High Road

We were having a bit of trouble in our Wyoming cabin, because, contrary to its listing, it did not have a kitchen.

While Alan argued with the on-hold music, I looked for some hiking options.

I ran across a passage claiming America’s most scenic road was in our vicinity.

We decided to bag our second night in Wyoming and to head to our cabin in Montana. And after a bit of discussion we agreed to route the drive along the scenic road, even though it would add two hours to the trip.

As it would turn out, it was more like four.

The Chief Joseph Scenic Byway, which leads to the targeted passage, was breathtaking. We made several stops, including Dead Indian Pass, where historical placards tell of Chief Joseph leading his Nez Perce tribe as they fled the murdering cavalry.

We finally reached the Beartooth All American Road, which lived up to its billing, with snowy mountaintops, Alpine lakes and Meadows, and sheer cliffs.

At over 10,900 feet where it crosses through Beartooth Gap, it is the highest non-park road in the continental U.S.

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Blue Lake, Blue Knee

Blue Lake

We went on a challenging hike at Brainard Lake, just outside of Ward, Colorado.

Alan negotiating a tricky stream crossing.

We took the Mitchell Lake trailhead. The hike to Mitchell Lake was pretty easy. The backstretch of the trail goes to Blue Lake, and the route is steep and rocky.

Marmot looking for a handout.

Blue Lake is a beautiful setting, a just reward for a challenging hike.

On the way back, I tripped over a root and crashed knee-first into a rock. I thought I was going to be wolf fodder, but surprisingly I was able to walk out.

If Blue Lake we’re in Kansas it would be the first wonder.

Eighth Wonder

Traveling through Western Kansas with a few minutes to waste, the Internets suggested there’s more to the state than flat and wheat.

There are some unlikely sedimentary rock formations, among them Castle Rock, one of the Eight Natural Wonders of Kansas.

Although the drive was only about a dozen miles, the road was not paved. But we were able to go 55 mph through cow and oil country.

Castle Rock itself wasn’t overly impressive, but there is an interesting weathered sandstone cliff formation overlooking the castle that was worth the visit.

There was a colony of cliff swallows flitting about, flying on and out of meetings holes in the sides of the cliffs. And Alan caught a glimpse of a sage thrasher.

Anastasia

snow

We’ve hit the road again, sans our camper.  After the mildest winter on record, at least since last year, we set off for points south in mid-March in snow.

Our ultimate destination is, well, how do you define an ultimate destination?  Thinking about worms and bacteria growing from my body and helping nature rid the world of this plague, let’s just say we’re headed to Key West.

First stop along the way was Fernandina Beach, where we spent a few relaxed days of beachwalking and biking.  Interesting event bike-wise:  Rebecca set out before I got my helmet on, but just rode around the block. I got ready before she completed the circuit, so I thought I headed the other way.  I short-cutted but still did not catch up to her, when I remembered something I’d forgotten (I’ve forgotten again what it was), so, after lollygagging along the street, I cut right to turn back into the driveway.

Surprise.  A voice cried out in alarm, and I discovered I was being passed on the right by an unexpected biker.  I was able to swerve and avoid the collision (lucky for him and me), but I did manage to wind up on the pavement with a scrape on my elbow.

ferry

Our route to St. Augustine took us across the Mayport Ferry.

Thence to St. Augustine, for the Anastasia Music Festival at the St. Augustine Amphitheater.  We had planned to attend Suwannee Springfest again this year until it was cancelled, but I learned from Lyndsay Pruett’s mother via Facebook that there was an alternative festival, featuring the Jon Stickley Trio, to be held in St. Augustine.

idaho

Our own private Idaho

So there we were, at a really fantastic three-day festival featuring, besides the Stickley band, Sierra Hull, Del McCoury, David Grisman, the Honeycutters (what is a honeycutter?), Fruition, Mandolin Orange, and Sam Bush, among others.

dawg

David Grisman and company t

The Jon Stickley Trio is, for me, the highlight of any festival, especially in Florida.  This time I had the good fortune of speaking with Lyndsay Pruett for a few minutes before she joined a set with Taylor Martin.  The festival was something of a homecoming for Lyndsay, who hales from Jacksonville.  I learned from that conversation that one of her heroes is Jason Carter, the impeccable fiddle player for the Del McCourty Band.  Ironically, both sets of the Jon Stickley Trio were scheduled opposite Del.

lyndsay

Lyndsay Pruett.

The concluding act was a very large ensemble, for bluegrass at least, of the Traveling McCouries and Jeff Austin.  Ten musicians in all, none of them drummers, and the sound was remarkably listenable.  The band on stage did not outnumber the crowd, but the audience was fairly thin.  Given the quality of both the festival and the venue, one hopes the organizers will try again next year.  We will be there.

closingjam

 

Wegwam for sale

We have put the Wegwam up for sale on consignment.  The dealer is asking too much.  If you want a good deal on a 2006 PleasureWay Excel, let me know,  I can beat the dealer’s price.

RCMP … or ELMO

Really, it’s RMNP, Rocky Mountain National Park, but it reminded me of the Mounties.  Then my auto-incorrecter kept changing it to ELMO.

We spent four nights in the Glacier Basin Campground in the park, without any electrical hookups.  We had the good fortune of having Larry come stay with us a couple of nights and join us on the hike to Odessa Lake.

The other major hike we did was a bunch of lakes in the Bear Lake area.

I’ll let the photos do the rest of the talking.

rainbow

rmnp-crossing

rmnp-fls-2

bierstadt

rmnp-fls-1

rmnp-1haiyaha

Steamboat Springs

I think you’re supposed to just call it Steamboat if you’re cool.  Kind of like calling Jackson, Wyoming, Jackson Hole.

View of Steamboat Springs from our AirBNB townhouse of Tim and Cathryn.

View of Steamboat Springs from our AirBNB townhouse of Tim and Cathryn.

There are a couple of good ways to get in our out of Steamboat, crossing the mountains through the park and heading north, or driving through Poudre Canyon.  We came in from the park and went back out through the canyon, a beautiful route with some stark canyonesque walls and a pair of mooses.

We initially chose Steamboat Springs because we had a couple of unplanned days and discovered Eilen Jewell was playing there in the Mountain Springs Festival.  We saw her show, which was great as usual.

Eilen Jewell, as I was advised photography was not allowed and I hadn't figured out the settings yet.

Eilen Jewell, as I was advised photography was not allowed and I hadn’t figured out the settings yet.

A bonus during our visit was a performance in a free outdoor show by Hot Rize.  Asheville bluegrass band Fireside Collective opened for Hot Rise – you just can’t escape the Asheville Sound.

The free concert series is held in a field at the foot of several Olympic-class jumping hills, I think for snowboards.

Hot Rize

Hot Rize

The town of Steamboat Springs is pretty interesting.  There’s some good hiking nearby, there’s a sulfuric hot springs in which we immersed ourselves, there are good restaurants, and there’s a river running next to the town, the Yampa, that is a tubing Mecca for thousands of people every summer afternoon.

Yampa Tubers

Yampa Tubers

The town seems to have a tight-knit, active community.

The only downside to the town is the highway that runs right through it.  I’d compare Steamboat Springs to Telluride.  Both are big-time ski resorts.  Telluride is much harder to get to, but it is a cul de sac, so it doesn’t have the consistent stream of traffic through the main street one encounters in Steamboat.

Boyd's Lake State Park

Boyd’s Lake State Park

Stagecoach State Park

Stagecoach State Park