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The end….to another fun road trip

The end....to another fun road trip

We traveled over Lost Trail Pass then over Lolo Pass down to Lewiston, Idaho, enjoying the drive all the way.

At Lewiston, we checked into a really nice room at the Nez Perce casino along the Clearwater River. Now it was my wife’s turn to have fun. She headed for the penny slot machines while I read books, watched TV, and edited road trip photographs.

The next morning we drove from Lewiston, Idaho to our home in Eastern Washington, stopping to take a few last photographs of some Palouse country farms.

It had been a great 12 day road trip with many experiences to remember and some really nice people met along the way.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Keet Seel Road Trip June 2012
Wednesday 30 May 2012 – Sunday 10 June 2012
Mr. & Mrs. "oldmantravels"

ROAD TRIP HIGHLIGHTS: * City of Rocks, Oakley to Almo, Idaho / * Dinosaur National Monument, Colorado portion: hike Harper’s Corner; camp Echo Park; hike Green River and Yampa River confluence; Steamboat Rock/ * Black Canyon of the Gunnison River, Colorado/ Funky and hip – Telluride, Colorado / * Lowry Pueblo ruins / * Devil’s Canyon campground: Montezuma Canyon loop drive; Muley Point overlook; Abajo Mountains drive / * Blanding, Utah small town fun: Lickety Split Bakery serendipity and the "cast of characters" / Navajo elder turquoise – Homestead Steak House / Daisy Cowboy at the laundromat / * Navajo National Monument: backpacking trip to Keet Seel cliff dwellings; Hopi National Park Ranger – Patrick Joshevama & his atlatl/ * Return to the Solaas Bed and Breakfast, Baker, Idaho / * Snow on Lost Trail Pass and private plane crash / * Lochsa River rain and rafters / * Clearwater River; the Palouse; and home.

THE STORIES – DAY BY DAY:

DAY ONE [30 May 2012]

Our ten year old Toyota RAV4 was all packed, gassed up and ready to go on Tuesday night. Our alarm clock was set for 4 am. We were ready and anxious to go, so we were both up and getting ready to go, before the alarm sounded early Wednesday morning.

We drove the Interstates from our home in Eastern Washington to exit 208 off I-84, just north of Burley, Idaho. Our destination for the first night was the City of Rocks, Idaho. We had both visited this remarkable area several times but had never come into it from the West (the Oakley, Idaho approach). We were determined to see something new by entering the City of Rocks through Oakley and then exiting through Almo, Elba, and Malta.

We saw lots of activity with big semi trucks hauling out huge loads of "slab rocks" on flat bed trailers in the area around the old town of Oakley, Idaho. As soon as we returned home I got on the internet to read about these busy rock quarries.

The rock they were hauling out is called "Oakley Stone" and has been quarried in the area since 1948. It is a muscovite mica described as "thin splitting micaceous quartzite". It is unique and much sought after. It slabs out to 8 foot sections just 1/2 inch thick and is used as facing and paving stone in the U.S. and overseas. Seems you always run into something new and interesting on road trip back roads.

I knew the City of Rocks was very popular in the summer with international and local rock climbers, so to we made reservations for our tent camping site. We chose site #37, which I had picked out on my first visit to the City of Rocks, as the place I would one day like to tent camp with my wife. We did.

The weather was excellent for our visit to the City of Rocks and we took short hikes and drives to enjoy the area. We used our old four seasons The North Face Mountain 24 backpacking tent to sleep in with comfy REI camp rest sleeping pads. The winds blew strong and gusting that night so we were happy to have the wind protection and stability of the four season tent. We slept well this first night of our 12 day road trip.

DAY TWO [31 MAY 2012]

We survived the strong winds that blew most of the night. Our camp chairs blew over and got hung up in a juniper tree, but no other problems. The sun came out and the seemingly always present "interesting cloud" formations above the City of Rocks made for great views as we took some more short hikes and drive before heading on to our next destination.

We caught the interstate east of Malta and made our way to Dinosaur, Colorado, where we stopped at the visitor center for Dinosaur National Monument. A ranger, named Randy, was helpful when we asked about the road down to the Echo Park campground and what are chances of finding an open campsite.

My wife and I had visited the dinosaur dig and the Utah portion of Dinosaur National Monument, several times before but neither of us had visited the Colorado section. On a couple of previous trips we had this portion of the monument on the "to visit" list, but weather and/or bad road conditions caused us to skip it.

We saw a lots of wildflowers and sweet smelling clover with yellow blossoms, edged the road to Harper’s Corner. We saw two bull elk in velvet in the sage country where it looked more like pronghorn or mule deer territory. We drove to the trailhead at Harper’s Corner and took the short, but scenic, hike out to the point where you can look down on the Green River as it makes a big hairpin turn around Steamboat Rock. We could spot the road down through Echo Canyon and the pull off to Whispering Cave, all the way from the ridge line trail.

After the hike we left the paved road and thoroughly enjoyed the gravel road drive down to the Echo Park campground. As Randy had told us, there were few people camping, just three other vehicles other than ours. All were tent camping like us.

We set up our The North Face mountain 24 tent under some juniper and cooked dinner on our small JetBoil backpacking stove. I took off with a camera to hike up closer to Steamboat Rock, while my wife relaxed and organized our camp. I followed the Green River upstream and was pleased to find the trail went all the way to where the Yampa River joins the Green River. I hiked a short distance up the Yampa River, enjoying the scenery and wildlife.

Canada Geese were thick along the rivers and their constant honking, whether flying or floating, echoed off the massive walls of Steamboat Rock and the Yampa river canyon. A beaver slapped his tail hard and dove along the banks of the Green River. When he resurfaced and saw I was still there, he repeated his performance with an loud echoing second tail slap and swam down stream.

We sat around a small fire until the stars and bright moon came out, then slept soundly in our tent.

DAY THREE [01 JUNE 2012]

The sun came out and the day started warming up quickly as the day’s first light started working its way down the canyon walls to the rivers. My wife and I repeated the hike up the Green River and Yampa River together so I could photograph with the warm morning light now lighting up the landscape. Echo Park was a big favorite of ours, and we hope to return one day.

We next headed through Grand Junction, Colorado and on to Montrose, Colorado where we got a motel room. There was still plenty of daylight left so we drove up to see the Black Canyon of the Gunnison River from the south rim drive. We hadn’t visited the canyon before so it was another "first" for us on this road trip.

The Black Canyon of the Gunnison River was difficult to photograph for me, but a spectacular sight, well worth the visit. We returned to Montrose for a good night’s sleep in a motel room.

DAY FOUR [02 JUNE 2012]

From Montrose, Colorado we headed for Telluride, Colorado (one story has it that the name is actually a form of "to hell you ride"… from its lively western history days. Once again, this was a place we had never visited. Ironically, I had purchased a used book titled: "Telluride – from pick to powder by Richard L. and Suzanne Fetter" back in February and had enjoyed reading of the interesting history of Telluride.

I was especially captivated by the story of the story of L.L.Nunn, a short, most eccentric, genius – – who set Telluride up with the first A/C (alternating current generator) in the world in the late 1890s. Like other Colorado gold mining towns Tulluride had its shares of labor unrest, floods, fires, and unique characters.

The town itself was a hoot, just what you might expect of a mining town turned jet set to down and outs digs…a bit of everything for everybody. We drove up to the end of town to see one of the waterfalls electric generating sites; then up above town to see the million dollar "ranch houses" and the unique high altitude runway where our youngest son has flown into before when he was with a charter jet company out of Arizona.

But for pure enjoyment, you couldn’t beat walking up and down the main street of old town Telluride and people watching: Harley Davidson’s; horse drawn tourist wagons; home made cars; bicycles; a bunch of bins with "everything is for free" sign on it; the clock with "Telluride Time" on it; BMW cars and motorcycles; dogs carrying Frisbees and wearing colorful bandanas; and of course the many "Western want to be" tourists that looked more like tourists than cowboys and cowgirls.

Nice friendly, funky, quirky, soup to nuts, town to visit. We even bought my wife a red fuzzy baseball hat with Telluride, Colorado printed on the front. Had to do our thing for tourism you know.

After leaving Telluride we headed down to Dolores, Colorado (ate a great pizza here) and made our way toward Monticello, Utah. Somewhere around Dove Creek, Colorado, we made a short side trip to check out the Lowry Ruins, once again, a place we had not visited before. In the past we had always cut through to visit Hovenweep.

At Monticello we turned south and set up our North Face tent at spot # 29 in Devil’s Canyon Campground. We reserved the spot for two nights to use it as a "base camp" for a few of the drives we wanted to take in the area. We were concerned with a couple wild fires we could see on the southern flanks of the Abajo Mountains, but there were no high winds during our visit and the fires diminished while we were there.

Carrying our senior citizen passes with us, camping continued to be a real bargain for us. We paid $4 to camp at Echo Park in Dinosaur National Monument and just $5 a night for a well maintained campsite at Devil’s Canyon. We walked the short nature loop trail and then all around the campground area as we settled in for our first night at this camp.

DAY FIVE [03 JUNE 2012]

Montezuma’s Canyon was on our list to drive for this trip, so that is where we headed the first thing Sunday morning. We drove it north to south. It was about a 50 mile loop when entered near Monticello and exited near Blanding, Utah.

We found the first 20 miles of the drive beautiful, interesting and enjoyable. Slow paced, with ancient and modern cliff dwellings, a few rock art panels and picturesque Southwest canyon country scenery. The second half of the drive was a bit more "pedestrian" and not so scenic.

When we rejoined the highway south of Blanding we headed south to Bluff, for a quick look at the Sand Island rock art panel; Navajo stew and fry bread at the San Juan River bridge near Mexican Hat (where I had eaten several times before). Then we drove up the Moki Dugway route to Cedar Mesa and took another short side trip. This one was to Muley Point, where we enjoyed the slick rock rim and tremendous landscape views.

We returned to our Devil’s canyon camp for a rest and camp meal, then drove up into the scenic high country of the Abajo Mountains just west of Monticello. Everything was green and some of the fragrant purple wild iris were in bloom among the tall large aspen groves in this area. Old Wrangler and I had tried this route for the other direction in March of 2011 and were turned back by deep snow on the road. This drive was snow free and scenic. We watched an old time reel in a foot long rainbow trout in one of the small ponds of the area.

Toward the end of the day we returned to camp; read our books; and got a good night’s sleep with a strong almost full moon, lighting up the interior of our tent with a soft evening’s glow.

DAY SIX [04 JUNE 2012]

We woke early, broke camp, took a short hike through the ponderosa in the area, then headed for Blanding where we checked into a motel room for a couple of nights. We used this day to rest, do our road trip laundry, shop for a few supplies for our upcoming Keet Seel backpacking trip and mainly relax. This was the only day that I didn’t take at least one photograph.

One of our first stops was the local bakery in Blanding. My wife and I ended up talking to the owners (Arlen and Elaine Borgen) and then ordering four cherry scones to be picked up the following morning. I planned to take a couple on our backpacking trip but do to their fine flavor and taste, only one survived for the Keet Seel hike.

As it turned out, the conversations we had with folks at this small town bakery turned out to be one of the highlights of our road trip. Serendipity squared.

When we did our laundry at Blanding, the only other person using the washers and dryers was an older Navajo lady. Several times she offered advice about which machines to use or how to get a stubborn machine working properly (or how tourists, like us, could profit by reading the directions….hmmm).

As she did her laundry and we did ours we gradually visited more and more. Her name was "Daisy Cowboy" and she had some interesting stories to tell. It was one of those chance small town encounters that make a road trip so much fun.

DAY SEVEN [05 JUNE 2012]

My wife went into the bakery and Blanding and there was Elaine with her bright red jaunty baker’s hat on with a friendly smile and a "good morning". "By chance would you have four cherry scones hot out of the oven this morning?". "Sure do" she replied. Once I bought the scones then my wife talked with Elaine, while I started a conversation with Arlen, who was seated having a cup of coffee.

The conversations joined and parted among the four of us and the two young Navajo girls working with Elaine, who also had the red baker’s hats. At times all four of us talked together about the history of the bakery:

From memory: Started about 7 years ago. Young Navajo kids one day asked to borrow money to go to the local movie house in Blanding. Arlen & Elaine instead let them "earn" the movie money by learning to be "partners" in the bakery. The rest is a success story. The young Navajo came up with ideas for chocolate and candy products with a Native American theme. The Borgens taught the Navajo business principles and the responsibilities that come with them.

The state of Utah caught the story and a delegation of the Blanding Bakery entrepreneurs visited the capitol in Salt Lake City. Word spread further and the founding members were invited to the White House to meet President Bush, where they were honored for their dedication to entrepreneurial start up businesses. Quite a trip for these hard working innovative bakers and candy makers from Blanding, Utah. That is the main story as I heard it. There are photos on the wall; the young smiling Navajo workers/owners; and friendly manner of Elaine and Arlen to fill in the rest.

Arlen and I drifted into Native American discussions and were having a focused discussion on books, findings, theories, and ruins…when a fellow walked through the door by the name of Jon Moris (Professor "emeritus" Jon Moris ) walked into the bakery and was greeted as a regular. Professor Moris is the anthropology teacher at the local Utah State University – College of Eastern Utah – San Juan campus (I hope I have most of that right).

Arlen introduced me to Professor Moris and away we went, talking about anything and everything about North American Native Americans. What a stroke of luck for me. Jon Moris, was a most interesting man to talk to. We took a break while my wife and I returned to our nearby motel room with the bakery goods and I returned with a camera and a strong wish to continue our previous conversations.

So there we were: Professor Jon Moris; Arlen Borgen; and I, sitting around a coffee table playing badminton with topics of interest. Elaine and the two cute Navajo girls (Elysia and Aaliyah sp?) took care of the flow of bakery customers coming into the store. Was I ever having fun.

Jon Moris was born and raised in East Africa. He did work with the Maasai there and earned his PhD at Northwestern. He told me of a website where photographers could go to have "books" made of their photograph: blurb.com. He said his son Nathan (living in Switzerland) had used the site. When I returned home I went to the "blurb.com" site and checked out one of the photo books Nathan had created of Central Switzerland (which he dedicated to his dad).

Next the bakery door opened and in walked a casually attired Mark Noirot, a chemistry instructor at the college. With a quick wit and inquisitive mind, he soon added to our ad hoc bakery based discussion group. During all this action I asked for a few photo ops, which everybody there graciously agreed to and participated in. The two young Navajo girls took some of the photographs for us.

After Jon and Mark escaped the round table discussion a family entered the bakery. They wanted to buy some bakery products but spoke no English. Turned out they were Italian and with my limited Spanish, we were able to work together and communicate enough to help them buy what they were after. They also followed my lead when I told them I was purchasing two candy feathers from the young Navajos, which came with a printed story.

Call it luck, serendipity or chance – – this short session around a small coffee table in a bakery in Blanding, Utah, was one of my treasured moments of this road trip. I truly hope that any of you traveling through Blanding some morning, will stop in and hear the story of the bakery first hand and treat yourself to some baked products and some of the chocolate and candy products of the Lickity Split Chocolate entrepreneurs. You will go away with a smile.

Once back in our motel room with my wife, we started organizing our backpacks, based on the latest weather forecast (we used Shonto, Arizona for Keet Seel purposes) and latest food purchases. We packed our backpacks and most of our car camping and traveling gear in our vehicle and set the alarm for 4 am (once again). We planned to leave by 5 am Wednesday morning to make certain we arrived at Betatakin (Navajo National Monument) in time for our required orientation, scheduled at 8:15 am on 6.6.12.

DAY EIGHT [06 JUNE 2012]

Up at 4 am; on the road by 4:45 am; breakfast at McDonald’s in Kayenta then on to the visitor center at Betatakin. There were lots of campers at Sunrise View campgrounds near Betatakin, and lots of folks showed up at the visitor center when it opened at 8 am. We tried to discern the "day hikers" from the "backpackers", who might be going to Keet Seel.

Note: Only 20 people a day are allowed to hike to Keet Seel and then only five at a time can tour the Keet Seel ruins in the company of an on-site National Park ranger. The route, 1,000 feet down into Tsegi Canyon then up Keet Seel Canyon to the Keet Seel camping area and Keet Seel cliff dwellings is 8.5 miles. It requires quite a bit of soft sand hiking and many crossing of a shallow stream, which flows down Keet Seel Canyon. The route is on Navajo land so you aren’t allowed to stray from the main route.

Well to make this short and sweet – – the weather Wednesday morning was beautiful AND it turns out that each and every "hiker" we saw that morning at the visitor center was heading out on the guided Betatakin ruins hike. We were told we were the only two people with a permit for Keet Seel this day. What luck! We would have the entire campground to ourselves and not have another hiker or backpacker in the canyon with us on this particular Wednesday. We were told to check in at the "ranger’s camp" at Keet Seel when we arrived, show our permit, and that ranger Patrick would lead us on a tour of the Keet Seel site.

It took us exactly five hours to hike from where we left our vehicle and the Keet Seel parking area to Keet Seel. We took one 30 minute break on the way in and cached beverages in two places along the way: We cached 88 fl. oz at the foot of the 1,000 drop into Tsegi Canyon and 88 fl oz about five miles from Keet Seel. The rest we drank along the way and took with us (we started with 336 fl. oz in total). A little under three gallons, which for us worked out just perfectly with plenty left over.

We took 16 bottles of diet Mt. Dew (orange juice based with lots of caffeine); 4 bottles of citrus green tea (20 oz bottles); 4 bottles of water (10 oz with Mio pomegranate flavor to add); AND two treats – – 2 cans of cold diet Pepsi in OR insulated beverage carriers. The two caches met I didn’t have to carry the 20 lbs of liquids all that far.

We encountered two small groups of Navajo horses and one solo horse on the hike. Each and every horse was intently curious of our presence and watched us with interest as we passed by. The foals were cute as a button.

You can’t drink the water in the canyon as the area is range for Navajo cattle and horses, and the National Park four wheel drive trucks drive quite a ways up Keet Seel Canyon from time to time as well. Still the scenery and waterfalls make for a very enjoyable backpack. We kept our backpack loads extremely light (no stakes, footprint, or rain fly for the REI quarter dome T2 plus tent – – zero chance of rain predicted for 7 days). Everything else we kept to a minimum as well. I did take a light REI flashpack 18 liter day pack to carry cameras, fluids and first aid kit etc. for my wife and myself, when we left our tent camp and hiked the short distance to the Keet Seel ranger’s quarters and then on to the cliff dwellings themselves, with Patrick.

My wife and I met ranger Patrick at his octagonal ranger’s quarter, a short distance from the Keet Seel Ruins. It struck me as a bit ironic. Max (A Navajo) had given us our orientation and permit to visit Keet Seel. The Anasazi (Ancient Puebloans) are now thought to be related to the Hopi and Zuni – – modern day pueblo dwellers in some cases. Patrick is a Hopi, from a small reservation perched primarily atop three mesas on a reservation completely surrounded by the massive Navajo reservation.

Patrick was soft spoken, extremely knowledgeable, patient, modest, and instantly likeable.
An antler tool, a home made large arrow, and what looked like a "prayer stick" sat on a bench where we sat all drinking ice tea. When I asked about the prayer stick, Patrick quietly told me it was an atlatl. Though he didn’t say so, it was obvious that Patrick had carefully and skillfully made both the arrow and the atlatl.

He showed me how it was held then stood up and launched an arrow at high speed out toward the "Keet Seel" sign in front of the ranger’s station. My wife and I were really impressed. He went in the hogan and brought out three more finally feathered arrows and asked me if I would like to try the atlatl. I was intrigued, honored and a little nervous (I didn’t want to destroy one of his hand made arrows with a clumsy effort.

With Robert’s instruction I got the feel of how to hold the atlatl and the arrow, then the moment came for me to launch an arrow. I did. It flew fast straight and far and I can’t possibly tell you how proud I was and how happy it made me that Patrick trusted me to give it a try.

As at the Blanding bakery, Patrick and I explored many topics and talked books, studies, and former expeditions. I was most interested in Patrick’s stories of the Hopi clans, beliefs, and oral history. It was another road trip highlight and just the visit with Patrick and the chance to actually give an atlatl a try. Moments to remember.

After a long porch conversation we were ready to head up to the Keet Seel ruins. I had shown my wife a photo of the access ladder used to reach the ruins themselves, so she knew what to expect, still I could tell she was a bit apprehensive, but up the ladder she went, right after Patrick and I had gone up first. She did well.

It is simple to find lots of information on the Keet Seel cliff dwellings, so I won’t go into too much detail: Tree ring dating indicates that what we see today of the well preserved ruins were made and inhabited before year 950. Around 1272 population, pottery diversification, and use of Keet Seel was at a high. Over 100 people called this cliff dwelling "home" at this time. Then like other dwellings all over the Southwest, the people left. They stored belongings like they intended to come back one day BUT they also burned many of their rooms, for what reason, nobody knows for certain.

Few, if any, remained living at Keet Seel by 1300. Many building styles and techniques (jacal and masonry) can be observed at Keet Seel. It is the ‘beyond obvious function" high ladder ends reaching up high inside the alcove and the HUGE log mounted across the main central entrance to the ruins, that most impressed me.

When we finished the tour we checked out the midden down below the cliff dwellings where every color and style of pottery pieces you can imagine, could be found and observed. There is evidence that much trading took place at sites like Keet Seel (Macaw feather were found here) and that pottery had been traded and sometimes destroyed intentionally during certain ceremonies. In all a fascinating place to visit, reflect upon, and connect with a people that made the most of their environment for a time in the past.

We left Patrick and returned to our camp across the canyon floor. An almost full moon lit the night, and the wind blew softly through the canopy of oak limbs and leaves over our tent. This was the first time we had used our new Big Agnes Q Core air mattresses and I can’t tell you how much we both enjoyed these excellent sleeping pad air mattresses. They weigh about the same as our thin, narrow, long self-inflators but pack up into very small stuff sacks.

NOTE: I have read of some having difficulty BUT first squash all the air out; fold lengthwise into thirds; force the rest of the air out as you roll it up and it will easily fit in the strong small stuff sack provided. I promise.

We talked into the night, gazing at the stars above and discussing our good fortune on this road trip and with life in general. We both fell asleep with smiles.

DAY NINE [07 JUNE 2012]

I woke up early after a good night’s rest. I wanted to get going early so we could hike the canyon in the shaded cool of morning and attack the 1,000 climb up out of Tsegi Canyon before the full heat of the afternoon.

We got a good start and took exactly five hours to hike from our Keet Seel camp to our vehicle (with its ice chest full of ice cold diet Pepsi). I had found (by accident) some quick sand in the shade of a canyon wall on the way into Keet Seel, so we made a point of stopping at the same place for an oldmantravels photo op on the way out. It was a weird experience to have the sand that seemed dry, below your feet turn suddenly to Jell-O, then start to crack and sink.

Hiking out Keet Seel we passed at least 8 other backpackers, heading into Keet Seel. We also passed a National Park pickup truck driving up the stream bed, presumably to rotate another ranger in to take Patrick’s place and/or take in some supplies.

We had intended that our backpacking experience to Keet Seel would be the highlight of our road trip …. and……it was. We both had a wonderful time (and got some good exercise in the process).

We drove back through Mexican Hat, Blanding, and then to Moab (where like after our April Chesler park backpacking trip) we had a HUGE meal and a mango/peach smoothie and Denny’s). We drove on to Green River, Utah where we took long hot showers, changed into fresh road trip clothes, and enjoyed a night’s sleep at a motel there.

DAY TEN [08 JUNE 2012]

We slept in at Green River, Utah then headed up through Price, Ogden, Pocatello, and then on a less traveled road to Tendoy, Idaho and then to the Solaas Bed and Breakfast in Baker, Idaho. It is located under huge cottonwoods near the Lemhi River.

Just south of Tendoy a white tail doe ran without warning from the willows along the road. I was doing 65 mph and everything happened fast. At first I started to break but then sped up and swerved to the right hoping if I hit her at all it would be better to side swipe her than hit her head on. She lost her footing and fell, narrowly missing the rear quarter fender of our car. Through the rear view mirror I saw her regain her feet on the shoulder and bound into the woods. We were very relieved that things hadn’t ended badly for both the deer and for us. A close call, and fortunately the only one of this road trip.

In 2006 I took a road trip with a good high school friend (John). We visited Lemhi Pass and hiked a section of trail that Lewis and Clark had taken. Lemhi Pass is where they had crossed the continental divide heading west and where Sacagawea fortuitously recognized her brother as the leader of the band of Shoshone, who intercepted the Lewis and Clark company near this place. John and I had "found" a B & B (Solaas Bed and Breakfast) on that trip and I really liked the owners (Roger and Sharon Solaas):
www.salmonidaho.com/solaas

William Least Heat Moon, the author of Blue Highways had stayed with Roger and Sharon and his stay is mentioned in that book.

When John and I left Roger and Sharon in June of 2006, I told them I would return one day and I would have my wife with me. So, six years later, almost to the day, a promise kept. Roger and Sharon had a pushy, smart, clever, conniving cat, who tried his best to ingratiate himself to us. Actually I think he wanted us to: 1) let him in the old double story farm house for the night and 2) take him home with us.

Sharon allowed that number one wasn’t allowed BUT we were welcome to take the spoiled, troublesome feline home with us if we wanted. We declined. In reality I think the cat is grudgingly loved, admired and appreciated by both Roger and Sharon, but at least Sharon won’t own up to that.

We had an upstairs room with some of Sharon’s beloved hand made quilts on the beds and a great view of the Lemhi Mountains to the east of us. Another good night’s sleep.

DAY ELEVEN [09 JUNE 2012]

My wife had been a great sport on this entire road trip; car camping in a backpacking tent; taking short hikes; and especially for taking the 17 mile round backpacking trip into Keet Seel and back. Cliff dwelling are after all, of more interest to me than her…so…I wanted to surprise her.

I told her we would travel through Salmon; over Lost Trail Pass; then over Lolo Pass and down to the Clearwater River casino and hotel near Lewiston, Idaho. There we would spend the last night of our road trip in a nice room and she could play her beloved, penny slot machines. She was elated. So off we went.

As we left Salmon and started out climb up Lost Trail Pass I noticed it getting much cooler, and pretty soon there was fresh snow beside the highway. It seems so incongruous having just traveled many miles with the A/C on the car switched on. As we topped Lost Trail Pass and started down the other side, I had to blink twice as I saw a vehicle in the ditch, on the right hand side of the road. Only it was a vehicle. It was a private airplane.

It was damaged but not badly. I pulled over to take a photograph just as a state patrolman pulled up to the scene and started walking up the highway. Behind him was another official car with a man in an FAA jacket.

I read when I got home that it had only the pilot aboard and he wasn’t injured. His story about a "down draft" and forced landing sounded a bit unusual to me. I’m guessing that the snow and low cloud visibility caused a "can’t turn around problem" when flying VFR in suddenly IFR conditions. The internet article said that the "incident" was being investigated.

After passing the scene we saw a U.S. Forest Service vehicle heading to the same scene, so all interested parties will be able to compare notes.

We had off and on rain all the way over Lolo Pass and enjoyed watching the rafters, kayakers, and catarafts float by on the Lochsa River. The water was high and fast moving, and they all seemed to be enjoying the experience even though it was raining.

I had a buffalo burger and split some curly fries with my wife at a road side Farmer’s market. We felt sorry for the vendors, who had set up there, as they were closing up early. Too much rain for many visitors.

We got our room for the night at the Clearwater River Casino and my wife got her time attending the "investment" opportunities as the penny slot machines. I bought a carry out pizza and cinnamon sticks to bring back to our room, and I enjoyed reading and watching the Mariners on high definition TV. A good time was had by all.

DAY TWELVE [10 JUNE 2012]

Drove home through the lovely Palouse country of Eastern Washington.

I hope you enjoy some of the photographs that go with this road trip photo set. I hope they bring good memories to those of you who have visited the places we did and that perhaps somebody out there in flickrland is motivated to visit a place they haven’t been as a result of the photos. Thanks for stopping by. OMT 11 June 2012.

Posted by oldmantravels on 2012-06-22 19:58:58

Tagged: , road trip , Palouse hills farm , Washington state landscapes

Winter in America {Detroit City}

Winter in America {Detroit City}

Canon EOS 7D | Canon 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 | Available Light

[Inspired by the incomparable Gil Scott-Heron.]

The season’s first snow evokes a specific hatred in most people. From the veracious enmity the snow elicits, each falling snowflake might as well be a millimeter-wide falling renegade angel cast out of Heaven by God himself.

I’ve always managed to see something else in the winter cold and snow. The cold brings a certain calm. Its forces life to slow down in much the same way it forces the atoms that life is composed of to relent.

The disjointed urban tapestry of asphalt, broken glass, discarded fast food drink trays, and disused sneakers is replaced by a seamless blanket of radiant white. It provides the landscape with an otherwise impossible aesthetic harmony. I find this soothing.

Each of the seasons has its own beauty and idiosyncrasies. Winter isn’t so bad. You just have to see it on its terms.

Noah Stephens 2010. All Rights Reserved

Posted by Noah Stephens on 2010-12-17 05:01:22

Tagged: , Detroit Photographers , Detroit , Motown , Motor City , Noah Stephens , Commercial , Advertising

29 | Edgar gives me a hug

29 | Edgar gives me a hug

Shot with a Panasonic GH1 using an H-H020 pancake lens at Innervisions in the University District neighborhood of Seattle. Informed my framer that she was welcome to check out the film (being shown about 6 blocks away) and to add it to my bill…

10/10/10 Update: Anne at Innervisions called today. Among the ideas she had for this was framing it with a green shadowbox — the green being the color of his shirt. Then there would be stars cut out randomly along the shadowbox like it is in the poster. The stars would be white. Can’t wait to see it when it’s done. Due to this poster, I may have to move. I’m out of wall space in my tiny apartment.

The 29th viewing of your favorite film at the New Beverly Cinema in Los Angeles unlocks a hug from the director Edgar Wright, along with high fives from Brie Larson (Envy Adams), Aubrey Plaza (Julie Powers – she has issues), Mark Webber (The Talent), Mae Whitman (Evil Ex #4), Johnny Simmons (Young Neil), Bill Pope (Cinematographer extraordinaire), Bryan Lee O’Malley (Author/Creator), Anna Kendrick (Stacey), Satya Bhabha (Evil Ex #1), Brandon Routh (Superman/Evil Ex #3) and Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Ramona Flowers). Along with the hug and high fives, Edgar brought me this signed poster.

I would have returned to the New Beverly on November 12th for another (now sold out) midnight screening, but I already have plans to go to see the always hilarious Louis CK here in Seattle.

I shot the Q&A that followed the screening. It can be viewed in 720p HD here.

Thank you again Edgar and Bryan.

Posted by © suomynona on 2010-10-04 18:26:58

Tagged: , scott pilgrim , scott pilgrim vs. the world , edgar wright , film , movie , poster , an epic of epic epicness , michael cera , bass , guitar , bryan lee o’malley , radiomaru , edgarwrighthere , achievement , unlocked , achievement unlocked , rickenbacker , 4003 , fire , glow , 4001s , sugar walls

Organizing gear for backpacking

Organizing gear for backpacking

Here is a link to an EXCEL list of what I actually ended up taking, sorted by weight and totaled by weight carried and worn:

www.flickr.com/photos/12150532@N04/8013202481/in/photostream

I did not take all the gear shown here, in a photo taken a few days before leaving for a backpacking trip to the Cirque of the Towers in Wyoming’s Wind River Range.

I have made notes to ID each of the things you see in this photo.

The book I have on top of my very old Kelty Tioga external frame pack did not go with me on this trip but I have found it such a wonderful reference that I plug the book every time I get the opportunity. The book:

BACKPACKER "HIKING LIGHT HANDBOOK" BY KAREN BERGER.

You will see maps in this pile of gear. Some I made with National Geo topo and laminated to handle bad weather; one by Earthwalk Press "South Wind River Range" Hiking map and guide; AND the Cirque of the Towers Wind River Range by Backpacker magazine (my topo a Trimble Company}.

BY FAR the best map and the only one you would need for hiking the trails in this area is the Backpacker magazine map:

Cirque of the Towers – Wind River Range.

I have given up carrying Nalgene water bottles. I carry in four 20 oz plastic bottles of diet Mt. Dew. I filter water and refill these when they are half empty.

When I’m ready to hike out I let all the air out of two bottles and squash them and seal them to carry them out. The other two I keep full to hydrate on the way out. Works well for me. Light. flexible, easy to access, and nice to "cache" if the situation call for it (which it didn’t on this hike).

Four full bottles went to base camp then I always carried two full bottles on the day hikes (with water filter if I thought I would need refills).

No Jetboil or fuel cannisters on this trip either. Sandwiches, scones, chocolate, nuts, and crated Pringle potato chips. I survived and no stove to carry out on the last day.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

THE CIRQUE OF THE TOWERS Backpacking Trip: September 7th through 9th 2012
Wind River Mountain Range – Wyoming

PREFACE:

I often write a "story" to go along with the photographs I post on my OLDMANTRAVELS flickr site. I can get pretty wordy and long winded with these stories but the beauty of the situation is you don’t have to read one word of it if you don’t want to. Just look at the photographs (if you want to).

On occasion I have received some flip Flickr flak for my long photo "stories" but, trust me, I am adept at ignoring criticism. Ask any of my photographer friends who try to talk me into using a tripod or even try to become a "real" photographer (instead of a hiker who likes to snap pictures).

So, you may be sitting in a work cubicle in a high rise office in L.A., wishing you were any where else in the world but preferably up in the mountains with a pack on your back. You may sitting in an easy chair in your ranch house in Halfway, Wyoming (I want to go there some day, just to say I have been there) looking at flickr photos on your PC or surfing flickr photos on your iPad in a cafe in Halfway, Oregon (I have been there. Cool little town).

But wherever you are, be it Halfway,Anywhere or Alltheway, Somewhere – I hope you enjoy some of the photographs and perhaps, some of the story that goes with them. Have fun.

INTRODUCTION:

Fred and I put together a backpacking trip into Titcomb Basin, in the Northern portion of Wyoming’s Wind River Range for September of 2011. With Fred’s consent, my brother and a friend of mine, accompanied us on that backpacking trip. We backpacked 27 miles over four days and had spectacular weather. No bugs and very few people. In fact, we pretty much had Upper and Lower Titcomb Lakes to ourselves.

The September 2011 Titcomb Basin backpack, was the first time Fred and I had hiked together. We got along great so it was only natural to plan a "follow up hike". During the always long, with short days, winter or 2011-12, we exchanged emails and it became evident that both of us longed for a return trip to the Wind River Range. So early in the year of 2012, we set our sights on the Cirque of the Towers, located in the Southern portion of the Wind River Range. The planning began in earnest.

For our 2012 backpacking trip, we invited Fred’s sister, whom I shall call "SQ". Fred had told me about her before. He claimed that she was an excellent hiker, backpacker and outdoors person and would be fun to have on our backpacking trip. He was 100% right.

Both Fred and SQ both work (they aren’t old living on government dole like me) so we set the Cirque of the Towers backpacking trip dates for Friday 9.6.12; Saturday 9.7.12; and Sunday 9.8.12. Weekends might mean more people on the trails but for good company on a backpacking trip, that didn’t bother me…so subject to a "reasonable" weather forecast, those are the days we picked.

When we got we got within a ten day weather forecast window of our backpacking trip and the forecast looked good, the three of us agreed to "go for it". We all reserved cabins at the Log Cabin Motel in Pinedale, Wyoming for Thursday night September 6th. Our plan would be to head for the Big Sandy trail head on Friday morning – – backpacks loaded and ready.

As a shiftless (you could add lazy, stubborn, and unconventional to that) retiree, who no longer works (my wife still works part time), I was free to drive down to the trail head and return back home, at my own whims and predilections. Early on, my wife and I agreed not to include her on this particular backpacking trip as we didn’t know how "tough or easy" the route up Jackass Pass (10,800′) might be and it would be difficult to get the right days off in September.

"THE STORY" DAY ONE: I left our home in Eastern Washington at four in the morning. I had our small, old, high mileage SUV packed with both my backpacking gear and "road travel" gear. It had been packed and double checked, the night before.

As with any road trip or hike, the earlier I get going the better I like it. I’m like a kid in that respect. Can’t wait.

I drove the interstate (I-90) east and at a steady pace. My goal was to reach a camping spot anywhere between Red Lodge, Montana and the Beartooth Pass, leading into the Northeast entrance of Yellowstone National Park.

I stayed on I-90 all the way through Spokane, Missoula, Three Forks, Bozeman, and the small town of Columbus, Montana. Here I left the interstate and purposefully drove a highway I had never traveled before. I took Montana highway 78 through Abarokee and "downtown" Roscoe to Red Lodge, Montana.

My plan was to camp between Red Lodge and Northeast entrance to Yellowstone NP, so I could travel the spectacular Beartooth Pass highway, right at dawn. My wife and I had tried to travel the pass a few years ago (from south to north) but it was closed so we improvised an took the scenic highway 296 highway to Cody, Wyoming on that trip. But it had been many years since last crossing the Beartooth Pass (10,947′) and I was anxious to do so again.

There was a problem and that was forest fires. Whether started by lightening, careless people, or on purpose as "managed" fires as they call them, the smoke can diminish the scenic beauty of an area quickly and I had driven through lots of such wildfire smoke on this trip already.

I found an excellent place to camp just as dark started to arrive. I backed my old RAV4 up to within a stone’s toss of the rumbling creek (Rock Creek) and slept in the bed I had prepared in the back of the old Toyota RAV4 with 150,000 miles on it. Breaking camp the next morning would consist of crawling from the bed in the back to the driver’s seat and starting the engine (followed closely by turning the heat to high and the fan to full).

"THE STORY" DAY TWO: I arrived at the summit of Beartooth Pass at dawn. As I suspected and feared, the forest fire smoke filtered the landscape views and at times irritated my eyes. Still, I enjoyed every minute of the drive. It is big, spectacular country and I kept reminding myself that forest fires were as much a part of the grand scheme of Mother Nature, as were winds, rain, four seasons, and flowing rivers and streams.

I stopped to take a few photos at "Little Bear Lake" and then continued on through Cooke City and Silver Gate into Yellowstone. I drove slowly through Yellowstone, admiring the wildlife (bison, pronghorn, elk, deer, and sandhill cranes) and the scenery. Dunraven Pass had lots of wildfire smoke so I didn’t linger there. On through Canyon Village then Lake Village exiting the park on highway 191.

Entering Grand Teton National Park on the venerable highway 191 route, I decided to stray from convention and loop over to Jenny Lake, a place I had not visited for many years. So at the south end of Jackson Lake, I took the Teton Park Road to the Jenny Lake visitor center. Lots of people. The tent camp was already full so I spent some quality time talking to a young lady park ranger, with a map spread out in front of us, talking about any places I might camp that night, that wouldn’t be full. She recommended Gros Ventre camp, so off I went.

At Moose Junction I turned back north on hwy 191 to Antelope Flats Road and headed east. I went past the north end of "Mormon Row" but didn’t take time to stop as I wanted most of all to secure a campsite for the night. I then took the paved narrow two lane road south to Kelly (a small "pocket town" on the Gros Ventre River), and turned back west to the Gros Ventre campground. On the way I passed the south end of the gravel road that travels the Mormon Row barns and homesteads, so I now had the lay of the land in my mind.

Two women at the campground office worked at finding me a campsite for the night that would lend itself to my goal of a quiet night’s sleep with an early morning departure. They put me up at site #199 in Loop "D" for a modest "senior’s rate" camp fee. It turned out perfect. My only camping neighbor was a nice couple from Emmett, Idaho, who were in a truck camper and as they said "prepared to camp until the leaves changed color". I liked that.

Having secured (posted my receipt on the campsite post) my camping spot for the night, I drove the gravel road north to enjoy the much photographed old buildings of Mormon Row
The places along this row of farms were built in the 1910s up into the early 1930s. The people, who lived here were mostly the Moultons, some Chambers, Thomas Murphy and Thomas Perry. Many of the buildings are gone and all that remain are now part of the national park system. The views of the Grand Teton Mountains from these old buildings are spectacular.

After taking some smoke filtered landscape photos at Mormon Row, I was hungry. I carried and ice chest full of cold soda pop and a well stocked plastic tote of sandwich making material, so I drove north up to the Snake River Overlook (a place my wife and I have often stopped at when driving highway 191 through Grand Teton NP).

Here I fixed and ate dinner, walked the rim of the Snake River and waited with others for the sun to set behind the Grand Teton range. Now I began to appreciate the forest fire smoke in the area as the sky turned bright orange and pink behind the mountains as the sun disappeared behind them. Well worth the wait. After the sunset scene, I drove back to my campsite, read John Muir’s "Travels in Alaska" by LED headlamp, and fell blissfully asleep.

"THE STORY" DAY THREE: This was an uneventful, slow paced, rest up, organize, and get ready for the backpacking trip day. Enjoyable.

I drove the Moose Entrance to Wilson "scenic road" for the first time. The north end had some good "moose country" habitat and it was an enjoyable drive, but even early in the morning don’t expect solitude. It is a popular route. Postscript: I didn’t see a single moose along the MOOSE to Wilson road (which reminds me of a joke):

Said a well traveled young man: "I spent an entire week on the Canary Islands and during my entire stay, I didn’t see one canary. I then traveled to the Virgin Islands for a week long visit there as well. And you know what? ………………… I didn’t see a single canary there either.".

I stocked up on "hiking food" (scones) at the Albertson store in Jackson Hole, Wyoming then drove on to Hoback Junction and on to Pinedale, Wyoming. I checked into my cabin there and started organizing my backpacking gear, making sandwiches for the backpacking trip, reading, relaxing and hoping that Fred and SQ would arrive without problems from there homes in the Boise, Idaho area.

Fred called me by cell phone at 1:30 pm on Thursday and said that they were "on their way" with an ETA of around 9:30 pm (which is about when they arrived). Fred came to my cabin when they got to Pinedale (SQ went directly to her cabin) and the two of us talked about the upcoming hike plans and agreed upon when we would leave Pinedale in the morning.

"THE STORY" DAY FOUR: We drove to the Subway for our last "civilization" meal for a few days, then headed off to the Big Sandy trailhead. In some hiking guide books, they make finding the correct turns to make as complicated and difficult. We found quite the contrary. There are just two major turns to make after leaving the pavement on Wyoming highway 353. They aren’t hard to find. The dirt roads are in great shape except the last ten miles (when you make the last turn north). There it is pretty rough in places but the scenery and anticipation of the high quality hiking to come, makes it a cinch as well.

We signed in at the trail head, shouldered our backpacks and headed up the 5.5 mile trail (with only 600 ft. of elevation gain) to Big Sandy Lake. Fred is a strong hiker and a professional photographer (in addition to his professional "day job"). So it is difficult for him to leave a tripod, camera body, or lens … behind. SQ whispered to me that he was able to leave his wooden pin hole camera behind on this hike but he took it with him on our September 2011 Titcomb Basin hike.

Fred always carries the biggest and heaviest pack but he knows what he is capable of and takes the cameras, lenses, and photographic equipment it takes to get the professional results he does with his photography.

SQ had the next biggest and heaviest pack. She too is a strong competent hiker and backpacker and as Fred once warned me "She will out hike us both"…she did. So we put SQ in the lead and asked her to slow down if she saw us "fading" on the trail.

I’m the wimp. I carried the lightest load of the three of us. And here comes the first of a couple of backpacking vignettes: Leading up to our backpacking trip, Fred and I exchanged emails dithering and deliberating over how to save weight to carry on our backpacking trip.
This meant all was subject to being left behind , except camera gear for Fred (of course).

We both decided that with the favorable weather forecast, for example, we could leave rain pants behind. Nylon hiking pant and long poly prop underwear would handle that issue for me. Then the topic came up of "bear vaults". Both Fred and I have each owned one for years but NEVER has either of us used ours. Hell they weigh TWO pounds each and they are bulky. Besides, we are real men. We can hang our food properly in a bear bag over a cliff or on an sturdy tree limb. So went the thinking.

When I confirmed by phone that bear vaults weren’t mandatory in the Wind River Range, Fred and I gleefully agreed that we would leave ours at home. Well you have probably already figured out the punch line. given our situation of "the beauty" (SQ) hiking with "the two beasts" (Fred and me). SQ brought her bear vault and Fred and I shamelessly made use of the bear vault SQ packed all the way to Big Sandy Lake in her large heavy backpack.

We leap frogged a few backpackers on our way up to Big Sandy Lake. Two women and their four pack carrying dogs became our instant trail favorites. We would run into each other on the backpack into Big Sandy Lake; on the trail coming out of the Cirque of the Towers on Saturday and at least twice on our backpack out to the trail head on Sunday.

The four happy hiking trail dogs were a real study in different dog personalities. Walter, was the smallest, slightest built dog of the four and clearly liked to lead. He was also the most affectionate to trail strangers (like us) and seemed to be having the most fun. He was a mutt, as many smart endearing dogs are and a mix between a beagle and Australian shepherd. The other three were magnificent purebred German Shepherds.

Walter was always "first up the trail". He made friends quickly with his adorable expression and straight forward manner. As soon as the three German Shepherds saw how well Walter was being petted and scratched behind his ears…they lined up and competed for attention.

Almost 75% of the people we saw hiking in and out of Big Sandy Lake had dogs with them and I can tell you that every dog we passed was well mannered and friendly. They were welcome trail companions in my book.

The three of us arrived at Big Sandy Lake and were impressed by both the appeal of the lake and the dramatic mountains that surround it. It is a truly lovely lake. I think if any of us had hiked the Cirque of the Towers trail up over Jackass Pass before, and seen the available "best tent sites" in the area, we might have continued to hike there on Friday. We had enough daylight. But with a wind and clouds rolling in at the moment, we decided it would be best to secure a good camping spot at the far end of Big Sandy Lake and then do our exploring with day hikes to the Cirque of the Towers and later to the Clear Lake & Deep Lake – East Temple Peak area – – if we had time.

That decided, we set up our three small lightweight backpacking tents in a well spaced row up the left bank of the almost dry creek bed of Lost Creek. The spacing would assure that SQ would not have to lose a night’s sleep listening to two world class snorers (Fred and I have our reputations to uphold in that classification). SQ took the top site up close to the marmot’s boulder field; then Fred’s tent; then mine. We all had quality views of Sandy Mountain; Big Sandy Lake; Haystack and East Temple peaks.

Our intent was to spend both Friday and Saturday nights at our Big Sandy Lake/Lost Creek "base camp". Then we could spend all of our time hiking our favorite trails with light day packs (though with Fred’s camera gear, I’m pretty certain his day pack load would be close to my entire backpack load in weight). This is what we did and it worked out great.

We ate camp dinner and talked for awhile and took a couple of short "reconnaissance" hikes close by camp. We now had a feel for the "Miller Lake/Little Sandy Lake" trail; the Clear Lake/Deep Lake trail; the Black Joe Lake trail as well as the trail junction for the hike up past North Lake and Arrowhead Lake, over Jackass Pass and into the spectacular Cirque of the Towers area.

We all retired to our tents for the night. I had brought along a copy of the Sep+Oct 2012 Washington Trails magazine for camp reading. The magazine came with membership in the Washington Trails Association that was "gifted" to me by a good hiking friend of mine, HC.

I turned on my LED headlamp and opened up the magazine. There on page three was a familiar name: Andy Porter. He was listed as a "guest contributor". He is a flickr contact of mine and he does indeed take excellent photographs. It seemed ironic, that I had written one person about a waterfall location, in the Cirque area between Hidden and Lonesome Lake, and that was Andy. He was quick to send me a Flickr email back with information that I requested. His Flickr site is: I8Seattle.

A quick side note: Flickr has been a wonderful resource for me when researching upcoming hikes and road trips. I really appreciate people like Andy, who willingly share information. I always write to thank people for their help. Some people sent me a flickr email a couple of months ago asking for camping information for the Titcomb Basin hike and some specific camp location questions. I wrote them providing what they asked, and never heard another word. There are people that are "takers" out there, who think nothing of requesting information then are too lazy (or rude) to send a two word reply back. Thank you.

Thanks Andy for the "waterfalls" info. Thanks too "HC" for the WTA membership gift and the Trails magazine that comes with it.

"THE STORY" DAY FIVE: Fred, the professional photographer, wanted to head up the 2+ mile trail over Jackass Pass before dawn, hiking with a headlamp. I told him I would be happy to join him and asked that he call for me outside my tent if he got up before I did.

SQ, who doesn’t carry a camera but instead hikes to see and enjoy the scenery, said she would sleep in Saturday morning and start up the trail when she had something to eat and was good and ready. I hope you are starting to get the picture here. A competent smart woman hiker and her brother and her brother’s hiking friend (me) that can’t seem to wait to get going .. no matter what.

What happened Saturday morning? I got up at six. I went over to Fred’s tent and said in a nice strong voice "Fred, Fred…Fred". No response. I headed down where we had placed SQ’s Bear Vault (filled equally with her food, our food, and our camp food garbage). My intent was to open the bear vault and get some hiking food for my day hike up into the Cirque of the Towers.

The lid of the bear vault was iced over and try as I might I couldn’t get it open. I squeezed the lid in; wrestled with it; cursed it; but could not open it. I admit to being shamed in knowing that a black bear in the Adirondack Mountains has learned to open the blasted things..yet I could not.

I decided with my ample "fat reserve" that I could make it without food for my day hike over and back to the Cirque of the Towers. I threw a couple bottles of diet Mt. Dew (my caffeine fix) in my pack; two small cameras (Canon G9 & G10) a few essentials and a coat, into my light Marmot "day pack" and got ready to head out.

Then I noticed that Fred’s pack wasn’t in sight. So I returned to his tent and called his name a few more times then opened the rain fly of his tent to find him gone.

I now concluded correctly that: #1 he had left before dawn and had been unable to stir me from my sleep. AND #2 incorrectly that Fred too had been unable to open the bear vault so he too would be hiking without trail food. I thought the ice and frost on the bear vault lid proved that but I was wrong. Fred (like the black bear in the Adirondacks) did get the vault open but had left so early that a new coating of ice and frost had formed on the lid by the time I tried it. Off I went.

It was light enough for me to hike easily without a headlamp up the Cirque of the Towers trail. It did get tough to find the route in a couple of places though and the trail was much more work that I thought it would be so it took a little longer than I might have guessed. I was just amazed that Fred had been able to successfully negotiate the route in the dark, even with a good map and headlamp, given that none of the three of us had ever hiked in the area.

I saw Fred’s boot prints on the occasional dirt or sand portion of the trail. I just didn’t know how early he had left camp, nor how fast or slow he might be hiking, given his load of camera gear.

I won’t try to describe how magnificent the scenery was on this hike and I hope a photo or two of mine does some justice to it, but my head was constantly on swivel enjoying the ever unfolding beauty of this world class rock climbing area.

After a few steep ups and downs in the cairn marked trail, I came to a four way trail intersection above Arrowhead Lake. To my left a faint path lead down to the north end of Arrowhead Lake. to my right was a straight up the hill wide, heavily eroded, rock strewn trail that was clearly the route to Jackass pass (10,800 ft.).

Straight ahead was a faint but inviting "climbers’ path" that led up to a notched saddle, that I just knew would have a tremendous view of the Cirque, the rock faces, and the landscape as the morning sun was starting to move down the rock faces. I chose to take the path straight ahead.

Coming over the crest of the saddle and looking down below at the Cirque and across at all the tremendous spires, faces, and peaks of the Cirque of the Towers was the most dramatic moment of this trip. Wonderful. Beyond words.

Right in the middle of the Cirque was "the waterfalls" I wanted to visit and photograph. It was right where Andy Porter said it would be. I could follow the creek down from Hidden Lake (not labeled on all maps you will see of the area) and then see it as it flowed down over the falls and on into the Lonesome Lake basin.

I studied the topography of the cirque basin for awhile and picked a line of travel that would avoid tight patches of alpine conifers and the boulder fields that might slow my progress. I had lots of choices and I sat off on what looked like the "best route" down to the waterfalls.

The waterfalls are small but their setting makes them dramatic. While at the falls I saw a few rock climbers making their way to Pingora or Wolf Head or some other peak of the Cirque of the Towers, with their rock climbing gear slung across their shoulders.

I met a retired backpacker from Kellogg, Idaho, who was camped a ways down stream from the waterfalls. He had his binoculars out and was getting ready to watch the rock climber ply their avocation and skills.

I contoured from the waterfalls over to intercept the trail between Lonesome Lake and Jackass Pass. No sign of Fred anywhere but I just knew wherever he was he had a big grin on his face and was happily following photo op after photo op. I knew he was in his element.

When I got to the main trail, without losing any altitude, it was a short hike up over Jackass Pass, heading south. Quietly I hoped I could hike fast enough to get back to camp at Big Sandy Lake, eat something (I was determined to get into the Yogi Bear proof bear vault) then head out for a hike to one or more of the lakes down by Temple Mountain.

Between Arrowhead Lake and North Lake, on the trail on my way back to Big Sandy Lake camp, I saw SQ coming up the trail at a nice even brisk pace. We hadn’t talked much up to this point but there is something about a "side of the trail" talk, that brings out topic after topic.

When she found out I hadn’t been able to get into the "anybody can do it" (except me), bear vault she started throwing food out of her day pack, insisting that I eat something of hers. I didn’t have the heart to eat any of her precious trail chocolate but willingly ate one of her mini-bagel peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

We talked on and on and every few minutes, hikers or climber going in or out of the Cirque of the Towers would stop by and the conversation would expand in topic and in number of participants. What fun.

Then we looked down the trail and saw a familiar face coming up the trail. It was "Walter the wonder dog" the trail beagle/Australian shepherd mix, sweetheart of a dog. He seemed to recognize us and made a bee line over for some ear scratching and encouraging "dog talk". He may have also spotted SQ’s trail snacks.

A much repeated trail ritual ensued with Walter’s big German Shepherd companions appearing on the trail The moment they spotted Walter getting attention they once again lined up for their share. The two women, who owned the dogs (by now regular "trail friends") came up too and another animated trail information sessions began again. They told me of how much they had enjoyed the granite slab rock hike between Deep and Clear Lakes, so that nugget of information lodged in my mind.

Finally SQ and I headed our different ways. She headed up toward Jackass Pass (armed with my recommendation for at least sampling the "climbers’ trail" to the notch). She would find Fred and probably the two of them would spend the rest of the day in the Cirque of the Towers area. I expressed my wish to eat at camp; secure food; and then head south from Big Sandy Lake to hike the Clear Lake/Deep Lake slab stone route OR the entire loop if I found I had time (returning down the Miller Lake route).

By 1:30 pm I had successfully opened the bear vault back at "base camp" and had a big lunch. I packed my day pack with more water and my water filter and readied for a day hike toward Temple Mountain. I left an irreverent note for Fred and SQ in the bear vault, so they would know what time I headed out and what my intended destination would be.

More hikers and backpackers were now arriving at Big Sandy Lake. That came as no surprise to me given the great weather and it being a Saturday. What did surprise me is that when I took off on the trail up to Clear Lake, I didn’t see another person or backpacking tent, until I had hiked up to Deep Lake and returned to Clear Lake. Then, and only then did I run into a few hikers.

The hike up the granite slab rock between Clear Lake and Deep Lake was the most enjoyable section of "trail" that I have hiked in the Wind River Range. I just loved it. The steep white granite walls of Haystack and East Temple Mountain were tremendous sights.

When I looked at my hiking maps the route from Clear to Deep Lake was obvious so I ignored the cairns and any trails wandering in and out of the woods and just hiked the slab rock to my heart’s content. It was really great hiking.

I lingered at Deep Lake to filter some water (tasted great), and just enjoy the outstanding views. I was tempted to hang around or perhaps hike on over to Temple Lake so I could be at Deep Lake when the pink early evening light started to hit East Temple Peak. But I thought it best to return the way I came and get back to Big Sandy Lake "base camp" in time to have a early evening meal with Fred & SQ, who would likely be returning from the Cirque of the Towers at around the same time.

The weather forecast for Sunday was a 20% chance of rain, which according to hikers coming in, had jumped up to 30%. Fred and SQ had the two plus hour backpack out from Big Sandy Lake to the trail head to do Sunday morning; then a two plus hour drive to Pinedale; then an 8 hour trip back home to Boise – – to be ready for work Monday morning.

When the three of us ended up together at our tents at our Big Sandy Lake "base camp" we all agreed to "sleep in" then head out together first thing Sunday morning. Saturday night was a still star filled night. It was a great way to finish out this backpacking trip. We all went to sleep with our own thoughts.

"THE STORY" DAY SIX: We all got up the next morning about the same time. Without words we immediately ate something and started striking our tents and packing our packs. Ice had formed on the inside of my rain fly as I had slept with the rain fly door wide open. Still I wouldn’t have missed the night view of the stars.

At 8 am Sunday morning we shouldered our backpacks and headed down the gentle easy trail from Big Sandy Lake back to our vehicles at the trail head.

We talked to several hikers and backpackers as they were heading in and we were heading out. We met two older, but fit looking, women with quality backpacking gear, coming up the trail. Their accents quickly gave them away. They were from Adelaide, Australia.

I quickly teased them about the 1/2 hour time zones I had run into when working the area in the 1980s. SQ and the two Aussie women found some common topic threads and a full scale trail meeting began in earnest. Fred and I slowly backed away into the shade of a small pine and watched with pleasure and amusement as the women adroitly shifted topics and punctuated their discussion with hand waving.

Then a familiar hiker came running down the trail toward us. Walter the wonder beagle. How funny. Same routine, different location. Now the two dog owning women hikers; joined the two Aussie women; and SQ (surrounded by attention seeking canines) and the trail meeting took on a life of its own.

I circled the trail meeting with my camera trying to catch a snapshot that would capture the essence and the spirit of the "meeting". The meeting finally ended and off we all went. it was a good ending to our trail encounters with other hikers and Walter will always have a special place in my heart and a deserved title as "Trail Ambassador" and a very cute and clever dog.

We were at our vehicles by 11 am and digging into our ice chests for cold rewards for our three day backpacking and day hiking efforts. We chatted and talked trip highlights at the trail head then convoyed our vehicles back to the paved road. I stopped to photograph a cow and calf moose along the road on the way back to Pinedale but ran into Fred & SQ at the Subway, where we parted ways for the last time on this trip.

It had been a wonderful backpacking trip for me. If you made a short list of the qualities you would want in backpacking and hiking companions it would probably include adjectives such as: dependable, fair, courteous, considerate, flexible tolerant, competent, confident, honest, happy, flexible, fit, and a couple of phrases like "great attitude" "self sufficient" etc. Fred and his sister were all of those and more.

I have a feeling we will hike together again, unless I get too old too soon to keep up with the two of them. If they ever switch to lighter packs, then I’m already out matched. But somehow, I think the two of them would be fine with hiking slower because that is the kind of nice people that they are. Thanks Fred. Thanks SQ.

By the way if you have not yet hiked this area and are thinking about doing so, I highly recommend the map "Cirque of the Towers Wind River Range" by Backpacker Magazine (mytopo – a Trimble company). Fred found it and being the considerate person that he is, bought and sent a copy of the map to both me and to his sister, before our backpacking trip.

Also: I have read many backpacking "guides" and the one that hits the right balance for me and seems to be filled with good and "reasonable" advice is: Backpacker: "The Hiking Light Handbook" (carry less and enjoy more) by Karen Berger. I highly recommend it.

After leaving Pinedale in the early afternoon I had a planned stop at Trappers Point, just north of Pinedale off highway 191. You can’t miss the place now as they are putting in a million dollar "antelope, deer, elk, and cattle" overpass right near the site.. You take a short rough dirt road to the top of a hill and you are looking down upon where Horse Creek enters the Snake River. Here six of the sixteen fur trading "rendezvous" took place.

Looking down upon the scene it doesn’t take much imagination to time transport your thoughts to the 1830s and 1840s and imagine the colorful events that took place where you are looking. You will be standing where many Native Americans have stood, when hunting at this natural big game corridor. You can understand why this location was chosen for the rendezvous with – – the combination of wood, water, grazing, and bountiful game that would have made this the "place to be" for those many years.

You will share views and boot prints with mountain men like Jim Bridger (my hero); the Sublette brothers; Thomas Fitzpatrick; and Jedediah Smith (his story is a great read).

After spending much time at Trappers Point, I drove the familiar route through Bondurant, to the Hoback Junction; then down the Snake River to Alpine. From here I purposefully took yet another back road I had never before driven. I took highway 34 through small towns like Freedom, Henry and Soda Springs. I saw moose and pronghorn along the way and lots of early fall color.

When I arrived at Interstate 15 the "get home" bug hit me in full and I kept with the interstates from then on, driving up to Pocatello; then over to Burley, Twin Falls, Boise, La Grande, Pendleton and home. I pulled into rest stops, picnic areas, forest camps etc. to catch three of four hours of sleep in my RAV car camping bed, then drove on sipping cold diet Pepsi and eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches I made along the way using fresh coarse great tasting wheat bread I purchased near Daniel, Wyoming.

I got back home Monday morning. You might think I surprised my wife by getting home so early after leaving the trail head at close to noon on Sunday, but not so. She knows me well and greeted me with a big hug and a knowing smile. A good trip. I hope you enjoy some of the photographs and perhaps a bit of the "story" as well. OMT September 2012.

Posted by oldmantravels on 2012-09-22 13:00:36

Tagged: , Backpack Cirque of the Towers , Big Sandy Lake , Wyoming Wind River Range backpack , hike Wyoming , Cirque of the Towers , Temple Mountain , Deep Lake Clear Lake , lost creek camp , backpacking gear , Big Sandy trail head , road trip , Big Sandy Wyoming to Big Sandy trail head , Wyoming’s Wind River Range , Bridger Wilderness Wyoming , Wind River Mountain Range Wyoming , Backpacking Wyoming , Hike Wind River Range , Hidden Lake Creek Falls , Big Sandy Lake base camp , Pingora Peak , East Temple Mountain

LEGOLAND # 6694 – car with camper

LEGOLAND # 6694 - car with camper

classic LEGO brick set # 6694 (1984 / 109 pieces / 2 figures)

|||large on black|||

* all pictures are copyrighted * do not publish without authorization *

Posted by DrTeNFeet on 2014-01-14 18:40:42

Tagged: , LEGO , Legoland , Canon , 60D , DRTENFEET , 6694 , classic , Product , minifigures , Camper , Camping , Wohnwagen

Confluence Green & Yampa Rivers

Confluence Green & Yampa Rivers

After I took my morning hike up the Green River and the Yampa River, I returned to have a morning camp meal with my wife and then strike the tent and organize our camping gear.

When the sun reached the canyon bottom I suggested that my wife accompany me on a repeat hike up to the Yampa. She agreed and I’m glad she did. The light was much better for photographing the beauty of Steamboat Rock and the Green and Yampa Rivers.

These photos were taken on that "later in the morning hike" up river with my wife.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Keet Seel Road Trip June 2012
Wednesday 30 May 2012 – Sunday 10 June 2012
Mr. & Mrs. "oldmantravels"

ROAD TRIP HIGHLIGHTS: * City of Rocks, Oakley to Almo, Idaho / * Dinosaur National Monument, Colorado portion: hike Harper’s Corner; camp Echo Park; hike Green River and Yampa River confluence; Steamboat Rock/ * Black Canyon of the Gunnison River, Colorado/ Funky and hip – Telluride, Colorado / * Lowry Pueblo ruins / * Devil’s Canyon campground: Montezuma Canyon loop drive; Muley Point overlook; Abajo Mountains drive / * Blanding, Utah small town fun: Lickety Split Bakery serendipity and the "cast of characters" / Navajo elder turquoise – Homestead Steak House / Daisy Cowboy at the laundromat / * Navajo National Monument: backpacking trip to Keet Seel cliff dwellings; Hopi National Park Ranger – Patrick Joshevama & his atlatl/ * Return to the Solaas Bed and Breakfast, Baker, Idaho / * Snow on Lost Trail Pass and private plane crash / * Lochsa River rain and rafters / * Clearwater River; the Palouse; and home.

THE STORIES – DAY BY DAY:

DAY ONE [30 May 2012]

Our ten year old Toyota RAV4 was all packed, gassed up and ready to go on Tuesday night. Our alarm clock was set for 4 am. We were ready and anxious to go, so we were both up and getting ready to go, before the alarm sounded early Wednesday morning.

We drove the Interstates from our home in Eastern Washington to exit 208 off I-84, just north of Burley, Idaho. Our destination for the first night was the City of Rocks, Idaho. We had both visited this remarkable area several times but had never come into it from the West (the Oakley, Idaho approach). We were determined to see something new by entering the City of Rocks through Oakley and then exiting through Almo, Elba, and Malta.

We saw lots of activity with big semi trucks hauling out huge loads of "slab rocks" on flat bed trailers in the area around the old town of Oakley, Idaho. As soon as we returned home I got on the internet to read about these busy rock quarries.

The rock they were hauling out is called "Oakley Stone" and has been quarried in the area since 1948. It is a muscovite mica described as "thin splitting micaceous quartzite". It is unique and much sought after. It slabs out to 8 foot sections just 1/2 inch thick and is used as facing and paving stone in the U.S. and overseas. Seems you always run into something new and interesting on road trip back roads.

I knew the City of Rocks was very popular in the summer with international and local rock climbers, so to we made reservations for our tent camping site. We chose site #37, which I had picked out on my first visit to the City of Rocks, as the place I would one day like to tent camp with my wife. We did.

The weather was excellent for our visit to the City of Rocks and we took short hikes and drives to enjoy the area. We used our old four seasons The North Face Mountain 24 backpacking tent to sleep in with comfy REI camp rest sleeping pads. The winds blew strong and gusting that night so we were happy to have the wind protection and stability of the four season tent. We slept well this first night of our 12 day road trip.

DAY TWO [31 MAY 2012]

We survived the strong winds that blew most of the night. Our camp chairs blew over and got hung up in a juniper tree, but no other problems. The sun came out and the seemingly always present "interesting cloud" formations above the City of Rocks made for great views as we took some more short hikes and drive before heading on to our next destination.

We caught the interstate east of Malta and made our way to Dinosaur, Colorado, where we stopped at the visitor center for Dinosaur National Monument. A ranger, named Randy, was helpful when we asked about the road down to the Echo Park campground and what are chances of finding an open campsite.

My wife and I had visited the dinosaur dig and the Utah portion of Dinosaur National Monument, several times before but neither of us had visited the Colorado section. On a couple of previous trips we had this portion of the monument on the "to visit" list, but weather and/or bad road conditions caused us to skip it.

We saw a lots of wildflowers and sweet smelling clover with yellow blossoms, edged the road to Harper’s Corner. We saw two bull elk in velvet in the sage country where it looked more like pronghorn or mule deer territory. We drove to the trailhead at Harper’s Corner and took the short, but scenic, hike out to the point where you can look down on the Green River as it makes a big hairpin turn around Steamboat Rock. We could spot the road down through Echo Canyon and the pull off to Whispering Cave, all the way from the ridge line trail.

After the hike we left the paved road and thoroughly enjoyed the gravel road drive down to the Echo Park campground. As Randy had told us, there were few people camping, just three other vehicles other than ours. All were tent camping like us.

We set up our The North Face mountain 24 tent under some juniper and cooked dinner on our small JetBoil backpacking stove. I took off with a camera to hike up closer to Steamboat Rock, while my wife relaxed and organized our camp. I followed the Green River upstream and was pleased to find the trail went all the way to where the Yampa River joins the Green River. I hiked a short distance up the Yampa River, enjoying the scenery and wildlife.

Canada Geese were thick along the rivers and their constant honking, whether flying or floating, echoed off the massive walls of Steamboat Rock and the Yampa river canyon. A beaver slapped his tail hard and dove along the banks of the Green River. When he resurfaced and saw I was still there, he repeated his performance with an loud echoing second tail slap and swam down stream.

We sat around a small fire until the stars and bright moon came out, then slept soundly in our tent.

DAY THREE [01 JUNE 2012]

The sun came out and the day started warming up quickly as the day’s first light started working its way down the canyon walls to the rivers. My wife and I repeated the hike up the Green River and Yampa River together so I could photograph with the warm morning light now lighting up the landscape. Echo Park was a big favorite of ours, and we hope to return one day.

We next headed through Grand Junction, Colorado and on to Montrose, Colorado where we got a motel room. There was still plenty of daylight left so we drove up to see the Black Canyon of the Gunnison River from the south rim drive. We hadn’t visited the canyon before so it was another "first" for us on this road trip.

The Black Canyon of the Gunnison River was difficult to photograph for me, but a spectacular sight, well worth the visit. We returned to Montrose for a good night’s sleep in a motel room.

DAY FOUR [02 JUNE 2012]

From Montrose, Colorado we headed for Telluride, Colorado (one story has it that the name is actually a form of "to hell you ride"… from its lively western history days. Once again, this was a place we had never visited. Ironically, I had purchased a used book titled: "Telluride – from pick to powder by Richard L. and Suzanne Fetter" back in February and had enjoyed reading of the interesting history of Telluride.

I was especially captivated by the story of the story of L.L.Nunn, a short, most eccentric, genius – – who set Telluride up with the first A/C (alternating current generator) in the world in the late 1890s. Like other Colorado gold mining towns Tulluride had its shares of labor unrest, floods, fires, and unique characters.

The town itself was a hoot, just what you might expect of a mining town turned jet set to down and outs digs…a bit of everything for everybody. We drove up to the end of town to see one of the waterfalls electric generating sites; then up above town to see the million dollar "ranch houses" and the unique high altitude runway where our youngest son has flown into before when he was with a charter jet company out of Arizona.

But for pure enjoyment, you couldn’t beat walking up and down the main street of old town Telluride and people watching: Harley Davidson’s; horse drawn tourist wagons; home made cars; bicycles; a bunch of bins with "everything is for free" sign on it; the clock with "Telluride Time" on it; BMW cars and motorcycles; dogs carrying Frisbees and wearing colorful bandanas; and of course the many "Western want to be" tourists that looked more like tourists than cowboys and cowgirls.

Nice friendly, funky, quirky, soup to nuts, town to visit. We even bought my wife a red fuzzy baseball hat with Telluride, Colorado printed on the front. Had to do our thing for tourism you know.

After leaving Telluride we headed down to Dolores, Colorado (ate a great pizza here) and made our way toward Monticello, Utah. Somewhere around Dove Creek, Colorado, we made a short side trip to check out the Lowry Ruins, once again, a place we had not visited before. In the past we had always cut through to visit Hovenweep.

At Monticello we turned south and set up our North Face tent at spot # 29 in Devil’s Canyon Campground. We reserved the spot for two nights to use it as a "base camp" for a few of the drives we wanted to take in the area. We were concerned with a couple wild fires we could see on the southern flanks of the Abajo Mountains, but there were no high winds during our visit and the fires diminished while we were there.

Carrying our senior citizen passes with us, camping continued to be a real bargain for us. We paid $4 to camp at Echo Park in Dinosaur National Monument and just $5 a night for a well maintained campsite at Devil’s Canyon. We walked the short nature loop trail and then all around the campground area as we settled in for our first night at this camp.

DAY FIVE [03 JUNE 2012]

Montezuma’s Canyon was on our list to drive for this trip, so that is where we headed the first thing Sunday morning. We drove it north to south. It was about a 50 mile loop when entered near Monticello and exited near Blanding, Utah.

We found the first 20 miles of the drive beautiful, interesting and enjoyable. Slow paced, with ancient and modern cliff dwellings, a few rock art panels and picturesque Southwest canyon country scenery. The second half of the drive was a bit more "pedestrian" and not so scenic.

When we rejoined the highway south of Blanding we headed south to Bluff, for a quick look at the Sand Island rock art panel; Navajo stew and fry bread at the San Juan River bridge near Mexican Hat (where I had eaten several times before). Then we drove up the Moki Dugway route to Cedar Mesa and took another short side trip. This one was to Muley Point, where we enjoyed the slick rock rim and tremendous landscape views.

We returned to our Devil’s canyon camp for a rest and camp meal, then drove up into the scenic high country of the Abajo Mountains just west of Monticello. Everything was green and some of the fragrant purple wild iris were in bloom among the tall large aspen groves in this area. Old Wrangler and I had tried this route for the other direction in March of 2011 and were turned back by deep snow on the road. This drive was snow free and scenic. We watched an old time reel in a foot long rainbow trout in one of the small ponds of the area.

Toward the end of the day we returned to camp; read our books; and got a good night’s sleep with a strong almost full moon, lighting up the interior of our tent with a soft evening’s glow.

DAY SIX [04 JUNE 2012]

We woke early, broke camp, took a short hike through the ponderosa in the area, then headed for Blanding where we checked into a motel room for a couple of nights. We used this day to rest, do our road trip laundry, shop for a few supplies for our upcoming Keet Seel backpacking trip and mainly relax. This was the only day that I didn’t take at least one photograph.

One of our first stops was the local bakery in Blanding. My wife and I ended up talking to the owners (Arlen and Elaine Borgen) and then ordering four cherry scones to be picked up the following morning. I planned to take a couple on our backpacking trip but do to their fine flavor and taste, only one survived for the Keet Seel hike.

As it turned out, the conversations we had with folks at this small town bakery turned out to be one of the highlights of our road trip. Serendipity squared.

When we did our laundry at Blanding, the only other person using the washers and dryers was an older Navajo lady. Several times she offered advice about which machines to use or how to get a stubborn machine working properly (or how tourists, like us, could profit by reading the directions….hmmm).

As she did her laundry and we did ours we gradually visited more and more. Her name was "Daisy Cowboy" and she had some interesting stories to tell. It was one of those chance small town encounters that make a road trip so much fun.

DAY SEVEN [05 JUNE 2012]

My wife went into the bakery and Blanding and there was Elaine with her bright red jaunty baker’s hat on with a friendly smile and a "good morning". "By chance would you have four cherry scones hot out of the oven this morning?". "Sure do" she replied. Once I bought the scones then my wife talked with Elaine, while I started a conversation with Arlen, who was seated having a cup of coffee.

The conversations joined and parted among the four of us and the two young Navajo girls working with Elaine, who also had the red baker’s hats. At times all four of us talked together about the history of the bakery:

From memory: Started about 7 years ago. Young Navajo kids one day asked to borrow money to go to the local movie house in Blanding. Arlen & Elaine instead let them "earn" the movie money by learning to be "partners" in the bakery. The rest is a success story. The young Navajo came up with ideas for chocolate and candy products with a Native American theme. The Borgens taught the Navajo business principles and the responsibilities that come with them.

The state of Utah caught the story and a delegation of the Blanding Bakery entrepreneurs visited the capitol in Salt Lake City. Word spread further and the founding members were invited to the White House to meet President Bush, where they were honored for their dedication to entrepreneurial start up businesses. Quite a trip for these hard working innovative bakers and candy makers from Blanding, Utah. That is the main story as I heard it. There are photos on the wall; the young smiling Navajo workers/owners; and friendly manner of Elaine and Arlen to fill in the rest.

Arlen and I drifted into Native American discussions and were having a focused discussion on books, findings, theories, and ruins…when a fellow walked through the door by the name of Jon Moris (Professor "emeritus" Jon Moris ) walked into the bakery and was greeted as a regular. Professor Moris is the anthropology teacher at the local Utah State University – College of Eastern Utah – San Juan campus (I hope I have most of that right).

Arlen introduced me to Professor Moris and away we went, talking about anything and everything about North American Native Americans. What a stroke of luck for me. Jon Moris, was a most interesting man to talk to. We took a break while my wife and I returned to our nearby motel room with the bakery goods and I returned with a camera and a strong wish to continue our previous conversations.

So there we were: Professor Jon Moris; Arlen Borgen; and I, sitting around a coffee table playing badminton with topics of interest. Elaine and the two cute Navajo girls (Elysia and Aaliyah sp?) took care of the flow of bakery customers coming into the store. Was I ever having fun.

Jon Moris was born and raised in East Africa. He did work with the Maasai there and earned his PhD at Northwestern. He told me of a website where photographers could go to have "books" made of their photograph: blurb.com. He said his son Nathan (living in Switzerland) had used the site. When I returned home I went to the "blurb.com" site and checked out one of the photo books Nathan had created of Central Switzerland (which he dedicated to his dad).

Next the bakery door opened and in walked a casually attired Mark Noirot, a chemistry instructor at the college. With a quick wit and inquisitive mind, he soon added to our ad hoc bakery based discussion group. During all this action I asked for a few photo ops, which everybody there graciously agreed to and participated in. The two young Navajo girls took some of the photographs for us.

After Jon and Mark escaped the round table discussion a family entered the bakery. They wanted to buy some bakery products but spoke no English. Turned out they were Italian and with my limited Spanish, we were able to work together and communicate enough to help them buy what they were after. They also followed my lead when I told them I was purchasing two candy feathers from the young Navajos, which came with a printed story.

Call it luck, serendipity or chance – – this short session around a small coffee table in a bakery in Blanding, Utah, was one of my treasured moments of this road trip. I truly hope that any of you traveling through Blanding some morning, will stop in and hear the story of the bakery first hand and treat yourself to some baked products and some of the chocolate and candy products of the Lickity Split Chocolate entrepreneurs. You will go away with a smile.

Once back in our motel room with my wife, we started organizing our backpacks, based on the latest weather forecast (we used Shonto, Arizona for Keet Seel purposes) and latest food purchases. We packed our backpacks and most of our car camping and traveling gear in our vehicle and set the alarm for 4 am (once again). We planned to leave by 5 am Wednesday morning to make certain we arrived at Betatakin (Navajo National Monument) in time for our required orientation, scheduled at 8:15 am on 6.6.12.

DAY EIGHT [06 JUNE 2012]

Up at 4 am; on the road by 4:45 am; breakfast at McDonald’s in Kayenta then on to the visitor center at Betatakin. There were lots of campers at Sunrise View campgrounds near Betatakin, and lots of folks showed up at the visitor center when it opened at 8 am. We tried to discern the "day hikers" from the "backpackers", who might be going to Keet Seel.

Note: Only 20 people a day are allowed to hike to Keet Seel and then only five at a time can tour the Keet Seel ruins in the company of an on-site National Park ranger. The route, 1,000 feet down into Tsegi Canyon then up Keet Seel Canyon to the Keet Seel camping area and Keet Seel cliff dwellings is 8.5 miles. It requires quite a bit of soft sand hiking and many crossing of a shallow stream, which flows down Keet Seel Canyon. The route is on Navajo land so you aren’t allowed to stray from the main route.

Well to make this short and sweet – – the weather Wednesday morning was beautiful AND it turns out that each and every "hiker" we saw that morning at the visitor center was heading out on the guided Betatakin ruins hike. We were told we were the only two people with a permit for Keet Seel this day. What luck! We would have the entire campground to ourselves and not have another hiker or backpacker in the canyon with us on this particular Wednesday. We were told to check in at the "ranger’s camp" at Keet Seel when we arrived, show our permit, and that ranger Patrick would lead us on a tour of the Keet Seel site.

It took us exactly five hours to hike from where we left our vehicle and the Keet Seel parking area to Keet Seel. We took one 30 minute break on the way in and cached beverages in two places along the way: We cached 88 fl. oz at the foot of the 1,000 drop into Tsegi Canyon and 88 fl oz about five miles from Keet Seel. The rest we drank along the way and took with us (we started with 336 fl. oz in total). A little under three gallons, which for us worked out just perfectly with plenty left over.

We took 16 bottles of diet Mt. Dew (orange juice based with lots of caffeine); 4 bottles of citrus green tea (20 oz bottles); 4 bottles of water (10 oz with Mio pomegranate flavor to add); AND two treats – – 2 cans of cold diet Pepsi in OR insulated beverage carriers. The two caches met I didn’t have to carry the 20 lbs of liquids all that far.

We encountered two small groups of Navajo horses and one solo horse on the hike. Each and every horse was intently curious of our presence and watched us with interest as we passed by. The foals were cute as a button.

You can’t drink the water in the canyon as the area is range for Navajo cattle and horses, and the National Park four wheel drive trucks drive quite a ways up Keet Seel Canyon from time to time as well. Still the scenery and waterfalls make for a very enjoyable backpack. We kept our backpack loads extremely light (no stakes, footprint, or rain fly for the REI quarter dome T2 plus tent – – zero chance of rain predicted for 7 days). Everything else we kept to a minimum as well. I did take a light REI flashpack 18 liter day pack to carry cameras, fluids and first aid kit etc. for my wife and myself, when we left our tent camp and hiked the short distance to the Keet Seel ranger’s quarters and then on to the cliff dwellings themselves, with Patrick.

My wife and I met ranger Patrick at his octagonal ranger’s quarter, a short distance from the Keet Seel Ruins. It struck me as a bit ironic. Max (A Navajo) had given us our orientation and permit to visit Keet Seel. The Anasazi (Ancient Puebloans) are now thought to be related to the Hopi and Zuni – – modern day pueblo dwellers in some cases. Patrick is a Hopi, from a small reservation perched primarily atop three mesas on a reservation completely surrounded by the massive Navajo reservation.

Patrick was soft spoken, extremely knowledgeable, patient, modest, and instantly likeable.
An antler tool, a home made large arrow, and what looked like a "prayer stick" sat on a bench where we sat all drinking ice tea. When I asked about the prayer stick, Patrick quietly told me it was an atlatl. Though he didn’t say so, it was obvious that Patrick had carefully and skillfully made both the arrow and the atlatl.

He showed me how it was held then stood up and launched an arrow at high speed out toward the "Keet Seel" sign in front of the ranger’s station. My wife and I were really impressed. He went in the hogan and brought out three more finally feathered arrows and asked me if I would like to try the atlatl. I was intrigued, honored and a little nervous (I didn’t want to destroy one of his hand made arrows with a clumsy effort.

With Robert’s instruction I got the feel of how to hold the atlatl and the arrow, then the moment came for me to launch an arrow. I did. It flew fast straight and far and I can’t possibly tell you how proud I was and how happy it made me that Patrick trusted me to give it a try.

As at the Blanding bakery, Patrick and I explored many topics and talked books, studies, and former expeditions. I was most interested in Patrick’s stories of the Hopi clans, beliefs, and oral history. It was another road trip highlight and just the visit with Patrick and the chance to actually give an atlatl a try. Moments to remember.

After a long porch conversation we were ready to head up to the Keet Seel ruins. I had shown my wife a photo of the access ladder used to reach the ruins themselves, so she knew what to expect, still I could tell she was a bit apprehensive, but up the ladder she went, right after Patrick and I had gone up first. She did well.

It is simple to find lots of information on the Keet Seel cliff dwellings, so I won’t go into too much detail: Tree ring dating indicates that what we see today of the well preserved ruins were made and inhabited before year 950. Around 1272 population, pottery diversification, and use of Keet Seel was at a high. Over 100 people called this cliff dwelling "home" at this time. Then like other dwellings all over the Southwest, the people left. They stored belongings like they intended to come back one day BUT they also burned many of their rooms, for what reason, nobody knows for certain.

Few, if any, remained living at Keet Seel by 1300. Many building styles and techniques (jacal and masonry) can be observed at Keet Seel. It is the ‘beyond obvious function" high ladder ends reaching up high inside the alcove and the HUGE log mounted across the main central entrance to the ruins, that most impressed me.

When we finished the tour we checked out the midden down below the cliff dwellings where every color and style of pottery pieces you can imagine, could be found and observed. There is evidence that much trading took place at sites like Keet Seel (Macaw feather were found here) and that pottery had been traded and sometimes destroyed intentionally during certain ceremonies. In all a fascinating place to visit, reflect upon, and connect with a people that made the most of their environment for a time in the past.

We left Patrick and returned to our camp across the canyon floor. An almost full moon lit the night, and the wind blew softly through the canopy of oak limbs and leaves over our tent. This was the first time we had used our new Big Agnes Q Core air mattresses and I can’t tell you how much we both enjoyed these excellent sleeping pad air mattresses. They weigh about the same as our thin, narrow, long self-inflators but pack up into very small stuff sacks.

NOTE: I have read of some having difficulty BUT first squash all the air out; fold lengthwise into thirds; force the rest of the air out as you roll it up and it will easily fit in the strong small stuff sack provided. I promise.

We talked into the night, gazing at the stars above and discussing our good fortune on this road trip and with life in general. We both fell asleep with smiles.

DAY NINE [07 JUNE 2012]

I woke up early after a good night’s rest. I wanted to get going early so we could hike the canyon in the shaded cool of morning and attack the 1,000 climb up out of Tsegi Canyon before the full heat of the afternoon.

We got a good start and took exactly five hours to hike from our Keet Seel camp to our vehicle (with its ice chest full of ice cold diet Pepsi). I had found (by accident) some quick sand in the shade of a canyon wall on the way into Keet Seel, so we made a point of stopping at the same place for an oldmantravels photo op on the way out. It was a weird experience to have the sand that seemed dry, below your feet turn suddenly to Jell-O, then start to crack and sink.

Hiking out Keet Seel we passed at least 8 other backpackers, heading into Keet Seel. We also passed a National Park pickup truck driving up the stream bed, presumably to rotate another ranger in to take Patrick’s place and/or take in some supplies.

We had intended that our backpacking experience to Keet Seel would be the highlight of our road trip …. and……it was. We both had a wonderful time (and got some good exercise in the process).

We drove back through Mexican Hat, Blanding, and then to Moab (where like after our April Chesler park backpacking trip) we had a HUGE meal and a mango/peach smoothie and Denny’s). We drove on to Green River, Utah where we took long hot showers, changed into fresh road trip clothes, and enjoyed a night’s sleep at a motel there.

DAY TEN [08 JUNE 2012]

We slept in at Green River, Utah then headed up through Price, Ogden, Pocatello, and then on a less traveled road to Tendoy, Idaho and then to the Solaas Bed and Breakfast in Baker, Idaho. It is located under huge cottonwoods near the Lemhi River.

Just south of Tendoy a white tail doe ran without warning from the willows along the road. I was doing 65 mph and everything happened fast. At first I started to break but then sped up and swerved to the right hoping if I hit her at all it would be better to side swipe her than hit her head on. She lost her footing and fell, narrowly missing the rear quarter fender of our car. Through the rear view mirror I saw her regain her feet on the shoulder and bound into the woods. We were very relieved that things hadn’t ended badly for both the deer and for us. A close call, and fortunately the only one of this road trip.

In 2006 I took a road trip with a good high school friend (John). We visited Lemhi Pass and hiked a section of trail that Lewis and Clark had taken. Lemhi Pass is where they had crossed the continental divide heading west and where Sacagawea fortuitously recognized her brother as the leader of the band of Shoshone, who intercepted the Lewis and Clark company near this place. John and I had "found" a B & B (Solaas Bed and Breakfast) on that trip and I really liked the owners (Roger and Sharon Solaas):
www.salmonidaho.com/solaas

William Least Heat Moon, the author of Blue Highways had stayed with Roger and Sharon and his stay is mentioned in that book.

When John and I left Roger and Sharon in June of 2006, I told them I would return one day and I would have my wife with me. So, six years later, almost to the day, a promise kept. Roger and Sharon had a pushy, smart, clever, conniving cat, who tried his best to ingratiate himself to us. Actually I think he wanted us to: 1) let him in the old double story farm house for the night and 2) take him home with us.

Sharon allowed that number one wasn’t allowed BUT we were welcome to take the spoiled, troublesome feline home with us if we wanted. We declined. In reality I think the cat is grudgingly loved, admired and appreciated by both Roger and Sharon, but at least Sharon won’t own up to that.

We had an upstairs room with some of Sharon’s beloved hand made quilts on the beds and a great view of the Lemhi Mountains to the east of us. Another good night’s sleep.

DAY ELEVEN [09 JUNE 2012]

My wife had been a great sport on this entire road trip; car camping in a backpacking tent; taking short hikes; and especially for taking the 17 mile round backpacking trip into Keet Seel and back. Cliff dwelling are after all, of more interest to me than her…so…I wanted to surprise her.

I told her we would travel through Salmon; over Lost Trail Pass; then over Lolo Pass and down to the Clearwater River casino and hotel near Lewiston, Idaho. There we would spend the last night of our road trip in a nice room and she could play her beloved, penny slot machines. She was elated. So off we went.

As we left Salmon and started out climb up Lost Trail Pass I noticed it getting much cooler, and pretty soon there was fresh snow beside the highway. It seems so incongruous having just traveled many miles with the A/C on the car switched on. As we topped Lost Trail Pass and started down the other side, I had to blink twice as I saw a vehicle in the ditch, on the right hand side of the road. Only it was a vehicle. It was a private airplane.

It was damaged but not badly. I pulled over to take a photograph just as a state patrolman pulled up to the scene and started walking up the highway. Behind him was another official car with a man in an FAA jacket.

I read when I got home that it had only the pilot aboard and he wasn’t injured. His story about a "down draft" and forced landing sounded a bit unusual to me. I’m guessing that the snow and low cloud visibility caused a "can’t turn around problem" when flying VFR in suddenly IFR conditions. The internet article said that the "incident" was being investigated.

After passing the scene we saw a U.S. Forest Service vehicle heading to the same scene, so all interested parties will be able to compare notes.

We had off and on rain all the way over Lolo Pass and enjoyed watching the rafters, kayakers, and catarafts float by on the Lochsa River. The water was high and fast moving, and they all seemed to be enjoying the experience even though it was raining.

I had a buffalo burger and split some curly fries with my wife at a road side Farmer’s market. We felt sorry for the vendors, who had set up there, as they were closing up early. Too much rain for many visitors.

We got our room for the night at the Clearwater River Casino and my wife got her time attending the "investment" opportunities as the penny slot machines. I bought a carry out pizza and cinnamon sticks to bring back to our room, and I enjoyed reading and watching the Mariners on high definition TV. A good time was had by all.

DAY TWELVE [10 JUNE 2012]

Drove home through the lovely Palouse country of Eastern Washington.

I hope you enjoy some of the photographs that go with this road trip photo set. I hope they bring good memories to those of you who have visited the places we did and that perhaps somebody out there in flickrland is motivated to visit a place they haven’t been as a result of the photos. Thanks for stopping by. OMT 11 June 2012.

Posted by oldmantravels on 2012-06-14 19:06:52

Tagged: , Dinosaur National Monument , Steamboat Rock , Green River , Yampa River , Confluence Green and Yampa River , road trip , car camping

New York City Skyline in the Snow – Rooftops and Skyscrapers

New York City Skyline in the Snow - Rooftops and Skyscrapers

Snowy skyline of Manhattan on a winter day.

(Note: My New York photography book released worldwide in stores/online recently and has photos similar to this [full info below])

The snow fell

like icing sugar

onto streets

and alleys

that wrapped

themselves

around the city:

a sweet dusting

of white

on top of

glazed chocolate

concrete

that melted on

the tongue

of memory

like

a dream.

—-

* As mentioned above – My New York City coffee table book that released in stores/online worldwide recently.

Tons of information about my New York photography book with sample pages (including where to order and what stores are carrying it) here:

NY Through The Lens: A New York Coffee Table Book

View my New York City photography at my website NY Through The Lens.

View my Travel photography at my travel blog: Traveling Lens.

Interested in my work and have questions about PR and media? Check out my:

About Page | PR Page | Media Page

Posted by Vivienne Gucwa on 2015-02-22 00:00:14

Tagged: , new york city , nyc , new york city skyline , new york photography , snowy new york city skyline , snowy skyline , new york snow , nyc snow , nyc winter , new york winter , new york city photography , black and white new york city photography , vivienne gucwa , vivienne gucwa photography , ny through the lens , cityscape , nyc cityscape , skyscrapers , rooftops , nyc rooftops , new york rooftops , snow covered skyscrapers

New York City – Snow – Winter Storm Juno – Empty 5th Avenue – Temple Emanu-el

New York City - Snow - Winter Storm Juno - Empty 5th Avenue - Temple Emanu-el

Juno: The first snowstorm of 2015 in New York City.

(Note: My New York photography book released worldwide in stores/online recently and has photos similar to this [full info below])

I have been photographing New York City during snowstorms at night for the past 5 years. When it comes to experiencing New York City in the snow, I relish the challenge. The more gusty, snowy, and brutal the storm, the more of a chance that I will be out in it traipsing around New York City with my cameras in tow.

When I heard that the MTA was suspending all transit service (and most vehicles) at 11 pm, I made the decision to take the train up to the Upper East Side prior to 11 pm to deposit myself up there with the intention of walking from the Upper East Side to Times Square and then walking the several miles back to the Lower East Side (whew!!).

The streets were eerily empty.

Emptier than they are usually at night during snowfall. Since there was a ban on all vehicles aside from snow plows and emergency services, there were practically no cars at all on the streets. Even taxis were banned from the streets!

I walked in the middle of avenues and streets that are usually teeming with cars.

There was an eerie sense of calm.

It was magical.

This is part of a post that I posted to my NYC photography blog. If you are curious enough to look at the photos there, here is the link to the post:

New York City – Winter Storm Juno

—-

* As mentioned above – My New York City coffee table book that released in stores/online worldwide recently.

Tons of information about my New York photography book with sample pages (including where to order and what stores are carrying it) here:

NY Through The Lens: A New York Coffee Table Book

View my New York City photography at my website NY Through The Lens.

View my Travel photography at my travel blog: Traveling Lens.

Interested in my work and have questions about PR and media? Check out my:

About Page | PR Page | Media Page

Posted by Vivienne Gucwa on 2015-01-27 11:40:55

Tagged: , 2015 snowstorm nyc , NYC , New York , New York City , blizzard 2015 , city photography , city snow , curbed , gothamist , historic blizzard new york city , juno 2015 new york city , juno nyc , manhattan , new york at night , new york book , new york city juno , new york city photography , new york in a blizzard , new york photographer , new york photography book , new york snow , new york winter , noreaster nyc , ny through the lens , nyc blizzard , nyc book , nyc night , nyc snow , nyc winter , snow , snowstorm , urban photography , vivienne gucwa , vivienne gucwa photography , winter

…So is This. (2 of 2)

...So is This. (2 of 2)

Canon EOS 7D | Canon 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 | Available Light

This beautiful scene happened 15 minutes before and only about a mile and a half east of this photo. Like I said in the first part of this series, Detroit has its issues. It also has its triumphs.

This set of homes is in historic Indian Village on the city near east side. It is a community of 9 or 10 streets named after tribes of dead Indians (funny how Americans would kill a people off, and then name states and streets and sports teams after them…).

The community is home to some of the most beautiful residences I would imagine in all of the United States. The homes are also relatively cheap compared to their comparables in other parts of the States.

Which is what makes it all the more curious that I’ve rarely seen any images of these homes in mass media. Then again, maybe it’s not that curious at all. Human beings enjoy simple stories. Nuance is the friend of truth and the enemy of entertainment.

I think it’s important to tell comprehensive stories. I hope this two-picture series is a step toward that goal.

Posted by Noah Stephens on 2010-11-04 21:01:16

Tagged: , Detroit Photographers , Detroit , Motown , Motor City , Noah Stephens , Commercial , Advertising