Just Gut Up and Drive!

This was my fourth autumn to meander down through southern Utah in the Winnie. With each trip, I would stare longingly at the map, wishing I had the nerve to drive Utah’s National Scenic By-way, Hwy 12. Considered one of our nation’s most scenic by-ways, Hwy 12 has achieved the status of being named an “All American Road,” a distinction reserved for roads having unique attributes to stand alone as tourist destinations.

This 124 mile stretch of highway begins near Torrey just outside of Capitol Reef, and Continue reading

Leave While You’re a Little in Love…

I have this behavioral quirk (okay, one of many) that I have come to recognize about myself.  Whenever I arrive at a destination, particularly one that is short on amenities or creature comforts, (in this case, contact to the outside world) I am overcome with the urge to bolt.  Whether it be a beach hut in Bali or a shipboard cabin in Seward, I spend the entire first day figuring out an escape route, and the last day crying because I have to leave.  It took me some time to recognize this pattern and learn to just settle down and give it a day or two before I blow up my original plan.  In keeping with my usual M.O., such was the case with Capitol Reef. Continue reading

I May Have a New Favorite…

No offense to Lower Spring Canyon, but I may have a new favorite hike in Capitol Reef, the Navajo Knobs trail. The author of my favorite Utah hikes reference book, Hiking from Here to Wow, describes most of canyon country as “down and in,” whereas Navajo Knobs is “up and out.” The author states the most desirable hike in the park is a tossup between Spring Canyon and Navajo Knobs, depending on whether you want “depth versus altitude.”

Navajo Knobs is a long hike at 9.5 miles round trip with a 2,500 ft elevation gain. But I Continue reading

The Golden Path to the Golden Throne

I carefully timed my visit to Capitol Reef to hit the cottonwood season. Sure, there is the perfect, crisp cool fall days. And the promise of lighter traffic once school is back in session. But the main reason I was really longing to return was to try to ride the golden wave of autumn. There is something about the brilliance of those giant cottonwood trees that just mesmerizes me. And if my timing is right, I can ride that golden wave all the way down to Zion. Continue reading

Nine Days of Democracy Detox

As I approached Capitol Reef National Park at the end of October, our country approached one of the most significant yet divisive mid-term elections in my lifetime. In the weeks leading up to Election Day, my addiction to news had reached toxic proportions. Once content with a few headlines at the end of the day, followed by a few laughs compliments of Stephen Colbert, I had now turned into an insatiable political junkie with a 3-4 hour per day habit. Continue reading

Communing with Nature in Cohab Canyon

I am happy to be hiking again! After a couple of weeks driving across the heartland to make the View Rally, tag my last two remaining states, and get back across the Mississippi River and the Continental Divide, my hands on the wheel have done more movement than my feet on the ground. It’s always a bit of a panic, as my mantra is “Move I must! If I stop, I’ll rust!” Had two weeks behind the wheel caused me to rust?   Six miles up through Cohab Canyon and across Frying Pan in the first day tells me all is not lost. Continue reading

Pando

My friend Jim recently sent me a Forbes article with the subject line saying “You’d better visit it while you can.” The article was about one of the largest organisms on earth, and it was only a few miles from me. Yet I had never heard of it before.

Pando, the Latin name for “I spread” is a 106 acre aspen grove in Fishlake National Forest. The estimated 47,000 trees in the stand all share the same DNA coming from Continue reading

Into the Mist, and On to the Mystic

Headed west from Wisconsin with my sights set on Utah, I am determined not to have to cross the Rockies again. Having traversed I-70 through the Eisenhower Tunnel and across Vail Pass twice now, I will do what I have to do to avoid it again. That means either a more northerly route through Wyoming, or dropping down all the way to Hwy 160 to cross Colorado through Pagosa Springs and Durango…not exactly the flat plains. I decide to stay north and risk the weather.

But winter is coming on fast this year. Even as I left North Dakota, locals were talking about having to turn on the furnace earlier this year than they can recall in many years. I seem to have gone from summer straight into winter, skipping autumn altogether. Continue reading

Fifty States in Sixty-Four Years!

I reached both milestones in the month of October. I tagged my fiftieth state, and I reached the final year of the waiting period toward universal healthcare…. One more year to go for Medicare! As my insurance agent Colleen told me during last year’s enrollment period, “You don’t have a 65th birthday party…you have a Medicare party!” Eleven months and counting…

I recently read an article in BBC.com, “Baby visits all 50 states in first six months!” Continue reading

On to the Real Reason I Visited Iowa

Now on to the real reason I was in Iowa — to visit the Winnie’s birthplace.

If Iowa is the heartland, the Winnebago River has got to be a vein leading there….at least to Winnebago owners. Along this river is Winnebago Headquarters, more affectionately known as “the mother ship.” Visiting WGO HQ is a rite of passage for any owner, and they are certainly made to feel welcome as only Mid-westerners can. A beautiful grassy field with 1,500 electric poles, water spigots at the end of every row, dump stations throughout, and steaming hot shower blocks. Continue reading