Blue's Boots

Andrea's adventures on the trail…

Valley of Fire State Park, NV

I’m not much of a fan of Las Vegas, but there are some beautiful areas to explore outside of the city. Valley of Fire State Park is a must-see if you ever go to Vegas. One of my dreams has been to hike The Wave, but honestly I’ll probably never get a permit or get there. The Fiery Wave at Valley of Fire S.P. is a pretty good alternative and easy to get to.

We were fortunate to see a herd of bighorn sheep on our return from the Fiery Wave, I’ve seen them before from further away, and was able to get some better photos this time.

There are also many other places to hike, including Mouse’s Tank which is a canyon with hundreds of petroglyphs carved into the walls. We didn’t get to spend much time here, and would definitely like to spend more time exploring on another trip.

Leave a comment »

Grand Canyon South Rim

Well…. I’m ashamed to say I’d never seen the Grand Canyon until 2 weeks ago. In my yearly need to chase the sun by February (think permanently dark, gray skies 95% of the time in the PNW all winter long), I decided it was high time to finally visit.

Wow… just WOW! That’s a huge hole in the ground! We tried hiking down the Bright Angel Trail but much of it was just an ice slide, so we were content looking down into the canyon from the rim. The light was perfect, and the angle was different at every point we stopped or hiked at. We hiked part way down the Hermit’s Rest trail (no ice) and were able to have a solitary long lunch with amazing views, soak up the sunshine, and just relax. We walked the rim, had fun in the Geology Museum, went out to the Desertview Watchtower, soaked in the scenery at Pima Point, and just gave ourselves time to soak it all in.

Visiting in February can be very cold, we had on multiple layers of clothes, down jackets, gloves, and wool hats, but it was so beautiful and there were very few people there, which was just right for us.

Leave a comment »

Mazama Ridge, Mt. Rainier

Sometimes Mother Nature calls, and I just have to listen!!! I struggle with S.A.D. (seasonal affective disorder) in our PNW winters with short daylight hours, and even then usually it’s gray and dull even in daylight. When I get a chance to head to Mt. Rainier and get some sunshine, make some vitamin D, and fill up on beauty and peace and solitude and that INCREDIBLE BLUE SKY – I just have to go for it.

I started my morning early with 40 minutes of stretching on my yoga mat, then drove to Paradise and had hours to myself taking in the beauty around me. Ohhhhh… so good.

What do you do to restore your soul and make your heart happy? If you have SAD, what do you do to take care of yourself in the winter months?

1 Comment »

Brilliant words…

I just finished reading a book by Katy Bowman called Move Your DNA about movement, and how the human body is designed to be out in nature moving naturally, not confined to a chair all day long. I loved her brilliant words at the end of the book, and I think this pertains to spiritually as well as physically. Get out there and be a part of it…

Leave a comment »

Digging for fossils in Fossil, Oregon

There’s a tiny town in Central Oregon named Fossil because… you guessed it, there are a lot of plant fossils in the area! Behind the high school field anyone is welcome to wander up a small hill and dig for fossils. There is a little shed with tools for use, so with shovel and pick and plastic bag in hand, I headed up. Even by 8 am it was hot out, but I dug for about 45 minutes 🙂 I still have a bag full of rocks to clean and look through, but one I know for sure is the tip of a Dawn Redwood from millions of years ago. I think this is so fitting, considering the northern California redwood forests are one of my favorite places on earth!

Leave a comment »

John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, Clarno Unit – Oregon

Maybe my favorite of the John Day Fossil Bed Units – this is where plant fossils are up close and personal on the trails and you can see many of them. All 3 units of John Day are impressive in their own way. I hiked all 3 short trails here, the Geologic Time Trail, The Trail of Fossils, and the Arch Trail. Again, very HOT, but worth it. Sunscreen, big hat, a lot of ice water.

The Geologic Time trail runs parallel to the road and has many interpretive signs showing what life was like in this area up to 40+ million years ago. From this trail there are excellent views of the Palisades, wonderful rock formations that change in the light and depending on what angle you’re looking from.

The Trail of Fossils has many signs that point you toward leaf fossils in big boulders, with specific instructions on where to look, since they’re hard to find. I had so much fun fossil hunting along this trail. It’s amazing to think that some of these plants are preserved from tens of millions of years ago!

Last but not least I hiked uphill on the Arch Trail, to the base of the Clarno Arch in the Palisades. There are 2 large petrified logs in a T-shape on the cliff walls as you hike up. Again, signs point out where to look and what to look for. Wonderful!

Leave a comment »

John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, Painted Hills Unit – Oregon

After the Sheep Rock Unit of the John Day Fossil Beds, I drove to the Painted Hills Unit. It was late afternoon and the heat had taken a lot of energy out of me, so I didn’t hike much here. Fortunately, not much hiking is needed to see some beautiful scenery. I stopped at the Painted Hills Overlook and hiked the Painted Cove Trail. This area is fairly small, and the roads are gravel. It’s a quick but beautiful stop.

The Painted Hills Overlook is mesmerizing. It almost looks fake, like someone spray-painted the hill in stripes. Different minerals in the soil make up the different colors. They also show different climates and weather patterns through history. Again, Mother Nature is simply amazing.

After stopping at the Overlook, I drove a bit further to the Painted Cove Trail (1/4 mile stroll). It’s a small section of other-worldly-looking hills in several different colors, again from different minerals in the soils creating the color palette.

Beautiful. Just beautiful…

Leave a comment »

John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, Sheep Rock Unit – Oregon

More photos from my recent road trip with my Hiker Trailer 🙂 I spent 2 days exploring the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, which is made up of 3 different units. I didn’t hike as much as planned, it was 100 degrees and just a wee bit hot! But still very fun to explore. I also didn’t want to venture too far out because this is also rattlesnake territory.  A lot of sunscreen, a hat, and a never-ending supply of ice water came in very handy.

This is the Sheep Rock Unit, where the Thomas Condon Paleontology Center is. I stopped at the Mascall Overlook first, before driving through Picture Gorge toward the Visitor Center. There are excellent displays of 45 million years worth of fossils, dinosaur bones, etc. And air conditioning.  Let me say that again… Air Conditioning.

Across from the visitor center, I wandered around at the historic Cant Ranch. I can’t imagine a more harsh but beautiful place to raise sheep and homestead.

After the Cant Ranch, I drove north to the Blue Basin area and hike the Island in Time Trail. This area is surreal, I felt more like I was on the moon than in Oregon. Again: hot hot hot, but sunscreen and a lot of cold water did the trick. The scenery here is fantastic.

The last place I hiked in the Sheep Rock Unit of John Day Fossil Beds was the Foree area, on the Story in Stone and Flood of Fire Trails. I was withering in the heat by this time, so these short but sweet hikes were just right for me.

Leave a comment »

Hells Canyon Scenic Byway, Oregon

From Lewiston, Idaho, I went on a 6-hour jetboat trip up the Snake River, through Hells Canyon. Hells Canyon is deeper than the Grand Canyon (when using drainages to measure the high and low points). It’s very desolate, and HOT in the middle of July, but still incredibly scenic and beautiful. We saw bald eagles, osprey, pelicans, geese, mule deer, and bighorn sheep. After the jetboat trip, I think I need to look into rafting this next summer in a multi-day trip 🙂

After the boat trip I drove from Lewiston to Joseph, Oregon, and then on Forest Service Road 39 to the Hells Canyon Overlook. There were many wildflowers blooming, but I really want to go back in springtime to see what this looks like when it’s all green. It’s a beautiful drive with several campgrounds along the way. I camped that night at Copperfield Campground at Oxbow, Oregon, but there are many areas to disperse camp along both sides of the river between Oxbow and Hells Canyon Dam.

The next morning I drove up the Idaho side of Hells Canyon, over Hells Canyon Dam, to the visitor center. The views all along this road and from the visitor center are stunning, well worth the drive 🙂  After visiting the dam I headed to Baker City, Oregon, to visit my niece, going through the small towns of Halfway and Richland along the way.

I need to go back in springtime when it’s not so hot and the canyon walls are green, and I definitely need to raft this!

Leave a comment »

Eastside Trail, MRNP

Forest. Waterfalls. Ferns. Flowers. Friends. Yep, that just about covers it!

Leave a comment »