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Sunday, December 11, 2011

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Painting after time off

Painting again, after essentially 4 months off is a challenge.  As usual the first large painting is a slow process, painfully reminding me of my method.  I could easily put the suffering off with the justification that I am in Hawaii after all. It feels good tho, overcoming the pain of the process, and having been here before, I know it'll get better as I push through this difficult point and paint more and more frequently.  I spent a good part of this morning perusing the paintings of Albert Beirstadt, Thomas Hill and Edwin Church. Their fantastic renditions of Yosemite Valley are heavy with mood, something I hope to add to my paintings and deciding to remain faithful to my reference or lean towards fantasy is a choice I'll need to make soon with the current painting I'm working on.
Conner's new post is up: http://connersjuniorrangeradventure.blogspot.com/2011/11/hawaii-so-far.html

There is a video of us snorkling with sea turtles! Check it out!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Capitol Reef, Bryce and Zion

Capitol Reef: was a pretty cool park, I had no idea what to expect when we went there. Arriving from the east the park looked desolate.  As we continued through to the other side, the winding road took us through a lush river valley complete with pick your own orchards the early Mormon settlers planted.  The campground was full when we arrived so we camped at a dispersed camping area that the ranger told us about.  Not bad and free which was even better no sites, tables, rings or anything really but all we wanted was a place to sleep anyway.  We hung out for a couple of hours at a burger joint that had free wi-fi and caught up after a few days of no contact.

The next day we went to the Gifford farmhouse, the Fruita Historic district and to see some Petroglyphs.  We attended a couple ranger talks that discussed the Petroglyphs and the waterpocket fold that makes up Capitol Reef.  We hiked to Hickman Bridge and saw Capitol dome.  We learned that it's called Capitol Reef because the dome like formation of Capitol dome reminded early settlers of the Capitol building in DC and Reef because the waterpocket fold was so difficult to get through, explorers likened it to a reef.  The park is full of scenic canyons and lush riverside areas as well as a rich history. We drove to the Grand Wash and on to Capitol Gorge but had to return to the  visitors center area soon after because a storm was rolling in.  We met a great couple from Arizona and they invited us to share their campsite that night, so we did.  Once we arrived in Phoenix we were able to spend the day at the zoo with them as well.  We've been so fortunate to meet some terrific people along the way.

Pics:  https://plus.google.com/photos/101238042997102842287/albums/5670548699843291073

Bryce Canyon: on the way to Bryce we drove Hwy 12, a scenic byway that had loads of beautiful vistas.  We went to Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument and Kodachrome state park where Conner earned a two additional badges.  After a long day of driving, we arrived at Bryce early enough to get a campsite, renew our National Parks Annual Pass and explore the visitors center. We camped in North Campground and as we were setting up camp, we heard someone say Conner??  It was the couple that we met at the Tetons in the Jenny Lake campground.  They happened to be right next to us.  We set up the backpacking tent because we knew it was going to be cold, and then it started raining.  I covered the tent with a tarp just to make sure it wouldn't leak. Then we headed out to explore, in the rain.  We ate in the car and went to the ranger program.  The rain didn't let up so we returned to the tent to get a good nights sleep. The tent is TINY, so it was a cramped night but thankfully dry and warm throughout the extremely stormy night.  It withstood the wind and rain with no leaks.  In the morning it the rain had stopped and we rushed to catch the sunrise at.... hmmmm  sunrise point.  It was crowded and cold, but BEAUTIFUL! As the sun came up the hoodoos began to glow in orange and white.  The rain continued on and off throughout the day, so, we did laundry and took showers... then we decided to head into the hoodoos for a hike.  It wasn't recommended for us to do the one that we had intended because of the chance of more torrential rain so we did a shorter one combining the Queens Garden with the Navajo trail.  It was beautiful and I felt a bit like I had traveled to Whoville... the formations were very Suesslike.  We waited until after viewing sunset at Bryce point to leave.  They were expecting snow, so we decided to leave early and head to Zion so that we wouldn't chance getting stuck there, kinda wish we'd had stayed for the snow, but our tents really weren't built for snow camping.

Pics: https://plus.google.com/u/0/photos/101238042997102842287/albums/5670574772595945969

Zion:  We arrived at Zion around 9PM and everything was closed.  We came in from the east through the mile long tunnel, which was a bit eerie that late at night, not knowing when it would end.  We camped at Watchman in a site we happened to find.  In the morning we had to move but at least we had a place to set up.  Temps were significantly warmer and I had a really nice rest and good yoga session in the morning while Conner snoozed.  The forecast was correct and we received 3 days of rain, waiting and hoping for at least one nice day.  We were planning on doing the observation point trail, but the rain made it impossible so we did some shorter trails.  Angels Landing will have to wait til my little man is a bit older, I don't think my heart could take him being up there.  We were fortunate to see Condors and meet some more spectacular folks at  the campground and on the shuttle buses.  We attended ranger talks at the lodge.  One talk showed me just how much Conner had learned in the past few weeks.  Every question the ranger asked the audience, he knew the answer.  Once he learned that he didn't have to raise his hand to answer her questions, because no body else was, he answered before everyone.  The audience roared with laughter at Conners answer to the question "does anyone know why did they do this?" when the ranger showed a picture of two Elk bucking.  Conner promptly answered "to impress the girls".  He couldn't understand why the crowd saw his answer as funny... he said, well they do!  After the program people came up to ask him how he knew so much about the animals.  I was really proud.  At the same time, one of the park employees brought in a caged Ringtail that had been breaking into the lodge.  It was the one animal I really wanted to see and figured I wouldn't so I was pretty happy.  The thing was adorable, his enormous saucer black eyes were beautiful.

We had one nice day of hiking when the rain stopped.  We road the bus to big bend, near Angels Landing, to see if we could spot Condors at sunrise.  We didn't have luck at that time so we climbed back on the bus and hiked from Canyon Junction back to the campground for breakfast.  We packed up camp, spent some time with our new friends at the campground before heading out for some hiking.  We got in 3 hikes and a ranger talk before returning to share a campfire with the same group of friends that we had met in the campground.  We were fortunate to see a couple Condors later in the day as well.  It was so nice to walk up to the campground and have everyone start singing happy birthday to me.  It's still amazing to me, how we have been so fortunate to meet such terrific people along the way.

Pics: https://plus.google.com/u/0/photos/101238042997102842287/albums/5670590821677375345

Friday, October 28, 2011

Some small pieces will be showing at Studio gallery for the Tiny show  in San Francisco, November 3rd through December 23rd. Opening reception November 6th, 2-6pm.  http://studiogallerysf.com/page15.html

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


Last night, we watched over a hawks bill turtle nest waiting for the hatchlings to emerge... a no show,  Haleakala tomorrow... panels built and gessoed so...today, I'll paint.

Building some larger panels
pile of gessoed panels!!
1 done and ready for gesso

Saturday, October 22, 2011

After I promised to write more, it's been a while again. We've been to a number of places since the Tetons. Dinosaur, Colorado National Monument, Arches, Canyonlands, Kodachrome, Grand Staircase, Bryce, Zion, Pipe Springs, Grand Canyon (north Rim and South Rim), Wapatki, Walnut Canyon, Sunset Crater, and Tuzigoot.

 Dinosaur: Fun, we arrived for the opening day at the new visitor center. Conner was the first Junior ranger in the new visitors center. We saw some dinosaur fossils and met some nice folks. There were a lot of dignitaries there and the entire ranger staff. There is absolutely nothing around the park. The towns on the map generally consisted of a gas station, and maybe a bar.  We missed the opening of the best feature in the park, after 5 years they're reopening the visitors center that contains the majority of the large fossils that have been excavated but not removed from the park.  Some day we'll have to go back and check them out.

Colorado National Monument: Beautiful park that we didn't even know about until spending a couple of nights in Grand Junction, CO.  It was only about 5 miles away so we decided to head over.  It was easily the scariest drive that I have ever done.  Super windy with sheer drop offs and very few sections with guard rails.  Still, it was a beautiful park and it's founder had the same name as my grandpa Youmans.  John Otto... tho that was his full name and just my grandfathers first and middle.  I have a few paintings in mind there.  The ranger that awarded Conner's badge was from the Adirondacks.  Pretty cool place. A huge shift in weather and scenery from the Tetons.

Pics: https://plus.google.com/u/0/photos/101238042997102842287/albums/5666393516430273473


Arches: What a great park, sooooo beautiful, just outside the town of Moab.  We loved it there, Of course we visited double arch which is in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.  It was our favorite spot in the park.  We attended a ranger talk at the coolest amphitheater that we had been to yet.  It was in the campground and had lights and a movie screen, all outdoors.  Bats were flying around and at the end of the program, Conner was awarded his badge


Canyonlands: A great park, we met a really nice interpretive ranger/volunteer from Rochester, that new someone from Middleburgh and remembered what a small world it was.  It was pretty hot there, but at a high altitude so it was much cooler than it was in Arches (which was close to 100).  Canyonlands was not crowded and is a fairly primitive park with only pit toilets. The only water was at the visitors center water fountain.  We arrived at sunrise and wandered around all day.  It seems we are always pleasantly surprised by the parks that are less traveled.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Grand Tetons and Yellowstone - https://plus.google.com/photos/101238042997102842287/albums/5657837867757998513

Up til now

The trip has been great, we left the Tetons a few days ago and are meandering through Utah soon. Dinosaur was a neat stop and Conner happened to be the 1st Junior Ranger sworn in at the new Visitors Center, unfortunately we missed the opening of the new exhibit hall that isn't scheduled til next week. That halls been closed for 5 1/2 years and contains the best samples of dinosaur fossils that the park has. The Tetons were amazing, Jen and Timmy joined us there and we hit the trail most days. On the 1st day we hiked up to Inspiration point from our campsite at Jenny Lake. The 3rd day we did a 10 mile grueling trail to Amphitheater Lake, it earned it's Most Strenuous rating with 5 miles of steady climbing. Conner did great as usual. I'm taking a hiking break and letting a wicked blister heal from the trek. So worth it tho, the views were outstanding and getting back into the Tetons is spectacular. Backpacking up there would be great. After the hike we jumped in the frigid Jenny Lake and shared a couple beers on the shore, the water was "refreshing" it felt good to be clean :) Conner made some new friends who were rooting him on to dive in. They came over and visited with us for a while, I am always amazed by how easily he makes new friends. In between big hiking days we drove the loop for views, hiking short trails, seeing the Tetons from a distance. Conner and I headed out just after sunrise one morning to see wildlife and were rewarded with Moose, Wolves, Bison, Pronghorn, and Elk. That was the same day that we hiked to Amphitheater and on that trail we saw a red tailed hawk, a bald eagle and a deer. It was a stellar day for everyone. We drove up to Yellowstone and did the loop in one day. The geology of the park is pretty cool. Conner earned his Young Scientist patch since he already did his Junior Ranger there last year. It was a long day, in the evening, we saw lots of bison, a fox catching a critter, but not much other wildlife. I have to say the Tetons are not to be missed, Yellowstone has to be seen for it's geological elements alone, but if you had to choose.... the Tetons would be my pick hands down. The town of Jackson was very friendly and we had a great time the day we left the area. We went to the rec center for a shower and found out that we could use the pool with a huge water slide... we had a picnic in a park in the center of town and then went back to play once the pool opened to kids. Who knew that would be part of the day? The highlight for me was 2 showers in a day :) I've not been painting and we're probably going to speed through the next section of the trip, we're in need of a break, funds are extremely tight and I really want to paint. It's been such a great trip, the country constantly amazes me, and I can't wait to get back to some of these places.
Sequoia and Kings Canyon Photos - https://plus.google.com/photos/101238042997102842287/albums/5657816578417146705

Monday, September 12, 2011

Yosemite and Backpacking near Bishop, CA

Yosemite Valley is one of my favorite places on earth and after spending a week there that hasn't changed. We got in miles and miles of hiking, some meadow painting and after backpacking in the Eastern Sierras, we've decided to go back for 3 more. We've had to skip around to different campsites because it's so popular, but it's not been too difficult. I can't wait to get back. Hiking from White Wolf campground to the Valley was spectacular, it was 15 miles in total and with playing in the Yosemite Creek for a couple of hours it took 9 hours. I busted my face coming down the Yosemite Falls Trail, and it's just healing now over a week later, truth be told I would have done it all over again even knowing what would happen. Granite doesn't give, and it's also a bit slippery with sand on it. My eye was a mess for a few days, oozing and really swollen, now all I have left is a little swelling and a nice bruise on my cheek. The Yosemite clinic gave me antibiotics and cleaned it up a bit on the 3rd day just to make sure I didn't get infected. Mom, I'm fine :) Spending 4 days with Betsy, Peter, Caitlin and Sarah was a highlight, it's great to share such a wonderful place with great friends. Conner and Caitlin were exploring constantly and loving the wilderness and boulders of White Wolf.

Backpacking near Bishop was incredible. Conner carried his own gear + some food for the crew and tho not without a little complaining he made the 7 mile ascent to 10,500' at a good pace. I was feeling my pack by the time we got to the top so I knew he must have been as well. His pack was somewhere around 1/2 his body weight, possibly more. After taking a rest at Blue Lake, he managed the rest of the journey with speed and no complaints. We lightened his load for the journey down, but he still managed to carry all of his things.

The high Sierra's are stunning, we camped at Dinglenberry Lake (I know, nice name) We hiked to Midnight Lake and Topsy Turvy lake the next day. The guys fly fished and I drew. Conner had his first fly fishing lesson too. They caught enough fish for lunch and fried them up next to the lake. The next day we had planned to head up to Hungry Packer Lake and Moonlight Lake but the weather had other plans for us. That night we hung out at camp, fished a bit more in the river, drew some, and watched the moonrise over the mountains after dinner. One night before the full moon. We retired to our tents and played Yatzee until it was time to sleep. The temperature was pretty nippy at 10,500 so when the sun went down the tent was the best place to be.

That night the rain came, we had thought about trenching around the tent when we arrived, but forgot to, unfortunately a river ran through our tent and in the middle of the night we had to trench and mop up the water in the tent. The sleeping bags were soaked from the knee down... the next day it was socked in and around noon we decided to hike out. Sad we missed the other lakes but we only ended up leaving a day early. The hike out was a lot easier considering it was all down hill. We did the 7 miles out in about 2 1/2 hours. It was beautiful, cloudy and the rain had heightened the colors in the mountains.

I will post photos as soon as I have a long enough internet access. I took around 1400 pictures between our first stint at Yosemite and the high Sierras, so I have a bit of picking and choosing to do.

Home has been on my mind a lot. My town was flooded badly and I am sorry that I'm not there to help. I'm glad the community is coming together. Tho Conners school had a delayed opening due to the damage it sustained, his home schooling has started, it has it's challenges, but it's going quite well.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Our Ride

So the car's been doing great... up until a little while ago. I am thankful that the problems happened here in the Bay area so that I could get it fixed at a reliable place instead of out on the road somewhere. So far we replaced the wheel bearings and it's in the shop at the moment having the water pump and timing belt replaced along with some other little tweaks. Hopefully from here on out she'll be good to go. I have to mention that 2 for 2 times my big brother was dead on about what was wrong with her. Thanks bro. Thanks to my friends that have been so helpful with all of this.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

the trip so far

Okay so I feel sufficiently behind on my blogging. The trip has been incredible and... I need to paint so I'm gonna give a quick update and then go paint. I will be doing shorter more frequent posts when I'm in range.

We've been in the Bay area catching up with friends and getting our stuff together for about 2 weeks. Heading to Yosemite soon and friends will join. Then backpacking in the sierras for 4 days. We had decided to do Whitney, only to be turned back by the impossibility of getting a permit :( they only allow 100 day hikers and 60 overnighters a day... so our fluid schedule made it hard to know what day we'd be going and by the time I called about a permit, they were booked solid. So, another time...

Oregon and Cali have been great, beautiful... and I've posted some pics here

Glacier Pics
Norther California
Oregon and more Northern Cali

I'll post the paintings I do before I leave here I hope.

Thanks for following everyone. The trip has been life changing for me so far. Lets see what the next 3 months bring :) More soon.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Olympic, Mount Rainier, San Juan Islands and the North Cascades

Lots of photos at the end of the post

It's hard to believe we've been on the road over a month already, but... when I consider what we've done, I am amazed at all the places we've been. Washington state has been wonderful, from Mt. Rainier to the Olympic Peninsula, San Juan Islands and finally the North Cascades, I have been pleasantly surprised by the diverse beauty of this region.

After leaving our comfy quarters in Shelton, we headed to Rainier hoping to check out Paradise and Sunrise and lucky for us, by the time we got to Sunrise Rainier came out to say hello... Like all of the parks we've been to thus far, Paradise was covered in snow and fog. The snow melt is about 2 months behind. Our hikes haven't been as long as I'd like and Whitney is looking like a no go, because of the lack of miles we've been putting in and no significant time at higher elevations. Although we are building our mileage up and we've done one 10,500' peak, we won't be ready for Whitney. We've added a backpacking trip in the Eastern Sierra's after Yosemite and are lengthening our stay in SF so that I can actually paint. I feel really good about that.

I need to get a better Pochade box or just let go of the idea of painting on site and stick with drawing on trails and painting at base camp. I may compromise and try to use my watercolor box instead. It's small and super lightweight and would still hold a 5x7 or 6x6 panel or larger if I carry something to store it in once I finish. I'm going to check out some options before I do that.

I could stay on the road indefinitely I think, if I had a bit more of a convenient set up. I know it's already going too fast.

What we've done so far and how it felt
Theodore Roosevelt: I have about 5 scenes here as well as several horse studies that I'd like to paint and one epic Bison crossing the river scene that I can't wait to do.

We didn't get a lot of hiking in here, just several short trails and a lot of driving, horseback riding was great, I wish we could do that in every park. The feral horses were my highlight. Another highlight was being in the visitors center and seeing my incredible teacher Matt Faulkner's book about Theodore Roosevelt.

also an incredible illustrator http://www.mattfaulkner.com/books.html
a side note about Matt, if your school brings in authors and illustrators to do programs for kids, Matts is incredible. He's a great story teller.

Glacier: I could paint hundreds of pictures here, the place is beautiful and has this energy about it that is so wild and untouched. I felt great there and could easily spend a summer painting it. I would love to see it in the winter too and I am already entertaining thoughts of a winter version of this trip, with warmer accommodations of course ;).

We were in Glacier for a week, I did get some drawing in at Many Glacier and some decent mileage hiking. The wildlife are so active that we only did one hike alone and that was to St. Mary's Falls, a heavily populated trail. We were turned back our first day hiking in Many Glacier by reports of Grizzly's on our trail and the ever present snow pack kept many trails that we intended to do off limits or significantly shortened. I just think it was the universe telling me we have to come back ;) We met some wonderful people here at Rising Sun campground. They had nightly Ranger programs that we attended as well.

Part of why I am so happy doing this trip in a tent is the people that we meet along the way.

Rainier: I know I will be starting with a scene from Sunset. A beautiful mountain as well, I am really grateful that the fog lifted long enough for us to get a good look at her.

We tried to see Rainier on our way from Glacier, no luck, all fog. We saw her from Olympia the day of Jen and Timmy's wedding, but of course, had other plans. When we returned after our stay in Olympia and Shelton were through, it was all fogged in, the snow pack still covered Paradise meadows and we thought we were out of luck until we reached the other side. As we headed toward Sunrise, the sky opened up and there she was. The light was right and after getting Conner's badge at the visitors center, we headed towards sunrise, even though our gas was terribly low.

When we reached the top and I had taken all the pictures I needed to, I didn't really care if we ran out of gas. I coasted down the mountain, conserving what I had until we got to the first town... gas station closed... okay... hmmm. I did get gas before we went into the park but at .80 more a gallon than back in civilization, I didn't fill up. I was questioning my decision at this point. Our drive from there was all down hill and we reached the next town before long, Enumclaw! To my delight, gas was cheap and views of Rainier were better than at Sunrise. I filled up and we sat to take pictures as the sun set. I was happy to find that the best place to do that was in front of a horse farm, more horses in my landscapes... :) that makes me happy. From here, Seattle to visit our buddy Ty... (an amazing artist) http://www.tylerjacobsonart.com Tyler took us to Pikes Place Market and the Space Needle. We also had lunch at the market in a restaurant that was in Sleepless in Seattle, Conner sat in Tom Hanks chair and I sat in Rob Reiners. Conner wanted to be sure he was in the most famous actors seat. It was great to see Tyler and Devon. Conner got in some video game time and we watched Goonies to prep for our trip to Astoria and Cannon Beach.

Olympic: Very diverse and beautiful, I have ocean scenes, snow covered meadow scenes, mountain scenes and river scenes. Not sure really where to start. Here we started with our cousins on a hike of Staircase Rapids and didn't return to the park until about a week later. At that time we hit the north side of the park driving up to Hurricane Ridge and then out to La Push (swinging by Forks so that we could see where they filmed Twilight.) First Beach in La Push was a great place to watch the sunset. On our way back to town, the GPS took us down a shortcut to Saltwater beach, that wasn't exactly a shortcut, but that's okay, we got to see a lot of wildlife on the tiny road it tried to send us down that ultimately dead ended. The next day we played in the tidal pools at Salt Water Creek... my first tide pools... I was amazed by the amount of creatures there. Star fish, anemone, muscles, and varieties of barnacles. Conner loved it, and the vegetation on the rocks and coloring they provided are something I want to capture. Port Townsend was a great little town, c and I pulled out my backpacking stove and had lunch in the sand... and tho we didn't get to spend much time there, I definitely want to go back. I could live there.

We ferried across to Whidbey Island from there on our way to Anacortes to visit our friend Maureen. For a terrific tour of the San Juan Islands, Anacortes and North Cascades. It was so hard to leave. You never know what unexpected treasures you'll find on the way when you do a trip like this.

San Juan Islands: A scene from the American Camp looking east will be my first here. We spent the day hiking with Maureen and Doug all over the island and Conner earned his badge just before closing at the British camp. He also saw a picture of a little girl with badges and patches all over her, something to shoot for. This area is beautiful and tho we didn't see any Orca's, we did see a golden eagle and bald eagle. We learned a little something about the British and American occupation of San Juan Island and all about the pig war... something to google if you get a chance.

North Cascades: My first painting of the trip will be from here, Goat Peak with it's cowboys on horseback is drawing me to paint that first, I can't wait, I'll post the studies when they're finished. The North Cascades are beautiful, untouched and also diverse. Depending on which side of the mountains you're on you can have a completely different experience. Our first hike up Goat Peak to check out the fire lookout was beautiful. We encountered a cavalry school training a group of special forces soldiers in horsemanship. Conner got to meet a bunch of them, pet some mules and meet the Fire Lookout Ranger and check out the tower. The regular guy, legendary Lightening Bill wasn't there but his part time relief was great answering all of our questions and showing us around. We hung around up there for a while... I drew and relaxed and Conner explored with Reenie. It was a great day. After we were done, we hunted for a sunny spot in the river to wash off the days dust. It was soooooooooo cold but really refreshing, I was the only one that couldn't manage to get all the way in.

The next day we hiked up to Heather Pass, we would have gone farther but the snow fields stopped us. We saw a hoary marmot, on the way up and 2 on the way down. The wildflowers were beautiful and the lakes were so colorful. More snowball fights and a unique snowman :) In the parking lot after the hike..... the mosquitoes we're ridiculous, man eaters!

After the Cascades we went back to Anacortes for an arts festival and to spend another day with our friends. It was very hard to leave....

next up, Oregon and Northern Cal. I'll post in a day or two

Photo albums
Theodore Roosevelt:




Monday, July 25, 2011

Where to begin

I hope to post more frequently soon. It's been a great trip so far. It's been about as much work as I've expected a little busier than expected and we're a lot less connected than I expected. We made it to Theodore Roosevelt in 2 1/2 days, stopping at some relatives on the way, driving through amazing lighting storms in Fargo and driving though standing water on the highway the next morning.

Our tent has seen a little rain as well as hail in Glacier and did very well. I am extremely happy with our choice, it's so easy to put up.

Theodore Roosevelt is a nice park for wild life you don't get everywhere else. My favorite for obvious reasons were the wild horses. They were beautiful and plentiful. Conner loved the prairie dogs, feisty little things. My best advice for the park is to drive the loop early in the morning and hike the short nature trail at Wind Canyon. We saw scores of bison crossing the Little Missouri River. We camped at Buffalo Creek, but if I were to do it again, we'd have camped at Cottonwood, inside the park. The lack of showers and the slightly more expensive nightly fee would have been worth it. Buffalo Gap was nice though and if you're cost conscious, it's a great campground. Quiet, clean and spacious.
Painted Canyon

At the park we attended the Teddy Bear Picnic, with a visit from Smokey the Bear, aka Nate the Ranger whom we met the day before touring Theo's old Maltese Cross Cabin. We learned that Teddy lost his wife and mother on the same day, Valentine's day. Then came to ND to recuperate. The harsh weather of -35 in the winter and 100+ in the summer would make a lot of hardships seem small.

Medora Riding Stables : I was very proud of my little horseman, he did a great job.

The landscape was beautiful, apparently it's very green there for this time of year. Most places we've been are well behind in their seasons. The hikes that we took were all pretty short but provided really nice views. Unfortunately we didn't get to the petrified Forest, we had some issues with directions.

Early Morning with a Bison

The Little Missouri, with LOTS of Bison

The Medora musical was fun, as was the cowboy hall of fame. Medora is a fun little town. You really only need a couple of days there, so we left a little early to get out of the heat and get on to Glacier. We met a bunch of nice people and had a lot of help from the rangers. I have a few paintings already in mind.

Wild Horses

Driving to Glacier was in one word, vast. Montana is beautiful, sparse, and the land of white full sized pick up trucks. We passed few cars on the road and only a random rest area or two. 500+ miles later, there sat Glacier. Stunning.


Holy Cow.

What an incredible place, it will be hard to top this place in the next 4 months. The beauty is outstanding. The wildness of the place is also amazing. So much wildlife. I've had no time to write. 4 days into the trip and we'd seen bears, both black and Grizzly, big horn sheep, mountain goats (from a distance) and mule deer.

Two Medicine Lake

We started in East Glacier, heading to Two Medicine and doing the boat ride and hike up to Twin Falls. I met photographer Tony Bynum that evening and had dinner with him and couple that live and work at Glacier. You should check out his work! http://www.tonybynum.com/portfolio

Two Medicine was beautiful, that night we stayed in the Backpackers Inn in East Glacier and headed to find our campsite at Rising Sun early the next morning.

We were lucky enough that the Going to the Sun Road opened the day we got here, unlucky enough that they have so much snow that most of the great alpine trails are closed. Therefore we can not see many of the glaciers and none up close.

Waiting for the shuttle to Logan Pass

It's stunning tho and if I could spend a summer here (in a cabin) I would in a heartbeat, Conner feels the same way. I took 883 pictures in the first 3 days thousands now, I was shocked that my camera was full when I tried to take some sunset pics.

Logan Pass

Big Horned Sheep shedding his winter coat

We've attended several programs,

Jack Gladstone
Trappers and the Fur trade in the Rockies
Mountain Goats
A two medicine boat ride and hike up to twin falls
A ranger led hike to Grinell Glacier
a bear spray clinic

several movies at the VC

Our big hike to Grinnell Glacier was first attempted it with our new friend Maureen. We were surprised by a mule deer on the trail and after a couple of miles we got turned around by Grizzly's on the trail ahead. A couple passing us had seen one about 30 yards from the trail, others had not. We thought about continuing as some hikers didn't see them, but decided it was in our best interest to go back. Conner and I did the trip with Ranger Ellie Bash a couple of days later, with a group, early in the morning. Two boat rides from the Many Glacier Lodge and we headed up the trail as far as we could go, the view was stunning. Sadly one hiker/climber in a group of three that passed us fell when going beyond the trails warnings for ice. They still have loads of snow so it is recommended that you don't go all the way up on many of the trails. After successfully crossing 2 snow fields, a group near us saw the man fall on the 3rd snow field. We guessed that it was about a 70 degree pitch, nearly straight up and down and tho they seemed to have crampons and ice axes, it wasn't enough. Ellie had Conner lead the group back down the mountain and she headed up to see what she could do. We were at the Many Glacier lodge when the last helicopter flew back apparently with the man in tow. It was over 5 hours from the time he fell. We found out the next morning that he didn't survive.

Grinell Lake from the Grinell Glacier Trail.

Sunrise after a stormy night

I love it in Glacier! Nights have been cold, so sleeping at least the first night was chilly. Maureen suggested I add a flannel sheet, I don't have one so I added Nannie's quilt and it has helped tremendously. As did socks. The rest of the nights were a little warmer too. Conner has my winter sleeping bag, so he can't figure out how I could have been cold :) Cooking has been a breeze, and thankfully we're working our way through some of our food. We definitely brought too much. We brought too much of a lot of things, we're sending some home.

Logan's Pass was clearly Conners favorite spot because of the snow, we've went there nearly every day. Snow ball fights 2 of the days, Conner romped in the snow while I painted one day, and we hiked up as far as we could through the snow on another. My set up for painting needs help! In Washington, a trip to the hardware store and some help from Stacy (my cousins wife) are helping me rig something better up. I really should have just sacrificed somewhere else and bought a proper pocade box. I have been trying watercolor... I did one at St. Mary falls today, it was a challenge and I think I'll draw more now, watercolor feels like backwards painting for me, but it's easy to pack in to places so I'm not giving up.

The last night there it rained, hailed and blew from late afternoon through the next day. We slept in the car, providing us with an early morning sunrise tour of the park. We saw some of the most stunning scenery that morning, including a beautiful rainbow. We packed up in the rain and drove the Going to the Sun Road to West Glacier. We had hoped for a hike, but the rain was incessant, we stopped at Apgar and looked around for a bit, then headed to Washington.

Washington has been great. One of my best friends got married in Olympia on Saturday and Conner and I had a great time. C was doing Dance off's till midnight and having a blast. Staying with my Cousin Paul and his wife Stacy has been incredible. They live on the water off the Puget Sound. They've spoiled us rotten with wonderful food, a super comfy bed and wonderful company. It'll be hard to leave. We're not sure where we're off to next yet, I'll upload a bunch of pics to picasa or something, it's a bit hard to post them here, so I'll give you a couple of my fav's and post a link for more soon.

We are having a great great time. Hope all is well with everyone and see you again soon.

A side note: One day a lady followed us in Many Glacier Lodge to take a picture of Conner because her daughter thought he looked like the perfect ranger :)

Conners Blog Post up

yes, mine is coming today :)

Here's highlights from C

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Quotes from my brother

My brother sent these to me as I departed... Thanks Rich!

D.H. Lawrence
When we get out of the glass bottle of our ego and when we escape like the squirrels in the cage of our personality and get into the forest again, we shall shiver with cold and fright. But things will happen to us so that we don’t know ourselves. Cool, unlying life will rush in.

Mark Twain
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

Ralph Waldo Emerson
Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail

We are Featured on National Parks Traveler

Getting some exposure on a great website about traveling the national parks!!


Sunday, July 3, 2011

Mount Whitney

would anyone like to climb Mount Whitney with us, I'm applying for our permits in the next day or two. It would be early September mid week.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

13 days

It's getting so close now. We have a few things left to do to prepare, but we're pretty much ready. Today we get the hitch installed on the car for the cargo carrier, The cargo box arrived last night. We have 95% of our gear and we're doing a test camp this coming weekend. The excitement has my stomach doing somersaults.

I have 5 paintings to do... 3 of which must be finished before we leave. The others can always be finished on the road. I have several painting and drawing workshops to teach this and next week as well. Add in trying to see all of our friends and the 4th of July weekend festivities and we're pretty loaded up. Tomorrow I head to Vermont for 1 day at Wanderlust... a yoga festival that I will make full use of.

The hardest task now is reducing what we're bringing. I opted for a rear carrier to save on fuel consumption, and with it being just C and me, we can put the sleeping stuff on the back seat and leave the trunk to all the gear. I'm glad that we're just taking the car, it will make the trip much easier than towing a pop up. Off I go now to pack the cargo box. Wish me luck.

breath... :)

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Tent, GPS, etc

So this week, I ordered our GPS (garmin 1690) for the car, thanks to an early birthday present from one of my besties... I ordered eco route, a diagnostic tool for the GPS that gives me the best gas mileage route and monitors my cars sensors to let me know if there's trouble and to help me get better gas mileage.... Also... my awesome future sister in law is lending me her eTrex Vista for the trails. I ordered a stereo for my car (mine hasn't worked in about 2 years) Best Buy was having a special... free stereo with a GPS purchase... how perfect?

...and, thanks to lots of advice, we bought our tent... a Coleman instant tent, we've put it up and taken it down and it's super easy and only takes a couple of minutes. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O_06X3f-IcM&NR=1 it had really great reviews as far as not leaking or falling down in bad storms, so we're going to give it a shot. The fabric is twice the thickness of a regular tent too, so we should stay nice and warm when we close it up at night.

I pulled all of our camping and backpacking gear out of storage and took inventory...

we're soooo close, I can't wait.

a lot accomplished this week: Itinerary

I'm removing the itinerary for security... but email me if you want to meet up somewhere.


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

route is set... sort of

removing the itinerary for security, but email me if you want to meet up!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Next up GPS

Okay, I need the best recommendations for reasonable GPS's both for hiking and driving. Not sure if I can find one that does both or if I have to get one for each.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Narrowed our search... which one now

Cabela's has 2 options


I like this one because it's really tall inside... making my daily yoga ritual easy to keep up. Not crazy about the lack of breathability with the rain fly on... or that the zippers for the rain fly are all on the outside. It also mentioned that it's kind of cold in one review.

LL Bean

I also looked at the Alaskan series but the 4 season nature makes it possibly too warm for most of the camping we'll be doing, plus to get the size we want would be really expensive.


I like the awning that comes out from the front of the screen room where I could set up our cooking stuff.

1 other possible with a much better price

Moab Sports

I've read a lot about Coleman being reliable... but, I am skeptical, I like the lifetime warranty that comes with Cabela or LL Bean. I'd love this Kelty tent but I can't find it anywhere http://www.moabsports.com/web-pid-2628229-Eureka-Tetragon-1610-9-Person-Tent-item.htm#thumb

I like the price and Moab has a 365 day return policy.

Everything from REI was either too small or too expensive.

Monday, May 30, 2011

1st Stop and some other stuff

We went to Shenandoah National Park over spring break, it was a good start for us. We didn't camp but I took a lot of great photos and am working on some studies right now. I'd love to go back with the leaves on the trees. It's an amazingly beautiful park and 3 days simply isn't enough.

This weekend we went to Kaaterskill Falls and the Thomas Cole house, (he was the founder of the Hudson River School... (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hudson_River_School not really a school) Frederick Church and Albert Bierstadt were other artists from this school and two that were very inspirational to me.

The biggest dilemma I am having now is deciding which season is best in most parks. I'm reworking the route to see if there's a better option. Maybe hitting Rocky Mountain after Washington and then going through Utah into Arizona and California. Timing is everything. Any thoughts anyone?

Saturday, May 21, 2011

The adventure... and the perils of planning

The Adventure
“Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.” Helen Keller

I truly believe this quote, my friends that have chosen a life of security have no less tragedy in their lives than those of my friends who have chosen a life of adventure. For me, the adventure is what makes life beautiful, the not knowing, the discovery of things I may have never seen, or done, and every time it broadens my vision of the world.

The Perils of Planning
Trust is always something I've had and still have, I have a hard time when a person just lies outright to your face... Initially we were going to take a pop up and over the last couple of months I have been searching for an economical, small pop up to take. A few weeks ago I thought I found one, on ebay. However, the seller, was dishonest and lied, not just through emails about it's condition, but when he dropped it off, he lied to my face. I have never experienced that before. Conveniently I couldn't open the camper to look inside, as the one problem he shared with me was that the cable that lifts the top was broken. I asked him about the canvas, and he lied. I wasn't going to share this with anyone, but I feel perhaps I can help someone else avoid being scammed. Oh and if a vehicle is 10 years old or older, eBay doesn't cover it with their protection program. Even though their site says everywhere that you're protected. So, in short, buyer beware. Unfortunately eBay has been useless in our communications.

It led us to the decision of a tent. We'll save gas mileage, and cots will make it comfortable. We won't be off the ground but with a good tent, we'll be dry and comfortable.

Getting the car ready for the trip is the next big hurdle. Thanks to my cousin Ivan, an excellent mechanic, this is within our budget.

Simple is better :)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Early route

removing our itinerary for security, but email me if you want to meet up.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Which Tent

Trying to choose a tent. It needs to be big enough to sleep, paint and live in. It would be nice to have a screen room so that I can keep our cooking in doors especially if it's a rainy day. We'll be at some parks for extended periods of time. We have a smaller 3 person tent for short stays. Keeping out the weather is probably the most important.

Cabela tent

Tunnel Tent

Tahoe Gear Tent