Content at 63...

I turned this age at the end of another long road trip, my favorite way to travel. A few thousand miles of stunning scenery, a few hundred geocaches, a thousand or so photographs... just the two of us on the road. That's my kind of vacation.

In my twenties, when anything was possible, if anyone had told me how good I'd feel at this age, I would have laughed. And never believed it could be true.

But it is.


Home stretch...

We cached our way north to Waitsburg, heading west to Naches for lunch, then White Pass. We watched climbers on the basalt cliffs, checked out preparations for feeding elk this winter, did our own rock scramble on a hill above Rimrock Lake, and had a burger and beer after a long, after-dark drive all the way to Buckley. Long day, fun day.


Round and round...

The Dahmen Barn near Uniontown, Washington was built in 1935, and it's still in the Dahmen family. It has been completely restored, and the owner has spent more than 30 years building the fence, made from more than 1000 wheels from every type of wheel you can imagine, from antique farm equipment to a baby buggy. It's off the beaten path, but so worth the drive... even in the rain.


Sod cabin...

Our last day in Colorado. It's been a different trip than our usual road trip to the Rockies. Last year we traveled all over, visiting the national park and climbing up into the mountains, and chasing fall colors. This year we stayed close, spending time with family and exploring Montrose.

This morning we said our goodbyes and headed out, but first we took a detour through town to find a geocache we couldn't do yesterday. The entire twisty road down along the Uncompahgre River was being worked on, and the road crew was camped out right by the cache. It wasn't a total loss... we parked right next to an old homesteader's log cabin, still standing with a lushly growing sod roof.



For a gal who grew up within sight of the Boeing plant in Renton, an air show is pretty hard to resist. Especially when it's free. And when it's at the local airport in the town we're staying in for the next week.

Everyone was game to check it out, so we met there today and spent the afternoon walking around and through a big range of military planes:  A KC-135 Stratotanker. Apache and Blackhawk helicopters. A very cool WWII-era bomber, the B-25. A huge C-17 Globemaster. It was especially fun to talk with the pilots of a squadron of F-18 fighters, who flew in from the Whidbey Island Naval Air Station.

We hung around until the end, to watch the planes take their turn to taxi out to the runway and take off. Two hours, and those F-18s will be home on Whidbey Island.


Nine miles...

We took an amazing drive yesterday afternoon, up what's called 9-Mile Canyon. It's actually more than 50 miles long, and there are different theories as to how the canyon got its name. The canyon floor is brilliant green with river-fed grass and hay, with cattle and horses (and a lot of rabbits), and a few old homesteads. The road is in perfect condition, with a dozen or more concrete fords to let flash flood water flow out of side canyons into the river without damaging the road.

The photographs tell the story of what brought us here, and what will bring us back again.



Out of the desert of southern Idaho, and into the mountains of Utah. We're here mainly for one short hike above 8,000 feet, into the alpine meadows with running streams and towering firs. The back dirt roads were empty of travelers, the forest camps closed for the season. At the trailhead, the twin ponds were peaceful and serene, and just begging for a bit of fly fishing. Alas, we didn't bring our gear this trip.

The hike up the hill was short, but I was out of breath by the time we made it to our goal: Utah's oldest geocache, placed in August 2000. Then we hiked back down through the meadows, and followed the narrow winding road down the valley through forests of aspen. This is a part of Utah we've not visited before, and it's beautiful.

Mac, the travel bear, at Utah's oldest cache


Resting place...

We headed east into thick fog this morning... no sun made it through for a couple of hours. Quite a change from the past few days, geocaching in the sunny wheat fields of southeast Washington and into the mountains of northeast Oregon. On our radar this trip are pioneer cemeteries, and each time we pass through a small town, we make sure to seek out the original cemetery for that community. Some are just a fenced area in the middle of a huge wheat field, others are an emerald green oasis with huge trees, lovingly tended by volunteers.

This morning we left Mountain Home early, and decided to wait for breakfast until we've been on the road for a while. We found a Basque restaurant for breakfast just a couple of miles off the freeway. I would have stopped here just for the name: The Farmhouse. Amazing food, great coffee, cheap prices... and the sun finally burned through the fog. We drove all the way into Central Utah today; a very long day. I was so glad to finally get off the freeway and turn up into the mountains.


Snake magnet...

On the road early this morning to explore, drive the back roads, and follow the Oregon Trail. We stayed out longer than planned, playing "just one more cache." At our last (really) cache of the day, in the fading light, DW pulled over on the side of a dirt road, and got out to start looking.

I hopped out of the Pilot, and just two feet away, coiled up between two sagebrush bushes, was a Pacific rattlesnake. As fast as I got out, I was back inside. I lowered the window and called for DW, pointing out my window, and saying, "Snake!" At least I think I was saying the word, not yelling it. I'm not sure.

He finally got the message and came around the back of the Pilot to have a look, and his eyes got pretty big. Maybe just as big as mine. But I could still aim the Nikon out the window, and take a few photos. And then we drove to the other side of the road, and found the cache.

I lived in eastern Washington for seven years, and never saw a rattlesnake. For decades I've traveled through the snake country of the West, without ever seeing even a hint of a snake. And twice in the past three months, I've ended up way too close to a coiled rattlesnake for comfort.


Flaming skies...

At the end of the day, a brilliant sunset made the early morning and bad coffee and allergy symptoms and and cold wind all worthwhile. I can hardly wait to see what tomorrow brings.