For those of you interested Only in TRAVEL, I (Jack) wrote the blog between March 2010 and October 2010 during our travels west. We saw the most beautiful places and had the best time in our big truck and little trailer. See Blog Archive below.

Aug 31, 2010

Where is Jack, Day 142?

Nancy has a couple of pictures in the camera, but didn't upload them. We took a ride to Hamilton MT. It was not as interesting as the drive to Wisdom even though we went in the same direction. We were in the Bitteroot Valley, which is beautiful; however, the mountains were full of smoke from fires that were visible from the valley. That's what Nancy tried to catch with the camera. Coming over the pass, we hit hail. The road was virtually empty between Hamilton and Salmon--I think we saw one truck and one car after leaving Hamilton.

We were both tired. We got back nd Nancy walked me. These rabbits are funny. They must sleep under our trailer. I wanted to play with one that's the same color as me, but Nancy wouldn't let me and the rabbit didn't seem too playful. It just ignored me.

Tomorrow (today, really) we're going to Rexburg. We're all hooked up--only have to disconnect the electric and water. Nancy wanted to take it easy and was afraid it would be pouring if she didn't do it in-between the showers.

For those of you from Dahlonega, GA, there's a creek here by that name and we also drove on a road by the same name until the pavement ended.

Aug 29, 2010

Where is Jack, Day 141?

Adventure is just around the corner almost every day when you're traveling. We slept with the windows open last night. The river is right outside our window-we could hear the water as we went to sleep. This deck is right out in back of our trailer. If it doesn't rain, tomorrow, Nancy said we're going to sit out there while she reads for a while. The deck is old, but sturdy.

When Nancy was in the supermarket, yesterday, some guy yelled, "Hey, I love Bandon", and he was looking at her.  It didn't register with Nancy for a moment until she realized she was wearing her Bandon sweatshirt. They talked for a while and then he said, "You want to go on a pretty ride while you're here, go up to Wisdom, Montana." Nancy got up early, and woke me at 11 a.m. to take me for a walk. There had been a light rain all night, but this morning the skies really looked threatening, especially in the direction we were going to go. Nancy said, "Nothing ventured, nothing gained." So, off we went.

The scenery was beautiful. There were all these signs about Mr. Lewis and Mr. Clark. They must be friends of Michael's because every time she'd read one, she'd say, "Boy, Michael would love this." The little signs on the highway pointed either to trailheads or dirt roads that led to trailheads. Nancy was afraid to drive on dirt because of the rain, and she didn't want to walk any of them because they looked pretty isolated. I'm sure many Lewis and Clark fans have followed them, though. There are outfitters out here who take interested people on canoeing and hiking trips to retrace the incredible men's footsteps. It's hard to imagine that anyone could have come over the mountains, crossed the rivers, and persevered through terrible winters for the sake of exploration.

We passed the Battle of Big Hole, but it was closed so we couldn't go in.

This is the land where most of the Nez Perce' Indians lived. They called themselves Nimiipuu (Nee-Mee-Poo).  Salmon, where we are staying, is the birthplace of Sacajawea, is on the Lewis and Clark Trail, is the Whitewater Capital of the World, is on the "River of No Return", and is the Gateway to the Frank Church Wilderness (which I believe is the biggest wilderness in the lower 48 states)Whew! I think Nancy's been on every scenic byway in Idaho, Montana, and Oregon, not to mention other states.

On the way to the mountains, Nancy found a little cafe' where she stopped to eat. She says that's where you find the best food, and she said that it was delicious, today. I love her, but she's a nut. She got it in her head that Blue Grass music was appropriate for driving in the mountains, so she bought a CD from a local band. They weren't too good, but she's right, it is the music to listen to in the hills.

We saw one ranch that must have had several thousand head of cattle--as far as the eye could see.

It seemed like we climbed for a long while and then came to a very high meadow. It rained most of the way, but then stopped by the time we got to Wisdom so Nancy was able to take pictures. She could take only a few on the way back because she didn't want to get the camera wet.

Church of the Big Hole

When we were high up on a mountain pass doing the switch backs, she said, "Boy those are big drops of rain!" Then she realized it was freezing and we were in a snow shower. It wasn't sticking and the roads weren't slippery, but she said we couldn't stay too long in Wisdom because we needed to get down before nightfall. No worries. Wisdom is a tiny little town with a few stores, some houses, and a church.

Some things just beg to have a picture taken:

It didn't rain while we were in town so Nancy was able to go in a store. She bought a hoody sweatshirt that has a moose on it. She always has to get light colors because of my hair. We need sweatshirts, here. Well, I don't, but you know what I mean. We crossed the continental divide, today. On the way home, we found a place where we could take a long walk along the river. At one point there was one tributary emptying into the Salmon River. It almost looked like they were flowing in two different directions as if they couldn't decide which side of the divide they were on.

The sun was out for a short while, and as I was sniffing, look what I found! Bones! One of the leg bones still had the foot and the claws or nails on it, but no meat. Nancy remembered when Wilson found bones in New Mexico and was looking for the skull, but we knew that was a deer or an elk. We didn't know what this was because there was no skull. Nancy was relieved to find the claws on the end of the foot.

Our walk was very nice. The rain and storms had stopped for a while and the fresh smells were delicious. We decided that everyone, sometime in their life, should walk along the banks of the "River of No Return".


Aug 28, 2010

Where is Jack, Day 140?

So, how do you get to Salmon from Stanley? Why you follow the Salmon River (Yankee Fork) every inch of the way. We miss Stanley, and we're not too impressed with Salmon, but let's see what the next few days bring. Nancy signed up for three days. She had a discussion with the owner when she signed in. He's a grumpy old man. He kept going over the dog rules like he was reading the bible. In response to his lecture, Nancy said, I don't like irresponsible dog owners either," And, she showed him her pink bags, snarling, "Yes, he's always on a leash." On and on he went with what the consequences were if she didn't pick up my poop. Ten minutes of discussion about MY poop!

Finally, Nancy said to him, "Look, if you don't want dogs here, you should put that in the description of your campground. I'll be happy to go somewhere else. You're not a very nice person. Sometimes I wonder why people like you are still alive and my husband isn't." He stopped talking and told her he wanted her to stay.

We went to our site (it's a very small campground), and Nancy walked me. She took me all the way out of the campground and we were gone for a while. When we came back, she hooked up the water and electric. She was just about finished when the grumpy old guy came over and apologized. Nancy said "Apology accepted."

We went for another short walk and came back. There was a knock on the door. I started to bark, but Nancy said, "No Bark" in a very loud whisper and for some reason I listened. It was the grumpy old man bringing her a newspaper saying that he was finished with it and thought maybe she'd like to read it. He said he was going away for the weekend and told her to talk to the people in the site next to his building if she needs anything. Good, let him go spoil someone else's day. (Since then, we have often thought that he was nice enough to apologize. Maybe he was having troubles that day, and maybe Nancy was a little too hard on him.)

There are rabbits here EVERYWHERE! The first two surprised me when they came running out from under the camper-no, I wasn't scared, so there. Then we saw several more on our walk-they look like domestic rabbits-one was a blonde. I wonder if the geezer picks their poop up. I DON'T like walking in it any more than he likes walking in dog poop.

Okay, now for the ride over. Nancy remembered going through lower Stanley and coming to Sunbeam Dam. She doesn't remember the rest of the route-maybe she had her eyes closed as Rich drove along the river, and for good reason. There is no shoulder or guard rail. The road is narrow, curvy, and hilly, and the river, in parts, is a couple hundred feet or more straight down. We went through a section where there were massive cliffs-just plain rock so high that the sun didn't shine on the road. It was like no-man's land-the land was unusable. We came across a blinking light sign that said, "Caution, mountain goats on road next 3 miles." They lied.

Idaho has many hot springs along main roads; most of them informal places for people to sit and enjoy the stinky sulphur smell. Some of them, however, are not on main roads. Nancy and Rich saw naked people, several times, in more remote areas, just sitting and soaking (they call themselves soakers) without a care in the world. TMI or in some cases NEI, if you get my meaning. The first picture shows springs and steam coming up out of the ground. The water seems to flow under the highway. On the other side, down by the river (quite a ways up and down) are the pools where people sit.

This is an old bath house that has been renovated.

Nancy remembered Sunbeam Dam very clearly. It's fascinating-especially the history of it and the story about how they blew the hole in the side so the fish could get through.

Kayakers enjoy the river-even at 40 degrees. Last night it was in the 20s. This morning, we bought more propane and discovered a leaky valve. Nancy had to crimp the hose to stop the leak.

Welcome to Clayton. It's the only town we remember except for Challis on the way.

We couldn't stop so Nancy couldn't get pictures, but she said she wouldn't want to live anywhere near some of the mountains of loose gravel. We wondered whether this might have been a casualty of a land slide. You could see where huge chunks of road were taken out and resurfaced. We may back track with the truck and try to get some more pictures of the terrain.

Before we left Stanley and before we tried to find animals at dusk yesterday, Nancy took pictures of the town. We're only going to post a few. The first was the only "restaurant" in town when Nancy and Rich were in Stanley. They had the most delicious Salmon dinner ever in this place. They'd always hit it when they were in town; sometimes two or three times.

This is where Nancy and Rich used to make business calls from and call Susie to see what mail had come in. Sometimes, they'd have to make a trip all the way down to Ketchum to see what business had come in via email. Stanley has come a long way.

This is where Rich used to park the motorhome. The space all the way to the right with the fiver as you look at the picture. There were only three spaces and 6 motel rooms. At that time, there was a nut that had such bad OCD that it's hard to describe. We think he polished the blue stone-Nancy has some funny stories to tell about him. They met a very nice couple who parked next to them the last time they were there. Their last name was Chesser. Nancy has lost track of them.

Aug 27, 2010

Where is Jack, Day 139?

Nancy woke me earlier than I normally like to rise.

She said we have an exciting day ahead of us. Little did we know. We ate, then went for a walk. Nancy asked me if I remembered Redfish Lake.  I didn’t. She stopped in town at the information center and saw the same man she saw 7 years ago. He hands his credit cards and checkbook over to his wife (in Alabama where they live) each summer so she’ll let him come to Stanley. He got a kick out of Nancy relating the story back to him.

Information Center

Ranch in town

We "mountained" you to death with pictures, yesterday, so we'll try to find other things, though Nancy took a lot more pictures of the mountains, today. Okay, so off to Redfish Lake we went. We were saddened to see all the “No Dogs Allowed on Beach” signs. Well, at least my Lizzie got to swim. After all, she's the one who really loved the water and she taught me how to swim. Nancy tried to make up for it by throwing the ball in a field for me, but I’m tuckered after chasing it two or three times. She said, “Okay, sport, never mind. I remember a nature walk that Rich and I used to take. It’s over near the ranger station.” So we went. It was nice, but Nancy was disappointed to see that cabins had been built.

The salmon use Redfish Creek for spawning activities. Nancy tried to get a good picture of one, but we're not sure if you can see it. We can on Google Chrome.

Okay, so we kicked around Redfish for a while and then decided to go to Stanley Lake. Maybe it hadn’t changed. Off we went. We saw someone hitchhiking and Nancy was about to pass them up when I noticed that it was a girl. “Nancy, stop! You’d want someone responsible to stop for Susie or Lisa and Staci or Amanda, Missy, Kelly, Keely, or Peyton. Surely she was in trouble hitchhiking all the way out here.” (She agreed, but said she’d better not ever catch any of her girls doing it)

Her name was Audrey. Audrey loves life. She’s from Indiana, went to college, and then decided she wanted to work for outfitters. She didn't want a job at a desk so she got the job here by emailing the company. She and other guides take people on week long trips down the middle fork. She had made her last trip and somehow her car wound up in a parking lot where they “put in” for river trips. She is a very happy and friendly girl. I liked her right away (so did Nancy), and she liked me.  In the next few days, she’s on her way to Utah to do an 8 day trip down there. Then, she and a friend are traveling to West Virginia to try a river there, and will circle back to see her folks in Indiana. She works for several different outfitters. Nancy told her how Michael loved to do this sort of thing and she said, “Tell him to c’mon out to Idaho next summer.” Nancy is going to email her, her pictures.

Nancy scolded her for hitchhiking and told her she had to promise never to do it, again. Nancy had her taser gun and bear spray in the driver side door pocket. We shuttered, later, to think what would have happened if she had gotten into a car with the wrong person. Nancy said she wanted her to put two dollars a week away so that she’d always have money to take a bus or a shuttle or something other than hitchhiking. Audrey said she would, but I think she was rolling her eyes. (It occurred to Nancy that there were no taxis or busses for Audrey to take). No wonder she rolled her eyes.

Nancy asked her where to go and she said, “It’s about 30 miles from here.” Nancy said, “I’ll take you. I was out looking at scenery, anyway.” We passed the fire jumper temporary camps that we talked about, yesterday.

So they got to the Bruce Meadows where they turn off (it was more than 30 miles). There was no car when they stopped so Nancy asked Audrey where it was and she said, “Oh, I’ll catch another ride where we put in.” Nancy said, "Absolutely not." So off they went on the dirt road, many of them ravaged by fire (Audrey said she thinks the fire was in ’94), down through Bruce Meadow, and then up a steep, steep, narrow dirt road with no guard rails. Whoo Hoo! Nancy was nervous, but tried not to let on too much. It was a long bumpy road, but we finally got there (the dirt road took far longer than the drive to the turn off), but it's a place we wouldn't have seen if we hadn't met Audrey.

Another fire had started sometime during the night or day. When we came down off the mountain, the smoke was really thick.

They got to where Audrey’s car was parked. She has flowers painted on her car and someone had put a peace sign in pebbles on her hood. Nancy told her she should keep one for good luck and asked if she could have one to carry, too, so she’d always remember Audrey.

Audrey had asked while they were driving whether we would like to drive another mile to see where they put in. Nancy said, “Sure.” She could only get a couple of pictures, but it was neat the way they have the stairs for the people and the ramp for the rafts.

Then Audrey said, “Would you like to go off the road about 1/2 mile to see a Daggert waterfall?” Off we went following Audrey. It was really neat. The falls were beautiful and the fish ladder was very interesting. It was built to save the salmon. The forest service had built a fence so people would be safe as they watched the falls. Audrey said, earlier in the year, you can see the Salmon jumping the rapids, just like you see in documentaries.

Then we started back. There was a lot of smoke. Audrey and Nancy agreed that there was a new fire. We saw a lot of birds on the way back, and I bet if we waited until dusk we would have seen many elk, deer, and who knows what else. 

When we got back, Nancy stopped to get something to eat. She was starving. Then, we sat outside for a while. Nancy read her book and I napped. Then, we went for a walk. Now we’re in the trailer resting up a bit. Nancy didn’t sleep well last night so she’s very tired.

We’ve just about decided we’re not going to stay another night. We’ll take a run down to Stanley Lake at dusk to see if we can see the elk or maybe we’ll see another wolf! Then we’ll head for Salmon, tomorrow.

Well, I don't know where the elk were, tonight, but it's dark and we just got in. We didn't see ANY wild life.  Oh, well, off to bed.