fires abound in western US), and dreary drive to Price, Utah.

The La Sal Mountains above Moab are scarcely discernible due to wildfire smoke.
Church Rock with smoke haze.
Wilson Arch

We arrive at the Price Walmart parking lot in the early evening, glad to be off the highway. Going into Walmart is a welcome breath of cool air, but sensory overload. We have not been to Walmart in over 2 ½ years; the well-stocked store is bright with color and sound. Even though I don’t feel great after the hot drive, it is interesting to browse as though I have never been in a Walmart store before.

Sunrise at Walmart

The next morning, we pick up a few more supplies and then head north to Provo where Clifford has reserved a spot at a “Hip Camp.” A hip camp is about what it sounds like, a place between cool and funky, a place where someone can make a few bucks by letting travelers camp in their backyard. This place is, no doubt, the epitome of just that. Our bearded camp host, an old hippie, says we can park anywhere and points out a grassy spot under a big tree next to a mud puddle where ducks are happily splashing about.

Parking in the shade at Provo Hip Camp
Ducks and chickens visit Clifford

Even better, there is a back gate that opens onto the bike trail along the Provo River. A foot bridge gives us access to the Provo City Riverside Park. We spend the next day in the park in a shelter alongside the Provo River, picnicking and playing music. We are grateful for the cool shade of the trees and the ambiance of the river.

Grateful for the cool ambiance of the Provo River
Picnic and music in the Provo Riverside Park

This Hip Camp has been a very pleasant stop for us.

Hip Camp at Provo, Utah

 

 

Last Days at Monticello – August 2021

View of Abajo Mountain at Monticello

It is August now and western United States is hot and dry with many wildfires, but it has not been too bad here in Monticello, Utah. Even though Monticello and nearby Abajo Mountain have thus far escaped the ravages of wildfires, there are a couple of days when smoke lies heavily in the valley, obscuring Abajo from view.

Forest Fire Sunrise
Abajo Mountain is obscured

Clifford and I discuss whether we should stay in Monticello longer or begin the trip to Montana and hope it cools off by time we get there.

The sale of the house is underway, but there are many things yet  to take care of such as moving the last items out of the house and getting Cougar (our RV) ready to be our full-time home, including a major readjustment of living space functionality.

Original Living Space
Redesigned Living Space

Downsizing from this place, once a small church, to a 24-foot RV has been a real challenge. We have given away hundreds to thousands of dollars worth of stuff – furniture, lab equipment, clothing, dishes, books, and so on. There is no turning back at this point, so it looks like we will aim for the small break in the temperature that we see shaping up in Montana in about a week.

My source of greatest peace during these last days is the time I spend in the backyard either on the deck watching the birds, sipping coffee and journaling, or sitting under the pine and spruce trees at the back, grateful for shade and their ambiance.

Coffee on the Deck
Or Under the Spruce Tree

As I journal, I think about the difference between being motivated and being inspired. Being motivated comes from need – the need to eat, the need to have clean clothes, and so on, while being inspired comes from some deeper richer place. I seem to be doing most things based on motivation (need) rather than inner source (inspiration). In sitting quietly with the question of how to move from motivation to inspiration, I find the answer is that feeling satisfaction is the only gauge I need at this time. If the activity is satisfying, do it if I want to (cook, wash dishes, play the fiddle); if not satisfying, let it go for the time being. That makes sense given the current circumstances.

Some days I walk early while it is still cool, one day going as far as the cemetery, a peaceful place where I’ve never been before. Maybe I’ll come here again before we leave.

Cemetery – a Peaceful Place
Wildflower on the Roadside
View of Abajo on the Cemetery Walk

We make the final trip to Clifford’s storage unit in the nearby town of Blanding and stop at Recapture Reservoir on our way back to Monticello – one last chance for me to take photos there.

Recapture Reservoir near Blanding, Utah

On August 10, we do the final walkabout of the house and yard with our checklist, repack the Suburban, and get Cougar ready for travel. I say good-bye to the backyard, the trees, and all that is being left behind.

Saying Good-bye to All That Is Being Left Behind

Tomorrow begins a new stage of the life journey.