Rocky Mountain High

Columbine at Woods Lake

When we left arches National Park on Thursday the temperature was 97 F. After hiking the arches in the morning heat we decided to head to the high country of Colorado, finding a beautiful campsite at Woods Lake. In the morning we had a lovely hike around the lake.

Joann hiking around Woods Lake

After our hike we headed for Ouray, where we had Lunch at Maggie’s Kitchen. We split a buffalo burger.

Our campsite at Old Lime Creek Rd

We are currently camped in a meadow about halfway between Silverton and Durango. Once again I’m posting from my iPhone. More to follow when I have internet access with my laptop.

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Great Basin National Park

Our camp near Great Basin National Park

Friday evening June 15 found us in Great Basin National Park. The word was that Great Basin National Park is one of the least visited parks in the country, and that said, we were hoping to find camping at one of the campgrounds in the park. We headed first for Wheeler Peak Campground, which was full, then on to Upper Lehman, which looked like a lovely campground, but it was also full. We then decided to try going off the grid, taking a dirt road near the Pole Canyon picnic area. The road took us just outside of the park where we found a quiet spot in some junipers to put the top up.A  very peaceful and pleasant spot. No services other than a fire pit, and we did not bring fire wood. Not a soul in sight, and not a single car on the road.
The next day we drove back up the mountain and we had a lovely hike up into the Bristlecone Pines. I was hoping to make it an early morning trip to catch some soft light, but given the drive and a 1 1/2 mile hike to reach the trees, that seemed unpractical.

 

Camping on the Green River

Camped on the bank of the Green River at Gray Canyon Campground. Woke up to the sound of the Green River roaring by just outside our backdoor. A pleasant kind of white noise following a good nights sleep. We’re camped at Lower Gray Canyon Recreation Area, just a few miles north of the town of Green River in Utah. Today marks day six on a three week road trip. We found this camp through Campendium, one of our favorite apps for locating camp sites. We are headed for Canyon Lands and Dead Horse Point State Park and as we dallied along yesterday, time passed and we decided to look for a lesser known campsite that might have room rather than risk finding the campsites full at some of the more popular locations on our route. This turns out to be a lovely site, shaded with cottonwood trees on the bank of the river. Only a handful of campers with plenty of open spaces. Once we had settled into our site we went for a swim in the river. Weather is very pleasant this morning, 68 degrees F when we got up at 6:30. Felt a bit cool with the gentle breeze. I put a light jacket on. Now as we’re breaking camp to hit the road at 9:00 the temperature is approching 90.

 

Santa Fe Road Trip: Day Four

We’re spending the night at Diamond Campground, near Springville, Utah. Our destination is Santa Fe. We have a week to get there. So we’ll be wandering the South West for the next few days. No WiFi here so I’m writing a short post on my iPhone. More to follow when I can sit still long enough to edit photos on the laptop. Our travels so far have brought us over the Sierra Nevada Mountains via highway 120 through Yosemite and down the east side of the Sierra to Big Pine, where our son and daughter-in-law are expecting in July. Our first grandchild. From there it was on to Great Basin National Park, and then on to Salt Lake City where we celebrated the anticipated birth of our second grandchild, due in August.

It Takes a Village to Make a Cup of Coffee

Three months have passed since our African Chagga Coffee experience and it’s still an event that’s worthy of a few words. As part of our tour of Moshi our tour guide, Sophie Angostino, arranged for a visit to the Chagga Culture and Coffee. The Chagga people are an ethnic group, and the village we visited was just outside of Moshi on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro.

It’s hard to explain this experience in words. You’ll just have to imagine standing in a circle around a mortar of coffee being pounded with a wooden pestle while chanting and clapping. Music and rhythm are part of the African experience.

The coffee is pounded twice, first to break off the hulls. What results are the tan colored raw beans.

The raw beans go into an iron pot where they are roasted on a wood fire. Then they go back in the mortar to be pulverized by pounding.

The fine grounds are then brewed into coffee, using a variation on what I would call “cowboy coffee,” but somehow their method results in a rich tasting coffee free of sediment. We sipped the resulting  coffee with a great sense of community and camaraderie.

Family Outing to Historic Columbia

The Memorial Day weekend provided us with an opportunity to go explore the historic town of Columbia in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains. About 140 miles east of San Francisco. This is gold country, or at least it was gold country after James W. Marshall discovered gold on January 24, 1848. The news of gold brought some 300,000 people to California. The gold rush was rather short lived, though, and by 1855, the rush was essentially over. Columbia was one of the boom towns that arose from the gold rush and the historic park can give you a sense of the history of the region.

 

We were in town for a family get together, a shower to celebrate the anticipated birth of our first grand child.  The old part of town is now a State Historic Park, with shops that sell everything from candy to leather goods and boots. You can also ride a stage coach or pan for gold.

 

 

There were about a dozen of us that explored the town, touring the old school, built in 1860, and exploring the shops and curiosities of the state historic park.

Columbia State Historic Park

Weekend Trip to the Eastern Sierra

On Saturday morning, May 11 we threw our sleeping bags in the back of the camper and pointed our rig south. Our destination was Big Pine in the Eastern Sierra. Our favorite route over the mountains is closed.  That route takes us through Yosemite and over Tioga Pass on Highway 120. With 120 closed we picked an alternate route going over Walker Pass near the south end of the Sierra. We made camp at Walker Pass Campground just before sunset.

 

We discovered that the camp only has two sites for RVs, and both of those sites were occupied. There were a few open sites for tents. A number of sites are walk-in and serve  through hikers on the Pacific Crest Trail. We found a flat spot on a turn-out between the established RV sites and the highway and popped the top to spend the night. A quiet location with a view looking west across the mountains. I was able to set up my camera and capture a few photos just as the sun was setting. The campground has an “iron ranger” to collect donations for overnight camping and no established fee. There were pit toilets. Be advised to take your own toilet paper. On Sunday morning we broke camp and continued our journey.

After scouring wildflower reports we decided to drive up Nine Mile Canyon to see what we could find. It seems we were on the tail end of the wildflowers, although we did find a few penstamon, coreposis and many tiny little flowers close to the ground.

 

Following our wildflower detour we went back down the canyon to pick up highway 395 heading north to Big Pine. In Big Pine we spent the day with family celebrating mother’s day. On Monday we finished our loop by driving north on 395.

Passing through Bridgeport I was fascinated with the clouds and when we passed the abandoned Busters Market I decided it was time for a photo op. I’m fascinated with abandoned buildings and I’ve passed this old abandoned market a number of times without stopping. This time with the clouds passing by we stopped and I took a few quick snapshots with my Sony RX100 thinking I might get a nice black and white composition. We used to stop at this store for supplies when backpacking out of the Twin Lakes trail head.

 

After crossing over the pass and heading down the west side of the Sierra we stopped at , a roadside stop with a short walk to an overlook looking down on Donnel Reservoir. Dinner time found us passing through Oakdale, so we found a picnic spot at Woodward Reservoir Park and had a very pleasant picnic dinner by the lake. On arriving home we logged 876 miles for our three day adventure.