Minnesota! (May 2022)

When we were younger, we moved around quite a bit, mostly for school or work or because of changes in family circumstances.  Didn’t think too much about doing so – just went with the wanderlust and all that.  Even in Portland, Oregon, where we managed to settle for almost 20 years, we lived in two different houses.  So, when talk turned to moving yet again – primarily for family reasons – it didn’t seem like doing so would be all that hard.  Well, it was and it wasn’t.

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Driftin’ Along… (April 2022)

I’ve sung this song, but I’ll sing it again,
Of the people I’ve met and the places I’ve seen.
Of some of the troubles that bothered my mind
And a lot of good people that I’ve left behind, saying
So long, it’s been good to know you,
So long, it’s been good to know you,
So long, it’s been good to know you.
What a long time since I’ve been home,
And I’ve gotta be driftin’ along.
“Dusty Old Dust” | Woody Guthrie | 1935

I was born on the West Coast and, except for career-related postings elsewhere, have lived my entire life far west of the Mississippi. The LovedOne came out West in the mid-1980s and stayed. Living out here has given us the opportunity to – again and again – climb and hike and backpack and raft in many of the most iconic public lands in the United States – Rocky Mountain, Crater Lake, Rainier, Yosemite, Grand Canyon, and Zion, to name a few of so many. Our best and longest serving (or suffering) friends live out here. And, although our ethos of tough and stupid has taken us on a few adventures we probably should have avoided, it’s all been good – very, very good. We wouldn’t have missed any of it for the world. 😁

We can blame the Pandemic for many things (and rightfully so), but it did get us thinking about being closer to family – most of whom live in Texas or on the East Coast. Then the West’s increasingly burdensome heat and drought and wildfire smoke came into play. As did the helpless anguish of seeing more and more of our beloved forests and hiking trails reduced to ashes year after year. 😪 Eventually family, fire, and heartbreak gathered to push us over the edge and into the arms of U-Haul.

So, after almost 30 years in Oregon, and a lifetime in the West, we will soon be heading eastward to a new home somewhere in the Upper Midwest (details to follow, eventually). We’re making this move with a mixture of sadness 😥 for what we’re leaving and hopefulness 🤩 about where we’re going. It was a hard, hard decision to make as we’ve really (really!) enjoyed life here in Southwest Oregon.

So our adventures (and this blog) will pause for a bit as we devote our energies to packing boxes, loading containers, and driving a long distance with a shedding cat. There’s hiking (and canoeing) where we’re headed, so we hope to be back with new adventures sooner than later. Until then, please be content with surfing the 1,100+ posts we’ve put up over the years about our various Western and other adventures!

See you downstream…


Layton Ditch Headworks (Southwest Oregon) 08-Feb-2022

Between 1874 and 1877, Chinese laborers hand dug a 21-mile (34 km) long ditch to bring water from the Pipe Fork of the East Fork of Williams Creek to J.T. Layton’s hydraulic gold mines in Bamboo and Ferris Gulches. Although profitable (not something you can say for most mines around here), the gold-bearing alluvium feeding these mines eventually played-out. So, by the 1920s, this ditch (and others like it) had been abandoned and mostly forgotten. But its alignment and the ditch tender trail next to it remained. Then the restoration of the Sterling Mine Ditch Trail in the mid-2000s showed how these old ditches could become highly popular hiking and riding venues. For the Layton Ditch, the Williams Community Forest Project teamed with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to restore 13 miles of it as a hiking and riding trail. 😃

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2021 ~ Adventures with The LovedOne

Well, 2021 started out bleak, then got happier, then got sad again. This was thanks to the two V’s – variants and vaccinations. Too much of one, not enough of the other. But we survived (yet again), with The LovedOne remaining as elusively photogenic as ever. But, thanks to being vaccinated, we were able to have a few big adventures without expiring.

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Salt Creek (Death Valley National Park) 13-Nov-2021

After five days of ceaseless adventuring, we faced the long drive home on the morrow. So, for Adventure #6, we decided to visit close-by attractions – Salt Creek and Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes – that we’d previously by-passed in favor of more remote, less crowded destinations. We beat the crowds at Salt Creek but were engulfed by them at the dunes – but we still got to see some interesting stuff.

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Saratoga & Ibex Springs (Death Valley National Park) 12-Nov-2021

We had one more day of 4×4 available to us, so we decided to make Adventure #5 a visit to Saratoga Spring and Ibex Spring at the south end of Death Valley National Park. This proved to be a day of minimal hiking and much off-road driving. We could have gotten to Saratoga with a 2WD car but a high-clearance 4×4 was a definite plus for the short, but lumpy, ride out to Ibex.

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Saline Valley (Death Valley National Park) 10-Nov-2021

When we were tossing around possible adventures for our time in Death Valley National Park, Wayne and Diane mentioned that they’d always wanted to see Saline Valley, which is about 50 miles (80 km) northeast of Furnace Creek. I had been there once before in the mid-1980s; The LovedOne had never been there. Saline Valley is one of the most remote and hard to reach places in the park. While you can make it there and back in a 2WD vehicle (bring extra tires!), a high-clearance 4×4 increases your chances of not spending many unplanned hours stuck in the desert. Since we had access to a 4×4, why not go for a visit?

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Hopewell Culture NHP (Ohio) 12-Oct-2021

After our hike at Hocking Hills State Park, there was time left for a visit to the nearby Mound City Group of the Hopewell Culture. This culture was not a single culture, tribe, or society but rather a widely dispersed set of related indigenous populations that were connected by a shared network of trade routes. These people obtained and traded items from as far west as today’s Yellowstone National Park and as far south as the Gulf of Mexico. This culture thrived during the Middle Woodland period (100 BCE–500 CE) and was responsible for building some of the largest indigenous earthworks in the United States. Around 500 CE, for reasons not entirely clear, trading ceased, mound building stopped, and art forms were no longer produced.

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M. B. Johnson Park (Moorhead, MN) 27-Sep-2021

This park is located on the Minnesota side of the Red River of the North (not the North Dakota side!) about 2.5 miles (4 km) north of downtown Fargo. It’s swirl of trails are popular with mountain bikers but are certainly open to hikers – who just have to pay attention to two-wheel traffic. We went there after dinner for a stroll to see the river close-up. The evening was warm and gentle, the lighting soft, and the Fall colors just starting to pop. There was no breeze (which, it seems, is a bit unusual), so colorful reflections in the river were unruffled. It was perhaps an unrealistic introduction to weather on the Northern Plains, but a good walk nonetheless. 😁

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Four Days in Fargo (September 2021)

It’s the early 1890s. A young man from Wisconsin steps off the train in Bismark, North Dakota to grow wheat on the 160 acres (65 ha) he’d obtained either from the federal government or the Northern Pacific Railway (now part of the BNSF Railway). The railroad, desirous of customers, had painted a pretty rosy picture of how easy it would be to grow crops on the Northern Plains. It wasn’t. It was a hard life. His family grew to seven children, but only four survived past infancy. The weather could be beyond harsh. But he hung on and perhaps even prospered – for a while.

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