Cortez, Colorado

Friday 29th May 2020

We have had a great month here in Cortez which is in southwest Colorado. Our elevation is 6200 ft and it has been generally in the 70’s during the day and and comfy sleeping night temps of the 40’s.

We have been hiking a lot and our new sticks are working overtime. I bet you know which one is mine.

Canyons of the Ancients National Monument covers 176,000 acres so we had plenty of room for social distancing. We spent several lovely hiking days out here.

We felt pretty ancient after a 12 mile trek.

There are many cool looking ruins to admire.

Dean looks pretty happy standing on the mushroom rock. Notice the smaller mushroom in the left of the pic.

That was my happy place.

This huge overhang covers several buildings.

A collared lizard posed very nicely for a picture.

Dean was caught between a rock and a hard place.

It looked like this ruin was under a giant chimney.

It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood.

Dean found some soft grass for nap which made a nice change from the rocky ground we’ve been hiking on lately.

We managed a quick pic of a brown fox. He was too skittish for a close up.

This tumbleweed escaped from the tumbleweed patch. I “politely” yelled at Dean to chase it down.

Yeah! He scored a tumbling tumbleweed.

Hovenweep National Monument opened up their trails so we spent a splendid day hiking the great ruins.

I especially love this building. Can you imagine walking around the area and thinking “Oh yes, this giant boulder would make a great foundation to build a house on”.

Dean! Mind the gap.

I love crack.

We saw many Cliffsrose shrubs which have a nice scent. The mature seed has a cute long fuzzy hair that acts as a parachute to help disperse the seeds in the wind.

Bees and bugs were giving this thistle a going over.

Mesa Verde National Park has partially opened up. We were able to get a couple of nice hikes in. It is always a thrill to see the ancient ruins. This was a pretty large community back in the day.

Such a lot of work went into creating this trail. There were many stone staircases like this set.

Dean is a pretty good sport when I ask him to stick his head in holes that I think look interesting.

It has started to warm up in Cortez even at this altitude. This last week we have been hiking at higher elevations. The spring flowers are starting to pop up at 9000 feet. Nothing beats resting in a bed of buttercups.

Our last big hike in the area was a 10 miler with 2000 feet elevation gain. Thank good ness it was a graduated climb. Lots of Marsh Marigolds were blooming.

We had several streams to cross and quite a few snow drifts.

11,000 feet and the end of the trail finally. We had a spectacular view while we ate our lunch and congratulated ourselves on not keeling over. Not bad for a couple of old codgers.

We are moving north a little bit. Still waiting for stuff to open. Some towns have a lockdown still in place and only locals are allowed. We are loading up with food and planning on staying in the back country.

Stay healthy and safe my lovely family and friends.

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Social Distancing in Indio

Monday 27th April 2020

We are still at the campground in Indio California. There are only a few people left so it’s pretty quiet. I have been enjoying all the well maintained flower beds on our daily walk around the park.

I have also had fun with my 6 flower baskets over the last 5 months. I almost feel like I have a real garden with all the watering and trimming.

The desert is starting to bloom.

It always amazes me how all these colorful flowers can thrive in such an arid climate.

I matched this flowery Ocotillo perfectly.

A decent sized Rattlesnake lay across our path. I think he was having a nap as he looked a bit chunky around the middle and might have been digesting his last meal.

As we got a bit closer he gave us the classic warning to give him some room. A little tail shake and we got the message to move on.

It started getting pretty warm so we took to the higher hills for a nice hike on a bit of the PCT. This trail is 2653 miles long. It starts at a the border of Mexico and ends at the border of Canada. The lowest part of the trail is 140 ft in Oregon and the highest tops out at 13,153 ft in California. Over the years we have hiked many miles on stretches of the PCT in Oregon, Washington and California.

Manzanita shrubs were busting out.

It would be a bit gnarly if one of these pine cones landed on your noggin.

This rock was a Lichen magnet.

A great hike on a cool sunny day.

We were thrilled to have Jay come down for a couple of days. Southern California is still masking up. Kinda hard to drink your wine but where there’s a will there’s a way.

Since we hardly see anyone in the desert it was a good “Social Distancing” place to take Jay and Maya. We took them on our secret slot canyon hike.

I think Jay got a real workout.

Maya was a champ getting lugged up the ladders.

One last pull out of the slot.

We found some comfy rocks for our snack. There was even a view of the Salton Sea.

We all needed a shower after the dusty hike.

The next day we were back in the same area doing a ladder hike. Jay! Only 13 more ladders to go.

The rock formations are so varied.

Maya might have been wishing her legs were a bit longer.

Finally coming out of the canyon.

Thanks for a great couple of hiking days Jay. I think he was surprised at the agility of his old codger parents.

We have made friends with another couple stranded at our campground. It’s good to latch up with people that like to hike and explore. Leslie and Stuart wanted to check out our slot canyon.

They had never seen a rattle snake so one showed up and nicely rattled for them.

The heat has got pretty bad now in Indio. Over 103 degrees every day. It was time for a higher elevation hike. This rock kinda looked like a toadstool.

We even found a patch or two of snow. Ahhh sweet relief for my sweaty body.

We had another lovely day with our new hiking buddies. We hope to meet up back at the same park this winter. Leslie and Stuart we are up for more great hiking.

We hope you are all staying safe and healthy. “Keep Calm and Carry On” is our mantra. The shops now have an abundance of toilet paper but can I buy a bag of flour to make some bread? Flour and yeast it seems are the latest items on the “all sold out” shelves

I guess people finally started figuring out that you could have toilet paper and paper towels up the kazoo but it might be more sensible to start prioritizing and buy actual food to eat instead of paper products.

It’s time to leave for higher ground. Our 2 rooftop air conditioners are working non stop to keep the camper somewhat comfortable in this triple digit temperature. All the blinds are down, doors are closed and I feel like I am in a cave. Not good for Rose. Dean take me to the light, or at least drive me to a more comfortable elevation.

We are packing up today and heading toward northern Arizona tomorrow. Some campgrounds are now starting to open although all the facilities are closed. Since we are fully self contained we can still keep our social distancing. We just want the hookups. Higher elevations and lower temps here we come.

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Indio, California

Thursday 26th March 2020

This golf course was getting extra detailing done as some professional golfers were stopping by. The greens take some serious watering to keep the desert at bay.

We love hiking in the slot canyons especially when we find new ones to explore.

It sure is fun hiking the curvy…..

and jaggedy canyons!

Finally climbing out of the canyon.

I think I scrunched up rather well in the hole.

Jay came down for a quick visit and of course he and Maya look a lot better in the same hole.

Maya is a real trooper on these canyon hikes. She doesn’t mind being hoisted up or down.

It’s always great hiking with family.

Hiking with friends is pretty awesome too.

Key Ranch is in Joshua Tree National Park and is a ranger guided tour. It used to be owned by a local rancher back in the early 1900’s. He must have had a thing for ovens back in the day.

Al fresco bathroom facilities.

These vehicles just need a bit of tender loving care.

The springs have sprung.

On a more serious note. We hope all our family and friends are keeping well during this difficult time. We were due to leave our RV Resort next week and start heading toward Colorado for the summer but with all the shut downs we plan on staying here for a little while longer. Our park looks like a ghost town. All the Canadians have left and most snowbirds from the northern states. The pools, gym, pickle ball ,tennis and golf facilities have closed down as we have at least one confirmed case of Coronavirus in the park.

We are still able to shop for groceries and the local stores seem to have plenty of fresh produce although they are always out of toilet paper and paper towels. Never any queues at the local liquor stores of course.

Our plan is to eat plenty of fruit and vegetables, drink a good amount of red wine and hike alone in the desert until it is safe to move on.

Love and good health wishes to you all dear family and friends.

Posted in Travel | 29 Comments

2019 Summary

Sunday 29th December, 2019

First of all Dean and I wish you a very Merry Holiday Season. May 2020 bring you happiness and the joy of good health.

We travelled quite a few miles this year. We drove the Beast over 10,600 miles from Mexico to Alaska with Canada and America in between. Beauty got driven another 11,500 miles after the 10,600 being towed. After 73 campground stops we have finally settled into a park in Indio California. We will be here until the end of March. I am sure we will be ready to pull in the slide outs and start some new explorations by then.

Beauty and the Beast.

A Few Highlights from 2019

Whale petting on the Baja coast of Mexico was definitely exciting.

These gentle mammals were so friendly.

Southern California had a beautiful spring flower display.

A layover in Zion National Park with our lads was definitely a major highlight.

They had a busy time paddle boarding, canyoneering…

rock climbing and bike riding.

We are still a Honda Element family.

Glacier National Park was a great stopover. There was plenty of snow to hike over…

and lots of gushing waterfalls.

Our drive through lovely Canada was a wildlife delight.

Even though the roadworks were plentiful in Alaska the scenery was spectacular.

I got to snack on icebergs.

And watched sea otters snack on salmon.

Valdez was so picturesque.

It was all going well until the wildfires started. The rest of our trip was a lot of this. Smoky skies blocking all the wonderful views. Breathing in the smoke was not good either.

We made a fast track back to Washington State which was free of summer wildfires.

We had some fabulous hiking in North Cascades National Park.

The mountains were gobstopping.

Goat rocks Wilderness area was covered in wildflowers. The Lupines had a lovely fragrance.

We love alpine hiking.

We had a leisurely trip down the California coastline. Monterey is very popular with budding artists.

It also has very nice benches.

We moved down to San Diego For Christmas expecting some lovely warm sunny weather. It was great for a quick second.

As soon as we had arranged for Dax to fly in and Jay drive down the weather went belly up. It was rain jackets and all the wintery clothing we could scrape up.

The lads were good sports. We spent most of the week in the camper. Monopoly and some good movies helped.

We had one sunny day and it seemed like a good idea to give surfing a go.

Jay’s dog Maya was all for it. However it was too cold and the waves too big for much enjoyment.

Thanks lads for hanging with Mom and Dad.

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Mount Rainier and Goat Rocks

Wednesday 4th September 2019

We managed to get a bit of good hiking on the back side of Mount Rainier National Park and were happy it was not crowded. A prior day trip to the main flower area on the other side of the park had been a dead loss. The flowers were mostly done and the trail was packed.

Mount Rainier still had quite a bit of snow.

Ahh! back to flowery goodness.

That’s more like it. The lupines were covering the hillsides and had such a delicate scent.

Another day we hiked in the Goat Rocks Wilderness. We never saw any goats but the flowers were prolific. That’s Mount Adams in the background.

As usual Dean found a comfy spot for his nap after the huge hike up the mountainside.

I love the Pasqueflower when it’s gone to seed.

We had just passed a fairly green area and thought the flowers were done but this lovely display was on the other side of the mountain.

The water was so pretty in this caldera.

My last view of the flower hillside. Such a great day.

Our campground had an abundance of blackberry bushes. They were delicious on our cereal and…

a few pounds made it into my jam jars.

Mount St. Helens is always a fun place to hike. Many parts are finally greening up after the massive volcano erupted and flattened the whole area in 1980.

The area around Spirit Lake still looks barren.

There was plenty of water flowing down the mountain from melting glaciers but the high pumice and ash content of the soil made it hard for any vegetation to get a foothold in this area.

Thank you Washington. We had a great time hiking in your lovely mountains. On to Oregon.

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North Cascades National Park, Washington

Saturday 17th August 2019

We had a lovely week in North Cascades National Park. We had wanted to visit here last year but wildfires in the area put the kibosh on that idea. Thank goodness we have not been near any fires since leaving Alaska.

Our first big hike was a ten miler with 3,000 foot elevation gain. The lovely scenery spurred me on. Our destination was Hidden Lake.

There were plenty of cool shrooms on the wooded area of the trail.

Once we reached higher elevations the flowers started showing their beauty.

From spotted lilies to….

Delicate columbines.

The bees were also enjoying the flowery goodness.

Getting closer to the top of the trail.

I can see why it’s called Hidden Lake, tucked away in the mountain tops. What a great place for lunch.

We needed a laid back day after our burly hike or least my old lady legs did. We wandered around some giant cedar trees. Dean likes to take a rest wherever he can find it.

Yes! I am a tree hugger.

Our campground had several plum trees.

We love free fruit for the picking.

Add a couple of frozen bananas and we had seriously good smoothies.

A bit of plum jam and more smoothie fixings. Score.

Our feet and legs were feeling good so on to lengthy hike number 2.

This beast was a 12 miler and also had serious elevation gain but the views were spectacular.

A couple of wild mountain goats bounded into view. They were so cute.

Dean found a smashing nap spot.

We enjoyed watching the gamboling goats.

I found a flowery bed for my rest.

Time to move on for the last stretch.

We made it to the fabulous top.

One of the goats was waiting for another pic on the way down.

I took a tumble on the last part of the trail and fell on my awesome hiking stick. I felt worse about the busted stick than my scrapes and bruises.

Dean had snagged me a great Agave stalk back in St. George, Utah a couple of years ago. With some wood burning and paint I had a nice blingy hiking stick.

Glue and clamps to the rescue. Thanks Dean for performing life saving surgery on my stick.

Onwards to Mount Rainier.

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Driving back to Lower 48.

Sunday 4th August 2019

We drove into Haines for a couple of days and had a pretty nice view of the bay from our front window.

Cruise ships would pull in for a few hours. Tiny Haines would be swamped with the “boat people” looking to spend some money.

Haines has quite a bit of rain which keeps the area very green. We had a nice hike through the woods/rainforest.

We kept a lookout for bears since the bunchberry and…

devils club were displaying their fruity bear snacks. No bears on this hike.

We did see a couple of youngsters patrolling the beach looking for some grub.

We carried on to British Columbia. A day trip to Hyder was interesting We crossed the border from Stewart in Canada to Hyder in Alaska. There was no US border customs so we drove right in the town of Hyder. It looked pretty dilapidated with most stuff closed down.

I don’t think that boat has been on the water in a while.

I guess no one rents videos any more.

Next door Stewart looked like a booming metropolis.

The produce section was pretty scant at the single grocery store. It’s a long way to ship fresh food.

There are definitely snowy mountain peaks hiding under the clouds.

We were able stop on the side of the road for a while to watch this cuddly grizzly snacking on the shrubbery.

After a scenic drive through British Columbia we crossed the border into Washington. Time to find some pickleball locations.

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Homer and Portage Alaska

Friday 26th July 2019

We drove down to Homer hoping to escape the smoke from the wildfires attacking Alaska. The wind was kind to us for one day and kept the area clear. It sure was nice to see some blue sky.

Homer has cute tiny houses. If our camper conks out maybe we should find a spot to park it and put the bling on.

This house is sitting on a trailer bed.

These houses have their own shipping container basements.

A sea otter was hanging around the dock.

Why bother catching your own when the fisher people chuck you a nice salmon snack.

Agghh! The smoke was back. We wanted to do a hike across the bay anyway. 30 minutes on the boat got us to the drop off point.

These little water taxis are great for pulling up to just about any beach area.

A two person tram was the way to cross a pretty gnarly river.

Those are some serious knots holding the tram together.

As usual I supervised while Dean hand cranked us across the river.

Cotton plants were showing off their fluffy cuteness.

Fireweed has been the predominant flower blooming across the state. Appropriate name I guess since there are so many wildfires.

We could not really see the glacier at end of Grewingk Lake because of the smoky haze.

There were some nice looking icebergs floating about though.

Dean snagged us a mini berg.

This is the closest we got to a glacier.

We moved up to Portage and had a little hike to Portage Glacier. The rain had moved in so not much to see.

Nobody was cruising on the lake due to the weather.

This little guy stayed nice and still for close up pic.

At least we had the purple goodness.

We had planned on going up to Denali National Park and surrounding area for the next few weeks but after I checked the Park website and found the wildfires were creating smoke problems including hiding the mountain in a smoky haze we decided to forgo the trip. Our lungs were complaining quite a bit so we started heading eastwards to Canada.

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Wrangell and Seward

Friday July 12th 2019

After being crammed in at our last campsite this campground was a nice relief. We were the only ones there for a couple of days.

We took a long day trip into Wrangell-St. Elias National Park. It was a 60 mile gravel road to Kennecott Mill Town. The road ended at Kennecott river. Most people then walk across the pedestrian bridge and get a paid shuttle for the 5 miles to Kennecott. After the grueling road trip we decided to ride our bikes for a little exercise and also save $30. It was 5 miles uphill a gravel road, although I must admit it was a gradual climb. The ride back was a cinch!!

Kennecott was a thriving copper mining town in the early 1900’s

After the copper petered out in the 1930’s the whole place was pretty much abandoned. The National Park Service acquired most of the town and surrounding area to make Wrangell-St. Elias the largest National Park in the United States. With massive mountains and glaciers this park is over 20,000 square miles and 25% larger than Switzerland.

The National Park is slowly restoring some of the old buildings.

The best part of the day was lunch and beverages at the lodge.

We were really looking forward to Seward since we had such a good time visiting 5 years ago. However a huge wildfire in the area has created a very smokey environment. The smoke did not deter the Halibut fishing. Every day we watched the charter boats come back the with the days catch to be filleted, frozen and shipped off to the lower 48.

Seward is a busy port in the summer. Cruise ships sailed in most nights and stayed a day or so. Cargo barges haul everything from vehicles to food. This day we could see a bit of the snowy mountains 2 miles across the bay.

The next few days we had this view.

We had a nice hike in Kenai Fjords National Park even though there was quite a bit of snow to slip slide along. We finally hiked above the smoke! Time to take a few deep breaths.

There were so many glaciers.

Finally after 5 miles and 3000 feet elevation gain we made it to the top. We had a nice long rest on that bit of grass before heading down.

11 pm and the path in front of our camper is still bustling. Everyone is waiting for the July 4th firework display at 12.01 am. Since it was still pretty light at midnight the fireworks were not very bright.

We enjoyed watching the annual Seward Marathon race. It is a 5k run to the top of Mount Marathon and back down with a vertical gain of 3022 feet.

Nearly 20,000 people come to Seward for race day.

Since we still consider ourselves Oregonians we were happy to see a young man from Bend Oregon win the mens race in just over 43 minutes.

All the runners got a hose down to wash away the mud and blood.

These seagulls were feasting on salmon fingerlings making their way to the ocean.

Moving on to Homer.

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Thursday 27th June, 2019

Our first stop across the border and into Alaska was the Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge. I really like the grass roof on the visitor center. How do they mow that????

The Refuge had a very nice free campground and canoe use.

I was the Captain and the crew sat behind.

Take me to the waterlilies.

There were lots in bloom.

They have very intricate stamens.

Moving on to Valdez we passed through some major road construction. Due to permafrost most of the roads buckle up and have potholes and frost heaves. The work crews are on the job 24/7 through the short summer months to try and keep the roads driveable.

This was a pretty smooth section and the snowy mountains beckoned us on.

Valdez was loaded with lupines.

We were crammed in like sardines at the campground.

However the view were spectacular.

Dean made me do this.

Snowy mountains surround this pretty port.

This is a popular halibut fishing area.

There were many big catches.

We chatted with a couple who had taken a fishing trip and were having their 100+ pounds of halibut vacuum sealed and frozen and then shipped to Georgia.

We had a nice hike in the mountains.

This guy demonstrated his skill on his onewheel skateboard. He can travel quite a few miles on one charge.

I needed a little cool down and a patch of snow worked nicely.

The mountain lakes had crystal clear water.

I have never seen so many waterfalls. This one is called bridal veil.

Moving on to Seward.

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