Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Falcon Has Landed

Kaw lake turned out to be one of our favorite campgrounds. It may have been the weather, which finally turned off cool and sunny. Or, perhaps it was the lovely big campsites and view of the lake.

Certainly a contributing factor was our camp-ground neighbors. Kaw lake is apparently noteworthy in that part of the country as a world-class catfish lake, and a number of our fellow RVers were there for just that reason. They were in pursuit of "blue cats." At least 1/3 of the sites were occupied by fishermen. You could spot them because morning and evening they hung their catches on lines strung between trees, or elaborate A-frame racks. The photo below is typical (though not pretty!).

Most fish are caught on trot lines or "jug lines" fashioned from gallon milk cartons, each with several hooks attached. The fish we saw were mostly in the 15-30 pound range, with some of 35 pounds or more. That's a lot of catfish filets! I wish we could have stayed another weekend for the annual "catfish tournament." Who knows what we might have seen!

We again headed south, through Central and Southern Oklahoma. The secenery was at times spectacular, like the red clay hills below. We crossed the Red River, and immediately felt at home.

On the advice of RV friends Rocky and Sheri Rhoades, we stayed at Hickory Creek COE campground on Lake Lewisville just outside of Denton. Hickory Creek is lovely, with several miles of hiking or biking trails and some sites overlooking the lake.

The dogs had a grand time watching squirrels and taking walks. However, Nickie had another "close encounter" with a skunk the evening before we left. John had released her and Feathers for a short "potty stop" before bedtime when he smelled the unmistakable odor of skunk. He called in the dogs, but not before Nickie found where the skunk had sprayed and rolled in its "perfume." Fortunately, a bath took away most of the smell, but there is still a faint aroma of eau de polecat if you get close to her.

With a cold front predicted and rain forecast, we hooked up and headed home on October 21, twelve weeks and four days after leaving Austin. We found everything here in good order, but are now trying to reacquaint ourselves with the location of the essentials of everyday life. It's amazing how fast one can forget on which side of the sink the silverwear is located, or how the TV tuner works.

Oh, and we're already beginning to plan our next adventure, so stay tuned!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Homeward Bound

We left Junction City Thursday after lunch, and drove as far as Wichita, KA, before stopping for the night. The highlight of the trip was sighting several "kettles" of migrating hawks. They were far enough away that we couldn't determine what species they were....or if there were several. It was breathtaking, though. We pulled over on the side of the road, got out and watched for several minutes until they spiraled out of site, headed south. That wasn't the end of our hawk-watching, however. Northern Harriers, with their distinctive white rump-patches, winter here. Redtailed Hawks are everywhere, soaring over the fields and woods or perched on a fence post like this one.

As evening approached, we passed up a world-class state park on El Dorado Lake just outside El Dorado because the sites that were available were muddy. We'll stay there in the future, though. There were plenty of trees and large open areas where the dogs could run.

In retrospect, I wish we had braved the mud instead of going on to Wichita. There are only three RV parks in town. One was on the far west side of town and another had sites so small that even our 33-foot RV wouldn't fit. So, we chose USI RV Park on the east side of Wichita. I will say that it was clean, and had level gravel sites and a nice grassy area for walking dogs. However, it was very close to the (apparently requisite for urban parks) railroad tracks. From what I could tell, the trains started running about 3 a.m., and continued every 30 minutes or so until morning. The park also backed up to a pig farm. Fortunately, the wind was from the other direction so we got only an occasional piggy whiff. The dogs were very intrigued, though. The squealing piglets sounded like prey to them! One night there was more than enough!

On the advice of RV friends Jack and Danielle Mayer, we drove south into Oklahoma and camped at Coon Creek Cove Park on Kaw Lake northeast of Ponca City. The park is a Corps of Engineers park, and is just lovely. The sites are large and well-spaced, with plenty of open areas. Sites have water and electric service, and there are bath houses spaced throughout.

Our site backs up to a little slough off Kaw Lake, and is a mecca for birdwatchers. On Saturday we looked out our window and saw a dozen or so species at once. Among them were Great Blue Herons, Great White Herons, a flock of Canada Geese, several duck species, American White Pelicans and seagulls.

The one below is (we think) a juvenile Great Blue Heron that John calls Leroy. He hangs out below our campsite and fishes from dawn until dusk.

We have also seen a number of woodpeckers and flocks of Eastern Bluebirds in the trees around our campsite. (I never knew bluebirds traveled in flocks!) In addition, there are medium-sized birds of some kind that travel in great dark flocks, wheeling and twirling across the sky.

This area is on the edge of the tall-grass prairie, and rolling, grassy hills alternate with oak woodlands. The grasslands have taken on their fall colors, and the rusty-red big and little bluestem are providing color to the landscape. There are a number of very large ranches in this area. We ate lunch at a local barbecue joint alongside a "real" cowboy, complete with boots, spurs, chaps and a sweat-stained hat.

When driving along the back roads, we saw miles and miles of fences, herds of fat cattle,and a scattering of oil wells, but very few houses or outbuildings. Native stone is often used to build "posts" like these to support gates or fence corners.


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Back to The Flatlands

Eastern Colorado and Western Kansas aren't at their best right now. The landscape is flat to gently rolling, rendered mostly in shades of beige and gray. Corn fields ready for harvest are gray-brown. Just-plowed fields are brown. Roadsides are beige. Occasionally the monochrome pallette is broken by a field of maize in shades of russet-red. The only real color comes from the big green John Deere tractors, bright red Case combines spitting out streams of golden corn, and other farm equipment.

We proceeded east from Denver across 100 or so miles of eastern Colorado, then into Kansas. For the first half of the day, I didn't see a single rock except for the rock fence posts. Those rocks were quarried and shaped by early settlers because there weren't enough trees to make into posts. (Don't ask me where they quarried the rock; I didn't see any likely spots.) It's interesting that the rock posts have often been incorporated into new fences, like the one below.

Near Russell, Kansas, trees begin to appear and the landscape began to look more like North Central Texas. What didn't seem like North Central Texas (when we left on this trip) was the cold, rainy weather that set in in early October, and which has continued through mid-month. That, combined with the wind...and more wind...and more wind, has made the weather pretty disagreeable.

On the very bright side, though, has been the camaraderie of the members of the Escapee's Heavy Duty Truck group we joined in Hutchinson for their annual rally. Some 30 or so members spent the first week of October sharing stories, attending seminars and generally enjoying the fellowship of like-minded RVers. Many of the attendees are "full-timers" who live (and in some cases work) on the road. Others, like us, travel part-time, but pull their RVs with heavy or medium duty trucks. Their tow vehicles are shown here in our annual group picture.

Our truck is the one in the center of the front row to the left of the big blue Peterbilt. If you look closely at the closeup of our truck, you may be able to see Feathers "driving" and Nickie and riding shotgun.

After leaving Hutchinson, we traveled some 100 miles to Junction City, KA, for a visit to the New Horizons RV manufacturing plant where our RV was "born" some 12 years ago. We were there to have some minor repair work done on our coach, while a couple of friends were shopping for new fifth wheel RVs. We'll leave tomorrow and begin working our way back to Texas.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

To the Mountains.....Finally!

When we began this odyssey, one of our goals (maybe the primary one) was to get out of Texas during the late summer and early fall, and to go someplace cool! Well, we got out of Texas, but there's a lot of the USA that isn't cool in July, August and September. We found cooler temperatures in New Mexico, Durango and Colorado Springs, Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, and in Idaho and northern Utah. However, up until late last week I had only worn a jacket twice, and we have spent most of our time in t-shirts.

So, we were excited to move to Golden Gate Canyon State Park outside Golden, Colorado, for a couple of days. GGCSP is located high in the mountains at about 9200 feet. No more sand and sagebrush....we were ready for tall pines and aspen....and much cooler temperatures. The campground was certainly one of the most beautiful we have stayed in. With the aspen and narrow-leaf cottonwoods turning, the dark green hillsides and valleys were accented with gold. Many of the high peaks had the remains of the season's first snow. It was breathtaking!

The campsites at GGCSP offer plenty of privacy, and there are lots of hiking trails, and several fishing lakes. The only thing campers need to know, however, is that the sites are very narrow, and there are lots of trees overhanging the parking areas. We tried several sites before we found one where our rig would fit. Even so, John had to park with surgical precision in order to keep from scraping J.R. against a rock or tree.

We took a nice hike with the dogs on Wednesday morning, then went by the campground office to check on more hiking trails and to get a weather forecast. BAD NEWS! The weatherguessers were predicting lows in the low 20s for the next two nights, plus a 70% chance of snow. You know they say, "Be careful what you wish for." We had wanted cooler temperatures, but having no snow chains for the truck we were a little intimidated by that forecast. So, with many regrets, we packed up and left the mountains to keep from being stranded. We'll return, but will make a note to schedule that park for a little earlier in the fall.

We hightailed it down to I-70 and headed east. The section of I-70 from Golden to Denver is steep, with sharp corners and many warnings to truckers to slow down or use the "Runaway Truck Ramps!"

Between holding our breath through the steep parts, we saw beautiful scenery along the road and managed to photograph some of it. Fortunately, the Falcon handled the steep grades and sharp corners well, and we soon arrived at Cherry Creek State Park in Aurora, Colorado, just outside of Denver.

I would never have believed it possible to establish a 4000-acre park in the middle of a major metropolitan area and have it feel like the outdoors. However, Cherry Creek is a delightful place. Not only does it have miles of trails for hiking, biking, horseback riding, etc., it also has a 1400 acre lake and a large leash-free area for dogs to run and play. (You can see that the Bagley Pack enjoyed this immensely!)

It's even possible to believe you're in the wilderness if you keep your eyes off the horizon. If you look up, the houses and skyscrapers silhouetted against the sky remind you where you are!

The campsites at Cherry Creek are large and well-separated, with full hook-ups. We found a lovely spot on the edge of the campground. Since we have no back-door neighbors, we have plenty of privacy. We'll be off tomorrow for Kansas and back into the flatlands.

Friday, September 25, 2009

In Search of the Wiley Trout

We limped into Grand Junction and settled into the local KOA for two days. We had hoped to stay in the Colorado River State Park, but learned that it was only 40 yards or so from Interstate 70. The KOA is south of town, very quiet, and has trees!

When we chose Grand Junction as our next destination, we had in mind two things in particular that we wanted to see. One was Colorado National Monument, and the second was Grand Mesa. Since we had a limited amount of time, we chose Grand Mesa and will save Colorado National Monument for another visit.

Grand Junction is located on the Colorado River and has an elevation of +/- 4600 feet. Grand Mesa rises to over 10,800 feet. On Friday, we drove up to the mesa top for some fishing and were not disappointed. As we left the desert southwest environment, we entered groves of aspen and spruce on the higher elevations and mesa top.

The aspen were beginning to turn, so the vistas were spectacular! The transition was swift and amazing. We went from shorts and t-shirt weather below to a chilly 55 degrees on top with a brisk wind blowing.

Once on top of the mesa, we were surrounded by some 300 lakes. Many appear to be fed by snow-melt, and others have water sources from seeps, springs and small streams. They all, however, have fish! We fished in Ward Lake and Alexander Lake, shown below, and brought home our limit of rainbow trout. Dinner was a feast! The trout tasted wonderful, especially accompanied by fresh sweet corn and vine-ripened tomato salad, followed by Palisades peaches (the Colorado equivalent of Hill Country Peaches).

The produce here is local, fresh and especially wonderful. Most grocery stores have special sections of locally-grown fruits and vegetables, many of them organic. There are also numerous road-side stands with just-picked produce.

From Grand Junction, we drove 60 or so miles east on I-70 to Rifle Gap State Park, 10 miles or so outside Rifle, Colorado. Rifle Gap this time of year is quite dry, and the reservoir is down to about 50% of its capacity. There were people fishing, but mostly from boats. The shoreline slopes gradually into the reservoir, so it's not a good place for bank fishing.

We did have a good campsite, though, with a view of the lake and surrounding mountains. The campground, like many in Colorado, has been recently renovated and offers all the amenities. We had not only a stained concrete pad for the RV, but a covered picnic table and full hookups. The girls were excited to have a lake to play in, but were surprised at how cold it was....a shock to their Texas systems. They took a quick dip and were content to play along the shore.

We took day trips a few miles up the road to Rifle Falls State Park. The campground is quite small, but as you can see, the falls themselves are beautiful. Trails to either side pass cliffs honeycombed with caves. From the top of the falls there is a nice view of the valley. We were told the fishing in the stream above and below the falls is good, but in two days were unable to convince the numerous small trout to take the bait. Oh, well, we'll try again at our next stop.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Lessons Learned

We left Moab on Wednesday bound for Grand Junction, Colorado. We had planned to stop about 20 miles out for a short hike (and dog walk) to Fisher Towers, northeast of Moab. We arrived there about 11:00, and with some trepidation, took the "improved dirt road" off Hwy 128 to Fisher Towers, a magnificent formation about 4 miles off the main road. Unfortunately, the "improved" part of the description only lasted for the first 1/2 mile or so. After that, the road became very bumpy, and unfortunately too narrow for us to turn around. When we reached the parking lot, we found that there were so many cars there that we could not turn the truck and trailer around, so we backed down the hill and into an adjacent "campground." The road was so narrow and the turn so sharp that in pulling out we damaged the left rear corner of the trailer on a roadside rock. Fortunately, the damage was cosmetic, not structural, so we proceeded to Grand Junction where we'll spend a couple of days. We hope to tour Colorado National Monument and go fishing on Grand Mesa. We've been told that the mesa top has =/- 300 lakes, and that the fishing is good.

UTAH # 3

Continuing with our favorites spots in Canyonlands National Park: Holeman Spring Canyon Overlook, with its "Birthday Cake" formation;

A wonderful "pothole" filled with hundreds of small crustaceans. We think they were tadpole shrimp, fairy shrimp, "water bears" and some kind of miniscule white worm. John and I spent quite a while just watching. One of the rangers said that when the potholes dry up, the eggs laid by the small critters become dormant, and can remain viable for years waiting for enough rain to allow them to hatch. Since precipitation in this area is usually only about 10 inches per year (including snow), their life cycles are very short.....sometimes only days from hatching to maturity to laying eggs;

Mesa Arch, which at sunrise will always be my personal favorite. Through Mesa Arch, you can see down into the lower areas of Canyonlands N.P. (If you look closely, you can see "Washer Woman Arch" in the canyon below);

Grand View Point at the very end of the Island in the Sky Section of Canyonlands. In the far distance is The Confluence, where the Colorado and Green Rivers meet on their way to Lake Powell.

We spent our last day in Moab on a treasure hunt...for petroglyphs. We had previously seen a great example of these at the Wolfe Ranch site in Arches National Park. This time, we drove up Potash Road just outside Moab, where the canyon walls are lined with hundreds, if not thousands, of images. Estimates of when they were created range from 2000 BC up to the 1800s. Often one culture superimposed its art over earlier images, so many sites (like the one with the large image of a bear) contain examples of art from different time periods. Here are a several panels that we especially liked.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Utah Continued

We enjoyed the Moab area so much that we have stayed longer than anticipated, and even with a ten-day stay didn't see nearly everything that's there.

After our strenuous climb up to Delicate Arch, we spent the next day driving south past Wilson Arch (It's so big someone supposedly flew a small plane through it.) to the Needles Overlook section of Canyonlands. The views are awesome, and we spent time just looking as well as exploring along the canyon rim.

By Thursday, we were ready for more strenuous pursuits, and hiked up Negro Bill Canyon with the dogs. About two miles up, at the end of one of the side canyons is Morning Glory Natural Bridge. At 243 feet long, it is the sixth-longest natural rock span in the U.S. You can see the bridge at the end of the canyon behind John and the dogs.

Negro Bill Canyon is narrow and steep, with lots of willows (and poison ivy!) and a clear, cool stream running through it. The dogs had a great time cooling off at each crossing. Nickie got to be off-leash so she could carry her pack, while Feathers remained leashed most of the time to keep her from stressing her arthritic hip. They were generally well-behaved. However, toward the end of the trip John took off Feathers' leash because he thought she was probably "tired enough to stay on the trail." Wrong! Not two minutes after getting her freedom, she plunged into the bushes (followed closely by Nickie and Lucky Dog) in pursuit of small, furry creature. The critter escaped, but Feathers was quickly secured again.

Everywhere we went, we encountered as many foreign tourists as Americans. While we were hiking in Negro Bill Canyon, we encountered an entire busload of Brits on a "walking holiday" courtesy their employer. They said they are able to go all over the world on these tours, and clearly were having a wonderful time. They were also a wonderful example of the benefits of keeping in shape. The canyon is rugged and steep, and the walk quite strenuous. However, the Brits (most who appeared to be in their 70s, with a couple of octogenarians) were all handling the walk with little problem.

Friday we took a ranger-led tour through the Firey Furnace section of Arches National Park (so named because of the red glow on the rocks at sunset). This section, though only 1/3 x 1/4 mile in area, can only be entered with a ranger, or by special permit. The reason is that it is a narrow, twisting labyrinth of fins, towers, drop-offs and dead-end canyons. Sheer rock walls muffle sound, and it's very easy to get lost. Here's a photo of some of our fellow-hikers at the mouth of one of the numerous steep, narrow canyons we walked

We had planned to go fishing on Saturday in the LaSal Mountains east of Moab. The LaSals rise steeply to peaks of around 12,000 feet. There are a couple of small, high lakes off the LaSal Loop Road east of Moab, so we headed out with high hopes. We we disappointed, however. The lakes are off the main road, down steep, narrow dirt roads. Since we had opted not to rent the $150 per day jeep, we decided not to risk taking the Falcon down them. Another impediment was a 100-mile bicycle ride taking place on the LaSal Loop that day. Most of our views of them were like this one, except steeper. The road is so narrow that there is no shoulder, so they ride single-file in the traffic lane. They were very considerate, but sometimes we had to follow for quite a while before we could see to go around.

On Sunday and Monday, we visited Dead Horse Point State Park and the Island in the Sky section of Canyonlands National Park. Dead Horse Point is just outside Canyonlands and overlooks the Colorado River. As you can see, the views are spectacular. The "point" is an area of 10 acres of less separated from the rest of the mesa by a narrow "neck" about 30-40 yards wide. It gets its name from an unfortunate incident in the early days involving capture of wild mustangs. The park is lovely mesa-top area, with hiking trails (which allow dogs!) and a nice campground. We'll stay there the next time we're in the area.

Some spots in Canyonlands that we especially enjoyed were Green River Overlook where you can see the Green River as it makes its way to join the Colorado at The Confluence. The white stone rim you see around the lower canyon is about 1000 feet below the mesa top. The river is actually another 1000 feet or so below that;

(We're at the photo limit for one post, so I'll continue this in my next issue.)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

And on to Utah

We left Massacre Rocks State Park on the 10th and made our way south. Shortly before crossing into Utah, we took a detour 11 miles east to Lava Hot Springs. This small town of some 500 people sits in a valley that was heavily trapped in the early days for beaver, mink and other fur-bearing animals. It has a rich history and in the late 1800s and early 1900s was a favorite destination for travelers "taking the waters," in its hot springs, as well as for Indian tribes in the region that regarded the springs as having special powers.

We didn't stay long enough for a soak in the mineral baths, but did enjoy a delicious "Johnnyburger" at Johnny's Restaurant.

We camped in Salt Lake City at the KOA (which is huge!). It's nice park, but the girls think it's BOOORINGGGG! There are no squirrels and no back country trails to walk. There was, however, a fantastic dog park. Adjacent to the Memorial Gardens honoring Utah's war heroes, it is a lovely 1/2 mile trail alongside a clear stream. Dogs are permitted off-leash beyond the Gardens, and can romp in the stream to their hearts' delight.

We also were pleased that the Utah State Fair was going on adjacent to our RV park. It doesn't compare to the State Fair of Texas, but we did enjoy looking at cattle not usually seen in Central Texas, such as the miniature Dexters, as well as the Simmental and Gelbvieh breeds.

0n Sunday, September 13, we made our way to Moab. I confess, the Utah Canyonlands area is one of my favorite places. Driving into Moab from Salt Lake City, there are a number of fantastic overlooks, like this one. The landscapes (and their vibrant colors) change moment-by-monent, and are breathtaking.

We are camped in Moab in the Moab Rim RV Campark. The park is nothing to write home about, as it has no laundry and no propane. (However it does accept Passport America, which offers a significant discount.) The camp's best feature (other than price) is that it backs up to public lands which offer a multitude of trails for exercising dogs off-leash. Here is a photo of Feathers recovering from the afternoon's romp.

On Monday between rain showers, we did a driving tour of parts of Arches National Park. In the afternoon, I suggested we take a short hike up to "Delicate Arch," the signature formation in the park. I remembered from my trip in 2003 that the trail crossed a large "slickrock" area, and ended at a view point across the canyon from the formation. Unfortunately, my memory was a little fuzzy. By mistake I chose a longer trail that ended, not across the canyon, but at the foot of Delicate Arch! The three-mile round trip took us over 2 hours, and certainly burned up the sandwiches we had for lunch...but it was well worth the climb! The arch is breathtaking from that vantage and in spite of the approaching storm, we took a few minutes to enjoy the view.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Idaho #2 -- Massacre Rocks State Park

We licked our collective wounds for a couple of days, and on Friday moved to Massacre Rocks State Park 40 or so miles east of Lake Walcott S.P. It was an easy trip....for a while, then, when we pulled into a rest stop to check our some historical information......well, I'll let you read for yourself John's post on our Escapees' (our RV club) site:

We had a lucky day today. We were doing a 60 mile drive to our next campsite when we pulled into a rest stop 10 miles from camp. It was a historic site and we decided to take a look. When I pulled on the parking break I noticed a deafening silence in the cab. There was no rushing of air through the parking break valve. I then pushed the parking break in and watched my pressure drop to 70 pounds in a heartbeat. Not a good sign. I pulled through the parking lot, made a loop, and the pressure kept dropping. Another bad sign. I thought, at least I am in a rest area and not on the side of the road. I picked up my phone and had service. A better sign. I dialed my mechanic back home and he answered, a very good sign. He said he was 90% sure I had a air line leak or more likely a brake chamber leak. I told him I was in the middle of nowhere Idaho, but only 10m miles from the park. We decided to try the run at a high rate of speed and made it. I was worried about backing into a spot and my breaks locking up time and time again. I stopped at the state park office explained my problem to the manager and he said, "Well, I have a very easy spot to back into, it is the camp host spot who left yesterday." Another excellent sign. I said, "Well. most camp host spots have septic, can I use it?" He said, "might as well." So now I am parked in a camp host sight w/septic in a state park. My bride says, "Do you think the air card will work?" I said , "With the way our luck is running, I bet it will." Mind you this is after 5 on Labor Day weekend. I look at the router and we have solid green lights!!!!!!!!! I get on the computer make two calls, find a mobile mechanic and he will be here tomorrow or Tuesday. Tuesday is fine for us. So here we sit in a state park on the banks of the Snake River, full hookups, a gimpy truck but not crippled with cell and internet serivce for 4 or 5 days. Thank you Lord.
Regards, Bags

So here we are. Massacre Rocks S.P. is located along the Oregon Trail at a site where several wagon trains had skirmishes with the Indians. Several settlers were killed, as well as an unknown number of Indians. A couple of miles from the campground, you can see the deep ruts worn into the rock by countless wagons that passes this way headed for Oregon or California.

The terrain is high desert...very few cacti, but lots of sagebrush and rocks left from lava flows some 14,000 years ago. The camp is located alongside the Snake River, and has lovely overlooks, as well as access for fishing and boating. (Swimming is prohibited due to swift currents.)

We've had repairs done to the Falcon. (The problem was a faulty brake chamber.) After doing some errands in Pocatello, we'll be ready to pull out tomorrow for Utah.

Being retired is wonderful; you can change your mind and your schedule anytime the spirit moves you! The longer we're here, the more we find to see. Sooooo....we stayed another day and spent some time investigating sites from the Oregon Trail located in the park and nearby. What is now Massacre Rocks State Park is near the half-way point in the Oregon Trail, and it began the most difficult portion of the trail. Nearby you can see some of the trail ruts from the trail, as well as "Register Rock," a large boulder where immigrants scratched their names and the dates they passed. It's fascinating, and worth a stop if you're passing this way.

Immigrant wagon trains followed the Snake River for some 300 miles through Oregon, but certainly didn't ford the river at places like these within the park.

Thursday, September 3, 2009


From Grand Teton National Park we headed west over Teton Pass (really scary.....a 10% grade). The Falcon handled the steep ascent and descent with no problem, and we made our way west into Idaho. We quickly left the mountains, and found ourselves in rolling farmlands. It certainly doesn't look like Texas! The fields of wheat, potatoes, alafalfa, beans, corn and who-knows-what-else, are planted on slopes that we would never farm in Central Texas. It's magnificent. Harvest was in progress, so we not only saw wheat fields like the ones below, but crops in all stages of harvest. (Have you ever seen a dumptruck full of Idaho potatoes?!)

Idaho also has its share of picturesque old buildings like this one, at the edge of a wheat field beside the road.

We're camped in Lake Walcott State Park, beside a lake formed by the Snake River. The terrain here is desert-like, with plenty of sagebrush. We were told they only get about 11 inches of rain each year. Crops are all irrigated, however, as the Snake River provides plenty of water. Our campground, on the banks of Walcott Lake, is a true oasis.....filled with giant willows, like the one below, and other large hardwoods. There is even a sign at our campsite notifying us that the sprinkler system will be on for an hour each day and apologizing for any inconvenience!

We had a lovely walk in the park Wednesday least it was lovely until the Bagley Pack had its second "porcupine encounter" in less than a year! I think the porcupine, which probably didn't survive the encounter, still won. We did verify what the vet told us in January....that dogs don't really "learn their lesson" about porcupines, and will repeat the very unpleasant experience over and over. Each of our three dogs emerged with a face (and mouth) full of quills, although Lucky Dog didn't have as many as Feathers and Nickie They spent the day at the vet's getting de-quilled (an expensive proposition) and are recuperating as we speak.

(John and I dulled the financial pain with a glass of wine.)