Category Archives: camping

High Desert, extended version

Our first stop after departing Portland was Camp Sherman, an outpost on the Metolius River, outside of Sisters, OR.  We discovered this gem on our last trip and we were excited to return to the area.

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The Metolius River is a designated Wild and Scenic River that is birthed from springs just above Camp Sherman, and runs at a steady 100 cfs or so constantly, with an average temp around 48 deg.  This makes for an amazingly stable, chilly, and productive river = big, smart, well-fed fish. You know the odds  aren’t in your favor when the first  three people you encounter related to fishing the river note that it is an “expert fishery”.   Even still, I bought my three day license and hooked a few fish, lost a few flies, and had a great time.  I met a mysterious, wise-in-the-ways-of-the-river native american man one evening, and shamelessly asked for advice.  Bud light and cigarette in hand, he looked as if he was done fishing for the day.  He was beyond helpful and humorous, sharing his own disappointments and battles from years of trying his luck with these elusive bull trout.  I walked away from that exchange and realized that I was actually fishing for ghosts.  That took the pressure off.

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Camp Sherman was supposed to be the launching point for Crater Lake and then Redwoods in California.  We decided it was best for us to stay put for a week longer, skip Redwoods, and day trip to Crater instead.

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Crater Lake was awesome in every way.  It is a truly beautiful, natural wonder.  It is hard to take your eyes off of it.

We settled in the Bend/Sunriver area for the next week or so, and took it easy.  We kayaked on the Descheutes, and pretty much laid low.  We thought about heading home at that point to take care of family issues, but decided instead to head on to Lake Tahoe.

We very much enjoyed our high desert time and know we will return.

 

Our view from Utah

We had a great time staying at the Wasatch Mountain State Park. The park is about 20 min outside of downtown Park City. Our first foray into town for a laundry run was a success. Quaint and super fancy shops, a yummy deli for lunch, and a few conversations with delightfully friendly locals.  So, as often happens with us, we look at each other and say “yeah, I could live here!”  We know that feeling will happen over and over on our trip so we move on. 


I was able, with some helpful directions from a guy in Fish Heads (a nice fly shop in Heber), to make my way to a public access on the Provo River and caught a beautiful brown trout!  As Brad put it, I knocked the stink off. It felt good. 

The next day Brad planned to ride down the WOW trail (Wasatch over Wasatch). We shuttled him to the top of the mountain. No sooner did we return to the campsite, where he would be ending his ride in an hour or so, when I looked up and saw a big black cloud heading towards the mountain top behind us!!  I knew he would be in for an exciting ride, and just hoped he would not be hit by lightening!   Indeed it was exciting, and some torrential rain briefly, but no direct lightening hits, thank goodness. 


Our last day we headed to the Utah Olympic Training Center. Such a cool place. We took the chair lift up, Kimberly and I rode back down while Brad and Virginia rode the Alpine slide!  After that, they did the zip line, tubed down the huge ski jump, and did a high ropes adventure course. Fun day!!

We departed Utah for Oregon, via two long days of driving. We were rewarded with great times in Portland. Details to follow!

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Rocky Mountain High (revisited)

So, I am already a bit behind on our updates for those interested.  I guess, ultimately, it is a good thing as we have been without internet service (except for phones) since we started out all together in Denver a week and a half ago!  I have hijacked the wifi at Heather’s house in attempt to get back on track.

Th girls and I kicked off of the #2016summeroffun trip (as Brad has dubbed it) with a shuttle from DIA to the rental car area where our chariot awaited. Brad and the dogs successfully crossed many miles from NC to CO once again to allow for an easier launch from Denver. Many thanks to the Bloomers for feeding and housing Brad and the four-legged ladies, allowing them to meet up with us ready to roll!

We headed out on 70 and turned North to reach our destination just outside of Grand Lake Village, at the western entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park. This was our first park in 2014 as well. Our campground specialized in campers with horses so there were many for us to ohh and ahh over. We took a beautiful drive along the portion of Trail Ridge Road that we missed last time. It is always breathtaking, in more than one way!

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12,000 feet and all smiles!

The first night in our campsite we saw two large male moose (from a safe distance) grazing in the pasture next to our campsite, they were huge! The morning of day two brought momma moose and her baby into the campsite…we definitely kept a safe distance from her!

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Blurry shot of the backside of momma and baby moose…clearly I did not have my camera handy when they arrived!

Our second full day Brad and Virginia even went for a trail ride on “Jewel” and “Cowboy”, where they crossed the Colorado River on horseback! We also planned to rent a pontoon boat to take onto Grand Lake, but the weather had other plans. We decided instead to head out a day early and stop over in Steamboat. What a fun town! We had a great dinner and graced the Walmart parking lot with our shiny rig for the evening.

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Friday morning we continued west towards Dinosaur National Monument, our next stop before finally getting to our second campground at Wasatch State Park in Park City, UT.

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View from our campsite in Utah…ahhh!

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Roaring Fork Valley: Aspen, Snowmass, Carbondale!

This will be short and sweet in light of recent family events.

We had a wonderful time visiting with friends, Joel and Bonnie. Joel biked with brad on trails at Snowmass, we rode the gondola, enjoyed dinner at Woody Creek Tavern and explored the valley.

The campground south of Carbondale was relaxing and being a stones throw from the Crystal River was a plus.

We hope to return to this area soon for more exploring! Thank you Bonnie and Joel for making it extra special!!

I am back at home with the girls as of yesterday and brad will hopefully begin his journey back tomorrow. Thanks for enjoying the trip journal with us. We look forward to sharing more adventures in the future!!

XOXO

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Southwestern CO tour

We arrived at Mesa Verde Tuesday afternoon with a much appreciated drop in the thermometer compared to Moab.

We checked into the campground at the Park early enough to unhook and ride up to the Spruce Tree House, hit the visitors center, and visit the museum. I also bought tickets for a guided tour of Cliff Palace the following morning.

I visited this park about 15 years ago but it was great to return and share it with Brad and the girls! We ventured into Cortez for dinner and back for a nice night with the windows open!

While hooking up the next morning our 37 year old tongue power jack died on us. Fortunately we were hooked up so we could drive to an RV place in Durango to buy a new one (Merry Christmas Brad and Dani :-/). We had to miss our tour but Virginia was able to complete her 5th and final Junior Ranger program.

Durango was a lot of fun. It started off on the right foot at the RV place, where we met two lovely couples from NC! Just hearing their sweet voices made me homesick! We took it easy for a few days: swam at the campground, rode the bus up and took the train back from Silverton, fished in the Animas River, and took in local brew.

The drive from Durango to the Carbondale area was slow but beautiful. We passed through Ouray and took the scenic route up 133.20140726-133059-48659670.jpg

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High times in the High Desert

Central Oregon is in the rear view mirror, to our dismay. This may be the 26th time I have sat down to write a summary of this leg the trip…it has been a busy one!

We were sad to leave Portland and plan to return as soon as we can! The Bend/Sisters area took a little of the sting out though. Our campsite was one of the nicer (from an amenities standpoint, not view) that we have inhabited so far. So much so that our arrival resulted in a period of awkwardness, and we (The Leadbetters as Brad refers to our clan occasionally) felt a little out of place. Our “vintage” camper was overshadowed by some seriously big rigs and fancy set ups.

The high desert area provided us with our first sustained days of sunshine and warm temps so far on the trip. Thankfully the campground had a nice salt water pool that we visited everyday!

Day 1 was finding our way around Bend, lunch at 10 Barrel (at Heathers suggestion, good stuff!), grocery shopping, and a stop at the Bend Rock Gym for Virginia to get her climb on! Day 2 landed us in the McKenzie River area and Brad tackled all 26 miles of that amazing trail. Thankfully he took his GoPro and video recorded segments of the ride, which took him 4 1/2 hrs! We picked him up at the bottom and headed back to camp.

Day 3 brought a trip to Shevlin Park in Bend, one of many areas they have for biking, hiking, etc. I fished Tumalo Creek and actually landed a few trout…as Brad put it, knocking the stink off of my dry spell thus far!! No Go Pro footage of that, but I swear it happened! That afternoon I was lucky enough to try my luck on the beautiful Metolius River…

Day 4, July 4th, we headed back to Bend for the Annual Pet Parade (what an event!), a festival in the park by the Deschuetes River, and some bike riding that afternoon. We met some new neighbors in the campground and made fast friends as did the girls.

Day 5, our last full day, we took in the Museum of the High Desert. It is a very nice facility with wonderful exhibits on animals, Native Americans, and history of the area. After a few hours we headed back to camp for dinner and some live music by the lake.

Sunday (yesterday) was a “road day”. If someone tells you there is not much in southeastern Oregon, they are not exaggerating in the least! Probably the most desolate stretch we have experienced so far. Five and a half hours later we pulled into a little park next to the Snake River in Ontario, Oregon to cook dinner and try to cool the camper off. It was 104 as we crossed the desert and 100 at 8:30pm as we pulled into the truck stop to overnight. Not the best sleeping!

We are back on the road today, hoping to end up somewhere near Salt Lake City. We are treating ourselves to 2 night in a hotel there while Brad flies back to CA for a work trip.

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Lush is an understatement!

The west side of Olympic NP did not disappoint…it was green on green on green.

Our campground was in the NP, Kalaloch was amazing!! I feel so fortunate we were able to reserve two nights there!! We could hear the ocean from our site in the temperate rainforest!

We made a trip down to the beach as soon as we set up camp. Huge drift logs and gorgeous stones were everywhere. Amazingly different than our east coast shoreline. It was misty, cool, and windy but beautiful none the less!

We biked around and had our first campfire since RMNP. Hot dogs over a fire just taste soooo much better! Thursday we trekked into the Hoh rainforest…through the Hall of Moses. What a place….

Virginia and Kimberly received their Junior Ranger badges and Virginia also completed the Ocean Steward Program.

Friday we headed out through cloudy, rainy skies…Portland bound.

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Wyoming Pt 2 (Tetons)

We arrived at Grand Teton NP on Thursday around lunchtime and set up camp at the Gros Ventre Campground.  The campsite is beautiful with the Tetons to the west and the Gros Ventre River to the East (within walking distance).

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View from the picnic table

We decided to head to the multi-use trail for a bike ride as it was yet another gorgeous day.   Initially thinking of the 8 mile (each way) trek from Moose to Jenny Lake, we settled on the 4.3 mile distance instead and I was ever so thankful of that!  I pull a small trailer/carriage behind my bike for Kimberly…the attachment does’t fit Brad’s bike…hmmm.

 

 

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Our view from the bike path

It was by far the most scenic bike ride ever…we were right at the base of the Tetons in the Snake River Valley!  We hiked a little around Jenny Lake and then biked back to the car.  After the ride we headed into Jackson.

They have a “shoot out” every evening in town with local actors and black powder blanks.  It was entertaining, but a bit much for Kimberly and too short for Virginia!  Afterwards we headed to a local brewery (Snake River) for dinner, and as they put it…”put our river through your liver”.

We were supposed to head to Yellowstone today but decided to remain here for one more night.  It is so beautiful (did I say that already?).  Today we drove up to Jackson Lake accessing it at Colter Bay.  We hiked to a picnic spot for lunch and tried to catch a fish for a while…no luck.  This lake fishing thing is really not my strong suit ;-).

Our picnic spot view

Our picnic spot view

A grocery store run this afternoon topped off our activities before heading back to camp.  We walked along the river looking for Molly the Moose, who apparently frequents the area.

So far our wildlife sightings have included Bison (Fred and George, as Virginia named them), more Pronghorn, and Elk.

 

 

I believe this was "Fred"

I believe this was “Fred”

Off to Yellowstone in the am…heading there takes the sting out of leaving such a lovely spot here in GTNP.

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Head ’em up and move ’em out

For our second day at RMNP we decided to head back up to Sprague Lake to try a little fishing.  I would have preferred the Big Thompson, as it runs through Moraine Park, but with the streams and rivers swollen from runoff, the lake was our best bet.

We set up two rods and I was hoping to give Virginia her first casting lessons.  The weather was beautiful again today, but very “breezy”.  Too windy to cast from shore and without waders, that was as far as she could go.  I ventured out into the water myself but no luck.  Not a total loss though…I can always use the casting practice!

We drove up to Bear Lake but opted not to hike around it as Kimberly was dragging a little and neither Brad nor I were up for carrying her most of the way!  We headed back down Bear Lake Road and met “Big Bob”…grazing with some of his buddies right next to the road.  He was beautiful!

He just looked like a "Bob"!

He just looked like a “Bob”!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next adventure on our list was to drive to the Alpine Visitors center along the Trail Ridge Road.  I believe this road is the highest in elevation in the US.  It was so beautiful and the wind was whipping!  We took video with the GoPro that captures the scenery quite well, the stills are not quite as accurate (compared to the real thing)!  There was still a good bit of snow in the higher elevations and we were well above the tree line.  The top elevation is somewhere around 12,150 ft!

The girls in front of the visitors center

The girls in front of the visitors center

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once we returned to our campsite, at a mere 8,500 ft, Brad and Virginia hopped on their bikes to take a ride.  Kimberly and I chilled out in the hammock, unfortunately she was not up for a nap though,  I could have used one!

After some discussion on the length of our drive on Wednesday, Brad and I opted to head out this afternoon and boondock in Cheyenne tonight.  We are nestled in between two 18-wheelers at the “Flying J” truck stop…Brad discovered this option on his way out west last week.

So cozy ;-)

So cozy 😉

 

 

 

 

 

 

We will be in a “real” campsite tomorrow night with hook ups so I can make blends for Kimberly, take a shower (tomorrow will be 4 days since our last!!!), and do some laundry.