We have an insane calling to be where we aren't

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Getting to Oregon

We made it!
Driving across Nevada reminds me of our drive across the Yukon. You can drive a very long time and not see a house or gas station. We like to go different directions each time we pass through an area but were starting to question our choice on highway 140. I started mentioning that it would be a long bike ride to a gas station when the truck said we had enough gas for 130 more miles in our extra large fuel tank and Lake City was another 50. Highway 140 seemed to constantly climb with a head wind and only an occasional lone cow along the road. As we came to the crossroad of Adel, we hoped that the gas station that looked very old was still functional. We were in luck.

Klamath Falls, OR 

We weren't far from Crater Lake in Klamath Falls but had already made that stop previously. Besides, they had just gotten a big snow and the sun was shining in the valley. It seemed the perfect opportunity to check out the OC&E rails to trails through southern Oregon's farm country.

It turned out to be a very nice ridde with a chilly start.

Old railroad snowplow on the OC&E Trail

Mt Shasta in the background

Oregon Caves National Monument, OR

The 20 mile drive from Cave Junction to Oregon Caves is a steep and winding road that took 40 minutes to drive. The fresh air got cooler as we climbed.

The cave has a consistent temperature of 44 degrees with water dripping from the ceiling and plenty of bugs. I wore my hoodie to keep my hair dry and bugless.  We saw quite a few Two harvestmen bugs on the walls as we passed through. They look like daddy longlegs but are not spiders and seem to pulsate on the walls. There were also Springtail that are a clear white color and can jump 20 times their length.. I was glad they were very small.

The paths were narrow with low ceilings for a half mile and over 500 steps with steep grades.
As we walked through the cave, we could see the fault lines which reminded us that we were definitely underground.
Our Ranger Guide, Ethan, was very informative and passionate about his job. Each tour is limited to 12. Fortunately, once we remembered to reserve a tour, there were 4 spots available. Our group was 10 and not many more people would have fit through the small spaces.

The Cliff Trail

After our cave tour, there were several hikes that we would mind taking but weren't thrilled about the drive back up the mountain. (It really wasn't that bad). So we took the Cliff Trail hike which was very nice.

Cave Junction

We had heard that Taylor Sausage was the go to place in Cave Junction. They did not disappoint. After having a tasty lunch, Mike hit the meat counter and left with a full bag and bellies.
Tiny wildflowers on our hike
Our next morning, we knew we wanted to take a hike and found a short trail along Rough and Ready Creek. The official trail was 0.6 miles but at the end there were more trails that we followed along for a nice morning walk. The warm temperatures after the weeks of rain gave way to many beautiful wild flowers. The tour guide at the next museum we visited told us that this area has the most diverse flora in the world.

After our hike, we stopped at the Smokejumper Museum. The tour guide was a smokejumper in his younger days and quite interesting.

An entire building was used for sewing and folding parachutes and garments. It was one of the most important places since they were making sure that everything was safe. Well, as safe as they could be back in the day.

 During World War II, Japan's military thought the winds could save them since its scientists had discovered that a westerly river of air flow,  the “jet stream”—could transport hydrogen-filled balloons to North America in three to four days to mainland US. For two years the Japanese military produced thousands of balloons with skins of lightweight, but durable, paper made from mulberry wood that was stitched together by schoolgirls. Using 40-foot-long ropes attached to the balloons, the military mounted incendiary devices and 30-pound high-explosive bombs rigged to drop over North America and spark massive forest fires that would instill panic and divert resources from the war effort.
What U.S. military investigators sent to the blast scene immediately knew—but didn’t want anyone else to know—was that the strange contraption was a high-altitude balloon bomb launched by Japan to attack North America. Citing the need to prevent panic and avoid giving the enemy location information that could allow them to hone their targeting, the U.S. military censored reports about the Japanese balloon bombs.
Ultimately, Fu-Go was a military failure. Few balloons reached their targets, and the jet stream winds were only powerful enough in wintertime when snowy and damp conditions in North American forests precluded the ignition of large fires. The only casualties they caused were the deaths of five innocent children and a pregnant woman, the first and only fatalities in the continental United States due to enemy action in World War II.

This "Moon Tree" came from seeds that were taken to the moon by astronaut and former Oregon smokejumper, Stuart Roosa.
This stop at the museum turned out to be very informative and interesting. We could have listened to stories all day.

Kerby, OR

Kerby is just 2 miles from Cave Junction. We knew that we needed to stop at It's a burl. Boy were we glad we did, with 4 treehouses to climb and burl swings all around to entertain us.

We went inside of the shops to see some pretty amazing art and craftsmanship.

That is quite some mirror.

 It has been quite a week as we head on down the road to the Redwoods.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

More Utah

Spring has been stirring up some wind and storms this April. We switched directions from Capitol Reef since we would have no hookups, the temps were going to be in the 20s with limited sun for our solar panel. Also, we would have to drive a couple of miles on the Grand Staircase's winding road with very steep drop-offs on each side. The thought of towing our trailer over it without wind left me leery. Driving over it with wind gusts in the 40-50s wasn't going to happen as far as I was concerned. Fortunately, Mike felt the same way. We headed west to Panguitch, think sandwich with a "P", just outside of Bryce National Park.
Once in Panguitch, we drove to Bryce Canyon just to enjoy views from the truck due to snow and high winds with  gusts at the highest point of 77.8 mph.
 It had been 9 years since our last visit and hike and didn't disappoint.

Natural Arch

 We wanted to be able to get out and do a little hiking in the area. We saw a geocache was a short hike on the Cassidy Trail once we returned to Red Canyon. The views were nice with much less wind.
While geocaching in town the next day, we kept running into a son and dad out doing the same at several locations.
I have never seen a sign tell you what is not the name of the highway.

Provo, Utah

Another change in plans were made as the weather forecast was calling for heavy winds on the day we had planned to drive north from Panguitch. There is no reason to drive in blustery winds. We headed out a day early for an easy 200 mile drive to a campground near Utah Lake.
The Provo River Trail runs from Utah Lake across town into Provo Canyon. The croaking frogs and birds enjoying the sunshine were a big change in the sounds we were used to hearing in the desert.  We were ready for the cool spring air.
Our rides usually involve a snack. We found a crepery along the trail that brewed a mean coffee to go along with the great crepe.
After our snack, the clouds were starting to roll in. Fortunately, we made it back to Utah Lake just before the heavy winds hit.

What a beautiful morning or so it seemed.  The snow storm seemed to be clearing until we entered Provo Canyon. The snowfall became heavier with blowing winds blocking the view of the waterfalls and almost everything else causing us to turn around before reaching Sundance.
We mad a stop in Spanish Fork at the Krishna's Lotus Temple that was recommended on Roadside America. Religions have always been interesting to me. In college, I took a course on religions so maybe I could understand a little better.
We had to take off our shoes before walking up into the temple.
After touring the temple and visiting the animals, we had a tasty Indian vegetarian lunch and visited with a lady that lived and worked at the temple. We didn't make it down to see the sacred cows. I thinks she was disappointed that we missed them.
The llamas are rented out as pack animals in Utah, Wyoming and Colorado by the Temple  as a source of income.
Heading northwest and hoping for sunny days.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Escalante, Utah

Taking a drive on the Scenic Highway 12 through the Red Canyon to Escalante for our week stay. 

Scenic Highway 12

We had to make several stops outside of Bryce National Park along the highway to oooh and aahhhhh. 
Driving can be a bit unnerving along the Hogbacks near Hell's Backbone. Mike insisted on driving the winding sections that have severe drop-offs on both sides without guardrails. He has control issues or doesn't trust my driving.....

Lower Calf Creek Falls

 Our 6 mile round trip hike to the lower falls in the Grand Staircase after hiking 2 miles on another trail was like being in a candy shop with so many trails to choose.
  This hike was just rolled along Calf Creek in the sunshine but not too hot. Much of the trail is through sand in a dry creek bed with markers identifying petroglyphs on the distant walls.
We passed by mineral-streaked cliffs of Navajo Sandstone and beaver dams with fish in the creek on our way to the pool and falls.
The cool breeze over the top of the 130 foot falls gave us a refreshing break from the sunshine as we sat under the trees for our snack next to the water fall. We were tempted to wade in the pool but just enjoyed the fresh air. I hate putting on hiking boots half way through a hike. They never feel quite right.
We had a nice surprise and stopped for a treat and lemonade at Kiva Koffee in the middle of the National Monument while driving back from our hike.
While enjoying our refreshments, a man joined us after overhearing us discuss our hike. Once he left, a local stopped to give us some tips about hikes we were planning to take. Then another group of locals added their thoughts. Everyone was very welcoming.
 We drove the Burr Trail outside of Boulder to hike the Deer Creek Trail that wanders along Deer Creek pastureland.

Stopping for a picnic before calling it a day, we returned to visit the Hole in the Rock Museum. Those were some hardy and maybe a little crazy,  Mormons. They had to be hardy to survive. The pictograms and story plates were interesting and awe inspiring. Click here if you would like to read the story.
Driving through small towns, often they don't seem to have much to offer. During a morning walk from the campground, we took sometime to find some great places like this organic grocery store and coffee shop, or in my case tea.

I like this fellow's classy pack.
 Part of the way though our visit, I was feeling under the weather. Realizing that if we needed an emergency room, we weren't sure where to go. We knew there was a clinic on the edge of town with an after hours number. But with no phone service even with roaming and the internet down, we would be out of luck if we needed 911 or even the clinic. A snow storm with high winds on the way with temps in the low 20s, we made a change in plans and headed west.