Pacific Crest Trail – Wildflowers Galore

We put our hiking legs to the test Sunday morning and drove up to Mount Ashland where we picked up a portion of the Pacific Crest Trail. Southern Oregon has been experiencing hazy skies due to multiple fires burning in the area and in Northern California, but at the 6,300 foot elevation level the sky above us was clear and blue…and spring was in full bloom. Wildflowers of every size, shape and color decorated the hillside, some just past their prime while others were at their peak.

They say it’s good to stop and smell the roses…or, in this case, whatever flower is right under your nose.
California’s Mount Shasta was barely visible through the haze of smoke. A recent heatwave stripped much of the snow that normally remains through the summer months.

Hiking south, the trail wound up through open meadows to switchbacks and along a ridge line that offered 360 degree views. The occasional northbound hiker passed us, always with a smile and a nod, still cheerful after hundreds of miles traveled and with hundreds of miles to go. A large group was gathered about the drink-filled ice chest left trailside by a compassionate trail angel. The guestbook was filled with a colorful list of the trail names and dates of trekkers who had previously enjoyed a respite.

Just over 5 miles in and after thousand feet of climbing, the trail took a downhill turn, plunging into a thick forest with no end in sight. Deciding that we’d had enough, we turned and retraced out steps back out to the car, thankful that we didn’t have to search for a tent site for the night.

Categories: Ashland life, Day hike near Medford, Oregon, Oregon | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Travels With Minnie: There’s No Place Like Home

There really is no place like home…that’s true for me at least. Friends of ours know those “happy to be home” feelings don’t last long with Reg. He’d just as soon sell the house and live the nomadic life. That is not a lifestyle he can have with me. I insist on a home base.
That being said, we managed to make a comfortable home within Minnie’s walls for the last 2 month. I thought it would be fun to share all our campsites with any of you who might be planning an extended camping trip of your own. A little inspiration perhaps. We cheated just twice with hotel rooms, once for convenience and once to avoid the Nevada heat.

With all the recent talk of increased RV and travel trailer sales, we were worried that finding space might prove difficult. Traveling in early spring with no firm plan seemed to help. We chose to drive a more northerly route first and found most campgrounds with plenty of open spaces. Not wanting to get stuck in a Walmart parking lot or roadside rest stop, we reserved 2-4 days in advance. There’s a limit to how much we’ll rough it.
Thanks to all who followed along with us. We plan to be back with more adventures soon.

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Travels With Minnie: Rainbows End

Located just off Interstate 70 in the Colorado town of Frisco lies the Rainbow Lake Trail. The easy walk winds its way up through a forest of Aspens and past the remnants of what must have once been a stand of evergreens. Acres and acres of cut trees, all neatly stacked pyramid style, left us wondering if the bark beetles had devastated the large swath of trees.

Rainbow Lake

We should be home tomorrow, having covered about 9,000 miles over 9 weeks on the road. It’s been a fantastic trip and Minnie has taken good care of us. That doesn’t surprise me though. The real Minnie, Reg’s Mother, Minnie Spittle, had some 1950s travel trailer stories of her own to tell. A strong woman, we like to think she’s watching over us as we criss-cross the country.

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Travels With Minnie: Up High in the Rocky Mountains

A few miles outside of Breckenridge, Colorado, at just over 10,000 feet, lies the trailhead for three lakes; Mayflower and the Upper and Lower Mohawk Lakes. Our plan was to try to make it to Mayflower, the lowest of the trio. It was tough going at first, but we wanted to test ourselves with some high altitude hiking while here.

It’s not large, but Mayflower Lake (above) sits in a pretty spectacular setting. Given the overflowing parking area, we were surprised to find we had the place to ourselves. After a rest and a quick snack, we decided to push on towards Lower Mohawk Lake, just under a mile up the trail.

The trail markers were few and far between. A dreaded water crossing bisected the trail, a true test of balance. Graceful…we were not, but we made it across the rushing stream without incident. An old cabin appeared, a sort of hut with benches and what looked like an operable wood burning stove. From there the trail all but disappeared, and as we ate lunch (at 11,400 feet) groups scrambled their way up and down the steep rocky hillside in front of us. We decided we’d had enough.

We returned via the Spruce Creek Trail, a beautiful, shaded walk through trees and open meadows (above) with views up the mountains. All in all, a successful day up high in the Rocky Mountains.

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Travels With Minnie: Kansas Fixer Upper

Our one and only photo from Kansas.

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Travels With Minnie: Katy Trail State Park

It seems we weren’t the only ones who planned a day on the Katy Trail.

We’ve had our eyes on the Katy Trail for years. First, as a potential distance walk. More recently, we wondered if we (more specifically, I) could go the distance on bikes.

Katy Trail State Park is the longest developed rail-trail in the country. It spans most of the state of Missouri, between Clinton and Machens, following 240 miles of the old Missouri-Kansas-Texas railroad corridor. Much of it parallels the Missouri River.

We had no plans (for now) to ride the entire distance, but our campground was a short drive from the cute little village of Rocheport. We read that this is known as one of the most scenic stretches and we were not disappointed. We pedaled east almost 10 miles, sandwiched between sheer cliffs and the Missouri River.

Returning to our starting point, we rode west of Rocheport, across Moniteau Creek and through a short tunnel. Although pretty and green, the terrain was fairly swampy in places and a sign warned a bridge was out 3 miles up ahead. After what seemed like a long, hot 3 miles with no damaged bridge in site, we called it a day and headed back to the car.

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Travels With Minnie: The Gateway to the West

We passed through St. Louis today on our westward journey. The Gateway Arch, the world’s tallest arch and the tallest man-made monument in the Western Hemisphere, stood out against a clear blue sky.

Completed in 1967 and officially dedicated to the American people, it stands as a monument to our country’s westward expansion – a symbol of the American spirit.

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Travels With Minnie: It Never Rains on the Golf Course

The rain came down in buckets this morning.

Reg got the worst of it as he braved the storm doing the grunt work and hitching us up. A pretty miserable start to our day. Fortunately, the weather improved as we passed through Kentucky and Indiana on our way to the Grayville, Illinois KOA.
We’ve stayed at a number of KOA campgrounds over the years. The great thing about them is that they’re convenient and pretty darn dependable. Grayville, however, knocks the socks off any other we’ve ever stayed at.

The western motif is carried throughout the park.
I was tempted to take a turn down the slides.

But it was the Putt Putt golf course the really caught our attention. Reg couldn’t resist, so we each channeled our inner child, chose our clubs and balls and signed on for 18 holes.

Reg and I are pretty competitive so we did keep score. He threw out lots of golf terminology…birdie and bogey and double bogey and eagle. It was on lucky hole number 13, a par 4 hole at that, when I was able to shout out my one and only golf phrase.
Hole-in-one!

I was pretty excited, so I took this picture of my hole-in-one ball. To be fair, Reg got one soon after I did. It was a pretty close game so Reg didn’t bother to add up our final scores… I think I must have won!

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Travels With Minnie: Carter Caves State Resort Park

The Welcome Center & Gift Shop

Our westward bound journey began with a two-night stop at Carter Caves State Resort Park in Kentucky. What a great family park…2,000 acres of forest and fun!
We reserved a campsite over a week ago and were not disappointed with our choice.

The park has over 30 miles of hiking trails, half of which are multi-use trails for hikers, bikers or horseback riders. In addition, fishing, boating, canoeing, swimming, golfing and rock climbing offer something for just about everyone. If camping isn’t your thing, there are several overnight accommodations available.

We didn’t have the best of weather, but we zipped up our rain jackets and took the short walk along Natural Bridge Trail.
This is the only natural bridge in Kentucky that supports a paved highway.

There are plenty of caves to explore in this park. Some are self-guided (with a permit) while others require a guide. We opted to stay above ground this trip…maybe next time!

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Travels With Minnie: America’s Newest National Park

Recently added, New River Gorge National Park in West Virginia is our country’s sixty-third national park.

Although the day was gray and misty, holiday crowds were out in force at America’s newest national park. Chris picked us up and we made the hour drive southeast to the Canyon Rim Visitors Center near Fayetteville where we managed to squeeze through the crowds for a look at the New River Gorge Bridge.

The steel span arch bridge opened in 1977 and stretches 3,030 feet across. The 1,700 foot long arch earned the bridge the distinction of being the world’s longest single-span arch bridge, a spot it held for 26 years.
The New River is one of only a few rivers that flows south to north. Above is the view south from the bridge.

We had time for a short hike along the Endless Wall Trail. The Wall rises above the New River and is a popular spot for climbers. Since we were walking along the top of it and not inclined to get too close to the edge, we couldn’t fully appreciate the sheer drop off that gives the trail its name.

Categories: Travels With Minnie, U.S. National Parks | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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