Monday, August 25, 2014


Dr. Cederberg said we would know when it was time, and indeed we did.  Don and I were hoping Babs would just quietly pass away, but that was not to be.  By the time we returned from our trip to Oregon, we knew time was short.  She had lost so much muscle she could no longer stand up.  That was just not fair.

Thursday morning we called the vet and that evening we took her in.  It was heartbreaking to say good-bye, but it was the compassionate thing to do.  Her 22 pounds had withered to under 8 pounds.  She just could not continue the way she was.

Babs was quite the trouper.  As long as Sepia was alive, she was his sidekick - literally.  He would back up to her and kick at her to keep her from getting too much attention.  She would lie down on her side to allow Chaco to groom her.  She did not really like to be held, but she liked to sleep next to people.

The bald cypress in our backyard was particularly difficult for Babs.  The fronds would stick to her fur and not let go.  She hated the way we pulled those off of her!  And she had a fang that was with her until her dying day.  It is particularly visible in this picture.

After Sepia passed away, however, she became the queen bee, and she knew it.  She took her spot in my seat in the RV and did not relinquish it.  She followed me room to room, and she made sure to let me know she was here.  She still did not like to be held until the last month, and then I think it was a comfort to her.  She was a delightful little dog who was great company, and we miss her.  But she, her brother, and her sister are all together again.  We will be spreading their ashes at the cabin where they loved to explore.

Hunting Wabbits!
Go 'Cats!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

San Isabel

When Don was a little boy, he used to visit San Isabel, Colorado, with his family.  His Uncle Rod and Aunt Zelma owned a cabin there, and some of Don's best memories during his childhood come from his trips there.  He has always wanted to return, and this trip gave us an opportunity to do so.

Getting there we had to cross Monarch Pass, which stressed the Willie . . . and Babs.  Climbing the hill to over 11,000+ caused both of them a little difficulty.

We drove through beautiful areas, following the Arkansas River down the hill.

We really, really, really wanted to stop and fish!
By the time we arrived at San Isabel, it was close to sundown, but we could still see the beauty of the place.  The next morning we found the cabin where Don spent several summers.  He enjoyed reminiscing about the Crazy 8 games, the trip to the silver mine, and the hike up the hill.  Then it was time to go, but we enjoyed our short stay in San Isabel.


Yesterday's drive was so dull, we were hoping for better today.  Neither of us had been on this drive before, therefore we had no idea what we were facing.

As we approached the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, I suggested to Don that we stop. After all, we had a National Park pass.  We should use it.  The twisty, winding road was just a preparation for the rest of the day . . . We just did not know it.

The Black Canyon of the Gunnison, a geological marvel in and of itself, is a one-half mile deep gorge, which is half the size of the Grand Canyon . . . but it is straight down.  No gradual decrease.  Because of the nature of the rocks, they eroded at a torturously slow pace, and without a glacier to help, it just went down, down, down.  

Later in the day we stopped to see a gorge of a different kind.  The Royal Gorge was carved by the Arkansas River.  We were anxious to see it since we were both quite young when we saw it last.  To our disappointment, it was closed.  A fire in June of last year destroyed over 90% of their buildings and the visitor's center.  No one was allowed in, and although there was a free viewpoint, Willie could not make it, so we left without being fully gorged.  Good thing we had spaghetti and fresh Colorado peaches for dinner!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Great Salt Lake

I guess the third time is the charm.  We drove through Salt Lake City on our way to Alaska, but we did not go to see the Great Salt Lake.  On our way home from Nevada last spring, we drove through Salt Lake City but we did not stop to see the Great Salt Lake.  So this time through, Don was determined to stop.

Our first attempt was at Willard State Park, an area that appeared to be part of the Salt Lake and indeed it was . . . in 1964.  At that time it was decided to build a dyke to contain the fresh water that flows into the lake.  This way, the citizens of Utah (Utahans?) could enjoy a freshwater park that allowed for skiing, fishing, and swimming.

$15 donated to the Utah State Parks later, we proceeded to Antelope Island, one of the more fascinating places we have visited.  Situated not far off the shore of the lake, a southern causeway was built to Antelope Island in the 1950's.  In the 1980's it was washed out, keeping cars off the island until the causeway on the north opened in 1993.

We first saw bison roaming the prairie around the visitor center.

We learned the bison were introduced by John Dooly, Sr., who owned the island, and William Glassmann in 1893.  Glassman had tried to start a bison herd south of the lake, but it did not succeed and he sold his herd to Dooly.  They brought 4 bulls, 4 cows, and 4 calves to the island to begin a hunting operation.  The hunting dwindled the herd to just a few, but public sentiment began to take over and the hunts were discontinued. Since then, with careful management, the herd has become a group of 500 - 700 which makes it one of the largest and oldest publicly owned bison herds in the nation.

We also saw a beautiful antelope grazing near the bison.  Antelope were introduced to the park, and in the 1990's, bighorn sheep were introduced.  The sheep have been quite successful in reproducing and they are now transplanted to other areas of the nation.

Although the visitor center is small, we found the information to be fascinating.

And They Say New Mexico is Desolate

AndWe had an idea that much of Oregon would be mountainous and green.  After we left Bend, Oregon, this is what we found:

Looks a lot like the drive through the Oklahoma Panhandle and Eastern New Mexico

And more of this:

This could just as easily be in Arizona

We had no idea that eastern Oregon was just like Arizona, New Mexico, eastern Colorado, Nevada, and Utah.  Maybe it will help us adjust to returning to the flat landscape and heat of Kansas.

A Little Sun On Crater Lake

The sun came out for just a few minutes

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Colors of Crater Lake

Between wildflowers, rocks, water, trees, and meadows, Crater Lake exudes a raft of colors.  Enjoy!

Crater Lake

Wednesday afternoon, after settling into our campsite, we went to the Visitor's Center and then up to the rim to see the lake.  The film at the Visitor's Center gave a good overview of how the lake was formed and what special things needed to be seen.

Unfortunately, our first view of the lake was not what we had hoped.  A cloudy sky made a spectacular sight rather ordinary, and although we thought it was pretty, we know it should look like Lake Moraine in Canada.  We explored the Lodge, ate at the cafe near our campsite, and strategized for Thursday, when we hoped it would be clear.

Wrong.  It did not rain like it was on Wednesday, but it was cooler, bordering on cold.  The temperature when Don awakened was 47, and throughout the day, it only warmed a little.  We loved it!

Our first trip was to Sun Notch, which included a short hike to the top of the hill.  The view to the lake included Phantom Ship, a vertical lava vent left from the explosion.  Trees now grow on it, giving an interesting view of the island.  This hike allowed for several different views of the island and the lake.  Tomorrow morning we are told it is to be crystal clear, so we plan to come to Sun Notch for an early morning picture.

Usually cars can go the circumference of the crater, but as of yesterday, the road was closed at Sun Notch to allow crews to rappel up rock cliffs and throw down rocks that could slide.  Sounds dangerous to us.  Therefore we backtracked, stopped at Vidae Falls, hiked a short hike to the wildflower meadow, and then went to the rim.

We took advantage of several of the exhibits, had lunch at the Lodge, and drove a ways the other direction around the rim.  Unfortunately. We were nearly out of gas, so we had to turn around.  As Don said, " I have enough pictures of a gray lake."

We are hoping tomorrow will yield better weather so we can get some awesome pictures.

Jedediah Smith River

In order to get to Crater Lake from the Redwood National Park, we had to drive up the Jedediah Smith River and through the Jedediah Smith State Park.

Who was Jedediah Smith?  He was a well-known mountain man who was killed by the Cherokee when he was 31.  His heroic battle against the Cherokee was lost in Ulysses, Kansas, and to read about him leads one to believe he was brave and adventurous.

The redwood forest in an ancient forest filled with huge, tall redwoods.  It reminded us a little of the Cal Barrel road except for the two-lane paved road that runs through it.  After leaving the redwoods, the forested area and the stream reminded us, in places, of our Pecos River Valley.  Next time we come this way, we plan to spend more time in this particular forest.

Don thought this was interesting in that the sky looks like a tornado!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Roosevelt Elk

Almost driven to extinction, the Roosevelt Elk are now about 1000 strong, and if a person is lucky, she just might see some along the scenic highway in Redwoods National Park.

Our first sighting was in the Dolason Prairie up Bald Hills Road.  We saw one elk cruising through the meadow, but by the time we could get the binoculars on it, it was in the trees.

At Elk Prairie near the Prairie Creek Visitors Center in the Prairie Creek State Park stand some signs that indicate we might see them in a meadow.  We stopped because there were a few cars, and at first, the elk escaped me.  Lying down in the grass, however, was a large bull and many cows, replete with calves.  We probably saw fifteen babies and their moms.  Eventually, the bull stood up to show off his very large rack of antlers.  We watched them for twenty minutes or so, thrilled to watch such stately creatures!  (Better pictures forthcoming.)

The Cal Barrel Road

Don had envisioned finding a road that traversed through redwood forests, shrouded in shadows with dapples of sunlight.  Our last side trip of the day was indeed that road.   We were totally alone with the trees, the sunlight, and the flowers.

Monday, August 18, 2014

A Family of Redwoods

Redwoods are beautiful and fascinating trees.  Sometimes the tops fall out of them, but they sprout a new leader and keep on growing.  Sometimes they grow close together and somehow, they join forces at the base to assist in nutrient and water collection.  By doing so, they create trunks that are behemoth in size.  We began to call them Families of Redwoods.

This particular group consists of five different trees, all connected at the bottom.  Fascinatingly beautiful!

I Think That I Should Never See

A Spruce as tall as a Redwood tree.

I had forgotten how majestic and huge the redwood trees are.  Words cannot describe, so I will let pictures tell the story.