Sunday, July 30, 2006

The Sounds of Scotland

We're back from vacation.  Camping was wonderful, except for the mosquitoes, and the Highland Games were fantastic, as always.  Got time to post a quick movie from the Games.  From the opening ceremony on Saturday, an event called Massing of the Pipes and Drums, featuring over a hundred pipes and drums from about twenty bands.  The video is okay...but it can't compare to being there; I had a time holding the camera steady and the wind was blowing.  Watching and listening to all those pipers moving into the area stirs my soul, everytime.  I will never tire of the sound of bag pipes.  Ever.  It's in my blood.


Friday, July 21, 2006

Central Idaho trip -- entry four

Travel Log
Friday, June 16, 2006 through Sunday, June 18, 2006
Leave Craters of the Moon National Monument @ 10:00 a.m. Mountain Time
Arrive Stanley, Idaho, 1:00 p.m.
Routes Traveled:  U. S. 93/20/26 and Idaho 75 (Sawtooth Scenic Byway)
Miles: 136 miles (Craters to Stanley), 167 within Stanley

Before we left the Park, there was one other sight to experience...the caves.  These former
lava tubes fascinated us and the idea of walking through a part of the earth where lava once flowed piqued our inquisitive minds.  There are four 'wild' caves open to the public: Indian Tunnel, Beauty, Boy Scout and Dewdropand they are considered wild caves because each is undeveloped with no trails or artificial lighting.  We arrived at the cave parking lot just before 8:00 a.m. and set off on an asphalt path across the expansive black lava flows.

First on the list, Indian Tunnel, the largest of the four.  Access to the cave is made by way of metal stairs, the only man-made improvement.  This cave was deep, and I felt a tinge of
apprehension as we stepped down the staircase.  Visitors are advised to take flashlights and wear helmets due to the instability of the cave structures; falling rocks and collapsing ceilings are a constant hazard.  This was clearly apparent from the beginning, since the cave entrance and each of it's 'sky lights' were openings created by the collapse of the ceiling.  Picking our way through the piles of rock we heard the constant sound of water dripping which surprised me; don't know why but I wasn't expecting to hear that sound inside a lava tube.  And wouldn't you know it, nature called on me halfway through the cave.  I hate it when that happens and I'd love to have a chat with the person who persuaded my Mom to use running water as a potty training method.  The cave exit was also unexpected; that was accomplished by popping up through a hole in the ceiling after climbing a steep pile of rocks.  Learned another photo lesson; cave photography is quite a challenge.

We wanted to see the other caves, and I did my best to delay an early return to the parking lot, but exploring these caves involved a lot of squatting and that kept sending the wrong signal to my brain.  So we
briskly returned to the cave parking lot...much to my relief.  Ahhhhh.  Then it was back to the campground to hitch up and head down the road.

Once we got past the construction we made good time until we neared the towns of Hailey and Ketchum.  At Hailey we passed the recently expanded airport and spotted at least thirty
Lear jets parked along the tarmac, and another twenty or more privately owned hangers.  From that point on it was obvious we were getting closer to the Ketchum/Sun Valley area; the traffic quadrupled and the homes lining the highway were all gated.  We were both relieved to put Ketchum behind us.  Then he hit Galena Summit and man, what a view!!!!  No photo of the Sawtooth Mountains ever do them justice and I tried.  Standing in the viewpoint parking lot with the Stanley basin and Sawtooth laid out before me was awe inspiring; the sight just stopped me in my tracks.  Idaho is a beautiful state and her mountains go on forever.

Next stop, the town of Stanley, where we planned to stay the night, which turned out to be three nights.  We found an RV park, set up camp and then set off to explore; we spent the next three days
exploring this area and there was so much to see...alpine lakes, ghost towns, pioneer cemeteries, rivers and streams, wildlife trails.  We took in as much as we could.  From the start I thought the mountains had an unusual quality about them; something beyond the jagged the early morning and late evening light they seemed to...glow.  Turns out my eyes were not exactly playing tricks on me, as the Sawtooth Mountains are composed of a rosy pink granite, as opposed to the gray granite so common throughout Idaho.
Stanley retreat.
The view from our trailer at Stanley.

During our stay we noticed Stanley is a popular place, especially for two different groups of people; motorcyclists and rafters.  With a population of about 130 people, it was easy to pick the visitor's out from the locals.  Each time we passed the main shopping area the parking lots were filled with people, some dressed head to toe in black leather and some dressed in tank tops and shorts.    And then there were all those motorcycles...we saw some real beauties and works of art.  Wowsa.
This is the life...
Redfish Lake

There was so much to explore.  On Saturday we drove to Stanley Lake, Little Redfish Lake and Redfish Lake, each a serene mountain gem.  There were the ghost towns of Custer and Bonanza with their rustic charm, and a couple of abandoned homesteads on Nip N Tuck Road.  Sunday we spent touring the Sawtooth Fish Hatchery, then drove back to Redfish Lake to ride our bikes around the lake; it was a beautiful day and perfect for that activity.  Took me back to days spent at Lake Tahoe during the 80s.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Highland Jig Time!!!

Summer is just flying by and I can't believe it's already the middle of July.  Getting ready to hit the road...once again.

Tomorrow afternoon we are taking the trailer to our favorite place in the Clearwater National Forest for a week, and then next weekend we will be attending the Pacific Northwest Scottish Highland Games in Washington!!!  It will be our second time at the games and I can't wait.  Time for a little jiggin' and a whole lotta bagpipes, with an extra special 30th Anniversary Tattoo on Saturday night.  I just love the sound of bagpipes and I'll be getting my fill at the Highland Games, I'm sure.  And then there's the whole men in kilts thing going on.  Hundreds of 'em, everywhere!

I like it!

May have to buy hubby a kilt cuz there's just something about seeing a man in a kilt that gets me started.  Oh baby, baby!!!  :)


I'm out...TTFN! 

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Central Idaho trip - Entry 3

It's been awhile since my last travel log entry and I keep telling myself...I will finish it!  Started this entry during the trip...finished it Sunday, then spent the past two days working on the photos.  Journal entries take so much time, and then of course there is know, all that stuff that goes on while you're busy trying to get something done.  No complaints here, and if I wasn't such a stickler for the details I'd have posted this days ago.  :)  Maybe someday I'll realize that fine tooth comb is for my hair.

Travel Log
Thursday, June 15, 2006
Leave Challis Hot Springs RV Park @ 10:11 a.m. Mountain Time
Arrive Craters of the Moon National Monument @ 2:00 p.m. Mountain Time
Routes Traveled:  U. S. 93 (Salmon River Scenic Byway)/U. S. 23
Miles: 106 miles

NOTE:  The photos (below) surrounded by a color border are hyperlinks; clicking on the photo will take you to another website, Flickr, where you can see the photos in greater detail.  Please do so; I keep them small to reduce bandwidth and download time. 
Sometimes in the early moments of a new day at the cabin, I'll open my eyes, flip on to my stomach and peek through the window over our bed, wondering if nature has a surprise
waiting outside.  HelloEvery once in a while, she does; and waking up in the trailer at Challis was one of those times.  Seconds after opening my eyes I glanced at my watch noting it was not quite 7:30 a.m. and Sam was still resting beside me.   The trailer was glowing, filledwith the essence of the morning.  I was struck by a curious thought, so I rolled out of bed and peeked out the window through the metal blinds.  With wide-eyed excitement I gasped with delight, beckoning Sam to take a look, then hopped out of bed, grabbed my camera and ever so slowly opened the trailer door, knowing full well those large ears heard every sound I made, yet hoping my actions would not frighten them off.  The pair saw me and yet lingered; I felt grateful for the moment.  It was a perfect start for a beautiful day.

I took a quick shower while Sam got our morning coffee brewing, then Sam showered while I fixed us a breakfast of bacon, eggs and hash browns.  I washed up the dishes and we hit the road again.  It sounds like we rushed through the morning, but actually three hours passed from the time we woke up until we pulled out of the RV park.  Neither of us felt rushed, we took our time working at a relaxed pace, relishing every second; it is these quiet moments of daily life that draw us together...moments that require no words...just quiet harmony.  Moments I cherish.

ScarpDuring my final semester at college, I discovered geology and even seriously contemplated switching majors, from Business Management to Geology.  With graduation only months away, I wondered if I was pursuing the wrong field of work; working outside versus in an office really appealed to me.  But my head for business won in the end, and for fun I let the budding geologist come out to play every now and then.  What better time than during vacation, and I soon realized this trip would hold many geological delights!

First stop, Mount Borah, Idaho's tallest peak and the site of the 1983 Borah Peak earthquake.  Even though it was a clear, blue sky day, we never saw the top of Borah; the peak was shrouded in a blanket of fog.  We did, however, spend a bit of time reading all the information kiosks before heading back down the road. AOL Pictures 1-4 above
Along the way we stopped for fuel in the town of Arco and before we pulled into the station we noticed the hillside was covered with painted numbers; sets of two digits, each designating itself as a permanent reminder of some high school senior class; it is an annual rite of passage at home, the difference being the same place on the hill side is used over and over.  I had a horrible head ache about that time and headed into the convenience store in search of relief, then we headed back down the road.  Moments later we passed another gas station and were amazed at the diesel price of $3.29 per gallon, we had just paid $2.99 per gallon just one block away.  Unusual business practice in a small town to have two competing companies with a $.30 per gallon price variance only one small block away from each other.  And yet the oil companies claim there is no
price gougingReallyAOL Pictures 5-7 above

Less than a mile from the entrance to Crater's of the Moon National Monument we were stopped by road construction, the bane of all summer travelers.  The wait to continue gave us time to take in the unique lava bed landscape on both sides of the highway.  The mercury was climbing, ripples of heat danced above the land and I wondered where the volcano was that created this. The flagger finally motioned us on, and minutes later we drove through the park gates.

The campground is located at the entrance to the park and right off we found a pull-through space and got settled in.  Camping on a lava bed...what a concept and like no other campground or RV park we ever stayed.  There were very few trees, no electrical hook-ups and I wondered how we would fare in the heat.  Temps were in the high 90s, but a constant breeze brought some relief.  We were completely surrounded by, black, hard, sharp reminders of
Idaho's geologic past.  These rocks absorbed the heat like natural radiators.  After a bite to eat for lunch we debated between riding our bikes or driving around the park's 6 mile loop.  In the end we opted for driving, given the heat, altitude, and our lack of familiarity with the terrain. AOL Pictures 8 above
  • "The strangest 75 square miles on the North American continent," one early traveler dubbed the Craters of the Moon landscape.
  • Others deemed it "a weird lunar landscape", " an outdoor museum of volcanism."
  • It wasn't till 1924 that this area became a national monument.
  • This odd landscape greatly exhibits the inner forces that shape our planet.
  • Many ask "Where is the volcano?" The answer to this question is that there isn't just one, "here the Earth opened a great wound and lava spewed out."
  • This volcanic activity dates back to about 15,000 years ago and stopped only 2,000 years ago.
  • These cones, fissures, and lava flows are all a part of what is called the Great Rift Zone.
  • (Text courtesy of Volcano World)

    Sure, it looks like an easy hike.
    First activity was a hike up a cinder cone, and half way into the .2 miles hike I was thinking of how glad I am that I quit smoking.  But the views from the top was spectacular. The day was clear and the earth spread out before us in every direction.  I was breathless from the hike and the sights; it was like nothing I've ever seen before.  Breathtaking view from a cinder cone.

    We visited Mount St. Helen's National Monument in 2002, but the landscape created by that event was far removed from this ground.  St. Helen's created lahars, or mud flows, from the deep snow and ice at the mountain's peak.  The volcanic activity laid before me was more akin to the landscape typical of Hawaiian volcanoes.  I found myself amazed that two distinctly different volcanic events occurred so near my home (albeit one was long before my time).  A constant reminder of how the earth is always changing.  AOL Pictures 9-12 above

    Tree mold #1

    Further into the park we hiked a four mile trail to see several 'tree molds'; a feature marking the place where trees once stood prior to the lava flow.  Consumed by the fiery lava the trees burned; as the lava cooled the trees turned to ash, leaving only a gaping hole in the ground.  In one we could see the bark patterns and limbs impressed into the lava.  The place was so barren and yet some plants actually thrived.  There was little wildlife, due to the lack of rainfall in the region (annual rainfall is zip, zero, nada), but we saw several different species of birds.  I was particularly interested in photographing the mountain blue birds (Idaho's state bird), but they seem to be timid creatures and never let me near enough to get a good clear shot.Tree mold #2
    We spent almost three hours exploring the park, returning to our trailer for dinner late in the afternoon.  The wind blew constantly, a warm breath gusting across the heated lava bed.  By late evening the campground filled with families in trailers, motor homes, and tents; we ate dinner with the
    sound ofchildren playing in the background, took a slow stroll to check out all the RV's, then nestled down for the night.

    And for the first time in months I enjoyed a very restful sleep.  :)

    Day's end

    Explore it yourself!
    Borah Peak/Challis Earthquake site:  Idaho Geologic SurveyVisit IdahoU. S. Geological SurveyIdaho SummitsLunar and Planetary Institute (awesome photos of the scarp!)
    Craters of the Moon:  Wikipedia (has some VERY cool satellite images!),  Bureau of Land Management,   GORP site,   National Park Service siteGeology Fieldnotes,  LLBean site, Volcano WorldU. S. Geological SurveyVisit Idaho