Larry Seale

International Consulting and Travel

Canyons and the Ancients-March 14-16

Larry in Price Canyon, Utah

We love venturing into Utah and the red rock canyons carved by the Green, Colorado, Virgin and other rivers of the Southwest.  On March 14, we went southeasterly in Utah to Moab and Arches National Park.   This requires going over 7500- foot Soldier Summit and down the narrow Price River Canyon.  A delightful find was the Railroad and Mining Museum (#2) in Helper, Utah. The coal mines in this area shipped their coal out by rail and extra “helper” engines were needed to get trains over the pass, thus the name of the town.  We have been in Arches National Park (#3- https://www.nps.gov/arch/index.htm)  before, but still enjoyed a short, sunny sojourn into the park to appreciate the wind- and rain-carved rock formations there.  

Balanced Rock, Arches NP
Enjoying Arches Sunshine

We continued through the high southwest plateau on March 15 and attempted to visit a pueblo in the “Canyon of the Ancients” National Monument in Southwestern Colorado.  However, the 16” of snow they had received in recent days (by the “bomb cyclone”) left large patches of slush on the narrow county road to the pueblo.  We had our first adventure of turning around by backing the trailer into a ranch entrance.  However, we were able to visit the Anasazi Visitor Center (#4- (https://www.blm.gov/programs/national-conservation-lands/colorado/canyons-of-the-ancients) that provided an interesting overview of the Anasazi culture that flourished in the area for a several thousand years before the arrival of Europeans. We had our most challenging time finding a place to stay in Colorado as most RV parks and campgrounds were closed for the season, we ended up “camped” at a mostly closed RV park (the owners in Arizona) where some accommodating permanent residents told us where we could put our trailer and we could hook up to electrical power.  Low temperature overnight was 22 F.

Colorado Rockies near Pagosa Springs

Wonderfully scenic driving continued on March 16, as we went south from Colorado into New Mexico on a sunny, blue sky day.  After crossing the Continental Divide near Chama, Utah we had lunch in the trailer in the village of Abiquiu next to one of the homes of Georgia O’Keefe (#5).  We also visited a gallery there (in an old, former trading post) of an art dealer who collected pieces from all over the world including a few from Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam. 

Georgia O’Keeffe’s Abiquiu Home

At Santa Fe we linked up with the historic Route 66 and stopped at the Pecos National Historic Park (#5-https://www.nps.gov/peco/index.htm) and spent the night at a KOA campground overlooking the hills near Las Vegas, New Mexico.

Pecos Pueblo Church Ruins

The Great 2019 South East Trip

Columbia River

Wintery Start-March 10-13

Snowville, Utah, near the southern Idaho border, earned its name once again as we proceeded through blowing snow flurries that reduced visibility and dropping our speed to below 50 miles per hour from the 70 MPH limit.  Fortunately, they were brief and did not result in any accumulations on the road itself.  This was on Wednesday, March 13, on our way from Boise, Idaho to near Salt Lake City, Utah. We’ve had weeks of sub-zero lows in Olympia, so we hoped after a few days to drive into spring. However, even our second day, from Portland to Baker City, Oregon was an unusual winter scene with snow covering the cliffs and bluffs above the Columbia River.  Usually we drive that section when it is sunny and hot.  But the snow accentuated the rocky cliffs and was beautiful on a sunny, blue sky day. We started on our seven-week, 7400-mile, 22-state (or will it be 24?) trailer camping and cultural trip to South East US on Sunday March 10 by the short drive to Portland to have a brief visit with our grandchildren (and, OK, their parents).

Our Planned Route

 We haven’t spent much time in the southcentral and southeast part of the US and have never been to some of the states that we will traverse.  We are pulling our 21’ Jayco Skylark with our 2015 Lincoln MKT (which we had to buy in Fairbanks, Alaska when our Ford Flex died in Denali National Park in 2016). 

Tumbleweed

The short drive from Baker City, OR to Boise, ID gave us time to get some repairs done to the trailer, visit with brother Steve and his wife Lori and take our grand-nephews to dinner. Then we were off to Utah and before the snow flurries we were dealing with strong winds that were blowing tumble-weeds across the road, like little creatures running from danger.

Promontory Point

Our first “touristic” spot was at Promontory Point (point of interest #1 for this trip- https://www.nps.gov/gosp), Utah, where in 1869 the Transcontinental Railroad was completed by driving a golden spike in the rails that joined the Union Pacific from Nebraska and Central Pacific from California.

We spent the night at Willard Bay State Park on the shore of Great Salt Lake, where we were greeted in the morning by a coating of snow and family of five deer wandering through the campground.  With low temperatures below freezing we cannot have any water in our trailer’s fresh water tank, but have some containers in the trailer for drinking and washing up.

Willard Bay State Park, Utah

Heading North into the Snow

Monday morning (President’s day) started by discovering that our water didn’t work in the trailer. It

Snowy Hills in Southern Oregon

had been cold enough overnight that the water had frozen in the pipe and hose supplying the trailer. Thankfully, no trailer plumbing was broken in the process. We started north on our return to Olympia and experienced snow showers interspersed with sunshine and blue skies. We found a nice municipal park in Myrtle Creek, OR with a few RV camp spots, and enjoyed another pre-dinner walk in the park along the Umpqua River. We were again concerned about freezing plumbing, so we left a tap dripping all night. However, the temperatures did not drop enough to freeze the nearby mud-puddles.

Our trip further north on Sunday ended in Salem, OR, where we had a Chinese lunch and looked at art in in the Bush Barn Art Center. While we considered going further to at least Portland or even home to Olympia, we were

Old Rte. 99 bridge across the Umpqua at Myrtle Creek

dissuaded about the winter storm warnings predicting 2-4” of snow and difficult driving conditions. We were not planning to return until Wednesday, so we decided to check into Salem RV park and took a nap, listening to the rain (not snow, so far) on our trailer rooftop.

 

Sunshine in Redding, California

 

Cynthia and Larry at Sundial Bridge

We arrived in Redding in the early afternoon (Feb.17) and stayed at an RV park along the Sacramento River. By dropping from the 4100’ elevation of Klamath Falls to 350’ of Redding we also managed to enjoy afternoon temperatures near 60 degrees. Not quite the 78 degrees of the prior week, but pleasant nevertheless, allowing us to enjoy a walk along the river, loafing in our chairs outside and decent weather to get out the grill and cook some hamburgers.

 

Our main event the next day was to visit the Turtle Bay Exploration Park in downtown Redding by the Sacramento River.

This area has been reclaimed from a gravel operation that was used to produce the 600’ tall Shasta Dam a few miles away. Now there is a botanical garden and museum and many trails leading up and down the Sacramento river. While the winter season was not optimal for enjoying the botanical garden (and we were putting up with very windy weather), we did enjoy walking a couple of miles through the garden. The focus of the garden was plants of a “Mediterranean climate,” similar to that of Redding, so there were areas focused on South Africa, Chile and southern Australia.A feature of the Turtle Bay park is the Sundial Bridge providing a pedestrian crossing of the Sacramento River on a glass panel, cable-stayed bridge. The tower of the bridge is oriented in such a way as to serve as a sundial, with hour markers about 20’ apart on the ground.
After this excursion, we had most of the afternoon to loaf and prepare another meal grilled outdoors.

Winter Bird Festival, Klamath Falls

Cynthia above Links River and Dam

Falls on Link River

On our arrival, we were able to take a hike along the Links River trail, which drains from Upper Klamath Lake to Lake Ewauna.  Along this short river there are some fairly unremarkable falls which gave the name to the city.  While Upper Klamath Lake is a natural lake, a canal and dam were built a 100 years ago to provide irrigation water to stretches of relatively arid land to the south.  This was the one of the first reclamation projects in the United States. 

 

In the evening we attended a buffet dinner and met two other couples from Vancouver, WA and Coos Bay, OR.  Then we went to a presentation on woodpeckers.   On Friday we took part in a lecture/field trip about the human impacts on the Klamath Basin.  There were about a dozen participants. We had a one-hour slide presentation on the history of human “management” of the Klamath Basin waters, followed by trips by car to five sites to illustrate some of the main features. Like other parts of the west, there is contention about the potential uses of water.  Although Upper Klamath Lake is one of the largest lakes west of the great lakes, it is very shallow and there have been years recently when water could not be supplied to the agricultural users. 

 

After our field trips, Larry enjoyed the indoor pool at the Running Y Resort and we ate at their “Ruddy Duck” restaurant.

 

Upper Klamath Lake

 

On Saturday, we headed south on U.S. 97 to Weed ,CA then on I-5 to Redding.   It was another sunny day, so we had splendid views of Mt. Shasta, the second highest volcano in the Cascades.

 

February Sunbreak-Traipsing to Klamath Falls

Our usual February Sun break involves flying to San Diego, Palm Springs or Tucson, but with a vigorous flu season underway, we decided to avoid crowds. Cynthia discovered a “Winter Bird Festival” in Klamath Falls, Oregon, coinciding with our dates, so we decided to head there. Despite growing up in Medford, 70 miles to the west, Cynthia had never been to Klamath Falls, but I had been there various times, passing through on trips from Moscow, Idaho to the Bay Area.

Starting on February 13, we enjoyed sunny and easy trip south on I-5 with the Skylark (trailer) and stayed at a Lane County Park on the McKenzie river in Coburg, near Eugene. In the morning we headed up the Willamette River to go east over to the Cascades towards Klamath Falls. However, about 40 miles to the east, we encountered a warning sign that the road had packed snow and ice and that towing vehicles were required to chain-up. Even though I have had years of experience driving on snow in northern Idaho, I did not want to chain up do it with a trailer. So we reversed course and headed back to I-5 and then South toward Medford hoping for a snow-free southern route. However, the infor-

Cynthia along the Rogue River

mation on highway conditions on those routes were not better: “Severe Winter Weather” warnings on each route.   So we decided to camp a the “Valley of the Rogue State Park between Grants Pass and Medford. We enjoyed a hike and actually had a valentine’s day dance to some nostalgic tunes in the Skylark.

 

The next day we got the encouraging news that the southern route had no warnings and “bare pavement.” The weather was sunny, but as we got above 4,000’ on this narrow and windy route (OR 66), we encountered many stretches of icy or snow packed road. We proceeded cautiously and managed to make it to Klamath Falls by 4:00 PM on Feb. 15th. We had reservations at a nice resort, “Running Y,” so parked the trailer in their parking lot while we enjoyed the resort.

The Hazy, Smoky Home Stretch-Sep. 2-5

Waiting to enter at West Yellowstone

Before leaving Yellowstone, we traveled from our Madison Campground to the Norris Geyser Basin for a short walk among the thermal features there.  Then we exited via the West Yellowstone Entrance, where hundreds were lined up to enter the park on the Labor Day weekend.

After lunch in West Yellowstone (and Wi-Fi to catch up on emails, etc.) we headed west into Idaho, then quickly north into Montana. In the process we crossed the continental divide for the fourth (into Snake River Drainage) and fifth (back into Madison/Missouri River drainage) times. Just as we were heading out of Idaho into Montana we experienced the modern version of cattle herding with ATV’s ridden by young women with purple hair supplementing riders on horses, wearing baseball caps.  See the video here:

Herding

Having been along this route before we know the scenery is spectacular, but like the rest of the Northwest, it was clouded in smoky haze.
On September 3, we were mostly on I-90, making tracks for home. We detoured for auto tour in nearly dead “historic” Butte and then stopped in Deer Lodge, where Cynthia visited an art gallery and a prisoner craft shop across from the “Pen” which is still mostly in a 100 year old sandstone building on main street. Meanwhile, Larry napped in 92 degree heat.

We proceeded through Missoula and on to St. Regis, where, after failing to get into a Forest Service Campground on the Clark Fork river (it was full) we had our “serendipity moment” when we found an unmarked campground right on the river, which was both free and devoid of neighbors, other than fishermen in their drift boats going by. A very peaceful spot, not considering the BNSF trains that rolled by on the other side of the river every hour or so.

September 4th was out longest day in terms of mileage as we went about 250 miles to the Potholes State Park south of Moses Lake. We stopped in Wallace for brunch, finding three out of four restaurants closed and plenty of parking on a “holiday dead” downtown. Everyone we met commented that the smoke was the worst that they had ever experienced. We understood that most of it was coming from Canada and Montana on unusual northeast winds.

September 5th was our final day, going along the familiar I-90 to I-5 route back to our Olympia home, also still covered with smoky haze from the various regional fires.

 

Video of Thermal Features in Yellowstone

Click on the following links to see some of the videos of the thermal features we visited in Yellowstone.

Mud volcano

Dragon’s Mouth

Norris

Yellowstone Park-Aug. 31-Sep. 1

It was a short drive up the Shoshone river from the Buffalo Bill State Park into Yellowstone via the East Entrance. We had a reservation at the

Buffalo Ruling the Road

Fishing Bridge RV Campground near the Yellowstone River’s outlet from Yellowstone Lake. This is a rare National Park campground with full hookups, but nothing else really recommends it, as everyone is jammed together and there are no picnic tables or fire grates. After arriving we went five miles north on the Grand Loop road to the Mud Volcano area and walked around the various thermal features there. After dinner in our trailer, we went to the Lake Hotel and played backgammon with some after-dinner drinks. This was a nostalgic visit as we did the same thing during a visit in May of 1987 (we think), when our plan to camp was thwarted by snowfall.

“Dragon’s Mouth” at Mud Volcano area

 

 

On Friday, September 1, we went around the southern part of the Grand Loop road along Yellowstone Lake and the Old Faithful Area to eventually camp at the Madison Campground in the Northwest part of the park. Enroute we stopped at the West Thumb geothermal area, which was the first time we had visited there. The West Thumb appears as a large bay on the west side of Yellowstone lake which was formed by a massive explosion about 150,000 years ago that created another caldera within the larger caldera of Yellostone that was formed by its massive explosion 650,000 years ago. After that we stopped to take the five-mile round trip hike to Lone Star Geyser, a very pleasant trip along the Firehole river. The Lone Star geyser erupts about every three hours for about 20 minutes, but our visit was not timed right to see it. At Madison Campground we enjoyed the pleasant sunset above the tranquil Madison River. Cynthia went to the evening naturalist program, but Larry went to be bed early, with the onset of cold symptoms.

Larry at West Thumb Geyser Basin

Firehole River

Bighorn Basin and Buffalo Bill-Aug. 28-30

On Monday, August 28, we headed Southeast out of the Tetons and over the continental divide into the Wind River drainage and Central Wyoming. Our featu

In the Thermopolis Pool

reed stop that day was at the National Bighorn Sheep Center in Dubois, which had a nice museum describing the various types of bighorn sheep around the world and other information about their behavior and habitat. We proceeded further and turned north at Shoshoni, camping in a gorgeous deep canyon carved by the Bighorn River. We enjoyed a nice conversation for a couple of hours (no campfire) with a young couple just out of college on a big tour west before heading to graduate school.

 

On Tuesday, we stopped briefly on our way north at Thermopolis, boasting the largest mineral hot springs in the world. The state runs a bathhouse there and we were able to enjoy a short stint in the pool for free. With showers before and after this was a welcome way to rid ourselves of road dust. We arrived in the late afternoon in Cody and found a campsite at Buffalo Bill State Park on the Buffalo Bill Reservoir created by the Buffalo Bill Dam on the Shoshone river. This dam was the tallest in the world at 325 feet when completed in 1910.

The rest of Tuesday and all of Wednesday was devoted to the B

Buffalo Bill Statue at his Center of the West

uffalo Bill Center of the West (https://centerofthewest.org), a set of five connected museums which James Michener described as the “Smithsonian of the West.” One of the museums covered the life of William “Buffalo Bill” Cody, while others were the Plains Indians, Whitney Western Art (many Remingtons, Russells, Bierstadt, and Morans, Proctor), Firearms and Draper Natural History. Cynthia also got to visit three separate art galleries and exhibits within the museum, including one that included 115 contemporary artists. It’s a bit hard to provide a visual image of the Center, but I invite you to explore the link. We actually had some unforcasted rain, which thankfully, along with a steady breeze, has blown away the smoky haze that has plagued us for the last few days.

 

 

 

 

Shoshone Canyon, downstream from dam

 

 

Looking Down Buffalo Bill Dam

 

 

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