Zion National Park

View of Zion Valley from the Pa’rus Trail

March 26-30

This post is a little delayed because we have been out camping with very limited wifi and cell phone reception. But the second leg of the journey begins with a lot of gratitude.  This post follows a difficult week emotionally after having heard about the mass shooting in Boulder.  Both Ross and I were devastated to hear about it, and it certainly affected my mood.  As we entered Zion National Park I felt so grateful to be alive and well.  We are so fortunate to be able to travel they way we are, and to see the sites that we are seeing.  My heart broke thinking that some of those who lost their lives will not be able to live this life or see these sights.

We drove into Springdale (the small touristy town) on the edge of Zion in a small rainstorm.  The rock formations were partially covered in clouds.  It provided a sense of drama. 

After setting up the camper and having some lunch, the clouds lifted and the sun came out.  Our campsite location is in a fantastic spot 1 mile for the park entry and surrounded by the magical rock formations.  The downside is that it is packed with RV’s. 

We walked over to the park and hiked the one trail in which they allow dogs, so Buddy got to join us.  The walk follows the Virgin River for 1.5 miles up the canyon.  The views were spectacular and the color of the river extremely unusual.  However we were both a bit discouraged because it is packed here.  I looked online and Zion National Park is the 3rd most visited National Park, and you can tell.

The following day we decided to bike up the canyon (they do not allow cars and have shuttle buses that you need to make a reservation).  It is the perfect way to see the main valley and we loved the views we had.  Part way up the canyon I noticed the my left bike pedal crank had a crack in it and my bike was wobbling as I pedaled. We pulled over at the next pull out which was the Court of the Patriarchs and locked up our bikes and went for a hike.  It was one of those blessing in disguise.  After being in the crowds, we ended up on a gorgeous trail with almost no one on it.  The trail ended up taking us to Zion Lodge where we had a coffee while staring at the view.  Fortunately we returned  to the bikes and it was almost all downhill so I could pedal with just my right leg and get back to town where I found a bike shop to repair my bike.

During the afternoon we decided to take a drive off the beaten path up the Kolob Terrace Road.  We wound our way up to some beautiful views and no crowds.  The sun was setting on the rock formations which provided some great lighting and strong shadows.  I was hoping to paint, but there wasn’t enough time.

Our words of wisdom for anyone coming to Zion is to bike up the canyon for the scenic views. You can rent bikes and e-bikes in town.  The crowds of people here are unreal, and because of that, we weren’t able to get tickets for the shuttles and the lines to get on the shuttles were immense. Now that I had a functioning bike, we rode the 8 mile ride up the canyon.  It was a great bicycle ride, not too difficult, and the views were breathtaking.  We were able to stop and take advantage of all the viewing spots and really enjoy the scenery. We were very fortunate to have fantastic weather. 

This photo gives you a good sense of the scale of these rocks. The arrow is pointing to a shuttle bus.

The canyon narrows as you get farther into it until the road ends and all that is left is “the narrows” where the river has carved out space between the shear cliffs. 

After hiking into the narrows and then biking home we watched the sunset on the mountains outside our door and I painted the scene.  It was nice to have a cool beer while painting and show a few of the kids from the next door RV a bit of live painting. 

The rock formations in view from the Airstream glowed as the sunset and I tried to achieve that feel in this painting.  I wasn’t 100% satisfied with the outcome and lay in bed that night thinking of ways that I could have made it better.  So I painted it again the following evening with a few changes.  First, I decided that a more horizontal canvas might work better for this scene.  I also painted a warm color (burnt sienna) over the canvas and let it dry so that the warmth would come through instead of starting with a white background.  Additionally, I mixed the colors in the palette for most of the larger masses prior to starting the painting so that I could evaluate their relationships before going to far in the painting process.  Which painting do you prefer?

Sunset in Zion 1
Sunset in Zion 2

For the last day our original intention was to hike to Angel’s Landing which is a strenuous hike I had done years ago and is one of the pinnacle hikes for Zion.  Unfortunately we were not able to get a ticket for the shuttle so that ended that plan.  For plan B we decided to drive over to the Kolob area of the National Park which is about 45 minutes from the main park.  This section is known for it’s red canyons but both of us felt that this side trip is probably not worth it unless you happen to passing by this entrance.  The overlook at the end of the 5 mile road was beautiful, but after having been in the main park it did not add a lot to the experience. 

A short video of Kolob Canyon

In the afternoon I decided to ride my bike back up the canyon to the Lodge so that I could hike to the Upper Emerald Pools.  It was a glorious warm afternoon for the ride.  This hike is a fairly popular hike so that trail was fairly packed but it was interesting to see the pools of water that shed out of the sheer rock formations and then form waterfalls to various levels.

We left Zion early in the morning and drove through the east exit up through the Carmel Valley Tunnel. The tunnel is 1 mile long and was built in 1930 and is one of the darkest tunnels I have driven through with small light openings periodically with fantastic views (but you can’t stop to really enjoy them).  The drive up to the tunnel was great as well as exiting out the east side of the park with extremely different topography.  The rock formations on this side were smoother, more like the side of seashell. 

Next stop is Bryce!

Skiing Adventures

February 28 to March 25, 2021

View from the top of Copper Mountain

We have been on the road for almost a month now, and this trip is being divided into 2 sections, with the first month for skiing, and the second month for going to the National and State Parks of Utah.

We spent the first two nights in nearby Lyons so that we could meet the renters of our house and get them situated.  After that we headed up to Summit County, Colorado and stayed in the only RV winter camping spot at Tiger Run in Breckenridge.  The campground was very nice and had some cute tiny homes with good access to the Colorado Trail to hike with Buddy, and close enough to the ski resorts.  We spent 3 days skiing at Copper Mountain (our old stomping grounds and the location where Ross and I originally met). It was great to be back there and ski with a few friends. We then continued West and stopped for an afternoon of skiing at Aspen.  We were fortunate to have some great snow and warm temps.  Continuing farther West, we spent the night in Silt, CO so that I could drop of some art products of at Sopris Alpaca Farms.

While driving on some of our longer sections we were listening to some podcasts and started discussing how to make The Streaming Artist Blog a better website for art followers.  So I am going to try and give more art tips and insights to painting.  If you have any suggestions or thoughts that you would like me to address, please let me know.

Since the first few weeks of our trip involved a lot of skiing and snow, I thought it might be a good time to discuss painting winter scenes.  There are obvious challenges to painting in the winter like being cold.  Standing still for a few hours definitely means cold hands and feet.  So I generally wear my heavy snow boots and warm socks as well as have some mittens with cut off fingers so that I can wipe paint etc.  The cold temperatures also means that the paint tends to dry slower so depending on the affect that I am trying to achieve, it could influence my painting.

One of the important things that I am always trying to work on and instill in my students is to really look at the lighting of the scenes while out in nature.  Lighting in reality is very different than in a photo.  Try taking a photo outside, and then look at it side by side with the actual scene. You will see that the colors are almost always off, and the shadows show up as completely black.  So when I am looking at a snowy scene, I like to look at the snow and see what colors I see.  Our brain is trained to think snow is white and shadows are grey/black, but if you look closely you will see blues, violets and colors from surrounding objects reflecting in the snow. 

I was hoping to paint a few snow scenes so that I could show you some examples but that never happened so you will just need to trust me on that and try some of my suggestions.

On our way to Salt Lake City we stopped at Huntington State Park and had it all to ourselves. We awoke to a beautiful morning, and the reflections in the thawing lake at Huntington enticed me to paint.  I set up my easel and the weather started off so warm that I was painting in short sleeves.  Within 30 minutes the winds kicked up, and the reflections in the lake were gone!  My whole reason for painting vanished.  Within the hour the winds were so strong that I was freezing, holding my easel with one hand while painting with the other hand.  Just another reminder of why plein air painting is so difficult.  I ultimately decided to pack everything up and head inside to get warm.  I’ll have to finish that painting inside at a later date……

The next week or so we spent basing ourselves in Salt Lake City so that we could ski Alta, Brighton and Solitude Mountains. We were fortunate to have a few fresh snow days which made the drive up the canyons so beautiful.

We then moved up to Park City to ski at Deer Valley.  We enjoyed the skiing but to be honest with you we don’t love the layout of the mountain since the ski lifts seem to congregate in a few locations and it makes for a scary mess to get into the right line. Buddy and I did have a few great hikes one of which was on the mountain behind our RV spot. The views were great overlooking the valley until Buddy came running up to me with a deer leg in his mouth. I suppose we were in the Deer Valley Area…..but then I realized it also probably meant there was a mountain lion nearby so we hoofed it out of there (no pun intended).

Our final ski destination was Powder Mountain so we based ourselves out of Ogden UT.  It is fun to see all these different locations while skiing various mountains. We were fortunate to get in some great skiing while also having warmer weather in the valley below. On a few of our ski days off, we also did some hiking, and played some golf. The backdrop of the mountains made for some breath taking views.  

Unfortunately, after a few great hours of skiing some fresh powder at Powder Mountain I had a stupid fall and landed on my right shoulder.   Fortunately, it appears it is only a sprain and hopefully I will be able to paint soon.

Happy with some great Powder and blue skies!

Very little painting was done on this portion of the trip with the exception of the start of a new dog portrait.  It is amazing how quickly days fly by when you walk a dog, ski and then come back to cook, clean up and do a few work items.

Hopefully, our next month in spring weather surrounded by beauty will lead to some more artistic pieces.

Heading Home via Sedona

As we start our journey back home we were watching the weather closely to figure out what days would be best to drive into Colorado without snow. Based on what we could see, there were some warmer days coming, so we decided to spend a few days at Dead Horse Ranch State Park outside of Sedona.  It is ironic because about a year ago we were in Dead Horse State Park in Utah.  What is it with this name?  It was a great stop over with a nice campground.  Our first afternoon after we got set up, had a very cold rain blow in.  It made for a perfect afternoon of blogging and catching up on emails. 

The following morning, we awoke to a beautiful sunrise and a dusting of snow on the hills around us.  We decided since it was cold out that it would be good to drive up to the town of Jerome.  We had no expectations except that we knew it was historical.  What a fascinating place it was.  It was an Italian hillside town, meets Ward, CO (a small town near Boulder with old buildings and abandoned cars) with a touch of charm, history and funk. 

For me, as an architect and an artist, I was fascinated with the buildings that had charm but looked like they were barely standing.  There were building facades left standing with no building attached, there were foundations and remnants of buildings from the past now on empty lots, as well as some newly restored buildings.  Fortunately for us, we were there early before the crowds of tourists arrived, and were able to walk the narrow hilly streets before it turned into tacky tourist land. 

Jerome originally was a mining town for copper and gold and there was lots of mining memorabilia around town as well as historical markers on buildings.  I had a field day taking photos and am thinking that I might need to do a watercolor painting series of the rusted out and run-down buildings and cars.  For me, watercolors are the perfect medium for that type of subject matter.  We were fortunate that the sun was shining while we were there, and had fantastic views of the Verde Valley below with the light shining on the red rock formations of Sedona.

We descended from Jerome and stopped at another surprise National Monument. Tuzigoot National Monument is an old restored Pueblo.  It was a quick stop and interesting but after seeing places like Mesa Verde National Park this felt a little bit unimpressive. 

Our drive back to the campground took us through the old section of Cottonwood which was very charming. We stopped and walked the main street and enjoyed a few of the shops.  It appears that this is also a substantial wine region with several tasting rooms.  Both of us are perplexed by that since we haven’t seen a grapevine growing anywhere nearby. Unfortunately the tasting rooms are mostly closed due to Covid, so we will have to find out more about that later.

We moved into Sedona and stayed on our new friends property on the edge of Sedona.  It was a peaceful setting and a great place to spend a few days.

The afternoon that we arrived, I headed out to paint with Susan and Jeff (my new plein air friends) to paint Cathedral Rock.  It was a fantastic afternoon with great sunlight and the scenery in Sedona does not disappoint.  

Our second day in Sedona was very cool and cloudy so we decided not to paint.  We started our morning with a hike behind our friends property with some nice views, and even Buddy thought it was fantastic when he found a rubber chicken!

Ross and I then headed out in pursuit of the wine region.  We finally came across some vineyards and decided to stop at an open winery for a tasting. It was a lovely spot, and we were fortunate that the sun came out for awhile.  We enjoyed the wine and some snacks for lunch and were pleasantly surprised, but not excited enough to buy any wine.

From there we headed into Sedona where we were overwhelmed with the amount of tourists in town.  We couldn’t get parking anywhere and the town was packed.  So we headed back to our temporary home where I touched up my painting from the day before and Ross played guitar.  We then spent the evening having a lovely quiet dinner with our new friends. 

New Years Day was a glorious sunny day so we headed out to Crescent Moon Park for a big day of painting where we worked on two paintings.  I’ve been finding it overwhelming and difficult to paint these rock formations.  They are extremely intricate and I find my self getting lost in the details.  I am beginning to realize that it would be better for me to get the massed shapes in and then work my way into the detail by adding shades and shadows.  By the end of the day I was exhausted but love the learning and painting growth.

The next morning, we got up early since we had a long day of driving ahead of us. We were greeted with a beautiful sunrise in our window and then as we were driving out of Sedona the hot air balloons were rising.  A beautiful way to end our trip. 

The next two days were long drives that ultimately landed us back in Boulder.  It gave us a lot of time to reflect on the trip and talk about our favorite moments, locations etc.  We ended up being gone for 83 nights, driving 7250 miles and creating lots of new paintings.  Our biggest trip yet, and a fantastic way to travel during Covid and see parts of the United States.

Until our next adventure here is the last sunset of that trip and a photo of Buddy wondering when we are going to be home.

Happy New Year to you all! Live your life to the fullest and enjoy each day as it comes.

Arizona

Our first morning in Arizona we spent playing golf at Sundance Golf course (another fabulous Harvest Host location) in Buckeye (near Phoenix).  It was another difficult golf course and it happened to be a cold morning so it was a little bit tough.

We then drove to Tucson and to set up camp at Catalina State Park which is absolutely gorgeous.  We arrived as the sun was setting and the light on the mountains was spectacular. 

We planned to be there for 5 nights so I was already anticipating getting some painting in, when a woman approached (after seeing the Streaming Artist decal) and told me that she also did plein air painting.  We made plans to paint the following morning. I awoke to a beautiful sunrise which unfortunately turned into a cloud cover grey sky with flat light.  We went out to paint anyway and started off blocking in the painting and then finally the sun came out. The timing was perfect for painting for finishing the painting. 

After a few hours of early morning painting I picked up Ross and Buddy and we went for a hike into the hills to some beautiful vista points.

The following morning was chilly so I decided not to paint, and instead we decided to drive to Mt Lemmon Ski Resort.  The drive (once we got through all the suburbs of Tucson) was spectacular.  We climbed from 3000 ft to 8000 ft in about 20 miles.  What was amazing is that we passed through 6 different vegetation zones.  We started off in the Sonoran dessert with lots of cactus, next was the semi-desert grasslands, then into the Oak Woodland and Chaparral up to the Pine Oak Woodlands to the Ponderosa Pine and ultimately up into the Mixed Conifer Forest.  The geology also changed significantly from flatlands, to rolling hills, up through rock formations that are known as hoodoos, and eventually up to the peak to a small ski resort.  The short drive took a few hours due to all the twist and turns but it was worth it to see the fantastic views and experience the differences in vegetations and geological zones.

We made it back in time for the Magic hour of light for painting.  Ross headed off to a golf course and I spent the next few hours painting the spectacular Pusch Ridge rock formations with great lighting.

We spent our few days at the park hiking in the morning, riding bikes on the Loop trail which follows the wash areas (the area designated for water flow), painting and golfing. 

We headed a little farther south for a few days because the campground was already full.  We spent one day in the Green Valley area at another golf Harvest Host location.  We played 9 holes at San Ignacio Golf club and really enjoyed the course.  We were graced with the presence of some Javelinas on the course.  I’m sure for the locals it is like us seeing deer or geese, but we enjoyed it.

Our next stop was a town called Tubac which was a pleasant surprise.  As we drove in, we literally were stopped by the Christmas Dog Walk Parade with the local dogs dressed in Christmas outfits and a golf cart playing Christmas tunes.  We pulled over quickly and joined the parade. 

After the “big” parade we walked around town, which is filled with art galleries, boutiques and plenty of tourist shops.  The architecture of the buildings was primarily the historic old buildings that had been renovated and/or some newer architecture that was tastefully done to fit in.  I loved the town although it was a bit touristy.

Tubac is the first town in Arizona that was established by the Europeans in 1752. We did walk part of the Juan Baptista de Anza trail which was part of the historical trail that led the explorers and missionaries from here to San Francisco.  4 miles South of Tubac is the Tumacacori National Historical Park with the original Church that was built in the 1700’s and has been slightly restored and maintained so that it does not fall into further disrepair.  It was an interesting spot but I wouldn’t recommend going out of your way to see it. 

After the mission we drove further south almost to the border of Mexico to drive a scenic route through Arizona’s wine country.  The scenery was beautiful and certainly less filled with cactus, but not exactly wine country in my eyes.  Arizona is an a severe drought and it shows. We ultimately pulled into our next Harvest Host location, Sonoita Winery, and we were surprised to feel like we were in a Savannah.  We had wide open vistas of golden grasses which led into rolling hills and then into the surrounding mountains.  I was able to paint a quick sunrise on the valley.

Unfortunately, the winery was closed because of a death in the family so we were not able to taste the wine.  We were also really curious to hear how this family decided that this location was a good location for a winery and what the wine would taste like.  I’m not sure where they even get the water for their vines.  The sunset was glorious though which made for a great way to end the day.

We got up to watch the sunrise which was beautiful and I did a quick watercolor of the mountains with their shadows and golden grasses. 

We made our way to Saguro National Park (the Eastern section since there are 2 sections) which was fantastic.  As we were driving in we noticed a lot of cyclists and then quickly realized why.  The park has a one way driving loop of 8 miles that goes through beautiful scenery.  So we drove in and found a place to park.  I unloaded my bike and did the ride which ended up being quite hilly but worth it.  I loved every pedal of it.  I was humored by a few of the road signs…..

Ross and Buddy stayed at the airstream where Ross played guitar and serenaded the cactus.  Once I returned, I pulled out my easel and painted the scene outside the Airstream.  There is something about the Saguro Cactus that is very appealing.  They all seem to have a personality. 

Because I was painting along the side of the road with the Airstream and The Streaming Artist logo we had a few people who stopped to say hi.  One of them happened to be a couple that was already following my blog so I was extremely happy to meet them and exchange information.

I packed up the easel just as the sun was setting and finished the driving loop in glorious lighting. 

The following day we ended up meeting up with a friend who was in town from Boulder and we hiked Ventana Canyon.  It was a hot day, full of sunshine and glorious views of the rocks and cactus.  It was fun to hike with a friend from Boulder and catch up on some of our “normal” life.  Then we had wonderful early dinner sitting on a patio basking in the sun and looking at the mountains.  It is easy to see why people winter in Arizona.

We moved back to Catalina State Park to spend a few more days there.  It is nice to have a little familiarity with an area.  We hiked, biked and painted and met some other fun campers. Catalina State Park seems to be a very special place that lots of the campers come back to.  It was fun to see how many people decorated their campers and their spaces with lights etc.  Next year we will need to come more prepared over the holidays. 

We moved from Catalina State Park to Kartchner Caverns State Park for a few days.  The Caverns are rated as some of the best in the US, unfortunately we could not get in, so we may need to return.  We did enjoy the campground, did a little painting and a great hike.

One day while I was painting at Catalina State Park I had a few people stop by.  Two of the people were fellow artists so we chatted for awhile, and they invited Ross and I to come to Sedona to paint with them.  We decided to change our route home and next stop is the Sedona area.

We hope you all had a great Holiday and are wishing you all a Happy New Year!

California Central Coast

11/27/2020 to 12/11/2020

After a week of staying in place in Saratoga spending time with my brother, getting laundry done and resupplying, we hit the road and headed south to Monterey.  We stayed at another nice Harvest Host golf course with beautiful views of the Monterey Bay. 

We spent the first afternoon driving the 17 mile drive around Pebble Beach.  The views were spectacular and just as beautiful if not better than I had remembered.

After ending in Carmel, we stopped at the Mission which is the second of a series of missions built by Father Junipero Serra in California.  This one was built in 1771 and one was that I studied and wrote a report on in elementary school.  It was a much larger complex than I remembered and was beautiful in its simplicity and lighting.  Unfortunately, we were not able to get inside due to a mass. 

Next stop was seeing the Pebble Beach golf course’s 18th hole.  I think that was Ross’s highlight.  Although he also has been pretty enthusiastic about watching all the surfers.  If there was a ski resort nearby Ross would think he had died and gone to heaven.

On the second day we started the morning hiking with Buddy in some old military land that now is a mountain biking area.  And then we hopped on our bikes and rode some of the bike paths nearby and then headed over to Fort Ord State Park.  In the future, if we return to this area it would be a great place to bike.  The Fort Ord State Park was military land where they had practice rifle ranges that has now been cleaned up and made into a park.  The ice plant was glorious in color and the sand dunes and blue ocean a beautiful back drop.  Unfortunately, no dogs were allowed on the beach, so Ross and I had to leave Buddy behind for our walk down to watch the surf.

We also made a quick trip in Monterey to walk around Cannery Row and visit the beaches at Asilomar.

The afternoon was spent playing a round of golf on the Black Horse course.  The greens were extremely difficult and often you could hit the ball on to the green and due to the slope it would roll back off.  What a challenge!

We departed Monterey and drove down Highway 1 along the coast.  Ross was really looking forward to seeing this area, and I had biked this section years ago and was looking forward to seeing it again.  It did not disappoint!  The views of the Pacific Ocean and the coastline are incredible.  Our favorite spot along the way was Nepenthe where we sat and had a coffee and amazing homemade pastries on a sunny deck overlooking the majestic views.  We could have sat there for hours. This is a place not to be missed and unfortunately our photos do not do this area justice.

We eventually wound down the coastline and ended up at Morro Bay State Park where we have enjoyed walking around the estuary, biking, and hiking some of the local trails. Unbeknownst to me, Morro Bay is a national recognized area for bird migration and there were plenty to watch.  Additionally,  I learned that Morro Rock was formed as a volcanic plug and is all that remains after the original volcano eroded.  One of the days we rode our bikes from the campground to Morro Rock and through downtown to see the sites.  Another day we enjoyed walking on the beach with Buddy while watching the waves crash against the breakwater.  The surf was high which made it exciting to watch.  We also were able to indulge is some fresh oysters and crab.

We also made a few day trips to my old stomping grounds of San Luis Obispo.  I had gone to Architecture School in San Luis Obispo many years ago and it was fun to show it to Ross.  The downtown has grown and modernized but still has lots of charm and character and is full of boutique shops and restaurants.  The campus has grown like crazy and I was amazed at all the new buildings and campus housing. Unfortunately I didn’t take any photos while I was there….so sorry!

We migrated south like the birds to Pismo Beach for a few more nights to allow us more beach time and a visit to Avila beach.  Our campground was in walking distance to the sand dunes and the beach, so our mornings and sunsets were spent walking on the beach.  The beach closest to us was flat and fairly hardpacked so they allow cars to drive on it.  I thought it a bit odd and not to my liking, but it did also mean that we could bike on the beach which was a first for me. 

We also spent some time at Avila beach which has become a much cuter town than when I was in college, so we spent most of the day there and I was able to paint on the pier.  It was a great experience for me to paint in a high-profile spot with lots of tourists stopping by to chat while I was painting.

I was also able to catch up with a few college friends for a socially distanced backyard get together.  Unfortunately, the Covid pandemic is getting worse so the State of California has implemented a stay at home order so all state run campgrounds are closed.  It made it a bit more challenging to find places to sleep but ultimately it all worked out.

We made it to Santa Barbara (which was our goal before turning back to Colorado) and have really enjoyed it.  On our way into Santa Barbara we stopped at Refugio State Park and had breakfast on the beach.  It was a beautiful way to start the day.  The weather was warm, the views glorious and it was so peaceful. 

We spent the afternoon walking around downtown Santa Barbara which is really lovely.  The architecture is beautiful with a Spanish flair, and the shops and restaurants looked so enticing.  It was sad to see them locked and/or empty due to the virus.

The following day we rode our bikes along the coastal route and out to a few beaches so that Ross could hop into the Ocean (it was way too cold for me) and head out along the Pier. Santa Barbara has a lot of appeal and I can see why so many people want to live here.  The access to the beaches, the mountains, fantastic climate and a beautiful architecture makes this super attractive. To end our beach days properly, we had fish and chips on the beach and watched the glorious sunset on our last evening in Santa Barbara.

I have a few friends who live in Ojai and I had heard wonderful things about it, so Ross and I headed into the mountains for a day trip.  It did not disappoint and was a very charming small town with a beautiful downtown arcade, boutique shops and had a very artsy friendly feel.  We were also very impressed with all the orchards/agriculture growing nearby.  It was a beautiful place to stop and see friends.

We departed Ojai and started working our way towards Joshua Tree National Park. Due to the campgrounds being closed at Joshua Tree we ended up boondocking behind the General Patton Museum.  It turned out to be a pleasant surprise since we had low expectations.  The General Patton Museum is located off of Hwy 10 in the middle of nowhere.  So I was surprised to learn that the reason it existed was because in 1942 General Patton started a desert training center near here. A local family initially had a memorial here to General Patton which eventually grew to a substantial museum (that was closed due to Covid) so we could only see that tanks outside. 

The other plaque located in this area that surprised me was one which commemorated the start of Kaiser Permanente (which is a non-profit health care system in the US).  I love coming across this little tid bits of information.

We spent one afternoon touring through Joshua Tree National Park and to be honest, I was not that impressed.  What I have realized, is that I am not a lover of dessert scenery and in particular the dry wide open vistas.  Ross however loved the peacefulness of it.  We both feel like we have seen so many of the great National Parks that we have been spoiled.  It did have some great examples of the variety of cactus in this area and some beautiful rock outcroppings. The Joshua Tree (which is not actually a tree but a Yucca Plant) only grows in a few regions, so it was nice to see some good examples of them.

Unfortunately there hasn’t been a lot of time to plein air paint but there have been a LOT of photos taken that will ultimately become studio paintings soon. On a few evenings I did work on a dog portrait commission and was able to get it into the mail before the Christmas due date. Here is a preview of that painting. I will be introducing my new Pet Portrait Painting website soon.

From here we start our journey heading home through Arizona.

The Bay Area

11/6/2020 – 11/23/2020

The last two weeks is what we are dubbing “The Social Portion” of our trip. It hasn’t been great for the painting, but it has been great to catch up with lots of friends and family from 6 feet apart. As everyone knows, it has been a interesting challenge seeing everyone while masked and not being able to greet each other like we would like.

After departing Patricks Point and making a quick morning walk to Agate Beach we started the drive through more redwood trees, then rolling hills and lots of fall colors.  Eventually we pulled into our destination which was a small family owned winery called Testa Vineyards.  We setup and then had a lovely evening wine tasting on their patio.  The vineyard was started by the family’s Italian great grandparents who settled there in 1910 and has turned into a sweet family operation.  The mother is the winemaker and the daughters are running the wine tasting room.  We really enjoyed their wine.  It was a cool evening so we were bundled up, but enjoyed the sun setting and then walking back to the airstream for the evening.

Our next two days were spent in Santa Rosa.  Our campsite was in the Sonoma County Fairgrounds which is not a location that I would recommended except that it had full hook ups and laundry.  So it gave us some time to clean house and refresh for the next few weeks.  We were able to do a few nice hikes and catch up with a friend that I met at Rancho La Puerta a few years ago. 

The following two nights were spent at another Harvest Host site Chardonnay Golf and Winery.  Our location was fantastic….parked right up against the grape vines and overlooking the 10th fairway.  We were able to watch the lighting change on the vines and surrounding mountains, as well as get in 9 holes of golf.  It was a beautiful golf course and fun to play in between vineyards instead of trees.  Unfortunately the grapes had already been harvested and a bit past their peak in coloring so they didn’t provide much inspiration for painting. 

We started to head north and made a stop in Roseville at another Harvest Host location at the Woodcreek Golf Course.  This site wasn’t as scenic as we were basically parked in a parking lot in City limits but we were able to see my brother and his family and play some golf.

Vina Castellano in Auburn was our next Harvest host stop over .  It was a spectacular spot, located next to the vines, with power and the wine was great.  So we stayed two nights which was great.  One of the days was rainy so we spent the early morning walking laps around the vineyard before the rain started and then hunkered down and made reservations for campsites for the next few weeks.  We were able to spend some time with Susan Lockyer (my college roommate and old business partner) which was wonderful as always. 

The following two nights we relocated to in front of my brother Dave’s house so that we could spend time with he and his family.  It was a great way to see them while social distancing outside in their backyard around a fire pit.

Buddy and his cousins

We started our journey south from there and stayed in front on the street of a few more friends houses.  It is so nice to catch up with people and yet be able to sleep in our own home on wheels.

We left the East Bay and drove over the newer Bay Bridge which I hadn’t seen yet and loved it.  We drove through San Francisco since stopping with the Airstream wasn’t really an option and on to Woodside to see another friend.  We got set up in his driveway and then drove over to Stanford to show Ross the campus and the Rodin sculptures.  Stanford has a beautiful campus. 

We made a day trip to Half Moon Bay the following day and were blessed with a clear blue sky and some beautiful walks along beaches and the cliff tops. We took advantage of the fresh seafood and had some oysters on the beach.

The following morning we took a beautiful dog walk through the streets of Woodside and were amazed at the real estate and the prices of homes in this area.  The prices in California is insane! We then spent the afternoon visiting the Pulgas Water Temple and the National Historic Landmark, Filoli with my brother Jeff.  The gardens were beautiful with stunning fall colors and Christmas lights twinkling through out the trees and garden.  I hadn’t been there in years and it was another magical afternoon.

Next relocation was a move to my brother Jeff’s driveway for the next few nights.  We enjoyed being able to see him and catching up.  While in the area we also drove to Capitola one day and had lunch with a friend and had a lovely walking tour of the area.  The following morning we did a hike with some friends from Boulder who relocated to the area and had a great hike at Fremont Older Natural Preserve which was beautiful and then had brunch with them.

Next stop in the Central Coast!

The California Redwoods and the Coast

Panorama view of Agate Beach

We entered California from the Oregon border and immediately entered one of the recent fire zones.  It was sad to see the devastation and all the trees lost to the recent fire.  But after that we were fortunate to drive down the Redwood Highway through forests of shimmering light and fall colors.  At last we got to Jedediah Smith Redwood State Park.  Our camper was a bit too long to fit into the State Park campground so we had to set up camp just outside the park.

After a quick bite to eat we set out for the Stout Grove trail which was on the recommended list.  It was ethereal walking through these giant redwoods and the sunlight shimmering through the dense forest.  The vast height (300 plus feet), the width of the trunks mesmerizing and straightness of these trees is amazing.  .  It was a fantastic reminder of how insignificant we all are….we are just a speck on this earth.

After being awestruck by these trees we did the drive on Howland Hill Road which is a narrow dirt road that winds its way through the Redwood forest. 

We ended up in Crescent City which isn’t even worth mentioning except that it had a historic light house and a great jetty out into the Pacific Ocean.  We walked over to the light house which is one of the originals in California and built in 1856.  From there we walked the jetty and marveled at seeing the Ocean. Ross was pretty excited to see the Pacific Ocean and think about his connection to Australia on the other side. He looked to see his homeland but no luck! We could see a huge bank of fog rolling in which brought back memories of my childhood.

Day 2 at Jedediah State Park started off with a beautiful walk through some less traveled trails in the park.  We went there specifically because it is one of the few areas that allowed dogs.  What started off as a beautiful walk through lush forests of redwoods, ferns and moss-covered trees, turned into a nightmare for poor Buddy.  It turns out that the dried-out redwood pine needles that have dropped to the ground do not go well with Buddy’s fur (like burrs do at home).  Every time he tried to sit down to pull them out, he ended up with 10 more lodged into his fur.  Pretty soon he was distressed, and we ended up having to run back to the car, drive back to the campsite and cut them out of his coat.   A new lesson has been learned…..no more dog walks for Buddy in a Redwood Grove.  After the grooming session we decided to drive south and head to the Coastal Trail just South of Crescent City.  We were shocked when we got there because it was socked in with fog, whereas our campground was sunny and beautiful.  So we drove down the coast line and ended up doing one of the suggested scenic loop drives hoping for it to burn off.  No such luck…..we had a good laugh when we stopped at one of the view points and the sign started with: “Evidence of dramatic earth movement is visible all around you”  when we couldn’t see a thing as the picture below depicts. 

A foggy background with no view

The next stopping point was to see a World War 2 bunker that was disguised as a farm house.  I thought the “fake” houses were charming and if we could have stayed there, I would have.  

The fog never lifted so we headed back to our campground where it was still sunny and then decided to go back to the Stout Grove that we loved so much the day before.  I set up my easel and tried to capture the feel of the grove.  The trees were immense, the light filtered through the trees and the grove was amazingly quiet.  I was hoping for a bit more lighting shimmering light like the day before, but we got there later in the day and it was not as strong. 

Ethereal Trees

We packed up camp and headed South.  We needed a place to camp for one night until our next stay at Patrick’s Point State Park, so we ended up staying at a golf course in Mckinleyville, CA.  There isn’t much to report about McKinleyville.  The golf course conditions were lacking but the course was interesting and challenging.  We did stop and have a spectacular lunch on the coast. One of the many fantastic parts of traveling with your kitchen is being able to stop anywhere and have a healthy lunch with fantastic views.

The following two days we spent in and around Patrick’s Point State Park.  It is a beautiful campground on the high cliffs about the ocean.  Our first afternoon there we hiked down to Agate Beach and looked for Agates and enjoyed the waves crashing and watching Buddy run around.

The following morning was slightly foggy so we hiked the rim trail in the campground.  It was an awesome trail with several viewpoints overlooking the craggy coast.  Fortunately, the fog started to burn off. 

We then decided to hop back in the truck and do a few sites that we hadn’t done back in the redwoods.  We took one of the scenic drives through the trees and then went to the Lady Bird Johnson trail which is where she dedicated the National Park.  The mile or so walk was beautiful through both old and new redwood growth. 

My intention was to paint in the afternoon but the fog rolled in and was quite thick so there wasn’t much point to that. 

The perfect realistic looking painting of fog!

We headed over to the nearest small town Trinidad which had some charm and beaches which allowed dogs.  So we walked the beach with Buddy and then did a hike up Trinidad Head. 

It was a nice hike with views of fog 😊.  Rain is in the forecast which is great for California, so we will make it a travel day and head toward the wineries.

Oregon

We got up early on a cold morning and left Eagle, Idaho and made our way to Sisters, Oregon.  We were excited to finally get there since we have heard so much about the Sisters/Bend area.  The temperatures were frigid so we did a quick setup in a beautiful campground on the edge of Sisters surrounded by trees.  We hadn’t had lunch so we walked to a nearby brewery and had a quick bite to eat, and then headed back to the trailer to pick up Buddy and walk into town to see the main street.  The old town is quaint and filled with some cute shops and some touristy stores as well.

The next day in Sisters was still cold in the morning but the temperatures did rise.  However, the morning was filled with warmth because I was reunited with a dear friend who was my family’s Mary Poppins.  When I was two years old my parents had a San Francisco State College student live in our house and was a “nanny”. Kathy has always been a special person to us all, and when I knew we would be in the area I reached out to her.  We had a lovely hike around Suttle Lake. Kathy’s brother was in town too, so Ross and he chatted while Kathy and I talked non-stop (not hard to believe if you know me). 

The area is beautiful and Kathy shared some more locations for us to see until we could meet again.  Ross and I drove back into town and spent the afternoon walking around the shops, having a coffee and doing a little shopping.  Sisters is a nice, quiet town and full of friendly people. 

Because I am trying to keep up the painting in the late afternoon (which hasn’t been too successful) I sat by the creek at the campground and drew the charming covered bridge in preparation for a watercolor.

A quaint covered bridge leading to our campground. A painting is coming soon…..

Kathy had recommended a hike to Ross and I for the following day in an area of Camp Sherman.  The hike followed along the side of the Metolius River and was filled with beautiful views of the river, great shimmering light through the trees, and ended with a “waterfall” that came from a natural spring out of the side of a mountain .  We started off near the Fish Hatchery (which unfortunately was closed due to Covid) which provided us with a glorious view of crystal clear vibrantly colored water.  It turns out that this river is one of the largest spring fed rivers in the US. In the past there were some lava flows that left interesting islands and rock ledges along the way, so the water flowed in all different directions and patterns. If you happen to be in the area it is worth seeing and doing the hike.

After the hike we made the short drive over to Camp Sherman since we had heard that it was a charming area with a small store that was worth stopping in to see.  Unfortunately the store was closed for the weekdays, but the area was very sweet and reminded me a bit of a summer camp feel similar to the old cabins we used to stay in at Yosemite as a kid.

The weather had started to warm up and the afternoon was beautiful, so Ross headed to the golf course and I pulled out my paints.  We went to an area outside of Sisters called to Black Butte Ranch which is a very appealing planned community with views to die for.  I was able to do a fast painting of the Three Sisters (which are some of the mountains nearby).  The painting needs some touch ups since the sun set and it was getting cold.  It was time to head back to the warm Airstream for some chicken soup!

The following day Kathy and her brother Terry took us on a driving tour of some areas of Bend, Oregon.  The amount of building and growth here is a bit overwhelming and reminded me of what has been happening in the Front Range of Colorado.  After driving through the outskirts of Bend we ended up hiking in the Deschutes Forest in an area called Lava Island.  It was another beautiful trail following along the Deschutes river.  We then headed into Bend to see the downtown area and have lunch.  Bend had a nice downtown with some charming shops and a nice area surrounding the river that cuts through the center. 

Upon several peoples recommendations we headed to Smith Rock State Park, North West of Redmond.  What an unexpected treasure.  The drive to Smith Rock was pretty unexceptional, and then all of the sudden rock formations appeared from nowhere.  It turned out that this area is a world renown rock climbing location and was filled with rock climbers. Look closely at some of these photos and you can see the rock climbers as specks on these rock formations.  They were amazing to watch!  One of the distinct rock structures is called Monkey Face which we also thought it looked like it had a turtle face as well.

We did a hike that went down into the canyon and followed the river and then we climbed up and over the rock formations.  It was steep hike with lots of switch backs and incredible views.

That evening we spent having a great homecooked meal at Kathy’s house .  It was wonderful to spend the evening with she and her brother, and the first time since March had been in someone else’s house.  It was worth the risk and so nice to feel normal for an evening.  Covid sure has made interacting with people difficult.

Our last day in Sisters was spent closer to the trailer.  We did a lovely dog walk with Buddy at some nearby trails, and then Ross and I went on a mountain bike ride.  Right near our campground there was a huge network of mountain biking trails which we had fun exploring  and fortunately for me, they weren’t too technical.

Morning Sunrise on a dog walk in Sisters

We departed early in the morning on the 31st and headed to Crater Lake National Park.  I had been there as a kid and it was just as beautiful as I had remembered.  The color of the water is stunning and the realization that this area was a volcano that basically sank into this caldera is incredible.  It is the deepest lake in the US, and 9th in the world, and is estimated to be filled with 5 trillion gallons of water.

The joy having our home with us is that we were able to pull over at a scenic overlook and have lunch with a view. Even Buddy was awestruck with the vista!

After spending a few hours enjoying the views and doing a rim walk we hopped back into the car and continued south through some beautiful forested roads and ended up at Lake Selmac.  We setup in a quiet treed area, and then walked out to the lake and we felt like we were “On Golden Pond”.  What a peaceful location!

The following morning we awoke to a fog filled scene that quickly lifted and then we departed for California. Next stop is the Redwoods of Northern California.

Eagle Plein Air Festival

A little Artist Humor outside the Finer Frames Gallery that Hosted the Plein Air Event.

10/17 to 10/25

We spent the last week in Eagle Idaho (which is a suburb of Boise).  We have found that there wasn’t as much charm as we had hoped for, but there were some beautiful green spaces and the biking paths were great.   We settled into an RV park which provided all the conveniences with full hookups (water, sewer and electricity) which makes living in the Airstream like living in a home.  On our first full day we checked into the Eagle Plein Air Festival which meant that I brought my blank painting canvases to the frame shop and they stamped the back.  This enables them to know that everyone is painting their paintings during this week and not doing a painting ahead of time.  From there Ross, Buddy and I headed off to Eagle Island State park which was the first recommended painting location.  At these festivals, the organizers suggest locations everyday and quite a few people will then show up and paint at there.  Since we don’t know the area we are following their recommendations.

Eagle Island State Park had some beautiful trees, lakes and looked like it would be a lot of fun in the summer since it also had waterslides, playgrounds, swimming area and disc golf.  I found a beautiful spot with views of some beautiful trees reflecting in the lake.  We also enjoyed a picnic that evening in the park for our 12 year anniversary.

On the second day we headed over to Kathryn Albertson Park in Boise.  It was a park with lakes, natural grasses and a few sculptural rocks.  The area that I decided to paint in felt a bit like Giverny (Monet’s Garden).  I decided to paint this painting with a more impressionistic feel in honor of Monet.  While I painted Buddy and Ross enjoyed some quiet time.  I love this picture of Ross reading up on Golf and Buddy relaxing while waiting for the next person to come by and say hi.

Here is a quick video link of me painting at Kathy Albertsons Park (the baby is not mine!)

Ross, Buddy and I then had a nice picnic in a nearby park.  I had read about the Boise River Greenbelt which is a beautiful bike path that runs for 25 miles along the Boise river.  I decided to bike home along the greenbelt while Ross drove back and stopped at a local golf course.  It was a lovely afternoon and I thoroughly enjoyed the bike path. 

The third day of the painting challenge started off at Schick-Ostolasa Farmstead which is a part of the Historical Society and had lots of fantastic buildings to paint.  I had a hard time trying to decide which building to choose but ultimately ended up painting the building where they used to store the horse saddles. I could have painted for days there, and was thankful that it was a recommended place to go otherwise we would have missed it.    It was fun to paint the wood texture of the barn structure.  Ironically behind me were chickens and goats, and it humored me because there were times when they were making noises and it sure sounded like they were laughing at my painting. It was my least favorite painting of the week so maybe it was my subconscious hearing things.

Old Barn with Charm

The afternoon I spent hiking some of the dirt trails near our RV Park.  Eagle/Boise has a large network of mountain biking trails that was nice to see.  Had we had more time we would have liked to bike some of the mountain biking trails but our days seemed to fill up way to quickly.

In the evening I met another artist to do a Nocuturne painting.  It was my first time ever doing this type of painting and what a challenge it was.  The goal is to paint a painting at dusk.  The light at this time changes so quickly and what was particularly difficult was trying to mix the paint colors after it turned dark and not really know what color I was mixing.  I am not unhappy with the result and was pleasantly surprised when I brought it inside into the light.   I did go back a second night for an hour to touch up a few items that I noticed when I could see it in daylight. Most likely this painting will go into a closet for another use but I enjoyed the experience and will try it again now that I know more what to expect.

Painting in the dark…A whole new experience

On Day 4 of the Festival they had suggested some barns located throughout  the County but Ross and I decided to bike more of the Greenbelt after we hiked with Buddy at the Eagle Sports Complex and Bike park.  Many of the easier mountain bike trails allow dogs to be off leash hiking so that was our new morning ritual.

The Boise Greenbelt Bike path was GORGEOUS! The colors were at peak and the weather was beautiful. I had to stop several times to take photos and think about potential painting sites.

I went back in the late afternoon to one of my favorite locations.  In general most plein air painters prefer to paint early in the day or later in the afternoon when the angle of the sun casts better shadows on objects.  Buddy sat by my side to protect and encourage me while Ross headed off to the nearest golf course.  I think because I loved this location and really enjoyed my afternoon that this painting reflects the beauty.  I also really enjoyed talking to all the people who stopped on the bike path to chat and take a lot at the work in progress.

On Day 5 it was suggested that we paint the Payette River.  I did a little research on line and it looked as if there was a beautiful driving loop that we could take to see the Payette River and the surrounding country side.  So after another nice dog walk we all piled into the truck and drove the loop.  There were a few nice vistas but not good and safe pullouts to allow me to paint. We finished the loop and were glad that we saw that area but decided it would be better for me to paint another location that I had scoped out on the bike path the previous day.  Because it was midday and lighting wasn’t great, we headed out on our bikes for another ride in the opposite direction along the Boise River.  The greenbelt bike path is really a must if you come visit this area.

I spent the afternoon with Buddy by my side painting another glorious view of the Boise River.  The skies reflecting in the River and the fall colors really inspired me. Sadly the weather started to turn and a cold front pulled in. The blue skies turned grey and the temperatures dropped.

On the 6th day of the Festival was the Quick Draw Event.  All Plein Air Festivals have this event which is where they select a location (usually it is a central location like a Main Street) and everyone participating starts at exactly the same time and must finish within 2 hours and have a framed painting.  The artist can pick any subject matter and it is always interesting to see what paintings are created in such a quick time.  I selected a front door of a house nearby.  I honestly have to say that I struggled to find a location that spoke to me since the historic downtown wasn’t that historical and the architectural charm was lacking.

The rest of our stay in Eagle was spent photographing my art and framing it, with a few walks with Ross and Buddy.  Unfortunately I did not win any awards, but I did have a great time and felt like I learned a lot about the process and I think my painting skills grew.  What a great experience to really focus on my painting for a straight week.  Looking back at my paintings from even just a year ago I can see a huge progression.  I’m looking forward to doing another Plein Air Festival in the future at another location. 

We are off to Oregon for some more fun adventures.

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