Archive for June, 2015


My California

Beautiful

Visions along the way

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Looking across Lake Amador at the Mountain

Looking across Lake Amador at the Mountain

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Lovely driving this part of California from Susanville to Sierraville. I considered a detour to Lassen NP but decided to wait as my 62nd birthday will be soon and that means a Senior Pass.  Delicious foods and salads in Quincy in Plumas County on the Feather River. Seems to be the kinda town I like, artsy, historic, dog friendly and scenic.

Wildlife Preserve

Wildlife Preserve

I favored a visit to Sierra Hot Spring in Sierraville, CA. I was involved in Sierra in its early days having frequented Harbin Hot Springs throughout the 70’s and 80s scrubbing and cleaning, hammering, painting, sweeping, gardening and so forth. Harbin took over what had been the Campbell Rebirthing Center and created Sierra Hot Springs. In the beginning at Sierra we soaked in bathtubs and stayed in tents; now there are charming soaking pools, the lodge is open for those seeking a room and unlike Harbin, Sierra has remained relaxed and peaceful, that’s why I choose it for a visit over Habrin. The waters soothed my dry skin and eased tensions and worries, bringing me some grounding and comfort. I was able to stop and enjoy the sun, the sounds of animals and wind and although it was silly I found myself rescuing scores of bugs from the warm pool and sweeping up huge gobs of dead ones with the skimmer. The camping area is well dispersed for privacy and relaxation with nature and I enjoyed the long walk to the pools. I sat on the deck by the Lodge gazing at the neighboring farmland, the garden, the cats and resident dog, the healthy mountain pines and sounds of water, listening to gentle chatter of other visitors including a talented young man singing and playing his guitar.  I would continue to frequent the Springs except visitor pets are not permitted nor provided for. A stuffiness in hospitality is the common norm with no offerings of alternatives, no doggy day care, no affordable pet sitting, no special areas for pets, no dates or times to allow travelers with pets.

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Sure, maybe all these things like pets and children can be annoying. The numbers of pets accompanying their families full or part-time is escalating. I’ve suspected it is one of the reasons I’ve seen sold out RV Parks and campgrounds with travelers spilling out to parking lots, casinos and wilderness locations while the area hotels, motels and resorts remain unfilled. Many towns are instituting a no pet policy along with no RV parking, national parks, state parks are hopeless for a solo traveler with pets unless you really love parking lots and pavement. I’ve seen a ridiculous amount of banishment signs posted in pristine areas:  no dogs, no bikes, no fishing, no camping, no boaters, no horses, no stopping, no entrance, no vehicles, no beverages, no food or drink, no picnicking, no children, no entrance, no sitting, no hiking…. to name a few. Is it really so difficult to design and implement workable policies and/or to offer affordable welcoming options for travelers, campers and wanderers? I expect to see signs saying, no viewing, no looking at scenery; deposit your money in slot and go away, it’s almost this way now in areas of CA where you must pay a fee to stop at a viewpoint to see the view.

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It’s too crowded, there are gorgeous areas that are unfrequented yet everyone jams in and packs the highly advertised and flaunted locations. Fine, these locations seek the tourist dollar but can turn unreasonably hotty-toddy. I don’t want to harp on the past when one could travel with pets and kids and it was an adventure not riddled with banishments and troublemakers, with mandates and thrashers. I loved Canada with its wide open spaces and the northern states with friendly people.  I know things change. There is plenty of abuse, disregard and harm to the environment as well as an overabundance of hardships. It adds to my depression and frustration, I’m not at ease in the madness. Being alive is not synonymous with ease or peace, it’s more struggle, isolation and loneliness. This one time my friend was caring for my dogs so I was able to visit again at Sierra. Although I enjoyed my visit it hurt my heart as here was a living reminder of how I failed to open my pet & art friendly B&B. That failure was not by lack of hard work or expertise, not by lack of desire, drive or clientele but by loss of support; the deaths of my partners and the withdrawal of my philanthropist relative who was funding this dream.  I try to adjust to loss, to accept emptiness and failure and to live in the moment. I try. I mention this as I understand what it’s like when the path is relentlessly unkind and stifling. I have the freedom and means to travel, a few that care deeply about me and a place to come back to. I am very fortunate but I also know that there is a tipping point at which a human is merely waiting for the end. I didn’t stay long at Sierra as I felt responsible to return to my dogs, I could hear Mason saying he missed me.
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The very last part of returning to Placerville turned out to be the most difficult. Hwy 49 was steep, with tight hairpin turns and aggressive heavy traffic. Several times trucks came closer than an inch from smashing my little LT. I was sweating and shaking from the effort of squeezing along the edge and enduring the nasty drivers esp the biggest of the trucks. These drivers were cursing and bellowing at the river folk and throngs of people trying to enjoy their day. It was really terrible. No patience here, no going slow, no welcome acceptance and valuing each other, it’s was a madness, an evil, I think, when time, money, stress and pressure have overwhelmed concern for one another.

OK, today’s song a very unusual Asian rendition of the Kingston Trio’s I’m Going Home 

And an original performance: I’m Going Home

US 395 at one time ran from San Diego to British Columbia. It lies on the east side of the Sierra like a divider. I would like to traverse more of it, having been fond of the California section in-between too foggy-cold and too hot. Dreams happen here. Ghosts and mysteries are allowed to speak. It takes me back to my girlhood when I could hear the calling of nature and even blindfolded see the wavering colors of trees, back when I could sense holes in the substance of day-to-day reality, the grown-up adult kind, where people don’t fly in their dreams and a road is no more than an engineered transportation device.

I’d left out the town of Burns, OR, before I’d reached the 2nd part of the 395 south of Hwy 20 and finding Lake Abert and the tiny town of Valley Falls.

Birding Country, Burns, OR

Birding Country, Burns, OR

I’d  spent the night at the Burns RV Park wanting a shower and a place to wander about, I never did explore the town. Turns out the area is known for birding with an annual festival and ongoing activities at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge on the Pacific Flyway. I’d missed the annual birding festival in April but could happily see myself seeking birds. There are many treasures along Oregon’s 395.

The land of birds

After passing Lake Abert the next day before crossing the California border I stopped in Lakeview, OR for a walk. It’s the County Seat of Lake County. I was pondering the downtown signage of churches near the administration center, taken aback that so many could exist in such a small place when a gentleman stopped to ask if I needed anything. Turned out he was the DA, he told me he loved knowing everyone in town and had returned after working in other locations, pointing out the building where he’d bought his first gun. Maybe he was a hunter, I don’t know.  As we conversed he lamented the young people leaving, there didn’t seem to be much to keep them busy, even the theater was defunct, needing extensive and costly repairs. I wished him well and continued my walk, lots of ranches in the surrounding area; the town would make a great backdrop for a movie.

How many churches does this small town have?

How many churches does this small town have?

Lake County Courthouse Lakeview, Oregon Post Office

Maybe a good movie set?

Maybe a good movie set?

On the way out there was a fellow herding cows on the road, he yelled at us motorist to go slow although no one was traveling faster than 5 mph, his voice was loud and stern! If you click the Lakeview link above be sure to watch the video, a true county town, with a big sign of a tall man waving his pistol. Seems there’s an National Antelope Refuge 65 miles north on Hwy 40. There are also petroglyphs in the area.

If you do any of this drive I’d suggest spending a lot more time than 2 days it took me and bring along some cash. The little town where I bought gas was super friendly, like Canada, however they had a terrible time making a phone connection for my credit card, they kept trying while I hung out for a while but in the end I offered cash, you might want to make sure you have a stash for times like that.

Alone at Goose Lake

Alone at Goose Lake

I crossed the border without noticing but I did notice a sign saying Goose Lake State Recreation Area so I turned around back to Oregon and took the short road to the campground. Lots of space, only 1 or 2 sites were being used. I almost camped there and would have if I’d had my dogs with; instead I drove to the day use area and parked.  Wow, there were my birds! Not a human in site. I had to talk myself out of nervousness of being alone, this time on foot. The lake / wetlands was low yet gorgeous and so alive!

Goose Lake, low water level.

Goose Lake, low water level.

Goose Lake wetlands

Goose Lake wetlands

Goose Lake vegetation

Goose Lake vegetation

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I went on to Susanville to spend the next night, no particular reason, there were many pullouts on the mountain road and campgrounds on side roads. I’m used to having my dogs, we go for long walks and they tell me if there’s anyone around, that’s my only excuse for rushing along and not choosing to stay longer and explore.

Drought is very evident in Oregon as in California. I’m more aware of its effect in areas where I know the general pattern of the land. It’s scary how dry and hot everything is, be super careful!  CA, OR, WA, Canada, NV, AZ are all short of water. It will be a tough summer, fires are already blazing. I pack a respirator and a few extra breathing masks for those times one has to drive through a fire area along with extra drinking water.

I used to love campfires when I was a girl, but they don’t make sense unless you’re truly need one and are practiced in how to build one and keep it from accidentally spreading. Watch out for equipment you might have that creates a spark, remember to check your propane for leaks.   Keep the basics right there with you, shovel, lots of water, bucket, fire extinguisher not a bad idea. Clear the area of all debris so that embers can’t catch and never walk away and leave a smoldering fire, re-think the whole thing if its windy.  I’ve been known to stop and put out smoldering campfires that others have left behind. If you smoke carry your butts out with you don’t toss them on the ground. Learn about lightning storms…  don’t pitch tents near the highest tree, etc.. if you enjoy a few drinks remember safety first …   let’s get through this summer as safe as we can.

There are 100 fires burning now in Alaska

 SONGS

Katie Melua – I Cried For You

Somewhere over the Rainbow – Israel “IZ” Kamakawiwoʻole

I know why this section of HWY 395 is scant of vehicles and human trespassers; there’s no fast food chains, supermarkets, tourist shops, no big billboards announcing what’s coming up, no cordoned off areas, only forests, mountains, lakes and open land with farm houses and barns, long empty roads with an occasional big truck or a group of loggers, a few fancy cars, occasional motorcycles, truck campers turning on little side roads begging to be explored. Gas up before you start and again when you hit a town, its steep and winding with frequent climbs and descents. You’ll pass Abert Rim one of the highest fault scarps in the US, basalt lava formation from the Miocene Period (millions of years ago,) as the road moves you across seasonal snowy peaks to alkaline desert scrub.

Traveling south wondering if this might be another dimension, I thought of Hwy 97 through Bend, I-5 and the 101, then I sighed in awe.  Since I’d never been this way and with no planning to go this way I had no idea that I’d find a beauty road. Trouble plagued this land reshaping it’s climate and available water, as much of the west, as all of our globe, I loved it more for this.

A troubled pine.

A troubled pine.

Passing the outskirts of Pendleton and McKay Creek National Wildlife Refuge my adventure began. Some of what I was to see would be Native American land, some Forest Service land, and some private ranches. Spring is ideal for this drive except for those seeking isolated winter wilderness. Scanning the Internet for info about this stretch of 395, there’s isn’t a lot in its favor and that’s fine, because it lays without makeup or glitz. This is not a road to travel fast, it’s a soul healing road, with its own voice which if you get out of your vehicle and touch the earth, feel its texture, breathe it’s wind and air, immerse yourself in its particles of light you’ll see it change and may even hear it speak to you. I took some shots, I almost didn’t as it’s not possible to capture the ethereal in a quick pass by point and click.

The first bastion of mountain with its covering of trees surprised me, I wasn’t expecting it thinking I’d left the pines behind me. Battle Mountain Forest State Park imparted lush coolness of pondersosa, larch, douglas fir and spruce.

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If I had any doubt this drive was the right way to go ahead was Ukiah-Dale Forest Scenic Corridor. How could such a name exist! Yet it was so, another crawl up a mountain alongside the John Day River and Camas Creek on the North Fork. Dale Glaser’s home was just outside of Ukiah and Forrest Lewis lived in North Fork. Forrest once met Dale, I’d introduced them in North Fork and we’d gone for a hike in the wilderness near Yosemite, Dale was 62 on that day, telling me he’d never felt better or stronger, I was hobbling with joint troubles and Forrest was still weak from his illness, we were laughing and happy; it was a precious time, the three of us together, helping each other to climb a rock dome. Somewhere nearby there must be a Jolyon town.

Oregon 395 continues to rise, twist and drop over and over through ponderosa pines, douglas fir, western larch. Along the river are songbirds, deer, elk, fun little roads pointing to lakes and campgrounds, unless I take the roads I cannot know how low the lakes may be but I am aware that everywhere I have traveled is in a semi-state of shock. In-between the gatherings of pines are open vistas of scrub and grasslands, ranches for cattle, old barns weathered and picturesque, stunning ranch complexes and a few little towns and a bigger ones on the cross highways with traffic traveling east to west. I know nothing but what I see as I pass of this area, its history and current status. Perhaps there are vineyards here, guest ranches and groups of visitors on tour, certainly in the forest there is camping, fishing, hiking, horses and winter snow play.

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Passed several of these alkaline lakes in semi-arid landscapes.

Lake Abert stunned me, it was shock still. I wondered if it was real. I’d passed a smaller alkali lake that looked like it’d turned to quicksand. An alkali lake has high alkali content and high salinity, fish cannot live there but brine shrimp normally can. The brine shrimp attract birds; this area is also on the Pacific Flyway and so should be teaming with life. The surrounding is bluebunch wheatgrass, cheatgrass and big sagebrush.

Lake Abert

Lake Abert

 

Lake Abert

Lake Abert

Lake Abert

Lake Abert

 

Lake Abert

Lake Abert

I don’t know why this lake called to me, there is something still radiant here; the lake is not suitable for swimming or extended contact but in its current state I think it may be dying.
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Oregon’s only saltwater lake is disappearing, and scientists don’t know why

 The uncertain future of Lake Abert

 

Next post I will cover more of this road. California is close.

 

View from my camping spot.

View from my camping spot. Umatilla, OR

I’d parked, not where the camp host had suggested, in the back with the nice grassy area and shade tree but right on front of the small cliff overlooking the harbor on a pad of white rock, these sites were around $20 – $25 for power, water, wi-fi, bath/shower…  lots of hot water.

Walked the waterfront, grass, trees, beaches for swimming, little harbor, lots of happy dogs, made dinner then noticed that I hadn’t talked to any campers and I wondered why. I was keeping to myself, so I walked over to my neighbors asking if I could pet their Keeshonds.  Serendipity? They’d camped at Black  Island same as me…  we talked about the campground, the strange rain and how nice and quiet it’d been. They’d taken the sunset cruise and spent a bit longer than I had.  Their rig had crept upwards in size of their RV to over 30 feet to accommodate their dogs. I can understand the wish to get bigger; but all I want is better insulation to keep my dogs comfortable, my own useable shower and solar for extended boondocking, I’m happy in my little space.

They lived in the Dalles and loved it! I was envious.

We couldn’t have a conversation without talking about water. They  begged me to move out of Southern California, I wasn’t crazy was I! Anything would be more affordable, but I don’t think it will be possible to escape impact of our changing climate. I read this morning how Canada is worried about water.

This year, the Rocky Mountain snowpacks, which usually melt slowly, releasing water well into the summer, have had “a dramatic decline.” This past winter, those snowpacks were as low as 25 per cent of normal measurements, and they vanished quickly in the spring.

“All our stations are free of snow now, which is the earliest we’ve seen it,” Dr. Pomeroy said. “Not only was the maximum of snow water available quite low, but the snow melted much earlier – about a month to a month and a half earlier than what we would expect.”

He said the conditions are “eerily like” what he has projected will occur if a global warming of two degrees occurs, which climate-change scenarios consider likely.

“The relatively warm winter and spring in B.C. and Alberta this year has shown … what a future winter will look like,” Dr. Pomeroy said.

(http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/signs-of-drought-appear-to-be-in-western-canada-for-the-long-term/article24954511/)

Yeah!  Friendly and Thoughtful!

Friendly and Thoughtful! Thank you Oregon.

With an unstable climate there will be lots of surprises, the process of our planet are interlinked, our food bill will keep rising, troulbe will be the norm. Drought also means a lower snow pack, greater avalanche risk, an increased fire season, hungry wildlife, stressed and dying vegetation, more heat, less fog, shrinking waterways and increased susceptibility to flash floods.

 

Pendleton, OR

Pendleton, OR From 1868. Lots more to do here than I took time for.

Resisting the urge to go West I headed South and visited Pendleton.  I missed the factory tour by 15 min, darn. Wasn’t going to wait for the next one. Items in the store were expensive, even the sale items.

Pendleton Woolen Milll

 

Colorful ...  in the Sale Room.

Colorful … in the Sale Room.

Pendleton, Oregon

A little more Idaho

Coeur d'alene Waterfront...  Yeah dogs allowed!

Coeur d’alene Waterfront… Yeah dogs allowed!

Coeur d'alene Waterfront

Coeur d’alene Waterfront

Sandpoint was beautifully atmospheric but maybe Coeur d’alene offered more amenities. Hard to tell on my very quick drive through.

One person thought that since I was in Coeur d’alene I’d head to Spokane. I had specific reasons for not traveling in that direction, I’d been that way some years back; it’d put me in vicinity of a person I have to respect for the distance he and his wife have chosen to keep from his past, not that I’m immune to being lonely but it’s a huge world with billions of people. Most of us only make primary connections with a handful. My handful are mostly gone which leaves my heart open for wisdom, peace and acceptance. One never knows who will enter (or re-enter) one’s circle or who will vanish. As my friend Lee puts it, “it’s fine,” and it is. I’ll be back this way I’m sure in a time when I’ve found my slow-mo and have stopped rushing.

I relish roads I haven’t yet experienced, that’s a big part of the appeal of an RV’s freedom. Point and Drive!

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Coeur d’alene downtown area so nice! Older parts of the city is not like this. Be careful of speed strips if you’re in an RV. I had a line of cars behind me.

That said, it was next suggested that I hop on the next train to Montreal.  Long train rides proposed as stress relief?  The Trans-Candian runs through Jasper, then one would need to transfer at Toronto to the Canadian Corridor to reach Montreal. The cost is high and the distance long, then there would be an air flight back, storage for the RV, meals, touring, likely hotels and diversions….  one can’t just sit on a train and be entertained passing county that is no more than a picture out the window, at least I can’t.  If one has a thing for trains, this one would be quite the experience especially with the Prestige Sleeper class package. The regular sleeper senior rate from Jasper to Winnipeg with no add-on stops is around, $1, 44o, then the extension to Montreal. A deluxe package with tours runs around $4,000 – $4,500.  Or one could try a discount run and sleep in their seat for 4 days while crossing 6 time zones. It would be memorable and fun if one did not have dogs to get back to, an already blown budget and in the mood for communal transport.

He’s a link showing one of the trains… oh, great claustrophobic…  yeah, that’s relaxing:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-oB2tGM_35k

Other than something a short funky spectacular train trip, I’d rather drive, camp and take my dogs although I do enjoy B&B’s, upscale lodges, faster cars and out-of-the-way rustic accommodations.

Toot – Toot….  Whoops Honk – Honk!

Another beautiful trail to follow!

Walking on the Trail

Walking on the Trail

Plants on the Trail

Plants on the Trail

Decision time I choose to depart Idaho, I’ve driven the southern section so I headed to Lewiston at the confluence of the Clearwater and Snake rivers on the path of the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

The road ahead

The road ahead

Lewiston, Idaho

18th street Bridge, Lewiston, Idaho across Clearwater River.

Lewiston, Idaho

Lewiston, Idaho

Are green salads popular in Northwest Idaho? Chicken seems to be popular and potato and pasta salads. I searched around for a salad bar even at the Natural Grocer; settled for chicken.

Lewiston, Idaho

A park in Lewiston, Idaho. No Animals this time, but they only picture a cute little dog 😦 Wonder who hands out tickets to the birds and squirrels?

On The Road Again

On The Road Again

Umatilla

Sundown at my camping spot for the night on the Columbia River at Umatilla.

 

Alabama – 02 Ride The Train

 

 

Taking a walk

Taking a walk in Bonners Ferry, Idaho

Sandpoint Waterfront Park

Sandpoint Waterfront Park

I spent a day in Sandpoint Idaho on the glacial Lake Pend Oreille, parking for the night at Bonner County Fairgrounds. It was a busy weekend but tons of room. Can’t help but compare to our Fairgounds  here in SB, we have top-rate facilities yet the attitude is harsh, last I was there I was chewed out in a very nasty way for training my dogs. In Sandpoint I found a welcome. Turned out the hosts relocated from Southern California, they informed me there were growing numbers of transplants, seeking a kinder, gentler, safer  but fun and enriching home town. In that vein I have a complaint about Sandpoint and that is that their downtown water area is closed to dogs, they don’t even offer a few early morning hours or off season times, nada, for folks to go for a nice jog with their pet. Yet over by the fence where there was an RV Park  I saw dog droppings no one had picked up in a long time. One of my highlights in SB is taking the dogs to Shoreline Park or the Harbor, so for this SB shines and it’s clean.

 

Sandpoint

Sandpoint

I’ve come to judge a town’s friendliness by their dog polices and RV parking. I’m well aware there are people that allow their pets to be out of control, dirty, noisy and destructive! I can only wonder what their kids are like.

The Bridge at Sandpoint, Idaho Waterfront

The Bridge at Sandpoint, Idaho Waterfront Park

Sandpoint is full of layers and walkways and interesting sounds. Reminded me of the game MYST.

Sandpoint is full of layers and walkways and interesting sounds. Reminded me of the game MYST.

Banning pets does not solve the problem. I propose a certificate for traveling pets desiring access to restricted locations, the humans and their pets would need to pass a rigorous test of skills and manners. Obtaining the certificate would not be easy and would entail insurance coverage for any potential damages, health certificates and appropriate behaviors. Maybe it’s a bit extreme but if you thereby wanted to take your dog hiking, or to a resort, or out to lunch or for a walk in a lovely park there would be a means of earning the right to visit. Offenders would be subject to fines and having their permissions revoked. Might this motivate thousands of travelers to better train their dogs and to be better citizens to earn the right of access to such locations? I’m putting it out there for cities and towns to consider. Open the doors to travelers (and residents) with pets and reward good behavior rather than treating them all as if they’re antisocial and while you’re at it start handing out toxic substance littering tickets to smokers tossing their butts on the ground and the lazy who cannot seem to put their waste into an appropriate container. At campgrounds how about fines for incessant shouting and screaming, outdoor entertainment systems, smoking campfires, blaring lights, trampling vegetation and stuff like that and yes, dogs out of control or tied up and destitute and people leaving poop piles, yep people …  I’ve never yet seen a dog pick up after itself! How about training your dog to use a doggy bathroom area, they don’t have to pee and poop on everything in sight, chase wildlife, be aggressive or out of control,  ….  who made that up? Isn’t it time to bring back manners, accountability and stewardship in place of the growing lists of menacing No Signs which have no effect on offenders or dogs! Folks, dogs don’t read, so stop blaming them! The type of people that allow their pets to be obnoxious are that way themselves. Leave a place better than you found it, all of you OK!  Well, I said this was a rant.

Downtown Sandpoint early in the morning.

Downtown Sandpoint early in the morning.

More layers of Sandpoint

More layers of Sandpoint

 

I spent the next night at Blackwell Island RV Park on the Spokane River in Coeur d’alene, where it junctions the lake; $42 with discount.  I don’t generally stay at one of these large RV Parks, but occasionally when I’m tired and finding something more primitive is too much work or too long a drive, I opt for them.  My spot was on the end, so tons of room and very quiet, no campfires, no noise with a partial view of the river.

Plenty of room here.

Plenty of room here. Blackwell Island RV Park

I spent more time there than I’d intended to as I was tired and didn’t feel like doing anything other than walk along the beach and trails. It went from sunny and warm to dropping huge soft pieces of rain, big clumps of rain, as if it’s wasn’t water but some other substance falling from the sky, this right after I asked the Park staff if there was any rain in the forecast and I was reassured that there would be none. Then there was some booming thunder followed by a more normal rain and then back to no rain. It was a nice park with a beach including a dog beach but the dog beach wasn’t separated from the non-dog beach so not sure how this was supposed to work.

 

The dog beach.

The dog beach.

Walking on the Pier from the beach at Blackwell RV Park

Walking on the Pier from the beach at Blackwell RV Park

The dog play area wouldn’t allow any play for the majority of dogs as it was nothing more than an unappealing gravel pen, sharp on feet and likely very hot when the sun comes out; getting there not so good either with stray weeds and stickers for your dog’s coat. I didn’t go into town until the next day.

I wouldn't want my dogs using this so was not surprised I didn't see any other dogs using it.

I wouldn’t want my dogs using this so was not surprised I didn’t see any other dogs using it.

This book would be useful to have. Nice that the Park had a copy.

This book would be useful to have. Nice that the Park had a copy.

I was offered an opportunity to visit Rocky Mountain Buffalo Ranch in Golden, BC. At almost any other time I would have been mesmerized and set my wheels for such a pristine treasure! I’m one of those types that seeks solitude when my mind is heavy. I do surprisingly well alone, I didn’t know the extent of this before I was a “Solo RV’er,” am not immune to lonesomeness but I revel in facing whatever is around the next bend with nothing by my side other than my dogs, my LT and my cell phone.  Being alone  includes accepting invitations and meeting others, but this time it meant no one knowing or paying attention to me, anonymity and slow direction back to my dogs was enough. I do tend to rush. I’d like not to do that. Who’s chasing me? I remember Alan (back in the ’70’s) telling me to slow down, slow down and pay attention, look around. If we hurry through our lives we wont get there any faster but we might fail to notice life waving in our faces, shouting for our attention.

I scouted about for lunch but didn’t find anything until I landed in a grocery store in a town called, Invermere, I think, honestly I wasn’t paying attention. I had a nice meal sitting in the parking lot and went on. I’d stop and take pictures, bunches of them were out of focus so I won’t post them. I passed more hot springs and kept thinking of stopping but I didn’t. You see, it was that kinda day. A friend of mine, a photographer, said I should stop at a ghost town  type place that was right on my way. That didn’t sound like my thing.  Suddenly there it was, Fort Steele. I needed a break and it had a big parking lot so I got out and paid my entrance fee.  I liked it more than I thought. In some of the buildings there are reenactments of history, as this was a living museum, Heritage Town. I half heartily tried to engage in conversation with the shopkeepers and tradesmen, as like most of this trip there were few others around; mostly they wanted to sell me things or recite their rehearsed lines so I started avoiding them except for the dress shop where I learned that my Aunt’s decorated Singer that I inherited can be traced from it’s numbers to it’s manufacturing history. I walked past areas of farming machinery and animals from Clydesdale’s, chickens, goats, turkeys, pigs, sheep and ducks to homes and hotels, cafes, entertainments, banks and even a “modern” dentist of the 1860s. I entertained the idea of trying some borscht but there was no one at the counter.  I would take my dog there, they’d love it.

Fort Steele

School Room

The Jail, funny that bed doesn't look too bad to me.

The Jail, funny that bed doesn’t look too bad to me.

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When I arrived in Yahk on Hwy 95 I was so confident I’d be crossing the border that I pulled out my passport and sighed with resignation, wanting to be home but not wanting to leave Canada. I like Canada a lot and am eager to return and see more.  I don’t know what buttons I pushed on that darn Garmin but instead of the border I was led onto another charming forestry road, Hwy 3. Love these slip ups…  the drive was lovely and beautiful!  And you guessed it barely any other traffic. My GPS makes a good friend taking me to places I’d not considered.

I didn’t take photos on Hwy 3 so you’ll have to take my word that it is a stellar road. Best of all it stretched out my time in BC. I plugged in my MP3’s enjoying my music selection for the first time on this drive. My little RV and I doing great.

 

Kat Edmonson – Be The Change

 

I gassed up in Banff and to my surprise, one pumps first then heads inside to pay. Like other Canadians I met, the woman at the gas station was friendly, she liked Jasper better than Banff because Banff was shoulder to shoulder crowded, I had to agree with her. In BC you had to guess how much gas would fill the tank and pay first, although in some touristy areas they let you fill up while holding onto your credit card; in Alberta they trusted you. She explained that it was the law in Alberta. A lot of what she said slipped by me as I was in space mode, something about someone getting hurt by a gas line attached to their car? I don’t know.  She did tell me that most people come in and pay, I remember doing that in California a long time ago. The woman at the gas station explained that in situations where the pumps were out of sight they would be allowed to be set up as pay first. I was happy with these differences as I traveled. In Canada I felt a warmth and freedom reminding me of growing up in the ’60s in Palm Springs. How long will such trust last? Was it really true that Canadians were a kinder gentler people?  Another time I’ll drive all over Canada and check it out. I could be happy being around such a people.

Listening to local radio I heard programs about regional issues, maybe it was the stations I tuned in, but there was no bombardment of bad news, horrific details, denial of common sense or religious dogma as I hear at home. Canadian attitude seemed to be to discuss, think and let government know what should be  done. Or… it may be just the way they do their talk shows.

I was confused if I was actually in Banff National Park and/or where the Park started. I thought of spending the night inside the Park. The Info Office in town was closed, I tend to get up early, so I plugged Banff NP into my GPS. That took me on a gas wasting loop towards Calgary with a U-turn reversal into a kiosk to pay entry fees (had paid only one night at Jasper several days earlier so it was likely fair enough) then back up the highway passing the City of Banff (sigh) headed toward Lake Louise from which I’d arrived. I was a bit more rested but my brain was decorated with misty clouds; I was confused. I turned South on 93, the Banff-Windermere Highway along the western edge of the Rockies and Kootenay National Park as it was in the direction of Placerville and home so that sounded fine. I would like to have visited the Upper Hot Springs Pool in Banff, I think that’s the pool we visited when I was a kid.

 

Kootenay National Park

Kootenay National Park

Kootenay National Park

Kootenay National Park

The Continental Divide on the crest of the Rocky Mountains.

At the Continental Divide

At the Continental Divide

Parked at the Continental Divide

Parked at the Continental Divide

Fire and Ice!  I walked beyond the fire regrowth on this trail.

Fire shapes the land

Fire shapes the land

View From The Trail

View From The Trail

 

I was only on the road a few hours before stopping. I loved this camping spot by the noisy creek. Loved it so much I stayed there all day and just listened, read some more of my books; a lot of happy dogs came by as I was near the bridge.

My Camping Spot

My Camping Spot

 

Looking up

Relaxing and Looking Up

As I was leaving my camping sport I saw the popular Big Horn Sheep.

As I was leaving my camping spot I saw the popular Big Horn Sheep. There was a herd of young ones nearby.

In the morning I went to Radium Hot Springs in the Sinclair Canyon / Redwall Fault area. Towering cliffs of iron-rich rock. The Springs are natural mineral water with a large cool pool for swimming, a warm/hot pool and hot-tub pool that is still warmer. I followed the example of others in the RV parking lot and put on my suit in my RV, grabbed my towel, some drinking water, a pair of flip-flops and hiked up the road and under the highway. I relaxed there for several hours then went in search of lunch.

Approaching Radium Hot Springs

Approaching Radium Hot Springs

Nahko Bear: Water Song

After returning to a lower altitude and rehydrating it was time to eat. A good place to do that seemed to be at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, it was on my list. As I was headed there, the sign for Lake Moraine appeared, I’d been advised not miss that either. I was super tired but there it was and there I was and I all I had to do was turn the steering wheel. And keep turning the wheel as the trusty LT’s very loud fan kicked in, up, up and up we went. The road is 22km, definitely seems longer on the way up than the way down! Slow and easy is the key here, it may not be a road for most RVs, but for my little baby no problem. The lake was frozen and the Lodge was closed. Still I was happy to be there. I saw a couple of little dogs with their people having a blast on the ice.

Lake Moraine

Lake Moraine: wonder how crowded this gets during the season?

Lake Moraine

Walking on Water

Walking on Water

Lake Moraine

Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, I was so tired by this time that the walk from the parking lot to the Lodge seemed almost more than I could do. When you have an RV you need to be a strong walker. Even a little one like mine goes in the farthest away parking area. How come not even once have I seen that little cars have to park far away or buses or SUVs or motorcycles, why is it always RVs? Guess what, the lake was frozen! There was a bit of a melt going on. I had a root vegetable salad not a lot of food, but just right with a few cold glasses of delicious tasting water sitting outside overlooking the lake in the late afternoon. It was an awkward meal for reasons I’m just not going to mention and I felt very very sad. It seems the spirit in me had left and gone off to find another human who would give it more pleasure.

Lake Louise...  I was feeling a little blurred then too.

Lake Louise

Waiting for the table at the Fairmont

Waiting for the table at the Fairmont Chateau

My intent was to drive to Calgary in what was left of the day but I couldn’t do it. Instead my obligation came to a close and I was on my own. I don’t know if I did everything I could or not to do the best I could, but I was worn out. I found a hotel in Banff, a mountain resort up on the hill. They kindly found room for the LT and I crashed in my sweet comfy king size bed enjoying the whirlpool hot jet bath and the steam shower for a few days, I never turned the TV on or used the pool. A few times I walked down and back up the steep hill to the town of Banff. My resort provided a free bus pass but I walked. The walk was more interesting to me than the town. I had to do it spurts since it was so steep and would make my heart pound all over my body. I didn’t go into even one of the stores or enter any of the sights but I’d stood on the bridge and watched the traffic. I sat somewhere and watched all the people bustling around. Banff was very crowded. People I didn’t know responded with kindness and people I did know too, my mother was my biggest fan, friends sent texts or phone calls, Lee took pictures of my pups. I read the Buddhism books Lee’s husband Craig had lent me, sitting with my laptop, camera, a drink of mixed water and juice and later a bottle of complementary wine, a bit of food, out on my patio, thoughtfully there was an electrical plug, a few chairs, a little table and a peaceful view. Mindfulness and freedom from suffering, kindness and compassion, responsibility and action towards all creatures including rocks and rivers and the balance to do ones best to relive pain but also to let others suffer if they needed to. It was what I needed.  I could have stayed another day, I could have stayed a week or more, but I became annoyed with the cleaning crew at my resort so after a few days I took off. I washed some clothes in the sink before I left and the big thing, I put away all things Alaska, cleared out stuff I no longer needed to see or deal with in the LT; it was time to start over again.

Slipping down the short cut from my resort on the mountain.

Slipping down the short cut from my resort on the mountain.

Still going down the short cut and back up!

Still going down the short cut and back up!

Where The Deer and the Antelope Play!  I found it!!!!

Where The Deer and the Antelope Play! I found it!!!!


Early View, Jasper NP

Early View, Jasper NP

If you’d told me I’d treat the road through Jasper like an expressway, I’d have thought you were silly, but it’s sorta what I did. The town of Jasper is a railroad town and tourist resort with all the usual tourist shops. I entertained the idea of a nice breakfast of eggs and coffee but didn’t see the right place at that early hour, plenty of bakery offerings but I wanted “a real meal” whatever that meant so I fixed my usual bowl of granola, sliced fruit including a banana and maybe a peach or nectarine, a handful of mixed nuts and seeds with kombucha at the first spot on the Jasper road with a view.

 

Someone's looking for the camp office

Someone’s looking for the camp office

BTW on the campsite, normally one would not be able to find a campsite without a reservation, so if you’re planning a trip in the ah…hum “normal camping season” be sure to reserve ahead. Being an unexpected early bird…  this was still May, not June as I’m posting, I was assigned a space that was an entire section…  I had my pick, as always I asked for dark and quiet forgoing hookups for the pleasure of nature. There are bears! Saw a few although not in the campground and tons of elk.

First Stop

For RVers, don’t forget to fuel up at no more than 1/2 tank, 1/4 tank is fine too if you see a gas station, use your low gearing, stay off the brakes and drive slow!  watch out for wildlife. If possible plan to spend 2 or 3 nights or longer on Hwy 16 although you can do it in 4 hours or less if you have a mind to. Drink lots of fluids, which I did not do even though I did have at least a little breakfast, more on that later.

 

Athabasca Falls is right here.

Athabasca Falls is right here.

Of interest but not something I utilized Jasper National Park is a dark sky preserve. In my  youth and years living in a VW microbus the skies were always dark and stunning outside of the city. Golfing is big in Canada, skiing, dog-sledding, snowshoeing  in season, whitewater rafting, boating, kayaking, biking, birding, wildlife viewing, hiking, fishing, rock climbing, going on the skytram or the ice walk, museums, guided tours, spas, dining, the pursuits of an artist or immersion in nature. . . tons to explore if so inclined or it makes a magnificently scenic expressway…   LOL

 

Thundering through a narrow gorge the walls are worn smooth, potholes created by water borne sand and crushed rock.

Thundering through a narrow gorge the walls are worn smooth, potholes created by water borne sand and crushed rock.

Lots of people watching the falls.

Lots of people watching the falls.

Athabasca Falls ...  the spray feels good but it's truly thundering by.

Athabasca Falls … the spray feels good but it’s truly thundering by.

The Columbia Ice Field The Athabasca Glacier on the Columbia Icefields are composed 8 glaciers in an area of 202 sq miles, one of the largest ice masses south of the Arctic and most assessable. They have been receding for the last 125 years, I overheard someone saying how the glacier used to reach all the way to the road last time they were there, I think that was in the ’60s. How fast are the glaciers diminishing. What will happen when they are gone?

Ice, Jasper NP

Ice, Jasper NP

Columbia Icefields, Alberta

Columbia Icefields, Alberta

The Jasper glaciers receive high numbers of visitors thanks to the impressive road. Wildlife is abundant although on my short visit I did not see many animals which include elk, deer, moose, caribou, bears, bighorn sheep. mountain, goats, lynx, porcupines, cougars, wolverines, coyotes, wolves, beavers, insects, spiders, fish, reptiles, and over 1300 species of plants. It’s good to know even with all the human tourist they have a home in which to live.

Glaciers

By the time I reached the Columbia Ice Field my lack of sleep, water and food was about to meet up with high elevation. I got out of my van and started walking, at first it was just my eyes, they started seeing spots, then I couldn’t focus, I knew I had to get back to the van, my head became dizzy and I started having trouble getting a breath. I was annoyed but also worried. As quickly as I could I took off unnecessary and restrictive clothing and started drowning any and all liquid I could find, no not the antifreeze.  I went through quite a lot. My stomach was hurting by this time and my head was pounding. I turned the air conditioner on. . .  that helped. Then I took off down the other side of the mountain, lower and lower and lower, when I reached the mid-way lodge village for gas I headed straight to the bathroom. I wasn’t sure I could make it without embarrassing myself by collapsing, as I was so dizzy and unsteady but I did. An hour later I was OK, or at least OK enough to continue descending and the world started to look normal again.  Note to self….  for the umpteenth time… Drink hydrating fluids, eat something, sleep, rest once in a while and all that stuff.

Icefield

Icefield

 

Ice

Ice

On an amazing note my 20-year-old LTV handled the 230 km, 140 mi, 2-lane Canadian Rocky Mountain road with stunning success.

My 1996 Freedom Wide LTV in Jasper

My 1996 Freedom Wide LTV in Jasper