Wednesday, July 29, 2009

All Aboard

I like Canon City Colorado. The town has several attractions: A really nice city park with ducks and swings and the Arkansas River, the farmer's market with the entire community shopping (we bought 9 ears of Colorado Corn), a big house (aka prison) and the Royal Gorge Railway. Carl said let's take the train through the gorge, and I agreed it sounded very relaxing. We took the sky dome car, so we could look way up at the suspension bridge and the crazy people swinging out over the gorge. It was very smooth and scenic.

The next morning I liked Canon City more. We went for breakfast and got greeted with a table of bikers (Harley). We pulled up a chair. The cafe owner offered free breakfast to anyone who would sing along with the tunes. It was a fun day. The Harley's are off to Bishops Castle south of here, where a guy who hates the government has been building a castle for years. We're off to New Mexico, come full circle.
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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Salida Showdown

Salida Colorado is quintessentially mountain. There's the Arkansas River running though it, a bar with the requisite Harley riders in it overlooking the river, kayakers surfing a wave right under the bar windows, everything painted bright colors, and dogs. The town conflict, I feel, is over dogs. Everyone has one. There's the design painted on the water trough planter to evidence that. There's "first aid" bowls of water left out by the merchants. But on the other hand, there's the nasty signs about dog doo. Did you know it endangers your children's lives? For that reason, along with others, I am sure, no dogs are allowed in the park. I made sure to take Daisy on the wrong side of the tracks to do her duty. I am not part of any commie plot to inflict the young of Salida with my dog's germs!

Just north of Salida is Mount Princeton Hot Springs, with three options: hot pool, swimming pool, or creekside pools. Oh yeh, and the superslide. We woke up our day there, and it was good, but still not as good as Challis.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

I can't breathe!!!!

The drive starts out with this blissful Arapaho Reservoir view at Grand Lake, Colorado.

Then you enter Rocky Mountain National Park, and before you know it, there is no oxygen. The road climbs into the alpine ecosystem, devoid of trees and oxygen at 12000 feet.

There are other things, though, like breathtaking views, snow, alpine flowers, elk, pica, and white knuckle drop offs down the mountain that were always on my side of the vehicle. I had several panic attacks and a slight headache from the altitude.

Worth it? You betcha.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

How many pools is enough?

Here at Hot Sulphur Springs Colorado, they have 24. I started out thinking I was going to soak in every one of them. I discovered that 24 is too many. After 9 pools I was rubber. They ranged in temp from the low 90's to hotter than hell and in size from a one person pool to a family of 20 pool.

The pools are built on the side of a hill, capturing natural healing mineral waters and lots of scenery. Aside from the springs, not much is happening in this town in the Rockies. We could not find an RV place. There was a little Wildlife Park next to the pools, but all the places except the camp host were taken. We drove into the small town, and I stopped to ask the sheriff where we could spend the night. There was nothing but US Forest Service parks about 20 miles away, and I wasn't sure we would want to drive after soaking.

I walked in and visited with the state trooper, who asked a local while I reviewed the FBI's ten most wanted posters. He said we could stay in a rest area ten miles down the road. Meanwhile, Carl was outside talking to the lady trooper who suggested we just become the park hosts next to the hot springs for the night.

What a deal. We even had electricity since we were the hosts. We made up our own rules. No rowdy behavior after 10 pm, no more than 5 dogs per site (it looked like one of the sites might have too many), definitely no cats, and we were off duty if anyone should ask.

Daisy had a great time hunting for things that were moving in the lush grasses. All is well in Hot Sulphur Springs Colorado.
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Friday, July 24, 2009

Down home in Downata

Here in hot spring heaven, south of Pocatella Idaho, where hot springs are more numerous than high school football rivalries, we got down with the locals in Downey.

This place is most popular with families who bring the kiddoes to soak themselves silly in three super slides and a waterpark. As far as a hot springs goes, I don't rate it up there with Challis. Too much like an amusement park.

But I do love the fact that when you walk a quarter mile away, you are in the middle of Idaho grasslands. And I loved morning aerobics with the locals. They spotted me right away as a "camper". I was the only outsider in the class. But they were very friendly to me, and if I ever move to Downey, I will come every M W F to water aerobics in a warm pool with the locals over 70.
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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Paradise at Challis


What a place. South of Salmon Idaho is a town called Challis. Near there, on the Salmon River in the 1890's a family started making pools to corral the hot springs and running a little spa. It is still owned by the family today.

God made this place, with the rocks on one side and the Salmon River's cooling breeze on the other, just for you and me. There's a really hot pool, and then there's one about body temperature. Both have gravel bottoms so the mineral water perculates up through the bottom and keeps the water clean and warm. A hot springs with no Chlorine is a thing of beauty. At 9:45 pm when the owner said closing time, the pool was filled with about 50 people, lots of kids being watched by adults. The water was so dark if one had gone missing, no one would have seen. Everyone was counting heads continually.

In the morning though, the place was serene and quiet. In the hot pool, we met the guy who had been running his blender on a picnic table next to his Ford Taurus and his tent. He's a professional hot springs junkie and told me about a great book on all the best soaks. What's in his blender? Broccoli, Kale, Whey, Strawberry something....three times a day. He has prostrate cancer and this is his cure.

I'm working on a watercolor. That rock wall just inspired me.
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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Halcyon days

Were you ever as lucky as these guys? Summer days spent camping at the lake, staying out till the sun went down, cold and freezing in the water but not wanting to come in? Then you probably lived near Flathead Lake in Montana, a pristine glacially formed 200 acre lake that wins awards for water quality in addition to scenery. The Montana brochure said not to miss sunset there, and what a sunset it was.
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I took so many photos; it was so hard to stop clicking. And there were no bad ones. All the time, while I was clicking, there were the kiddos, playing till the last minute, mothers calling them from the campsites in vain.

Mozy thru Moise montana


Here in the middle of nowhere Montana, unless you happen to be from here, south of flathead lake and along the Flathead River, is the National Bison Range. It's on an indian reservation but part of the national parks system, meaning, one more place our Geezer Pass gets us into for nothing. There's a 19 mile gravel road through all the grazing ranges, and if you are lucky, you will see some of the 600 bison and their 60 babies. We saw a few, and a few antelope, and I think maybe a herd of elk off in the distance.

Best part of the whole deal is the road. It winds up from the river level to 4700 feet with a million panaramas, including the Rockies to the east, the river to the west, ponderosas and douglas fir. Nice drive, a little dusty.

We ended our day halfway to the primo hot springs at Challis by stopping in Hamilton, where we saw our next grill at the campsite next door. Ours had been pronounced DOA the night before, and for $20 after two years of service, it didn't owe us much. The ladies next door had just bought it at Albertsons and there was one left, they said. We ran to get it. It's a great little grill, just right.

I watched the neighbor put the grill together, and I could tell she was handy with the tools. We got to discussing why she was there. She had come to plant her husband, and I felt so sad I had brought up a sensitive subject. But she said no, he died five years ago, but this was his home and it was time to put his ashes here. They had come here every year from Washington to visit in their RV. I really liked her on the spot. She reminded me of Mom's cousin Scotty Irene. She had that strong independence that you respect in a widow.

Daisy had her third night of torture there at the Black Rabbit RV park. See her blog for the sad details.
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Monday, July 20, 2009

Glacial Highs

It was hard to leave my quest for all the hot springs in Idaho, but Glacier was SOOOO close....4 hours north. Could not pass up one of my unvisited major national parks. I have a friend who once took her kids to all of them in one summer. Zoom!!!

In Glacier, there are many wonderful hikes for the backpackers and physically fit. Since that might have described me 30 years ago, I settled for the Going to the Sun shuttle ride up to Logan pass, where you might as well be in Banff or Switzerland, complete with mountain goats. Love those jagged mountain tops, whatever the geological term is (remind me to pay attention in geology class next time).

Along the way, a gentle hike to Avalanche Falls gives such a satisfying roar.

What a place of beauty.
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Sunday, July 19, 2009

low of 99, high of 104


Scenic Lolo Hot Springs is located on the Lewis and Clark Trail, Highway 12, 25 miles west of Lolo. The hot pool is hot, the cool pool is 82. Outside, the high ambient temp was 90, the low was 50. Can you say, low humidity?

I think St. Gertrude was still working for us, because we were here on family friendly Saturday. I kept watching the family next door, the children in Lolo Creek, Crick as the locals say, nonstop wading, except when they were eating hot dogs, making s'mores and of course, swimming in both the hot and the cool pool. The sunset was very pink as they sat around their campfire.

If St Gertrude had not been working for us, we might have been here on Wednesday night. Then, alcohol is allowed, and (drop your voice) clothing is optional. The woman at the hot springs said, "We call it nudie night. They bring in their sixpack, and after they drink it, the clothes start coming off. But you have to be 21 on Wednesday nights." Given the popularity of this drive with the Harley crowd, thank you so much, St. Gertrude, for bringing us here on a Saturday. It could have been very ugly.
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my next painting, maybe

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This lovely view is the Camas Plains, a high volcanic plateau north of Hells Canyon. I love the curve of the hills, the way the grain crops criss-cross and rustle, the patchwork created by the crops. The view coming over the top of each hill surprises me and I go whooo!, catching my breath. Maybe my next painting will look like that.

Here are my last two attempts at the art of watercolor, that tricky medium where mistakes are a permanent part of the art. I am calling them Lavender I and II. Lavender I was done in the Lavender fields near Oregon City. I borrowed the idea for Lavender II from the Lavendar Festival guidebook. I personally like Lavendar II because it is looser and I like the composition better. Someday I hope to look at a landscape and translate it that way myself.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Saved by St. Gertrude

After crawling out of bed the morning after Gold Fork Hot Springs, ahhhhhhh, we took some country roads north to a "destination" in Cottonwood, St. Gertrude's monastery. Perhaps a bit misleading, the name, since the sign on the door said to step inside to request a visit to a sister. I thought Sisters were in convents. Anyway, this order is contemplative, praying three times a day until the end when they reach their goal of heaven. Based on the view, not a bad life.... And in other ways too, I am sure.

After a visit to the chapel and following the instructions of the book the last RV park host had given us, we paid a few dollars to see the museum. The book said there was an amazing art collection. A slight exaggeration, perhaps, but in a small funky way, interesting. The largest collection was memorabilia of a vaudeville organ player who came from the Camas plains near Cottonwood and donated her sequined dresses and husband's Asian import collection to this museum. I kept thinking of my childhood music teachers, formerly members of the traveling musical Jones sisters, all five of them, who together with their mother joined a convent upon their father's death. Sister Dorothy couldn't shake the show business from her toe tapping little black shoes.

On to the part about being saved by St Gertrude. Mary Kay, who worked the desk at the museum, saved us from certain death on extreme grade State Highway 13, where lumber trucks roar down and RV's quake at the sight. She drew us a map through Kamiah, where we were able to safely join Hwy 12. Phew! She also predicted we would make Lowell by the time we were ready to quit for the night, and she was right about that. We actually had to go 20 miles further to a National Forest campground on the Lochsa River. Wonderful river. Wonderful byway, one of the Lewis and Clark drives.

Thanks, St Gertrude.
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Thursday, July 16, 2009

mountains to climb

I saw Mount Hood on Friday afternoon arriving in the Portland area, and then it went behind the clouds till Tuesday, when this incredible view popped all day long.

We were making good time, finally, after dillydallying all weekend and Monday, when we stopped in Umatilla for fuel, and the brakes made an awful noise. Long story, short version, back to Portland, new brakes and rotors, 3 cents a mile added to operating costs. Saw the Columbia Gorge three times, not too bad a tradeoff for repeating 200 miles three times.

Over the weekend, Carl put in a new improved sway bar. We can really roll without rocking now. I have been caught doing 65 on the interstate, something I never would have done before.

I have to confess to a little bit of cabin fever. Maybe all the waiting around makes me feel a little trapped. All you out there in your favorite recliners, know that I miss mine a lot. And I miss Yoga, and my's a tradeoff, comfort vs scenery and temperature. I miss my chiropractor too! Fix me, Dr. Hani! And....most of all.....I want to talk to someone I have known more than five minutes!

All that said, we are definitely eastward bound now. We soaked in Gold Fork Hot Springs today, the primo hot springs of a site maintained by a real hot springs seeker here in Idaho. Check it out! and On the Hot Springs Idaho site, if you ask to display the map, you will see the challenge I am facing. So many hot springs, so litle time!
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Monday, July 13, 2009

Columbia River Gorge-eous


Consider this scenic byway, the Columbia River Gorge, Lewis and Clark's route to the Pacific, a big and wide river, a shipping, power generating, windsurfing paradise and jewel for both Oregon and Washington. The historic highway winds next to the interstate, and is a definite preference for scenery. On the Oregon side, the road winds up on the side of the Cascades passing multiple waterfalls. On the Washington side, the road winds by the river with views of windsurfers and whitecaps.

This gorge was carved by glaciers and is the only sea level opening in the cascades. Pacific air roars up the opeing. The prevailing wind shapes the trees and provides power for recreational windsurfing.

I think this is my fourth visit, but my slowest. We made 40 miles today. Carl says we will never make Albuquerque at this speed. Today makes our official turn to the east, by the way, heading for an August 1 arrival in New Mexico. We still have almost three weeks to find all the hot springs in Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and Colorado.
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Saturday, July 11, 2009

a touch of lavender

This weekend is the Oregon Lavender Festival. I rented a car and took a drive through the most exquisite farmland to three of the farms. Along the way, I drank lavender lemonade, lavender punch and ate lavender ice cream.

I sat and tried my hand at watercolor in this pleasant spot while smelling the lavender distillery doing its work. It's a smell like lavender honey and a lot like heaven. In the little shops on the lavendar farms, you could buy anything you wanted as long as it was purple.

We've been enjoying eating without product codes stuck on our fruit. It's berry time in the valley, and oh my gosh. 5 varieties of blackberries to choose from, raspberries, strawberries, cherries, fruit stand after fruit stand. Cobbler called to me, and that's not an easy concept in the rv. I don't carry flour and stuff. We found a single cobbler mix made by Louisiana fish fry foods that hits the spot. Blackberry was supreme, raspberry divine. What next? If someone will pit the cherries, I am game.
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