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Life In The Slow Lane With Eric & Laurel

~Because it’s all about the journey~

Finally! The North Cascades

Finally! The North Cascades

Posted by on Sep 24, 2016 in Food, Gallery, Hiking, Travel, Washington | 20 comments

We’ve tried at least four times in the past few years to get to North Cascades National Park. Each time, we were foiled by mudslides, snowstorms, or wildfires. In mid-June, no random acts of nature interfered, and we finally made it there.

The park is not easy to access under the best of conditions. Located in far northwestern Washington, it’s an untamed landscape of high jagged glacial peaks and deep, thickly forested valleys. One road—North Cascades Scenic Highway—crosses the park, and it’s closed for about six months of the year.

Unlike many other national parks, North Cascades isn’t particularly drive-by friendly (except for the highly photogenic Diablo Lake, featured in the photo above). To really appreciate the magnificence of the park, you need to get out and hike the trails. And that was our intention—although things didn’t turn out exactly the way we planned.

We set up camp for three nights at lovely Pearrygin Lake State Park, just outside the little Western themed town of Winthrop, near the eastern slope of the national park. Bright and early the next morning, we headed to the Forest Service office to pick up a trail map. What we neglected to consider is that most of the trails are still buried in snow until sometime in July.

Fortunately, the ranger was knowledgeable and helpful, and she steered us toward several lower elevation hikes off of State Route 20 (AKA North Cascades Scenic Highway). Although the hikes weren’t within the boundaries of the national park, they offered a wonderful introduction to the beauty of the North Cascades.

Our hikes off of Highway 20 (a 3.5-mile round trip meander along Cedar Creek to Cedar Falls, and a four-mile round-trip hike to Cutthroat Lake) were the quintessential Pacific Northwest forest hikes. We knocked out both of those in a day—if we had it to do again, we would go straight to the Cutthroat Lake Trail and hike all the way to Cutthroat Pass (for a 10-mile hike). The Cutthroat Lake Trail is more interesting, more challenging, and more spectacular than the Cedar Creek Trail.

For something entirely different, we drove about 12 miles from Lake Pearrygin to the Methow Valley, the eastern gateway to the national park. This is high desert, and the perfect place to explore in spring and early summer when there’s still snow at higher elevations. (Not so good when the weather heats up and the rattlesnakes emerge—we talked with several people who told us that the canyon is popular for rattlesnake hunting.)

We chose the Pipestone Canyon Rim Trail, another ranger-recommended hike; she told us that there might still be wildflowers in mid-June. That was an understatement—this was one of the most spectacular wildflower displays we’ve yet seen. For long stretches of the trail, we found ourselves wading through thick stands of purple lupine, white yarrow, and bright yellow balsamroot.

We started our hike on a chilly morning, perfect for keeping rattlers at bay. Clouds scudded across the sky, threatening and then delivering a rainstorm that almost made us turn back. But we unfurled our umbrellas and persevered. (I know, hiking with an umbrella seems ridiculous—but even though we have good raingear, there’s nothing like an umbrella for keeping dry in a storm.)

The 9-mile loop hike starts off as a flat, easy trail that quickly leads to a stunning canyon of cathedral-like rock columns (“pipestones”) rising 1500 feet above the canyon floor. After the first mile, the trail opens up into grassy meadows with a sprinkling of wildflowers and a few pieces of vintage farm equipment abandoned long ago. Three miles in, a narrow path heads up a steep trail to the ridge. And then, things start to get really interesting.

As soon as we crested the ridge, the skies cleared, and we found ourselves in wildflower heaven. Seriously, I’ve never seen wildflowers this tall and this lush. The backdrop was equally breathtaking—sweeping vistas of the dramatic peaks of the North Cascades rise above velvety green foothills, and the pretty Methow Valley sprawls far below. Every bit of this trail is gorgeous—it’s worth a trip to the Cascades in the spring just to experience Pipestone Canyon.

The beauty of the North Cascades captured our hearts, and there’s no question that we’ll return—next time, we’ll try a bit later in the year to that we can get to the higher elevation hikes. But had we not been there in mid-June, we would have certainly missed the spectacular Pipestone Canyon hike—it’s far too hot in summer, and of course, there’s the issue of rattlers.

For our adventures in civilization, we enjoyed a couple of forays into the little town of Winthrop (population 393). Once an aging little mining town, Winthrop reinvented itself in the mid-70’s as a Western themed town, replete with false Western storefronts, wooden sidewalks, and hitching posts. This is ordinarily the kind of place we would avoid (assuming it to be a prime tourist trap), but somehow, Winthrop has managed to skirt tackiness, and comes off as charming.

We enjoyed a stroll through town one evening, followed by a delicious tapas-style dinner and cocktails at the cozy Copper Glance. And we stopped by the Rocking Horse Bakery and coffee shop on the morning we set out to hike Pipestone Canyon for delicious gluten-free lemon curd muffins and espresso. I’ve been meaning to email the bakery to see if they’ll share their muffin recipe, it was that good.

About the campground:

Pearrygin Lake State Park was the perfect location for our explorations of the North Cascades and the Methow Valley. It’s a pretty park on the shores of Pearrygin Lake, with plenty of shade for hot days and an interesting 3-mile trail that traverses the hillside and a picturesque old homestead.

Note that there are two campgrounds here; the east campground is further along the access road and is the nicer of the two, with larger, more level, shady sites. The west campground was apparently originally an old RV park; the sites are much closer together. Electric/water/sewer hookups available; Verizon was decent. Our positive experience was probably because we camped there mid-week in mid-June. We’ve heard that weekends and summer are crazy (like most everywhere, right?).

Next Up: Heading To The Islands

The Road To Pearrygin Lake State Park

Hiking Trail From The Campground

The Grasses Are Over My Head

Thinking About A New Truck

Lovely Lake Pearrygin

A Muddy Stretch On Cedar Creek Trail

Cedar Creek Falls

On The Way To Cutthroat Lake

Such A Pretty Trail

One Of Many Obstacles

Happy To Have A Bridge

And Another Creek Crossing

Snow Even At Lower Elevations

Beautiful Cutthroat Lake

Hoodoos In Pipestone Canyon

Not Going To Let A Rainstorm Stop Us

Vintage Farm Equipment Along The Trail

Hiking Up To The Ridge

Clear Skies And Outrageous Wildflowers

Peaks Of The North Cascades In The Distance

The Vistas Are Breathtaking

Hip Deep In Wildflowers

"The Hills Are Alive" Lalala

Circling Back To The Trailhead

A Distant View Of Campbell Lake

Back To The Trailhead

A Shiny Brewer's Blackbird

Evening In Winthrop

Right Out Of The Wild West

He Needs A Stetson And Boots

Tapas Evening At The Copper Glance

Cocktails At The Copper Glance

Winthrop By Morning

Rocking Horse Bakery

The Local Brewery

Western Kitsch

At Lake Pearrygin State Park

Diablo Lake In North Cascades National Park

The Road To Pearrygin Lake State Park
Hiking Trail From The Campground
The Grasses Are Over My Head
Thinking About A New Truck
Lovely Lake Pearrygin
A Muddy Stretch On Cedar Creek Trail
Cedar Creek Falls
On The Way To Cutthroat Lake
Such A Pretty Trail
One Of Many Obstacles
Happy To Have A Bridge
And Another Creek Crossing
Snow Even At Lower Elevations
Beautiful Cutthroat Lake
Hoodoos In Pipestone Canyon
Not Going To Let A Rainstorm Stop Us
Vintage Farm Equipment Along The Trail
Hiking Up To The Ridge
Clear Skies And Outrageous Wildflowers
Peaks Of The North Cascades In The Distance
The Vistas Are Breathtaking
Hip Deep In Wildflowers
Circling Back To The Trailhead
A Distant View Of Campbell Lake
Back To The Trailhead
A Shiny Brewer's Blackbird
Evening In Winthrop
Right Out Of The Wild West
He Needs A Stetson And Boots
Tapas Evening At The Copper Glance
Cocktails At The Copper Glance
Winthrop By Morning
Rocking Horse Bakery
The Local Brewery
Western Kitsch
At Lake Pearrygin State Park
Diablo Lake In North Cascades National Park
The Road To Pearrygin Lake State Park thumbnail
Hiking Trail From The Campground thumbnail
The Grasses Are Over My Head thumbnail
Thinking About A New Truck thumbnail
Lovely Lake Pearrygin thumbnail
A Muddy Stretch On Cedar Creek Trail thumbnail
Cedar Creek Falls thumbnail
On The Way To Cutthroat Lake thumbnail
Such A Pretty Trail thumbnail
One Of Many Obstacles thumbnail
Happy To Have A Bridge thumbnail
And Another Creek Crossing thumbnail
Snow Even At Lower Elevations thumbnail
Beautiful Cutthroat Lake thumbnail
Hoodoos In Pipestone Canyon thumbnail
Not Going To Let A Rainstorm Stop Us thumbnail
Vintage Farm Equipment Along The Trail thumbnail
Hiking Up To The Ridge thumbnail
Clear Skies And Outrageous Wildflowers thumbnail
Peaks Of The North Cascades In The Distance thumbnail
The Vistas Are Breathtaking thumbnail
Hip Deep In Wildflowers thumbnail
Circling Back To The Trailhead thumbnail
A Distant View Of Campbell Lake thumbnail
Back To The Trailhead thumbnail
A Shiny Brewer's Blackbird thumbnail
Evening In Winthrop thumbnail
Right Out Of The Wild West thumbnail
He Needs A Stetson And Boots thumbnail
Tapas Evening At The Copper Glance thumbnail
Cocktails At The Copper Glance thumbnail
Winthrop By Morning thumbnail
Rocking Horse Bakery thumbnail
The Local Brewery thumbnail
Western Kitsch thumbnail
At Lake Pearrygin State Park thumbnail
Diablo Lake In North Cascades National Park thumbnail

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Family Fun In Pullman, WA

Family Fun In Pullman, WA

Posted by on Sep 19, 2016 in Biking, Family, Gallery, Hiking, Travel, Washington | 24 comments

Located in far eastern Washington is a handsome countryside of rolling agricultural land. Fields of wheat and lentils are a verdant green in spring, fading  to gold in late summer. Blue sky and clouds provide the backdrop; a few barns here and there add a bit of vertical interest. This is the Palouse.

It’s a place of bucolic beauty, and a photographer’s dream. But the big draw for us is family, and that’s why we once again found ourselves in Pullman in early June.

Our daughter Amanda, her partner Armando, and our grandson Findlay have been living in Pullman for a year now. It was a big adjustment for them, coming from San Juan Island, off the coast of Washington. (And honestly, an adjustment for us, as well. We were accustomed to having them as our next-door-island neighbors during our summers on Lopez Island.)

Amanda is in her second year of graduate school in ethnobotany at Washington State University, and Armando is working on his PhD. Findlay just started first grade. As you can imagine, they are all very busy with their various educational endeavors. We planned our visit for a window of opportunity when they all had a bit of free time, and we spent a wonderful week hanging out together, catching up, sharing meals, and exploring the area.

We biked the wonderful trail between Pullman and Moscow a couple of times (an easy 14-mile round trip ride through rolling farmland), enjoyed a morning at the Moscow Farmers Market (with an essential side-trip to the toy store on the plaza), and hiked up Kamiak Butte (the only real hike in the area, but a worthwhile one). And for a bit of art and culture, we visited the Dahmen Barn, a 1935 dairy barn turned into artists studios, with a unique fence made of 1,000 antique rusted wheels. Viewing art from the perspective of a six-year old is always enlightening.

It was a wonderful week. The only problem is that it went by far too quickly.

About the RV Park:

The only RV option in Pullman is the city park (Pullman RV Park). It’s not a resort by any means, but it’s a fine place to stay, and centrally located for walking to the beautiful Washington State University campus and pretty neighborhood parks. Full hook-ups, excellent Verizon coverage, and remarkably quiet at night (as long as you don’t plan your visit during a WSU home football game).

Next Up: Finally! The North Cascades

Family Fun In Pullman, WA

The Scenery Around Pullman

At The Moscow Farmers Market

Hooping At The Market

A Study In Radishes

His Current Passion

Counting Up His Life Savings

A Hiking Adventure

View From Kamiak Butte

Hiking Buddies

Having Fun

On Top Of Kamaik Butte

A Sweet Moment

Biking Trail From Pullman To Moscow

Mostly Farmland Along The Trail

Armando And Amanda

Enjoying The Botanical Garden

Cooling Off On A Hot Day

Neighborhood Park In Pullman

The Dahmen Barn

A Pair Of Art Critics

Antique Iron Wheel Fence

Mustard In Bloom

Pullman RV Park

Family Fun In Pullman, WA
The Scenery Around Pullman
At The Moscow Farmers Market
Hooping At The Market
A Study In Radishes
His Current Passion
Counting Up His Life Savings
A Hiking Adventure
View From Kamiak Butte
Hiking Buddies
Having Fun
On Top Of Kamaik Butte
A Sweet Moment
Biking Trail From Pullman To Moscow
Mostly Farmland Along The Trail
Armando And Amanda
Enjoying The Botanical Garden
Cooling Off On A Hot Day
Neighborhood Park In Pullman
The Dahmen Barn
A Pair Of Art Critics
Antique Iron Wheel Fence
Mustard In Bloom
Pullman RV Park
Family Fun In Pullman, WA thumbnail
The Scenery Around Pullman thumbnail
At The Moscow Farmers Market thumbnail
Hooping At The Market thumbnail
A Study In Radishes thumbnail
His Current Passion thumbnail
Counting Up His Life Savings thumbnail
A Hiking Adventure thumbnail
View From Kamiak Butte thumbnail
Hiking Buddies thumbnail
Having Fun thumbnail
On Top Of Kamaik Butte thumbnail
A Sweet Moment thumbnail
Biking Trail From Pullman To Moscow thumbnail
Mostly Farmland Along The Trail thumbnail
Armando And Amanda thumbnail
Enjoying The Botanical Garden thumbnail
Cooling Off On A Hot Day thumbnail
Neighborhood Park In Pullman thumbnail
The Dahmen Barn thumbnail
A Pair Of Art Critics thumbnail
Antique Iron Wheel Fence thumbnail
Mustard In Bloom thumbnail
Pullman RV Park thumbnail

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Coming Full Circle: Joseph, Oregon

Coming Full Circle: Joseph, Oregon

Posted by on Sep 11, 2016 in Art, Biking, Gallery, Hiking, Oregon, Travel | 20 comments

When people find out that we’ve been traveling fulltime for three years, they often remark that we must have been everywhere and seen everything by now. We naively assumed the same when we embarked on this journey. But what we didn’t anticipate is that our travel bucket list is getting longer instead of shorter (this seems to be the lament of most full timers we’ve met). It doesn’t help that we’re not really crossing much off our list—many of the places we visit go right back onto our “must return to” list.

Thus, in early June, we once again found ourselves in Joseph, Oregon—the first destination on our list when we began our journey three years ago.

Joseph is an easy town to fall in love with. Cozy and welcoming—with only 1,000 residents—the town is postcard-perfect, but refreshingly lacking in pretense. Nestled against the snow-capped Wallowa Mountains, there’s a pretty main street brimming with flowers and interesting shops; the street corners are anchored by magnificent bronze sculptures, all created by local artists.

The most striking bronze—and the most prominent—is that of Chief Joseph, the esteemed Nez Perce leader who fought, first diplomatically, and then in battle, for the right of his people to remain in their ancestral lands.

The earth is the mother of all people, and all people should have equal rights upon it. ~Chief Joseph

Long before white settlers arrived, this rugged place of high mountains, deep canyons, and cascading rivers was the homeland of the Nez Perce. A peaceful nation, the Nez Perce cultivated good relations with white settlers—until gold was discovered nearby, and they were forced out of the valley they called “The Land of Winding Waters.”

The legacy of the Nez Perce is woven deeply into the fabric of Joseph. The town, once called Silver Lake, renamed itself Joseph in 1880 (in honor of Old Chief Joseph, the father of young Chief Joseph). Just outside of town, Chief Joseph the elder is buried, forever overlooking his beloved Wallowa Lake.

Adjacent to his gravesite is the Iwetemlaykin Heritage Site. It was here the Nez Perce began the sorrowful journey that took them from their homeland. It is a beautiful place; rolling green hills dotted with wildflowers and a small pond lie beneath the grand presence of the Wallowa Mountains. This is sacred land to the Nez Perce, and it is a gift to be able to walk the trails.

We spent our week in Joseph hiking, biking, and exploring the town. The  Eagle Cap wilderness is nearby—this is truly wild country, best seen on backpacking trips. But a few trails allow access into the wilderness for reasonably easy hiking adventures. We hiked both the Chief Joseph trail just outside of Wallowa State Park, and the Hurricane Creek trail, just a few miles from town. For a different type of adventure, we “rode the rails” on a unique bicycle-built-for-two contraption with the Joseph Branch Rail Riders, pedaling 12-miles of repurposed train tracks through undulating farmland, from Joseph to Enterprise and back.

We planned our visit to Joseph to coincide with the peak wildflower bloom along the Hells Canyon Byway. It’s a long, slow, dusty 40-mile drive (three-quarters on a rough gravel road) to the Buckhorn Lookout, but absolutely worth it. The road passes through the Zumwalt Prairie, Oregon’s largest native wild grassland. The wildflower bloom in the grasslands and at the canyon overlook was just as spectacular as we remembered.

I wish I could say that we could now cross Joseph off our list. But we can’t. There’s more we want to explore in the area—rafting the scenic Grande Ronde River is at the top of the list. I think we need another lifetime to fit everything in.

About the RV Park:

We spent six nights in Joseph, and just like last time, stayed in town at tiny Five Peaks RV Park. It’s the perfect location for walking and biking into the pretty little town and just a few miles from trails heading into the Eagle Cap Wilderness. Full hookups, excellent WiFi, friendly owners, and a cozy, peaceful vibe (no showers, bathrooms, or laundry).

Next Up: Family Fun In Pullman, WA

Coming Full Circle: Joseph, OR

Cowboy Bronze In Downtown Joseph

Honoring Chief Joseph

A Nez Perce Warrior

Chief Joseph Trail In Wallowa State Park

A Rocky But Beautiful Trail

Nope, Not Crossing That Bridge

Riding The Rails In Joseph

Miles Of Repurposed Train Tracks

Bucolic Scenery Along The Railway

Watching The Rail Riders

A Bobolink

Hiking The Hurricane Creek Trail

Practicing Balance Beam Skills

Up Close With The Wildflowers

Lovely Little Calypso Orchid

Hiking Along The Ridge

Hurricane Creek

Trails At Iwetemlaykin Heritage Site

Nez Perce Historical Site

Chief Joseph's Gravesite

Downtown Joseph

Historic Buildings In Downtown Joseph

Bronze Warrior In Front Of The Post Office

Waiting For His Coffee

Delicious Mochas At Arrowhead Coffee

Folk Art Chickens Waiting To Cross The Road

Terminal Gravity Brew Pub

IPA, Please

Buckhorn Lookout Station

Vivid Blue Penstemon

Hells Canyon In The Distance

Looking Toward Hells Canyon

On The Road Back To Joseph

Field Of Lupine

Cozy Site At Five Peaks RV Park

Coming Full Circle: Joseph, OR
Cowboy Bronze In Downtown Joseph
Honoring Chief Joseph
A Nez Perce Warrior
Chief Joseph Trail In Wallowa State Park
A Rocky But Beautiful Trail
Nope, Not Crossing That Bridge
Riding The Rails In Joseph
Miles Of Repurposed Train Tracks
Bucolic Scenery Along The Railway
Watching The Rail Riders
A Bobolink
Hiking The Hurricane Creek Trail
Practicing Balance Beam Skills
Up Close With The Wildflowers
Lovely Little Calypso Orchid
Hiking Along The Ridge
Hurricane Creek
Trails At Iwetemlaykin Heritage Site
Nez Perce Historical Site
Chief Joseph's Gravesite
Downtown Joseph
Historic Buildings In Downtown Joseph
Bronze Warrior In Front Of The Post Office
Waiting For His Coffee
Delicious Mochas At Arrowhead Coffee
Folk Art Chickens Waiting To Cross The Road
Terminal Gravity Brew Pub
IPA, Please
Buckhorn Lookout Station
Vivid Blue Penstemon
Hells Canyon In The Distance
Looking Toward Hells Canyon
On The Road Back To Joseph
Field Of Lupine
Cozy Site At Five Peaks RV Park
Coming Full Circle: Joseph, OR thumbnail
Cowboy Bronze In Downtown Joseph thumbnail
Honoring Chief Joseph thumbnail
A Nez Perce Warrior thumbnail
Chief Joseph Trail In Wallowa State Park thumbnail
A Rocky But Beautiful Trail thumbnail
Nope, Not Crossing That Bridge thumbnail
Riding The Rails In Joseph thumbnail
Miles Of Repurposed Train Tracks thumbnail
Bucolic Scenery Along The Railway thumbnail
Watching The Rail Riders thumbnail
A Bobolink thumbnail
Hiking The Hurricane Creek Trail thumbnail
Practicing Balance Beam Skills thumbnail
Up Close With The Wildflowers thumbnail
Lovely Little Calypso Orchid thumbnail
Hiking Along The Ridge thumbnail
Hurricane Creek thumbnail
Trails At Iwetemlaykin Heritage Site thumbnail
Nez Perce Historical Site thumbnail
Chief Joseph's Gravesite thumbnail
Downtown Joseph thumbnail
Historic Buildings In Downtown Joseph thumbnail
Bronze Warrior In Front Of The Post Office thumbnail
Waiting For His Coffee thumbnail
Delicious Mochas At Arrowhead Coffee thumbnail
Folk Art Chickens Waiting To Cross The Road thumbnail
Terminal Gravity Brew Pub thumbnail
IPA, Please thumbnail
Buckhorn Lookout Station thumbnail
Vivid Blue Penstemon thumbnail
Hells Canyon In The Distance thumbnail
Looking Toward Hells Canyon thumbnail
On The Road Back To Joseph thumbnail
Field Of Lupine thumbnail
Cozy Site At Five Peaks RV Park thumbnail

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Having A Blast In Boise, ID

Having A Blast In Boise, ID

Posted by on Aug 29, 2016 in Art, Biking, Food, Gallery, Idaho, Travel | 28 comments

In late May, we spent a few days in Boise, Idaho. It turned out to be one of the most delightful cities we’ve yet visited, a near perfect combination of culture and nature (and great food).

We biked along the lovely riverfront trail every day, discovered wonderful restaurants and cafes, explored the attractive downtown, and enjoyed the relaxed, sunny ambiance of Boise. Several times I remarked to Eric, “This is how a city should be.”

Somehow, Boise has maintained a small town feel, even with a population of more than 200,000. Honestly, the city was very different from what we expected—given that it’s the capital of one of the “reddest” states in the country, we assumed it would be much more conservative. But that’s not the vibe we got. There’s a strong commitment to the environment, to human rights, to building healthy and vital communities, and to organic and sustainable practices. When we toured the capitol building, I was most impressed by the simple note on a legislator’s desk—in large print, it read, “Do No Harm.”

Our RV Park backed up to the Boise Greenbelt, making it convenient to hop on our bikes and head into town. Any city that makes it easy and enjoyable for people to get around via walking and biking scores big points with us—and the Boise trail system is one of the best we’ve come across in our travels. Twenty-five miles of paved trails hug the banks of the Boise River, offering a scenic ride through wildlife habitat and riverside parks, and providing easy access to the city center. I even felt comfortable biking the streets of downtown Boise—not something I generally enjoy.

We biked for several hours each day, exploring whatever caught our attention along the way, including the lovely city parks, the Boise Art Museum sculpture garden, the inspiring Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial, and the attractive capitol building (which looks like a miniature White House).

One of the highlights of our time in Boise was a visit to the Basque Block in the heart of the city. Basques originally made their way to Idaho as miners and sheepherders. I imagine that they felt comfortable in the golden hills of Idaho, which must have reminded them of the Pyrenees, their homeland that straddles the border between Spain and France. Boise has one of the largest Basque populations in the United States, and the Basque Block is a lively community, with a museum, cultural center, and restaurants featuring delicious Basque specialties (paella!). Our dinner at the Basque Market was excellent.

Boise surprised us with other fine food offerings—we had a memorable casual lunch at Bleubird, a friendly downtown café where the owners turn out creative and delicious sandwiches and salads and make their own fresh fruit and herbal sodas (the fresh squeezed grapefruit juice, rosemary infused simple syrup, and club soda was the best non-alcoholic drink I’ve ever had). We liked it so much we biked twice to the café for lunch.

With more than 50 craft breweries, we narrowed our choice down to Cloud 9 Brewery in the charming North End neighborhood. Salted Caramel Stout? Yes, please!! All of the beer was excellent at this sweet little pub—what makes them stand out from the crowd is their commitment to sustainable, local, and organic beers. Their small restaurant shares the same commitment and is equally excellent—on a delightful evening, we enjoyed a perfectly prepared risotto with local salmon, asparagus, and spring peas.

About the RV Park:

Boise Riverside RV Park is basically an enormous gravel parking lot with large sites, most with concrete pads, and some with shade trees. We were there in late spring, and had a very nice site that backed up to a grassy area with trees. It’s all about location here—the park is on the Greenbelt multiuse trail, which offers miles of peaceful walking and biking along the river; a 15-minute bike ride takes you to the downtown parks.

Along the Route Bonus Tips:

Three Island Crossing State Park: Glenn’s Ferry, Idaho

En route from Angel Creek, Nevada to Boise, we spent one night at Three Island Crossing State Park near Glenn’s Ferry, Idaho. This pretty, peaceful park is set along the Snake River, with spacious sites surrounded by shade trades. There’s a small museum devoted to the Oregon Trail and a view across the river of the deep wagon ruts carved into the hillside by intrepid pioneers who chose to cross the river here. We were wishing we had more time at this lovely park.

Shoshone Falls: Twin Falls, Idaho

Known as the Niagara of the West, Shoshone Falls (located at the edge of Twin Falls, Idaho) was on our route to Boise. Created by seasonal runoffs from the mighty Snake River, Shoshone is one of the largest natural waterfalls in the United States. We stopped for a picnic and a walk—it’s well worth a visit.

Coming Full Circle: Joseph, OR

Boise Outdoor Sculpture Garden

Double Rainbow Over Shoshone Falls

A Lovely Place For A Picnic

Three Island Crossing State Park

On The Oregon Trail

Biking In Boise

Beautiful Views Along The Bike Path

In The Rose Garden

Downtown Boise

Biking Downtown Boise

Boise Capitol Building

The Rotunda Dome

Inside The Legislative Chambers

A Good Motto For Decision Making

At The Bleubird Cafe Downtown

Homemade Fruit & Herbal Sodas

Turkey, Brie & Fig Jam With Arugula Salad

The Basque Center

The Basque Block

At The Basque Market

Dinner At The Basque Market

Cloud Nine Brewery

Flight Of Beers At Cloud Nine

At The Boise Farmers' Market

Nice Site At Boise Riverside RV Park

Boise Outdoor Sculpture Garden
Double Rainbow Over Shoshone Falls
A Lovely Place For A Picnic
Three Island Crossing State Park
On The Oregon Trail
Biking In Boise
Beautiful Views Along The Bike Path
In The Rose Garden
Downtown Boise
Biking Downtown Boise
Boise Capitol Building
The Rotunda Dome
Inside The Legislative Chambers
A Good Motto For Decision Making
At The Bleubird Cafe Downtown
Homemade Fruit & Herbal Sodas
Turkey, Brie & Fig Jam With Arugula Salad
The Basque Center
The Basque Block
At The Basque Market
Dinner At The Basque Market
Cloud Nine Brewery
Flight Of Beers At Cloud Nine
At The Boise Farmers' Market
Nice Site At Boise Riverside RV Park
Boise Outdoor Sculpture Garden thumbnail
Double Rainbow Over Shoshone Falls thumbnail
A Lovely Place For A Picnic thumbnail
Three Island Crossing State Park thumbnail
On The Oregon Trail thumbnail
Biking In Boise thumbnail
Beautiful Views Along The Bike Path thumbnail
In The Rose Garden thumbnail
Downtown Boise thumbnail
Biking Downtown Boise thumbnail
Boise Capitol Building thumbnail
The Rotunda Dome thumbnail
Inside The Legislative Chambers thumbnail
A Good Motto For Decision Making thumbnail
At The Bleubird Cafe Downtown thumbnail
Homemade Fruit & Herbal Sodas thumbnail
Turkey, Brie & Fig Jam With Arugula Salad thumbnail
The Basque Center thumbnail
The Basque Block thumbnail
At The Basque Market thumbnail
Dinner At The Basque Market thumbnail
Cloud Nine Brewery thumbnail
Flight Of Beers At Cloud Nine thumbnail
At The Boise Farmers' Market thumbnail
Nice Site At Boise Riverside RV Park thumbnail

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Three Years On The Road

Three Years On The Road

Posted by on Aug 21, 2016 in Musings, Oregon, Travel | 55 comments

As of mid-June, we’ve been on the road for three years full-time. Our blog is lagging behind, but before life gets too much more away from me, I want to share a few thoughts about how it’s going.

I’m writing this from the sofa, where I’m propped up with pillows and heat packs, anti-inflammatories and arnica salve close at hand. This is where I’ve spent the past three days, recovering from wrenching my back while kayaking. This is a challenging part of traveling—I would rather be in our hometown, where my acupuncturist and chiropractor are trusted friends. (For that matter, that’s where my trusted hair stylist is, too. I can’t tell you how many questionable haircuts I’ve had in the past three years.)

Because I’m generally several weeks behind in writing our blog, I have the luxury of looking at our life from the perspective of a few weeks’ distance. From that safe place—and a conscious choice to focus on the positive—things usually look pretty darned rosy. In truth, they are.

It’s not always so wonderful in the present moment, though.

I’ve written about the more difficult challenges we’ve faced in the past three years—the loss of our dear friend Kevin, who died suddenly not long after we embarked on our fulltime journey. The loss of our sweet kitty, who joined us for the first year-and-a-half of our travels. Our big boo-boo in the desert, where we wrecked our trailer and were out of our home for six weeks. The outpouring of support that we received, including from friends on our blog, carried us through those painful times.

There have been plenty of minor bumps in the road, too. I rarely write about those, because they fade from memory pretty quickly given some time and distance. These include expensive and sometimes unexpected truck and trailer repairs and computers and cameras going belly-up. There’s also been some not-so-minor stuff like cataract surgery for Eric and an anaphylactic reaction to antibiotics for me—but by the time all of that was over with, I didn’t want to think about it anymore.

We’ve been on Lopez Island since late June, enjoying what we’ve come to think of as our summer home. But our arrival was marred when we awoke two nights later to find ourselves ankle-deep in water inside of our trailer. We’re still dealing with the aftermath—everything has throughly dried out, but Eric is facing two days on his back beneath the trailer to replace the insulation, and we’re deciding where we’ll go to have new flooring installed when we leave the island. (I hated the little strip of carpet in the living room and bedroom from the beginning, but I assure you this was not my plan for getting rid of it.)

The bright spot in that incident? It wasn’t the black water tank.

The leak was the crowning event in a long string of relatively minor (albeit expensive) things that have occurred over the past several months. For a week in late June, while tearing out sopping wet insulation and carpeting and prying up five million carpet staples (the carpet installer clearly had way too much caffeine), we seriously questioned whether or not we wanted to continue this journey. We were exhausted and discouraged by this latest mishap.

This was one of those times that I wished, like Dorothy, I could click my heels together and go “home.” (Not sure if my Keens would work as well as ruby slippers, though.)

There’s no question that it’s more difficult when things “go wrong” when you’re living on the road. Having work done on our trailer means hauling our home to the shop. It can be challenging to find (and trust) repair shops, service centers, and computer techs. Basically, we check reviews on Yelp, cross our fingers, and hope for the best. For medical stuff, we try to take care of it at home, or in locations where we have friends and family who can provide referrals. So far, it’s all worked out pretty well.

But whatever the latest challenge, what always rises to the surface after the dust settles, the flood recedes, or the pain abates is that we are grateful—falling on our knees grateful—that we found the courage to embark on this journey.

This I know for sure: Had we not taken to the road three years ago, there is no way that we would have had all of the amazing adventures that we’ve experienced or met all of the wonderful people that we’ve encountered along the way. And we have no doubt that we would have regretted the road(s) not taken.

As I reflect on our journey from my currently uncomfortable position, happier images flood my mind: hiking to high peaks in the Sierras, and exploring the colorful mesas, slot canyons, and ancient ruins of the Southwest. Kayaking the bays of the San Juan Islands, the refreshing Florida springs, and the mysterious swamps of Louisiana. Witnessing the splendor of bird migration in the remote canyons of Arizona, and the magnificent courtship displays of nesting egrets along the Gulf Coast. Biking across the Golden Gate Bridge and along the Rio Grande in Taos. Wandering the lovely cities of Santa Fe, New Orleans, and San Francisco and the colorful small towns of Silver City and Breaux Bridge.

Returning to my roots in Apalachicola. Spending precious time with our families scattered across the country. Meeting new friends on the road and the joy of reconnecting with our friends at home. And of course, our glorious summers on Lopez Island.

When we first told friends and family that we were going to rent our home and live full time in our trailer, many of them asked, “For how long?” Three years into this journey, we still don’t have an answer. What we do know is that we have a lot more adventures and travel planned, and we see ourselves traveling for a long time to come. Two more weeks on Lopez, and we’ll be taking off again. Meanwhile, I have a blog to catch up on—providing I can get the worst internet connection on the planet to cooperate. As far as I can determine, it’s the only downside to this beautiful island.

Thanks, as always, for coming along with us. We love having your company.

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Heavenly Angel Creek: Wells, Nevada

Heavenly Angel Creek: Wells, Nevada

Posted by on Aug 19, 2016 in Birding, Gallery, Hiking, Nevada, Travel | 22 comments

Angel Creek is one of the places that made us realize that Nevada is much more than barren desert and glitzy casinos. We stumbled across this little jewel several years ago on a cross-country journey, and were more than surprised by the beauty we discovered.

Mountains? High alpine lakes? Aspen groves? This was not the Nevada we were accustomed to. We spent three peaceful nights at Angel Creek campground, hiked to high alpine lakes from Angel Lake, and put it on our “must return to” list. In late-May, we finally made our way back.

Heading north from our last stop at Great Basin National Park, it’s an easy 200-mile drive through Nevada on some of the loneliest roads in America, through less than inspiring scenery. But pass through the dusty little town of Wells, take a left, and you’re suddenly on a scenic highway, traveling into a wilderness of snow-capped peaks, meadows of wildflowers, and alpine lakes.

We settled into our favorite site at Angel Creek campground, tucked into a grove of spring-green aspen and overlooking the valley below. In our travels—and life in general—we’ve learned that it’s the smallest things that make us happiest. Beautiful scenery, interesting hikes, abundant birdlife, wildflowers. Peace. Quiet. Dark night skies. (Good Verizon coverage is a bonus.) Angel Lake and Angel Creek has all of this, and more.

Our first visit several years ago was in the fall, and the hiking was superb. At least two trails lead to alpine lakes, one a 10-mile round trip hike; the other about 5 miles. We were looking forward to revisiting our hiking adventures—but failed to consider that in late May at this altitude, the trails would be covered in deep snow. Oops.

Had we known the trails were closed, we might have chosen a different travel route. But had we not been there in late spring, when the mountains and lake were still dressed in their winter finery, we would have missed the spectacular mirror image of the snow-capped mountains reflected in Angel Lake. Storm clouds billowed above us, and we hiked as far as we could before deep snow turned us around.

Just four miles below, snug in our campsite at Angel Creek, we were treated to abundant, colorful birdlife, including neon bright Western Tanagers, turquoise Lazuli Buntings, and Lewis’s Woodpeckers with their emerald green backs and rosy breasts. This is where we first saw Short-eared Owls several years ago, and we were delighted to again catch a glimpse of one as it flew across the road and landed in the sagebrush, staring at us with huge, unblinking eyes. The birding is fantastic in late spring—we saw 36 species in only a couple of days. To add to the delight of a spring visit, the meadows were thick with clutches of purple and yellow lupine.

Should you find yourself on this lonely road through Nevada, we highly recommend a couple of days at lovely Angel Creek and Angel Lake. It’s once again on our return-to list.

About the campground:

Angel Creek (a forest service campground) is a few miles off of Interstate 80 in the foothills of the East Humboldt Mountain Range, and eight miles southwest of Wells, Nevada. At 6200 feet, the campground is filled with mature aspens, and many of the sites are nicely shaded. Most of the sites are on the smaller side—our rig is 27-feet, and with our truck, we can only fit into a few sites. However, there’s one long, spacious site (number 16) that will accommodate any size rig.

No hookups, but there’s potable water and clean bathrooms. We also had blazing fast Verizon coverage in the campground. The sites are $15 per night (half-price with the Senior Pass).

Angel Lake—another four miles up a narrow, twisting road—also has campsites, but although there are a few 30-foot length sites, it seems better suited to small rigs and tents (I can’t imagine hauling a trailer longer than about 21-feet up that steep and winding road—especially with the sheer drop-offs). In late spring, the campground (at 8400 feet) was still buried under snow.

Next Up: Having A Blast In Boise, ID

Wildflowers And Snow

Tucked Into Our Favorite Site

It's A Little Tight

Mountain Views From The Campground

Lewis's Woodpecker

Western Tanager

Short-eared Owl

Blooming Lupine

Reflections In Angel Lake

Hiking In The Snow

Winter In Late May

On The Trail To Smith Lake

Chimney Rocks Near Angel Lake

This Site Is Big Enough For Any Rig

Wildflowers And Snow
Tucked Into Our Favorite Site
It's A Little Tight
Mountain Views From The Campground
Lewis's Woodpecker
Western Tanager
Short-eared Owl
Blooming Lupine
Reflections In Angel Lake
Hiking In The Snow
Winter In Late May
On The Trail To Smith Lake
Chimney Rocks Near Angel Lake
This Site Is Big Enough For Any Rig
Wildflowers And Snow thumbnail
Tucked Into Our Favorite Site thumbnail
It's A Little Tight thumbnail
Mountain Views From The Campground thumbnail
Lewis's Woodpecker thumbnail
Western Tanager thumbnail
Short-eared Owl thumbnail
Blooming Lupine thumbnail
Reflections In Angel Lake thumbnail
Hiking In The Snow thumbnail
Winter In Late May thumbnail
On The Trail To Smith Lake thumbnail
Chimney Rocks Near Angel Lake thumbnail
This Site Is Big Enough For Any Rig thumbnail

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