Paradise!! (Mt. Rainier National Park) 5/28/11

On the road to Paradise - we spotted this gray-black (Cascade) fox, and winter sports at the visitor center.

It began snowing as we neared the visitor center (surprise!) and we were blown away by the drifts!

Smartie looks cold on the drive down and then we spotted first a female and then male Coastal Blue Grouse. He was puffed and making his weird thumping sound... definitely interested. She was busy looking for roadside seeds.

Decided to drive to Paradise, altho we had no idea what we were in for. I've included several pictures of Jimmy and me with monstrous snow drifts to show the scope of the accumulated snow. According to a chart in the visitor center, this year's snowfall is 900". Good grief! And that's not a record setter, either! The snow started falling half way up the mountain and by the time we were in Paradise, we were in a full-fledged snowstorm. Skis, snow shoes, and snow boards were available to rent, but not for this couple! We saw a group of hardy people training for their climb to the summit (14,411'). They were well-outfitted. The fox didn't move as we pulled up next to it for a photo shoot. Jimmy sez he was waiting for someone to throw popcorn or an Oreo cookie. We played in the snow for a bit, but we didn't last long. The temperature was 32 degrees F. IT'S ALMOST SUMMER!

Grove of the Patriarchs - Mount Rainier Nat'l Park 5/28/11

This short trail follows the emerald-green water of the Ohanapecosh River, which originates from snowfields and inactive glacial ice several miles upstream on the east side of Mt. Rainier. It's clear water contrasts sharply with cloudy streams from active glaciers elsewhere on the mountain, making it one of the most beautiful streams in the Park. The big trees are actually located on an island in the river, accessed by that neat swinging bridge - Pacific Silver firs, Douglas firs, Western hemlock, Red cedar. Gorgeous giants. Impressive. We waited till the outside temp rose above 50F before we set out... uh... the outside temp never got much above 50F - time to break out the cold weather gear!!

The road to Packwood, WA 5/27/11

Today's drive from Ginkgo Petrified Forest to Packwood WA was fairly short. We got off the freeway as soon as we could and hopped on a "dotted" road that followed the Yakima River - only 21-miles, but so much nicer than a speedy four-laner! Lots of columnar basalt, but most of those pictures didn't come out as I took them from the Vista while in motion. Kinda blurry. Stopped at Wal-Mart in Yakima for essentials and a fruit store for yummies. The next section of road took us up and over White Pass (4500') where we passed a lake with ice still on it (middle photo) and a ski lift that might have closed too early in the season. (last photo w/ Vista's nose showing). When we arrived at Packwood, we were greatly surprised to see the whole town peppered with white tents and blue tarps: A giant "flea market" held on Memorial Day wkend. We checked in to Packwood RV Park (we'd made reservations) and eased into Site 71, with our neighbors but a few feet away. Packwood RV was packed!! It's quite chilly here and the park is quiet at night. All is well.


Ginkgo/Wanapum St Pk, Washington 5/26/11

Petrified Sweet Gum Tree. Long view looking east with virga falling. Non-petrified deer leg!

Jimmy waiting on the trail for his wife! Sleeping long-eared owl. Rainbow over the Columbia River!

We've picked some terrific state parks to stay in. Hell's Gate St Pk near Lewiston, ID (on the great Snake River) was one among many. We "got" haircuts here, did some grocery shopping, and other mundane chores, plus walked along the river as a drizzle commenced. When we crossed the Snake, we entered Washington State and the Pacific Time Zone. Our next stop - as we hopscotch north and west - was Ginkgo Petrified Forest St Pk on the huge Columbia River. This was another "find." Ginkgo has one of the most unusual fossil forests in the world. We walked the (approx 2-mile R/T) natural area interpretive trail, with its 22 separate tree exhibits, on sage- and wildflower-covered hills. I took as many pictures of flowers as of petrified trees. The blue lupines were stunning!

Our campsite had a great view of the river. At nightfall, we started hearing a squeaky noise which sent me outside to investigate. I deduced it was coming from a tree near our dining room window, but in the dark I couldn't tell what/where. Pretty soon we heard a responding sound almost like a cat yowling. That sent me outside too, this time with a flashlight. I finally saw the owl (above) perched at the top of a conifer tree near the front of our RV. The squeak and the yowl were talking to each other! This went on for quite a while, but eventually they quit. The next morning a ranger said a pair of long-eared owls were nesting in the park and the squeak was prob a youngster calling out for FOOD. After I heard that, I checked the front tree and - lo and behold - there sat the long-eared owl, sleeping peacefully... and posing for the camera! Nice park!

5/24/11 Little Salmon and Salmon River, Idaho

Our path: Out of Utah to an overnight at very nice Three Island Crossing St Pk @ Glenns Ferry (on the powerful Snake River) and then up Hwys 55/95 Scenic Payette River and Salmon River Byways - outstanding views all the way around. Don't think the pictures are in any particular order, tho the first two pictures are of the "wicked" Little Salmon River... churning, boiling, violent white water! Totally engrossing to follow north. Our next stop was at Zims Hot Springs and RV Park near New Meadows ID. After driving these two-lane picturesque roads all day, soaking in the hot springs with the outside temp hovering around 50F, felt good... real good! (The next morning we awoke to a 36F temp - brrrrr!!) We stay snug in the Vista....


Provo UT 5/20 - 5/22/11

Lakeside Campground (nice!). On the bike trail... and Jimmy at the 500' Bridal Veil waterfall cascading from the clifftop on the East side of Provo Canyon.

Enlarge the left photo to see the paragliders we watched when we stopped at Borders Books for a cuppa Seattle's Best Coffee in The Shops at Riverwoods when our bike ride was finished. Also at this neat shopping mall were quite a few restaurants. After we showered and cleaned up, we returned to the mall to Tucanos Brazilian Grill for dinner (last two pictures). Here's what the menu sez: "Delicious Brazilian grilled (Churrasco) cuisine served in a fun, festive setting. No other dining experience can compare. In this hemisphere, anyway." We agree wholeheartedly - we ate wholeheartedly, too! Assorted breads, fried bananas, best salad bar we've ever been to, plus the Churrasco entree selections of beefs, poultry and pork. I favored the grilled fresh veggies and pineapple over the meats, but everything was delish! We needed to be rolled out of the restaurant in wheelbarrows.

This is the second time we rode the Provo Canyon bike trail (20 mile R/T). It takes us up to the train station in Vivian - ten miles on a gentle grade up and ten miles down. On this trip the Provo River was in full spate due to lots of recent rains and snow melt - amazing to see its power. We saw two (crazy?) kayakers tackle this water in short whitewater kayaks. Fun to see, but I think biking is safer... at least on this day!

5/20 Hwy 191 from Montrose to Provo

The pictures look worse than the drive really was from Green River to Price to Provo on Hwy 191/6. Sure we had some sprinkles and once it actually rained for a couple of minutes, but watching these storm clouds drop snow and rain over the mountains was great since we could see forever. Hard to look away, in fact. Once on Hwy 6, the landscape changed as you can see in the last picture. We wound our way thru rocky canyons, following the swollen Price River and railroad tracks almost all the way to Provo. Took us most of the day to arrive at Lakeside RV Campground, right close to Utah Lake and surrounded by the breathtaking Wasatch Mountains. We stayed here in the fall a couple of years ago; now in the spring tulips and lilacs are blooming and the mtns are blanketed in SNOW.


5/18 - Day trip to Silverton CO

(left) Sad sack, literally - the collapsed left side Sleep Number bed! (right) posing magpie.

Oh yeah, the left bladder on our (new!) Sleep Number bed burst or blew up or just plain leaked itself empty (of air) on our way to Montrose. Trust me, sleeping on a bed like that is no fun. Luckily, when Jimmy called the company, they sent a new one to us in Montrose the next day. So, we are back to normal. In the meantime, we were grateful to sleep in our friends' guest bed!

During our three days in Montrose, our friends treated us to several day trips: One to Redstone and another to Silverton. Man, the snow! The closer to Red Mountain Pass (11,075'), the heavier snow, and near blizzard conditions on our return. Jimmy thought this was pretty special and actually, me too! The last photo is a long shot of the Durango-Silverton Narrow Gauge Train which had just come to a stop.

When we woke up in Montrose on May 19th and opened the blinds, big wet snow flakes were falling! Surprise! It soon turned to light rain and, in fact, on/off showers continued the whole time we were there. The countless birds emptied the feeders each day, nevermind the weather, and I enjoyed seeing so many species. Weather or not, we had a good time with our friends, Dudley and Cheryl!


On the San Juan Skyway (Hwy 145) in Colorado 5/16/11

As always, click on any image for a larger picture.

We deemed scenic St Hwy 145 the lesser of two challenges for Tergel as we traveled north thru the Colorado Mtns - from Cortez to Montrose. The so-called Million Dollar Hwy (US 550), while prob equally scenic, seemed like it would be a more tortured route for a motor home. As it was, we truly enjoyed driving the not-heavily-traveled San Juan Skyway. Tergel did just fine, even up and over Lizard Head Pass (10,222'). Of course we saw snow along the way and the mtn peaks were covered, but the drive was lovely. We followed the swollen Dolores River for a good piece of the way, which just added to the overall beauty. Jimmy thought kayaking the river would be fun, but one look at that raging-from-snowmelt river gave me the shivers! No way. I think he was kidding.

5/15 Kelly Place CO

Blooming Banana Yucca. Claret Cup Hedgehog Cactus. Inside an unrestored Kiva.

Collared lizard (iguana family). Gazing out toward Sleeping Ute Mtn. Twisted juniper!

Ancient cliff ruins in background. Climbed up to them. Overlooking the valley.

After a wonderfully filling and delicious breakfast of blue corn pancakes, homemade granola and fresh fruit (etc.!), Jimmy and I set off on a tour of Kelly Place and the ruins. The first one was an hour loop of the perimeter - including going down into two Kivas, looking at a cliff granary with cliff swallow nests above and several 100-yr-old bldgs. Then we took off for a two-hr R/T hike to the Canyon of the Ancients Monument cliff dwelling ruins on a trail well marked by cairns and dotted with lizards and blooming cactus. Again, it was fine to walk through and see the labor of people a thousand years ago still standing. Don't know if we would ever get tired of this. After dinner, we walked down the lane toward Road G, with the almost-full moon on the rise, happy to be here, happy to be alive.