Walking the Line

I've never done a trip at the pace we are doing this one but my friend only has three weeks so we are moving right along. We spent the day at Zion National Park climbing several of the rock formations. We had a good time watching the dogs climb some of the steeper pitches but they were actually quite good at it. The heat kind of sucked for the dogs. After Zion we headed northeast to Bryce Canyon National Park. We stopped along the Sevier River and let the dogs have a well needed swim after the hot day at Zion. We are now camping outside the park entrance in the Dixie National Forest. As soon as we stopped the dogs chased a bunch of Elk in the pine trees which gave me a bit of a scare. Fortunately they returned after about fifteen minutes. Time for dinner............

Zion National Park


Camping In Dixie National Forest

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Up at 6:00 a.m. and having that first cup of coffee. I love to get up early and get the day going. My friend loves to sleep in as late as possible. Unfortunately for him the kitchen table folds out for his bed so he has to get up when I do. I posted a picture of the back half of the camper if anyone might be interested. After arriving here yesterday evening we decided to hunt for elk antler sheds. We spent two hours walking through the forest but came up empty handed. The temperature was perfect with a slight breeze and a setting sun. We really didn't care if we found antlers......the setting was perfect. I awoke during the middle of the night and went outside to observe the stars. We don't have the same night sky back east and enjoyed a minutes of star gazing. Shortly we are leaving to hike in Bryce Canyon. We'll leave the dogs behind this morning as they aren't allowed on the trails below the rim (seems to be norm with the national parks and trails).

I'm having problems loading pictures on this site. It seems to work best if I load text and then edit and add pictures so maybe many of my posts will be edited (in case anyone cares)......Ugh..........not working at all now.
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Jim Oaks

Get off the interstate.

My wife and I have found that the best sites you see while travelling are along the old US Routes. We often travel cross country on the US Routes instead if the interstate, and stop off to see the interesting sights and landmarks along the way.
Well, I think that's good advice if you have the time but I only have three weeks to show my friend some of my favorite places and they're out west. So I use the interstates even though I don't much care for them.

After a good night's sleep we unhooked the Jeep and drove into Bryce National Park for a day of hiking. More awesome views and the diversity of the western states and parks continue to amaze me.

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We left late in the afternoon and headed north towards Capital Reef National Park. I knew of a nice spot from a previous trip to overnight and we made it there late evening.

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The next day we traveled north to Capitol Reef National Park. Miles more of awesome rock formations. I love the southwest but I must admit at this point I'm looking forward to getting to Montana (my favorite state). We didn't spend much time here and didn't hike, but only drove through the park.


Late afternoon we were back on the road heading north towards Salt Lake City. Four years ago I traveled this route and spent a week camped at a small reservoir along Route 24. I met a guy back then that lived in his camper and spent every summer there. So I stopped in and there he was. We spent the afternoon together and he treated me to some freshly caught trout. My friend and I both took baths in the lake, it felt great, and the dogs loved swimming again.


We decided to move on that evening as we needed food from the Wal Mart in Richfield. We spent the night on top of a mountain in Fishlake National Forest. This guy's rig was camped nearby and I thought it was quite unique and worthy of a picture.

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Today we drove into Salt Lake City and are staying at my niece's house. I needed to get a few things repaired on the camper and truck. I guess that my rig is beginning to show it's age as I have (4) things to get repaired. I got one repaired, one rigged to work, and two things left to work on. Enjoying the shower and television for a few days now, then back to life on the road.
We are really enjoying our stay in Salt Lake City so we decided to stay a few extra days and hang out around the city. On Saturday we spent the day walking downtown sightseeing and checking out several of the malls. The weather continues to be perfect for the traveler.


Yesterday I woke up early and decided to hike up to the top of Ensign Peak. This little mountain is located just behind the state capitol building in downtown Salt Lake City. It has quite a bit of history with the Mormons and their settling of the valley.



So today will be our last day in Salt Lake City. We plan to leave tomorrow morning / afternoon and head north to Jackson Hole, Wyoming. My niece has a friend there that has a (200) acre ranch just outside of town so we may stay with him for several days. Not too sure that I want to impose on him since we don't actually know the guy. Time will tell....
It's finally time to leave the comforts of a nice home and move back into the camper. I've been busy looking for something to keep me occupied and yesterday I recalled that I've been interested in volunteering as a camp host for the National Parks. Well, I started contacting all sorts of state and federal agencies to see what was available. I found out that most of these jobs are filled in January or February so things were looking pretty bleak. I spoke with a ranger this morning at Glacier National Park but he didn't have anything available either. I took a break from my searching and took the dogs for a walk. When I got back there was a phone message from the park ranger saying that they just had a cancellation and that I could have the position if I wanted it. I accepted and I will be a volunteer in Glacier National Park starting July 1st. I'm assigned to Kintla Lake, the most remote campground in the park. I'm quite excited at the opportunity. I know this area and it's incredibly beautiful. And that's all for today..............
Thanks Esmi.

After a very late start from Salt Lake City, we were back on the interstate heading north towards Grand Teton National Park. We made it into Idaho that evening and stopped at Montpelier Reservoir for the night. We got a great spot overlooking the lake and the dogs, of course, were in and out of the lake all evening. In the morning we went hunting for fossils along the mountainside. My friend had his fill within a half hour and we were back on the road. We stopped for lunch and found this really cool spot where a stream flows out of the side of the mountain.


We drove along one of the most beautiful highways as we paralleled the Snake River into Jackson, Wyoming. We continued north and then west of Grand Teton National Park for another night of free camping in the national forest. We spent the following day in town running errands and visiting lots of the shops in Jackson. It's a little too touristy for my likes but I'm showing my friend around and he loves the towns / cities. The following day was spent in the park but once again we mostly toured in the truck. Fortunately I've been getting in some nice walks with the dogs and we are doing a limited amount of hiking. It's all good for sure. That night we drove north and camped along the Snake River just south of Yellowstone National Park. We had one more great free campsite in the back country. This morning we were up early and I ate breakfast with a British couple cycling from Alaska to Virginia. Then it was off to a day in the east side of Yellowstone National Park. It was a good day for bear sightings.....(6) today. Prior to that we had only seen one black bear in Colorado and one brown bear in the Tetons. Anyhow, we stopped for a dip in the lake and ate lunch. This evening we are outside of the park near Cooke City on Forest Service land. We have yet another awesome free site for the night. We've unhooked the Jeep and are off to explore some back country. Here's some more pictures of our trip so far:

Camping West of Grand Teton National Park


Camping Along the Snake River South of Yellowstone National Park


Swimming in Yellowstone Lake

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We spent that night east of Yellowstone Park on forest service land. We had a great spot (as usual) and we unhooked the Jeep and spent the evening four wheeling. Lots of snow in the higher elevations but we had a blast exploring the back roads.



The following morning we headed back into Yellowstone Park and did a little hiking. We saw quite a bit of wildlife in the park and the highlight for me were the bears and the lone wolf. On our way out we stopped and swam in the Madison River. It felt so good to get cleaned up once again although it was without soap. The water was the warmest we had yet and I assume it was because we were below Old Faithful.


Leaving Yellowstone that evening we went northwest and camped in Gallatin National Forest. I was hopeful that we'd see some grizzlies here as this is known as the area which has the highest concentration of grizzlies in the lower (48). Once again we went the evening four wheeling but never once spotted a grizzly. The following day we unloaded the kayaks and spent the afternoon floating the river. It was a blast as each of had a dog in our kayak. We did let the dogs out and they were able to swim for quite a bit. That night and the following night were spent camping at Hyalite Canyon and spending the days in Bozeman, Montana shopping and visiting with friends. Time was up for my friend and I dropped him off at the airport yesterday morning. He'll be attending summer school for the last half of the summer. And now I'm moving west and plan to over night in Missoula, Montana (or close by). I've got to get to my new 'job" soon. All continues to go well on my journey...........

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Just couldn't get myself motivated yesterday so I spent a second night at the Bozeman Wal Mart. The dogs and I hung out, watched a movie, and went on lots of walks around town. The weather continues to be perfect for the traveler, no humidity, clear skies, and temperatures around 80 degrees. I have to be in Polebridge, Montana on Saturday for a short training session, then Sunday at Kintla Lake to get camp set up. I plan to continue to post here whenever I'm in town. I realize that this is an expedition site, but this short stint with the park service is part of my expedition. My plan is to still go north to the Arctic Circle, it will just be a little later in the year. I actually think it will more interesting as the cold weather moves in. So, now I'm off to visit a friend here in Bozeman and we will be on the road by noon.............

Just pulled into the Missoula Montana Wal Mart after a beautiful drive along Interstate 90 from Bozeman. We stopped for lunch at a small lake and the dogs got into some of their favorite activity....swimming, and then a hike for a few miles in the national forest. Things are really dry this year and we spotted several forest fires today. Quite a bit of this around Bozeman as well. I've been on the road for almost one month and it only rained the first day as we left Virginia. Since I don't follow the news I wonder if there is a major drought going on ? Maybe I should get on the internet tonight and update myself as soon it will be impossible.

I would have to say that today's drive from Missoula to Kalispell is one of the most beautiful drives in the United States. The Mission Valley is absolutely incredible. We stopped in St. Ignatous for lunch and also to visit my Yellow Labrador's home. She was born there almost (4) years ago, as I bought her up when she was (5) weeks old. We traveled together on that trip for (5) months, from Montana to Alaska, down the west coast, and then cross country to Virginia. Anyhow, a few things had changed in St. Ignatous. The family had moved to another farm about (3) miles away. We found it fairly easily and the family remembered me which was pretty cool. Unfortunately the mother of my dog was lost this past year while the family was on vacation in Washington state. They also lost one of her children as well as both dogs wandered off and were never found. Pretty sad story. They did have one dog from her last litter so my dog met her sister (?).....or whatever. I was asked back for another visit after my stint at Kintla Lake and I plan to come back. Such nice people up here. St. Ignatous is an interesting town with it's mix of Flathead Indians, Pennsylvania Dutch, and the regular locals. And the scenery is spectacular.

The Farm Where I Bought My Yellow Lab 2008.

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My Yellow Lab. With Her Mom 2008

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The New Farm 2012..........An Absolutely Incredible Place

Ugh..........woke up this morning to the sound of (10) people laughing and talking loudly. I swear they were all the bathroom of my camper. I opened the camper door and there they all were. With all their Canadian / Montana accents it reminded of the movie Fargo. Anyhow, they wore out their welcome with me so I cranked up the generator and they left. Hmmmm........I wonder if this is what life will be like as a campground host ? Maybe a precursor as to what lies ahead ? So today I check in and start my assignment. I can't wait to get into the back country again. Not sure when I'll post again.

Wal Mart Camping in Kalispell