Monday, August 29, 2016


Tuesday Aug 23
  Finally we reach Canada from one of the 13 roadway Points of Entry across Canada. Ours is from midway across North Dakota.  Turtle Mountain Provincial Park is right at the border.  We camped at Adam Lake at a site right on the lake!  We went to sleep to the sound of ducks and loons.
We awoke to a sunrise of wind blowing our wash on the line.

Wednesday Aug 24
  Onward and upward- due north, that is, to Riding Mountain National Park. The main event at RMNP seems to be the village within the park called Wamsagaming. Loaded with shops and a pretty lakefront, the campsites, tho plentiful, are pretty boring so we drive on to Moon Lake. Nice campsites spread out with natural barriers between each but the mosquitos are ravenous.  The day started out humid and by 4 pm it was pouring. Lovely to be inside the van. Tonight we will sleep to the sound of rain on the tin-like roof. We encountered this moose and her two calves as we entered Moon Lake CG.

Thursday Aug 25
  North we go further north to Dauphin and east to Hecla/Grindstone Provincial Park which consists of several islands and a peninsula that juts out into the large 400km long finger of water of Lake Winnipeg. Spring/summer/fall is a five month event here. In winter, temperatures get down to -30 to -40 degrees fahrenheit!☃ Hecla is a hamlet founded by Icelanders back in the 1800s. At the end of the peninsula is Gull Harbour and a large 200 site campground. A light house lookout, the Lighthouse Inn where we dine, a boat yard and a marina with a jetty, seagulls and white Pelicans are the sum total of Gull Harbour.  It reminds me of a New England seaside.
Not only Icelanders settled in this area; there was a large Ukranian population that still lives on in the area leading to Hecla. We notice onion topped churches frequently and restaurants touting Ukanian fare.

Friday Aug 26
  We continue to average about 250 miles per day and don't mind moving on each day. Usually we have either morning camp time for hiking or painting or else evening time. We are in the eastern most portion of Manitoba above North Dakota and now Minnesota as we head into the province of Ontario tomorrow. Today we head SE of Winnipeg to the Mennonite Heritage Village Museum.  Barns, tractors, schoolhouse, general store and various houses make the visit most interesting. We dine on typical food of these people who came from Switzerland and Germany, many by way of Russia and Poland. They believe in the strength of communal living and a strict separation of church and state- so much so that one of their tenets is to not become a magistrate or work in any capacity for a government, local or national. Strict pacifists, when attacked for their Protestantism, they did not fight back- most of them, that is, as over time there were some sects prone to violence who haven't survived. 

We head NE to reach Whiteshell Prov park where the seven campgrounds are filled with Winnipegeois for the weekend. Opipaskaw CG on Dorothy Lake is our choice for the night. Whiteshell seems to sit on a giant granite shield called the Canadian Shield. There is exposed granite everywhere- with abundant lakes carved by glaciers.  Leaving the next morning, we stop to visit the petroforms - rocks forms on the shield that have been used by the native tribes as teaching sites. Amazingly, none of these are cordoned off and the few signs that explain they've been here for hundreds of years are sufficient to keep the tourists from disturbing anything except to leave the traditional small object (COLLIN leaves a coin, I a flower) as a sign of respect for the sight.
A turtle is often used to indicate a nearby lake, snake for rivers.

Saturday Aug 27
  Our destination today is across the province border into Ontario and the Canadian side of Lake Superior- the world's largest inland lake. It rains all day as we drive by flat terrain covered in birch and forests, dotted with lakes. Once in Ontario, we drive SE on the 17, formerly Rt 1, the TransCanadian Hwy. We arrive at Quetico Proc Park, known as the premier canoeing park in Canada. 

Sunday Aug 28
It's a glorious day in the 60s with lots of sunshine and some wind. NE of Thunder Bay is the Ouimet (we-met) Canyon- a  3km long, 150m deep, 150m wide fissure purportedly gouged by a glacier. The base of the vertical-walled crack has an Arctic biome like found over 1500 kms north. The highlight of my day is zip lining the 400' Eagle Canyon just a few kms prior. ✅🏆Bucket List item. It was a blast and I screamed WHEE! all the way down.  
Top right is the launching platform for the zip line.
We arrive at Nipigon and head further along Lake Superior's north shore to Rainbow Falls CG just past the cute fishing village of Rossport. 

We bring our chairs out onto the pink granite slabs that extend into Lake Superior and enjoy sunset.

Thursday, August 25, 2016


Thursday Aug 18 
   We leave Yellowstone by the NE entrance, heading east across Wyoming.  We're at altitude all day going across the scenic Beartooth Highway that rises into Montana for 9 miles. Heading SE on the Chief Joseph Highway, we encount fire alert signs and a huge encampment of firefighters. The fire was contained two days prior to the SW ridge where we see burned trees just along the rocky ridge line. They're breaking camp tomorrow. We find a tiny 5 sight camp along a babbling frigid creek at the base of a monolithic mountain seen above. We awake to a cloudy morning after light rain during the night.

Friday Aug 19
  We climb Dead Indian Pass (8060') first thing. Over 1000' up from our camp, it has seven levels of road and switchbacks! On the other side, we descend to Cody Wyoming where cowboy culture rules. We follow roads marked as Scenic Routes.  Ten Sleep is a town just before the southern area of the Big Horn Mountains. It's unusual name is explained on a sign in the center:
Ascending into the Bighorn Mtns, we find a lovely campground across from a lake at the base of Powder River Summit (9666') - Sitting Bull CG. Our site overlooks a large meadow. As we walk to the lake that evening, we startle a young moose just 10' from us in the stream and spot 5 White Tail Deer.
Saturday Aug 20
  Leaving the mountains, we drive due east almost to the South Dakota state line when we decide to make a quick detour to Devils Tower, famed for the movie Close  Encounters of the Third Kind.  We watch climbers scaling the tower.
We head south to Custer SD and into the Black Hills where we find a gorgeous campsite at Bismarck Lake.
      Bismarck Lake, Black Hills SD
      My painting of Bismarck Lake 6x8
Sunday Aug 21
  Morning finds Collin encircling the lake while I paint a small 6x8. Two couples ask me to add them into the scene so I am now painting two commissions! 
Off we go to Mt Rushmore where we first pass by an ongoing rock carving project called Crazy Horse.
The pointing arm looks to me like Crazy Horse is riding a Harley - certainly appropriate in this motorcycle/ATVs area!
Mt Rushmore has certainly changed from Collin's 1990 trip there. From 1994-98, they made a grand entrance to the monument and enlarged all the attractions. Apparently they did not get enough federal funding for the parking so they sold the rights to a private company who built a large multileveled concrete structure and charge us $11 for RV parking. The deal smacks of cronyism to me - some senator gets federal money to enlarge the park while a concessionaire gets the rights to make millions off a previously free National Monument! Most enjoyable is a ranger talk at the Sculpture Studio on the process of making the figures. 90% of the work was done by very accurate blasting - to within 3-4" of the final surfaces! We head out in early afternoon to the historic town of Lead. Just before Spearfish Canyon, we find a sympathico tiny campground in a meadow by a babbling brook-Hanna CG. 

Monday Aug 21
    Mostly driving today to get half way thru North Dakota. Lovely morning drive up Spearfish Canyon on the way to Spearfish SD, an obviously upscale community. The canyon is gorgeous, filled with large cabins and loads of scenery. We stopped at Roughlock Falls. Lovely!
By 5pm we make it half way up ND and find a great campsite at Theodore Roosevelt NP- north unit, Oxbow Overlook in North Dakota. 
Teddy had a cattle ranch here back before his political days - it failed due to drought and blizzards but the experience  contributed greatly to his lifelong reverence for nature and the preservation of the extraordinary places in the US. This park is such a surprise for us -turning off the highway, its wonders are not visible as it is all carved out by the oxbows of the Little Missouri River. 
Tomorrow we will arrive in Canada and begin the Canadian Adventure!

Sunday, August 21, 2016


Sunday Aug 14
  We made our way east across Idaho paralleling the Sawtooth Mountains on our left. The valley is predominantly agricultural. Interesting barns-partially underground and with sod roofs-appeared to hold potatoes. We arrived in the fun, hip town of Jackson Wyoming where travelled up a canyon into an elk reserve where we found a lovely campground with a view of the Tetons - our next stop.
The Grand Tetons from Jackson WYO
  My pen & watercolor sketch of the view

Monday/Tuesday Aug 15 & 16
  We left Curtis Cyn CG early stopping at the National Museum of Wildlife Art just outside Jackson. This museum has been on my bucket list for years! Gorgeous works!
                3 of my favorites!

Onward to The Grand Tetons! They are magnificent! We reserved 2 nites at Colter Bay Campground at a lovely site at end of a loop. 

Wednesday Aug 17
  Leaving the Tetons regretfully behind, we made our way the Yellowstone. We camped at the first campground at the south entrance -Lewis Lake CG. Then on to our loop of YS. First stops - the geysers. Missed Old Faithful going off by two minutes but could see the top of the spew from afar. The Yellowstone Lodge, built in the early 1800s, was the highlight for me! As we are both vintage architecture fans, our hour spent inside was one of absorbing the details.
      Sapphire Pool
           Yellowstone Lodge
As we headed over to the northeast side, we got our first sightings of bison -  and we learned that 'buffalo' is a misnomer given them by early settlers for their resemblance to Asian and African (water) buffalo. The bison herds were plentiful over on the east side but so were the gawkers. We were backed up over 5 miles from people stopping to photo a bear and the bison! The only relief was when the Rangers came and helped direct traffic (for the bisons benefit).

Thursday Aug 18
  Another gorgeous day of driving thru the west hwys of Yellowstone. The Lamarr Valley was notable for bison herds and fly fishermen hoardes. We saw Trumpeter Swans (large!) and antelope (pronghorns).  
Visiting The Tetons and Yellowstone really is a must.  But we were also glad to leave the tourist-filled areas and head back out onto the open road!

Sunday, August 14, 2016


      Lions Creek Camp | Pastel | 6x8
The Ruby Mountains of NE Nevada are an alpine oasis surrounded by dry high desert.  Two glaciers vee'd together right at this scene. The Ruby Dome is the rounded peak on the right. This was the view from our campsite in the early morning looking over the creek, the tops of the aspen and on up the canyon to the magnificent granite peaks!

Painting Notes:  Trying to squeeze paintings into a journey of many miles is always a challenge. I had just enough time in the morning to draw the scene and lay in my underpainting on my Uart paper. Two days elapsed until we arrived at camp early enough to fit some painting time in. A sketch made in my journal gave me the color points with which to work 


First stop on our TRANSCANADA Odyssey - sister Jo's in Genoa NV (near Carson City) where grandson Dante is visiting from SoCal. What a great 11 year old! Sweet, funny, bright and polite who has impressively memorized the entire rap play Hamilton, and sings like an angel! For Collin's birthday, we ate lunch overlooking Lake Tahoe at Jo's favorite The Riva Grill.
(That's Samuel Clemens in the middle)
Next stop, Friday, was the Ruby Mountains of NE Nevada. Just 30 miles east of Elko, this lush alpine oasis rises up from the High Desert. Formed from two glaciers, the +7000' terrain of multiple peaks rise to 11,800'.  We spent the afternoon soaking in the cold Lamoille Creek and hiking up Lions Creek carved by a side glacier. The beaver activity was the most I've ever seen - a beaver dam of chewed aspen every 40' that went on and up for over a mile!
Day 3, Saturday, we received news that Jo is in the hospital with a bad gallbladder which they are treating with antibiotics.
We headed north into Idaho-a long day of rather bleak terrain - more high desert. We stayed below Anderson Dam (NE 20mi of Mountain Home) along the South Fork of the Boise River. Awaking this morning, our boat launch campsite had multiple dories being launched. We were told this river is the prime Bull Trout run in the area! 
We're headed for Jackson Wyoming  and the Tetons today, traveling east along the base of the Sawtooth Range on the Camas Prairie - a rich, dry land farming valley of alfalfa, corn, grains and cattle. So far, both Idahoans we've spoken to are previous Californians who love it here!
In the late morning, we got word that Jo has to have an emergency operation as the gall bladder is dead. What complicates the surgery is that she recently had a heart incident (unstable angina and a stent) and is on blood thinners.  The relief was profound when we got the word, just 40 minutes after going into surgery that she came through fine!  We were prepared to turn back and still may but both her children are there or on the way so we'll see. Whew!

Tuesday, August 2, 2016


        Bridge Over Troubled Waters  | 14x11

Our favorite pastime is hiking in the mountains, through the woods.  It's such a pleasure to come across a wooden bridge designed to transport us across the stream  Early spring and the water was roiling as it passed us by.  I was attracted to the bright rays of sunlight as they glinted off the surfaces of the water, the rocks and the trees. Just looking at this scene transports me back to the woods!

Painting Notes:  I find that the larger I paint, the more I enjoy using Ampersand's Pastel Boards. Popping them into a frame is so easy and it will never bend!  The white surface takes any type of underpainting you want to throw at it. The background trees are something I've worked on over the years, in watercolor, oil and now pastel. Just giving enough information is the key. This one depicts the density of the forest of mostly new growth trees.