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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
10/13/2020 to 10/16/2020
We are off for our longest trip yet! As we were packing up our neighbor stopped by and said that we looked like 2 kids in a candy shop…we were so excited. So many adventures, beautiful unexpected sights are awaiting us.
Our first planned destination is Eagle, Idaho for a week of painting at the Eagle Plein Air Festival where I will be painting and submitting my art into a juried competition. Our original idea was to drive north through Wyoming and then head west, but with fires in Wyoming and forecasts of high winds we changed our plans. We head west through Colorado on I-70 which we always find beautiful, The mountains, canyons, fall leaves and great rock formations always take our breath away. With no plans on where to stay we ended up pulling into Parachute, CO for fuel and saw a nice dirt parking area surrounded by fall leaves, buttes and the Colorado River. We called the hotel (that had signage saying parking by permit only) and they told us that we could stay the night. Voila! A perfect stop for the night. The next morning we did a quick walk down a dirt road and were struck by beautiful colors reflecting in some still lakes and the buttes.
We decided to set off early to get some miles under our belt and then stopped for breakfast and another walk at James M. Robb State Park which we had driven past before and were curious about. It was a nice campground with everything you could need, some beautiful scenery and something to keep in mind for a another trip.
In lieu of heading into Salt Lake (like the original plan) we noticed a scenic road on the map and decided to take that north. Hwy 139 was a very interesting road. It started off with great fall color trees that traced the edge of a creek and wound up steeply to rock formations that ended in a valley that could have been terrain on the moon. Eventually we got to our destination of Dinosaur National Monument. I didn’t have high expectations since I’m not much of a fossil fan, but it was well worth the stop. The huge quantities and size of the dinosaur fossils there are amazing. They believe that there are remains of over 500 dinosaurs here and they are huge. The thigh bones (as seen in the picture below) are as tall as I am.
Being an architect in my past life, I absolutely loved the building as well. The clean lines, the natural lighting and the way that it was built into the rock formations was great to see.
We decided to camp at the National Monument since we had heard from a friend that they loved the campground, and it did not disappoint. We found a beautiful spot, nestled into the trees near the bank of the Green River. I had just come back from a hike with Buddy to an overlook when our neighbors came over to ask if I was interested in painting watercolors with their kids down at the river. Ross and I wound up the day with them painting on the banks of the river. It was a beautiful way to complete the day and spread some love of painting with the kids.
Our third day was about getting some mileage in and getting closer to Eagle, ID. We spent the early morning with our cup of tea on the edge of the Green River mesmerized by the beauty of the sunlight on the shimmering yellow trees and the rock formations. We packed up and then decided to have breakfast about an hour away in Steinaker State Park. We’ve decided that this is a nice way to start the day. We get our breakfast and walk in after we drive for an hour which is a great way to see another location.
Next stop was at the Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area (which we had driven past on previous trips). We had lunch and a walk at Red Canyon overlook which was breathtaking. The colors of the canyon with the green river with the sheer drop offs was amazing and well worth stopping for. We are feeling really blessed to be able to do this road trip. Only 3 days in and already we both are rejuvenated and inspired.
We headed north and made our way into Wyoming. I have many apps on my phone to find camping locations, and was struggling a little to find one near Cokeville, WY. I did come across one near a small ski resort called Pine Creek. We headed that direction and then decided to just park in the parking lot figuring that it would be empty. We saw the lights on in the small lodge, so we walked up the hill and asked if they would be okay if we stayed there for the night. They were fine with it, and Ross was so excited to stay in a ski resort even though there isn’t any snow yet. So far this adventure has been great.
Eagle Idaho here we come!
9/21 to 9/25
Fall leaf season in Colorado is here so Ross and I headed up to the mountains for our annual trip to see the Aspen leaves. We were a bit early on our timing, but it was still beautiful. We started our trip with two nights at Camp Hale near Leadville, CO. Camp Hale is a historic area where they trained the Army in the 10th Mountain Division to ski so that they could access the mountains in Europe during World War 2. Ross is a bit of a history buff and had been reading about this special group and area and wanted to visit. The Camp Hale campground had beautiful scenery and it was empty. We pulled in, set up and went out for a peaceful hike around the campground with views of Aspen trees, ponds, rivers and the valley. The next day we got up and hiked part of the Continental Divide trail that runs through Colorado. We had the trail to ourselves and enjoyed fantastic views and wonderful fall colors. The Aspen were changing color, the sky was a clear blue, and the chaparral in the valley were various colors of orange, reds and greens. A painters paradise!
We set up some camp chairs after the hike and I attempted a watercolor painting. The weather started changing (as it often does in the mountains in the afternoon) and I rushed to get a sense of the scene down on paper. I spent the rest of the afternoon back in the trailer touching it up.
Our excitement for the afternoon was a moose sighting on our way back to our campsite. We were able to sit and watch him walk through the meadow for quite a long time. They are amazing animals, massive in size and strength, and he had a huge rack of antlers. We felt like it was a perfect day.
The following two days we spent at the Difficult Campground outside of Aspen. I think we were a bit early for the majority of the trees, but some had started to turn color. The campground is fantastic, and our site was beautiful and private. The location is also a huge plus since it is close to the town of Aspen but also has some hiking trails that head out of the campground.
We spent the morning hiking the Difficult Trail which is a solid uphill climb. We passed through evergreens and aspens and ultimately reached a great view of the valley and the rushing Difficult Creek.
The afternoon I spent painting the Roaring Fork River. I have been wanting to work on my painting skills in regards to water so this was a great exercise for me.
This short trip got us even more excited for our upcoming adventure in October and November. It is now time to get serious about packing and organizing for this journey west.
Our goal for this trip was mostly to get out of town and to escape the heat of Boulder. When we pulled out of Boulder it was 95 degrees which is way above my comfort zone. After researching various locations, we decided it would be best to go up into the mountains to a much higher elevation, and so we ended up in Leadville, CO which is located at about 10,000 feet. Our first night we camped at Mt. Massive Golf Course which is part of our Harvest Host membership. We arrived around dusk and got set up just in time before a thunderstorm pulled in.
While looking for nearby hikes for the following morning, we discovered that there was some dispersed camping sites right nearby. For those of you new to this, dispersed camping is free camping off of dirt roads in National Forests with no bathrooms, services or hook ups. It also means Buddy doesn’t have to be on leash which means freedom for all of us. Fortunately we are now self supporting with water tanks, solar panels and a generator. We got up in the morning and our dog walk led us through the dispersed camping available and we found a fantastic site.. There were about 100 sites on a variety of dirt roads with some majestic views. We packed up the Airstream and moved to a new site.
That afternoon we played golf at the Mt. Massive Golf course which is the highest golf course in the US. It wasn’t the most manicured golf course, but considering it is located at 10, 152 ft it isn’t surprising. Ross and I both had a great round of golf (maybe because the golf balls flew farther at this altitude or maybe due to skill). As is typical in the mountains another thunderstorm rolled in just as we finished the 9th hole and headed back to camp. The skies cleared after a nice BBQ which allowed me to do a quick watercolor painting of the beautiful evening light from our campsite.
Poor Buddy had a rough night and wasn’t feeling great, which was our first experience of having to get up several times in the night to let him out. I had visions of running into a bear in the dark, but fortunately that did not happen, but it did mean we had a slow morning on our second day. Because we were concerned about leaving Buddy alone in the camper after not feeling well we decided not to play golf and instead we spent the day at Turquoise Lake. There is a beautiful trail that follows the shoreline and links to lots of campgrounds. After exploring the campgrounds for future visits, we both felt that our current camp spot was a much better option for future days. There appeared to be lots of hiking, biking and beautiful vistas to paint, so I’m sure we will come back. The daily afternoon thunderstorms rolled in which meant that the light for painting wasn’t very inspiring, so we spent the afternoon reading and relaxing.
Our last morning, I really wanted to paint at the lake while the sun light was low. It was a cool beautiful morning, the water was flat and it was so peaceful. Ross sat on beach and read while Buddy thoroughly enjoyed playing in the water.
We headed back to camp, packed up to head home and return to the heat. If you are an RV’er you can appreciate when everything goes smoothly including finding a good dump station. This was one of those trips. We felt as if finding our camp spot was easy and were pleased when we found out that there was a dump station about 5 minutes from where we were and on the way home. We had a good laugh because we were hooked up and draining our black and grey water (aka sewage) when a few other campers pulled behind us. Just as we were about to pull out the driver behind us got out of his RV to tell us that he liked my art and blog. Who knew that you could get a new follower from having our website on the back of the Airstream at a dump station…The moral of the story is: May you find beauty wherever you go.
We made another quick escape from the heat and headed up the mountains to Lake Dillon in Frisco. We got the last available campsite for the nights that we needed at Peak One campground. We would highly recommend this campground since we had a beautiful camp spot with views of the mountains and were close to lots of hiking, biking and access to the lake. We were there for two nights and three days and were able to get in a few nice hikes, a bike ride around most of the lake, a few get togethers with some friends and a bit of artistic time as well.
The lighting for the first two days was very flat and did not inspire me to paint so instead I decided to focus on some watercolor pencil sketches. I am currently teaching a watercolor pencil class via zoom to a few people and as they always say, “The Best Way to Learn is to Teach”. In my class we have been discussing how to draw a tree by looking at its massing, shape or leaf/needle groupings. I decided to analyze the tree nearest our campsite and draw it. It was dusk, and I only had about 30 minutes to draw which was great, because it really forced me to look at the tree and capture its essences quickly.
One of the students requested drawing rocks as our next assignment so I spent the following morning drawing a large rock in our campsite. Again, it was a great lesson for me to step back and really look at the shape, coloration, veining etc.
So here are the two studies that I completed.
The last day was absolutely beautiful. We went on a morning hike, packed up the trailer and drove over to the day parking access area so that I could spend the next few hours painting on the lake. The winds were up, so the water was a bit choppy and I had to be careful with my easel. It is always a bit of a challenge when you are painting on a warm and windy day since the paints dry very quickly both on the palette and the canvas. Ross was able to enjoy some reading time on the beach and Buddy loved playing in the water and contemplating life (see the picture below).
This painting was a particular challenge for me since there were so many variations of green in one scene. Greens are notoriously difficult for painters because they can become either garish or too similar in value. I had to mix several different green mixtures and had to grey them down as well, but ultimately I think the painting turned out to be a success.
It was another great few days escaping reality and now it is time to plan the next outing.