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The girls and I recently returned from two-plus weeks on the road with the new (to us) camper. It was a trip full of ups and downs. We crossed many steep passes in Oregon, Idaho and Montana. The northwest has lots of mountains. We drove to the top of Steens Mountain, nearly 10,000 feet high in SE Oregon and we drove to Stanley, Idaho – a tiny mountain town at over 6000 feet in the Sawtooth Mountains. I can’t begin to name all the passes we crossed in Oregon. Highway 395 just seems to go up and down all the time.

Seeing these beautiful places was a great high point of the trip but there were also lows. Smoke-filled sky in Oregon dimmed the views of and from Steens Mountain. Hot temperatures left Luna wilted and slowed down our adventures. And since it was unseasonably hot, the rattlesnakes were still active. I suppose the lowest of the lows was two flat tired on the 4 Runner. I did manage to to get them both changed and I endured two long trips (seventy miles, one way) to the tire store, taking up two full days of the trip.

The girls and I did enjoy camping next to a river with shady trees to provide afternoon respites. Morning and evening walks were delightful. Page Springs used to be a sleepy place, visited mainly by birders and other wildlife enthusiasts but in 2020 covid year, everyone is searching for out of the way places to camp. The campground host said it had been full most every night since Memorial Day. I remember when Ken and I camped there on our honeymoon and nearly had the place to ourselves.

We left Homer bound for Denali after a short stop in Anchorage. We had gone a charter fishing trip and caught some halibut. At the Anchorage airport there is a freezer locker where you can store your fish, for a fee.

We stopped a few times to take in the sights. At once place, numerous people were dip netting for hooligan or smelt. We’d never seen that before. Most of the people were waiting for the tide to turn and were spread out on the rocks anticipating that the fish would soon arrive. We also stopped at Tern Lake and Potter Marsh where we saw courting Mew Gulls and Arctic Terns. Arctic Terns migrate between Antarctica and the Arctic, a distance of about 12,000 miles, twice a year!

Here are a few photos from a recent trip to Arizona. I met two friends in their RV near Phoenix. From there we went to Saguaro National Park and then to SE Arizona. It was a fun and interesting road trip.

Last week Ken and I and the dogs got away from home for a few days. Whidbey Island was our destination. Whidbey is over 50 miles long and lies at the north end of Puget Sound, otherwise known as the Salish Sea. You get there by taking a ferry or by bridge across Deception Pass at the island’s north end. We took the bridge. It’s a good place for beach walking, exploring small towns and history and eating good food. We did all that and I got to take my kayak out in Penn Cove (where they grow the wonderful mussels) with Ken’s brother.

We camped at Fort Ebey State Park in a beautiful forested setting. It was a short walk to a bluff trail that provided wonderful views of the strait and good birding opportunities. It’s part of a large system of trails for walkers and mountain bikers. Fort Ebey is one of a series of forts that were constructed for coastal defense beginning in the 1900’s. Several of these installations were converted to state parks in the 1960’s.

The dogs had a great time on the beaches and the sunsets were marvelous. Driving across the pass we enjoyed the first dusting of snow in the North Cascades and a walk in the big cedar trees along the Skagit River at Newhalem.

SW Trip part 1

 

Yesterday I returned from a ten-day roadtrip in Arizona, Nevada and southern California. It was a whirlwind journey with a new adventure everyday in places I’ve never visited before. My friends Jennifer and Judy, otherwise known as Notable Exceptions and also two thirds of Horse Crazy Cowgirl Band, have been touring in the SW since November and invited me to join them for a two week break from their musical gigs. It was a great opportunity for me to see a new part of the country and spend time with friends. They travel in a 33 foot motorhome with two cats and a dog.

Our first stop was the St Xavier Mission near Tucson. Actually our first stop was Trader Joes but I didn’t make any pictures there. According to its website, the mission is ‘the oldest intact European structure in Arizona’. Construction was started in 1783. It has suffered from an earthquake and a lightning strike. Work continues to restore the building. We were awe-struck by the colorful paintings and sculptures inside the church. The colors are vibrant and full of warmth and life. We were also impressed by cool temperature of the interior. Its thick walls protect it from the desert heat. On the day I arrived it was over 80. Only a side door away from the sun, was open and inside it was nearly chilly.

I know little about the Catholic traditions so much of what I observed was a mystery to me but I could not help but be in awe of the majesty of the mission.

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