Wabi-Sabi Sole

Finding Beauty with Imperfection

Category: Camping

Gore Creek Campground

Monday was our last night of camping. When I booked a spot at the Gore Creek Campground I thought they had running water. Nope. Rookie mistake. I assumed when using Reservation.gov if the campground didn’t specifically say “no water” then water was available. Not the case. Always be sure to check that it says “water” as an amenity. Fortunately, it was our last night camping and the next night would be in a hotel.

Our campsite in the Aspen grove

Speaking of water, I purchased a solar shower before we left. Up until Monday morning I was super pleased with Dr. Prepare. And then I wasn’t. Sadira went to fill it up Monday morning and the hose disconnected from the bag. We tried to duct tape it. But, it just didn’t work. I don’t recommend the Dr. Prepare. It only last 4 days for us. That’s ridiculous.

Dr. Unprepared

After settling into our campsite, we decided to take a short hike. According to AllTrails, the trail was a 1.4 mile loop. We found the trail easily and set off. We hiked up and enjoyed the view as we climbed. A little over a mile in, we became concerned because we hadn’t looped around. When I checked AllTrails, no surprise. We were off the trail… again! We double backed and couldn’t find where the trail was supposed to turn. It looked liked it had been blocked. We continued back down the way we came and our 1.4 mile loop turned into a 2.5 out and back! Haha

Despite the extra distance hiked – the views of the mountains were beautiful.

Sunflowers and Aspen
A trail through Aspens
Almost clear skies
Happy hikers
We think this was some sort of mushroom.

After our hike, we prepped the tent one last time and Sadira made us quesadillas for dinner!

Campground sunset
Campground Chef

Tuesday morning we packed up for the last time. We headed to Denver for the day. We stayed close to the airport Tuesday night so I could fly home easily Wednesday. Tuesday we had lunch at Lowdown Brewery. We split a mushroom pizza and salad. Yummmmm!

One last selfie

It was a fun and relaxing camping trip. We had a few hiccups throughout the week… but, overall it was a success. As always, thanks for following along!

Crested Butte, CO

Sunday morning we were up early and packed up by 9am. We wanted to hike the Snodgrass Trail in Crested Butte. George and Juliana hiked this trail two summers ago and highly recommended it. Their directions to find it left us doubting we would. “Drive through town and follow the road until you see a parking lot with a port-a-potty.” Sounds sparse, right? Actually, they were spot on! we spotted the potty, found the trail we wanted to take and set off!

After reading AllTrails, the hike was 5.8 miles. We packed water and snacks and set out. Ironically, the AllTrails map took us to the top of Snodgrass Mountain. The trail Sadira is pointing to in the picture above is what we walked for about a mile before realizing we weren’t on the trail. Our 5.8 mile hike turned out to be 8 miles! The views were amazing! Wildflowers and Aspen and of course Crested Butte.

Sierra larkspur & Crested Butte
Aspen
Aspen and ferns
Flower Friends
Arrowleaf Balsamroot & Crested Butte
Lichen

Once we realized we weren’t on the summit trail, we turned around and started up the mountain. Everyone knows the reason you hike a mountain is for the panoramic view at the top. Hopefully. We hiked up about 1.2 miles in what seemed like straight and steep uphill. In the sun. Only to find the top was covered with pine trees that obstructed the view.

The view at the top
Taking a breathe break at the summit

Regardless, it was a great hike and a quick walk down. More Aspen, butterflies, and flowers.

Crested Butte on your head!
Callippe fritillary
Wood betony & Aspen
Crested Butte

After the hike, we hopped in the car and started the drive over to Redstone Campground. It was about a 2.5 hour drive. We had to go up & over the mountains using Keebler Pass. Little did we know the drive was mostly (40 miles) on a curvy gravel road. It was awful. Sadira was car sick by the time we got over it. We stopped at a little campground and had a snack while watching the hummingbirds until she was feeling better. Whew! What a drive!

Saturday was the only night we’re stayed at a KOA. Camping life in a KOA campground is much different than camping life in a National Forest. The perks of a KOA include showers, laundry and flushing toilets. Oh! And a dishwashing sink that ONLY has hot water. To enjoy those perks you pass up seclusion, privacy, and incredible views. Sunday night we were in Redstone Campground. It was appropriately named – there were red stones all around us! We had privacy, scenery and clean pit toilets!

I forgot to snap a picture of our meal. Sadira made us pimento grilled cheese and tomato soup. It was delicious. We took a dip in the creek and then had a solar shower… our last one, actually… more on that tomorrow-

Cheers!

Gunnison, CO

Our drive to Gunnison, CO on Saturday was about three hours. We had lunch on the road and arrived at the Gunnison KOA right at 2:00pm for check in. We were so late to the party planning this adventure this was the only campground I could find for Saturday night. Honestly, it wasn’t terrible. We had a real shower, flushing toilets, and laundry facilities. It was a good reset for the halfway point. From one perspective it looks like a KOA. From the opposite perspective it looks perfectly pleasant.

Campground Chef in a crowded KOA
It’s like we have the place to ourselves

After checking in, we went to Hartman Rocks for a short desert hike. We really pushed the Prius to its uphill limits. This area is filled with mountain bike trails and the road was super rutted. We decided not to push the limits too far and hiked around from the first parking lot.

Adventure awaits
Rocks
That view!
Lichen
Champion

We saw several great wildflowers over the past two days on our hikes. Here are my favorite.

Plains Prickly Pear
Spineless Horsebrush
Sego Lily
Arrowroot Balsamroot
Scarlet Gilia
Rocky Mountain Penstemon

The hike was hot with a nice breeze. We decided a short hike was best to keep us from a visit to the hydration station. We went back to the campground and enjoyed not having neighbors- until they arrived after we went to bed. Speaking of the campground, we decided this would be a great opportunity to rack up some license plates. As we walked around, we added an additional 5 plates to our collection. Bringing our total up to 43! #strongwork

Campground Chef – burritos

Taos Take 2 & Elk Creek

Friday morning we drove back to Taos for a very important mission… Fun Rings! As we drove down the mountain, we got stuck behind the line marking truck. Painfully slow trip down most of the mountain!!

We made it to Taos, finally. After a quick stop at the Walmart for fizzy water, ice, and pimento cheese, we walked through the Taos plaza on our ring hunt. The second store was a huge success. A fun silver and turquoise ring for each! The lady who helped was super nice and warned us of bears while hiking. She suggested we carry a knife. 🤦🏼‍♀️

Fun Rings!

A few of my favorite pictures from our walk around Taos.

Friendly reminder in Taos, NM
Catching fish

We fixed pimento cheese sandwiches for lunch and were back on the road. Our next destination was Elk Creek Campground near Antonito, CO.

Elk Creek

We had no cell service in the campground. It was kind of fun to fall off the grid. We decided to take a hike. The skies were overcast and the temperature was in the low 70s. We thought it might rain while we were hiking. Luckily, the rain held off and danced around us. The hike was lovely.

Cool Tree
Rain Clouds
Hiking in Aspen

After our hike, we set up camp and made a gourmet dinner of tortellini and sauce. We also had a chance to try out the portable shower. It was cool and refreshing. We had to layer up because the mosquitoes were really bad. But, with cool dry nights in the upper 40s layers were good!

The next morning, we relaxed and didn’t leave camp until 10ish because we needed to stop at the visitor center to use their wifi to get directions. As we were sitting there, the nice host – who told us about the hike the day before politely ease-dropped on our conversation. When I said we needed to head back to Antonio, he replied, “That’s cute. It’s Atonito.” We had a good laugh. Me especially, because I’m notorious for mispronouncing places.

Saturday morning camping vibes

With another bag of ice for the cooler, we were off for Gunnison, CO.

Elephant Rock, NM

Thursday morning Sadira and I beat feet to get out of Texas. Honestly, we couldn’t leave it fast enough. The beauty of the concave desert landscape is truly in the eye of the beholder. Of which we aren’t. The best part of TX, besides leaving, was spotting an Alaska license plate in the hotel parking lot.

Alaska!

We were so excited to cross into New Mexico and even more excited when we started seeing mountains on the horizon. Unfortunately, we didn’t heed the the last pit stop before we started across the NM desert and with no facilities available for 60+ miles, we had to use the facili-trees. Along the drive we saw lots of cute prairie dogs popping tall and welcoming us to NM. Our first stop was in Taos, NM. We enjoyed lunch at the Taos brewery. Delicious beer & pizza.

Lunch

Before heading to our campground, we drove out to the Rio Grande River Gorge. We bravely crossed the bridge on foot and held our breath when we looked down!

Rio Grande River Gorge
Windy Hair
Don’t look down…

Elephant Rock campground was smaller with perfectly acceptable pit toilets. Our neighbors felt the need to preach thereby encouraging us to plug in some tunes. The higher elevation was cool and optimum for star gazing.

Dinner was campground gourmet. Chili, cheese, canned wine and altitude puffy Fritos.

All in all – it was a first night of successful camping.

Redwoods and PC Highway

We finished up our stay in the Redwoods National and State Parks with one last hike along the Cathedral Trees Trail. 


Along this hike, we not only saw more big trees…


 We also saw the biggest tree of them all. 


We circled back to the RV on the Trillium Falls Trail. 


With more trees… 


And a waterfall. 


A cute sign that made us giggle and look for bears. 


And family! 


We drove down the Pacific Coast Highway before camping for the evening.


The sunset was amazing. 


The next morning, we continued along the PC Highway and stopped occasionally to enjoy the view. Seeing these views, I quickly joined Team Pacific and was ready to move here! 


One last picture of my family. 


And one last picture of The Rig at our last campsite surrounded by big trees. 


It is hard to believe how quickly two weeks passed. I enjoyed having time to spend together without feeling rushed or distracted. This vacation provided quality time to laugh, talk, and enjoy each other’s company. I will cherish so many memories. One of my favorite memories which, I have no picture to document, was stargazing. We would stretch out on a log or picnic table and watch the millions of stars in the night sky. Being away from city lights made the stars bright and mesmerizing. It was always a bonus to see a shooting star or satellite. 

I’m truly appreciative of my brother for organizing and plan this adventure. Also, I’m thankful everyone was willing to come together and share the experience. 

On Friday, 7/21, my mom and I were dropped off at the San Francisco Airport. After returning The Rig, George, Juliana, and Fiona had planned to spend a few days in San Francisco. My mom was flying home and I would be meeting up with my VB friends for the remaining portion of the vacation. Can you believe I saw even more of Northern California and more friends! I am a lucky girl. 

Crater Lake Boat Ride

On Saturday, July 15th, we enjoyed a two-hour boat ride around Crater Lake. Obtaining the tickets required patience and a lot of luck. The tickets went on sale 24 hours prior to the sailing time and were available for purchase at a kiosk inside the Crater Lake Lodge. We waited in line to purchase the 11:30 tickets and watched as they sold out after the first group of guests booked three seats. We decided to wait for the 12:00 tickets. As we waited, we began to strategize with the people in front of us. There were two groups ahead of us in line (6 people total) and the five of our group. We thought we might have a better chance of securing tickets the 11 tickets if we bought the tickets all together in one transaction. During the last few minutes, the number of tickets available went from 15 down to 11. There was so much stress! Promptly at noon, my new friends, Fiona, and I, input our 11 ticket request and I swiped my credit card. The transaction went through and we had 11 tickets! We all did a dance of joy, they gave me cash for the tickets, and we agreed to meet at the check in booth at 11am the next day to catch the boat. Yay!

Saturday morning, after checking in for the boat trip at the top of the Cleetwood Cove Trail, we walked down to the bottom of the trail. Because of the delicate nature of the sides of the crater, this is the only trail available to access the lake.


The walk down provided beautiful views of the lake.


Once we were on the boat, we had up close views of Wizard Island and the steep sides of the crater.


We also had the good fortune to see the “Old Man of the Lake”, a full-sized tree which is now a stump that has been bobbing vertically in the lake for over a century. According to our guide, the low temperature of the water has slowed the decomposition of the wood, enhancing the longevity of the bobbing tree working its way around the lake. It is considered lucky to be able to see the tree.


The boat tour also gave us views of a waterfall.


As well as a close up view of the Phantom Ship.


During the tour, we learned this was only the second day they were offering boat tours. We yet again felt very fortunate!


The hike back up the side of the crater wasn’t as easy as going down. We took our time and enjoyed the views!


That evening, we decided to return back to the east side of the rim to watch the sunset over the lake. We stopped at a few overlooks along the way.


Check out the wind! Flock of Seagulls strikes again!

Plus, a few pictures of us goofing around.


And then, there was sunset. Without the mosquitos that were swarming at the campsite.

Crater Lake – Day 1

Crater Lake National Park is located in south-central Oregon. The main feature of Crater Lake National Park is Crater Lake. Crater Lake is famous for its deep blue color and water clarity. Approximately 7,700 years ago, when Mount Mazama Volcano erupted, it exploded and then collapsed to form a caldera over 2,000 feet deep. It took about 250 years after the eruption for rain and snow to slowly fill the caldera and ultimately created Crater Lake. The island in the lake is Wizard Island. Wizard Island formed when a Cinder Cone Volcano erupted after the crater began to fill up. 


Crater Lake has no rivers flowing into or out of the lake. The evaporation rate equals the rain/ snowfall replenishment rates. The lake has a depth of 1,949 feet, making it the deepest in the U.S. and the ninth in the world. I took this picture looking down the steep sides of the caldera. The blue is the lake – not the sky! 


We spent three days/two nights in Crater Lake National Park. The first full day, 7/14, we were fortunate enough to secure tickets for the boat ride tour of the lake the next day, Saturday, 7/15. I will come back to that story in the next post, for now, I’ll just say, Fiona and I worked magic. 


After securing our boat tickets, we took a hike up to Garfield Peak. The trail was closed shortly before the peak but, we enjoyed amazing views along the way. 


One of the highlights was viewing the Phantom Ship rock. 


From here, we could see Garfield Peak. 


The views made taking a break even more fun. 


Here you can understand why the trail was still closed. There was a huge slab of ice snow still on the trail! 


After our hike, we made another short hike around a short loop. 


We had to cross through more snowy trails. I was impressed by my sandal hiking family! 


One last picture of our super sweet campsite! What you can’t see in this picture are the thousands of mosquitoes swarming around us! If you go to Crater Lake – take bug spray! 

PS. Thanks for being patient with me as I blog a little late about my travels. At the time I’m posting this, I’m in SFO about to fly home to Tokyo. I enjoyed the past three weeks immensely. I needed an American vacation with my family and friends. And I can honestly say, by disconnecting I was able to reconnect. It did my heart good. 

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