The Black Canyon on horseback

We visited one of Dee's oldest friends today, and visiting his ranch brought back such a rush of memories. Besides farming, Ron also runs a pack horse service, mainly hauling gear into the Black Canyon of the Gunnison for fly fishing and river rafting outfitters. The fishermen and rafters drive to the rim on a 4x4 road, then hike the last steep mile down to the river. All the gear (rafts, food, tents, cooking gear and so on) is taken down to the river on the backs of horses.

Years ago, on another road trip that led us to this part of Colorado, Dee arranged for me to ride down into the canyon with the pack horses. I rode a cute quarter horse mare, and the cross-country ride to the rim was a blast.

DW met us at the rim in one of the ranch trucks, and that's when we learned that the outfitter cancelled the trip. So we tossed the gear into the back of the pickup, and we all rode down to the river on horseback. The guides rode the pack horses; I can't believe that was comfortable, but they didn't seem to mind. When we rode back up to the rim, Dave and I drove the truck back to the ranch. The guys turned the pack horses loose, and they headed back to the ranch at a fast lope.

Even though I had my own horse back home, and rode nearly every day, this was a thrill for me, and it will always be one of my favorite memories.

Especially seeing my non-horsey husband on horseback. That's something I'll never forget!



So... I admit this is not my favorite town. I've only been here at the height of tourist season, both winter and summer, when the streets are crowded and crazy and noisy. It's just not a fun place to be.

But it's also one of the most picturesque settings for a town I've ever seen, and we took a chance that this would be a good (quiet) time to visit. I've been craving the chance to photograph the aspens turning color, but fall is coming late this year. So I thought going to a higher elevation just might do the trick.

It did.

We walked around town, then rode the gondola to the upper village for a brew and a flatbread pizza.

After our fun on the ski slopes, we decided to see the rest of the box canyon that Telluride sits in. And found a very cool (scary) road that climbs out the end of the canyon, with stupendous views. Not a word I use often, but completely appropriate.

At the top, above a pair of waterfalls and a sheer cliff, is a power plant that once provided power for the big mine at the end of the canyon. It now provides part of the power for Telluride. The road was closed from here to the top of the ridge, so it was the end of the line for us.

We took a different road home, through high parkland with the San Juan mountains in the background. It was absolutely beautiful.


Simple days...

A hang-out kind of day. Slept in. Bagels and cream cheese and homemade raspberry jam for breakfast. Visited Dan, a well-known Western artist who lives next door. Hung over the fence and watched hay bales being collected from Dee's hay field. The ridge above the Black Canyon was dark today, but the aspens will turn soon. It's peaceful here.



The moon rose bright and clear over the hills. It's the last lunar eclipse this year, and this was the perfect place to watch it... clear skies and no air pollution. And I finally figured out how to set my camera to capture the blood moon. My images are a bit fuzzy; a fence post had to serve as a tripod.


Barn dance

Tonight is the reason for our road trip, the reason we headed in this direction, that is. Rob (DW's cousin) and Ranae tied the knot on the salmon fishing trip last month, and they're celebrating tonight with all the friends and family at home.

There was a goat roast and plenty of other food, kegs of beer, a DJ, live music and dancing, and after dark, several firepits to keep us warm. But my favorite thing of the party? Ranae's white lace dress and red cowboy boots, the same clothes she wore at her waterside wedding.


Wild mustangs and jeep roads

Another steep walk with huge views as the reward, and another old geocache for the stats. This time the road was manageable, with just a short climb up to the rock cap that rims this butte. DW scrambled around, looking for a way up to the top, but all he found was that narrow chimney right of the plaque. He decided it was too skinny, too risky. But you can see how very steep this climb was, to get up the slope to the plaque.

On the drive out, we got a look at some of the wild mustangs that live on top of this mesa. When the herd reaches 250, they round them up and cull some horses for adoption. I wished for a better telephoto lens for my pictures.

We drove from Rock Springs to Montrose today, with stops for aspens turning color and gorgeous views and ice cream.


Hours on the road...

There's a long drive ahead of us today, with one fun stop: outside Pocatello for a hike up a hill to get one of the oldest geocaches still around. With luck we'll be able to drive to it.

But, that didn't happen. Our four-wheel-drive Tundra made it up the hill, past the water tank, and up the first tricky stretch of rutted road. But we both chickened out at the next steep stretch. So we grabbed hiking poles and grabbed water bottles, and shouldered our day packs for the climb. From the top to the truck (that wee dot in the clearing down below) was just shy of a half mile, and 400+ ft. vertical. I just put my head down and put one foot in front of the other, and made it. It was a pretty awful slog up the ridge, and a decade ago, I think I would have talked myself out of it. But today it gave me a great feeling of satisfaction.

We'll go all the way to Rock Springs, Wyoming tonight. We'll run out of daylight before we get there, but the nearly full moon will keep us company along the road.



This was a fun three days of geocaching. Yesterday we finished up all the challenge finals. Today we cached all day and finished a couple of powertrails; 226 finds is a new daily record for me. It was hot and dusty and way too hot... over 100 degrees again. In late September. Really??

Finding a small touch of water and green grass was a pleasant surprise on this hot day

At the end of the day as the sun went down, we had dinner at a Mexican cantina. We sat outside and munched on chips and two kinds of excellent homemade salsa, then ate chicken enchiladas verdes. Pacifico with lime was the perfect touch. It was an excellent way to end the day.


Goodbye summer

This was a very good summer indeed. It started out with Ireland and will end with a long-anticipated road trip through the West. In between there was scenery to photograph and visits from family from other places, good food and new friends, a renewed passion for geocaching, time spent at our lake cabin, the ongoing bathroom remodel projects, DWs Alaska salmon fishing trip, and a few deer who've made our little farm their home.

Loads of new memories... and more to come.


Ours to explore

It felt good to sleep in this morning, after a long day on the road yesterday (and a late dinner at Salmon River Brewery). We plan to drive around Payette Lake today, and explore the mountains. It's the perfect weather: sunny and chilly this morning, but warming up quickly.

I love the way oatmeal and a mug of coffee taste even better at a locals hangout. And that we were able to park right in front of this small restaurant in McCall. Traffic? Not here.

The historical museum has two fire lookouts, saved from destruction and restored. These are the first I've seen of the old-style lookout, small square metal boxes that once sat in the mountains near this small Idaho town. I'm more familiar with the larger permanent lookouts, made of wood with windows all around, big enough to live and work in.

Bridge work kept us from circumnavigation, but we drove as far as we could up the east side, then up the west side. There's a lot of interesting geology here, something that always catches DWs interest. So we did a bit of hiking in the hills, a couple of earthcaches, and a lot of photography.

Don't you love the way a blue sky is even bluer when reflected in a mountain lake?

Before we headed back for dinner, we drove up to the ski area at Brundage Mountain. I was hoping for a view east, but was disappointed.

I should probably explain about the bear. I brought him along to carry a geocaching travel bug around the west (you can see the metal tag hanging around his neck). Whenever we visit a geocache on our road trip, the TB will get to visit it, too. For Mac, the TB stands for Travel Bear.


On the road again...

Traveling in the fall has become something of a tradition of ours. It's my favorite time of year, and exploring the back roads is our favorite way to travel. So I guess it makes sense that I get itchy feet around the end of August, anxious to get going. Anywhere.

Aspens from green to red, high in the hills above Pocatello, Idaho

This year we're headed to western Colorado, to visit DWs cousins and uncle. And along the way we'll geocache, spend time in our favorite place in Idaho, and maybe do some fishing. Make that a lot of geocaching.

Electric | Journal will be on hold while I'm gone, since I won't be able to upload photographs until I get home.

I sure hope you'll be there when I start up again, to travel with me on the road.


Almost free...

Last night I was editing photos and looking for free typefaces online, and stayed up way too late. Midway through, while going through some May trip photographs, I suddenly remembered: it's my birthday, and I was going to get my Lifetime national Parks pass today! Bummer.

This morning, DW woke up and said, "What time do they open?" So off we went to Enumclaw.

Mount Rainier was out, unexpectedly as it was cloudy everywhere else. And the rain we've had down here in the lowlands has given our mountain some fresh snow! We didn't stop, but I snapped a shot through the windshield anyway. This time of year, you take what you can get.

After oatmeal at The Kettle, we did a couple of geocaches in town, then went to get my pass. Ten bucks, and it's good for the rest of my life. Pretty good deal, I say!

We topped off the day by meeting DWs sisters and brothers-in-law for dinner at a favorite Italian restaurant, to celebrate my birthday. This is a new thing for us, but we plan to faithfully meet for dinner each time one of the eight of us has a birthday, just to be together.


Easing into 62...

It wasn't a dog that took me to Kent's dog park today. Just a walk in the nearby park on a nice afternoon. The park was temporary home to a big flock of Canada geese, dozing under the trees by the path. 

I watched the dogs for a bit, and talked with the owner of a cute 3-month-old German Shepherd puppy, then walked back through the park. The geese were up from their nap, being herded by a toddler in bright red. I managed a quick picture, and when they took off, the wind from their wings ruffled my hair.

The weather is turning again... it may rain tonight.


Lone tree...

Our hot, dry summer took a toll on the woods around here, especially on the young trees. Everywhere I look, trees are dying.

We took a walk through the woods recently, and in a clearing of lush healthy trees, we found this poor little evergreen sapling.

It was quite beautiful in the rain, bright orange, with water droplets sparkling in the light.


Good reads...

I crawled out of bed early this morning, made a cup of tea, and settled down to finish Molly Wizenberg's latest, called Delancey. I loved this book and didn't want it to end. She looks at the world with a writer's eye, and tells her life in a story most fiction writers would envy.

We met friends for dinner at the Issaquah Brewhouse, narrowly missed being conscripted as unwilling baby sitters for a big group who didn't want to keep an eye on their own kids. The staff nipped that in the bud by pulling a divider across, and sending the kids back to their parents' space. We had a good laugh over it, and settled down to enjoy ourselves.


Simple days...

It felt so much like autumn this morning, as I stepped out the door early this morning. The trees are changing color on the farm, and I heard the honking of a flock of geese as they flew overhead.

The place to be in the fall: fishing for trout (with a trusty fishing dog)
By afternoon it was clear and sunny and warm. But I turned my back on the outdoors to get some chores done inside, then headed out for that dreaded of all renewals: my driver's license. The last time I did this, I could do it by mail. That's the way to go. The time before that, I waited for 3 hours. Today it was 10 minutes from the time I walked in the door, to walking out with my temporary license. Cool.

Dave was out geocaching when I got home, so I went out to find my one for the day, then home to edit photos and write. I'm a month behind, but catching up fast.

Dinner was simple: BLTs with thick slices of local tomatoes from Carpenito Bros, fresh Romaine lettuce, caramelized onions, and crispy bacon. It's one of my favorite simple suppers.


Geysers that don't flame

It's been a while since I've been here, to this state park that hosted so many company picnics, so many family picnics. The Green River runs along two sides, and it was always a favorite spot on a warm summer afternoon for a bit of fly fishing.

Today only a few people were there, a few on the trails we walked, a couple enjoying one of the last summer evenings, sharing a picnic dinner on a blanket, on the lawn near the river. We came here to walk, and to find a few geocaches.

The so-called flaming geyser is near the park buildings, and DW remembers coming here as a child, when there was enough methane escaping that you could light it on fire. I prefer the bubbling pool. It's a short walk uphill through the woods, climbing over a hundred or more big tree roots.  Cool trail. We stood and watched the stream flowing past a wood platform, watching for gas bubbles. The grey color in the stream is caused by calcium carbonate settling out of the water. If the water was heated (like the geothermal springs in Yellowstone), there would be vivid colors in the pool instead of grey.

On the way home we stopped for dinner at a little pizza & pasta restaurant in one of the small towns nearby. We walked out to an amazing sunset, a nice finishing touch to the day.



We headed home this morning, taking the long way (always my favorite way). A lot of new memories came home with me.

An autumn drive over the mountains, with bright blue skies and towering clouds, and hillsides already turning from green to flaming red and yellow and orange.

Our friends' beautiful new home near Lake Wenatchee, cooking together, drinking wine together, playing Mexican Train until the wee hours.

Wine tasting in Chelan, with dinner afterwards by the lake, listening to live music. Driving back to Leavenworth in the last light of day, that lovely golden light on the hillsides and the river.

A new wine club.

A load of aspen branches to turn into useful items, like polished walking sticks and candle holders and coasters. I'm looking forward to shaping and polishing, on those gloomy rainy days this winter.

The times spent with friends are among the best times of all.


Fish patterns

We came to Lake Chelan for the wine, but the koi pond is what tempted me to bring out the Nikon. The swirling color and changing patterns in the water are the first things that have inspired me for quite some time.


The winery grounds are lovely, with a long arbor covered with vines hung heavy with fruit, and ponds connected by a stream and a waterfall. The sound of running water made me want to linger all afternoon.

It felt somehow right, sitting on the stone steps, watching my friend, Julie, feed the fish. I was reminded of how easy it is to miss the best moments, if you don't take time to sit quietly once in a while, and watch the world pass by.


Favorite time...

The fall came early this year. I am not unhappy with the shorter days, the crisp mornings, the urge to dig deep in my sweater drawers, looking for last year's favorites. The overwhelming desire to nest, to clean out closets, to put things to rights before winter.

My favorite farm stand is stuffed with apples and corn on the cob and onions and heirloom tomatoes. And on the other side of the building, table after table of chrysanthemums in all those gorgeous autumn colors, dark red and copper and gold and leaf green.

Yesterday I walked my neighborhood trail, where big-leaf maples have started dropping yellow leaves that crackled under my boots. After being dormant through late summer, the recent rains have brought the grass to life, as green as early spring.

The Canada geese have begun to fly over, looking for winter homes. There are always a few on the ponds in our valley each winter; we used to have a pair before our pond got too overgrown. I love hearing them in the morning, as they fly over the house on the way to the creek.

For all these reasons, it's my favorite season of the year.


Lone tree...

I have a birthday in just a few weeks, into the turning of the seasons, the shortening of days, the cool mornings, the crisp air. I especially love the skies of autumn... the brilliant blue, and high thermals
that whip the clouds into ever-changing patterns.

It's the best time of year to have a birthday.