Tag Archives: camping

THE SNOWY RANGE – Wyoming’s Wilderness Playground

Whenever we drive from Lander to Laramie, we take the Snowy Range Road. The Snowy Range is one of Wyoming’s most beautiful wilderness playgrounds. It is a spectacular drive on HWY 130/Snowy Range Road out of Laramie, climbing to 11,000 feet at its highest point at Libby Flats.

I believe the drive is steeper on the Laramie side of the range. Views of the range tantalized us all the way to Libby Flats where we stopped to check out the Keystone fire which had started the night before and which is now up to 375 acres.

Also took some pics of the views in all directions.

We met a couple at the top who told us they’d been there two weeks previously and had to slog through melting snowdrifts. We were lucky. Instead of snowdrifts we were treated to the sight of abundant wildflowers at the height of their bloom. (There many more species of flowers and I did take pics – lesson learned – don’t format your card until you’ve checked all of the folders!!)

Along the way we stopped to check out one of the campgrounds, Brooklyn Lake Campground. On the way we found a sweet little outdoor chapel, saw a moose foraging in a meadow, encountered melting snowdrifts across the road with tire tracks to follow through the mess, and a jewel of a lake where the campground was situated. Good thing the campground was closed….not sure if it would be wise to bring our 33 foot fifth wheel there, but we’d sure love to camp there.

On the way down we stopped for lots of pics which I inadvertently wiped off of my card – so sad. Near the bottom, before entering Saratoga, we turned off onto a well graded gravel road and took the back way in to Saratoga, past beautiful ranches and an equally beautiful, apparently highly exclusive golf course.

I highly recommend this drive for anyone traveling in this part of Wyoming!!!

OROVILLE WASHINGTON

We are getting more and more comfortable with our Arctic Fox. It’s easy to tow; easy to hitch especially with the new Curt hitch; easy to level with the 6 point automatic leveling system, and now that we have a routine, easy to store everything in its allocated place, safe for transport to wherever we happen to be traveling to. In other words, we love it more and more every day.

The trip from Steelhead, BC to Oroville WA was uneventful. The drive was as beautiful as I remembered from last year. We took HWY 1 to Kamloops, HWY 5 to Merritt, HWY 5A to Princeton, and HWY 3 through Hedley and Keremeos to the Osoyoos border crossing. There was no wait, not even one other car in front of us. After a brief ‘Agriculture Inspection’ where they took away my limes and lemons and asked several times if we had any pets (we don’t) we were through and on our way to Osoyoos Lake Veteran’s Memorial Park.

Last year we stayed in the parking lot at Princes which has now been taken over by new owners who have shut down their facilities. It is still possible to park there for free but we preferred this time to stay at Veteran’s Memorial Park. It is a beautiful park, well maintained with power and water hookups, as well as shower and toilet facilities, right on the shores of Osoyoos Lake. Most of the time here for us it has been very quiet with few campers. However, July and August will be fully booked as is always the case here. As a matter of fact, today, (Friday) there have been quite a number of campers arriving at the park.

View of our campsite & Arctic Fox from the water.

Boat launch.

We’ve spent our time here:
Visiting with friends;

Making a beer run!

Close enough to walk for groceries.

Kayaking;

Great beach to take off from.

Birdwatching is so rewarding from a kayak.

The lake was like glass.

Our new ‘wheelie cart’ attracted a lot of attention & questions. Works great. Bought it on Amazon for about $40.

Birdwatcher extra-ordinaire in action.

Red necked grebe and her babe.

Hiking the Similkameen Trail which we learned is one small section of the Pacific Northwest Scenic Trail;

The Taber trailhead halfway along the trail for a shorter hike.

Mikal on the old train trestle.

Visiting a most amazing outdoor museum in Molson and driving the scenic 9 mile road with signboards explaining the historical significance of the area;

Some history!

More history of the area.

The old Molson School museum.

Visiting local eateries. We went out for brunch once to Eva’s Diner & Bakery, and to dinner twice. The first time to a Mexican restaurant called ‘Rancho Grande’ and the second time to ‘Pastimes’ a local pub/eatery well known for its burgers (elk, bison, beef, pulled pork). Both places were excellent.

The food was excellent but we were initially attracted by the colorful benches outside. All the furniture inside is of the same style.

Great food & prices. Favorite of bikers.

We ended up our visit to Oroville with a concert at the local Alpine Brewing Company. They featured a group called “Hippies on Vacation” while serving great brews and wine (which they only sold by the bottle – poor me!!).

Great venue outside on the patio – waiting for the concert to begin.

NEHALEM BAY STATE PARK OREGON COAST

Our dream was a reality. We had arrived at Nehalem Bay State Park on the Oregon Coast. Our site was great. We were treated with several visits from the locals.

We couldn’t wait to get to the beach for our first views.

We didn’t walk too far that first day but far enough to see a huge bald eagle just as it took off from its unseen perch on the beach.

On the second day, we tried to cycle into Manzanita but we were too out of shape. After a few very steep ups and downs, with lungs working like bellows and quads feeling like rubber, we returned and took the truck instead. What a lovely quaint little village with lots of cute shops, restaurants, an organic food market and more.

Every day we walked the beach, either north or south, depending upon the direction of the wind. We quickly learned to walk into the wind at the beginning of our walks, giving us the added bonus of the wind at our backs walking back home when we were tired.

Walking southerly towards the town of Tillamook, the beach ended at a driftwood jetty on top of which sat….our immense bald eagle.

As I sat and rested with my back against a log, Mike went to take pics. When he came back he asked, “Did you see the seals? They’re surfing in the waves!” I looked and did see them playing where the waves were the tallest – where they were cut by the jetty. What a sight! Found some whole sand dollars; all the way there we’d seen lots of broken ones but in this one spot we found some whole ones. We also found several dead “sea creatures” and one live one. Never did discover exactly what it was.

My favorite birds (in addition to eagles and hummers) are the sandpipers. I love the way they scurry about on the sand, forming a line to stay just ahead of incoming waves, then breaking rank again to see what delights the ocean wave has brought them, heads bobbing up and down with tiny bills poking into the sand – just like mini-drills.

On one day, we woke up to an expected sunny day. Beautiful blue sky. We’d planned to spend the day on the beach here but we both were in the mood to explore. Originally we had tried to reserve at Cape Disappointment up the coast across the Columbia River, in Washington but it was booked for the times we wanted.

Cape Disappointment State Park is indeed beautiful and we enjoyed the time we spent hiking up the trail to the interpretive center and lighthouse followed by a long walk past the North Jetty along the beach. We stopped briefly to bathe in the sun and once again were treated to an even better performance of two seals surfing in the waves. When a wave gets ready to curl and become a breaker, the top third becomes translucent. This time, for just a moment before the wave curled, we saw the clear, unmistakable forms of two seals right there in the centre of the wave, seal shadows in the green translucence. Spectacular!

On the way back: we were dive-bombed by some black-headed gulls who didn’t like us invading their space; and we saw a huge big crab, barely alive and wondered why none of the birds had found it yet.

All in all it was a great day topped off by dinner at the Sand Dune Pub in Manzanita.

The final few days there were typical west coast days; days of endless, drumming rain. It was time for us to leave.

GRANSTAFF CAMPGROUND…A SPECTACULAR SITE!

This past week we have been staying at Granstaff Campground, about 5 miles up the canyon along HWY 128, from Moab. I had to include some of the pics we’ve taken. The first few days were cloudy…no sunrises or sunsets until the past few days.

We’ve taken pics from above….

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….from the water…..

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….from our windows…..

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….in the evening…..

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….at night when they lit up the cliffs for the ‘river-going-canyon-watchers’….

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…and inside eating dinner!

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A SUPER-SIZED KIND OF DAY….RIFLE, COLORADO TO MOAB, UTAH

Super-sized in terms of scenery, emotions and ….. challenges….!

Leaving Rifle, we traveled in ‘losing elevation’ mode which the truck thanked us for. It worked splendidly. Why on earth, we asked ourselves, would we want another stronger, more powerful truck when the one we have did so well??? From an elevation of around 6,000 feet in Rifle, we dropped to 5,000 feet in Grand Junction, decreasing to 4,000 feet by the time we arrived in Moab. No surprise the truck did so well. As did I….celebrating the disappearance of my constant companion, an ’altitude headache’ – Mike says it’s the wine every night… but I refuse to believe him. From Rifle onwards, we drove downwards, through a steep canyon, leveling off as we reached Grand Junction. From thereon in, until we turned off the I70 onto the US Hwy 191 to Moab, it was flat with miles and miles of sagebrush and desert-like terrain.

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Turning off the I70 is when my excitement started to build. We started seeing beautiful, red rock formations, canyons and, of course, lots more traffic.

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We saw the turn-off to Arches but we were focused on finding a place to camp and continued on. That’s when the “CHALLENGES’ kicked in. Up to this point, all was calm and peaceful. We traveled along the Colorado River where there were numerous campsites. However, they were not well-marked and they were not very specific as to where the tent sites were, when there were dead-ends….well, suffice it to say, after coming across a lot of ‘occupied’ sites and feeling a bit blue, we thought we spotted an available site and enthusiastically turned down one, narrow gravel road. To my MY HORROR, it turned out to be a dead-end…..my worst nightmare. Michael had to back our 24 foot fifth wheel out of a very tight spot. He was magnificent….I was a total wreck….a nervous, bloody basket case. But still, I managed to direct him out with no mishaps. The problem with these campgrounds was that they were all marked “FULL” and they were not well signed so by the time we saw the entrance, we were already too far past it to enter. Finally, we’d both had enough and decided to head into Moab and pay the exorbitant rates at one of the RV parks (of which there were many). Returning the way we’d come, we passed one of the campsites we’d missed and saw some available sites but, once again, too late….we’d passed it. This time though, there was a pull-off. Due to the ‘rush for sites’, after we found a suitable, available site, I sat and held it while Michael adroitly turned around the fifth wheel, kayaks and all, in the middle of the secondary highway he was parked on and just as adroitly backed into our site. Hugs and kisses were in order for my Michael.

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Soon, we were unhitched and settled in, ready for some exploring. We headed to Arches to get Mike’s GOLDEN AGE/SENIORS PASS which reduced our camping fee to half – always welcome. From there to search out how to realize our plan of kayaking down the Colorado River. We found Katherine at WILD WEST VOYAGES who completed the arrangements for us to do two, 10 mile sections of the river. She would assist us in dropping the truck at our end point, and taking us and our equipment to the starting point. When we asked about drinking water, she told us about the “MATRIMONIAL SPRING’, a natural spring where the water comes out of the rock, very pure. She said the story is that once you drink the water from this spring, you will be ‘married’ to Moab, and always return. We found it, drank from it, and yes, this may well become our new playground!

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Tomorrow, we are off to explore Arches National Park.

Visit to Himba Village

Day 12 Dec. 24 Wednesday
We both slept well last night but woke up feeling tired and just a bit abnormal; nervous, anxious, no appetite …. but didn’t give it much thought. I had been highly anticipating this day – a visit to one of the villages of the Himba, a “semi-nomadic tribe living in scattered settlements……whose women are noted for their unusual beauty and intricate hairstyles and traditional dress…..they rub their skins with dark red ochre….” (notes taken from Kiboko’s notes). Our crew told us that they typically will shop for food for the village being visited as a sign of respect and gratitude for allowing us a glimpse into their lives. In addition, we collected more money from each of group members to add to the pot and ended up with lots of groceries ….. big bags of their staple, maize, and oil and …… I am unable to remember what else we bought. We also picked up a Himba guide who spoke some English and who was to be our translator in the village.

When we were finally ready to go, groceries packed into the ttruck, guide already in narrative mode, I started to feel sick and had to stop the bus, thinking I was going to start with what Mike had. There was absolutely no way I was going to sit on the bus and go through what he had the day before so when the offer was made to drive me back to camp, I accepted. I missed the visit but dear Claire took my iPhone and took some pictures for me …. and here they are.

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Mikal’s point of view:

Woke up feeling much improved … Compared to yesterday I would say resurrected would not be too exaggerated. 

Today was to be a visit to a Himba village… But on the drive Tilly started feeling symptoms similar to how I began yesterday… at least she had a choice to return to camp … Which we did… 

Tilly wanted me to go with the rest of the group but NO WAY was I leaving her  after the care she took for me. 

At least she didn’t suffer the indignities of puking and shitting roadside…

 

I never did get sick the way Mike did …. just some extreme nausea but after resting in the tent until everyone came back, we were both more or less back to normal and with the others, trooped over to the lodge for an afternoon of poolside R & R.

R&R 1 xmas treeOpuwo Lodge

It was Christmas Eve  and we had planned an evening of “Secret Santa”and so, after a relaxing afternoon, we headed back to camp to decorate  our tree, wrap the presents and stash them in the tree. We poured wine and ate sparingly of the nuts and chips on offer while we entertained each other with Secret Santa antics. Dumi, Richard and Mandhla had never played it before so it was just that much more fun. They had prepared a Christmas dinner of gammon (pork), corn on the cob and a cheese bake. We didn’t eat much but what we did eat was very fine!!

Richard told us a Christmas story about growing up with very little money …. so little that they had only bread and peanut butter for their Christmas dinner! How fortunate were we this Christmas?