Day 25- King’s Canyon And Sequoia National Parks 

Day 25- King’s Canyon And Sequoia National Parks 

We woke up chilly this morning as we had our AC on full blast in the camper to combat the heat. I’m starting to second guess our decisions to route this way because my whole point for my summer tours are to get away from heat. Oh well. Here we are.  

Maggie had a virtual training this morning that she was able to join from the comfort of our camper as I cooked a farm fresh potato hash with Tillamook cheddar and pork sausage. We ate together at the table in our camper, escaping the morning heat, while she was still tuned in to the training. August continued to sleep in his adjacent bunk.  

We then prepped for the day as August got a slow start, and we eventually made our way to the local market to grab water and Gatorade for our adventure. The drive to the National Forest was slow one behind a convoy of tour busses that kept us at what seemed like a tortoise pace for 19 miles to the gates of the park. We flashed our annual national parks pass, which I highly recommend for anyone touring the country, and started searching for our first adventure. 

Our first stop ending up being the welcome center at King’s Canyon because Maggie had some questions about the parks. We got our obligatory sticker for our cargo carrier and August picked up a pin and a stamped penny to add to his collections.  

Next we headed to General Grant’s Tree Loop which seemed to be an easy 1/2 mile hike that led you to the third largest tree in the world and then right back around to your car. Easy peasy, right? Wrong. I’m not sure how we continue to get lost on these simple loop hikes, but there always seems to be an intriguing trail off of the main loop that we just assume is the way to go. 2 miles later, after wondering where we went wrong, we followed a sweet little chipmunk that led us straight to the giant sequoia that was the showcase of this trail.  

Now, we just recently were blown away by the coastal redwoods of Northern California, and I’m not sure what I expected of the giant sequoias, but I certainly didn’t expect what we found. These trees are MASSIVE. There was one called the Fallen Monarch that lay across the forest floor. It was hollow from the roots to the top, and people used to live inside of it! We hiked through it in awe. There were many other giant sequoias in Grant’s Grove, but none bigger than Grant’s tree itself. It bore the scars of many fires that it had survived as it stood 267 ft tall and about 30’ wide. 

As we read the plaques about the giant trees, we learned that they are damn near immortal. Impermeable to bugs, rot, and in most cases, fire, the only thing that really kills them is toppling. The roots spread wide at a shallow depth without a tap root leaving them vulnerable to overly moist conditions where their roots can’t support their weight. Their are many examples of this in the park. There are even a few that succumbed to fires, but the beauty of these fallen giants is that their death made way for new life. 

Toppling often creates space for more sunlight to reach smaller trees while the force of the falls shakes the seed of its fruit to the ground. New seeds take root, and a whole new generation of giants is born. The same happens with fire. In most cases, the bark is so thick and insulates the trees so well that all that fire leaves is a scar that over the years heals itself with new bark growth. In the event that a sequoia falls to fire, it sheds it’s seeds on a freshly cleared forest floor with a new opening for sunlight to feed a new generation. I’m fascinated. 

We returned to the car to map out the next stop and decided we’d head deep into King’s Canyon. As we made our way along the narrow winding roads, I saw a sign for Hume Lake, which is a lake that I had read about at some point in the recent past. We decided to veer off the main road and detour to check out the lake.  

It was another long and winding road that eventually led us to a break in the forest where we took in the sights of this beautiful mountain lake for the first time. We found a spot to park and walked around only to find every access point blocked by easy up tents, tarps, and ice chests. It reminded me of St. Charles Avenue during Mardi Gras. We eventually found a break where we stepped up to the shore to let August get his feet wet. We spotted a large tadpole hanging around a log in the clear water. The lake was more populated than we would’ve liked, so we quickly made the decision to move on.  

We stopped to get gas and some sandwiches at a market nearby. We found out that there is a Hume Lake Christian Camp that parents evidently send their kids to even during a pandemic. I have not seen a place as populated as this since the last time I saw a show at Tipitinas. We quickly grabbed what we needed, fully masked, as kids and adults alike ran around unmasked as if they believed their god would protect them.  

In our haste to alleviate ourselves from the situation, we ended up on a road that took us towards Sequoia National Park and not King’s Canyon. There also happened to be construction on that road that led to a one hour traffic stop while highway workers repaved the road we were on. We used the time to eat our sandwiches and chips and read up on the park and what we wanted to see on the new road we were about to head down.  

We found a couple of hikes that interested us including the big tree trail which was a beautiful hike around a meadow full of lush greenery and white and purple wildflowers surrounded on it’s perimeter by giant sequoias. This may have been the most beautiful spot we saw today mainly due to our timing in getting there. The sun was just starting it’s western decline, and it was lighting up the massive sequoia trunks in a way that made them illuminate in a bright orange hue from across the meadow. I felt most at peace here. 

We then found a novelty fallen sequoia that we were able to drive our car through before heading to what would be our last hike of the day, General Sherman Tree. Again, another half mile hike loop that managed to make longer. 

The allure of this hike is that this particular tree holds the record for the largest tree in the world. What I learned on this hike is that this does not mean the Sherman tree is the tallest or the widest, but it with its height and perimeter, it boasts more volume of wood than any other tree in the world.  

The hike took us down a few hundred feet for us to get to base of the tree where we reveled in its size. It’s footprint was over 100’ around the base. In my estimation, it would take more than 20 people stretching their arms out and holding hands to reach all the way around the giant. We snapped a few pics but had no desire to stay because once again we are noticing that maybe 1 in every 20 people are masked.  

We slowly hiked back up the steep trail taking a few breaks breaks before reaching our car. At 7,000’ you can definitely feel the lack of oxygen in the air. We were a little disappointed that we didn’t get to see King’s Canyon, but our consolation prize was a beautiful sunset over the Sierra Nevada Mountains that took us all the way back to campsite an hour away.  

I finished the night off grilling up some duck sausage that my buddy, Rob, had given to me, and Maggie and I laid side by side on the picnic table taking in the show that the stars were putting on while August sucked up the campground WiFi. It was a good day, indeed.  

Until next time, be good to yourselves and each other. 

Mike

Day 23- Laytonville, CA - Healdsburg, CA * Day 24- Healdsburg, CA - Squaw Valley, CA  

Day 23- Laytonville, CA - Healdsburg, CA * Day 24- Healdsburg, CA - Squaw Valley, CA 

Day 23 

Once again, we have the bittersweet feeling of waking up knowing we are leaving our friends who we have enjoyed meeting up with multiple times along this journey. The rest of our trip is flexible after tonight’s show in Healdsburg, so who knows where we may meet again. Marc, Katie, and Mat, if you are reading this, thank you for showing us the beauty of Laytonville. From the second we pulled our camper on to the farm, we felt the love and kindness from each person we encountered. The magic of the Eel River has me writing down the highway number that led us to our special spot so that if I’m ever there without you, I can find it and reminisce on the time we shared there. And to each and every one of you on the farm- Thank you. You are all a true reflection of the love that I believe makes this world go ‘round.  

We took our time popping down this morning. One, because I may or may not have had a slight hangover and two, I made the mistake of getting in the hammock immediately after waking up. We eventually hooked up the camper to our Outback, who just turned 5,000 miles older, said our goodbyes, and set our gps for Sonoma County. 

We arrived around 3pm and my long time friend, Rob, showed me up the hill to the beautifully level pad behind his house where we would be popping up. It was almost as if it was set up for this very occasion. After I backed in the camper off of a steep hill ( I’m getting really good at backing this thing in and saw an opportunity to brag) Rob and I quickly caught up over a beer. Maggie and I both had showers and we were off to Rob’s restaurant, The Parish Cafe, in downtown Healdsburg for the private show I’d be performing.  

Rob and his wife, Karla, set up to entertain a few handpicked socially distant guests as Maggie and I set up the stage, merch table, and live stream. I was feeling tired at first, but after a few songs and some positive reactions from the guests, I started to get into a groove. I developed a good report with the audience through song and story, and we shared laughs mostly, though some spoke of their tears after my cover of John Prine’s “Hello In There.” It was hard to follow August’s version of “Crawdad Hole,” but i managed to keep the crowd’s interest for a while longer. It was a fabulous evening and I was able to greet most of those in attendance after the show.  

We returned to Rob and Karla’s for late night burgers and cocktails as well as an impromptu jam session that brought us back to our high school years. August was in heaven as he finally got to play some video games and hang out with some kids. One of the highlights of the evening was playing a ‘72 reissue telecaster through a custom 1956 Magnatone amplifier adorned with a small blue plaque with the initials J.G. In gold. It’s rumored to be one of Jerry Garcia’s amps from his early days with The Warlocks. It sounded amazing regardless of its history, but I will say that I’m a believer.  

We ended the night with my new favorite cocktail, The Fitzgerald, and said our goodnights. We both had travel plans for the next morning, and we were well on our way to ruining them. I returned to the camper to find August snuggled up next to Maggie, so I took his bunk for the evening. It was nice to spread out.  

Day 24 

Healdsburg is the first place that we’ve felt real heat on this trip with temps topping 100°. It still gets chilly at night, so our AC was off when the 8am morning sun beat down on the canvas slide outs of the camper. There was no getting back to sleep at that point.  

I stumbled out of the camper feeling slightly better than I imagined I would, and I made my way to the laundry room fridge for a Coke.  I surveyed the deck and found the shaded outdoor couch which would be my place to lay down while I waited for everyone else to rouse. The smell of fresh coffee in the air told me that somebody in the house was moving and shortly after, Rob made his appearance.  

We spoke of his family’s travel plans for the day, and I started to map out ours. You see, we have 6 days before we have to land in Placitas, NM (it looks like we’ll be able to salvage the gig!) and multiple options for places to stop in between. 

It took a while to say our goodbyes, as it always does, and we loaded in the car. The hospitality we continue to get shown gives us the energy to continue on with our journey.  

We ultimately decided that Yosemite would be our next stop, but the universe had other plans for us. We drove through San Francisco for August to travel the Golden Gate Bridge, see Alcatraz, and see the Black Magic Voodoo Lounge, where Maggie and I got engaged. We were about halfway to Yosemite when we realized that entry to Yosemite is now by limited reservation only, and there are no reservations available until August 11! We immediately looked up and found no entry requirements other than our National Parks annual pass for Sequoia National Park as well as King’s Canyon and took the next left off of the highway to start heading south. 

On top of being new to the camper world and navigating all the normal stuff, Covid regulations are throwing an even bigger wrench in things. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad that there are certain protective measures in place, but still after all this time, I’m not always thinking about restrictions unique to certain areas. Just like every other stage of my life, I’m learning the hard way.  

We found an RV park just outside of King’s Canyon for a couple nights, popped up and grilled up some delicious venison burgers that Rob had sent with us. We topped them with sliced, grilled beets that August harvested on the vineyard farm, goat cheese, and a mustard dill sauce as I polished off some leftover rosé. 

We all turned in early so we can get in a full day of exploring the National Parks around us. It’s exciting to have just the three of us here. It’s the first time we’ve been alone since our night in Carson County, WA well over a week ago.  

Well, my eyes are closing as I type this and phone is starting fall out of my hands. Good night and remember- be good to yourselves and each other.  

Mike 

Day 21- Gasquet, CA - Laytonville, CA * Day 22-Laytonville, CA 

Day 21- Gasquet, CA - Laytonville, CA * Day 22-Laytonville, CA 

Day 21 

Today marks three full weeks of Quarantour. We are holding strong and still have a genuine lust for what is still to come. I’m grateful to have a partner as adventurous as I am who can live so minimally in an 8’ x 7’ box that we tow behind our car that pops up and spreads out into what we now call home. I am grateful for August as well. He does the road like an old pro trapped in an 8 year old body. Our conversations are deeper and more inquisitive than ever. His self taught knowledge of the atlas is improving daily and shows a true love for this journey and those to come. If I haven’t said it before, I’ll say it now. I’m happy. 

Today started slow as Maggie’s alarm didn’t sound. Her phone died overnight in between us as we slept. Oh well. We got out an hour later than planned with no real schedule to abide by. Rebecca had given us a list of places to check out on our ride south down the 101.  

Our first stop was in Trinidad where Maggie found organic triple shot iced coffees for us while August and I walked to view the coastline. We overlooked a beautiful natural harbor and discussed what year Dark Side Of The Moon came out. As we wandered, we recognized a sign for Katy’s Seafood which was on Rebecca’s list for best smoked albacore. We bought the albacore as well as some smoked salmon and packed it away for later. We met back up with Maggie and got back on the road.  

Next stop was Arcata for bagels and a trip the Market for cold brew concentrate. Arcata seems like a laid back town and I wouldn’t mind sticking around a little bit longer in the future under different conditions. Everyone was masked and respectful of each other, and I felt an overall sense of community there. Black Lives Matter signs adorned the windows and gardens of many of the houses we walked by on the way to Los Bagels. Maggie and I ordered slugs and August got an everything bagel. This would prove to be our only meal until much later in the day.  

After leaving Arcata, we were Laytonville bound, but not before taking a parallel detour down the Avenue Of Giants. The Avenue Of Giants is a road that travels alongside the 101 that cuts through a dense redwood forest that showcases the majestic nature of the redwoods. The bases of some of these trees were wider than our car. As a matter of fact, we pulled off the road for an attraction that allowed you to drive through the base of a redwood. We weren’t actually able to do it as trailers weren’t allowed, but we paid as walkers to view and walk through the base. I’ve spent $6 on dumber shit. It was cool to see though.  

We eventually made it to Laytonville where our dear friend Marc, from our Palo Duro and Telluride adventures, was awaiting our arrival at a local market. We exchanged pleasantries and purchased some goodies for dinner that it turns out we wouldn’t need for tonight. We stopped by Marc’s brother’s restaurant before heading to his brother’s farm to set up camp.  

We nestled our pop up in a back corner of the property next to Marc and Katie’s vintage Argosy. We have gotten the set up and break down of the camper down to a science by this point and our home was ready in no time. After Marc’s brother, Mat, gave us a tour of the property, we were informed that a family style meal was awaiting us back at the main house. We couldn’t be more grateful for the hospitality we have been shown on our trip so far, and today is no different. 

We found ourselves back at our campers after dinner drinking beers and catching up on our journeys and new ideas. This is an exciting and weird time as we are exploring creative, out of the box ideas knowing that the music scene will not be a reliable source for income in the coming months. That’s all I can say on that now. August was just happy to have WiFi for the first time in days, so he caught up with his friends on his Nintendo switch before I laid him down to sleep.  

Of course, time flies when you’re having fun, and it is now 3am. Maggie just preemptively took 2 Dramamine to hopefully subdue what would surely be another hangover day, and I am here reminiscing on what turned out to be a great day driving, exploring, and catching up with our fellow road dogs. Love is in the air.  

Day 22 

This morning brought yet another harsh reminder of the reality out country is facing. Due to Covid case spikes and the subsequent local government mandates put in place to aid in once again flattening the curve, I received a text informing me that our Placitas, NM play will most likely be canceled. We have also decided to cancel our second Dallas stop as our host recently tested positive.   

After getting our things together for a day on the Eel River, we followed Marc and Katie to Marc’s brother Mat’s restaurant, The Big Chief, for lunch. The Big Chief is influenced by the flavors of New Orleans, and it did not disappoint. I had a shrimp poboy that was on point. The bread is made by a west coast baker specifically for the Chief and The Parish Cafe in Healdsburg, where I’ll be playing tomorrow. We’ve already decided to return tomorrow for lunch while we launder our clothing.  

We made our way down a long highway off of the 101 that followed the Eel River to jacuzzi rock. Jacuzzi Rock, at least today, was completely vacant. We made the rather treacherous hike down the steep hillside to our oasis for the day. Large Jade boulders lined the beach casting shade on crystal clear, still-water pools amidst rushing river waters. The river bed was made up of well worn jade and agate of all shapes and sizes. I was unable to identify the plentiful 5” fish curiously swimming around our arms and legs. This was exactly what we needed.  

August has become quite the explorer and helped Marc and I navigate an upriver hike around the boulders and through the current until we reached whitewater rapids. The colors. The feel of the cool rushing water against our bodies. Friendship and oneness with our surroundings. All of our worries washed away, at least for the moment, and that’s enough for me.  

We kicked our legs up with our backs to the rapids and let the current take us back to our pool. Marc and I discussed the idea that we could forego all life giving sustenances to stay here as long as we could. It’s places like this that dreams are made of.  

We eventually had to get back to the farm for me and Marc to set up for an evening of music for a few of the farmers and their friends. The excitement around the camp was palpable. Justin, the proprietor of the farm scrambled to set up lights and lasers and a disco ball. Marc and I finally settled into our seats and put together a solid unrehearsed set.  

We then set up August for a DJ set and he rocked the crowd, often leaving them wanting more. He has a special thing going on with his electronic music and it was evident tonight. Our new friend, Jacob, worked with August post set to produce a track on the spot that Jacob freestyled over. It truly is special.  

Marc and I were coerced into playing a second set, and we were grateful to do so. Everyone here works so hard every day from what I can tell, and the music we played for them tonight was such a great outlet for them to relax and enjoy themselves and each other.  

We hung for a little while after the set before retiring to our respective campers. It was another long and beautiful day and tomorrow is coming fast.  

The reality of the world today has not escaped me. While our travels continue to be exciting and new, a journey of this length is no escape. But we aren’t  escaping life, we are living it.  

Remember to be good to yourselves and each other.  

Mike

Day 20- Gasquet, CA 

Day 20- Gasquet, CA 

This morning was an odd one and had the potential to ruin the day. Maggie hired on with a new school for this upcoming school year, and they are trying to navigate what it will look like to open their doors to both teachers and students in the fall, while doing everything they can to keep everyone safe. That being said, Maggie has had quite a few Zoom professional development meetings and conference calls that have been scheduled during our time on the road. Miraculously, the first two meetings happened to be scheduled during long drive days, and Maggie was able to pull a hot spot from her phone with minimal coverage loss to complete both 6 hour sessions. Today was different.  

Yesterday was a long, winding drive down US 101 from Oregon to California, and with each curve of the highway, it seemed we would wind in and out of cell service. Mostly out. As we passed through a small town where we evidently had coverage, both of our phones started singing with notifications. One of Maggie’s notifications informed her that there would be a conference call this morning at 9:15 am. Out here in California, that’s 7:15 am. No, that’s not that big of a deal except the chances were slim that we would have service at our campground along the Smith River.  

We continued to wind in and out of service and she received another notification with what she understood to be a time change to 7:15 am CDT. This seemed odd to me as earliest working hours in my head should be 8. But then again, it’s been a hot minute since I’ve had a job. This meant Maggie would have to be up around 4:45 am PDT to drive to the nearest town with cell coverage to be a part of this call.  

Maggie is hell bent on having her voice heard in this meeting, so she sets her alarm, gets up, and drives to town on the pitch black, curvaceous hwy illuminated only by yellow reflectors that marked the redwoods that butted up to the road. Like clockwork, as soon as she entered town, her notifications indicated she now had service. She waited a few minutes for 5:15am to turn over and she attempted to join the call. Nothing. She tried again. Nothing. She nervously went through her notifications only to find out that the app they are using for the conference call recognized that she was in the pacific time zone and adjusted the time for her to indicate what she first understood- that the meeting was at 7:15 PDT. Tired and flustered and almost defeated, she made her way back to camp to rest a little before she had to go back for the correct time.  

I awoke when she was gone for the second time to start cooking breakfast for her hoping I could have it ready for her upon her return. Our friend, Rebecca, ended up tent camping on the backside of our site, and we chatted as I prepared fresh potato hash and sausage patties. Maggie returned just before the food was ready to be served and shared her woes with us over coffee.  

She was ready to move on from the mistake and get to hiking in the Redwoods. After pleading with a tired August to get up and get ready, we piled into the car to follow Rebecca down 101 to see some sights. Our initial efforts to see the mouth of the  Klamath River were thwarted by heavy fog that prevented even the slightest view of the coast. We regrouped as Maggie directed us to a few hiking areas suggested by our dear friend, Beth. We then made our way further south to Fern Canyon.  

Fern Canyon presented a few hike options for us, and once we got on the trail, we were thrilled! High canyon walls covered in ferns provided shade from the sun as we hiked over pebbles, fallen trees, and a cold, clearwater stream. This section was more populated that we desired, so we stayed masked the entire time we were in the canyon. We reached a point in the canyon loop trail that allowed us to veer off the path most traveled, and enjoy some solitude. As everyone else went left, we went right, and all of a sudden, we are in the middle of a redwood forest alone. This is exactly what we wanted.  

August is having the time of his life doing his normal off trail exploring while we take in the sites of the massive trees. Rebecca, having lived in the area, had quite a bit of knowledge of the redwoods and we soaked it all in in the presence of the fairy rings. We hiked in awe of the power and spirit of the redwoods until August said he was ready to turn around. We made our way back down to join the tail end of the loop to continue back to the car.  

Once we got back to the car, we realized there were multiple trails that led to the coast just over the dunes. The fog had lifted by this point, so we immediately started the hike to the ocean. It was just beautiful. Hardly a cloud in the sky. August and I collected rounded off agate stones and skipped them into the surf as a sea lion played in the shallows to our right.  

This is the best of both worlds for me. The beach and the woods are my two favorite places to be, I’m enjoying both without even moving the car. I’m loving the pacific coast. We stay for awhile letting Aug get soaked as he played joyously in the surf. After our return, I checked my pedometer to reveal we had just crushed 5 miles of hikes. Tired and hungry, we returned to camp.  

I started a fire before a feast of grilled beets and zucchini and a garden fresh griddle fried  rice. We sat by the fire as we ate, drank, and laughed until our eyelids were too heavy to hold themselves up. Another great day in the books. 

Until tomorrow, be good to yourselves and each other. 

Mike

Day 18- Silver Falls, OR * Day 19- Amity, OR- Gasquet, CA 

Day 18- Silver Falls, OR * Day 19- Amity, OR- Gasquet, CA 

Day 18 

Another day waking on the vineyard. Maggie and I walked down from the hill towards the main structure that used to be the tasting room. It’s a big building with a wall separating it into two equally sized rooms. One seems to be mostly for storage and the other houses a  large refrigerator, a few tables, and hundreds of plastic bins. Looking back, I wish I would’ve asked to take one of the bins to use as a wash bin for our dirty dishes.  

Just south of the old tasting room is Mandy’s garden. Rows and rows of mineral rich soil served as a breeding ground for a plethora of fruits and vegetables. We were given permission to pick whatever we wanted, so we walked through and picked some potatoes, green onions, and shallots to make a breakfast hash.  

We returned to camp with our bounty when I realized we had a couple leftover hamburger patties, and the idea to make cheeseburger hash based off of Red’s Chinese restaurant’s    fried rice dish came to mind. I fired up the propane griddle, with which I have a love hate relationship with, and sautéed the shallots on one side while starting to brown the beef patties on the other. I added the potatoes to the shallots as the beef browned, eventually mixing it all together. When the potatoes started to soften and crisp around the edges, I added a generous amount of creole seasoning, mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard, relish, and Tillamook cheddar. I stirred it all together, melting the cheese, and tasted. I had created the most flavorful and heavy breakfast I have ever created just before what we would come to find would be a 5 hour hike.  

Maggie had her heart set on a long hike, which in normal circumstances, I would be completely fine with. The catch was that I had promised that I would cook gumbo for our hosts. We went back and forth about this trail and that trail ultimately deciding that Silver Falls would be the best hike for our schedule as you can basically choose the length of your adventure.  

We started backwards, or counterclockwise, from what I could tell, and got the money shot within thirty minutes of parking. I’m not used to this as most of the hikes have a rigorous path before revealing the “ahhh moment.” So by the time we explored this “first” waterfall, I was still ready for more. A sign pointed us in the direction of another fall 0.8 miles away. It was enough to deter us from walking immediately back to the car.  

In our group was Maggie, August, Alexia, Quinn, cousin Stephanie, her daughter, Megan, and myself. We all agreed we wanted to see more, so we hiked through the cedar and Douglas fir forest, stopping many times along the way to identify and taste salmon berries, and test the river water’s temperature. We hiked and hiked. The kids took their sweet time exploring everything that peaked their interest as the adults reveled in their adventurous spirits.  

To get down to the viewing point of the lower falls, we had to go down a steep grade that put us on a path to walk behind the waterfall. We thought nothing of it as the kids continued to climb rocks and laugh as if they were in complete control of the situation. We continued on behind and beyond the falls, taking in every site and enjoying the kids getting along so well in nature before we realized the 0.8 mile marker was not a loop but just a measure of distance that we had far exceeded. We stopped to confirm our suspicions with a passing hiker who informed us that he was on his 8th mile which meant that if we continued on our path, we had 8 miles left.  

Shocked at our situation, I pulled out my phone to check my pedometer which indicated that we had already walked 2.1 miles. We unanimously voted to turn around immediately and head back the way we had came. Shortly after, we realized that the steep grade we had to hike down to the falls, we now had to climb. I won’t go into detail about this any further than to say we all made it back to car, alive. 

With 4.2 miles under our belt and a 7 hour round trip, we returned to the vineyard to make gumbo. The old tasting room I had mentioned before has a big covered slab in the front where J.P. And Mandy have created a very functional outdoor kitchen area. With veggies fresh from the garden and organic chicken from a local market, I started the stock.  I chopped the the trinity, most of which came from the garden, before quartering the andouille sausage that J.P. had found at the market. 

With all my mis en place, it was time to start the roux. Now, Mandy is allergic to gluten so my roux would be made with cassava flour and avocado oil. I have to say that I was impressed with the roux these ingredients created, and while there were a few things I had to do differently when building the gumbo, the finished product was spot on. If nobody knew, nobody would’ve known. This gumbo would’ve passed any true Cajun’s taste test.  

We communed with wine while the gumbo simmered and Mandy made potato salad fresh from the garden, of course. Alexia, Quinn, and August took the John Deere 4x4 out to dump the compost we had gathered from the last few days. Smiles everywhere. This is our life today, and we are grateful. 

As we wrapped up our meal and a few vintages, we settled in for an impromptu EDM set from DJ Auggi D. He rocked us with his beats and his hyped dance moves before we turned in for the night. Again, bittersweet, because we knew tomorrow was goodbye.  

Day 19 

I awoke at 4 am with Alexia and Quinn as they were getting picked up by cousins Stephanie and Karin to take them to the airport. They’ll learn not to book the earliest flight out especially when airport is an hour and fifteen minutes away after this incident, I’m sure. Maggie and I are grateful for Karin and Steph because our drive today will prove time be seven hours south without the two and a half hour airport detour north.  

Sleeping until ten wasn’t our plan, but evidently, we needed it. We moved slow as August cried at the reality of his sister and Quinn being gone. It took us longer than normal to pop down and we were definitely off of our game. We eventually got it done and pulled the camper down the hill. We decided showers were in order, so one by one, we defunkified ourselves in Mandy and JP’s Airstream shower. There’s nothing like a shower after camping for nearly a week without one.  

We didn’t pull away from the vineyard until almost 2pm after Mandy filled our bag with fresh produce, some of which August had harvested, for the road. I’ve enjoyed eating from her garden so much that’s it’s inspired us to start thinking about our own garden and what we’d like to grow.  

We decided to add a couple hours to our trip today by staying off of I-5 and taking Hwy 99 to the windy hwy 126 which spit us out onto the 101. I’ve got to say that I expected more ocean views, but the majority of the 101 west of Eugene is a windy drive through forest. It wasn’t until we got to south west Oregon that we started to see the beautiful pacific views that I expected. Regardless, we took the low roads, passed through small towns, and we are better for it.  

Shortly after 9pm we arrived at Panther Flats campground just outside of the redwood national forest. We filled up on gumbo and caught up with our friend, Rebecca, who is on a similar journey and met us in the forest. I am now wine buzzed again and can’t wait for our first encounter with the redwoods. Stay tuned. 

Be good to yourselves and each other. 

Mike 

Day 15- Carson, WA - Amity, OR *Day 16- McMinnville, OR *Day 17- Ridgefield, Wa - Astoria, OR - Seaside, OR 

Day 15- Carson, WA - Amity, OR *Day 16- McMinnville, OR *Day 17- Ridgefield, Wa - Astoria, OR - Seaside, OR 

Day 15 presented the first dose of reality that we’ve had so far on our journey. It was a harsh reminder about the state of our country. I’ll get into it shortly.  

Waking under a canopy of Douglas Firs was something I never realized I had on my bucket list. The strong, straight, soaring evergreens and their rippled, textured bark seemed to occupy my interest for hours. We had some firewood left over from the previous night, so I started a morning blaze to build up some ember to toast our Franz bagels and cook up a few Nathan’s hot dog’s. It seems like the first day in a while that we weren’t eating burritos for breakfast.  

We weren’t in a rush today being that our next stop in Amity was only a couple hours away. We allowed August to get a few extra hours of sleep, not waking him until 10, before which, Maggie and I enjoyed some alone time drinking coffee by the fire. After we ate, we continued to enjoy our surroundings as August played basketball with himself in the road.  We eventually cleaned up, packed up, and popped down to continue on.  

Now for the reality check. We visited Portland just over a decade ago and loved it. We enjoyed dim sum in Chinatown, the downtown open air market, public transit, and hot dogs at Otto’s. We were excited to pass through and stop for lunch and possibly visit some more since we were staying just south for a few days. Our first stop was to Boa Boa to order dumplings to go which we decided we’d eat picnic style in the park alongside the Willamette River. As we maneuvered through downtown, a very uneasy feeling settled in as we took in the sights of a very large homeless population. Tent cities were set up on street corners and along main thoroughfares, hills lining the highways, and just about anywhere else we turned our heads. The vibe was somber as we walked to the river and found a ledge to sit and eat. Graffiti covered the concrete as evidence of the recent protests demanding you say George Floyd’s name and demanding justice for Breonna Taylor. Tops of buildings lining the horizon across the River were adorned with giant Black Lives Matter murals in block lettering.  

We sat to eat, mostly in silence, as we turned introspective. As we finished our last bites, a homeless man walked up to the garbage can near me and picked out a half eaten piece of pepperoni pizza and said hello before visiting the next can down the walk. The homelessness, the protests, the very sunken, depleted energy of this city we once loved are all evidence of our failing systems. Our hearts that were completely full of joy just hours prior are now broken.  

We loaded back up in the car and made our way back across the river to visit a few thrift shops for Maggie to pick up a sweater or two before making our way to Amity Vineyards to pop up for the next few days. The ride was quiet as we attempted to process our feelings. I had to get into show mode.  

We arrived to the vineyard around 6pm, said hello and quickly caught up with our hosts, winemaker JP Caldcleugh, and his wife, Mandy. JP directed us to the top of a hill overlooking the western slopes of the vineyard and we popped up and readied our home for the next four days.  

I made my way back down the hill to set up for the show as a handful of guests arrived, including my cousins, Karin, Shelley, and Stephanie, who all live nearby. Maggie left to head to the airport to pick up my daughter and her boyfriend from the airport. I guess i forgot to mention that they would be joining us for this portion of the trip. Oops.  

The show was scheduled to start at 8:15 so that the backdrop of the set would be a spectacular sunset over the vineyard. Playing music for this hungry group of less than 10 was exactly what I needed to lift my spirits. Everyone was respectful of space as they sat silently and listened as I poured my heart into my songs. Maggie showed back up with the kids shortly after the set and we shared a few glasses of amazing wine before tucking in for the evening.  

Day 16- 

The Fourth Of July. I have to say it’s hard to celebrate a country that hasn’t shown respect for the very values for which it was founded upon, but I’m booked to play a party so the show must go on. The thing that did excite me about this day is that the show is being held in the backyard of one of my favorite cousin’s houses. She and her husband, Colin hosted a small gathering where I performed for a few of their closest friends and family members. The show turned out to be magical. After the set, I was coaxed into playing a few more songs that were special to our family. We shared stories between songs and dedicated some to family members who have passed on. We laughed and we cried, and it was exactly what we needed as a family. The one that got me was dedicating John Prine’s “When I Get To Heaven” to our Aunt Arlen and Uncle Russ who were the glue that bound this branch of the family tree together. I choked back tears as I rattled off the spoken word verses proclaiming all the love for family that has passed on.  

We made our way back to camp after the long goodbyes, capped off with some more lovely wine, and laid down to recharge for the next day’s adventure. 

Wait. I forgot mention the midnight griddle burgers that I fired up at camp for Alexia, Quinn, and myself before laying down. The only reason I digress is because they were delicious angus patties seasoned with Zatarain’s and smothered with Tillamook cheddar and they deserve to live on in this blog.  

Day 17 

We woke early to meet with cousin Stephanie and her mom, Karin, to convoy just over the border to Ridgefield, WA for a family brunch with Cousins, Jerry (2 Jerrys), Becky, Vickie, Sandy, Matthew, and Becky’s dad, Jim.  

The spread was glorious with eggs, bacon, sausage, biscuits and gravy, pancakes, fruit, and more Tillamook cheddar! We filled our bellies as we caught up and laughed sharing stories of years passed. The most wonderful thing about this side of our family (my mother’s mother’s side) is that even tough 12 years have passed since we’ve seen most of them, we always pick up exactly where we left off. There’s so much love here and it’s palpable.  

Cousin Jerry, we’ll call him Jerry 1, gave me a tour of his property and spoke of his purchase of a gourmet nut company- you know, the warm candied nuts you buy in paper cones from sporting events and festivals.  Of course we made nut jokes for the entirety of our visit. It turns out that cousin Jerry 2 is quite the guitar player, and we played a handful of songs for the family as Jerry 1 performed a candied nut demonstration. I’ll provide information on how you can get cousin Jerry’s nuts in your mouth in a future Facebook post. Trust me, you want Jerry’s nuts.  

We had to end our visit all too soon to fit in a tour of the Oregon Coast with Steph and Karin as our guides. The first stop was Astoria to visit the famed Goonies house where I gifted the family with my own version of the Truffle Shuffle. We passed by the John Jacob Astor school that was made famous in the movie, Kindergarten Cop. We drove through town and made our way to Ship Wreck Beach.  August and I had a bet to see who could keep their feet in icy pacific waters the longest. He won. The next stop was Seaside where we decided to have a late lunch/ early dinner on the coast at Mo’s. The fish and chips and clam chowder were on point as we continued to laugh overlooking the ocean.  

It was there that we parted ways with our cousins to make our way back to the vineyard. I am currently, you guessed it, drinking some fabulous wines made right here in Amity, and writing this entry while taking in yet another majestic sunset. Now that I’m all caught up, I don’t think I’ll let so many days go by before writing again. I’m enjoying reminiscing on our adventures and sharing with whom ever may be interested in keeping up with our travels.  

Until the next one, be good to yourselves and each other. 

Mike

Day 13- Twin Falls, ID- La Grande, OR * Day 14- La Grande, OR - Carson, WA 

Day 13- Twin Falls, ID- La Grande, OR  * Day 14- La Grande, OR - Carson, WA

Here we are at the two week mark with 4 more to go. The adventure at this point has tapped into me spiritually. I’ve seen my fair of our nation in my lifetime, but never have I seen so much of it over such a short span of time. Even on our tours with the NIA, we would generally stay within a certain region during our tours, so the terrain would stay more or less the same. I’m typing this as I’m looking at my trip odometer sitting at 3,600 miles. We’ve seen high plains, canyons, snow capped mountains, desert, evergreen forest- am I missing anything? It’s amazing how many different landscapes you can take in over the course of a couple days. 

Day 13 

We woke up in Twin Falls excited to see, well, Twin Falls. The town of Twin Falls has a very retro vibe to it boasting oversized flashing neon motel signs reminiscent of a time long gone. We stopped for coffee and , you guessed it, breakfast burritos. We ate in the car as we navigated through town headed towards the falls. Out of nowhere appears a massive canyon. We inched toward a booth where a young man was collecting $5 for entry to the area. We paid and drove down a winding steep grade that ultimately revealed the most powerful waterfall I have ever seen.  Maggie and I both simultaneously exclaimed, “Holy Shit!” We pulled in to the closest RV parking spot and got out to explore.  

Before heading up to the main lookout point, which seemed to be crowded, we walked along the eastern edge which revealed a beautiful rainbow over the Snake River, spanning from the falls on the Shoshone side to the park on the Twin Falls side. Speechless. We laughed at its beauty because it was the only way we knew how to express our emotions at the time. We then strolled down the boat launch where August did what he does best- read historical plaques. He read aloud the story of the falls and the man who claimed squatters rights on the land beside it, who was responsible for making it a popular tourist destination. I’ll let you research that for yourselves.  

Me made our way back up the main lookout points where we realized the emotions we had initially felt on the eastern rim were no match for ones we were now processing. Steep Canyon, Snake River, powerful waterfalls, now double rainbows, blue skies- this is something I would imagine I would only see on tv or maybe a postcard if I were lucky enough to have a friend visit such and amazing destination.  

We were in no hurry to go anywhere. I turned silent as I took in the beauty. August found some other plaques to read. It was one of those “be here now” moments that seem few and far between in our fast paced world. It’s nice to stop and take a deep breath and just be, wherever you may be. This will prove to be a pivotal point in our journey, at least for me. We’ve been going from place to place so quickly. Even though we have been enjoying our stops and what they have to offer, the next drive was never far from my mind. That changed here.  

The drive from Twin Falls to La Grande was easy. Again, we enjoyed watching the terrain change as we logged a few hundred more miles. Now, this is our first time making a trip like this with a camper, and neither Maggie nor myself know much about the differences in state, national, and private campgrounds, though we are learning fast. And I have to say, as the tour manager, Maggie has shown more than adequate instinct in booking our sites.  

The site in La Grande was located near a hot spring down a dirt road at the base of a lush green hill which the moon would rise behind later in the evening.  This place was an oasis for everything you could need in the middle of a six week camping outing. The bathrooms were nicer than any I’ve seen and there was a laundromat on site for us to freshen up our collection of dirty clothes, which has been growing day by day. There wasn’t much privacy between sites, but the views and amenities made up for it. As the sun grew tired and faded over the ridge west of us, we fired up the gas griddle to sear up some spicy Korean chicken thighs and left over pan fried potatoes from Telluride. We ended the evening with warm showers before laying down only to be woken by August having a night terror. He was able to calm down and get back to sleep, but the coyotes that had found their way from the hillside to the campground kept me up with their sinister laughter. It’s all part of the journey.  
 

Day 14 

We debated whether or not to leave La Grande later than planned. None of us got the sleep we needed, but we ultimately decided to move on, leaving just an hour later than originally planned.  

We pressed on to Hood River, OR to complete the Tamawana Falls hike. It’s over a 3 mile round trip hike which had me automatically questioning August’s ability especially after the situation we encountered the night previous. I must say that August, yet again, impressed us. There was a moment where he started to express his tiredness, but after a pep talk he pushed on to lead our way to a beautiful waterfall nestled in the evergreen forest. We picnicked at the base of the falls before making our way back to the trail head.  

We had a few post hike beers and pizza from Double Mountain Brewery and headed over the Columbia River and deep into the evergreens where we made camp for the night.  

We’ll make it to Amity, Oregon tomorrow where we’ll be able to pop up and stay for a few days. Looking forward to the chill.

Be good to yourselves and each other. 

Mike

Day 11- Telluride, CO - Moab, UT Day 12- Moab, UT - Twin Falls, ID 

Day 11- Telluride, CO - Moab, UT Day 12- Moab, UT - Twin Falls, ID 

Day 11 

The days are getting so action packed that it’s hard for me to remember everything that happened two days ago, yet sometimes I’m just too damn tired to write daily. I’m actually too tired now as we just completed our first midnight pop up after a 9 hour drive. But, alas, the memory thing certainly wouldn’t work after three days, so here I go. 

Waking up in Telluride on pack out day is bittersweet. There’s always so much that I feel I don’t get to do whether it’s visit with friends, get that one hike in, or buy that damn KOTO Stealie tie dye that I always see in the window of a shop on Main St. The only solution going forward is to make sure we have a full week in Telluride next time.  

Maggie and I started our day with our walk into town for coffee and pastries. We walked around a bit stopping at the hardware store for a propane gauge and postcards and leaving the hardware store with said items and a Yeti cup, you know, because Maggie’s birthday is in January. 

Our pop down went significantly smoother with the adjustments made in Goodland, KS and we were on our way to Moab before 9 putting us there by noon. Marc and Katie and our friends, Caleb and Tyler, decided Moab sounded like a great adventure as well and met us there shortly after we finished our lunch at Moab Diner. 

We convoyed from there to HWY 128 where we quickly found a couple of spots to boondock right on the Colorado River in the middle of a canyon just minutes from Arches National Park. We set up camp and headed out for a few hikes in Arches.  

The natural rock formations here are absolutely mind blowing. Caleb has a knack for pulling your inner adventurer out and had us climbing rocks to get the most amazing views. We hiked the Window Arches first and then headed deep into the park for Devil’s Garden where the Landscape Arch exists as the payoff for hiking over rock and through sand for almost 2 miles. I was most impressed with August’s ability and lack of fear that he showed on these hikes. I was really worried about how he would handle hiking the mountainous terrain but he is killing it!  With a few miles if hikes and climbs under our belt, we decided we’d just drive to the Delicate Arch view point for a quick gander before heading to the Sunset Grill for dinner.  

Dinner. Where do I start? We made a reservation for 7 people early in the day for 7:30pm which would put us at the restaurant that is famous for its sunset views from its outdoor deck just in time for sunset. Well, I’ll just say this as to not bore you with the details- If you have one night in Moab, and you are camping in a beautiful spot in a canyon on the Colorado River, don’t go to Sunset Grill for the sunset. My meal was underwhelming and overpriced and the sunset deck was closed. We ate inside, and while the whole face of the restaurant is glass, the view was also underwhelming. We did; however, have a nice time sharing a couple bottles of wine and ever interesting conversation. $200 lighter, we returned to camp with full bellies and a lesson learned. 

We reconnected with Marc and Katie as Caleb started a fire and the conversation and laughter continued into the darkness. It didn’t take long for me to start fading, and Maggie and I retired to the camper shortly after we had laid August down.  The night was so beautiful that we opened the canvas windows in the pop up to feel the night breeze blowing through the canyon. It wasn’t long before that breeze turned to violent gusts. The strong winds startled us but only lasted for a short while and I was able sleep deeply.  

Day 12 

We woke up today refreshed and ready for gas station chorizo breakfast burritos and an impromptu trip to Canyonlands, less that an hour from Arches.  There are a couple things that amaze me about Canyonlands. First, these canyons are massive! They are deep and wide and showcase so many different rock textures. Secondly, there are no guardrails anywhere. They let idiots like us just walk up to the very edge of these cliffs and look over as we laugh about how deep the canyon is as our legs shake in fear. Again, having Caleb on trips like these has you pushing your limits for what you consider safe. Even Maggie, after yelling to me and August, “Stop right there! That’s far enough!” found herself climbing to the top of the same rock cluster she had tried to deter us from.  

After soaking in a few hours of the Canyonlands experience, it was time for us to move on and start making our way to Portland. We decided to push as far as we could tonight and made it to Twin Falls, ID a day earlier than scheduled. The drive was gorgeous and we caught the entire sunset tonight from the road, driving straight into it. The sunset started around 8:15, and after painting the sky with an impressive palate, it still lit up the night sky well after 10:30 pm.  

We pulled into an RV park around 11:30 or so where Maggie and I completed our first late night pop up, and I’ve got to say, we have this thing down! In less than 20 minutes, we were unhooked, popped up and tucking August into bed.  

Now I lay me down to sleep, looking forward to our Twin Falls adventure before moving on to La Grande, OR. Well, it’s time to get some shut eye. See y’all tomorrow. 

And remember, be kind to yourselves and each other.  

Mike 

Day 10- Telluride, CO 

Day 10- Telluride, CO 

Today we said goodbye to Dave & Wendi as they left camp to head back out on their own adventure that will eventually lead them to a visit with Dave’s brother and his family. I am so grateful to have been able to share some time in the mountains with them. The impromptu concert in the park was one of the highlights of the trip so far and would not have been what it was without Dave. I would also be remiss if didn’t mention the beautiful dinner that Wendi prepared for us. Safe travels, my friends. 

We decided early on that we would make today a family day. Maggie and I started out taking a walk into town for coffee and pastries while discussing what our adventure would be. After a quick call to our friend Neddie to help us plan, our destination was set. We got back to camp, fed the crew (our buddy Lewis brought more coffee, Booradley and his lovely family, Jacqui & Isla, visited as well) and we piled Into the Subaru to head out on our adventure.  

We decided our first stop would be Trout Lake. With Marc riding shotgun, and Maggie, Katie, and August in the back, we set out on the winding roads that took us past Wilson’s Peak ( the Coor’s beer mountain) and eventually we reached Trout Lake. Of course, I passed up the road and had to turn around and come back only to turn down the wrong road before finding the one that would actually take us around trout lake.  

Trout lake was beautiful. We drove around the lake and took in the sites of pebble beaches disappearing into the crystal clear mountain lake. We decided that just a drive around the lake was all we’d be doing today as somebody, I won’t say names, had a different adventure in mind.  

The idea to go back up the off road path to Alta lakes again and actually get out to hike around the ghost town came up, and we were all in agreement that this was the next stop. We drove back a few miles and turned off onto the steep road that would take us there. We didn’t get a half mile up the mountain before we were deterred by a fellow Outback driver informing us of a traffic jam up ahead on the narrow, rocky road caused by someone trying to pull a trailer up the mountain.  

Now, there are signs at the base of this road that clearly state that trailers are not allowed on this road. All it takes is one asshole to break the rules and ruin the fun for everyone. So here I am in a situation I’ve never found myself in before, having to back down a narrow, winding, mountain road. The tensions in the back seat are palpable. Maggie is not happy. All my sweet wife wanted to do was hike, and up to this point, our efforts have proved unsuccessful.  

We threw around some other ideas as we tried to salvage the day and ultimately decided we would take the 4x4 trail up to Bridal Falls. Bridal falls is one of the most popular attractions in Telluride, and I was initially trying not to go there as I have done it before and I assumed it would be crowded. However, with the luck we had been having so far, I knew it would be a sure shot for Maggie getting in that hike she desired.  

We drove back down, all the way through town, until the road turned to rock and dust. We started our ascent to Bridal Veil. If you read the last blog entry, you’d know how excited I get for these off road adventures. Maggie and Katie are in the back seat expressing their anxiety, worried that our car couldn’t stand up to the task of delivering us up the rugged mountain to our destination, but I pressed on. There were a couple spots where we spun, and I had to back up and redirect our path over the rocks. I’m no pro, but our efforts, after a handful of switchbacks, were successful.  

We parked at base of the falls and we were enamored by it’s beauty. The water falls from what seems to be a hundred yards or more from where we stood, and as it crashed on the boulders below, it sprayed us all with an icy cold mist. I reminisced on the time my friend, Eric Golson, and I were here 4 years ago and hiked from town up past Bridal Veil to Blue Lake. That’s a whole other story.  

We all stood in awe for a few minutes before strapping our bags on to start the hike to the top. We paced ourselves as oxygen levels at 10,000 ft are much lower than where we come from, 7 feet below sea level.  

We are having a blast. All of us talking, laughing, climbing up this mountain- we finally are getting done what we set out to do. As we approached a switchback to lead up to a more elevated view of Bridal Veil, we came to another waterfall where we stopped for water, snacks, and some pictures. There were three planks that crossed a rushing stream under the waterfall that led to an old mine cave. As I surveyed the area, I noticed the mine car rails that protruded from the cave, extended out over the edge of the mountain where they were mangled and just hung broken over the valley.  

I tested the plank bridge and determined that it was safe for August and I to go explore the mine. The air that blew threw the cave was strong and cold. We walked around in awe of the view from this vantage point. We snapped a few shots before the rest of crew joined us. We regrouped and rested as we made a plan for the rest of our hike.  

We decided to head up one more stretch of road where we agreed was the best view of the falls so far. August was a trooper and wanted to hike a little further with Maggie, while Marc, Katie, and I stayed behind laughing as we came up with comedic band names and song titles. When Maggie and August returned after their extra 150 ft. climb, we made our descent back to the base.  

There was a new trail at the base that Mags, Aug, and Katie explored while Marc and I tapped into the Rockies with a couple ice cold Coors and took the guitars out to go over the chord changes for John Denver’s “Country Roads.” When the girls returned, we had them video us playing “Country Roads” at the base of the falls. 

When all was said and done, we got back In the Subaru to make our way down the mountain. Going down is just as exhilarating to me as climbing. I think I’ve found another passion in off-roading.  

The rest of our evening included a gondola ride, a failed attempt at getting hot dogs, much needed showers, and a bittersweet last night campsite hang made better by Casamigos reposado and fish tacos.  

We had an epic adventure today that I can assure you none of us will forget. Telluride has once again proven to magical from its magnificent scenery to its wonderful locals that we get to call friends. We will miss you, Telluride, but another adventure awaits us tomorrow. We will see you next year.  

Remember to be kind to yourselves and each other.  

Mike. 

Day 8 & 9- Carbondale, CO - Telluride, CO 

Day 8 & 9- Carbondale, CO - Telluride, CO 

Day 8 

What makes Carbondale so special to us is our cousin, Michael. We always pick up exactly where we left off and we just plain have fun together. He is so kind with August and always wants to put August in a position to shine. It was Michael and his friends that put together all the equipment for August to stream his first DJ set. I don’t think I’ve ever seen August so in his own element as I did when he was DJ-ing his own music. Maggie and I will always be grateful for that special connection they have through electronic music.  

We were up early to get on the road to Telluride, one of our favorite places to visit. Aug rode shotgun so Maggie could sleep off the previous nights festivities stretched out in the back seat. We only had to stop twice for her to tie her shoes, if you know what i mean.  

Telluride is a box canyon with one road in surrounded by beautiful mountains that peak at over 12,000 ft.  I was first turned on to Telluride by my friend and former bandleader, Dave Jordan. I’ll forever be grateful to Dave for showing me Telluride. Over the years, I’ve been able to forge some lifelong friendships here and share in my love for this amazing town with my family.  

I could go on and on about Telluride, but I need to stay on track. We circled back up with Marc and Katie, who had already set up camp here in Town Park the day before.  With Maggie out of commission, Marc helped out with getting the camper level and ready for pop up. As soon as I had the front bed slid out and supported, Maggie resumed her nap.  

The view here in town park is absolutely wonderful and it called for Marc and I to crack a few beers and just stare at the mountains surrounding us for a while.  

This is where I have to back up. I can’t believe I forgot to mention that right as we were pulling out of Carbondale around 8am, we got word that our friends, Dave and Wendi, were passing through Amarillo en route to visit Dave’s brother in Utah and decided to meet us in Telluride. Now, I don’t know what that means to you, but to me, this is the making of a pretty damn good band! We had been in contact with our friend and drummer who lives in Telluride , Alan Booradley, and with the addition of Alan and local Dustin Wilson, we had the perfect 5 piece band for a pop up concert in Town Park. When Dave and Wendi arrived, we all hiked together over to the base of Bear Creek waterfall and discussed the details of our impromptu show.  

Marc cooked us all pulled pork tacos that hit the spot. Afterwards, friends from the area as well as our buddy, Caleb, from New Orleans, made their way our campsites to visit well into the evening. Maggie, August, and I retired well before the rest from what I understand in an effort to make the most out of the following day as Maggie had pretty much threw up and slept through most of this one.  

Day 9 

Maggie and I were up and out of the camper by 7:30 and left aug behind to sleep in as we walked into town to grab some coffee. We walked down the main drag and cut over to the river to make our way back to camp. We cut across to the far side of the river and hiked past beaver pond, which I had never done before, and then past the Town Park stage before making our return.  

It’s amazing how fast people start showing up when you throw bacon on the griddle. Our  friend, Lewis, showed up with 2 trays of coffee for the group as I continued to cook bacon, sausage and eggs for yet another round of chili verde breakfast burritos.  

We decided our first adventure for the day would be to ride the gondola up to mountain village for a pretty relaxed morning outing. We hung around a bit before heading back down to camp for sandwiches. Dave and Marc picked up some guitars and agreed to play some music with August so Maggie and I could go out and find an adventure with just the two of us.  

We decided on a four wheel drive trip up to Alto Lakes, just outside of town. One of my favorite things to do since we’ve gotten our Subaru Outback is to take her off road and test the rugged versatility of this vehicle. I love off roading. There is something so satisfying about driving up steep Rocky Mountain roads. Each switchback reveals a new view and I find so much excitement in the mystery of what lies ahead.  

On our way up we passed through an old ghost town where most of the structures that formerly made up a mining community were left in ruin. I love ghost towns. I love mystery. I love wondering about what the towns used to be like when they were still populated. We have discussed making more stops on our future journeys centered around exploring old ghost towns. We took a long video of us climbing the mountain through the ghost town, but due to egregious profanity expressing how amazing the experience was, I will be unable to share video on social media.  

Not far past the mining town we found the Alto Lakes. What can i say about lakes that live high up in the mountains? I love the beauty and I love the challenge. Whether hiking or 4 wheeling, getting to a glacial lake isn’t easy. This particular lake was a 3,000 ft elevation climb. Of course, you’ll get there faster in a vehicle than on foot, but there’s a certain amount of attention to detail that’s needed when climbing these mountains in your vehicle. The roads aren’t often well kept, so surveying the road and knowing where to put your tires are crucial in completing your mission. I find the challenge exhilarating and can’t wait to do more.  

This particular lake was crowded with a bunch of vehicles, some were just there for the view, others were taking advantage of their many off grid camping sites. We just made a loop to get back down so I could head back in time to prep for the impromptu park concert.  

We set stage near the back of Marc and Katie’s Airstream with a beautiful mountain backdrop. While the ladies cooked dinner, we ran cables, checked mic and instrument levels, and discussed our set. We opened with Bob Marley’s “Stir It Up” and people started appearing out of the woods from all directions. The one thing I will say about Telluride is that they are very good about wearing masks and distancing as opposed to a few other stops we’ve made.  

It was amazing to play with a full band for the first time since I played my buddy, Dell’s, wedding in Laurel, MS on March 14 - 3 1/2 months ago! The energy surrounding us was amazing. People were dancing and smiling, many of whom hadn’t seen live music in months.  

We finished the show paying homage to Dave Jordan by playing his song, “Telluride.” 

It was the first time since the end of 2017 since I’ve played that song and I’ve got to say, it’s a damn good song.  

I finished off the evening with a Coors heavy, a shot of Don Julio, and a plate of delicious food prepared by our ladies, just before my Irish goodbye to come get horizontal. We have another big day tomorrow planned with hikes and drives as we are trying to get as much out of Telluride as we can before leaving Monday morning.  

I love this place.  

Thanks as always for visiting the blog and remember to be kind to yourselves and each other.