Sign, Sign Every Where a Sign…our Visit to Las Vegas-Photo Tour

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We headed to Las Vegas, the City of Sin, Vegas, the 26th largest City in the US and largest in Nevada and also the Mojave Desert. I had a long list of photography goals for this City and it did not disappoint. The one thing we didn’t get to do was the Fremont Experience, not that we need an excuse to go back but this gives us just one.

This is going to be a different type of blog post. Enjoy some of the pics of our visit to Sin City.

THE HOTTEST, DRIEST, LOWEST PLACE ON EARTH-DEATH VALLEY NATIONAL PARK!

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While we were staying in Pahrump, Nevada we headed to the hottest, driest, and lowest place on earth, Death Valley National Park. This park straddles the California-Nevada border, just be sure to get gas in Nevada before entering or there is a nice hefty price tag to getting it in California. We were sure what really to expect to see because the name alone doesn’t even sound inviting but we figured since we were this close we might as well to check it out. I did my research prior and knew where I wanted/needed to go to get the shots I wanted to get, but all and all we were thinking it would be a half day event at best and certainly just a driving event. Well we were blown away with its beauty and all there is to see and we got all our steps in for the day. Since we went after a dry winter there were very few desert flowers blooming. Despite the awful name of the park there is some much life that survives in this place, it is amazing. It is extremely diverse consisting of salt-flats, sand dunes, badlands, valleys, canyons and mountains. Death Valley was established on February 11, 1933 as a National Monument and became a National Park on October 31, 1994. For obvious reasons the best time to visit is in the fall and winter months.

Death Valley received its name from some European Americans being trapped in the valley in 1849 while looking for a shortcut to California. There were some short lived “boom” towns created in the late 19th and 20th century. They came to find gold and silver, even though the the long-term profitable ore was borax. The borax was transported out of the area by a 20 mule team. The 20 Mule Team was actually 18 mules and two horses pulling large wagons out of Death Valley from 1883 to 1889. In the 20’s there were resorts built around Stovepipe Wells and Furnace Creek.

As far as hot goes, it was hot while we were there (April 4, 2022) and at one point we saw 99 degrees but the highest recorded is 134 degrees. As far as the lowest the Badwater Basin is -282′ (that’s right, negative 282 feet) below sea level.

Since I had sort of a photography agenda we looked at the map and figured out what we “needed” to see and what we “wanted” to see and left home at 8:00 a.m., leaving Eris at home to guard our air conditioned castle. This place is no place for pets, we would not have been able to go on the hikes we did go on (while they were short they had some challenges if nothing else but the heat) and certainly could not have stayed in the truck even for a few minutes.

Coming in from the east the first stop was the 20 Mule Team Canyon scenic road. It is a dirt/gravel scenic drive that took us on narrow roads with plenty of bends and ups and downs gullies. Some scenes from Return of the Jedi were filmed here.

Next stop for us was Zabriske point. Even though we didn’t get there at sunrise when we did get there it was still amazingly beautiful. There is a paved walkway up to the top about 1/4 a mile each way with a little bit of elevation. So worth the walk, just for the views.

On our way to the visitors center there was the Inn of Death Valley which truly is an oasis in the desert, so lush and green. We stopped there to check it out and we would love to stay there sometime, this wasn’t the time however. So on we went.

Of course no national park visit wouldn’t be complete without a stop at the visitor center. We headed into Furnace Creek to get the information we wanted and needed to make the day the most productive. There is a video and displays as well and a great stop to get the national park pass stamped (and only place in the park). We showed our pass and received the newspaper and the Death Valley map and backcountry and off-road map. We always suggest stopping at the visitor’s center first thing to get the lay of the land and find out what is open and closed and road and trail conditions. It was nice to see that the park is fully open, with ranger programs and everything.

After receiving the map we were ready to head out for the rest of the day. Next stop was Harmony Borax Works. Borax was the most profitable resources mined in the park. At this spot there is an original 20 mule team wagon and some ruins of the mining operation. This also has a 1/4 mile loop, paved trail with information signs to read.

The next stop was down another dirt/gravel road to Keene Wonder Mill and Mine where gold was discovered by accident. While borax is what makes Death Valley famous, Jack Keane and Domingo Etcharren discovered real gold by in 1903. It was mined until 1942 with the peak years being 1907-1012. Keane Wondering Mine produced $625,000-$682,000 during the boom years. We hiked up the steep incline to what remains of an aerial tram where the gold was taken out in metal ore buckets loaded to the top with about 70 tones of order and transported each day, moved to the mill about a 1.6 miles from the top. There are still some of the original structures that can be explored, however the mines are closed with a fence for safety reasons. We sat in the truck and had our lunch before beginning our journey to the base of the aerial tram.

After we had our fix with the mining tour we headed to see some more natural places so off to Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes we headed. These sand dunes rise 100 fee from Mesquite Flat. We were able to just step out of the car and take some pictures. As it was near 100 degrees we really didn’t have the need to go walk through the sand. Not to mention we had other places to see.

We stopped at Stovepipe Village. Which consists of some lodging, general store (where we proceeded to get ice cream) also gas was much cheaper here if needed then at Furnace Creek. While there we did stop and get some ice cream but nothing else.

Next stop on our tour was to the lowest place in North America-Badwater Basin. It was pretty amazing to think we were 282 below sea level. There is a sign that shows where sea level is. We walked out a little bit but since it was 99 degrees we could feel ourselves baking from the bottom up. Took some great pics and moved onward as we wanted to get to Dantes View before sunset and had other places to go.

We made our way to Artist Drive which is a paved, 9-mile one-way scenic loop drive through multi-colored hills. This drive did not disappoint as the views were spectacular.

Our final destination for the day was Dantes View, which is viewpoint at 5475 feet. It’s a way to get to the view point and the last 1/4 mile was a 15% grade to the top. Down at the bottom we were near 90 degrees by the time we made it up to the top it was 68 degrees. The views here did not disappoint as well. We could see Badwater Basin down below and were able to see the sunset.

While the season for Death Valley is earlier than we were there our trip was still magnificent. We highly recommend this as a destination. If we make it back to the area we will go again and plan on doing some of the amazing hikes and to see some more of this park. Don’t let the name of this park deter you from going, it is not dead at all it is full of life. Here are some shots from our time we spent there. Until next time, keep on keeping on….

20 Mule Team Canyon
Zabriske Point
The Inn-truly an oasis in the desert
Harmony Borax Works
Keane Wonder Mill and Mine
Natural Bridge

Artist Drive
Dantes View

Oh My, Just Like That it’s 2022

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Time sure does fly and a ton has happened and so many sites have been seen since I last blogged from Seattle. I will just give a run down of what we did since Seattle and catch up to today, where we are sitting until next month in Florida. I will also talk about all the things we learned while on the road, so stay tuned.

After Seattle we headed to meet our friends in Olympia, where we stayed for nearly a month. We went to the San Juans, and Olympic National Park. We also participated in our first in post Covid road race in Olympia. One of the best things of being rootless is that we got to see our friends across the country where any other normal summer that would not have been an option. After Olympia we headed down to Cathlamet, Washington, a cute little town on the Columbia River, to see Mike’s cousins. We spent a few days there, hanging with family and seeing the sites. We went to Astoria, Oregon while there, where we climbed the tower and went through the Goonies’ Museum. After spending a few days we needed to head towards our next “rock-destination” which was the Xscapers Convergence in Driggs, Idaho.

First stop was a casino in Pendleton, Oregon. Well we weren’t going for the casino we were there for the campground. The campground was Wild Horse Casino and was clearly set up by a Rv’er as the all the sites were easy to get into and spaced perfectly. While in Pendleton we did the underground tour. Which was a great tour about the history of Pendleton. The campground had it’s own pool but we were able to use the pool and all the other facilities at the casino. There was an indoor pool, there was a gym, movie theater, bowling alley, and game room, not to mention the actual casino. Mike and I don’t gamble but decided to “blow” $10.00. We had no idea how to even play the slot machines. We left $166.00 richer. We stayed there for a few days and headed onward toward Driggs.

Next stop was in Idaho at a campground, Green Canyon Hotsprings, that had some natural hot springs. Which we did not use as they were really crowded. It was just a stopping point as we were getting ready to boondock for the next month. Our first stop after the hot springs was Driggs, Idaho where we were doing the Xcapers Convergence. We had such a great time there, even when the weather wasn’t great or when the smoke filled the sky. We met some new people who we will have as friends for lifetime. We volunteered to set up, park and knock down the event. Which I think volunteering makes it even more fun. We went kayaking as a group, ski lift and hiking as a group. All of it was fun and it was sad to leave but I am sure we will see these folks down the road.

After we left there we headed back to Yellowstone where we had reservations in the park for 3 nights, then it was on to the Tetons. Of course Yellowstone was amazing. I did a photography tour where I got some amazing shots. I will do this tour again when we go out in May. After Yellowstone we had a week in the Tetons, at Gros Ventre. After spending 8 glorious nights there and seeing alot of Moose we headed back up to Atherton Creek. We we spent another week up there and met our friends from the convergence. Then it was time for us to go our separate ways as we had a lot more we wanted to see and we had the next big boulder in Savannah that we had to get to, plus the weather was changing daily before our eyes. It was getting colder and the trees were literally changing colors daily. We haven’t seen fall before at least not like this so it was really cool.

Next stop was Colorado as we made our way east. First stop was in Rock Springs, Wyoming. I could live there. We stayed for a few days and did things like laundry, dog grooming and just basic normal household chores. We spent over a month boondocking so it was nice to have full hookups for a few days. After Rock Springs we headed down the road to Dinosaur National Monument via the Flaming Gorge passes, where we found a great campsite in the Monument to boondock. The sunsets were amazing. We did some touring. Half of the park in in Utah and half of it is in Colorado. I will go into more details about the park in another blog.

After a few days there we headed to Delta Colorado (Grand Junction), where we went to Colorado National Monument, Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. Colorado National is one of my favorite parks. It has a little bit of everything. After we spent sometime there we lucked out and got a campground in Ouray. Where we spent 4 days there. The campground was in town. Ouray was an amazing little town, with history, sites and views. To head to our next destination we had to drive the Million Dollar Highway. It was a scary pass but not the scariest I think I have ever driven. That being said, I don’t have any need to do it again. There is no shoulder and at times we were at something like 15,000 feet in elevation. To say I was happy to see the town of Silverton is an understatement. While staying in Ouray we did a day trip to Telluride. Another amazing ski town that has a free ski lift to take you up and down the mountains. Like a bus but a ski lift instead. We also watched people doing the Via Ferrata. Mike became hooked and couldn’t wait to try this himself. A Via Ferrata is basically rock/wall climbing, on ledges. That is a big NO for me.

While we did not stop in Silverton we may return some day, we had a destination and that destination was Durango. Where we stayed at a great campground right on the narrow rail train tracks. We took the shortened train ride. We both loved it. So beautiful, however it was cold and drizzly all day but that was ok we brought stuff to keep us warm and know what to bring next time. While there also went to Mesa Verde National Park. It was ok, that’s all I can say. After a few days there it was time leave and we really wanted to boondock for a few days.

As we were headed east we stopped at Great Sand Dunes National Park. Where there is some amazing boondocking opportunities right outside the door. We did a hike while there but there was no way I wanted to climb the sand dunes. The one thing we love about this lifestyle is you never know who you may come across again. While boondocking we ran into someone we met the month before in Gros Ventre.

Then we made it to Colorado Springs, where we did a Harvest Host one night and did a couple nights at a KOA. We went to Garden of the Gods, which was really cool and the dog got to hike with us as well, so the always makes us happy.

Onward we headed and made our way to Kansas. Two nights later we were in Kansas City. While we stayed on the Missouri side that didn’t stop us from enjoying the Kansas side. Totally surprised as to the beauty that was there. We wish we would have had more time to spend there.

Next stop was St. Louis. The Arch was on my bucket list. Friends told us about the casino to stay at, while it was no Wild Horse like we had in Pendleton it was good. The view was the arch and a short walk away over the Mississippi River via the Eads Bridge, which was the world’s first steel truss bridge. The campground was in Illinois and there was a state border sign on the bridge. Well we were officially east of the Mississippi, where things just got damper or so it seemed. We had to drive over on the day for our tour at the Gateway Arch National Park because of weather. After we toured the Arch, (again I will dedicate a full blog post to all the parks we went to) we met my sister-in-law for lunch. Again it is so cool, getting to meet family on the road.

As I said we are now east of the Mississippi. so it is a good time to say good bye and I will tell you all about the rest of our Season One in the next blog, which I promise will not be months away. Stay tuned for all the eastern states we stopped at and Mike’s first Via Ferrata.

Black bear in Olympic National Park
Colorado National Monument
Black Canyon of the Gunnison
Dinosaur National Park
Ouray
Durango
Garden of the Gods

Finally, Gonna Get to Catch Up-As We Continue West We Finally Made It to the Seattle Area…

We left off in Wallace, Idaho and as we continued to the west we were still looking for places with hook-ups and ended up in Vantage, Washington.  While we were excited to add another state to our map, first glance in Washington left us both thinking ehhh…. Alot of farm land and just not all that pretty compared their eastern neighbor of Idaho.  But we were able to get reservations which was huge as the heat was on.  We got all settled in at Vantage RV Park, on the Columbia Gorge, while it would be prettyish under normal conditions, nothing was pretty there.  It was 105-115 degrees, the ac ran and ran and barely kept up, our refrigerator could barely keep up, the sides of our rig were not able to be touched.  Eris could barely be taken out for walks as the ground was ridiculously hot.  Anyway, we spent a couple days there went to Yakima only to be able to stay in ac, which was interesting.  But nothing honestly happened in Vantage, Washington.  

As we continued to head west we had a few days before we were meeting our friends in Olympia so we headed towards Seattle and we were seeing Washington as we imagined it.  We stayed at Tall Chief RV Park/Resort. It is a Thousand Trails park, while we are not TT members I could definately see the alure. It had a pool, pickle ball and basketball courts and really nice shaded campsites.  The more west we headed the prettier the state became. 

We have a bunch of rv memberships, one of which is Passport America, which until Vantage we have never used and I was thinking when it is time to renew we will not be renewing it, however, at Vantage it saved us $24.00 on our stay but at Tall Chief it saved us $106.00.  I am hoping it will save us money as we head towards the east.  Anyway, our stay at Tall Chief was very nice, people were nice and it was a good place to see Seattle and Snoqualmie Falls.  

One day we headed to Seattle with a stop at REI, oh my it was like we arrived at Mecca, it was so amazing.  We spent a few hours there and drooled all over the stuff we would love to purchase.  After leaving there we headed toward downtown, fish market, space needle as we are tourists and wanted to see it all.  I got to do all of my street photography and was in total heaven. We stopped at a sports bar for lunch where the special of the day was buy a sandwich get one free.  That was a score, sandwich was good and well worth the cost.   We did not realize how hilly Seattle was and at that point we were grateful that the Rock n Roll Marathon did not fall on a time when were there (we have a deferred race and Seattle was one of those locations-we are signed up for Savannah in November).  We parked by the Space Needle where we spent $20.00 (a lot of our  to park and started walking.  We got to the fish market and enjoyed walking around and saw the gum wall, which was fun.  Then we made our way up the sidewalk that was at a 16% grade, the hills are no joke, they have a handrailing on the side of the building for either to catch you as you head down or to use as you pull yourself up.  Once at the top it leveled slightly and we headed to the monorail as our time in Seattle was coming to an end.  

A couple days later we headed to Snoqualmie Falls.  Snoqualmie Falls is the Pacific Northwest’s “great natural wonders.” It plunges 270 feed which is 10 stories higher than Niagara Falls.  Thankfully, it was sort of cloudy, which always make for the best waterfall photos.  After doing the hike around the falls (which Eris was able to do) we decided to head to the little downtown area.  What an adorable little town that is rich in history.  It has a train museum, but since we had Eris with us we were only able to go to the outside exhibits.   There is a brewery and many restaurants and parks and trails and we highly recommend a stop there if in the area. 

Our time in the area was coming to an end as we continued to make our way to Olympia where our friends were going to be waiting for us.  So next week’s blog post will be about the rest of our time in Washington State.  

The reason I am behind is because service has been questionable and I have been working on my Etsy store, I am selling my prints in the form of cards, however other formats are available, check out my store at  hopelmichaudphoto.etsy.com 

Until next time, as always, keep exploring, discovering and dreaming,

Hope, Mike and Eris, the lowrider camping hound.

We can be found on social media at instagram.com/what_r_we_waiting_4 and instagram.com/hopelmichaudphotography and of course on FB at whatrwewaiting4 and hopelmichaudphotography

Finally, Gonna Get to Catch Up-As We Continue West We Finally Made It to the Seattle Area…

We left off in Wallace, Idaho and as we continued to the west we were still looking for places with hook-ups and ended up in Vantage, Washington.  While we were excited to add another state to our map, first glance in Washington left us both thinking ehhh…. Alot of farm land and just not all that pretty compared their eastern neighbor of Idaho.  But we were able to get reservations which was huge as the heat was on.  We got all settled in at Vantage RV Park, on the Columbia Gorge, while it would be prettyish under normal conditions, nothing was pretty there.  It was 105-115 degrees, the ac ran and ran and barely kept up, our refrigerator could barely keep up, the sides of our rig were not able to be touched.  Eris could barely be taken out for walks as the ground was ridiculously hot.  Anyway, we spent a couple days there went to Yakima only to be able to stay in ac, which was interesting.  But nothing honestly happened in Vantage, Washington.  

As we continued to head west we had a few days before we were meeting our friends in Olympia so we headed towards Seattle and we were seeing Washington as we imagined it.  We stayed at Tall Chief RV Park/Resort. It is a Thousand Trails park, while we are not TT members I could definately see the alure. It had a pool, pickle ball and basketball courts and really nice shaded campsites.  The more west we headed the prettier the state became. 

We have a bunch of rv memberships, one of which is Passport America, which until Vantage we have never used and I was thinking when it is time to renew we will not be renewing it, however, at Vantage it saved us $24.00 on our stay but at Tall Chief it saved us $106.00.  I am hoping it will save us money as we head towards the east.  Anyway, our stay at Tall Chief was very nice, people were nice and it was a good place to see Seattle and Snoqualmie Falls.  

One day we headed to Seattle with a stop at REI, oh my it was like we arrived at Mecca, it was so amazing.  We spent a few hours there and drooled all over the stuff we would love to purchase.  After leaving there we headed toward downtown, fish market, space needle as we are tourists and wanted to see it all.  I got to do all of my street photography and was in total heaven. We stopped at a sports bar for lunch where the special of the day was buy a sandwich get one free.  That was a score, sandwich was good and well worth the cost.   We did not realize how hilly Seattle was and at that point we were grateful that the Rock n Roll Marathon did not fall on a time when were there (we have a deferred race and Seattle was one of those locations-we are signed up for Savannah in November).  We parked by the Space Needle where we spent $20.00 (a lot of our  to park and started walking.  We got to the fish market and enjoyed walking around and saw the gum wall, which was fun.  Then we made our way up the sidewalk that was at a 16% grade, the hills are no joke, they have a handrailing on the side of the building for either to catch you as you head down or to use as you pull yourself up.  Once at the top it leveled slightly and we headed to the monorail as our time in Seattle was coming to an end.  

A couple days later we headed to Snoqualmie Falls.  Snoqualmie Falls is the Pacific Northwest’s “great natural wonders.” It plunges 270 feed which is 10 stories higher than Niagara Falls.  Thankfully, it was sort of cloudy, which always make for the best waterfall photos.  After doing the hike around the falls (which Eris was able to do) we decided to head to the little downtown area.  What an adorable little town that is rich in history.  It has a train museum, but since we had Eris with us we were only able to go to the outside exhibits.   There is a brewery and many restaurants and parks and trails and we highly recommend a stop there if in the area. 

Our time in the area was coming to an end as we continued to make our way to Olympia where our friends were going to be waiting for us.  So next week’s blog post will be about the rest of our time in Washington State.  

The reason I am behind is because service has been questionable and I have been working on my Etsy store, I am selling my prints in the form of cards, however other formats are available, check out my store at  hopelmichaudphoto.etsy.com 

Until next time, as always, keep exploring, discovering and dreaming,

Hope, Mike and Eris, the lowrider camping hound.

We can be found on social media at instagram.com/what_r_we_waiting_4 and instagram.com/hopelmichaudphotography and of course on FB at whatrwewaiting4 and hopelmichaudphotography

Heading to West with a Stop in Wallace, Idaho

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This was an amazing stop, and totally unplanned. The heat was on so we wanted to be plugged in for a few days.  The campground was Wallace RV Park, which is on a creek and the big selling point to us was has a brewery attached.  After getting off the interstate we drove through this adorable western mining town and then into the campground.  The campground, while the sites were small the location was amazing.  It had a railtrial (Trail of the Coeur d”Alenes) right outside the door which was amazing for working on my training.  It was underneath the interstate for a couple miles which made it very pleasant to stay out of the hot sun.  The trail is something like 73 miles long. 

The town is full of history. It is located in Shoshone County, Idaho in the Silver Valley mining district of the Idaho panhandle.  It was founded in 1884 and sits on the Coeur d’ Alene River and Interstate 90.   They had more brothels there than in San Fransciso did at one point.  The last one closed in the 80’s, the 1980’s.  It then became a museum and the rooms were rented it out.  There is an old theater there as well, however the summer program had not started while we were there.  One day we went on the Mine Tour (Sierra Silver Mine Tour).  We started at the Silver Mining Store, which is part store and part museum and ice cream parlor.  We hopped on a trolley that took us to our tour, after a steep ride up the side of the mountain we were greeted by a Miner who had us place a hard hat on our heads and off we went into the mine.  Very dark and very damp place.  After our 45-60 minute tour down below we decided that spending 12 hours per day in the dark, damp place would not be our idea of fun.  It was interesting how the miner’s lived and we now know that they did not make a lot of money but they would spend some money at the many brothels.  After our mine tour our driver collected us to take us on a tour of the town of Wallace.  In which we learned about the history of Wallace and how it became and why it became the only town in the US that all the buildings, homes are on the National Historical Registry.  Apparently in the 80’s again the 1980’s the government wanted to build the Interstate right through the town, so the town put every house on the historical registry.  

One evening we went to the brewery  (City Limits Brewery) we sat at the bar and a gentleman asked to sit next to us.  We started to chat up Bruce, he is a native of the town of Wallace, however he lives in San Antonio and goes back for a few months in the summer, can’t blame him for that.  Anyway, he was telling us about growing up there and the making of the railtrail.  He said when he was in the military they told the people when on leave they did not want them to go to San Fransciso or Wallace because of the amounts of brothels.  He also told us how the building of the railtrail was a way to unpollute the area. The area was polluted when they were taking out the railroad so the government told the town you either have to spend a lot of money to get rid of the pollutants or “cap”, capping is what they did and the railtrail was born.  There is a train museum, which we did as well, worth our time for sure.

Speaking of Railtrails, there is one we did the Hiawatha Trail.  It is an unpaved railtrail that is awared the Rails-To-Trails Hall of Fame designation.  It is considered the “crown jewel” of rail trails and after riding the trail I can honestly say we agree.  The adventure begins at Lookout Pass on the Montana/Idaho state line.  We drove up there and rode our bikes down, very little pedaling needed.  The trail is a 2% downhill grade of 15 miles of amazing views on the abandoned Milwaukee Railroad.  The trail has 10 tunnels, (one is 2 miles long, long dark and damp) and the trail also has 7 trestles.  After we got to the bottom there were some nice folks to take our bikes and us back up to the top, well almost the top, we have to ride the tunnel back to the beginning. It cost us less than $30.00 each for the ride and the return shuttle.  They rent bicyles and helmets (must be worn) and headlights (a necessity as well, remember the 2 mile, dark, damp tunnel), however, we had our bikes, helmets and lights with us.  We were finally able to use our bikes since we left Florida and were grateful for having our own and my Ion headlight and tail light.  After we got back we were wishing there was more.  If this is something you want to do check out the schedule at  ridethehiawatha.com. 

While we were in Wallace our days were spent exploring and the afternoons were spent enjoying the little town, checking out the breweries and just enjoying hanging around the campground.  

During one of the afternoon walks with Eris the Court’s bailiff asked us to bring Eris to the courthouse he had a cookie. He told us to go ahead and bring her in and he meant all the way in up the marble stairs and up to the lobby area where he could give her a treat. He said they are very proud of not having a dog policy. The hospitality in the whole town was amazing, for a second I thought we were in the south.

Bottomline, if heading west and you are like us and don’t have concrete plans be sure to do a stopover in Wallace, Idaho.  If we had time we would be heading back there.  

Next week’s blog we are skipping ahead to the Seattle area as there wasn’t much to be said about where we were in eastern Washington, because we were fleeing the heat.  

So until next week keep exploring, discovering and dreaming, whether you are traveling or staying in place.  

Hope, Mike and Eris, the lowrider camping hound

PS if you would like to purchase any of my photo’s, email me and I will be happy to sell you some.  I will be reopening my Etsy store in the near future as well, selling cards and magnets of my prints. Look out for that coming soon.

Follow us at instagram @what_r_we_waiting_4

Facebook: whatrwewaiting4

Email: hlmichaudphotography@gmail.com

NEXT UP ON OUR WESTWARD BOUND TRIP-MISSOULA, MONTANA

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As we headed west we thought a stopover in Missoula was in order.  Since we did not have reservations anywhere we decided to do a night at a Harvest Host and then find our boondocking spot the next day.  We stayed at Wildwood Brewing, where the beers were good and pizza was decent as well.  The next day we  made it to our boondocking spot at Chief Looking Glass Campground.  It is a fishing access campground, with first come first serve campsites with fishing access if you so choose and a canoe launch, and has pit toilets.  It was $15.00 a night as we did not have a Montana fishing license.  Each campsite has a picnic table and fire pit.  We did not use either as the mosquitos were awful.  First time since we left that the mosquitos made us stay inside.  The location was perfect for site seeing Missoula.  We had decent cell signal and even a few stations on tv. 

Missoula has it all, wilderness and adventure and restuarants of all levels to satisfy any foodie out there.  There is a river that runs through the city that has a manmade wave in it, where surfer’s take their boards and do the wave over and over again.  Very cool thing to see.  It is right of the riverwalk area which is surrounded by parks and museums and downtown.  Missoula lies at the convergence of 3 rivers and 7 wilderness areas and is an artsy sort of town.  This was the first town we came across during our travels that we thought we could live there.  

We went downtown to go to a couple of the markets they had on Saturday.  It made us feel we were home and almost “normal”.  Pups couldn’t go into the market so Eris had to stay home.  The vendors were just like our market in St. Pete, but of course local to the area.

Missoula is also home to Adventure Cycling, the organization with 50,000 bicyle routes to get the adventure on.  For those who want to travel by bicycle this is the place to go.  

Another day we went to Fort Missoula which is 32 acres with over 20 historic structures.  It was built in 1877  during the Indian Wars and served as the starting point for the African American 25th Infantry Bicyle Corps (a 1900 mile rid to St. Louis), it was also a WWI Military  training center, a CCC headquarters and a WWII interment camp for Japanese and Italian Americans.  Oddly, I can’t remember the fictional novel I was reading but it spoke of Ft. Missoula as one of the Italian interment camps.  

There was much more to be seen in Missoula but the weather promised to get hot so we needed to move on.  We spent a nice 5 days or so there and we will be back again.  

I highly recommend going there if you like the urban life with the small town feel.  So until next week’s blog remember to keep on exploring, discovering and dreaming and if you like this consider following us and give us a big thumbs up.

Stay safe, see you next week as we continue onward towards the west….

Hope, Mike and Eris, the lowrider camping hound

OUR TIME IN YELLOWSTONE, SADLY HAD TO COME TO AN END AS IT WAS HEATING UP—WESTWARD WE GO!!!

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After freezing in the morning of our hike it warmed up to nearly 95 degrees, it was time for us to go and find some electrical hookups.  Westward we headed as we started making our way west to Washington State.  On our way we stopped at Quake Lake, which got its name when an earthquake caused a rock slide that closed off a canyon, dammed a river, destroying homes and an occupied in its wake. What started off as a clear, beautiful night, ended in terror for many. We had been there prior but stopped at the visitor’s center on the way through.

Since we had reservations at the next campsite, we weren’t concerned about stopping to smell the flowers. We ended up at Deer Lodge, Montana, where we had hookups and a laundry room.  We weren’t expecting much but this was one of the towns that surprised us.  First the campground we stayed at (Indian Creek) while it was on the interstate was easy on and easy off, but it also had hiking trail about 1.5 miles long.  We did what we always do when we get to a new place, learn the way of the land.  We were only supposed to stay one night, however there was a bit to do we added 2 extra nights on so that we could see the sites we wanted to see.

Deer Lodge is an little city in southwest Montana, where more museums and historical sites can be found there than any other town in the Northwest. In 1946 Deer Lodge Vally became part of the United States.    It is one of those towns thatO make you just want to stay, reminded me of our little town in North Florida. While on our first drive we saw and National Park Visitor’s Center so we knew we had to go back to get the National Park passport stamp.  Driving through the quant town we noticed the historic prison  so  we figured we needed to see that as well.  We stopped at a train depot that was by the prison, it had train engines from the Milwaukee Road Rail line commerating the completion of the railway to the Pacific, it was the location of the last spike.  But more importantly at least to me and Eris there was icecream to be had.  Eris had her very own scoop of vanilla ice cream.  

We came back and did the little hike from our campsite that took us down a little dirt path behind some houses that had a horse farm.  The next day after I did some work and had lunch we decided to go the Visitor’s Center.  We told Eris that we would be right back as how long could it take to look around and get my passport stamped.  Well we were pleasantly surprised.  Deer Lodge’s 1500 acre Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site not only had the stamp I was looking for but also took us nearly 3 hours to get through and we wished we would have started it earlier.  It shows the development of the cattle industry from the 1850’s to the current time.  The park rangers were cowboys and explained the chuck wagon and the meaning, how “cowboy’s” started, and what the differences between today’s cattle rearing and from the 1800’s.  There were rangers there acting the parts.  It is still a working ranch.  Never knew there was a ranch run by the government, but probably smoother.  

The next day we went to the Historic Prison (Territorial Prison), again it was one of those things that we thought we would be done quickly and again we were wrong.  The prison was called  Montana’s Teritorial Prison and it incarcerated it’s first person in July of 1871.  When going to the museum it cost’s $15.00 and it so worth it as it not only includes the prison but also includes the auto museum where the are hundreds of mint condition cars from the beginning of time, well of cars that is, it also includes the WW II museum and there was a little town Cottonwood (which had little homes and buildings from the the 1800’s.  At the prison they gave us a brochure which was numbered that explained what we were seeing.  There was some notable people that entered that prison and were numerous books about some. There were two riots at the prison 50 years apart.  The prison also has “ghost tours” basically they lock you up overnight, it sounded like a good idea during the daytime but after walking through the prison, they couldn’t pay me to spend the night there.  I am sure there are ghost’s there.  The auto museum was amazing and we spent probably another hour and half in there.  By the time we were done with the two museums we decided we needed to go home, because again we promised a certain canine we wouldn’t be long, so that was two days in a row we told her a fib.  

That’s is about it for our time in Deer Lodge, Montana, a nice little town with a lot of history, so if you are heading through make sure you stop for a quick visit but give it a couple days.

If you like this, please like and consider following us on our adventures as we continue to head west…next stop Missoula, Montana.

Until next week, keep exploring, discovering and dreaming,

Hope, Mike and Eris, the lowrider camping hound.

It’s Time for Yellowstone Part I, but First Here Comes the Teton Pass….

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So after spending a wonderful, memorable week in the Teton’s it was time for us to move on, in order to do this we had to go through Jacksonhole and head over the Teton Pass, after traveling across the country I have driven a lot of mountain passes but I gotta tell you Teton Pass is not for the faint at heart, it is never ending or so it seemed.  We made it through and I assume it was beautiful but my hands were firmly placed on the steering wheel and eyes on the road and I kept peeking at gages as well, maybe someday without us towing our home we will go up it again and check out the views, but honestly I wanted it overwith as did Eris.  Eris is not crazy about passes, we can tell, just wonder if it is because she cannot “pop” her ears or if the twisty turny road hurts her belly.  Either way, I am with her on that, this Florida girl is not happy driving them either.  

Well after we made it to that we went through Driggs (where we will be going to the XCapers Convergence in August.  Cute town and are looking forward to heading back.  We found a perfect campsite in Island Park, Boot Jack Dispersed Camping, it was free and it was easy to get in and out of and close to West Yellowstone.  After getting settled we did what we always do with a national park, headed in to get the way of the land.  We have been there previously (3 times to be exact, once just Mike and I, once with Annette and Cathy (we did a backpacking trip) and once with the girls, however, even though with the girls we did stay in West Yellowstone we never really did much on that side of the park.  We did do the required stops like Old Faithful, but mostly we just kept heading over to the Canyon area.  

One day we went to Mammoth area, saw some elk just chillin’ on the lawn, and we did all the pull offs and hiked the Mammoth area.  The weather in early June was perfect (mostly).  

Of course we got stuck in our fair share of “bison jams”, which I always like, got some great shots of some bison.  Also a lot of animal butts, a little cooperation would be lovely but I am certainly not one to ask them to move or smile for the camera.  

We did spend some time in West Yellowstone.  They have a great camera shop there (Yellowstone Camera).  I got a great zoom lens, which will be great for my wildlife photos when we come back.  When we come back we will be going on a scenic boat ride but what I am most excited about is the photo safari.  Honestly, we didn’t know these exist but not only do the exist they are reasonable.  Scenic boat ride is $19.00 per person and the photo safari is a little over $100.00.  They will take me and a few others to the areas where wildlife is present, I am hoping for a bear.  

One very cold morning (puffy jacket cold)  we got up super early and headed into the park in the dark, to try to beat the crowd for the Grand Prasmatic shot, well, the steam washed it out.  But we had a great hike and got some great shots regardless. Then we headed to Old Faithful and had breakfast at the Snow Lodge.  We walked the boardwalk around Old Faithful and made it back to what I think was a great place to see it “blow”.  We then headed to do the scenic drives.  Scenic drives are nice and relaxing, they have pull offs where they need to be and ususally have ample parking to see such.  I highly recommend doing any scenic drives that are available.  The ones in Yellowstone do not require a 4 wheel drive truck, but if any of the parks suggest that you have a 4 wheel drive truck, heed that advise oh and be sure to know how to use your 4 wheel drive properly.  On the scenic drives we did, one had a ton of thermal features and the other had some waterfalls and mountains.  While we were freezing when we left home in the morning our Waggle went off that it was 94 degrees inside the camper.  It was a hot night,  so we made our plans to move on. 

After a few days, I needed to go see Canyon, as that area has been our favorite part of the park.  I am excited to be spending some time on that side in August but wanted to see it just the same.  Oh my has it changed.  We did the scenic drive to the Yellowstone Canyon, of course.  

We ended up staying a full week in our free campsite.  Very unique area and can’t wait to return.  Yellowstone for sure is our favorite national park and if you haven’t been, make plans as pictures do not do it justice.  

That’s all for this week, hope you enjoyed it, and if you did please consider following us and liking it.  We will be back next week as we make our way to Deer Lodge, Montana, a surprisingly interesting cowboy town and if we weren’t looking for air conditioning we might have missed it and then back boondocking in Missoula.

So until next week, keep exploring, discovering and dreaming…

Hope, Mike and Eris, the lowrider camping hound

ONWARD NORTH AND WEST TO THE TETON’S WE GO….

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We have been to Grand Teton National Park previously three times.  All times was just for a day or so to go to specific places.  The first time we were there, well all three times, we were visiting Mike’s Mom and Dad, who worked every year for 13 summers in Yellowstone. We would see all of Yellowstone and then near the end of our trips we would go to the Bar J, Rendezvous Mountain, and Jackson and of course see the sites we needed and everyone needs to see while in Grand Teton.  This time the trip was all about the Tetons for us.  We found some boondocking designated campsites, called Antelope Springs Dispersed.  For $15.00 there was trash, and water and pit toilets.  The road starts up the mountain on pavement and then the pavement changes to washboard, gravel, it does not flatten out and the truck skipped on part of it.  Scary and sketchy for sure.  But once in the campground the sites are level while the road to it is not. The road in front of us was a 7% grade, the air was thin, and it made walking literally breathtaking, just like the views.  There was virtually no cell service up there but I was able to squeak out my daily Instagram posts but sometimes it was difficult.  We were just there to sleep and take in the sites anyways so it was a good place to be.  We just made sure we were back before dark because the thought of climbing the mountain did not feel like a great time for us.  

We did head into Jacksonhole, where our son was able to see us on the camera and he is in North Carolina, pretty cool.  We went to the Fish Hatchery, which was pretty cool and had a little tour of it. 

We planned on doing some hikes and the one we wanted to do Hidden Falls, which takes off from Jenny Lake.  We got there nice and early (glad we did) and headed out.  We were going to take the shuttle boat over, but apparently we could not get an answer as to when they were taking off, so we decided to hike it.  The crowd also decided to the same thing.  It was super crowded at one point that I really didn’t enjoy it but we found another hike right off of the main trail from the Hidden Falls trail, called Moose Ponds.  There were three little ponds their, and moose are supposed to be there, we did not see any, however, we did see some really nice water falls.  We only saw maybe 20 people on this nice loop trail.  There was one point that there were some mosquitos but it just made us not want to lollygag too long.  When we got back to the truck the parking lot was beyond full. People were parked probably about 2-3 miles away. Forget about getting on the shuttle boat, the line for that had to be 3 hours. Again we were glad to get there nice and early.

My suggestion is get the maps, brochures and like most of the parks they have a newspaper, study it and decide what you want to and need to see and do and make plans to do such. For example, we wanted to hike the hike so we made plans the day before to make sure we were up and out to get there early enough and as tempting as it was we did not stop at any of the pull offs that day. Another example, I had photos I wanted to get so we made an extra effort to get to the locations. Now I take the map that they give us and with suggestions from rangers and others write on the map what shots I wanted to get and the location.

Another day we went to Colter Bay and we saw the sign for Yellowstone, which was only about 20 miles away, how can we say no to that.  We obviously couldn’t.  We drove into Yellowstone and while nothing was quite open yet there was a ranger on duty who gave us the rundown of what was open and what was expected to be open. Yellowstone is still my favorite and probably always will be. After checking out Grant Village we headed back to the Tetons. When we got back to Colter Bay the visitor’s center was closed, so we knew we would have to come back.

One morning we got up early and went to all the pulloffs, and to some of the most photgraphed places in the park.  That to me was the major highlight.  

We obvioulsy did Morman Row for the photos.  I sort of had a little mini meltdown, as this was our first time exploring the Tetons without Mike’s parents and how I would have loved to show Dad the photos I was getting.  

Grand Teton is known as the “mountains of imagination”, which led to the creation of Grand Teton National Park, which is the home to 200 miles of trails and floats down the Snake RIver.  This is one of the places that you must go to believe the beauty that awaits. Wildlife flourishes in the park as well, including of course Bison, which is the place where I got my first Bison pics of the year.  It has established campgrounds and also the boondocking on forest land.  We did score a night in the campground Gros Ventre, what a beautiful, breathtaking place.  Between the overlooks and the pull-offs and the hikes you can’t go wrong with staying here.  We stayed a full week and can’t wait to go back in August.  

Stay tuned for Teton’s Part Two.  Next week will be all about Yellowstone, Part One so be sure to like and consider following us so that you don’t miss any of our blog updates.  

Until then keep exploring, discovering and dreaming,

Hope, Mike and Eris the Lowrider Campinghound