Monday, October 12, 2015

Smoke & Mountains, Part Four

We left off this interminable travelogue in the middle of Utah, didn’t we? After Capitol Reef, which is pretty much in the middle of nowhere, we needed an in-between stop on our way to Antelope Island, north of Salt Lake City. So we decided on one that we hadn’t been to before, Palisade State Park. It’s just about at the halfway point and was adequate for an overnight stop. There’s a popular golf course and a small reservoir lake for boating and fishing – none of which we were interested in – so we settle for a comfortable walk around the lake and a very lukewarm, though free, shower which was much-needed at this point. From our lake-view campsite there were lots of birds to watch, including white pelicans and great blue herons. And a lovely sunset:


Next day was a busy one. Last time we drove up the I-15 through Provo and Salt Lake we decided that next time we would be sure to visit the Timpanogos Caves. It’s pronounced “tim-pan-O-gus” if you were wondering and it’s actually a very large mountain topping out at nearly 12,000 feet. The cave is a National Monument and the mountain is under the US Forest Service, with many trails and campgrounds and a scenic road which we travelled on partway up the American Fork Canyon. (The campsites were of course full!) Obviously we’ll have to go back some time and explore further.

But meanwhile, the cave trip was an adventure! You have to first climb up a mile-and-a-half of incredibly steep, although paved, trail. At altitude. The rise is 1,092 feet and you end up 6,730 feet elevation at the cave entrance. Whew! The views are amazing on the way though:


That’s the city of American Fork way out there in the distance. And this was only about halfway up. I was totally red-faced and huffing like a steam engine by the time I made it up to the end of the trail. It was a good thing that we’d had all that prior practice of hiking uphill at altitude! Or it would have taken me a lot longer to get there. As it was we were actually early for our tour so we ended up being invited on an earlier one with a delightful guide named Bryce (“like the canyon”). This cave was an interesting set of 3 different systems joined by man-made tunnels:


They had lots of really lovely formations including lots of rare helictites (like little stalactites but growing in wonky directions) and of course, the magnificent Heart of Timpanogos:


It’s a huge stalactite situated in its own little grotto. So amazing that it has inspired legends! I like it that every cave system we’ve visited has a different beauty. This one feels really intimate because the passages and rooms are mostly quite small and everything is very close to your eyes. Totally worth the hike up! Not to mention the hike back down again. Easier going that way but a tad hard on the old knees.

So after wearing ourselves out caving, we finally got to Antelope Island. Because it was a weekend and the main campground was full, we got to stay at the overflow area at White Rock Bay. There’s no water available and only pit toilets but we were nearly all by ourselves in the middle of the dry prairie with a lake view. Complete with bison. We woke up on the second morning with several of those big scary beasts this close:


Actually even closer. Thom had to sneak out of the van and around behind to fetch our waste-water container, sneak back in and back the van slowly away just so we could find a bison-free outhouse! It took two tries to find one too. Those bison were spread out everywhere. Talk about adventures, eh?

While we were on the island, we drove south as far as the road went to visit Fielding Garr Ranch. It was established way back in the mid-1800s and still was a working ranch into the 1980s. Today it’s a museum though they had horses in the corral on this visit. Of course I was most interested in the sheep shearing barn:


Stations for lots of shearers to work up above there at once while others fed the sheep in to the narrow corridor at the back with individual holding pens for each shearer. There’s a conveyor belt to take the fleeces down to the end where they popped right into a big bag. At one time there were as many as 10,000 sheep that needed to be shorn here! The ranch also has many displays in the buildings showing how the families lived and worked on the ranch. There’s a grove of some of the only trees on the island here fed by a spring and high in one tree we found:


This big horned owl! Isn’t she lovely? She gave me a great stare while I was trying to zoom in on her.

Next we were off north again and a little east into Idaho and Craters of the Moon. We’ve been here before several times but camping in the lava just doesn’t get old:


See how dusty and dirty the poor van is? Not to mention the bikes on the back. I didn’t yet mention the fact that we managed to forget the keys to the Bionx batteries for those bikes. Doh. That meant that we basically had regular bikes. Or at least Thom did. He managed to hook my battery up without locking it by wrapping it in with bungie cords but unfortunately he couldn’t do that with his differently-shaped battery pack. So I got to zoom up the hills while he had to peddle. Oops. And the loop road in Craters is a perfect place to cycle with very little traffic and a nice smooth surface. We visited the usual sights, especially the lava tubes (after getting our free caving permit). We did remember to bring the caving headlamps! Though you don’t need them for Indian Cave because the roof has skylights. My favourite part is the exit:


You climb out this little hole and then you have to walk back across the pa-hoe-hoe (luckily smoother than the jumbled a’a) lava following metal stake markers to the trail. Fun!

We also climbed into Boy Scout Cave to see if the ice was still there in the corners. Yup, it was. That one’s a bit tricky to get into but Beauty Cave is easy because it doesn’t go very far anymore since part of the roof collapsed. Gee, I’m glad I got over my fear of caves! I used to be terrified of being underground. Now it’s only underground parking lots that give me heebies. Real caves – no problem. Go figure.

Well, this is getting pretty long. I’ll continue next time with the last two states, Oregon and Washington.

Meanwhile, I finally finished my last pair of socks while chatting last night at our very enjoyable Thanksgiving Dinner. They were almost done on the way home from our vacation but seem to have taken forever just to do the ribbing. And I’ve already started a new knitting project plus begun spinning wool for what is going to be a rather long-term project. (Hint: fine yarn/large garment.) I’m still organising my next sewing projects but I expect progress on that front very soon. I’m mostly enjoying being at home. It’s raining. That always squelches any desire I might have to be anywhere else!

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Smoke & Mountains, Part Three

The multipart saga continues! So we left Mueller State Park, Colorado, with three handsome mule deer bucks bidding us farewell:


Of course I only managed to capture two. Can you spot the second one? Now we were heading back west but first a little south through legendary Cripple Creek, known for its gold mining and…its donkeys:


Yup. We thought they were a legend. Or there were only one or two but we saw more donkeys than people during our early morning pass through town. This semi-feral herd are descended from the ones the early miners used and are cherished as the official tourist ambassadors for Cripple Creek. We were laughing so hard we could barely drive by.

However, we didn’t stop. We were on our way to a grand canyon. Not the Grand Canyon, but a pretty impressive one nonetheless:


This is the Black Canyon of the Gunnison in western Colorado. It’s about 2,000 feet deep and very narrow at the bottom:


Can you see why they call it “black”? We stayed here for a couple of days, driving up the canyon rim road and checking out the sights. That pesky smoke that was following us around eventually moved back in though and obscured some of the view. The campground, although lacking in fancy amenities (as in most National Parks), did come with deer and a large flock of sage grouse:


Blends in rather well, doesn’t she? They were very brave and let you get fairly close. Good thing dinner wasn’t on my mind, huh?

Next we were on to Utah and back into more familiar territory:


This is the Park Avenue trail in Arches National Park, which we walked both ways. On the way back it started to rain. If you look carefully you might be able to see the drops on the trail. Yes, that slick rock is indeed the trail! Oy. I have had issues with slick rock trails in this park. Some of them were made for mountain goats, not little old ladies like me! But this time when I got stuck on the trail while visiting Broken Arch, we got smart and went around the part that was too steep. Down a wash, around a corner, across a few feet of sand, over some relatively flat slick rock and I was on the other side of the arch! Hah.

This time we went to visit a few arches that we hadn’t seen before. This one is Tapestry Arch:


Not that big as these things go but the trail was fun. Again I tried to climb up that slope in front but didn’t get very far! Although my arthritic hip is much better, I can’t hoist myself up very well any more. And my balance is also crap. Sigh. The downsides of aging. Oh well. I did pretty well considering. And I didn’t really need to climb up there, did I? Here is Sand Arch:


It’s the trail that’s sandy, not the arch. BTW, we watched a young man waltz right past the sign that said “No Climbing” and proceed to attempt to climb up there. Kind of like the young woman with her large dog we saw who walked right by a sign that said “No Dogs on Trails” that same day. Sheesh. What is it with people? Rules only apply to everyone else? It’s not like you even need to be able to read, what with pictograms and all. Dog with a circle around and a line through it. Not clear enough? 

After Arches we went to our favourite place in Utah, Capitol Reef. We picked apples and pears from the orchard right next to our campsite, hiked up to Cohab Canyon and also walked the Grand Wash trail, this time from the north end:


That’s definitely the prettiest way to do it. As always, I was absolutely fascinated with the tafoni, aka honeycomb or Swiss cheese rock:


I think I need to design a lace knit pattern using this as inspiration, don’t you think? I have lots of interesting photos of it.

We also visited the petroglyphs, although the light wasn’t good during the sunny afternoon for photos:


At least you can see the bighorn sheep and the cool dude below with what looks like antennae. Interestingly sometimes you can see the details better in the pictures than in real life.

And speaking of real life, I’ll have to leave you here because we have a big family dinner tonight at Thom’s brother’s for our Canadian Thanksgiving. I’m going to ask everyone my usual question: “What are you thankful for this year?” We’ll eat turkey and stuffing and pumpkin pie. Looking forward to it! I’ve missed my family – we haven’t seen them since mid-August.

Back soon with the next part of the story. Wishing all my readers on this side of the border a very Happy Thanksgiving! I know there’s always something to be thankful for. I have a huge list myself! And it includes you.

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Smoke & Mountains, Part Two

The next part of the ongoing saga of our late summer vacation. There is way too much to tell every detail but at least I can skim over the good stuff. Just to remember what we did as well as to inform you, my reader(s). (I’m always hoping there’s more out there than just me. Heh.)

So where did we leave off? Oh yeah. Yellowstone. It’s a truly amazing place – like no other in the world. If you’ve never been, you should consider it. And plan more than just a few hours or days. You need all that time just to sit and watch just one geyser until it blows. It’s worth it. I promise.

After three days camping at Madison and travelling each day to see the other geyser basins, the Fire Hole River and several other phenomenon unique to Yellowstone, we headed north to Mammoth for a couple of days. Our campsite was of course replete with resident wandering elk:


These ones waltzed through the campground, stopped the traffic on the highway and then slipped over the hill to the river trails just below here. This is only about a third of the herd. I was late getting out my camera! All I ever get is their behinds, I swear. Sigh.

The travertine terraces in Mammoth are quite different from the rest of Yellowstone’s formations and yet they are equally incredibly beautiful:


I so want to bring these ones home and install them in my back yard. Guess not, eh? There’s very hot water here filtering down each step created by the minerals in the underground springs over thousands of years. Up above it’s a huge terrace:


That’s Canary Spring in front named for the bacterial mats that give it the yellow colour. You can access this whole area by a system of boardwalks and stairs or, if you aren’t up to the hike (it’s a challenge at altitude!), there’s a loop road you can drive around. (We took the stairs.)

Then back in Mammoth there were the elk again, this time maybe waiting for their appointment in the medical centre?


Luckily it has a back door because I think that cow elk on the front porch is getting impatient! When we drove past later she was looking in the window. Perhaps they hadn’t called her name yet? Yes, there was a park ranger on hand to keep humans safely away. She explained that the elk were there before the park and felt very comfortable in their own habitat. So there, humans.

Just around the corner from here, I have to say we got excellent free wifi in the Mammoth Visitor Center. Since we had so few opportunities for connection at all during our entire vacation, it was lovely to sit outside on the funky wooden benches and check email etc. Oh, and the visitor centre had some cool displays too. And a water bottle filling station. Made use of those too.

After Mammoth we headed back south for one more night in Madison checking out the sights on the way including Norris Basin. Unfortunately they were working on the road right at Norris Campground so we didn’t stay due to the noise and dust.

Finally we had to leave Yellowstone. We travelled south and east, crossing the Great Divide a number of times, and then through beautiful Grand Teton National Park. We didn’t have time to stay but continued further into southern Wyoming to Sinks Canyon State Park, with its amazing disappearing Popo Agie River (unaccountably pronounced “puh-po zhuh”). The river goes down into this complex underground system here at the Sinks:


And it comes out again a quarter mile downstream over here at the Rise:


You can see our shadows on the viewing platform plus the fat and sassy trout down below in the Rise. If you like you can even buy a bag of trout food from a vending machine! No wonder they are so big, eh, those greedy guts? They’re also protected. No fishing.

Next we headed southeast into Colorado to the rather unimaginatively brilliantly named State Forest State Park. It turned out to be a really big area with lots of intriguing trails but our campground was kind of boring since they clear-cut all the beetle-infested pines and didn’t bother planting anything else. The lake had a nice trail around it though. It really was only a way station for us anyway as we went further south to a much nicer campground, Mueller State Park, the Queen of Colorado state parks! Yes. I do not lie. It was a treasure. Hot showers (though you needed many quarters), laundry (also with the many quarters), lovely spaced campsites, kind rangers, nice trails (though at 9000+ feet elevation a little difficult for us sea-level types), lots of wildlife including deer and a reasonable proximity to Pike’s Peak. The only thing it was missing was wifi. But I forgive it since there was also no cell-phone coverage either. You could even see the Peak itself from several park vantage points.

Mueller became our perfect home base for exploring the area. It was only 35 or 40 minutes to most of the things we wanted to see and the traffic was quite reasonable. So of course we went first to Pike’s Peak, one of the “fourteeners”, mountains over 14,000 feet above sea level, and undoubtedly the most famous. Rather than try to drive our poor old VW Westie up the switchback road, we took the funky cog railway:


It was really fun and we sat across from a lovely couple from Texas, who shared our experience delightfully. It was a long climb up and up and we saw lots of yellow-bellied marmots and even a big-horned sheep. Our conductor Fairlight (her real name, but she told us to call her “Rocky”) was great. Mostly not too boring or annoying and occasionally quite informative. Eventually we finally reached the top and it was as impressive as one would hope:


There’s the leap into the abyss! 14,115 feet up. Luckily the train stops before this point, yeah? Apparently it was nearly clear enough to see 5 states from here. A little misty. OK, it was smoke (again) from the forest fires in California. Sheesh. But not bad apparently. It was pretty amazing really! There was a 360 degree view. All. The. Way. Around.

Down below again, Manitou Springs was a really funky little town nestled within the hills and red rocks. (There was a house for sale that I could have bought with a stream running by out front.) We came back again the next day to visit the Manitou Cliff dwelling:


Unlike the ones we visited last year in Mesa Verde, this one has been moved to this site (to preserve it) and you can climb around it and touch everything more freely. There’s also a museum and gift shop complex that’s kind of fun to explore. A bit commercial but not too over-the-top, unlike our next stop:


Wind Cave is both over-priced and over-hyped. We’ve seen quite a few cave systems and this one is definitely not overly impressive. It’s kind of damaged and the guide was too pushy and quick. She mumbled a lot. And they even took photos of you that they wanted $15 for! Bleh. They’ve tried to add even more “adventure” nearby with a zip line and such but I wasn’t impressed. Rated a “barely OK” on my Holiday Metre. The one impression I took away was this improbable wall of hair accessories:


It was both fascinating and kind of creepy. A huge wall of hair pins, bobby pins, barrettes, elastics and more. Apparently it was started in the late 1800’s by some female visitors and now it’s kind of a “good luck” gesture. Of course you can’t add to the pile yourself anymore. There’s a receptacle! Send money…

Sorry, I digress. The last place we visited in the area was in Colorado Springs, a city park called the Garden of the Gods:


It was really lovely! The red rock formations sprout right up from the earth with paths among them. Rock climbers can even access a number of interesting walls within the park. We enjoyed walking around with all the people, both tourists and locals, who took the trails.


As you can probably tell, the weather was a quite warm but still incredibly perfect!

This point was our farthest east for this trip and our highest too! Mueller State Park itself is over 9,000 feet. We did pretty well for sea-dwellers but that is really high up! We found it difficult to hike very far but did our best. Since this was our turnaround point, where we began the long trip back home, we spent one whole day in Mueller cleaning and tidying and repacking the Westie before beginning the return journey.

Lots more still to tell!

Monday, October 05, 2015

Smoke & Mountains, Part One

Hello my darlings! I know everyone (including me) has been waiting for these posts for…uhm, the better part of two months. Urp. I have over 700 photos (mine) and a bunch of Thom’s as well to go through. We visited 2 provinces and 7 states, about 7500 kilometres total distance. You can imagine it feels like f o r e v e r ago that we left home. And we went through a lot of adventures since. However, cast your mind back back BACK to August 23 when we were finally on our way east and south.

Just so you know, the smoke in the title of this year’s holiday was very uncomfortably real. We experienced an ongoing miasma from forest fires for most of the first half of the trip. As I mentioned way back, our first campground reservation was cancelled due to a forest fire on August 13. Luckily we learned later that although the campers had to evacuate on foot, most of the Kettle River Recreation Area campground was saved and their equipment rescued. Restoration is ongoing. But of course we had to find an alternative. We drove for 5 hours. Smoke. We drove some more. More smoke. Popular summer holiday destinations like Osoyoos were so filled with smoke that we couldn’t breathe. The lake was invisible, the resort parking lots empty. I have no idea what the local people who couldn’t leave were doing. Hiding indoors in the AC probably. After 7+ hours of nearly non-stop driving we ended up high in the mountains at Nancy Greene Provincial Park, basically a parking lot with lake access in the subalpine area above Castlegar. Luckily it was mostly clear even if the valleys below weren’t. Hah! You think I’m just being wimpy about all the smoke stuff, don’t you? So check this out:


That is the next morning’s sun and that is NOT fog. It smelled like you were sitting next to the campfire. Inside the van.

However the forest fire smoke did make for some lovely sunsets. This one was our next stop, Kikomun Creek Provincial Park, almost all the way across BC:


It was lucky that we moved quickly across the southernmost section of the province because the forest fires in Washington State threatened Christina Lake and Grand Forks right after we got through those areas. And no, we were not done with this situation. Next stop was Waterton Lakes National Park in Alberta where it wasn’t too bad:


This is looking down towards Montana, where of course Glacier National Park is twin to Waterton and there were forest fires there too! After two days of relative easy breathing here we crossed the border and got a campsite (a feat in itself) in Many Glacier and guess what? Too smoky:


We had a really hard time hiking at altitude and breathing at the same time so after only one night we left our precious campsite and headed south to Lewis & Clark Caverns State Park. It was far enough away that finally we we could clear the smoke from our lungs for awhile. We’d already seen the caverns several times, including just last year, so we skipped the tour this time. However it made a nice stop on the way to Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. Believe it or not, it was much nicer to smell the sulphur from the hot pools than the forest fire smoke!

This time we got to stay in Yellowstone for nearly a week. It’s a huge national park and even with more time than usual we still only did the west side. We got to see some of our favourite hot spots again. We had lots of time to be really patient and wait for several of the geysers that we hadn’t seen before. And some old friends like Grand Geyser:


I always tell everyone that it’s far more spectacular than Old Faithful although it only goes off about twice a day. It even has 2 other geysers that go off with it: Vent and Turban. It’s very exciting! We also visited the pretty Morning Glory pool:


And Grand Prismatic Spring, the biggest one in the park and third largest in the world. You can’t even see the whole thing unless you fly over it! So amazing:


Even with my crappy camera I can’t take a bad photo in Yellowstone! Things that would usually not be considered interesting such as dead trees are beautiful here:

Yellowstone Trees

The “white socks” are caused by the mineral-laden water. These trees could have been dead for a very long time – like hundreds of years. The colours beneath the water are the bacterial mats which grow very slowly and make fabulous shapes. There are algae mats too. They all like the very hot alkaline water.

Are we having fun yet? I have more of Yellowstone to show you but I think this is a good start into the second week of the trip. A whole month to go still! Gotta pace ourselves, right?

Meanwhile back in the present time, apart from the first day after we got home when it was cloudy and misting, the weather has still been gorgeous and sunny. Makes it hard not to run away again! Instead we’ve been grocery shopping, running errands and making appointments – all the boring maintenance stuff. I got an eye test and picked out some new glasses frames to replace the ones that got damaged when I klutzed out last July in Manning Park. Just so you know, actively flinging one’s expensive progressive lenses into the gravel is not recommended. (Especially whilst flinging oneself to the ground at the same time. Ouch.) Clear vision is non-optimum when attempted through the multiple tiny divots in the plastic. Just sayin’. (Even the granddaughter’s princess band-aids sadly couldn’t help.) $600+ later…which to be fair does include new sunglasses too. An expensive accident.

I’ve also been attempting to update my Ravelry projects with all the items I finished knitting while we were away. I’ll focus on them specifically here eventually. (If you’re impatient skip over to my Rav pages.) A sweater, a shawl, a beret, a pair of fingerless mitts and most of a pair of socks. Also a part of another beret but I frogged it today and need to begin again. Too small! Even for my pinhead. Plus I’ve already washed all 6 of my new pieces of fabric from the Mill End Store in Portland. Two wools, linen, cotton, a wicking and a sweater knit. It was a rather pricey shopping spree but totally worth it I think. For US$430 I will get at least 9 or 10 garments, 2 of them earmarked for Thom. Can’t wait to get started on sewing! Photos to come.

Next part of the saga coming soon. Right now it’s bedtime and my eyes are shutting. Thom’s been trying to keep me walking a minimum of 4 kilometres per day. Yesterday’s was over 8k and today’s was around 7k. I’m done! My arthritic hip is quite improved though. Move it or lose it, right?

Thursday, October 01, 2015

The Wanderers Return

There's no place like home!

Yes, we're finally back - on Day 40! It was so difficult that we almost had to force ourselves because the weather was still lovely and sunny and relatively warm for the beginning of October. However, the deep red of the vine maples and the U-pick pumpkin patches reminded us that the season is waning and the chances are good that we could very well hit a storm any day now.

Right now I'm currently tucked in my own bed, absolutely stuffed with sushi from our favourite Tokyo John's (so missed it!) and surrounded by piles of laundry and sundry items to be put away. There was quite a record freak windstorm while we were gone and even though the family rallied around our Guardian Nephew, aka the housesitter, there's a lot of cleanup still to do in the yard. We really don't mind though. He did a great job and everything is as well taken care of as we can ever expect. It's hard when you are gone so long and nobody has enough time or cares as much as we do. We totally get it. Anyway Thom and I will enjoy getting back into things now that we're home again.

We had an absolutely fantastic time and I know everyone is impatiently waiting for some details and photos from the epic journey, right? Hang in there, my dears! It's coming very soon.

It's just so good to be home! Man, I really really need a hot shower...

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Westward Ho!

Hellooooo! Hope you are all well and happy and productive as always! Yes, we are still tootling around the American West. Currently we’re in Oregon in our covered wagon on the trail of the pioneers. OK, so our wagon has a motor. And some nice paved roads with helpful and convenient signs to follow. And I guess we aren’t really pioneers either. However, it’s been a long and dusty road and we’ve still got a ways to go yet! We’ve been having a complete blast so far and the weather has been mostly fabulous especially after we finally outran most of the smoke. (Though we could be heading back into it.) No complaints except that we’re both running out of clean clothing suitable for hot weather! I know – too bad, so sad, eh? It could change at any moment though. It’s officially autumn now after all and we’re still at least a week from home.

This post is coming to you from the Safeway in Pendleton, the town with the big woollen mill where those lovely plaid shirts and Indian-inspired blankets are made. Sadly again we don’t have time to stop and take the mill tour. However I’m hoping tomorrow to finally get a chance to check out the Pendleton outlet shop in Portland plus the Mill End Store that’s not too far further down the road. As long as we don’t get lost in the crazy city freeway traffic! We’ve definitely been bushed too long on little two-lane highways among the sagebrush and junipers.

So now I’m finally beginning to crave my Internet connection! When not navigating, I’ve been enjoying quietly knitting and reading books and listening to podcasts but I’m starting to want to catch up on everything I’ve been missing out there. Never mind. It’s all not really going anywhere, right? Besides, this is the Real World out here, you know. The one with jackrabbits and grouse and harrier hawks and where you wake up with three bison grazing right outside your door so you have to pack up and drive to the farthest washroom because you’re too nervous to get out of the van with them so close by. (True story.) I should enjoy the rocks and sky while I have them, right?

The next post will probably be from the comfort of home. In the meanwhile, meandering along west by northwest…

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Turnaround Point

Hello All!! Yes, I’m still alive and we’re still on the road. Currently we are in Colorado visiting all the tourist traps must-sees in the Pike’s Peak area. We’ve had wonderful weather – if you don’t count the smoke from all the forest fires in BC, Washington and Montana. It was awful. Things didn’t clear up until Yellowstone! Even here in the middle of Colorado you can still see a little bit of a smoky haze in the far distance but at least you aren’t really breathing it.

I apologise for the lack of communication. This is only the third opportunity we’ve had to access half-decent wifi and all I managed to get earlier was my email. This one (a Safeway/Starbucks in Woodland Park, CO) is barely adequate. Hence the reason you aren’t getting any photos. I solemnly promise I will make up for it when I get back! If you’ve never been there you have no idea how much actual land there is in Montana, Wyoming and Colorado. And that’s land with not a lot on it but rocks, sagebrush, a few trees and some cows. It’s lovely really. If you don’t mind the lack of facilities. Truthfully I was enjoying the freedom from distractions such as All Things Electronic. I’m sure I’ll get twitchy for all the blogs I’m missing and the latest issue of Knitty to be read. Just not quite yet.

We’ve seen elk, mule deer, bison, pronghorns, marmots, bighorn sheep, a pocket gopher, a golden eagle, salamanders and a whole lot more. We’ve walked a lot, some at elevations that that makes it quite difficult for us sea-level dwellers to breathe. We’ve watched geysers erupt and thunder storms flash. We rode the cog railway up Pike’s Peak to 14,115 feet, climbed around an Anasazi cliff house and took a guided cave tour. And we’re only halfway through our trip!

So we have one more day here in the high Rocky Mountains (our campsite at the delightful Mueller State Park is somewhere just under 10,000 feet!) and then we’ll be heading back west. No idea when I’ll be able to communicate again unfortunately. Just picture our gumbo-spattered VW Westfalia with 2 dusty bikes on the back tootling down some remote road in the middle of West Somewhere, USA, and you’ll have it.

Be back soonest. Take care, my dears!