Monday, December 19, 2011

Winter Wonderland in Hinsdale County, Colorado

           Hinsdale County, Colorado is the perfect place for winter fun and adventure. Use the town of Lake City as your base for winter exploration in the county, 97% of which is public land.   Hinsdale County grooms 112 miles of trails every winter for snowmobiling and cross-country skiing, and also offers four backcountry yurts, accessible during winter on cross-country skies or snowshoes.  
           Tim and I traveled to Lake City last weekend and drove south of town to the summit of Slugullion Pass on Highway 149.  The 11,500’ summit provided acres of fresh powder for snowshoeing.  Enjoy these pictures from the San Juan Mountains in southwest Colorado.
           Happy New Year to all!  The adventure continues in 2012...

Two of the San Juan's 14,000 ft. peaks are visible from this 
viewpoint—Uncompaghre on the right and Wetterhorn to the left.

Ready for the Descent, from the Top of the World.

Living on the Edge.

Rabbit Tracks in the Snow.

Merry Christmas from Colorado.

Learn more about the Hinsdale County yurts here:
Plan your trip to Lake City and Hinsdale Country on this website:

Monday, December 12, 2011

Oregon's Coast: Cape Lookout State Park and The Channel House Inn

          This post was originally published in March of 2011.  I've added additional pictures with this re-publication.  As always, click on a picture to enlarge.   

        If you’re planning a trip to the Oregon Coast, then The Channel House Inn in Depoe Bay is the place to stay.  A luxury Inn, the Channel House is perched at water’s edge.  Jacuzzi tubs on the balconies offer bird’s eye views across the Pacific.

With a private balcony like this one,
you could check in and never leave.
          Tim and I are here on December 16th, celebrating our wedding anniversary.  After breakfast this morning we leave The Channel House and drive north on Highway 101 to today's destination—Cape Lookout State Park between the towns of Pacific City and Tillamook.

Table for two in the breakfast room at The Channel House.  
We arrive at the State Park, find the trailhead for Cape Lookout Trail and enter the forest.  A stiff breeze blows from the south and the cedar and spruce boughs sway and creak.  The forest here is primeval; at any second one expects an ogre to jump out from behind the moss-covered trees.  When the trail breaks out from the forest we're treated to commanding views of the seacoast.  The 2.4 mile trail switch-backs through the woods, hugs steep cliffs and skirts coves churning with waves.  Trail’s end appears on a point high above the sea; a conveniently located bench beckons and we heed its call, relaxing while we scan the sea with binoculars and snap a few photos.  Blissful solitude accompanied us on the trail today—we encountered only four other people on our three hour walk.

Ocean View from Cape Lookout Trail.

Trail through the forest in Cape Lookout State Park.

         Back at The Channel House we fill the jacuzzi tub and soak our sore muscles. Ahhhh, It's nice to relax in the tub while the last light of day filters through the clouds.  Boats ply the open ocean this afternoon but we don't spot any seals or whales.  We’re told there is a resident population of 50 gray whales in the Depoe Bay area, but they spend their winters far off-shore.
We do see wildlife however, in the form of a California Gull visiting our deck.  He appeared this morning on the rail of the deck outside the kitchen/living area of our suite and now, here he is again on the deck rail by the tub.  We’ve affectionately nicknamed him “Orey”.  “Orey” I say, “someone’s been feeding you from this suite, haven’t they?”  (Hey, wait a minute... why does Tim look so guilty?)

"Orey" Waits for a Handout.
         Our anniversary dinner reservations this evening are for Restaurant Beck in the Whale Cove Inn.  The Whale Cove Inn is located at the south end of Depoe Bay.  It’s a stunning location—waterfront views from a new and nicely appointed dining room.  Our waiter shows us to our table by the window and tells us we have the only reservations for dinner tonight.

         We inquire about the bright lights moving across the ocean’s horizon and the waiter informs us that those are the lights of crabbing boats.  The Dungeness crab season lasts for only two months and in that time these crabbers will harvest 45 million dollars worth of crabs.  The boats are out there 24/7, their gleaming yellow lights announcing each boat’s position in the sea. 
         After hearing that story I had to try the Dungness crab entree.  Exquisite—a  perfect ending to a perfect day along the Oregon Coast.

Interested in visiting the Channel House?  Visit

For more information on Oregon State Parks go to:

Reflections on solitude.

The Oregon Coast on a December's Day.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Arches National Park in Winter

“Men come and go, cities rise and fall, whole civilizations appear and disappear-the earth remains, slightly modified. The earth remains, and the heartbreaking beauty where there are no hearts to break....I sometimes choose to think, no doubt perversely, that man is a dream, thought an illusion, and only rock is real. Rock and sun.” 
Edward Abbey (1927-1989) may be southeastern Utah’s most well-known spokesman.  He traveled and worked in canyon country before paved roads, before Arches became a national park, before the mining town of Moab transformed itself into a tourist mecca.  Ed Abbey despised industrial tourism; ironically his non-fiction book, Desert Solitaire, received critical acclaim and introduced countless travelers to the magic of canyon country. 
         Arches National Park in southeastern Utah is a geological treasure.  A vehicle-friendly park, its wind-carved arches and brilliant red rocks may be viewed without leaving the comfort of your car.   But... if you'd rather not cheat your senses, leave your 4 wheels behind to walk beneath massive spans of rock, to breathe the sage-scented air, to gaze at the azure sky.  
         The park is heavily visited much of the year and hordes of tourists can detract from the eye-popping scenery.  Tim and I visited Arches one snowy, fog-shrouded day and, in our own Desert Solitaire moment, had the park to ourselves.  These are the images from that January day:

Park Avenue.

The view from Park Avenue overlook.

Juniper in the snow.

Striking a pose in front of balanced rock.

Don't try this in May—you're likely to be flattened
by bumper-to-bumper traffic.

Clearing skies reveal the contrasts between snow and rock.

Have you been to Arches National Park?  Do you have a favorite hike or cherished spot in the park?  
Learn more about Arches and the town of Moab by visiting these websites: and

When in Moab be sure to visit one of my favorite independent bookstores:  Back of Beyond Books.  

May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds.
Earth Apples: The Poetry of Edward Abbey (1994)