Traveling the 3500 miles in June, we never once thought to check the Garmin to see if it could locate rest stops. We were always looking.
The Interstate Highways provided full service stops at regular intervals until we got into Arizona. According to the locals, the state is out of money. Most of the rest stops are barricaded.
Fortunately the main gate facilities at Grand Canyon National Park (south rim) had restrooms with all the right stuff: running water, sinks, and toilet bowls. And, on the backs of the stall doors you could read the details of how the water got there (from the north rim) and an intricate drawing to explain how it is recycled back to your next flush. (A few of the particulars confused me, but ..oh~ never mind.)
Farther into the park, where no water is available, there are outdoor chemical latrines with huge black vent pipes. I don’t know the physics involved, but I can tell you this: when the wind is blowing 40 mph over the topside, your bottom side gets the picture.
Where's the River? No no no! I want to know: Where is the Rest Stop?
Many of our miles were on side trips where there were no official state maintained rest areas. We saw signs that made it clear to road warriors that the restrooms in the stores were "for customers only." So, we dutifully bought water or juice, which only guaranteed that we would soon be looking for another potty break down the road.
Gotcha! Not some weird old toilet. But that crossed my mind with some "gotta go" discomfort when I saw this shift change whistle at the old Copper Mine in Jerome, Arizona.
I already posted, with guest help, about The Forty Mile Desert. The photos display uninhabitable country where highway 80 and highway 95 intersect mid Nevada. Since there is no water, but plenty of travelers, you get the deluxe version of the single outhouse. Don't take me wrong. I didn't complain when we rolled into the parking lot, raced to the doors, and didn't have to stand in a queue! Eight of them all hooked together under one roof. Each room with a luxury opaque window so you can see ... uh ... without taking off your sunglasses?
No P. No Way!
Once you cross the border into Oregon you kiss two things goodbye: the 70 mph speed limit and outdoor toilets. Actually there were NO TOILETS until we reached Interstate 84. Two-hundred and fifty eight miles of mostly sagebrush from Winnemucca, NV to Ontario, Oregon. That may sound innocuous to the twenty-something traveler, but I was traveling with a charter member of the *IBB Club and am on the cusp of joining it myself.
Somewhere in the picturesque outback of southeastern Oregon I was the one who announced that I absolutely had to make a rest stop. The sagebrush was still green and many of them were nearly as tall as I am. (Wider, too. No snide remarks from the gallery.) I insisted on carrying my camera in case a car or a trucker drove by. ( "Who me? I'm just out here taking pictures!") There was also the part about forcing WR to accompany me so we could stomp loudly through the rocks and brambles to scare away any snakes that might be lurking. Shortly after handing off the Canon Powershot to WR and taking position, the sage in front of me began to rustle. Squatting near the ground with your jeans snug on your boots is a very precarious position to be in when you hear adjacent noises in rattlesnake country. Even with your husband standing guard. Fortunately for me, out from its hiding place in the fragrant gray-green foliage fluttered a Sage Thrasher.
"TAKE A PICTURE! TAKE A PICTURE!" I cried. He removed the lens cap and pointed.
I covered my face. "ARGH.......... of the the bird! Not me!"
He snapped a quick shot. Then the thrasher quickly found cover. So did I.
Hey! What a polite little feather pot. He closed his eyes!
Bird watching was another entertainment I pursued on our recent road trip, I documented and added twenty-one new sightings to my 'Life List." I also saw many familiar birds along the way.
A Western Kingbird in Eastern Oregon.
I've seen many Kingbirds during my bird watching excursions....but never so many at once. We stopped at a rest stop where the trees were full of them and the yellow feathers were especially vibrant. ♪♫♪♫♪♫ "Yellow bird, high up in banana tree..." ♪♫♪♫♪♫
A first sighting! Rock Wren on Antelope Island, The Great Salt Lake.
I yearn to return --- with insect repellent. Antelope Island is a sanctuary where, during migration, birds find plenty of flying insects to fulfill their energy requirements for the rest of their journey. In the meantime, those pesky bugs thought I was on the menu. Pamela Cream Pie.
Another first! Broad-tailed Hummingbird. Flagstaff, Arizona.
They were buzzing around so fast that I was hard pressed to get a photo that wasn't blurry. Hope you can pick him out right there in the center. We were informed that the nights had been so cool that the hummingbirds were just returning. The next day a wild fire (perhaps the one we had observed from Grand Canyon National Park) forced evacuation of parts of the city. I hope this little jet fighter and his buddies found someplace safe to hide.
An Eagle Owl?
While attending Tsunami on the Square (don't know why it was called that) in downtown Prescott, AZ we encountered a man carrying this fine owl specimen. It's eyes, ears, and beak gave it a very fierce appearance. I believe it is a native of central Asia. I don't count birds in captivity on my list.
A Broad-billed Hummingbird. Tucson, Arizona Sonora Desert Museum, world-renowned zoo, natural history museum, and botanical garden
Another one I can't count on my life list, but I sure can take a photograph and post it on my blog. This small thumb-sized bird was defending a nectar feeder. Although there were many buzzing freely in the hummingbird aviary, there were only six species represented. I sat down and waited for one to take a breather. Waiting in the heat for this stolen moment was worth it! He was all ruffled up and ready to rumble.
My first Cactus Wren. Tucson Arizona
These wrens were everywhere; especially visible on the saguaro cactus It may have been eating the red juicy pulp of the cactus fruit as well as insects.
Sky Bird, somewhere in Nevada.
WR tells me that I have too much imagination. I swear I see a beak and tail feathers through our dirty windshield.
When I was a kid, my Mama and my Aunt Myrtle talked about a far away land called I Dee Ho. When I grew older I realized they were really talking about a state...the one squeezed into the shape of a big fat L, between Washington and Montana.
Over the years, I’ve crossed the border into Idaho at times to visit Lewiston or Coeur d'Alene. I’ve also had the thrill of a jet boat tour through Hells Canyon on the Snake – the river that cuts a huge smile from Wyoming, all across Idaho, and into Washington. (It spills into the Columbia River about 40 minutes from my house.)
In June we had the opportunity to see more of the beautiful and not so far away I Dee Ho country.
Near Twin Falls, ID, the Snake River tumbles over a rocky 212 foot Shoshone Falls and flows through the Snake River Canyon. I was reminded of when I was very young and that crazy stuntman Evil Knievel attempted (unsuccessfully) to jump the canyon on his motorcycle.
If you are afraid of high bridges and deep canyons - this is certainly the place for you. Not. I can only imagine how awesome it would be to see the river flowing freely.
My only disappointment was that there were houses built so close.
We also passed through Owyhee Country, a serene and appealing place that day. I was intrigued with the story and pleasured by the signs color coordination with the hills and sage.
But what a killjoy to peer over over the guard rail and see someone's garbage. (Grrrrr….. I detest litterbugs.) Thanks to the clouds, I got my groove back when I saw a Salmon flying in the sky.
We didn’t see nearly enough of Idaho. I guess that means we have a wonderful excuse to head east - and explore another day.
While traveling through Nevada, I was surprised and entertained by the fantastic cloud formations in the sky above us.
There aren't many opportunities to pull off on the shoulder of Highway 95, so most of my cloud photos were taken through the dirty car windows. Even while I was driving I would wake up WR and instruct him to aim and shoot.
I'm not sure what I was trying to capture in this shot. Maybe all those little clouds that look like UFO's. But look closely at the cloud in the upper right, while ignoring the reflection of my dash and the bug splatters on the windshield.
It could be that lady lizard in the television show "V". The one who says "We are of Peace." It also resembles me. (Oh, and we weren't very far from AREA 51. ) Spooky!
ps. Gattina is once more hosting The Muffed Target at Writers Cramps!
There is a lot of desert on the way to the Grand Canyon. Through it, we followed the highway that put Utah in our rear view mirror and the Arizona sunshine on our hood. We arrived in the park on the east end of the south rim where our first encounter is The Desert View.
But this post isn’t about that. In fact, I don’t know if I can describe the overwhelming smallness of my being as I glimpsed the Grand Canyon for the first time. The deceptive altitude has already given notice to your lungs, so taking the breath away entirely requires just a short sniff. As I waited for it to return, I thought about Auntie Ferns statement – I could have stood and looked at it all day. Yeah.
So…… while we joined other people along the viewpoint, I noticed a girl carrying a very young Rottweiler puppy. She moved closer until she was standing right beside me. It was apparent that her mother and father were watching closely as other park visitors were ogling and petting the little dog.
I must have spoken my thoughts aloud; “That puppy is so tiny – is it weaned from it’s mother?”
“We have no idea,” responded the girl, “we just found her in the desert.”
“What?!” My voice was certainly raised with surprise.
The mother turned to explain.
“Yes,” she confirmed. “We were driving through the desert and my husband yelled ‘what is that?’ and stopped the car. This little guy was sitting in the gravel. There was nothing around for miles!”
Then she said they gave it water and offered it snacks they had brought along from California. They couldn’t leave the puppy in the hot car, so they carried it to the rim with them.
Someone close behind me asked, “Are you going to keep it?”
The woman looked into the hopeful eyes of her child, and then to her husband standing nearby.
“Yeah. We have another dog at home, but I think we’ll keep it.”
My husband reached out and tickled the puppy behind its ear and suggested,
“You ought to name it Lucky.”
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Here's three photos - I may post some others later. Hard to choose!
Desert View. Smoke from wild fire causing haze
Me! Wind was gusting up to 40mph - and hat head! My $ 1.99 shades. My Expensive ones blew away. Really.
Close to the other entrance -- sun setting. I took this photo because the shadow formed an owl on the other side. Can you see it?
Gattina, Writers Cramps, has asked her regular readers to: post pictures which are not at all like you had wanted and describe how it happened. She is calling it The Muffed Target.
Many of you have read about our "elevator" experience at Hoover Dam. Right after we were "freed" I snapped a few photos in the diversion tunnel. When my husband was downloading them to his laptop later that night he began to laugh. I looked over his shoulder to see the following.
I have no idea what I was doing with my camera.
From the looks of it I wasn't the only one still a bit freaked. Forgive me dear lady, whoever you are.
After four years of blogging, I have invited a guest blogger to post on The Dust for the first time!
Iggy writes at Intense Guy. His posts, which I enjoy very much, are often about his travels. He also has a wonderful sense of humor which his readers especially enjoy when he dabbles in the Alien World of orange (construction) barrels and cones.
His Alien World was my first thought when downloading a batch of our travel photos from Nevada. The two I forwarded to Iggy rewarded me with a most delightful response.
It's all yours, Iggy!
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Thank you Pamela! I really do appreciate getting pictures of "orange roadside critters" and knowing that other people are thinking about me from time to time. Your pictures were very welcomed and unique. I enjoyed reading about the area where you took them - and then writing my own version of "what is going on here?"
About midway between the towns of Reno and Winnemucca Nevada, lies the Forty-Mile Desert.
Before the first transcontinental railroad was completed in 1869, the life-giving Humboldt River Basin of Churchill County was the last water to be seen by many people slowly heading west to California by covered wagon.
During the height of the gold rush, upwards to 30,000 people annually emigrated west via the "Overland Emigrant Trail" which separated from the Oregon Trail near Fort Hall in Idaho and headed across the empty plains of Nevada to the gold fields in Placer County, located high in the rugged Sierra Nevada mountains and onwards to settlements and cities of northern California.
One of the more northern branches of the California Trail, the Truckee River Route, was used by the ill-fated Donner party. The Forty-Mile Desert route was originally touted as "a better way, being a shortcut."
The sign reads, "The 40-Mile Desert, beginning here, is a barren stretch of waterless alkali wasteland. It was the most dreaded section of the California Emigrant Trail. If possible, it was traveled by night because of the great heat.
The route was first traveled by the Walker-Chiles party in 1843 with the first wagon train. Regardless of its horrors, it became the accepted route, as it split five miles southwest of here into the two main trails to California--the Carson River and the Truckee River Routes. Starvation for men and animals stalked every mile. A survey made in 1850 showed these appalling statistics: 1,061 dead mules, almost 5,000 horses, 3,750 cattle and 953 graves. The then-value of personal property lost was set at $1,000,000.
The heaviest traffic came from 1849 to 1869. It was still used after completion of the Central Pacific Railroad in 1869."
Thanks to photojournalist Pamela of The Dust Will Wait, we can see just who is still using the perilous dusty, hot, desert trail...
Pamela suggests that this straggler has become separated from an Orange Barrel Train, and is very thirsty. We will never know the fate of this particular ORBA, but that nasty dent to the head makes me think this one will become a statistic and join the 1,061 dead mules...
A glimpse of the desert behind the suffering barrel really makes me admire the stamina, pluck, and courage of our ancestors. The overland journey from the Mid-West to Oregon and California meant a six month trip across 2,000 miles of 'difficult' country, traveled mostly on foot.
I am a grandmother, a wife, a mother, a sister, and a friend.
I know that a woman who will tell her age or her weight will tell anything. I won't tell mine, so you can trust me. I have a cat. I have a duster that I don't use.
The photo header is one I have taken of Gram's antique writing desk. My dust.