Posted by: Talie Morrison | June 29, 2018

May and June – back in the USA

I have had a couple of busy months being back in the USA – I love it!

Since I was in San Diego without a car (having gotten here via ambulance from CB to Gunnison, Helicopter from Gunnison to Denver, and then Steve drove me from Denver to San Diego – wow all that seems “years” ago!),  Craig offered to come down to San Diego and drive me home to Colorado.

My “boys”! (Just missing Dakota)

I had already planned to go on a rafting trip in early May, so Craig only had to drive me as far as Green River, Utah.   My friend, Joni, offered to drive GrayJay from Crested Butte and meet me in Green River.   Everything went perfect – Craig and I had a wonderful time driving – we never even turned on the radio and just chatted the whole way!   We got a discounted room in Los Vegas to spend the night, and on into Green River the next day.  There was a bit of a snow “squall” along the way – which made things exciting, we came through fine but we saw about a dozen cars who slid off the interstate highway!

The next morning, Craig and I wandered around Green River (not much there to “wander” in!) looking for breakfast at 6 am before he headed back to California.   We finally found a truck stop that was opening right at 6.   Then I had most of the day to do more wandering around Green River (ha!) till Joni and GrayJay got there.   Joni said I was pretty pathetic the way I carried on over GrayJay.   That truck and I have some history and I had definitely missed her!

Joni and I spent a couple of days in Arches National Park, hiking and exploring.   We found a great place to camp just outside the Northern boundary of the park – for free!   That’s part of why I love GrayJay.

Had to stop by Crystal Geyser and see the beautiful mineral deposits

That’s Joni and me under Delicate Arch

I love climbing around on the rocks


A perfect camp site – totally quiet!

Then we headed into Moab and met up with Joni’s husband, Neil,  and Bob, from CB,  and the rest of the 20 rafters in our group.   We were booked with a company called OARS.  It was a bit expensive, but it was also pretty nice to have everything done for us.   It would have been even better if I could have just enjoyed their meals, but with my eating regimen, I didn’t want to “let things go”.  So I brought enough food to get me through 6 days without breaking my diet.   The guides were awesome to “work with me” and tuck my organic veggies and lettuces into their coolers.   I was pretty funny eating seaweed for lunch and getting it all over me and the river!

Lovely days to float!

Quite the group and all that gear!

It felt good to be behind the oars for a little bit!

We had clear warm days.  The water was lower than normal since Colorado had had such a dry winter, but there were still some decent rapids.   And days of floating were very relaxing and fun.   And, of course, the hiking along the river canyons was awesome!   We floated all the way into what used to be Lake Powell’s Hite Marina.   It is now just a place along the river, but I sure have some wonderful memories of when it was part of Lake Powell.

Sleeping on the sand every night was wonderful.


Ancient ruins along the river

Great sunsets!

Coming under the bridges near Hite

One of the highlights of this OARS trip was that we were “flown” back to Moab over the Colorado River (which we had just floated).   Now that was SPECTACULAR!    Just to see how barren the landscape is, how many canyons and channels there are, and to see the River winding it’s way through that landscape.   And knowing that we had just been floating down there for 6 days!   It sure did look different from the river level!  That plane trip was well worth “the price of admission!”

Just a little strip of green along the river’s edge!

There is so much desolation around the river

So different from above

After a night in Moab, and a well deserved shower and burger dinner, Joni, Neil, Bob and I headed back to Crested Butte.    I was SO excited to finally be home.  I could hardly believe that it had only been a year.

That’s Crested Butte at the base of Whetstone Mountain

Shortly after arriving back in Crested Butte, some friends from New Zealand came to visit.   Joanne, Des, Doris and Brian were touring the desert southwest of the USA in a big RV. They had heard me talk about Crested Butte so much, they wanted to see it.   The altitude was a bit hard on them, but they were able to check out how beautiful it was – then after lunch, we headed back down valley, over Monarch Pass,  and camped near Buena Vista.

At the top of Monarch Pass

That’s my “tiny house”!

Perfect Colorado Day!

Sending my kiwi friends off to Denver – I headed back to Crested Butte and found a lovely place in the National Forest to “set up home”.  I love sleeping under the stars and waking up to the sun on Gothic Mountain.   Lots of early flowers were blooming – it has been such a dry winter that the flowers are all blooming early!  The days were beautiful, but the nights were still very cold at 9,000 feet!   I had frost every morning.

Mt. Crested Butte

Camping in the shadow of Gothic Mountain

A few Lupines blooming and the Aspens are just leafing out

Glacier Lilies in the Aspens

This deer was checking me out!

After a couple of weeks, (not wanting the grass to grow under my feet!) Joni, Francie, Marilyn and I headed back out into the desert (our annual “girls” trip).   This time we headed to New Mexico and Chaco Canyon.   Chaco is one of my favorite ancient Indian ruins – it is so impressive.   It is amazing to see how well built some of these dwellings are!   If you haven’t been there, it is a good one to put on your “bucket list”.

These were not just little cave dwellings!

The stone work is impressive – the wood has decayed but the stones have lasted

You can see how it was laid out in a “D” shape – amazing

Back to Crested Butte, back up to another perfect camping spot at the base of Gothic Mountain.  My niece, Heather, and her husband, Grady, came to join me and camp out for a couple of weeks.   As you will remember, we spent 4 months wandering around New Zealand together several years ago.    Heather and Grady were on their way to visit friends in Durango, but with all the fires in that area, they decided to “stay and play” in Crested Butte with me.

What a great view from the “deck”

More beautiful sunsets!

Yes it is chili in the evenings

Hiking along the East River

I love Nature!

We did lots of hiking together and they got out on some pretty fun mountain bike trails.   We celebrated my birthday in Crested Butte (Heather found a restaurant that had organic greens and grass-fed burgers so I could actually order a meal).

You may remember that one of my annual hikes has been to climb Whetstone Mountain on the 21stof June (Summer Solstice).   This year I had told Steve I would be in San Diego on the 21st, so I decided to change the Whetstone hike to June 15th (I was just ecstatic that I might actually be able to climb it this year!)  Heather and Grady wanted to do the climb also. We borrowed and got together enough gear for the 3 of us and then backpacked to the backside of Whetstone on the 14th setting up a great little camp.   I took my hammock and “hung out” in the trees.   And, needless to say, we also hung our food from another tree to discourage bears and/or chipmunks!

Hanging out in the trees!

Hanging the food up high!

The next morning we climbed Whetstone, getting on top about 10:30 am.   We thought we were racing some thunderstorms, but the storms dissipated and we had lots of time on top!   Heather and Grady decided to “run the ridges”, but I didn’t want to over-do it on my leg.   I was just so totally happy that in just a little over a year, I could actually be back on top of my favorite mountain!   Yahoo!

Parry’s Primrose blooming in the rocks

Alpine Forget-me-nots

Looking over at Mt. Crested Butte

Tengu was with me – what a view

Old Men of the Mountain (early for them to be blooming)

Scarlet Columbines

Heather and Grady finally were able to get down to Durango to see their friends when the fires died down, and I headed out of town on the 19th of June.    I knew it was going to be a hot drive across the desert this time of year, and I was right!  I camped out up Thompson Canyon the first night – it wasn’t too bad for sleeping.

Pictographs up Thompson Canyon

But the next day it was 106 degrees in St. George, Utah, and GrayJay doesn’t have air conditioning!  So on the second night I got a cheap room in Mesquite, Nevada.  The hotel’s swimming pool was heaven!  And my room did have air conditioning!

So now here I am in San Diego again.   Steve, Chanda, and Gates are on vacation in Florida.   Steve had asked me last January if I would come and take care of their doggies.   Maggie is almost 15 years old, so she needs just a little extra TLC.   Reecie is younger and has lots of energy.  We are having a good time together.

Reecie and Maggie – waiting for treats!

The Jacaranda Trees are blooming – beautiful!

I am doing a round of some doctor’s appointments but I probably won’t see Dr. Hammel (the Orthopedic Oncologist) till next November.   I got a CT scan of my chest and my leg, and Dr. Boles called to say that they looked really good and clear.   YEA!!!   My health regimen is WORKING!

Steve, Chanda and Gates will be gone till July 14th– so I will be doing lots of walks on the beach, biking through the neighborhoods, and hiking in the hills (when it isn’t too hot!).

Love walking on the beaches!

I’ll probably head back to Crested Butte on the 16th: get out my spray bottle and crank down the windows, here I come!

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