Category Archives: Road Trip

7 Days 7 National Parks … RED ROCKS TOUR 2017

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We’re Baaaack! If you were wondering whether I had truly packed too much into our southern Utah/northern Arizona red rock road trip … the answer is Nope! I surprised myself that the sack was just big enough and not too full. It is possible to smorgasbord a little bit here and a little bit there and taste some of the wonders of my favorite part of the world … whetting the appetite for more, and more, and more.  Of course, the more and more is for another adventure. It always comes down to too little time and soooo much to do, see, learn & experience.

So, after planning, mapping, and anticipating this 8 day adventure (not counting the going there and getting home days) I can recommend this Itinerary with the caveat that in my experience, going to a National Park after Memorial Day is only for the strong of heart and crowd loving. That said, even two weeks before the official start of the summer travel season the National Parks, camp sites, view points, restaurants, and highways were FILLED. It was a shocker to my system.

We officially started our road trip from American Fork Utah when we met up with the cousins from PA , driving their rented from Salt Lake City RV America motor home. On to Moab, Utah where we arrived to find EVERY campground full, every side track FULL, and finally found an unpopulated gravel pit 10-12 miles down SR 313 toward Dead Horse Point, off of a side road. I’m not kidding, any area that would accommodate a tent, a car, a trailer or RV was taken.  So beware.

Delicate Arch … there is Always someone beneath it. Sigh.

Arches National Park, by 9 am was almost bumper to bumper to the Delicate Arch parking lot. The hike to the arch is worth the effort. Honestly! In the evening Dead Horse Point, showed off the river and canyons with joy. Albeit with cold wind and gray clouds making us hurry more than usual. I was murmuring outloud that I wished the sun would come out and put the canyon walls on display. Someone took ‘offense’ at my remarks, saying something like This is Beautiful … what more could you want? If you’ve never seen a golden sunset on red rock walls and reflecting from the ribbon of river wound through the country below … well, you can want more than flat light.

Island in the Sky never fails to inspire the heart and soul and the walk along the rim shows wonders yet to explore (next time). Then off to Bluff, Utah … pioneer history, Hovenweep … ancient history, Butler Wash … even more ancient history, then Monument Valley … John Wayne history (think Nathan Biddles in the 1949 movie, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon), and onto the southern route to the Grand Canyon.

Monument Valley: We didn’t see Forrest Gump, but did see a group of Japanese kids recreating the iconic scene!

 

We turned onto a Kaibab National Forest road about 8 miles from the south entrance and found a grand camping site. Then the wind and rains came.

It’s May … not Elk Camp in the Fall!!

Here were are, in ski hats and winter coats (we could have been at fall elk camp it was so cold). In fact, the next morning traveling toward the gate at the south entrance to the park there was SNOW on the ground. Not just a skiff, but large patches. And I was into layers of jackets and a coat to stay warm.

What can I say about the Grand Canyon that isn’t a cliche? It’s is an experience everyone should aspire to behold. Photographs, paintings, watercolors, mixed media interpretations just can’t open the heart to its immensity and timelessness.

Packing up that afternoon we were again on the road through Cameron AZ toward the Escalante-Grand Staircase National Monument where we arrived too late for a camp spot at the Stateline campground near the Wire Pass Trailhead … so morning found us waking up in the trail head parking lot, along with several others.

Buckskin Gulch

The hike into Wire Pass and a right turn into Buckskin Gulch slot canyon(s) is always a wonderland of experiences … and this one was no exception. The usual drop over the rock at the mouth of the first slot was made much harder from last fall’s rainstorms which washed out the landing area … the drop was far greater than the last visit. Getting back up was accomplished only because we arrived at the same time folks were starting the drop. A big push from below, a huge tug from above … no skinned knees, but it was a blessing ‘fer shur’.

The last stage of the trip, a night in Kanab, dinner at Houston’s Trails End,  and some sand scraping before the final day at Zion National Park. Description? ZOO, it was a ZOO! There were so many people and cars, trucks, motorcycles, trailers, RVs, bicycles and hikers that I went into sensory overload. We hit the road north early and stayed the night camped at my mom’s in Orem, which was a smile on my heart.

Last night of the trip found us in Salt Lake City, at the Little America Motor Lodge … ah, a long hot shower, dinner with some of the Utah fam and Sunday morning to sit in the historic Tabernacle at Temple Square and listen to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir (for FREE)! Wonderful.

I slept most of the way home to Boise.  So, chalk up another 2100 plus mile road trip that’d I’d take again in a heart beat and stick around a few areas a while longer … that stick around a while longer is already added to “The List”.

 

Catchin’ Up & Road Trips

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I’m still wearing a jacket going outside … it’s supposed to be spring, isn’t it? It’s rained so much in Boise I haven’t gotten my peas in the ground, and I’ve given up on the whole lettuce thing. I haven’t pruned my grape vines and they are running amok already, just like the blackberry bush. I guess you could say I’m being a lazy gardener … or rather, I’m a blue sky gardener just like I’m a blue sky skier.  Then I remember my grade school rhymes: April showers bring May flowers. There must be a reason it’s in a rhyme, rain in spring isn’t a punishment, it’s anticipation of reward later. Patience Keri patience.

With no patience,  I am going into avoidance mode … no gardens, lawns, or dirty windows and so I’m tweaking the little campbox on wheels. The designers of the campbox table didn’t really think it through very well. When you decide the mitigation to a lousy design is to add a tie down strap over the table to keep it from falling over don’t you think someone would say, let’s not put that idea into production? Well, someone didn’t make that decision … duh.   First there is a 1 inch gap between the table and the wall, and the table wobbles on 2 aluminum pipe legs. When you place a plate on the table, or lean on it, it tips your food onto your lap.   So last week Sweetie & I took on the table stability issue, building a frame that is screwed onto the floor plate, and is built with a lip the table sits on.

Hey Winnebago … rethink your table design in the Micro Minnie Winnie. Something like this will work! 🙂

A bit of formica, a couple of screws, a few pieces of industrial strength hook tape and the table doesn’t wobble like a Weeble.  Score One for us!

Always one for a party, daughter #2 and I did a down and dirty trip to Utah for Girl’s Night at the Community Theater with the mom, the sisters, Aunts and cousins … and blasted back the following morning.  We did take a quick side trip off of exit 182 on I-84 to oooh and aaaahh over Shoshone Falls on the Snake River. With snow pack melt and lots of rain the falls were booming.  It was worth the detour. 

Tomorrow I’m hitching up and heading south to Boise for final preparation for the 10# in a 1# sack trip to southern Utah and Northern Arizona.  Shopping for, preparing & freezing dinners for those easy to thaw, heat & eat at the end of exploration day meals.  Wouldn’t you like to come back to Creamy Chicken Enchiladas? How about Red Rice & Beans? Of course, one night will be grilled steak … you can’t camp if you don’t have great steak at least once while you’re on the road. Or at least, I can’t.

Just catchin’ ya up on Wanderingkeri … May is already booked out and you CANNOT imagine how EXCITED I am to connect with friends and family from all over the country.  Idaho, Utah, California, Oregon, Washington, & PA … and it’s ONLY MAY!!

 

 

10 Pounds in a 1 Pound Sack

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For more than 30 years Sweetie’s cousins fly from Pennsylvania to Idaho, to fish and hunt. Since I met them I’ve waxed poetic of red rocks, ponderosa and piñon pines, petroglyphs, and pictographs, the spirit and ancientness of southern Utah, and northern Arizona. Almost my FAVORITE place on earth …. so far.  We’ve encouraged, begged, wheedled, teased, and guilted them to come and experience another part of the west … and this year, in fact in 4 weeks, a couple of them are taking us up on our invitation to come face to face with God’s watercolor box.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnticipation! Planning for an extended road trip is always exciting, don’t you think? Sweetie warns me that I always try to put 10 pounds in a 1 pound sack when I’m planning … I admit, I generally do. Though I am getting better … well, at least I’m trying.

This is exactly a road trip … to taste, to feel spirit and solitude, to breathe ancientness so that it plants seeds so deep they will have to come again and again.

We’re packing the Micro Minnie Winnie campbox  that we acquired last fall … it’ll be it’s long distance break in trip. Which reminds me we have to give it a name, maybe on this trip it’ll let us know what it is.  The cousins are renting a Cruise America RV (little) and we’re hitting the highway for this 10 day road trip.

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Camp-Box Supreme Everything we need … nothing more, nothing less

In a nutshell: Boise to Salt Lake City where we’ll meet up with the cousins, then down to Moab (Arches & Canyonland National Parks), then Bluff  (Cedar Mesa and Hovenweep National Monument). We’ll drive through Monument Valley (yeah John Wayne and John Ford!) on our way to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. After the enormous expanse of that canyon we’ll head north and walk, hike, climb and work ourselves down through Wire Pass (a coooool small, slot canyon which connects to the longer Buckskin Gulch canyon). We’ll work our way west through Kanab (stopping always at Houston’s Trail’s End for chicken fried steak) then on toward Zion National Park.  To complete the circle we’ll wend our way through small towns Utah to I-15 and head north for an evening and a morning in SLC before sliding home to Boise.

It makes me breathless just thinking about it …  10 pounds in a 1 pound sack? What do you think?

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*Links are for your convenience if you want to know more about the places I’m wandering to. I receive no compensation for any links I put in my posts.

Yosemite-What More Can I Say?

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I love finally exploring an iconic area that has been on my I have to go there and experience That for myself  list.  It’s not a “bucket” that I toss experiences into with a been there-done that check one off and head to the next one on the list. That phrase bucket list seems to take the life out of wonder and has a frenetic sort of collector feeling to me … like I ‘have’ to get through this list before I die quality to me.

I’m about dreams, and what inspires me. I’m about anticipation and exploration … tasting, touching, listening, feeling awe at the magnificently spectacularly diverse world we’ve been given to live in.

By Ansel Adams wanna be Keri Vest-Vergari

Ansel Adams’ dramatic black and white portraits of Yosemite National Park’s granite peaks and roaring waterfalls ignited one such dream. And last week, for our 12th anniversary, Sweetie and I spent 2 nights near Yosemite Falls staying with friends who live and work in the park, Kelly Martin (Chief of Fire & Aviation Management at Yosemite) and her husband Paul Heffner. While Kelly had to work, Paul gave us the ‘insider’s view’ through the park. Did you know that Yosemite has its own zip code, its own jail and judge and has a permanent and temporary workforce population that is 4 1/2 times larger than Council Idaho? Or, did you know that a past concessionaire trademarked historic Yosemite names and places and once they lost their contract kept the trademarks and the park had to change the names? What? And we let them?

We picked the perfect time to visit, and although the campgrounds, cabins, and hotels were semi-full we felt as if the place was almost empty as we hiked and walked around the valley.

By Ansel Adams’ wanna be Keri Vest-Vergari

So, I joined the thousands of wanna be Ansel Adams’ and attempted black and white visions of the granite peaks from the valley floor … the Half Dome hike seemed daunting for a first hike of the season and to tell the truth, we didn’t even think about it!

Yosemite is a wondrous place and you can find solitude even in the midst of the waves of humanity that flood the canyon all year long.  We did and it was a dream.

On a personal note: Happiest 12+ years ever Sweetie!! Just so ya know … I love you and THANKS for bribing me with Yosemite. The whole week was perfect!

**photos taken with an iPhone 6 and a clip on telephoto lens**

 

 

On the Cusp

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On the Cusp … has an adventurous sound to it, doesn’t it? It portends, it anticipates, it leans forward, a balancing act one day at a time. It feels like holding my breath before I tip off the edge of the ski run, point upward toward the peak at the end of the vertical trail, open a new book, or start a plan. Anything can happen.

Today’s footwear … in Cusp Mode

Breathing, in this moment, the fire is glowing in the stove, but the window is open and I can smell the rain of spring. Here, in Council, the ground is only beginning to shed its snow coat while in Boise the greenhouse is busy protecting the baby greenlings, the piles of last falls debris are anticipating a burning and the bird-caller-finder-feeder neighbor lady’s trees are full of veracious beaks on recon while our garden beds and fruit trees are coming out of hibernation.

A MUST Read!

Today I’m cusping like this…taking a few more days in front of the fire, reading books, and thinking I need to finish the quilt laying quietly under the sewing machine needle waiting for phase 2. I finally finished with the “Beast” … my yearly January puzzle that took me like 8 weeks to complete … I did a happy dance when that last stupid pink,pinky,whitish-pink, green, greenish, greenish-black, black flower patterned piece actually fit in place.

I am cusping and planning a hiking trip in Yosemite National Park in a couple of weeks. Sweetie was a wildland firefighter, at one time he was the first Superintendent of the Union Hotshots, out of La Grande Oregon. In a few weeks we’re headed south to Reno for a Hotshot Superintendent Reunion & National Hotshot Association meeting.  Sweetie, knowing that Yosemite is on my “want to see it myself list”, suggested we spend a few days in Yosemite before heading north again.  Bless his heart!

Anticipation

In cusp mode, I’m not ready for spring yet, I’m not so secretly praying for another monster snow fall on the ski hill before I hang up the Pearls for the season. Though I did buy those new Asolo trekking shoes  and this afternoon Sweetie and I are planning on cleaning, organizing, and replenishing our fly fishing packs …

Anticipation

On the Cusp … Yeah! an adventure all in itself!

 

 

 

Breaking the Doldrums & A Major Personal Milestone

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House bound with rain, rain, rain smooshing the piles of snow outside into bogs of slush.  It hasn’t stopped raining here in Council for more than 48 hours…not gully washer rain, but steady drizzle. The rivers are raging, the creeks overflowing, basements are flooding and my cell phone blasted an emergency alert during a major REM sleep cycle about 4 a.m.

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Frosted ear piece … cold, cold day

Anyway, last week’s girls weekend was a hoot … the snow was fab down at Brian Head Resort outside of Cedar City Utah. My skiing partners even got me on some powder filled, choppy mogels and very, very, very cold … frost on the ski helmet.

Which made our spa day  at the Flamingo Las Vegas even more perfect (facials, feet pampering, steam/sauna rooms, and hot tubs). I’m putting the spa day on my TO DO agenda every time we head south … OR find ones closer to home?! Duh!

So good we had breakfast here 2 days in a row!

So good we had breakfast here 2 days in a row!

The cute Vegas neice, Catlin, showed us a hidden gem for breakfast named Crepe Expectations (it’s one of those Diner, Drive Ins, and Dives notable places). So good we went two days in a row!

In that same shopping plaza we tasted and I bought the MOST yummy hummus I’ve ever eaten … When in Vegas I highly suggest you find Happy Hummus  and buy their Lemony Spinach … it’s heavenly.

Back home and house bound, I’ve taken on the eBay world selling the ‘let’s clear out the shop’s 40 years of we won’t use this’ stuff. Easy to learn how and it’s kept me occupied … and we know I have to be occupied or I start planning stuff! Well, full disclosure I’m planning stuff anyway … a family camp out , & fishing trip, a southern Utah/Arizona road trip, and I’m still hoping for a few days on the slopes of Grand Targhee.

Keeping the doldrums at bay I’m also working on a measly little 500 piece puzzle .. my one puzzle for the year … yikes! It has driven me nuts … these little pieces of pink and green bushes are so much harder than the mostly black Star Wars one I did last year. Can you imagine that?

The sun is finally out and shining for the first time in weeks … I’m outta here … hello Brundage!  Well, I will be once Sweetie is ready 🙂

Noteworthy in My Life:  On February 14th I will be 21 years sober! I’ve not done this alone … thank you to God and my wonderful family and friends. I would not be where I am without them!! I love you All!!

 

Embrace the Chill

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I’m cold. Like most of the country we are snow and ice bound here in Idaho, but that hasn’t curtailed my winter much … well, except for the 3 days we were drifted in up at the ranch in Council before Al, our snowplow guy, could get to us. Skiing is pretty much the only thing on my agenda. The valleys are under frozen inversions yet the slopes are blue sky and squeaky snow. Where would you want to be?

Sweetie and I broke my no skiing on Saturday rule last week to attend the Brundage Mountain Beer & Gear Day. I didn’t partake of the beer, but demo’d 5 different skis (and it didn’t cost me a dime (then)). The plan was simple: ski the same slope in approximately the same lines to ensure that I gave each set of skis its chance and hopefully find the skis I’d like to replace my K2s.

I clicked into a pair of Blizzard Black Pearls , took the Blue Bird Lift to the summit and headed down the slope. The Black Pearls had great control, a smooth ride, easy turns, with a substantial feel) ,  after a couple of runs on them I swapped out to some Rossignals (they didn’t fit my ski style … too loose and chattery), I changed up to an upper end Vokl  (which were too heavy for me; I felt like I had 10 pounds of iron on each foot), the next run I tried a boutique ski made in Portland for Brundage (nice control, good carving, but I didn’t want my skis to have a Brundage advertisement on them),  back at the bottom I moved on to a different model of Rossignol’s, (their E88). ( I had no control at all with them, hard to turn, and heavy), then finally I went back to the Black Pearls for my final run.  Guess which one I chose?

Off to the ski shop for the price (YIKES)!!! So, sorry, won’t be purchasing them here. Sweetie and I took ourselves back down the mountain passing on a soak at Starkey Hot Springs and curled up on the couch for the evening.

It's Christmas in January! Blizzard Black Pearl skis with Rossignol bindings. Love at FIrst Ski

It’s Christmas in January! Blizzard Black Pearl skis with Rossignol bindings. Love at First Ski

Once on the couch out came the laptop and I found them! New Blizzard Black Pearls from the Colorado Ski Shop for about 200$ less. Bet you can’t guess what’s sitting in my living room? Well, okay, so you guessed.   Overnight shipping and viola! I do have to have the bindings set before I hit the slopes at Brundage a couple of time to get tuned into the new boards, before a trip through Utah to Brian Head Resort with my ski buddy daughter & my sister. Girls Weekend!!

Well, there are 2 more months before the end of winter and my goal is to ski at least twice a week until the resorts close. Who knows where the snow’ll be calling me.  I have a couple of loop ski trips floating through my mind. Northern Utah, back to my roots (Snowbasin, Alta, Sundance  (that is where I first learned to ski), or Northern Idaho and Montana and try (Schweitzer, & Big Sky), or Eastern Idaho (Sun Valley) then Wyoming (Grand Targhee) which is one of my favorites!  I can’t decide …  maybe rock/paper/scissor? flip a coin? or pull a name out of the hat?  Or just close my eyes and point.  Anyway I decide I ‘m hoping I can get Sweetie out of the shop for a few days to join me on a jaunt or two before spring.

Happy winter! Embrace the Chill!!