Archives for category: northwest

Last year before I left on that Great Adventure, I’d prayed for healing and to trust in God to show me the path it. It was, from the beginning, an amazing journey of trust and healing. As I contemplated this years Great Adventure, I prayed for Spiritual healing. And it has been just that.

As my sister and I drove through northern Arkansas to get to Branson, Missouri, she kept telling me that she had had a recurring dream of this very drive along the Buffalo River and seeing rock structures. Everywhere we went there were rock houses and buildings. It just kept reaffirming to us how the miracle of her being able to join me on this trip (our first alone in 22 years) that it was going to be cosmic. At every turn, it has been.

We left Bartlesville, OK (in northeastern Oklahoma) yesterday across the entire northern  Oklahoma panhandle about ten hours to get to Eagle Nest, New Mexico! It was worth the sacrifice because of the magnificent views which greeted us and the wonderful people we met upon arriving.

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Thousands of acres of wheat framed by gray clouds and rich green vegetation

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Amber Waves Of Grain in northern Oklahoma

The pictures above pretty much sum up the cross-state adventure of Oklahoma accentuated with rolling hills of enormous pasturelands with cows and horses. We had the best time laughing over childhood stories and other adventures. We’re sitting here still trying to believe that was just yesterday (and not a week ago) when we were in the car that long!

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Cimarron Canyon State Park was the prelude to Eagle Nest.

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These kind of rock outcroppings always make me brake for a photo

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The trees aren’t bad either!

The payoff was Eagle Nest, New Mexico and the incredible Spiritual Healer we met and all the welcoming, lovely citizens of that precious gem of a community we now know we want to visit. Eagle Nest, NM.

This morning, we wandered around this lovely western village meeting new friends and hugging kindred spirits we’d met last night. We hiked down a trail to sit on a picnic table to soak up the vast openness of this valley, inhale the healing peace and air around us and tap into God’s wonders all around us like the beautiful wild flowers.

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Magnificent wildflowers of this kind and delicate purple irises!

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This lake is huge!

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More snow capped mountains surrounding this valley

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Big sky

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More contrasts

We tore ourselves away to head for a light day of driving to Taos, New Mexico. What a beautiful town full of northern New Mexico adobe structures and artistry. We walked around the shops and couldn’t resist capturing some of its magnificent culture in local native music, weavings and garments. We ate at Doc Martin’s. We were immediately informed by our bustling waitress that this Doc Martin had absolutely nothing to do with the TV show or the shoes as she dropped our menus on the table! After we ordered, she then instructed us to read the history of the restaurant’s origins on the back of the menu. She kinda reminded me of my fourth grade no-nonsense teacher I had.

We had put our hotel address into my GPS which promptly took us 12 miles in the opposite direction to find the Rio Grande River Gorge! It wasn’t really my GPS’s fault because this small town has way too many similar names! Anyway, my brave sister walked out onto the overlook in the middle of the bridge to take these pictures!

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North view of Rio Grande River Gorge north of Tao, New Mexico

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South view of Rio Grande River Gorge north of Taos, NM

Tomorrow, we head for Santa Fe, NM to see the Georgia O’keeffe art gallery, a church with a suspended staircase and more!

HAPPY TAILS (in loving memory of Montana, the best Service Dog ever), OR TALES OR TRAILS! Reader’s choice!





As a postscript to the Tail of the Dragon Road from my first post, it turns out that experience prepared me for yesterday’s harrowing drive on Hwy. 49 trying to get to East Glacier! I was still scared out of my wits driving that horrible, poorly maintained road with drops in the pavement, broken pavement and some of the scariest curves combined with rain, snow, fog and fear…but I did it! Probably got more gray hair but I did it!

As for today, I didn’t know the focus was going to be clouds and light. I thought it was going to be back roads of Idaho toward Twin Falls from Missoula, MT. However, when I plugged in the back road route I wanted to take, TomTom said it would take me TWELVE hours to get there! Map in hand, I searched for an alternative to see what results I got that way. It turned out that the only viable route to get close to my original destination was to head back South on I-15 through Montana…the way I’d traveled a few days ago to get to Kalispell.

This experience of traversing the same road in the opposite direction was magnified today as I kept checking to make sure I was on the right road because it looked so different. It may have been my fascination with all the cloud formations.

As soon as I headed South on Hwy. 93 out of Kalispell, the first inkling of today’s focus came to light…so to speak. My sister and I were just discussing the critical relevance of light and how its affect on our perceptions of color. Think on that while you look below.

It was a 350 mile stretch of I-15 which started about 10:00AM and I stopped taking photos as I crossed the Idaho State line around 4:00 PM.

It’s probably hard for you to see but the “white” on top of the mountain range isn’t snow…it’s a cloud sitting firmly on top of the mountain!



Then the dark clouds seem to magically break up and hug the mountains.


Are the white areas behind the mountain clouds or snow?


Left shows the clouds better sitting firmly on the mountains.



The farther South we travel, the more interesting the sun light and the clouds get.


Here the clouds are sitting firmly on top of this range as well.


Now add snow to this range & rain clouds.



And BRIGHT light coming through the clouds to the left.






So many cloud changes in a 350 mile stretch of I-15 South in a relatively short period of time.





Again brilliant light!


This photo inspired me to paint again! The mixture of browns, greens, charcoal grays countered with bright whites of just the mountains would look great on a shirt!



And the best part? This one!


Tomorrow? I’m headed toward Auburn, CA via Utah and Nevada…two of my favorite states to drive through. I’m excited to see what the focus will be for tomorrow’s drive!


Today’s adventure ended up being about 250 miles round trip and only 180 pictures to cull! I’m surprised that I took that many because it was a dreary, rainy, low cloud, foggy day. But, as I’ve said, coming back gives a different perspective from going and the second trip from Kalispell toward West Glacier was just as exciting as yesterday’s!







Logan Pass makes going from the West to East side of the Park extremely interesting and tricky as the roads are 1920 narrow with only short rock walls to keep you from going over the 6600+ foot precipice at the top of the Pass. There are other higher peaks but not ones you can drive. They have to be hiked.

At this time, the Pass is still closed and, frankly, after taking Hwy. 49 as a shortcut to Saint Mary East Glacier entrance, I’m glad. I was struggling with the fog, rain, hairpin curves, disappearing road, heights, drops and my vertigo to the point that I’m stiff as a board from the stress of that dang road but I DID IT! BTW, there are no pictures from this part of the trip! LOL

I called my BFF and told her what I’d experienced getting to the Visitor’s Center and how I was hoping the Going-To-The-Sun Road from the East entrance was as uncomplicated as the West was. And, other than the snow, rain, fog, curves, disappearing road, hairpin curves, heights and drops it wasn’t as challenging as Hwy. 49…but I was only twelve miles in. Believe me, the rest of that road will make a believer outta ya!

View near the East Glacier entrance (headed West).




Saint Mary Lake



Love me some rocks!



And really BIG rocks that look like mountains with snow on the top but it’s really big rocks with glaciers on top overlooking Saint Mary Lake.




Now this moment of wild flower love is dedicated to my mom. It was wild that I drove through snow and 34 degree temps with all the wild flower blooming going on.




Now I’m headed back toward the East entrance (going East).



And, as it happens in nature, there was a HUGE fire that took out a lot of trees but nature abhors a void and the new growth is coming back with a vengeance. Did you know there are a number of plants which rely on fire to release their seeds like the jack pine? (Thanks for teaching me that, Mom!)

This picture shows a magnificent waterfall (the white on the right) and the remnants of the glacier on the left. I think I took 15 shots to get this one pic.


There’s more evidence of the fire on the East side than West.


Personally, I love the fire remnants juxtaposed against the lush life of the green on the mountain looking over  the lake.


Yeah, ROCKS!



There’s a peek at the little rock wall built at the Park’s inception to prevent cars of the 21st century from dropping thousands of feet! LOL


Next, I drove to Browning, MT in the Blackfoot Reservation where there’s a cool shop I’d visited before called the Blackfoot Trading Company. The ladies there were so nice. The recommended I have a quick bite here at the Junction Cafe. They have a killer hamburger on flatbread!


Then home again, home again, jiggly jig! Now driving West on Hwy. 2 giving me a great view of the Flathead River you can’t grasp going East!


Yeah, it’s all about the water and the rocks for me…even at The Southern Comfort Cabin!



It’s off toward Auburn, California tomorrow as I’m expected there on Monday and it’s could be a bit of a drive (to say the least) considering the distance and the weather promised! Oh well. It’s the journey! All about the journey!



Today’s post is dedicated to (West) Glacier National Park via  Kalispell, MT! As before, a thousand pictures is worth a million words! This is amazing country and too much dialogue just diminishes the view! Enjoy! I sure did!

I’m staying in Kalispell, MT to enjoy getting to know a new town but to drive back and forth to Glacier. I know, that sounds crazy but when I travel a back road, I get a different perspective of the views depending on the direction I’m taking. For example, traveling East to West through Zion National Park looks more remarkable to me than West to East. The difference to me is that dramatic and I love experiencing this when I go anywhere.

I started my day with breakfast at the Montana Club and Casino. No, I didn’t gamble on anything other than their California Omelet & I won!


The inside decor was so awesome! I sat there enjoying the view as much as I did meeting another southerner who had moved to Kalispell 17 years ago as I did my breakfast. I’m going to get back before I leave, for sure.

The Main Street area of Kalispell is adorable! Check this out!




Leaving Kalispell up Hwy. 93 to Hwy 35 to Hwy 2 (about 35 miles toward West Glacier (western entrance to the Park) was a culmination of thirteen years of dreams of getting back here. Yeah, you could say I was excited!

With the rain forecast, I really didn’t expect to take over 250 pictures today but Mother Nature provided me such great beauty in the clouds sitting on top of the glacier capped mountains. With each twist and turn of the road, I got a different perspective of the clouds and the mountains they were snuggling.





One of the Forks of the Flathead River.






Then, we entered Glacier from the West entrance where you’ll find Lake McDonald and the Lodge built on it in 1913. I couldn’t go inside because they were getting it ready for inspection for their season opening tomorrow. Go online and check it out.

Where’s Montana? Montana is in Montana sitting near Lake McDonald!


Lake McDonald



Lake McDonald Lodge original renovated Tour Buses. I took these in 2003 to tour the Going-To-The-Sun Road when I was here before and it was so awesome.


This creek is one of the many that feed Lake McDonald and it runs right beside the lodge and some of the cabins for rent there.


Who is that standing by the rear of the Lodge where it overlooks Lake McDonald?


And here too! It looks a great deal like Montana!


Rear view of the Lodge from the boat dock.


One of the cabins for rent by the creek at Lake McDonald Lodge.


The next video and photos are near the end of the stretch of road open today.




Because only sixteen miles of the Going-To-The-Sun Road was open today, I explored the only other road available. One is called Camas Road. The next photos are views from it.


North Fork of the Flathead River.



And the scary cool part of my journey today was taking a rock road into an area not named nor generally travelled especially this time of the year. I wasn’t sure why I kept going on this one lane road because the views weren’t spectacular and Montana was signaling with her funny little wince that she wanted me to turn around. I did because she was insistent and she’s got a better sense of smell than I do and she sure didn’t like something.

It took me a few minutes to even find a spot to turn around and found this “money shot!”


Tomorrow, we’ll be driving past the West entrance going east on Hwy. 2 hugging the southern portions of the Park to get to the East entrance. Not sure how many miles are open on that side tomorrow but I heard that Going-To-The-Sun Road will be open on Saturday, the day I leave.


After getting a full nights rest last night, my now clear head realized that I’d “bought” 3 days from my zealous driving methods. As I have this realization, I’m thinking, “I’m in Montana…my favorite state…and only six (6) hours away from my second favorite National Park (first being Ashley National in Utah)…Glacier…! DANG! I’m going!”

I got so excited knowing I’d be there again after thirteen (13) years AND for three days that I got a renewal of spirit. I couldn’t pack up the car fast enough!

This blog is purely the joy of the drive of western Montana from Livingston (just North of Yellowstone near Bozeman) to Kalispell (just south of Glacier National Park).

It’s a stunning drive and I wish I had a better camera but these photos will give you a taste of what you have to look forward to when you make this trip!

First photo, about an hour north of Livingston, when I spy glacier capped mountains! I just can’t get enough of this stuff!


It’s true! The grass is greener on the other side! This is the greenest grass I ever saw!


And, just a few miles up the road, this prairie looking contrast.


Both rolling terrain and pasture. BTW, these rolling hills used to be mountains! So were the rocky crags you’ll see along I-90.


This is so different from North Georgia, Tennessee, North and South Carolinas, Kentucky, Virginia and, now that I think about it, most of the states northeast of Georgia!

This photo is taken to the left of the highway (I-90 N/W).


This photo is taken to the right of the highway (I-90 N/W). Interesting contrast in a relatively short space apart. My head was constantly pivoting left to right!


Turn off of I-90 onto the road to Kalispell.


Getting to the good stuff!




Drool! Pasture, lush forest AND glacier capped mountains!


YEAH! That’s what I’m tawkin’ ’bout!


Had to put this one in too…just because!


They sure look naked compared to the glacier capped mountains in Grand Tetons, don’t they? These are north by the whole state of Montana from the Tetons in NW Wyoming.


Flathead Lake is HUGE! It would make our Lake Burton look like a mud puddle! The Flathead River feeds this lake both named for the Flathead Native American  Tribe whose reservation is in this area.


The last two really are from an area immediately before Flathead Lake but I loved the clouds, sky, mountains separated from greenest fields by dark green tree line.


This one just because.


Tomorrow, Glacier National Park!


This whole trip has been about getting back to Flaming Gorge National Recreational Park. I go there every time I head west. It’s my must go see place in this country…well, that only via backroads in northern New Mexico, southern Colorado and western Wyoming.

So, this post is going to be mostly photos that just can’t do it justice because my camera is about eight years old, it was raining all day except when I asked God for sun to be shining when I got to Red Canyon…and the sleet/rain combo stopped long enough for Montana and I to walk around, take pictures and get back in the car before it all started again. Yep. That’s true and you’ll see it in my photos.

Here we go! I started in Rawlins, Wyoming via I-80 to Green River to pick up 530 south to get to Utah where the juiciest parts are. These six photos are what it looked like getting to Green River in a capsule.


From Green River, going south still in Wyoming, you reach the beginning of the Flaming Gorge Park.


Once in Utah, the goal is to get to the Sheep Creek Geologic Turn out. This is what it looks like getting to that point.


The road just seems to disappear as you drive at 15 MPH through Sheep Creek.2016-5-16UTFlameToSheep32016-5-16UTFlameToSheep5

Most of you don’t know that I fell in love with Geology and seriously considered changing my Major from Art to it but I had way too many credits in Art at that point to switch. So, to me, the BEST is the Sheep Creek Geologic Turn out once you get into Utah.

SHEEP CREEK it only took me FIVE years to get back to you, but here you are and here I am!


And…Sheep Creek…


But the BEST of the BEST is Red Canyon. Yeah, baby. It’s all that and some!


I decided to go back to Wyoming the same way I came in which was going to be the first time I’d travelled south on that road. It’s wonderful how things look so differently going in a different direction like it’s a totally different road.

Having vertigo creates the strange sensation of being drawn to the edge of the precipice while fighting the steering wheel during fog, rain, sleet, hairpin turns, road disappearing and severe drop off edges (like dropping several thousand feet) with only a small guard rail to keep you from going over.


I took a new back road to my next stop back in Wyoming. I was enjoying the lack of noise, traffic, 70 MPH drive, huge pasturelands full of Black Angus and savoring my day when I notice that the speed limit is reduced to 60 MPH. I check my speedometer and look back up to see a HUGE black blob in the middle of the road. I had no time at all to cipher what it was…only brake and pull to the right. It was during that process that I realized that three cowboys were HERDING Black Angus IN THE MIDDLE OF A HIGHWAY! They proceeded by us, smiled and tipped the bills of their baseball caps in “thanks.” I was so stunned that I totally forgot to grab my camera!

For some reason, I just LOVE to see long trains crossing open land. As I approached my randomly picked destination for the night on a back road to nowhere, a train is crossing a no-name abandoned whistle stop. It was just too cool not to capture.


And my randomly picked destination for the night happens to be the Fossil Capital of the World and the Home of J. C. Penny! Who knew! I’m going to drive around town tomorrow to get a little feel for it before heading for the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone!


Didn’t have a clue that eastern Colorado was such a cow palace! It resembled the cattle ranches I saw in Texas (yes, with holding pens).

Wide open country

Then comes Nowhere Nebraska which is ALL green and lush.

It’s really interesting how crossing a state line is so obvious because of terrain or rivers. You KNOW you’re in another state because everything looks so different.

There’s a great deal of agricultural areas in Nebraska. I sure hope they’re not all owned by large corporations. I hope there are still some Mom & Pops around.

Beautiful countryside but make sure you get gassed up before entering Nebraska on I-80! There just aren’t that many places for fuel here.

I thought all the long trains went through Nevada and Colorado! Here’s a neat perspective.

Although there’s some dirt on the car window, I still wanted to add this photo because of the river in the background. Just beautiful!

And, as always, it’s Motel 6 when I need a TV fix or drive too long and have gotten too tired to set up the camper. BTW, most campsites don’t have really fast internet service so it takes forever to download photos. I’m kinda’ liking this Motel 6 because it’s a franchise (instead of a chain) and, although it’s pricier, it’s definitely privately run because of the grounds, location (overlooking a river) and it’s internet service. It’s in Grand Island, Nebraska just in case you’re ever up this way!

Boulder is a thriving, active city with more bicycles per square inch than most other American cities. How do I know, you may ask? Montana thinks they’re ALL something to bark about! She’s bicycle challenged and they torment her everywhere here even when it’s pouring down rain!

Boulder’s air is fresh and the atmosphere healthy. The mountains are remarkable backdrops for any drive as they’re in every picture you take. And, speaking of pictures, something happened with my camera and I can’t download any pictures from my last memory card. Don’t know what’s up with that but I’ve loaded a new one and hope all is well again soon as I leave for Canada tomorrow.

Anyway, I do want to give you all a heads up on a great little place to eat in Lyons, CO not to far from Boulder called Smokin’ Dave’s BBQ & Taphouse and their original location in Estes Park. Their menu is in the two inside pages of a clever newspaper called “The Smoke Ring” which gives a little history of the place and of BBQ in general.

As I enjoy trying several different things, I decided to order the “Dave’s Triple” from the Smokin’ Platters. What I didn’t know is that there would be enough food on the plate for ALL of us! I had beef ribs (which I did not share), brisket and pulled pork. We brought home virtually all of the brisket and pork and ate off it for dinner two days!

Look them up if your ever out this way! Their number is 303-823-RIBS. Bon appetit!

I really wasn’t going to post anything yet about Boulder but the drive in from Cheyenne had such a great view that I couldn’t resist. I just love snow-covered mountain ranges!

Where the mountains meet the clouds!

Drive down Hwy 36 into Boulder

And, last but not least…

Montana, my traveling sidekick!

This time while I’m in Boulder, I’m actually going to see some of it! I can’t wait!

Happy Trails!

How in the WORLD do you totally miss Flaming Gorge? I have no clue but that’s exactly what happened today. See, it all started when I found myself in the middle of no where Wyoming needing gas. So, I did the most logical thing which was to find an interstate, which I did. It was either back track 10 miles or go down into a no name Wyoming town 3 miles off the freeway to fill ‘er up (so the sign on the freeway said, anyway).

I drove three miles to find the state route closed. The highway department worker sent me on a detour. That’s the last thing I remember except I kept saying to Montana that nothing looked familiar, which was the way it was supposed to be because I was taking a back road. Then I saw a sign mentioning Flaming Gorge and got all excited but it NEVER showed up. Before I knew it, I was in Green River, Wyoming north of the gorge.

Sure, I coulda’ turned around and gone south through the gorge but I’d already done that three times. I wanted to discover what it was like going north. Oh well. It just wasn’t meant to happen on this trip and quickly resigned myself to the fact that I’ll just have to do it next trip out!

So, here are pictures of the back road I was on!

Wyoming unknown state route going north!

Looks like Nevada!

Snow covered mountains!

landscape changes again


more flying

changing terrain again and again

beautiful greens and big rocks


Tomorrow I leave Wyoming and enter Colorado to see Mandy in Boulder. I can’t wait!

Happy Trails!