Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Weather Changes Plans

(Travelog Sept-Oct 2019)

Our drive across Wisconsin and Minnesota takes only a day, but arriving at our planned stop in North Dakota we discover a tornado warning. The park ranger asks us to move into the bathroom if the siren sounds. The warning includes baseball-sized hail. 

Icelandic State Park ND
The thought balloon seems to hatch simultaneously over both our heads as we imagine hail shattering the solar panels on top of the van. 

 We decide to drive west away from the storm until the tornado warning expires. On the way back to the campground a quick Internet search reveals that solar panels can withstand a lot more than a little hail.

The storm clouds make dramatic scenery in the sky.

Our first exploring destination was to have been the Missouri Breaks in Montana. Was to have been changes because eastern Montana has been getting lots of rain. The roads in the breaks are one-lane dirt roads. Even as we attempt to camp on the edge of the breaks, we are slipping around as if the steering wheel is disconnected. 

 Alex positions us on a scrap of prairie grass that provides some grippiness for the night. The first exit from the van reveals…that we are parked more-or-less parallel under he huge arc of the Milky Way. There are no city lights out here to dim its brilliance.

Yellowstone River

On our way to explore a couple of lovely canyons in the Beartooth-Absaroka Wilderness, we are able to confirm that grasshoppers are still hopping.

We spend a week Q-camping, hiking, fishing and just breathing the gorgeous mountain air.

Rosebud Lake

View from the campground (where we are the only campers).

From our camp near Rosebud Lake, we hike to Elk Lake and see one of my favorite birds, the Water Ouzel.
Photo credit: Big Sky Journal

Water Ouzel (Follow the link to see this delightful bird in action.)

Photo credit to Alex for mountain goating to get this amazing photo a waterfall on Rosebud Creek. We laugh remembering one comment we read about Michigan’s 200 waterfalls, “…some are no more than rapids.”

Q-camp on the Boulder River (MT)
Elk Creek near Independence

Here we are again the only campers in sight - and grasshoppers all around!  This canyon is a little west of the one from which Rosebud Creek flows.  The top of this canyon (Boulder River) is Independence, once a mining site.  The canyon was once devastated by mining.  It is now gorgeous.

Weather warnings encourage us to change plans to find our way further south.  

After a soak at Chico Hot Springs we head to camp at Bear Creek Campground where the elevation of 6350 feet is enough reason for it to be chilly.  Not visible in the photo is the drizzling rain.  

As a crow flies we aren't very far from Redbud and Boulder Creeks to the east and right over there (south) is Yellowstone National Park!

Monday, December 9, 2019

In the Land of Manabozho

Our goal is to be in Montana and Idaho while the grasshoppers are still teasing the trout. We head north to our cabin in the northern peninsula of Michigan. It isn't far from the eastern edge of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.

The cabin is a little one-room without electricity or water. It is a wonderful place for a peaceful stay – if you stay long enough to make the clean-up of mousie messes worth while.
Since we are staying just overnight and planning to sleep in Q and skip the major cleaning effort, staying at the beach is an option. The shore of Lake Superior is a mere 5 miles from the cabin. The views are amazing.

We drive west across the UP stopping to see waterfalls that neither of us have visited. There are 200 waterfalls in Michigan, most in the upper peninsula.  We camp, hike and appreciate the beauty of the Black River Falls: Rainbow, Sandstone, Gorge, Potawatomi, and Great Conglomerate.

Potawatomi Falls

The land has beautiful contours that provide us with a good work out...and an opportunity to be silly.  

Honey, I shrunk you into a selfie-sized spouse.

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Travels with Quigley

Road to Ruins: September-October 2019

We traveled this fall with the addition of a signal booster to make connection easier/better. It worked somewhat, sometimes.  It is in reality an improvement. And yet this is blog-catch-up from home.  Sometimes it is best to neglect details and dive into the fun.

It's December so for context consider Sept - Oct of 2019.  Early snow in the north and less than usual rain in the southwest.  Muddy and dusty everywhere we traveled.

In blog comments that follow, Q = Quigley. There is a company in PA that does 4-wheel drive installations/conversions on ordinary work vans to allow people to convert them into camper-vans that can go almost anywhere.  In this photo Q is camped in the hills above the Extraterrestrial Highway in Area 51.

Do you remember Harvey Korman’s character in Blazing Saddles? He had to keep reminding people that his name is Hedley not Heddy. So we call Quigley, Quiggy just to remember the silliness of Blazing Saddles. And because it is so urgent to return to having fun, Quiggy is often shortened to Q.

Q has solar panels on top, so we have more than enough power for lights, refrigerator, etc., when we are on the road. And last summer when a big storm knocked out power at home, Alex ran an extension cord from the van to the house. I mention that only because it is funny. There wasn’t really anything that was urgent, it was just because we could.