…where the buffalo roam, and the deer and the antelope play!
Truthfully, I don’t really want to live there permanently. But it was really fun visiting! Didja miss me? I sure missed my Internet connection. I had Bluet, my little netbook computer with me but all I used it for was to download our photos and keep a few notes and observations on the trip. This time I even had the equipment to recharge the battery but only had to use it a couple of times in the 3+ weeks we were gone. I plead the fact that it was too stinkin’ hot to do much most of the time when we weren’t either driving, hiking or sleeping. And no wifi. Some of the campgrounds we stayed in didn’t even have water, far less an internet connection. And there was no stopping for a wifi cafe in the middle of nowhere. We had thousands of miles to travel.
So where did we go? Through 2 provinces and 5 states, one of them twice. Across BC to Alberta’s Waterton Lakes, down the Montana side to Glacier and then Lewis & Clark Caverns, through Idaho to Utah’s south-western canyon country: Arches, Canyonland, Natural Bridges and Capitol Reef, around them and back up to Antelope Island, through Idaho again, across Oregon to the Columbia Gorge and Portland, up through Washington and the ferry to Whidbey Island and home. At least that’s the Reader’s Digest version! I can’t tell you how many miles/kilometres we actually went because the van’s odometer is busted.
We went to see rocks and we really did: arches, bridges, windows, cliffs, hoodoos, mesas, buttes, canyons and mountains worth of them in reds, oranges, greens, blues, yellows, beige, brown and even purple. We saw animals (bison, coyotes, deer, pronghorns, rabbits, squirrels, frogs and lizards) and birds (pinyon jays, crows, eagles, buzzards, hawks, bluebirds, meadowlarks, egrets, white pelicans, ravens, a pileated woodpecker and a great horned owl) and insects (praying mantis, something bizarre called a Jerusalem cricket, and way too many flies). We became familiar with the hot dry desert and learned not to go for even a short walk without a hat, sunscreen and bottle of water. We also experienced 3 incredible hailstorms, complete with thunder and lightning, and one that even flooded out part of the campground with gooey red mud when a culvert clogged up. Luckily we were safely ensconced in the VW for all of them so we could enjoy the show.
What did I miss besides my Internet connection? Hot showers, cold drinking water, clean clothes and a really good grocery store with fresh fruit and veg and organic meat and dairy. (What do those people eat down there? Frozen sandwiches? Really.) You know you’re short of water when you drain the cooler to get enough to heat up for a sponge bath! It was so hot some afternoons that the butter melted into ghee, the water in our tank was hot enough for tea and we sat in the shade panting with wet cloths around our necks. The poor cooler couldn’t keep the food cold enough even with a 10 lb block of ice in it and our tiny fridge just burned up propane without doing much of anything useful either. We eventually turned it off and drank warm beer and cider. (No, I mean warm. Not “room temperature”.) Some nights it was very hard to sleep even with both the back hatch and the big window in the canvas top open - bug nets on, of course. We did most of our driving and hiking in the mornings.
And we hiked, or at least walked somewhere, every single day. Notice my boots sporting numerous layers of prettily-coloured dust to prove my point. Being sea-level types we certainly felt the altitude. Trying to get up a steep switchback trail at 6000’ in 90+ degrees F is no joke! Interestingly, we noticed lots of folks of “retirement age” on many of the trails and it was good to see everyone enjoying the amazing sights that you just can’t get from the window of a big camper. Move it or lose it, right? We almost wore out our “Hello” with all the friendly people.
So what was my favourite part of the trip? So much of it was beautiful, interesting and exciting that I’m not sure. I was really proud of me making it through the incredible caverns in Montana. I’m not happy underground but these were pretty tame with stairs, lights and a humourous guide. I was also very taken with the several areas where we saw petroglyphs. This one is called Newspaper Rock because it has many different types and eras worth of images pecked into the “desert varnish”. I hope it’s clickable so you can see it in more detail. I particularly like the footprints with 6 toes! Did they have polydactyl people or could they just not count very well? We also saw a wonderful gallery show of petroglyph photos by Tony Kuyper at Edge of the Cedars State Park. Some of the images in his photos we actually saw ourselves. Too cool. Some of them are now sadly under the waters of the huge artificial Lake Powell.
Besides ice (daily!) and groceries we only did a wee bit of shopping, mostly books. (So what else is new?) But this is getting really long so I’ll tell about that later. Meanwhile I have 6 or 7 loads of laundry to put away and a mess of dishes to wash. The latter was something I didn’t do much of because T-Man did nearly all of the dishes for us in our tiny little van sink. Wonder if I remember how?
Oh, and I did NOT miss the phone ringing. I screen all my calls. Leave a message! Or I won’t talk to you.