5:30 pm I pull into camp. Looks deserted. I get out and poke around. Before I step up to old farmhouse residence/office, a truck pulls up. Two guys step out. Friendly enough. Seem to be coming from 20-30 years ago in dress and manner. Talked with a little southern accent. I learn that cost for a night is $15 with no hookups. They mention road past cabins leads to another campground I’d have to myself. There are ten or so spots to choose from. I park on a nice level spot, set up camp. Wildlife abounds here. Jack Rabbit hops by. I take dogs without leashes on a nice long walk. Over the creek and up to a field, seeing 2 more jack rabbits. I try to get dogs interested. They catch scent but don’t act on it. We spot 4 deer browsing in the field. GG's interested. She's come to get excited by hooved animals since watching the antelope. The dogs are thrilled. Feels good to shake the suburbs. We make it back for dinner and ready for bed. The night sets in and pitch black.So very quiet in Cottonwood Hollow. About 9:30 pm I was ready to sleep. Opened RV door for one last look at night scene. Sky was lighter than black silhouetted rock cliff. Stars were vivid. Holy shit! What's that! There a hovering object above the hill! It seemed to be looking at me. Hair on arms and neck electrified. It’s watching me! It was dark, looked oval with flat sides. What should I do? It had 4-5 lights arranged in a horizontal line. One light was red. others were different brightnesses of white. Not evenly spaced. It was 4-12 feet long. It hovered about 15 feet above the 80 foot ridge for about 30 seconds. There were no beams of light. Frozen in place, wondering how to get a picture. Before I had a chance to grab for camera inside, with precision of a hummingbird, it turned and zipped directly away, behind the cliff. I was freaked out and elated. Could this be alien contact! Now Frightened. I would be an easy specimen to collect if this were an alien scout. WHAT WAS IT? An Alien? A drone working for government? Why here in the middle of nowhere? Is something devious going on? Could it be working for the BLM to check for fires? Yikes. I did not sleep well. Turned lights out right away. Fished out autographed Ken Griffey Junior baseball bat. Layed down stiff like a corpse. No phone service. I’m 1000 feet of pitch blackness away from nearest camper. The UFO must have been between 500 and 1,000 feet away. Dogs are unusually quiet. Dogs must sense my angst. I could be prey. A predator could sweep down, pop open this RV like a tin can and devour me or worse, be taken prisoner, slowly pulled apart. Oh man. My imagination was not helping make it through night. Pins and needles.
Happy when morning came. Needed to tell someone. Need to find out what the hell that was. Was this a joke someone was playing? The way it flew was no joke. Hope it was man-made. Whats going on in Nine Mile Canyon? Pack up quickly and decide to explore a bit more of the petroglyphs before driving to Green River to get my shaking self back together. Met a guy and his son pulling out of camp. He was the right guy. I told him what I’d seen. He happened to have been a UFO sighting investigator at one point in life! He asked me several questions like; was there any sound? (no) What shape? Did it glow? Was it light or mechanical? Did you find any bruises or marks on your body?
His name was Doyle Angus. He mentioned I could report it on a website www.mofon.com He had a knowing look in his eyes. I gave him my phone number. I didn't even think to check my body.
Everything seems fine. Except my right nostril. It seems sensitive. Probably nothing.
Had to tell someone. Rock drawings are taking on a different significance. I can’t put my finger on it, but I still feel like I’m being watched. I cross paths a few miles north of camp with Doyle as he is looking for petroglyphs also. Somehow his presence was reassuring.
I get to canyon mid-point and turn round. Drive to truck stop at Green River.
Another town biting oil boom dust. I wonder if UFO was oil company drone? May never know what that was.
In Green River there’s a Wi-Fi connection and phone service at the truck stop. Start searching for UFO information. I start filing a report with mofon.com. Towards the end of filling out submission form it demands all rights to my reported incident, including picture and drawings I was going to send. This smacks of cashing in! Decide not to file the account. I'll put it on my blog. I email BLM and ask if they utilize drones in Nine Mile Canyon. Hope someone responds.
Don’t know what to do with this experience now. Everything seems even stranger than it was. I may need to speak to some experts. Could aliens already be working amongst us? A new meaning to the term illegal aliens. It was probably a drone. In the future they may be commonplace. Not so comforting in the present.
“reach down deep inside, draw on abilities. draw on dreams.”
Stayed at Myton Truck Stop. Town is very poor. Oil boom over. Town may fall down. Truck stop only business going. I park RV in front of a boarded up house for the night. People were friendliest I’ve met. Cashier and staff. Grill produced a big breakfast for me.
Headed south searching for start of 9 mile canyon. No signs. I was told it was paved for a while, then turned dirt and somewhat bumpy for several miles. I turn right where I expect the turnoff to be. Barren hills dotted by sagebrush on both sides as far as the eye can see. Oil wells slowly pumping dinosaurs. I count 40, 50, 100. This is BLM land. Public land. Somebodies getting filthy rich pumping oil here. After driving 10 or so miles I stop in the middle of the road.
Haven’t seen one car or truck. Let the dogs out to run. Its so nice not having to leash’em up. We continue for a while and the road turns to hard packed dirt and gravel. Not too bad. Some bumps. Slow down from 50 to 10-15mph. There has been no road signage.
I don’t know yet if I’m on the right road. There is no service on my phone. Really off grid now. No radio reception either. Road winds around through a few canyons. Cliffs become rougher, higher, more dramatic. Some rocks seem balanced by a hair. Hope you won’t be the unlucky millionth traveler. I hold my breath passing beneath some of the precariously perched boulders. These rocks will fall down. Crumbling process is taking millions of years. Our lives are an instant flash in timeline of Earths crumbling rock faces. Mind boggles. Moment of now is in motion. Live in the now speaks Jack Kerouac.
The truck runs good, pulling well. AC keeping us moist and cool. We are happy rambling into this rocky, difficult wilderness. Embedded in these rocks is a recording of events.
The evidence is still here to be revealed. To study and interpret. The ocean once covered this land. Now we have rigs sucking out oil of life which occurred millions of years ago.
Wow. I wonder if Republicans think this dinosaur science is a hoax, like climate change? Human beings are like insects sucking life forces from other creatures.
Capitalism is winning the day. Cheapest oil wins. Supply and demand.
Those people saying it’s Obamas fault for their communities going under for negotiating a deal with Saudis for cheaper oil; Well you can’t have it both ways. It's capitalism.
You love America, freedom, and capitalism. That’s how it works.
We’ve exported capitalistic philosophy to the rest of the world. Suck it up when it doesn’t go your way. Fracking has come to a stall now. Americas’ oil boom seems short lived. Corporations have no loyalty to people (maybe CEOs)
Many people were making 100,000+ annual incomes for 3-5 years. They ran out and bought houses. Now they can’t pay mortgages. Sad to see town after town where this is evident. If I were king we’d do trade a little different. People would be paid fairly. There would be rewards for being kind, fair, honest, and hard working.
After countless miles of driving 10mph over the dirt bumpy road it turns to perfectly smooth asphalt (oil) pavement. We glide quietly onward toward Nine Mile Canyon (I hope) I notice some mile markers which seem to coordinate with the pamphlet from visitor center. First sign I’m on track. Seems very near Big Daddy Canyon turnoff.
And so my petroglyph search has led me here, to a stunning gallery of rock art nine miles long. So
And I’m the only one here. I wind slowly through the canyon, stopping in the middle of road to take a picture or two. Unbelievable the spreads of petroglyphs. I take all day
to arrive at the end to the most famous panel called The Big Hunt. It has special railing installed and a path leading up. Even benches where one may ponder or change a diaper. After my climax I head south to Nine Mile Canyon campground, hoping it’s still open; not closed for season.
Drove back into Vernal on Sunday. Watched Seahawks lose to Green Bay while drinking down watered Budweiser (Utah law has max set on beer: 3.2%) in a bar called Little B’s.
I’m not feeling much Utah. Maybe Utah is hell. Too much restraint on my freedom to enjoy microbeers! They offer a microbeer for the same price as a microbeer in Oregon but it’s watered down and tasted empty. After dinner did laundry at run down ramshakel joint. It was conveinient as RV was parked in their lot.
Morning comes and I head out to Dinosaur Park. The little boy inside begins to kick out.
I had great passion for all things dinosaur as a 10-13 year old. I also loved marbles and cowboys. What a fantastic day! Took shuttle from visitor center to the museum which is built over a huge wall (guess 120 feet long and 30 feet high) The slab has hundreds of dinosaur bones carefully dug around, all standing there like a giant mural. When I first saw it I thought it was an artists depiction. Not! This is how the dudes found it. OMG (speaking of which these creatures predate Biblical account of creation)
I notice a couple plein-air artists painting away on overlook. I end up enjoying meeting them, talking shop, and getting some info on l area scenic locations.
Two accomplished oil painters are A.D. Shaw and Chris Manwaring. Pleasant to converse. They invited me to lunch so we met at Bettys Diner. Had fun. They invited me to another afternoon paint spot which is sponsored by the Dinosaur Monument for their 100 year anniversary. I visited the Museum in Vernal and saw 5 exciting paintings by A.D. Shaw on display. One of the many things he said that made me laugh: “ I worked for 3 hours to make that line look natural”.
Showed them a few paintings of mine and recieve a warm reception. Met at boat launch and enjoyed hanging out. There were several other painters there, part of a plein air group. Fun to watch them work and struggle with changing light.
Made camp in the Dinosaur National Monument at the Green River campground.
This is the same Green River I camped on in Wyoming.
Saw my first Fremont petroglyphs and got the bug to see more. These shallow marks in stone are symbolic designs with significance we have yet to decipher. Who knows what they meant to Fremont people. Has it ever bothered you the way we name things of previous cultures? These native peoples are named after an explorer who discovered their existence.Were they lost? No more lost than Mr. Fremont is lost (RIP). They were here way before him. Yikes! How disrespectful. Ok, name a bridge or a store after somebody of special merit. Could see it if Mr. Fremont fathered most of the tribe and there was a DNA connection or perhaps was a high priest or chief. He merely mentioned their existence. Pointed to a basket and a spear and said they once were here. Could it be that same Fremont, the Seattle community I lived in for 13 years was named for too? If so, does that make me a Fremont person too? A relative of these ancient peoples.
Can’t wait to find more petroglyphs so I can interpret their meanings with my newly discovered special Fremont connection/insight. Finding new cliff drawings is like a treasure hunt. Scanning miles of rock faces I get to know the type of surface likely to get carved. Accessible by a ledge, deeply colored rich red-purple-brown (iron minerals), and facing outward. I’ve spent two days finding and photographing these amazing drawings. Of course the artists never signed them. That concept didn’t occur since these drawings were part of the shared tribal consciousness. Were these recorded stories to later recall events? I doubt they were merely decorations for their living spaces. Maybe. Hey Utah, feeling better about you Utah (still not happy about your beer).
I get inspired by the rock drawings and begin doodling ideas for tattoos.
What would work as a symbol for me? I look in the mirror at my receding hairline.
Expected by my mother to be bald at this point since I’m taking so much after my sasquatch hairy grandfather Carlson, fresh from Sweden. He went bald at 35 I’m told. Never met him due to an unfortunate tractor accident. My family avoided questions about him. Much later, in my 40’s I find out Mr. Arvid Carlson was institutionalized. His tractor injuries drove him mad. He was making animal sacrifices in the pasture and the family had him put away out of fear for their safety. All my childhood he’d been locked up a few miles away!
I revisit the ‘Y’ in the middle of my forehead. About 2” high. Looks like a convergence of two or three blood vessels slightly blue-green. Visible only with close inspection.
It occurs that the sound of the letter Y is also a question; why? Perfect since I’m always questioning. Y is a good starting point for tattoo. Girlfriend named V advised considering a kaleidescope when designing my tattoo. Need a meaningful pattern now. Kaleidiscope of Y's?
I take Randys advise heading south along Flaming Gorge to Lucerne campground on Utah border. Side trip along the way and take a random dirt road eastward to edge of gorge. Flaming Gorge Resevoir sprawls out between cliffs. Prong Horns meander along as I find a plateau overlooking the water. Gorge looks to be a smaller scale Grand Canyon. I consider camping, which would be free, but realize my fresh water tank is empty. Pull out my drum for an hour of drumming. The antelope seem intrigued. They come in closer. Place quickly begins to bake from heat. Dogs are off ropes, free to wander. Dangers of snake encounters be damned. Continue further south to find a great Forest Service campsite called Lucerne on Green River. The place is large with sites along the river. I guess I’m in Utah now. It’s empty of campers so I get a great spot, #11 right on the river. A herd of wild antelope graze on the campsite green grass. Must be gourmet eating for them as the surrounding prairie looks dried up and unappetizing. Good for me as I get to watch and take pics.The one with biggest horns seems to patrol. When I get closer they seem to inflate the wings on their asses! Their butts seem to have wings! Guess they inflate when threatened. An interesting feature.
I pull out satelite dish and set it up. I’ve had it for a few weeks and haven’t used it.
To my surprise within 15 minutes I’m watching the Pope and President Obama talk about global issues. This seems bizarre watching this in the wilderness. I flip channels and find everything from Southpark to NFL. Antelope is staring down JP right outside my door. I wonder if I should be concerned? Antelope are running all around my RV. The bigger male is acting all horned up and chasing off the young buck. Are they teasing my dogs or are they playing their mating games?
GG is whimpering. She wants to chase antelope. Campers next site over gave me a magazine about boondocking and other camping groups called Escapees. Going for a drive to find new campsite, maybe a freebie.
Camped at waters edge right on Wyoming/Utah border near Lucerne, Flaming Gorge Resevoir. Place was completely empty. Just me, the dogs, and 4 antelope. Rangers mentioned the were closing campsites for the season. JP and I were chillin’ but the antelope have a strange effect on GG. She needs to stay tied or she’ll chase them. She whimpers and bounces around from window to window in the RV, finding best vantage point. Drummed on my hand made African drum for about an hour. Broke the ice with it. Was great fun. Ill want drumming a part of life.
After breakfast I pack up and go into Manila, Utah another tiny town on the way to Moab. These towns are in varying shape. Some are half boarded up and about to blow away. Most have a diner, a gas station, an auto shop, and maybe a hardware store.
I continue on to Vernal and spot the Sheep Creek Loop scenic drive turn I’d heard about from Randy and Bartender at Brewery. A geologists gold mine. Rock formations tower on both sides as the road winds through. Gotta feeling this is the appetizer for the canyons further south. Saw plenty spawning Kokanee salmon and a covey of fat wild turkeys crossed my path.
Near the end of loop there’s another sign listing 3 different mountain lakes, a few trailheads, and a campsite. On an impulse I veer on to the dirt road. Drive for 5 or 6 miles into the wilderness past Beaver Creek and on to Browne Lake.
Browne Lake is a bit of a let down. It looks man made.
No one there so I pull out the drum for an hour. Campsites are closed for season, but this would make great place.
Head for Vernal winding down a series of mountain switchbacks. Its after 4pm so I pull into an abandon looking Sinclair truck stop. Just 3 rigs parked on the 3 acre lot. Turns out the recent oil deal with Saudi Arabia has put a hurt on the fracking oil boom. Just like that 2,000 jobs are lost in the Vernal/Jenson area. It’s effecting Wyoming, Utah and several other oil producing states.
These small towns which were thriving just a few months back are now facing bankruptcy. Many blame it on Obama. It’s not so simple, but it does seem sometimes capitalism wins over national loyalty. Supply and demand is capitalism. Supplier with lowest price wins!
I get to take a shower at truck stop and buy a few groceries.
Continue south in hope of escaping forecasted rain. Arrived to bridge at Alpine. had to stop. The river split and colorful mountains surround. Turning trees and mist rising on jagged hills created a symphony I needed to ponder. Got out and saw an RV park with tavern.
Decided on impulse to stay a night. Went to the tav and there were $1 glasses of Pabst! I laughed out loud and a local mid-young age woman introduce herself. She was friendly, direct, and talkative. Melody. I hadn’t talked much to anyone for a few weeks. I told her I was traveling from Seattle. She was interested so I kept telling more. She is a flower arranging artist, and floral watercolorists. After a while she introduced me to her husband Jim. Showed them a few paintings on my site.
Soon its like we’d known each other for years! We played some pool in which I didn’t embarrass myself. Had fun. Melody invited me over for her special chili. I gave her a kiss on the cheek! The Pabst was kicking in. I asked for rain check. Didn’t want to drive intoxicated.
When morning came rain’s still pouring. I decide to head south instead of hanging with Melody and Jim. Melody was from Pinedale and told me a bit about the area. Sunny in Pinedale so I head out of town towards Fremont Lake, second biggest lake in Wyoming. The road turns to gravel. I veer right in a random decision and head for Half Moon Lake. A lush campsite wooded with clumps of Aspens. The lake is huge on one side and mountains edge other side. This is a 2 day spot. Only a few campers here. There’s a lodge up the road a few miles. A dirt bumpy road. We head over to lodge but its closed with limited hours. No sign of life. Tables set with glasses. Opens at 4 for dinner says sign. We go further and pass a horse trailer at the trailhead. Park next to a red pickup. We go on a great walk just above the lake along a winding irregular trail. Rock cliffs, dry sagebrush, Aspen trees; looks like mountain lion country. I stay alert since it feels like wildlife is watching me. Its nice having a couple dogs to extend perceptions. I feel safer with the dogs. In fact, I probably wouldn’t be walking on wilderness trails alone. My imagination goes nuts about what could happen with wildlife encounters. Speaking of which, should I be watching for rattlesnakes?
I let JP take a swim and we head back. Meet a hunter along the way. Luckily I spot him way ahead and see he has a dog scouring the hill. I avoid a fight by picking up my dogs, one in each arm. The hunter was a young man, friendly, respectful, very handsome in bright orange vest. He pulled his dog in as we pass on the trail.
Back at camp I step out of RV and see a mule deer. A doe, grey brown with a white patch on butt. I froze. She froze. We had a stare down. The stare down could go on but I wanted a picture. So I break the freeze, pull camera up, turn it on. Meanwhile she jumps and starts walking. I manage to get a blurry shot. Suddenly there was a big commotion and 5,6, 7, 8 or more other deer go streaming through the aspens. God it was beautiful! I figeted with the zoom and in a few minutes the entire troup had gracefully clamored up the hill. There must have been a buck in there since he belted out a few heavy grunts, like victorious exclamations. What a thrill. Would only want to shoot with a camera. Another paradox. I’d want to eat any fish I caught, but wouldn’t want to kill a deer. More work to do on my head.
In the morning I discover a mouse. Cute little dickens, making himself at home in the RV. Seems to be aware of me, but he daringly lingers on the carpeted step. Can’t let him live here due to mouse dropping desease. I decide to hunt him with dogs. Place GG near the last point before mouse disappeared behind piles of clothes and stuff. She picks up his scent and I keep enthusiastically egging GG on; get’em GG! get’em.
He darts between her legs. Now she is interested. I make a little hole through the clothes and junk and she burrows into the back corner. I watch her instincts kick in.
She rustles the mouse to the other side of bed. Seems the mouse has lost us. I start pulling out the bins one by one, and GG is right there. We get to the last bin. I pull it out.
There is the mouse, frozen in the corner. Eyes bulging in fear. GG about 3” nose to nose.
Quick as hell the mouse jumps. GG lunges but mouse streaks past and out the slide out. Perfect. We sent a message to the little guy and he gets to be alive. I duct tape the little hole where mouse got in.
On the drive out of camp I pull over to snap a pic. A guy in camper pulls around me. asks where in Washington am I from? He knew of Issaquah. Shawn. Turns out he was from Puyallup. We shot the breeze a bit. He told me about Soda Lake as a great spot to camp for free. I like this area, Pinedale,so decide to head up to Soda Lake to check it out. Load up on food at the grocery. On to Soda Lake.
Soda Lake is kind of ordinary looking. What is spectacular is the mountain range, part of the Wind River Range with a fresh dusting of snow. The tallest is Gannet Peak (shorter than Mt. Rainier) according to my interpretation of map. I follow a few miles of bumpy road to an open plateau above Soda Lake. There is a ring of stones for a fire pit.
A great wide open spot. My rig situation looks like a Ford Truck ad. Several fishermen line up along the lake edge below, five or six. Me in my camper. Dedicated fisherman out in the wild. No tourists but me.
I set up camper then take dogs for a stroll. We walk down to lake and talk to a few fishermen. Most are older. Catching brown trout but throwing them back. I wonder what is the point. Guess they just like to hook ‘em. One guy, Shawn, explains the lake is alkaline so the fish taste bad. There’s a lot for fish to eat so they get big and fat. Makes’em fun to catch.
Fisherman are there from before sunrise to after sunset on Saturday. Sunday morning comes and I feel like drumming. I drum for a few hours. Cathartic. Feel great.
I feel recharged. Dry camping strains batteries but I’m in good shape since running generator at Half Moon Lake. Dogs are ready for a hike so we walk to the wildlife reserve, duck ponds. About a 4 mile hike through sagebrush to a little oasis of greenery.
No ducks, just several grazing cows. We come face to face with the bull. I get a bit nervous since he takes a confrontational stance. He huffs. We slowly move away and he circles around. A couple stragglers run by to join the rest of herd. JP wants to swim but the water looks questionable.
In the morning I drum for a while then head South to Rock Springs.
Rock Springs doesn’t do anything for me. No RV camps here on my APP camp finder. There’s a truck stop. I want to watch the Seahawks/Greenbay game so I decide to stay at truckstop. The price is right; free.
I enjoy the game as truckers file through to the shower room. Seahawks play a good game but lose a close one. Cousin Jim should be happy with GB win. Dogs seem uptight as the truckers run their diesel engines all night. Surrounded by big rigs. Make my rig seem tiny.
Happy to drive out in the morning. Filling propane tank and off to Green River.
Cousin Jim recommends Green River, so I stay there a night.
Driving through town I count 6, 7, 8 taverns! How could such a small town have more taverns than churches? I think I like this place. I find a spot to park RV near the train yard. Another night of free camping but hidden cost could be sleep loss due to train noise. Had fun bar hopping! Met a very cool local, Randy. He spoke slowly, deliberately and was fun to hang with. 51 years, a real mans man. Hard working and real. The Bartender at the Brewery made a great Au Jus sandwich. Super friendly and proudly showed me pictures of gash in his arm from a recent injury installing a window shield. After seeing skinned and gutted deer loose in the back of a proud hunters truck, arm gash seems charming .
Randy and I went to a strip club. One guy was there getting a lap dance. Only customer there. We talked to bartender who spoke so fast you could hardly understand. She skipped around in thought and covered a lot of subjects with her strong republican opinions. She hates Obama. So did Randy. They both went on about conspiracy theories. It was midnight and I had enough so I kindly bid farewell and walk 2 blocks through alley to my rig by the tracks.
If I’m going to speak my mind in these parts I’d better be sharp with supportive arguments. No matter how deft and eloquent my arguments I sense there are no minds open enough to consider my rationalizations. I’ll save my opinions for another time when feeling spry.
In the morning I gas up and head south along Green River and Flaming Gorge.
Rolled down the mountain into Jackson and in awe. This town is tourist candy. Prices high as Tetons. Theres no way to see it all. Wyoming National Parks blew me away. My eyeballs were aching from new scenes driving along through Moose, Jackson Lake, and up to Old Faithful. Spotted elk, deer, antelope, birds of prey, trout, chipmunks, and happily no road kill in the park. Had to stop once for a deer in road. Saw no bears or wolves.
Limited to paved trails for the dogs. Understandable but I would have enjoyed hiking more if dogs were allowed on trails.
Went swimming several times in Jackson Lake. Dry camped at Colter Bay. Stayed 3 nights for price of one night camping at the RV campground. They wanted $77 a night!
Loved the lodges. Hung out at Jackson Lodge for dinner, drinks, and observing willow land and lake. From lodge balcony one can watch all kinds of critters. Glad to have binoculars.
Mosquitos not a factor. Met two nice young couples from Ventura CA, camp neighbors. Oh to be young and in love! Geysers were beautiful. I touched geyser water and it was perfect spa temp.
Geyser soaking not allowed, even for old geesers.
Visited Jackson library and read up on Teton Jackson, notorius horse thief and trader who became filthy rich. He found a way to remove a brand and stamp his own on it. He had his own gang, was in and out of jail, and supposedly killed only one man. I ask several local people of Jackson about who their town was named for. A fur trader who trapped for one year in this area.
There remains a controversy about this! In a book called Teton Jackson- Horse Thief, it claims while providing all kinds of supportive documents that Jackson Hole was named for Teton Jackson. Very interesting. Sounds like history revisionism. Not too charming for your town to be named after a criminal. I can see the incentive here to re-appoint the namesake. On the other hand, there is no disagreement about the mountain range named The Grand Tetons. The french translation is Big Boobs!
Stayed one more night in Jackson. Parked on the street. Free camping! No problems or hassels. Saved a little money. Took dogs on night walk up to graveyard beside a ski slope. Beside a grave marked "Taylor", three deer walk out, very peacefully towards dogs and me (grave name is my mothers side of family!).
Dogs froze. GG growled. Deer came closer! They looked curious. Friendly. I know my dogs, so I restrained getting any closer than 15 feet. I know my dogs would attack and get hoofed. Theres no way to see Yellowstone in 5 days. What would be cool is to spend a summer exploring and living here. Cousin Jim kindly forwarded my mail to general delivery at Wilson, where I picked it up and went along my way, south along the Snake River to Alpine.
Pass through dozens of small towns across the gently rolling hills of Idaho. Freeway is top notch through Idaho. Modern rest stops. Cars are going 80. I push the pedal and average 70mph! This Ford 250 amazes me. Excited to get to Yellowstone so will leave exploration of Boise and other parts of spud state to future travels.
Spent one night in Eden truck stop. Pulled way off to edge of field to give me space. Some truckers leave diesels running all night! Guess they need to keep things refrigerated. This night is plenty cold. Amazing what we have accomplished to make our lives more comfortable. I suspect will need much more cleverness to engineer our species’ survival. Leaving trucks running all night is not eco-clever engineering. We must do better.
On my way to Jackson.
On the positive side, we have a network of State and National Parks stunningly well kept and accessible to the average joe. As much as we've altered the environment in the name of progress and profiting, our state, federal, and county governments are doing a decent job of protecting these natural areas for recreation and posterity. I plan to visit as many as I can this year.
So many fantastic parks to visit! One doesn't need to be a diehard survivalist to enjoy the natural world. I know very little about survivalism. I want to camp in comfort. Not wasting or abusing the environment but not going without a shower. Propane is great for cooking. I'm careful to recycle and use water and electric sparingly. I re-use plastic bags. I'm very conscientious when it comes to the dogs. I pick up after them and keep them leashed. I'm finding that most campers have leashed pets and this comes as a big relief.
Crater Lake is blue. Brilliant BLUES. Gradations of Cobalt, Ultra, and Manganese. Delightful. All together, the fab blues with rock formations and pine trees...wow! Don’t see how my pics could deliver the feeling. I spent 4 hours walking around the crater. The height is crazy. Afraid standing close to edge since I get this urge to fly. Island’s called Wizard Island. Teddy Roosevelt camped there while considering adding Crater Lake as a National Park. The little island is hard lava-rock. What did he sleep on? Were there air matresses back then?
Took dogs on 3 mile walk along Annie Creek Canyon Trail (she gets a creek named after her just for being the first woman of European descent to visit) by Mazama Campground. Amazing fun walk. Adrenalin gets pumping since the mountain walls are steep and the trail is narrow. I had to watch JP closely since he doesn’t fear heights. He doesn’t understand falling. He hears the rushing water of creek and he wants to take the direct path, straight down the mountain. The path winds back and forth until you reach the mossy creek bed. Small meadow patches are randomly lit with sunlight through the tall pines. How mighty these trees, standing on these steep grades which you or I would not be able to. Walking along the creek side I got a feeling we’d see a bear. Dogs were acting strangely, so I “listened deeper” for rustles and detectable noises. I scanned continuously for movement. Right there not 20 feet ahead on the path were 2 young deer, still with spots. Both frozen, staring at us. Tried grabbing camera but my arm movement flushed them out and in a flash they were gone into bushes.
Later in the evening a presentation was made by National Park Ranger. He had a pleasant demeaner speaking about how Crater Lake came to be a national park. The importance of photographers to convey the parks beauty since traveling in was difficult in the thirties. It was hard to pay attention because the Stars were like diamonds against deep indigo outer space and there was a cozy campfire flickering. About 20 campers attended the amphitheater, which could seat at least 100. At the end it got more interesting when an old guy stood up and said: You guys are doing a terrible job managing the forests. The trees are dying and on fire. Old cranky guy unleashed harsh condemnation on the National Park Service. Ranger suggested dying trees are caused by non-native beetles and the budget they have to work with is not enough. Ranger became a bit miffed but invited ranting man to stay and talk. I wondered how I’d find my way back without a flashlight through the pitch black. I followed about 20 yards behind a couple who had a light and seemed to be going same direction. Made it back with their help, so I thanked them. Morning was freezing cold. It was still dark when JP rustled collar. He shakes his collar vigorously. That’s his business signal to me; "seriously dude, let me outside".
Packed up, put air in tires, hit the road. Made good time to Bend without stopping.
Rolled along Highway 20 east to Burns and found an RV camp. RV camps are everywhere!!! Summers near over so always camp space. Not even bothering with reservations. Wi-fi service so hit or miss. Undependable. Downright flaky. Tomorrow my goal is Boise.
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