3/11/23 – 3/20/23
Since our plans for this next section of the trip were not set in stone, we decided to make a quick stop at Goblin Valley State Park in Utah. We had heard great things and were intrigued. The scenery in this area of Utah is striking and the drive is always breathtaking with the starkness, contrasts of the rock formations in the barren landscape.
We arrived at the park and were fortunate that there were some cancellations at the small campground which is beautifully set in the rocks. So, we had 2 nights to stay and explore, which we felt was the perfect amount of time.
The park is relatively small and the hikes on the shorter side. Our first afternoon was a bit stormy but we were able to walk through the 3 valley areas of the Goblin Valley. There are no real trails so you are free to meander around the goblins and washes (where the water flows when it rains). You can see how water erosion formed these goblins. We had fun wandering around and looking at all the formations until the clouds got dark and we decided to head back to camp.
The afternoon cleared up nicely, so we went out for a hike that led to an overlook of the valley with a nice perspective of the area. In the evening I did a quick painting from a photo that I took on our drive into Goblin Valley. I love how this area’s landscape is desolate and flat and then out of the blue there will be a grand butte formation.
On our second day we headed out for a longer hike that looped around the valley to various highlights. Unfortunately, we found both the map and the trail markings poorly done and frequently had to scramble up sand/rock formations to get to where we were going. But it was a beautiful loop with great vistas and nice to be in sunshine. Overall, we both felt like it was a worthy stopover if you are in the area.
We left Goblin Valley and headed to Canyonlands National Park (the Needles area). Again, the drive was striking and we wound our way into the park on a slow 34 mile road. We decided to stop for a quick bite to eat at a pullout and ended up being surprised that we were in an area called Newspaper Rock Archaeological Site with petroglyphs that dated back 2000 years. They were beautiful and a very pleasant surprise.
Off we went to Canyonlands. As we anticipated the campground was full. However, there was plenty of BLM (Bureau of Land Management) land nearby with camping. We pulled into the nearest area called Hamburger Rock Campground and found an amazing spot to put the airstream.
Our views were spectacular from all windows, and we were only 5 miles to the National Park. Fortunately, we had our generator, and all our systems were prepared so that we could be off the grid for a few days.
After we got setup, we headed into the park to do the scenic drive and do some of the smaller hikes. The variety of terrain, rock formations, colors and shapes are incredible. The huge red rock buttes were accentuated with snowy peaks in the background and large white clouds. Storms surrounded us that evening which made for a dramatic setting, and then there were the needles far in the distance. We were certainly looking forward to some of the signature hikes the following day. We enjoyed the view from the camper while eating dinner and watching the sunset. What a special treat!
The following morning, we got up and headed out for a long hike. We had the intention of heading towards Chesler Park (which is where the needles formations are). The trail map showed lots of trails that connected at various points, so we thought we would end up over there eventually, but little did we realize that the distances between the trails were more than they appeared on the map and the terrain was difficult. We ended up crossing streams frequently, scrambling up and over rock formations and having to find cairns (which designate the path). The elevation ascent and descent were also much more than we anticipated (next time we will buy a real map!). However, we were not disappointed at all! The trail we did was an 8-mile loop that began with some great views of the park, then ran along a creek bed and eventually up some huge slick rock faces to a saddle in the rocks and down the backside.
The rocky section of the trail led us through enormous rock bowls, along rock ledges that dropped into valleys. The vastness and size of rocks really made us feel like a speck of dust in this universe. One of the nice things about this national park is that it is very remote and has no lodging except for a few camping spots so it is relatively unpopulated. We saw only a handful of people. To be honest at times it was nice to see other hikers which I don’t usually say. The section of the hike where we climbed up the rock faces, along the ledge and then over the top made this hike one of top hikes that we have done. The views were spectacular!!!
After the big hike we spent a lazy afternoon back at our campsite. The forecast for the following day was not great and we woke up to rain drops so we decided to head out. We ended up finding a great camping spot just outside of Moab along the Colorado River. We have stayed here before but years ago when we were in our old pop-up camper.
It was a rainy day, so we spent it working on this blog, driving into Moab to resupply groceries and painting. We were lucky to be able to have such a nice cozy place with great views to wait out this storm. I was able to paint this view from our hike in the Canyonlands and was trying out a new technique with watercolors and ink lines. I was happy with the outcome and will try to incorporate more of it in the future.
After sitting out the rainy cold day we awoke to sunshine. It was cold and windy, but the sun was out! We decided to drive over to the Island in the Sky section of Canyonlands National Park. It had a very different feel than the Needles section. This area of the park is mostly on a high mesa which overlooks the canyons. We did the touristy thing and drove to all the overlooks and did a few of the shorter hikes at those locations.
We had Buddy in the car, and it was quite cold and windy so we were happy with the tourist version of travel. The views at most of these spots were incredible and our favorites were the Mesa Arch which is a fairly small arch with majestic views looking through it. Unlike Arches National Park, this arch was perched high on a sheer ledge so the view overlooked an enormous canyon, rock formations and the La Sal Mountain snowy peaks.
The Green River overlook and the Grandview Overlook provided a more expansive view of the canyons cut out by the Green and Colorado Rivers. One can really envisage how the water carved these canyons and the geological layers of the rocks eroding.
We also hiked out to the Upheaval Dome overlook which both of us found interesting in that the scientists do not know how it was formed, but it was the least breathtaking spot for us.
The following day was a bit warmer and less windy, and we wanted Buddy to be able to join us for a hike so we decided to hike a local hike called the Grandstaff trail. As we drove into the trailhead, we realized that we had done this trail a few years ago. However, the trail had been washed away from a flashflood the year before which made it unrecognizable and a bit more challenging due to the river crossings and having to scramble up and over some rocks.
The hike ends at the top of a canyon with a slender arch. We all enjoyed ourselves and it made for a very nice day.
After a nice relaxing late lunch, we all hopped in the truck and headed over to Arches National Park for a beautiful sunset drive. Since we have visited this park a few times we didn’t feel the need to hit all the sites but went to where the park suggested the sunset lighting to be the best. My favorite view was at the Garden of Eden since there was a line of rock spires with snowy mountains in the background. The contrast in colors was gorgeous so I pulled out my paints and did a quick plein air painting while sitting in the truck. I got the colors and feel that I wanted but it certainly needs a lot more work and will need some time in the studio before I can show it to you. This is the view that I was trying to capture.
On our last morning on the Colorado River in Moab the lighting was beautiful and there was a half marathon being run on the road so we stayed in place until the last runner had gone by. We then started the official journey home. We drove Hwy 128 which is a beautiful scenic highway that goes to Interstate 70 into Colorado. We have a few favorite stop overs in the area and we made a beeline to the James Robb Campground in Palisades which also is on the Colorado River. It was an easy stopover and nice to know where you are going and what to expect when you get there. From there we made a beeline home since both of us were ready to get settled back into our home, have a long hot shower and central heating! Winter camping (and in particular this winter) is much harder and really makes you appreciate the little things in life, which is always a good reminder for all of us!
Thank you for following us and joining us on these adventures. If you have any questions or suggestions on ideas to post please let us know.
2/15/23 – 3/10/23
We have been on the road now for about 3 weeks and it has been an interesting, and at points a challenging winter trip. It certainly has been the longest cold spell we had done in the airstream. We began with a week in Steamboat Springs, CO. It is a destination that we are familiar with since I have painted in their Plein Air Festival the last 2 years. It has been a record snowfall year for most of the West, and it was evident in the campgrounds with the piles of snow everywhere. Our camp spot had about 8 feet of snow piled up in it and the first location that we were assigned had so much snow that we could not fit in the spot. Eventually we got parked and set up in fairly nice temperatures, but that was the last of the “warmth” for a while.
The week was extremely cold and windy. How cold you might ask? Well, we had temperatures down to -15 degrees Fahrenheit. It did create some interesting window art with this being my favorite.
Window art created by the cold temps.
We skied, but the conditions were not ideal and one day the mountain was actually shut down due to the low wind chill temperatures and a broken watermain at the top of the mountain. We had friends who were also skiing at Steamboat, so we saw them briefly to make a few ski turns and walk around town.
I was able to stop by the Steamboat Art Museum to see their current exhibit and chat with the staff who I now know from the past couple of years. I also got signed up for the 2023 Steamboat Springs Plein Air Festival which is one of my favorites! I did walk around town and went to visit one of my favorite painting spots to paint this painting.
Winter in Steamboat
We were fortunate that on our scheduled travel day to Jackson, WY we had nice weather and were able to make the drive without having to deal with snow. But once again we arrived at the campground and there was so much snow that it made it very difficult to find a spot that we could fit in. But eventually we succeeded.
The temperatures here were frigid and windy as well. Our first morning, we arrived at the ski mountain to find that the ski lifts were all on a delayed start due to the wind. The lines were horrific, so we decided to make ourselves comfortable at the Four Seasons lobby while we enjoyed a cup of coffee. After an hour or so the mountain opened, and we head out. We had some good skiing but never really were able to see the whole mountain since we were clouded in most days.
We did spend some time walking around town and visiting the art galleries including a great coffee shop/bakery. Jackson is a charming old western town with some great old architecture. The quality of art was tremendous (as were the price tags!). We saw one painting that was priced at $100,000. I might need to raise my prices 😊.
Jackson also had some fabulous off leash dog walks and cross country ski areas that we took advantage of which Buddy was thrilled to partake in as well.
The cold temperatures were definitely taking a toll on us, and we were so happy on our departure/travel day to have sunny warmer temperatures (but still below freezing) as we headed towards Park City, UT. The drive from Jackson to Park City was beautiful and made me want to try and capture it in paint for part of my “On the Road” series. I was very happy with the effects of the watercolors because I could capture the depth of the landscape with the mountains in the background receding as well as the coldness of the landscape. I posted it on Instagram (@SueCableArt) and was thrilled when it was purchased on the first day.
Our stay in Park City was a highlight of our trip. The snow gods blessed us with fresh snow every day and with warmer temperatures, the skiing was some of the best that we have ever enjoyed. We didn’t have a lot of blue skies to enjoy the views, but it was worth it for all the fresh powder skiing.
An added extra bonus of being in Park City was that we have friends who live there and another who flew in from California to join us. It was such a fun social week with great skiing that we decided to change our plans and stay an extra week. One morning we walked around the old historic section of Park City which is really charming.
I also had a birthday during this part of the trip, and it was very special to spend it with some old and new friends!
Because we were able to stay in place for almost 2 weeks it also gave me some time to paint. Before we left on this trip, I had completed an acrylic painting of a scene of trees and pedestrians with some dappled light. I was happy with the result but wanted to see how it would turn out if I painted it in watercolor. I frequently struggle with which is my favorite medium, so it is fun to experiment with each and see how the viewer reacts. So during my time in Park City, I was able to recreate the painting in watercolor. Which do you prefer?
After our last morning of skiing at Park City, we decided to stop for a cup of coffee and a croissant (Ross’ favorite thing). As we walked in the front entry I was stopped in my tracks to see Derek Hough standing there. If you are a Dancing with the Stars fan, you will know who he is. I have always admired his choreography and dance skills. We ended up chatting with Derek and his father for a while and it was a great way to end this portion of the trip.
We left Park City just as the weather was changing and spring break was starting. We decided to head south to see a few parks that have been on our bucket list and get out of the cold. We will continue the blog after that part of the adventure.
8/5/22 to 8/10/22
We departed Glacier National Park bright and early since we knew we had a long drive ahead of us. We decided to stop part way at Kings Hill Campground which is south of Great Falls Montana at an elevation of 8000 ft, so the temperatures were very comfortable and the setting was peaceful. Originally this was going to just be a coffee break but since we liked it so much we decided to stay and camp there for the evening. We spent the late afternoon pursuing the arts. Ross played some guitar and I painted the Airstream in this beautiful setting. Buddy is still trying to decide what his artistic passion is.
We awoke to some rain which made for a great travel day. Arriving in the cute little town of Red Lodge, Montana, we quickly could see the damage from the big storm and flooding in June. The roads in places had been repaired, an amazing feat considering the time frame, but many were still in poor condition, and many structures including bridges were either destroyed or damaged.
Still, Red Lodge was back in business, and we were happy to have finished the 8-hour drive from Glacier National Park.
Needing a place to camp we found a delightful boondocking site just a few miles west of town. Our terrific spot in the Custer Gallatin National Forest was next to a raging river, the Lake Fork Trailhead and a few other nicely spread-out campers.
We had come to Red Lodge to drive the BearTooth Highway, an All-American Byway constructed in 1936 which climbs 5000 feet (up to 11000 feet) and is only open a few months of the year once the snow has been cleared. It’s not a hard drive, or a scary one, but do make sure your car brakes are in good working order for this trip!
The spectacular drive affords stunning views in all directions, and then crosses from Montana into Wyoming at the Summit. We spent a few hours enjoying all the sights before putting the brakes to the test on our descent. I’m pleased to report we made it down alive!
Next morning, well-armed with bear spray, we took advantage of the great little hike outside our door, the Lake Fork trail, which would track a magnificent raging river through a beautiful forest into the Absaroku Wilderness Area.
That afternoon as the temperatures started to rise, Suzanne was drawn to paint our beautiful location on-site and reflect on how beautiful this part of the world really is. It is a painting that is now half finished and hopefully will capture the feel back in the studio.
Due to the heat wave we decided to head back to Boulder a few days early and made a quick stop over in the Buffalo WY for the night. The campground provided us hookups which we needed for some air-conditioning, a re-supply of beer for Ross and some great camping humor as well.
Our 3500-mile, 4 week road trip was coming to an end and we felt fortunate to have experienced so many great things. Our highlights were: driving two amazing roads: the Going To The Sun road in Glacier National Park and the BearTooth Highway in Montana. An incredible hike through wildflowers in Crested Butte and a quick visit to the Little Bighorn National Monument, Montana, and not least an incredibly successful painting competition in Driggs, Idaho for Suzanne.
8/1/22 to 8/5/22
We won the lottery! Well not really, but we felt that way because we wanted to visit Glacier National Park but didn’t have camping reservations or a permit to drive the Road to the Sun (a famous road that crosses the park). Low and behold Ross had been checking the reservation website and 4 nights became available on the exact nights that we needed. And then to top that off, we found out if you have a camping reservation it gives you unlimited access to the Road to the Sun.
We drove into the park, set up our campsite and because it was too hot to hike and leave Buddy in the Airstream we decided to hop in the truck and drive the Road to the Sun to familiarize ourselves with the park and see the highlights. It was a spectacular drive! Coming from Colorado, we are pretty accustomed to large mountain ranges, and these did not disappoint. The mountains are dramatic peaks and glaciers dot the landscape of them. What was most striking was how many waterfalls and lakes existed because of these glaciers.
The views were beautiful and the road was an engineering feat!
We were able to spend a few hours on the West Side of the park (we were camping on the east side at St. Mary’s) allowing Buddy to play in Lake McDonald, Ross to go for a swim and for me to do a quick watercolor painting. It was a perfect way to spend a hot afternoon.
The first morning we got up early to beat the heat and the crowds. We decided to hike the Three Falls Trail which was a 7 mile out and back trail that takes one along the edge of St. Mary’s Lake to Baring Falls, St. Mary’s Falls and then up to Virginia Falls. It was the perfect first hike and a great way to experience Glacier. The waterfalls were beautiful and very refreshing in the heat. It was a hot and windy day which seemed to be the pattern for the next three days.
Sue had hoped to paint in the afternoon but the winds were too strong to make it enjoyable. We did explore and found a historic Ranger cottage and barn from 1913 that had been restored which would make a great painting.
Our second longer hike was out to Lake Grinnell (below the Grinnell Glacier) in the Many Glacier area of the park. One starts the hike at the Many Glacier Lodge which is an old historical lodge in a gorgeous setting.
We hiked along Swiftcurrent Lake to Lake Josephine and ultimately to Grinnell Lake. One of the things that was so striking is how dense the vegetation was. The trail winds through marsh lands where the trail is partially on boardwalks, has swinging bridges and if you are not able to hike you can take some boats across the lakes.
We had our breakfast on the shore of Grinnell Lake all to ourselves and then when we decided it was time to head back before the crowds started to file in.
We were so thankful that we made the early start since we past crowds of people coming in. On the way back we came across some fellow campers (ironically parked right next to us at St. Mary’s) who spotted a moose with a gorgeous rack. Unfortunately the moose was lying down so this was the best picture that I could get.
The views were beautiful and we once again were graced with some great wildflowers.
The winds were getting stronger so it was time to retreat to the camper which gave us time to catch up on the blog, emails and phone calls. The forecast was calling for even stronger winds the next day so we took a walk over the Visitor Center to see where the best sheltered hikes would be. The ranger gave us a few suggestions and fortunately they knew what they were talking about. The following morning we did awake to some high winds so we headed out to hike the Beaver Pond Trail. The hike starts right near the historic ranger hut and we hiked it in counter clockwise direction. The trail begins as a climb up a hill along the south edge of St. Mary’s Lake. Wild raspberries were growing so we enjoyed them as a pre-breakfast snack before the bears could get to them. As the trail continued we went through an old burn zone (2006) which was interesting to see the old burned out trees and the newer re-growth, up to the pond, through Aspen trees and some gorgeous wildflowers. The winds were strong at points but overall it was a pretty sheltered spot.
We spent the afternoon prepping for the next section of our trip which was to head towards the Beartooth Highwayy in southern Montana just outside of Red Lodge.
7/21/22 to 7/30/22
Arriving in Driggs, Idaho to attend the Driggs Plein Air Festival was very exciting. Our first task on arrival was for Sue to have all her blank painting canvases stamped at the Festival office. All the festival artists must have their canvases stamped so that the organizers know that everyone is starting with a blank canvas. The next task was to find our camping spot at the Big Eddy on the Teton River about 6 miles out of town. This primitive beautiful little spot would be our home for the next week. We were very fortunate to have a few friends that live in the area so we had some inside information about where to camp. We boondocked (camped without hookups) in a beautiful location called the Big Eddy (Rainey Bridge). Just as we were pulling in and trying to decide where to park another camper pulled out of what we deemed as the best spot. We had views of the Teton Mountains from our dining room window and were parked next to the Teton River which provided a much needed cooling off spot for us and Buddy.
After getting set up, Sue set out to find potential painting locations. Driggs is a rural community with lots of farming and surrounded by big mountains including the Teton National Park. After a few hours scouting the area Suzanne was ready to splash paint onto paper.
The first morning Sue got up with the sunrise and started a painting of the Teton river at the Big Eddy. The lighting and reflections on the water were beautiful and it was fun to watch all the paddlers come by. What started off as peaceful, turned into a bit of a mosquito fest, so she packed up and went back to the safety of the trailer.
The days were quite hot and unfortunately Driggs has very few trees to provide shade while painting. The afternoons were often spent playing in the river and relaxing. In the evening Sue, Buddy and Ross headed out to a location that had caught Sue’s eye in a nearby ranching town called Tetonia. This scene caught her eye because of the old grain elevator with nice lighting and the Tetons as a backdrop. As most painters know, there is almost always an ugly stage to every painting and Sue almost threw in the towel on this one, but fortunately pushed through. It ended up being a piece that sold and several buyers wanted it.
The second morning Sue got up to finish the painting called Morning Paddle and fortunately the mosquitoes were not as bad. The lighting was very different which created a challenge.
It was a very hot afternoon so Sue went into town to scout out potential painting spots for the upcoming quick draw in downtown Driggs. Generally she will do a few sketches and take photos to prepare for the painting and make sure that she thinks the composition will work.
That evening as the temperatures started to cool, we all went out to a shady spot where the view of the hay bales in the fields captured a nice evening light. Sue wasn’t able to finish the painting, but after studying the painting some more realized that this scene would be better with morning light and the shadows going in the other direction. So the following morning it was another early rise and return to this painting location to finish up the painting called Summer Hay Bales.
That afternoon we took a break from painting and went to downtown Driggs for the official opening night of the Plein Air Festival where each artist had 4 paintings hanging in the art gallery. The festival’s live band and food trucks made for a fun and relaxing evening, and seeing all the fantastic artwork, highlighted the caliber of painters in attendance.
The next morning was a very exciting one because the organized paint out was 45 minutes away at the top of the Grand Targhee ski resort. So Ross and I took the ski lift up to the top of the ski resort with all my supplies and scouted for a location to paint. The skies were a bit hazy due to some fires in Northern Idaho but the views were still great.
Unfortunately for Sue, this painting, although it started off well, didn’t end up to her satisfaction. Sometimes it is hard to simplify landscapes and not take on too much. In this case, her vision was too much for such a short amount of time to paint, so this one will have to be finished off in the studio.
The evening was spent with a friend and her husband having dinner at their house. It was such a nice way to spend the night and find out more about the local Driggs scene.
Tuesday morning was another early start. Sue needed to be downtown and signed in to the quick draw at 7am and ready to start painting at 7:30. On a quick draw everyone has 3 hours to paint something within a 3 block radius area and then have the painting framed and turned in for the jury and sale. I had planned this location and had done a sketch earlier in the week so I had a good idea of what needed to be done. I loved the bright yellow umbrellas, crisp blue sky and great flowers in the old wine barrels. I also had intentions of painting the American flag hanging from the nearby light post but time got away from me. I was happy with the result but may make some quick changes at home in the studio.
In the late afternoon all the participants were invited to the world renowned Scott Christensen’s art studio and home. His work is incredible and it was a huge treat to be able to see his paintings and art studio. I definitely had studio envy! It was amazing to hear him talk about his process and learn that his large paintings take a year and a half, and sometimes he hangs them to look at for years, before finishing and selling them. He shared with our group that he only does plein air paintings as studies for his larger paintings. It is something that I would like to start working on in the winter months. He had a few paintings that I could not take my eyes off and here are a few of them.
This plein air festival had two quick draw events which was unusual but fun. The 2nd location was not pre-announced so that no one had an advantage of pre-scouting the site for painting ideas. The night before they emailed everyone to say that check-in was at 7am at the Hapi horse rescue. There was a lot of subject matter including barns, horses, hay bales, trees, and long vistas. I walked around and decided to paint a portion of the barn with good lighting and some hay bales. I got about 45 minutes into the painting and was very unhappy with how it was turning out and decided to throw in the towel and change subject matter before it was too late. I turned my painting upside down and used my existing colors as a base color that would come through on my new painting. I did a quick sketch of some nearby trees with nice lighting and what we artists call “sky holes” in the trees. Sometimes I find when I think less and go more with my emotions and use my palette knife I like my painting better. In this case, I think it worked out and I painted this painting quickly. I like how the colors from the first painting come through in areas and I like how my trees turned out.
It was another hot afternoon so Ross, Buddy and I decided to go back up to Grand Targhee ski resort where it was 10 degrees cooler to do a hike. We wound up hiking through some beautiful aspen trees and into the wildflowers. It was great to see the ski runs and Ross was very excited to return in the winter.
In the evening I decided which paintings to submit for the final competition and framed them. I did not win any awards but I was happy with what I created and the competition was fierce. I did sell a few paintings and was so surprised that my painting called Serenity in the Tetons sold quickly and several people approached me to repaint it as a commissioned piece for them.
For the last two evenings we moved the RV over to another friend’s land in nearby Victor. He was a good friend from Boulder 20 years ago and it was fantastic to catch up with him and meet his new partner. We even got in a quick bike ride just like the old days.
On Friday morning Ross and I played golf with our friends in Driggs on a golf course that allows dogs. It was a great golf course and we played well, but it was fantastic to have our trusty companion Buddy with us and spend more time with our friends. Buddy LOVED running on the grass and taking advantage of all the ponds, creeks etc.
The Driggs Plein Air Festival was a lot of fun and was made even more special by spending time with friends! If you would like to see the art created by all the artists during the week the link to the gallery and sale are here.
We now head north to Glacier National Park, Montana for some hiking and hopefully a bit more painting of beautiful scenery.
7/16/22 to 7/20/22
Although this trip is a trip heading North, we decided to make a slight detour to Crested Butte because the wildflowers at this time of year are spectacular. This is our 3rd time to take a trip to Crested Butte at this time of year, and it did not disappoint. Interestingly, in town and near our campsite at Lake Irwin, we felt like the flowers were a little less amazing than normal. Each year varies due to the amount of snow fall and temperatures. The first day we did a hike on the Budd Trail which is in a valley just outside of town. The trail climbs up a hillside through some great Aspen groves and wildflowers.
Unfortunately, it was very hot, and Buddy looked like he was not enjoying the hike and certainly not up for a longer walk. We made our trek a smaller loop and then went into town for a coffee at a super cute coffee shop. The town was packed with tourist, so we retreated back to Lake Irwin to take a dip in the lake and lounge around our campsite.
The following morning, we got up early to head to West Maroon Pass trail. Amazingly on our drive, a bear crossed the road in front of us (which I had secretly wished for). I didn’t have time to get the camera out, but we loved the start of our day. The drive to the trailhead is a bit gnarly on a very narrow and rutted dirt road, but through a stunningly beautiful valley.
We started our hike very early in the morning to beat the heat and were blessed with gorgeous early morning lighting on the most amazing wildflowers we have ever seen. We ended up hiking to Hazely’s Ridge which was about 2.5 miles in and was almost entirely filled with the densest and most abundant varieties of wildflowers. The last time I had done this hike there were wildflowers but mostly areas of a single type of variety whereas this year they were mingled in together like a gorgeous bouquet. We climbed to the top of the ridge and enjoyed breakfast with a magical view.
The afternoon was a relaxing afternoon with a little bit of watercolor painting of some columbines and a dip in the lake. I was trying a new technique that I recently learned on watercolor where I layered the background greens, slowly building up the greens from the lightest to the darkest to create depth.
We packed up at Crested Butte and began our two day drive north to the Driggs Idaho Plein Art competition. Overnight we stopped at Meeker Colorado, a cute little rural town with a fantastic RV parking setup in their Town Park. It was the perfect stop over with all the amenities, as well as a beautiful park, river, and some trails.
Continuing north we deliberated a few different routes and decided to go with the quicker route which was 2 hours faster than the RV route suggested. Well, we found out why. The roads were gorgeous but ended up being two lane roads that at points turned to dirt. It was an adventure but worth it! The variety of terrain that we drove through was amazing and ended up taking us north to Pinedale, Wyoming where we spent the night in a campsite with wide vistas and a great sunset. Next stop is Driggs, Idaho.
3/23 to 3/31
On our drive from Ketchum, Idaho to Ogden, Utah we drove through some amazing farmland and great vistas. It dawned on me as I sat staring out the window that I should create a new painting series called “From the Road” so that I can share the scenes that we drive through. The first painting is called “Infinity” and caught my eye because of the vast, uninhabitable empty land with a few simple clouds. On some days the roads seem to go on forever with nothing in sight which always surprises me after seeing how dense some of our cities can be.
The second painting is called “On the Road to Taos” and is from a previous trip, but I loved the curve of the road, the cars on the road and the snow-capped mountains, drawing me into the distance.
We arrived in Ogden, Utah to some beautiful warm weather which makes for great camping but not great skiing. We enjoyed opening all the windows, being able to sit outside and barbeque our dinners. We spent two days skiing at Snow Basin which is another destination on Ross’s wish list. The Men’s and Women’s 2002 Olympic downhill were held at Snow Basin. Snow Basin is a smaller and less well known ski resort compared to other Utah ski resort, but results in less crowds and very easy access to the ski lifts. The restaurants and lodges on the mountain were beautiful and as I dubbed them, “dated posh décor”. The skiing was okay, but we felt there were a lot of blue groomers and then lots of steep extreme skiing with not much between the two. We did take the gondola to the top where the Olympic races were held and normally would have skied those runs but the snow conditions weren’t great, so we took the safer way down.
The temperatures continued to rise and were unseasonably warm, so we decided to end the skiing portion of this trip and move on to some golfing. We left Ogden, Utah, made a quick stop in Park City to say hi to a friend and get Buddy his annual Park City toy.
We continued on to Green River State Park in Utah. Green River was an easy stop over location that we ended up turning into a 3 night stay so that we could enjoy the warm temperatures and play two days of golf. The morning light was beautiful and gave me some opportunities to take some great photos for future paintings. The golf course was located right next to the campground which made it super convenient and fun. In the mornings we played golf and in the afternoon I painted.
We had 4 nights before we needed to head for home, and with a snowy weather forecast on the radar, we decided to get over a few mountain passes before the storm.
We decided to stay at Chatfield State Park just south of Denver. It was a beautiful place to camp with a large lake, walking trails and nice spacious camping spots. From Chatfield State Park, our last 2 nights would be at the Clear Creek RV park Golden, CO. We love this RV park because there are some great trails that we can walk to as well as the ability to see friends and play some more golf.
I had some time in the last 4 days to paint one more painting for the From the Road series called Highway 95. Again this was a photo from a previous trip, but I loved the depth and layering of the plateaus and bareness of the landscape.
After 4915 miles, 46 days, 8 ski resorts and 8 states our wonderful winter journey came to an end. Let me know what you think of this series of paintings and if it intrigues you. Are there any views from the road that you love in particular?
3/15/ to 3/22
We departed Sacramento and headed North to make a quick stop over night in Weed, CA at a cute Harvest Host location of Mt. Shasta Brewery. There was a beautiful short hiking trail close by that wound through majestic pines, and so we took advantage of this delightful walk after the long drive.
In the evening we had a nice dinner and beer at the brewery alongside a few other Rv’ers. The town of Weed as you can imagine had a lot of Weed jokes, t-shirts for sale etc.
As we headed north from Weed we passed through some beautiful scenery but also some shocking views of some reservoirs and lakes that were extremely low. We also drove through many more burned out forests than we can remember. It caused us to have lots of long talks about how the Earth can continue on this trajectory. Seeing the affects of climate change in person really brings it home and closer to my heart.
Eventually we got to Mt. Bachelor Ski Resort where we were able to get an RV reservation with electrical hookups at the base of the mountain. We were almost literally ski in and ski out which has been a dream for Ross. The day we arrived it was a blustery and snowy afternoon with the winds blowing the snow sideways.
Fortunately, we woke up the next day to 7 inches of fresh snow and blue skies. We got out on the mountain and had some fantastic skiing.
We were told by some locals that the Summit chair which goes to the top of the volcano was open and is rarely open (due to wind) so we beelined it over there and were able to ski that run twice and get the amazing views from the top. See the video below (sorry for a finger in the way during part of it). What I thought was particularly interesting about the top was being able to see other dormant volcanoes nearby and understand that we were at the top of a volcano and the ski runs and lifts go around the peak and ultimately there is a circular trail at the bottom connecting the mountain.
The following day was a grey day and windy so we skied the lower part of the mountain but again had fun and were glad that we had seen the mountain when there was blue sky. We had been told by the locals that this mountain is known for its winds. The following morning we awoke to some more fresh snow and the Summit Chair was opened briefly so we went back up to the top. It was an entirely different experience with horrible winds. It was pretty humorous to get off at the top and see everyone trying to survive the winds. Needless to say, it was closed down soon afterwards.
One of the nice things about staying in a location for a few days at a time is that it allows me time to paint. As I previously mentioned I am working on creating a greeting card line for pets. The idea is to have cards for pet sympathy cards, welcome to the family cards, get well soon cards etc. So this week I created a few silhouette images of cats and dogs that I think would make some nice generic images so that I can customize the cards with the appropriate wording. If any of you are wordsmiths, feel free to send me some wording that you think would be appropriate for these images and I will make sure that you get some free cards!
As you may remember from last year’s adventure we had camped in nearby Sisters and loved it. We had been to their famous Sisters Bakery and Ross had been talking about it for a year so we decided to make a quick detour to Sisters to stock up on their baked goods and fill up our freezer with lots of goodies. We then drove to Redmond which is nearby, to spend a lovely evening with my old Nanny who we called Mary Poppins. We had a heartwarming evening catching up and sharing memories which was so appropriate since it was 32 years ago that my father had passed away, and he adored Kathy.
We officially made the turn to start heading East towards home and decided to take the longer Scenic Byway drive along highway 20/26. The scenery was beautiful and well worth the extra miles driving this route. We overnighted at a Lavender farm in Ontario after a long day on the road and for our last night in Oregon.
We awoke to a windy day, fortunately it was mostly a tail wind but we encountered A LOT of tumble weed. There was something mesmerizing about watching it roll in groupings across the freeway. We safely got to Ketchum, Idaho with a beautiful drive through valleys, snowy mountains and beautiful ridge lines marked with snow. Downtown Ketchum had some beautiful shops and galleries and had a very nice upscale feeling. However, almost everything was closed on Sunday afternoon.
The following day we skied Bald Mountain which is an incredibly steep mountain. We were so surprised to ski their green runs which felt like advanced intermediate runs to us. Unfortunately, the snow conditions were less than desirable and almost all of the ski runs we would have normally wanted to ski were exposed rock and soil since they hadn’t had snow in quite a while.
We explored the resort and decided that on a good snow year it would be a fantastic resort to go back to. However, for us the skiing wasn’t worth another day, so we decided to move on.
We did drive around town and went over to the Sun Valley area. We were so surprised to find out that Sun Valley is not a ski resort but a town and that the ski resort is actually 2 different mountains (Bald Mountain and Dollar Mountain). There was lots to like about Ketchum and it would be somewhere we would go back to even in the off season to explore their vast bike paths.
Since we decided not to ski a second day we changed our itinerary a little bit and took a slight detour to Craters of the Moon National Monument. We arrived and found it closed on Mondays and Tuesdays in the winter so we were not able to get a lot of the information that we would have liked. The 7 mile driving loop was closed due to snow so we walked in for a ways to explore. It was interesting to see the vastness of the black lava with the stark contrast of the white snow.
We weren’t able to see the craters either due to the snow cover or because they were further out on the 7 mile loop which we could not do but the picture on the informational panel looked great (haha!) and what we could see of lava formations was intriguing.
If we are back in the area at a future date we will stop by. Ironically, we went to 2 National Monuments on this trip, one of which was the White Sand Dunes made of gypsum and now the black lava fields. Next stop are the ski resorts in Utah for hopefully some better skiing.
March 3rd to March 15
We have finally started on our skiing portion of the trip. It is ironic that our original itinerary was mostly to visit ski locations throughout the west but then we changed the first 2 weeks due to extremely cold temperatures. And then when we were supposed to go to Death Valley National Park but the temperatures were too warm so we had to reroute our plans again. First it was too cold and then it was too hot.
The change in plans did allow us to stay in Las Vegas which was great and then gave us a few days to head to Mammoth Lakes to ski Mammoth Mountain. We found a nice RV park just on the edge of town which allowed us not only to walk into town but to be a short drive to the ski resort.
We were fortunate to have a bluebird day on the first day so that we could see the glorious views and get a good sense of the resort. The skiing was fairly good even though they hadn’t had snow in awhile and it was quite evident by all the exposed dirt and rocks to the side of the runs. The following day was the exact opposite conditions with blizzard like conditions which did bring some fresh snow but very low visibility and a wind chill. We were happy to get a good sense of the mountain before retiring back to the warm Airstream. The nice thing about staying in a place for a few days and only skiing for a few hours is that it allows me to have time to paint.
I am currently working on a series of paintings with cats and dogs to make into a greeting card side business. This painting below is of two cats which I started with a base of watercolor on watercolor board and then added some white gouache on top of the watercolor for some of the lighter details.
We woke up the next morning with plans to head to Tahoe but noticed weather alerts on our phone. We checked the road conditions and they were showing that chains were required (which we don’t have currently for the trailer) so we decided to wait a few hours and see if they lifted the restriction. Low and behold they did, so we headed out and were shocked to see dry roads with not a drop of snow on them. Coloradans would have been laughing.
We made our way to Carson City, Nevada to stock up on supplies and spend the night at another Harvest Host location called Sunridge Golf Course. Unfortunately, it was too cold to play any golf but we did have a spectacular view and it was a nice stop over.
The next day we moved on to Truckee, CA to base ourselves for 5 nights so that we could ski at North Lake Tahoe. I had spent a lot of time in Tahoe as a kid and it brought back so many great memories and felt a bit like home. On our first day of skiing, we met my oldest brother, nephew and two others at Northstar to ski. It was a great bluebird day with decent skiing and great views.
Lake Tahoe was it’s glorious blue and such a beautiful backdrop. Late in the afternoon Ross and I headed into the historic part of Truckee to walk around and do a little shopping. It was a charming town and changed for the better.
Our next couple days of skiing was at the old Alpine Meadows (now called Palisades Tahoe) and the old Squaw Valley (now called Palisades). The ski resorts were much as I had remembered, and we had another few days of great skiing and magical views. We loved exploring both resorts and after skiing all the resorts that we did in the Tahoe area we ranked Squaw Valley our favorite resort.
In the afternoon we went in to see Tahoe City and walk along a new (to me) lakeside path which was really beautiful.
The following morning we moved to the South Shore of Lake Tahoe and drove the California side of the lake which is pretty spectacular. It was pretty windy and cold and there was a lake advisory due to the winds so there were whitecaps on the lake which made it a bit more dramatic. We stopped at a few vista points including Emerald Bay to take in the glorious blue of Lake Tahoe.
Eventually we got to the South Shore and set up at our new camp site which was located in Zephyr Cove. We were nestled in the trees and very close to the lake and Heavenly Valley Ski resort. We were fortunate to be able to walk quickly down to the lake for our morning and evening dog walks. It was nice to see the lake and the snowy mountains in the different lighting.
We had hoped to ski in the afternoon but due the high winds several of the ski lifts were closed so we decided to take the day off but were able to ski the next day. Heavenly is a perfectly named ski resort because the views are absolutely Heavenly. From all the ski resorts that we did in Tahoe we had great views but from Heavenly the views are even more breathtaking. Not only do you get a wide vista of the lake but you also get the dramatic contrast between the desert views of Nevada vs the snow capped mountains and the lake as seen in the video below.
The skiing was also good but again would have been even better if they had had fresh snow so that we could have skied some of the runs between the trees etc. On the last afternoon I felt so inspired by the beauty that I created this quick painting based on a photo taken at Heavenly Valley.
Next stop was just outside of Sacramento where we have some family and a new great niece Rory that we wanted to meet.
It was a fun filled weekend seeing my oldest brother and his family as well as my other brother’s son, his wife and new born.
On the Sunday my brother, his wife , Ross and I and my friend Susan from college went wine tasting in Amador County. It was perfect day tasting great wines, enjoy the California sunshine and having a nice picnic. It was a perfect relaxing day with lots of laughs and great fun.
It is now time to move on to Oregon and Idaho for some more skiing adventures.