Road report: Salida to Lava Hot Springs

Yup, we’re on the road. Nope, traveling with advanced brain cancer is not simple. Richard’s having problems with balance, climbing stairs, and vision–this morning, he walked right into a street tree that was in his blind spot, his left peripheral vision. He never saw it coming. Fortunately, neither he nor the tree were seriously hurt… (Yes, my sense of humor is still sick.)

We’re adjusting our travel style to his challenges. Still, grace notes abound.


Like this pink sweet pea vine growing up through an antique hand-powered cultivator that will be part of the garden fence of the Carpenter Ranch interpretive garden. The cultivator–donated by our friend Terry Carwile in memory of his late wife Carol Valera Jacobson–is currently stored behind a shed, and there the sweet pea grew right up through it, as if in tribute to Carol, a passionate gardener, writer, teacher, and founder of Downtown Books in Craig, Colorado.


And the walk Richard and I took out the ranch lane just as the sun was setting. That’s us in shadow in the photo above, and the moon sailing high over the Yampa River valley in the photo below.


And our stop in Craig this morning to visit with Terry (of the cultivator donation) at Downtown Books, which he now runs in addition to serving as Mayor of Craig, a rambunctious town where western Colorado’s energy boom meets ranching country.


That stop yielded the best part of today’s long drive between Carpenter and Lava Hot Springs, Idaho: at Terry’s suggestion, we took the scenic route between Craig and Rock Springs, Wyoming. Those back roads brought us a pronghorn sighting so close that when I rolled down the car window to shoot the photo above, we could hear the dominant male give his explosive barking “whuff!” (It’s a kind of combination of threat to us, and a warning to the rest of the group.)

It also took us near one of my favorite places in Colorado, Brown’s Park, where the Green River meanders before dropping through the Gates of Ladore and into the canyons of Dinosaur National Monument. Instead of dropping into Browns Park though, we turned up Irish Canyon (the gap slicing the mesa in the photo below).


Where we saw thousand-or-so-year-old petroglyphs from the Fremont culture, and wound our way uphill between massive sandstone walls, realizing that something was missing–the river that must have cut this deep canyon eons ago. The wide, planed river-bottom is now empty, no longer even boasting a running stream.


Note the large shield-wearing human-type figures above and the smaller doglike figure at the bottom of the ground of petroglyphs.


That’s Terry’s scenic route coming out of the upper end of Irish Canyon in the photo above. A gorgeous drive. (Thanks, Terry!)

And the final grace note: Even though we were exhausted and out-of-sorts by the time we got to tonight’s destination, Lava Hot Springs, we got ourselves in tune in time for a soak in the steaming pools just as the waxing moon was rising over the ridge and the stars were appearing overhead in the black sky. Yes!

Tomorrow we’re headed on to Pendleton, Oregon, traversing the Snake River Plains of southern Idaho, and a swath of eastern Oregon. It’s about nine hours of driving, our only really long day, so I won’t be blogging. The next post from this trip into the very wild yonder of travel with brain cancer will most likely come from Olympia, Washington, this weekend. Until then, thanks for journeying with us…