Category Archives: Road Trip

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!!

 

How to take the Perfect Free Form Road Trip

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Crater Lake National Park

Crater Lake National Park

We did it! We fled our day to day and hit the road in the Escape-mobile.  Taking a free-form, take a break, go somewhere different road trip … Sweetie and I had only one fixed destination point and time that was Willow Creek California to spend a few days with an old smoke jumper friend of Greg’s. To and from there we had no idea where we would end up …

We may not have know how and where we’d end up, but I’d put a couple of I’d like to do’s on the list: First was an item from my wanna do list ‘experience the giant redwoods’, then maybe some time on the coast, we wanted to find roads that we’d never driven, before we wanted to have fun, and I wanted to flee from the madness and negativity being generated by “the” election … banning talk radio and news reports.

In remembrance of our last spring’s no power, food, or fuel experience in Moab, I promised myself, no more road trips with out a bit of emergency preparation on hand so into the Escape-mobile I tossed our faithful camp-in-a-box, a sleeping bag, a couple of chairs and our pillows. Of course, 2 gallons of water and foodage … snacks and power bars, and several books on cd.

But in all that preparation we forgot … maps.  At the first fuel stop Sweetie bought more maps … maps of states we already had in our map case, at home … guess a back-up could come in handy … at least if we remember them.

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Crater Lake National Park in the snow … Nov 2016

All trips from Boise, Idaho start off East or West on I-84 … for us that means turn left and head west. Ontario to Vale to Jordan Valley then a right turn onto and onward through Christmas Valley on our way to Crater Lake National Park.

I love coming to a fork in the road, consulting the trusty map and sometimes almost tossing a coin for directions … we finally made it to Crater Lake; beautiful, deep blue, and snow covered.

Dropping off the mountain hunger overtook us and we stopped at a little spot called Becky’s Cafe in Union Creek. It’s been there since 1926 and is in an old and quaint log building … I had their excellent chili …

But as I sat there, I kept looking around, and then … “I think I’ve been here before”. Déjà vu .. shivers! …it came to me, driving back from a fire assignment in Grant’s Pass, a friend and I had made a detour to Crater Lake and had actually stopped at this place for dinner  years before …

Headin' South

Headin’ South

On to Medford Oregon our first night’s stop … I tapped booking.com for a place to stay … and found a nice place downtown, the Inn at the Commons from the list and booked it.  When we pulled into the parking lot and walked inside, Sweetie looked around and said, “I think I’ve been here before … it used to be a Red Lion. I was here on a fire assignment.” Laughter and  another Déjà vu!

Gold Beach Oregon

Gold Beach near Gold Beach Inn

From the mountains to the coast then north to Gold Beach, we embraced a storm so strong rain was sheeting from the windows when we stopped for lunch … the surf was high, doing a fine imitation of a 767 revving to take off. From our ocean side beach view room at the inviting Gold Beach Inn we slept with the balcony door open to the storm.

Headin' South

Headin’ South

Next morning the sun  shone bouncing off of puddles and asphalt … I was psyched … it was visit the redwoods day … Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park and a pleasant walk around the Simpson-Reed Memorial Trail … stretching as tall as possible and feeling as tiny as Tom Thumb against their magnificent hugeness.  Perfect! and another … Cliche warning … breathtaking!

Bottom Pic ... that is ONE tree Greg is standing against ...

Bottom Pic … that is ONE tree Greg is standing against …

I love checking places off my wanna do list … but I also love finding ‘that’ spot, the one I didn’t know about that just tickles me to the bones.

Like the Siskiyou Smokejumper Museum (It was cool … and we found Greg’s name on a jump log from his days smoke jumping out of La Grand Oregon). Or the It’s a Burl wood shop … I felt like I was in Rivendell.

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Our last big stop was in Willow Creek to visit a friend and fellow smoke jumper, Dick Kirsh and his wife Judy. Leaving town we stopped to check out what is billed as the largest collection of Bigfoot memorabilia in the world, but just our luck the museum was closed … and we had no sightings, fleeting or otherwise, of the creatures on our way through the mountains either. Sigh.

Willow Creek California ... Bigfoot Capital of the World

Willow Creek California … Bigfoot Capital of the World

The last couple of days of our never-drove-that-road trip we took a lot of dirt roads (which kept Greg holding his breath, fearing a flat tire).

We passed through the Hart Mountain Antelope Preserve where despite being told there were 1000’s of them … the sightings of antelope were more frequent than Bigfoot, but not by much.

Onto Frenchglen, the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, and stopping to see John French’s Round Barn before the miles and miles and miles of long, clear, vistas and horizon hiding roads before finding ourselves back on I-84 blacktop and home.

I’ll take a free-form, asphalt free (at times) road trip  anytime!  A couple of stats … 1500+ miles, 6 days, one 14 hour audio book, no flat tires and uncountable laughter.

I love travelin’ with my Sweetie.

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John French’s Round Barn … he was shot and died … the shooter was acquitted. Mr. French, he had a temper, so the sign says.

Until next time …