Goblins and Horses

We don’t usually make reservations in advance, but after stopping on a whim at Goblin Valley State Park on Halloween a year ago, we suspected that if we ever wanted to stay at this small and quirky campground, we’d better plan ahead and book some dates (October 25 – 27, 2016). A year ago, there […]

Cedar Mesa

After departing the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park on Monday, October 17, we restocked and cleaned up in Blanding. The Edge of Cedars State Park Museum is located there, which has an extraordinary collection of ancestral puebloan pottery and artifacts as well as a restored mesa-top ruin with a kiva that’s accessible to visitors. […]

Canyonlands: Needles District

The next stop on our six week Fall escapade was the Needles District, one of four distinct areas within the Canyonlands National Park, in Utah’s southeast corner and the furthest from Moab. It’s known by its iconic, white-topped red spires of Cedar Mesa Sandstone. When we visited Needles a year ago, we hiked all of […]

Moab Adventures

After spending almost a week Canyonlands, it was time to restock, clean up and fill up our water jugs in Moab. We returned to Ken’s Lake Campground south of town. David also needed to get some work done so we spent Monday, October 10 in Moab’s wonderful library. On Tuesday, we were ready for a […]

Canyonlands: Island in the Sky

Overlooking the infamous White Rim

It took us three long days to drive from Glacier National Park just shy of the Canadian border in Montana, to southeastern Utah. We spent a night along the west side of Flathead Lake south of  Kalispell, then just outside Missoula, and finally in Idaho Falls before the final push to our favorite Utah headquarters, […]

Glacier National Park

We’d been talking about going to Glacier National Park in Montana and watching the weather closely before committing. When we departed Coeur d’Alene on September 24, and the weather report continued to improve, the four-hour drive to West Glacier made sense. After biking the Hiawatha Trail on Saturday afternoon, we boondocked that night along a […]

Grinnell Glacier

The 5.5 mile (one way) hike up to Grinnell Glacier is one of the most popular in the Glacier National Park. Indeed, the parking lot at the Swiftcurrent trailhead was just about full when we arrived at 10:30 am. Just cars though, no humans. Earlier that morning, I’d been reading online reports about grizzly bear […]

Hiawatha Trail

The original plan for our Fall camping trip was to drive all the way to New Hampshire, arriving in time for the birth of our first grandchild. When the parents-to-be gently requested that we arrive AFTER rather than before the baby, we found ourselves without a firm destination and six weeks to kill. After a […]

Elk Cove

We made time to do one more high altitude hike on Mount Hood before departing for a six week camping trip that will swing through Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado and Utah. Compared to last week’s Mazama trail, the Elk Cove trail is slightly less challenging but longer trek  It departs from the Vista Ridge Trailhead […]

Mazama Trail

It’s been a while since we hiked in our own backyard, which in our case is Mount Hood. One of our favorite trails was up to Cairn Basin on the northeast flank so we thought we’d approach it from a different trailhead, a little further up Lolo Pass, instead of from Top Spur. We arrived […]

Oregon Coast

With temperatures forecast to be over 100 degrees in Portland, we decided to escape to the Oregon coast for a week. We had no specific destination in mind, other than to camp at Cape Lookout State Park for the first night. Having gotten a later start then planned, we weren’t completely surprised that all 205 […]

Transit Enhancements

We’ve just passed our one-year anniversary of owning the Ford Transit Van. We’ve driven more than 19,300 miles, and slept over 170 nights in it while exploring our home state of Oregon, plus California, Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, Washington, Idaho, British Columbia and Alberta. Our build-out has been slow and incremental over the past twelve […]

Oh Canada!

July 20: Departed Sandy first thing in the morning, and stopped to stretch our legs at White River Falls, Tygh Valley, Oregon which is an hour and a half from our house. From there, we turned north, setting our sites on Palouse Falls, Washington for the night. July 20-21: Overnight stop and hike at Palouse […]

Hells Canyon and the Wallowas

After taking a horse-packing trip through eastern Oregon’s Wallowa Mountains in late July of 2007, I knew we’d return someday and try to cover the same territory on foot. So that’s what we set out to do in June. We’re also frequent users and contributors to an online camping resource called Campendium, and very few […]

Peaks, Coulees and Dams

What has been so enjoyable about our road trips is that we rarely have a destination or duration in mind when we set out. Equipped with a Delorme Road Atlas, our iPhones and a responsive touch on the steering wheel and brakes have allowed us to discover some pretty great locations. April 30: We were […]

Caves, Cracks and Holes

We drove south on April 23, intending to check out the community of Sunriver which is about 15 minutes south of Bend, Oregon. This was our “shake down trip” since the purchase of a 12 volt ARB refrigerator— we needed to find out what the drain would be on our batteries. While we didn’t much […]

Camping in the Southwest

We thought we’d share some of our favorite camping locations from our Southwest trip in February/March 2016. We didn’t get reservations for any of these places ahead of time. The trick is to show up early enough in the day (before noon is best). And, having a manageable length vehicle (22 foot Ford Transit van) […]

Hovenweep National Monument

We took a different route north to Moab on this trip, and decided to take a detour to Hovenweep National Monument which straddles the Utah and Colorado state line. Since the Visitor Center and campground is about 30 miles east of the main road, few people take the time to explore this area. Once home […]

Chiricahua National Monument

We’d been waiting for a month for road construction at the Chiricahua National Monument to be completed before visiting. With time running out, we took a chance that a spot would be open at Bonita Canyon, the monument’s campground. Arriving at 8:30 am Monday morning did the trick, and we scored the only open spot […]

Dog Canyon

We camped for a few days at Oliver Lee Memorial State Park near Alamogordo, NM. It’s a beautiful campground at the base of Dog Canyon in the Lincoln National Forest. The trail head departs directly behind the Visitor’s Center and climbs steeply to a series of plateaus, one of which grew a happy grove of […]

White Sands National Monument

I’ve wanted to go to White Sands National Monument for well over thirty years now, and we finally made it! It’s hard to describe. At first it looks really disappointing. There’s little fanfare as you approach it, and if you’re not looking for the turn, can easily slip right past the entrance. From a distance, […]

Fort Bowie National Historic Site

While camping for two nights at a great BLM site called Indian Bread Rocks, we visited the Fort Bowie National Historic Site in southeastern Arizona. The fort is unusual in that visitors must hike a couple of miles in from the parking area. Walking through the valley approaching the fort threads you past an old […]

Update: Ford Transit Camper Van

Be sure to check out the most recent update of our van conversion: Transit Enhancements We promised a full report from our original post about the 2015 Ford Transit cargo van conversion upon returning from our five-week, 3000 mile trip to the southwest this fall. We didn’t make it as far as we intended (Tucson, […]

Zion National Park

We spent an expeditious Tuesday night at a very generic RV park in Page, Arizona. Our primary mission was a hot shower, and after five days there was no putting it off any longer. Trust me. Having accomplished that, we ate a decent pizza and salad at the Canyon King Pizzeria. The next morning we […]

Dugway and Goosenecks

After leaving Natural Bridges National Monument, we’d planned to camp overnight at Goosenecks State Park. But with 35 mile an hour winds making it challenging to stand upright, we didn’t stay long. Just after the Goosenecks, we found ourselves hurtling down the graded dirt switchbacks of the Moki Dugway, considered one of the world’s most […]

Natural Bridges National Monument

We arrived at Natural Bridges National Monument by mid-afternoon on Sunday and checked in at the Visitor’s Center to flash our colorful America The Beautiful Pass at the peculiar rangers on duty. (We’ve noticed that each set of rangers is unique to each national park, and Natural Bridges did not disappoint). We were interested in […]

Canyon Rims

On Sunday, we finally managed to extract ourselves from Moab’s magnetic pull so we could continue to explore southern Utah before returning to Oregon in time to take care of little Margot on November 12. We drove south again on UT191 then turned off into another of the three Canyonland National Park zones. With the […]

Fiery Furnace

We signed up for the last ranger-led hike of the season in Fiery Furnace, one of the permit-only areas inside Arches National Park. This complex sandstone labyrinth is unmarked and can be difficult to navigate both logistically (GPS signals do not work in there) and physically. Many National Park rangers are furloughed for the winter […]

Devil’s Garden

Devil’s Garden Trail is the longest of the maintained trails in the Arches National Park. It leads to seven impressive arches, with several more visible from the trail. We chose a day with perfect hiking weather— 55 degrees at the start, warming up to 65 by the time we were finished. The initial mile to […]

Moab Rim

We packed up early Sunday morning intending to check out some other potential camping and hiking destinations on the west and southeast sides of Moab. But first, we stopped for another cuppa Joe and a pastry at the Eclectic Cafe. Sufficiently fueled for the morning, we drove up Sand Flats Road which switchbacked up to […]

Jeep Arch

We spent a second night at Granstaff Campground, only three miles from Moab along Utah 128. In the morning we were delayed a bit while we watched fellow campers take off, fly around, and land their powered parachutes from the parking lot a few hundred feet away. They swirled and curled high above the Colorado […]

Negro Bill Canyon

After an all-to-brief exploration of Arches National Park on Thursday (see previous post), we spent our third and likely final night up at Fisher Towers Campground, savoring our amazing spot. A deluge had just come through the canyon prior to our 7:30 pm arrival in the pitch dark. David drove gingerly through the water and […]

Arches National Park

We spent three days in Arches National Park. This post is about our first visit, a very brief three hours late in the afternoon, with a storm approaching fast from the east. Read more about our forays into Arches in our Devil’s Garden post the following Tuesday, and then Fiery Furnace on Friday, October 30. […]

Fisher Towers

Monday was spent as a “going to town day”. We took $4 showers at the beautiful new Moab Aquatic & Recreation Center, then spent a few hours at one of the nicest libraries we’ve ever been in. It was also new and very much set up for out of town visitors who may be in […]

Dead Horse Point

It rained a lot last night while we were camped in the Green River State Park, which introduced some welcome humidity into the air. We departed around 10 for Dead Horse Point State Park about 50 miles away to the southeast. It’s on another glorious road, this time FR313 deep into the top of a […]

Goblin Valley

Friday started off well enough. After departing Bryce and stocking up in Tropic, we drove a few hours north and boondocked just off the 9111 ft summit of Boulder Mountain at milepost 110 (elevation 85o0 ft). We were concerned about the weather report and didn’t want to get stuck in the snow if the temperature […]

Bryce Canyon

When our Tucson friends Lisa and Dan said they were planning a camping trip to Bryce Canyon in October, we invited ourselves along. I’d been to Bryce for two brief hours exactly 14 years ago when my siblings took our dad to Zion National Park to commemorate his seventieth birthday. This time, we had six […]

Flaming Rock

The City of Rocks has over 22 miles of trails. We put our own together by combining several, winding up with a more than seven mile “figure eight” loop. We departed at the Flaming Rock trailhead near our campsite (#22) and ended at the Box Top trailhead. The Bumble Trail was our first leg which […]

Ready. Set. Go!

With a retirement date of October and our departure-from-Oregon on October 5, the last two weeks of September were consumed with putting in my last two weeks of work at school, retirement paperwork, and weeding through decades of files, both paper and digital. I kicked off the new academic year as usual and participated in […]

Transit Camper Van

The information in this post has been updated and published as “Update: Ford Transit Camper Van” BACK STORY: Because of the greyhounds, in 2014 we transitioned from backpacking/tent camping to car camping with a pop-up tent trailer at state parks. We enjoyed the Livin Lite Quicksilver 8.1 trailer— it was sleek,  lightweight and had everything […]

Sand Lake

On the return trip from Idaho, we took Hwy 12 west of Yakima to check out some new territory. After 4 hours of driving, we passed Rimrock Lake and started to look for a likely boondocking spot. We pulled into tiny White Pass Campground at about 6 p.m., just opposite the White Pass Ski Area. […]

Umtanum Creek Canyon

On our way to northern Idaho, we stopped overnight at Big Pines Campground along the Yakima River Scenic Byway (Hwy 821 between Yakima and Ellensburg). Late in the afternoon, we scored what appeared to be a nice spot along the river bank: Unfortunately the old-school diesel motor home in the next spot decided to run […]

Billy Chinook Overlook

After the Black Butte hike, we arrived at the intersection of NFS 1110 and 1120, (the road up to Black Butte trailhead) intending to drive back through Sisters. We spotted a sign “Lake Billy Chinook- 20 miles” on FR11 and confirmed the route on a paper map, we turned the van toward home, going “the […]

Black Butte

We packed up relatively early (for us) on Saturday morning with our goal of the summit of Black Butte clearly laid out before us, but still cloud-covered after the night’s rain. That’s it on the left of the panorama below. There were only two other cars parked at the trailhead which was just a few […]

West Metolius River

After yesterday’s challenging trek through the lava flow at McKenzie Pass, we thought a low-elevation stroll along the West Metolius River to the Wizard Falls Fish Hatchery and back was in order. We headed north along the river’s west bank to the Wizard Falls Fish Hatchery from the trailhead at the Canyon Creek Campground. After […]

Little Belknap Crater

We got a late start for a “pre-Labor Day” excursion because of a delayed roof replacement project at home. After looking at the weather for next few days, we decided on central Oregon as our destination, and focused on the Sisters area. That’s as far as our planning went. We had a full cooler of […]

Tumalo Falls Loop

This eight mile, scenic loop trail starts at Tumalo Falls, 14 miles southwest of Bend. The parking area was small and full when we arrived, but we found a spot along the road. From the number of cars coming and going, we got the impression that most of the people were there for the viewpoint […]

Owl Point

Since both the school year and the rainy season started three weeks ago, our weekly hikes have been on hiatus. September set records for rainfall throughout much of Oregon. When the clouds cleared over Mount Hood in early October, we were surprised to see it completely blanketed in white. Saturday dawned bright and clear so […]

Middle Fork

This is a challenging post to write… where to start or how much detail? We’re still having river dreams a week after returning home. We both agree that this was the best vacation we’ve ever taken. We’d go back in a heartbeat … like tomorrow! After watching some Salmon River episodes on “Outdoor Idaho” via […]

Umbrella Falls Loop

After camping overnight at Elk Meadows, we got an early start on the day and returned to the Hood River Meadows Trailhead where we ditched our packs. We thought we’d travel light to checkout the Umbrella Falls after not quite making it that far last week when we hiked from Timberline Lodge over to Mt. Hood […]

Elk Meadows

We thought we’d try an overnight on the mountain by starting at the Hood River Meadows Trailhead. Before departing, we each weighed our packs and came out pretty even at 27 pounds. In addition to our clothes, sleeping pad and bag and three liters of water, David hauled the tent and I carried the cook […]

Timberline to Meadows

In typical fashion, we got a late noon start from Timberline Lodge. This time, our goal was to head east on the Timberline Trail #600 from the lodge and get over to Mt. Hood Meadows Ski Area where Umbrella Falls is located. To do so, we’d have to drop about 1300 feet down to the […]

Trekking Poles

When we first started to hike in earnest, the thought of using trekking poles seemed dorky and best left to the elderly. We just didn’t encounter many people using them, either. A year later, we’re solid converts. Almost all the hikers we pass this summer seem to be using them now. Here’s what we discovered: […]

Summer Cycling

We first took up road cycling four summers ago. I (Chris) signed up to participate in the 2010 Tour de Cure fundraising event that benefits the American Diabetes Association. By committing to this early August event, I figured I’d have the whole summer to get in shape once school ended in June. Our daughter Hannah […]

Timberline to Zigzag

We vowed to get an early start for Sunday morning’s hike from Timberline Lodge. Which means 10-ish. Expecting the parking lot at Timberline Lodge to be sparsely populated at that hour, we were surprised to see it nearly as full as during a prime winter skiing day. Apparently for many, July 14 is also a […]

Oregon Scenic Byways

On the way back home from Sun Valley, Idaho, we decided to take a different route once we got to Oregon border. We left the interstate (I-84) at Baker City, had lunch and then took Hwy 7 towards Sumpter, which also turns out to be the southern half of the Elkhorn Scenic Byway. This is […]

Craters of the Moon

While we were in Sun Valley visiting relatives, our nephew Tyler left to visit a friend near Jackson Hole, taking Hwy 20 heading east. Shortly after, he called to highly recommend that we take a road trip to see Craters of the Moon National Monument, only about 70 miles from Sun Valley. We didn’t have […]

Sun Valley

We drove east, following the Columbia River to join family for a memorial service in Sun Valley, Idaho. It’s a long but scenic drive (over 10 hours) and by the time we crossed into Idaho in the afternoon it was well over 100 degrees. David grew up in Idaho but had only been to Sun […]

Eastern Oregon

It was a rare occasion for us to have both of our daughters and their significant others in town. Since the forecast indicated solid rain for the Portland area, we decided to head east where we’d have a better chance of finding some dry weather. Neither John nor Kevin had been to Eastern Oregon, or […]

Pup Creek Falls Redux

We finally found Pup Creek Falls, after two unsuccessful attempts earlier this year. Once, we ran out of time when approaching from the west via the Fish Creek trail head. On the next attempt, we started from the east at Indian Henry trail head, but the water was too high to make the final 1/3 […]

Wilson Ranches

The forecast for the Memorial Day weekend was nothing but rain so we headed to central Oregon for a spur-of-the-moment excuse for a meeting with David’s client, Kara Wilson Anglin of Wilson Ranches Retreat in Fossil. The bed and breakfast was full up, so she graciously offered us the use of an unfurnished house on […]

Wearing Wool

Wool, actually merino wool is pretty amazing stuff. Its fibers are very tightly crimped and treasured for their ability to retain their shape, wick moisture away from the skin, and be itch-free. Merino wool has natural odor resistant properties and can be worn for a considerable amount of time before it needs washing. This is […]

Sandy River Park

Cougars and skunks and smelt oh my! Well not really, but Wednesday’s weather looked like the usual Spring Break mixed bag— partly cloudy, imminent rain showers, possible sun breaks. With that in mind, we thought a quick stretch-of-the-legs was in order to break up another day at the computer prepping for spring term classes. The […]

Post Mortem

We learned a lot about ourselves on this trip to Costa Rica. 1. Not knowing the language can be a big problem. Having a convincing Spanish accent does not mean you understand or can be understood. Nailing the nouns is one thing. It’s far more important to be able to use and understand the correct […]

Casa Costa Rica

I thought we’d enjoy staying “off the beaten path” when we traveled to Costa Rica in March. Last summer, I cruised the internet until I found a something that caught my eye — a group of four hand-crafted bamboo houses on the Osa Peninsula built by an American couple from Austin, Texas. We had our […]

Wild Things

Our favorite things about Costa Rica were the creatures we encountered both inside and outside our bamboo house. Our first discovery was the foot-long gekko in the shower. Then the critters both inside and outside the bug tent. Thankfully, there were no mosquitoes or biting insects at all. Here are a few highlights that we […]

Corcovado National Park

Alarms on both iPhones woke us up at 4:15 am. We downed a quick breakfast of granola and a cup of coffee while gathering supplies for the day hike. Thinking ahead, David filled the Platypus with 2 liters of water and popped it in the fridge overnight. It would still sweat, but everything is vaguely […]

Toketee Falls

On the way back from two nights at the Pickett Butte Lookout, we took the scenic route home via the Rogue-Umpqua Scenic Byway. One of the features along this three hour road detour was the dramatic Toketee Falls which is invisible from the highway. It flows out of a graceful columnar basalt formation that frames […]

Pup Creek Falls

We began our hike at the Fish Creek Trailhead to get on the Clackamas River Trail which would take us to Pup Creek Falls. The trail roughly follows the south shore of the river for miles and miles. It’s a beautiful 7 mile out-and-back hike, with many opportunities for a swim in the warmer months. […]

Smith Rock

Central Oregon offers landscapes that contrast greatly to what we’re used to in the Portland area. Smith Rock reminds me of Arizona in so many ways— from the smell of the stunted Junipers to the wind-carved sandstone pillars. While it’s known around the world as a destination for rock climbers, it also has some challenging […]

Badger Lake

I’ll start out this post by stating up front that we’ll never return to Badger Lake or its campground. While it’s less than 60 miles from our house, it’s almost impossible to get there from here. What should have been a hour’s drive turned into almost four by the time we had hurled our new […]

Eagle Creek to Tunnel Falls

This Columbia River Gorge hike is extremely popular, so it’s best to get an early start to beat the weekend crowds or choose a weekday. Either way, it’s a worthwhile, relatively easy hike with tremendous scenic payoffs throughout the journey. Many PCT through-hikers take this route north from Mount Hood to reach Cascade Locks and […]

Gold Butte Lookout

Our second trip to an Oregon fire lookout, took us to Gold Butte at 4618 feet elevation in the Willamette National Forest near Detroit, Oregon. To get there, we drove several hours, taking the beautiful “back way” through Estacada and Breitenbush. The lookout is a steep hike about 3/4 of a mile from where you […]

Timber Butte Lookout

Timber Butte Lookout is about 20 miles from Lowell, Oregon and sits at 3650 feet elevation. This Willamette National Forest lookout features a picturesque little cabin that is at ground level. We were able to drive to within several hundred feet below the lookout and park at near the vault toilet. The warm days promoted […]

Banks to Vernonia

I’d been trying to get David on this bike trail ever since it opened up a year or two ago. It’s a 21 mile long rail-to-trail that has been constructed over old train tracks which includes two dramatic 700 foot long, 80 feet high trestles. We started at the Manning trailhead, shaving 6 miles off […]

Clackamas River

We started a few miles southeast of Estacada in the parking lot at the PGE Powerstation off of Faraday Road. A 5 mile paved pedestrian/bike trail starts there and follows the North Fork Reservoir of the Clackamas River to Promontory Park where it joins Hwy 226 again. It’s a gradual incline for dozens of miles, […]