brave on the wobbling bridge. Brychwyn and Wilhelm took it slow but Huxley charged across. We followed the interpretive nature trail through wildflower filled meadows, stands of old conifers and soggy groves littered with aspen.
I didn't want to leave Sinks Canyon State Park. Of all the places we've visited and seen, this is one we absolutely must return to. Sinks Canyon is such a feast for the senses plus such fascinating geography and an amazing history. We only sampled a tiny bit of what this large state park has to offer and I am anxious to get back and explore more very soon. It is such a pleasant surprise to have discovered somewhere so wonderful on our journey. As I begrudgingly packed up camp to leave, 'R' Blood on the Tracks Boys did some more sniffing and exploring at our campsite on the edge of the Popo Agie river.
My disappointment about having to leave Sinks Canyon State Park was quickly forgotten thanks to a dog, of course. Surprisingly, this attitude change was not caused not one of my dogs (who also seemed to not want to leave Sinks Canyon) but by a border collie named Piper. As we exited the park, I pulled over to meet a nice couple from Lander who often ride to the park, taking turns carrying Piper in their bike trailers. Piper was a sweetie and the couple was so kind. They turned around to ride past me again so I could get a picture of "Piper doing her thing." This was a great moment that invigorated me for the long drive ahead but it also solidified our need to return to this great spot in Wyoming.
We were having such a wonderful day I completely forgot that this was the other leg of our trip that we had been unable to make camp site reservations. Those of you who followed the planning of this journey across the country and back know that I was nervous about choosing stays in camp grounds that do not take reservations. But our stay at Sinks Canyon State Park had gone so well, I didn't think too much about our late evening arrival at Craters of the Moon National Monument. After all, their website says "the campground rarely fills, and finding a campsite is usually not a problem" and the ranger told me when I called "I have never seen it fill up." Well, it does fill up. They even have a "Campground full tonight" sign. I know because we saw it when we arrived. When the ranger at the entrance booth began to tell me "the nearest camping is..." I interrupted with "I'm not camping in an RV park. I have a small tent." Maybe she was going to tell me there was some fantastic new tree filled, no asphalt, tent friendly campground right around the corner but I doubt it. My trip planning research showed only 2 other "camping" options near the monument, and they were both poorly rated RV parking lots. That is why I had checked in with the monument about camp site availability. I wonder if the ranger who had "never seen" the camp ground fill up was working last Friday. I certainly hope she was and that other weary travelers will be spared being steered as wrong as we were.
So, surprise! The sun was low in the sky, we'd driven all day and were well over an hours drive from any lodging. Ugh. The dogs and I parked at an overlook of the monument and I called Jason. He was able to search options for what the dogs and I could do next. There was no lodging along our planned route West. We'd either have to back track or detour. We chose to detour to Twin Falls, Idaho. Jason called the Motel 6 and the Super 8 to check prices and pet friendly room availability. While he did, 'R' Blood on the Tracks Boys and I briefly enjoyed Craters of the Moon National Monument.
It was windy and dusty but the boys absolutely loved sniffing the lava rocks. I wish I knew what kinds of awesome smells those porous rocks held that had them so captivated but I was glad they were enjoying themselves. Once again, the happy, carefree attitudes of Wilhelm, Brychwyn and Huxley lifted my spirits and what had been a frustrating situation for me, turned back into a fun adventure for us all. We were together in what was apparently the best smelling place we had visited on our whole trip. What else did we need?
Well, we did still need somewhere to spend the night. Jason liked the dog walk-ability sound of the location of the Super 8 Motel in Twin Falls better than the Motel 6. The Super 8 also had more reasonable pet fees. So he made us a reservation on the ground floor near the back door. It's a good thing Jason was able to get us that reservation because the sign said "Sorry" when we arrived. But before we went into our motel for the night, the fifth day of our trip West had one more fabulous surprise for us: a spectacular sunset and a stunning moonrise over the Snake river gorge, with the waterfalls of Twin Falls sparkling their way down the cliffs. Adventures are always full of surprises and we Cascadian Nomads definitely wouldn't have it any other way!
After learning last Wednesday evening what an engorged tick feels like and that I could remove it, kill it and clean the wound without completely freaking out, I slept a bit better than I did when we first encountered ticks in Minnesota a few weeks ago. We woke last Thursday morning next to one of the ponds in the campground at Fort Kearny Recreation Area, Nebraska, with the positive attitude that we would not let any evil, blood sucking creatures spoil our adventures. (Okay, the dogs always had that attitude but I had to work a little to readjust mine.)
There is a nature trail at the campground but I was anxious to get to the Fort Kearny Historical Park just a little over 2 miles down the road from the recreation area. I packed up camp and we headed out. Now, you would think a good Cascadian like me would know some Oregon trail history, which I do, but I did not know that Fort Kearny was a major stopping point on the trail West until we arrived at the historic site. Seeing as how I very much appreciate those who settled the region I love, I was thrilled to explore this park. And, as usual, historic or not, so were the dogs.
We arrived at Sinks Canyon State Park just outside Lander, Wyoming at dusk. This was the first leg of our journey that we did not have a campsite reservation (the park does not take reservations.) The campground was crowded but we found a pretty good spot in the middle and the only spot left with comfortable space for a tent. When we returned from paying for our site, I noticed that the people across the road had suddenly left. Their site was right next to the river! I quickly tied the dogs to the picnic table by the river and moved our van across the road to this newly vacant camp site. We got the best spot in the park! So last Wednesday was pretty much the perfect day- tick free, historic and mountainous. What more could traveling Cascadians ask for?
To the dear people who gave up this river side campsite in Sinks Canyon State Park last Thursday evening: We Cascadian Nomads truly hope that all is well with you and that you left the campground by choice and not because of an emergency. We very much appreciate the opportunity to have stayed in this spot and hope it was not at the expense of the well-being of you or any of your loved ones. Thank you, thank you, thank you for providing us with the best possible experience we could have had at this point in our journey. Happy Trails. No. Tails. Wait. Both!
It was a beautiful Wednesday morning last week in Eastern Iowa. I packed up early so we could get to hiking the trails where we were camped, Wildcat Den State Park. One of the loop trails begins at the campground, so we started there. The lovely trails weave through old deciduous forest, colorful rock bluffs and humongous carved caves. We found a lot to sniff and explore!
On our way to the interstate we stopped to admire the mighty Mississippi. We also showed off one more state on our "States I've Visited" t-shirts. The river was very full but there was still a beach so, of course, we had yet another round of digging/wrestling/chasing beach play at yet another body of water in yet another state. We Cascadian Nomads really know how to travel!
After such exciting morning adventures in Iowa, we drove all day through the state and into central Nebraska. We arrived at Fort Kearny Recreation Area just before sunset. Our breezy camp site next to one of the ponds was a great respite from the hot drive we had all day. I slowly set up camp and 'R' Blood on the Tracks Boys sniffed the breeze in the cool grass at the ponds edge.
Early in our evening, while doing a bit of cuddling and wrestling with the boys, I felt an odd lump on Huxley's chest. I rolled him over and found an engorged tick. My poor baby collie! I rushed to my K9 First Aid Kit, grabbed my Ticked-Off spoon and removed the blood sucker immediately. I cleaned the wound with an antiseptic alcohol wipe and positively identified the disgusting blob in the spoon as a brown dog tick. While Huxley was relatively undisturbed by these events, I was very stressed and upset. I did my best to stay positive for the dogs but I was so worried and grossed out. My good dogs had been so good during yet another long driving day so I worked hard to suck it up (which seems like a terrible turn of phrase for this situation, but it's what I did) and enjoy our scenic pond side camp site and the impressive Nebraska sunset. While my stomach remained too churned up to eat much dinner, the dogs happily ate all of theirs and we still had a pleasant dusk stroll around the camp ground, appreciating the fireflies coming out in this state too. I guess in nature's constant balancing act, you take the good bugs with the bad bugs.