Posted by: Talie Morrison | August 28, 2018

Catch me if you can!


Whew – this has been a really busy and fun 2 months!


So I started out July in San Diego.   I was there to take care of Maggie and Reece, Steve and Chanda’s dogs.   July is pretty hot in San Diego, so I went down to the beach as often as I could – there were lots of people but there is also lots of beach!

I wasn’t sure what was happening in San Diego for 4thof July, so I asked my San Diego friend Debbie.   She and her husband usually buy tickets to the San Diego Symphony Concert, which is right on the harbor.   Then they are there, up front and center, for the fireworks display.   So the three of us packed a picnic, rode the trolley downtown, and got great spots in the grass.   The Concert was Clint Black – all you “country fans” would have loved it.   Then the fireworks were spectacular!  They had 4 barges spaced along the harbor and all the fireworks were synchronized going off at the same time.  Whew – I don’t think I have ever seen such a big display.   It was awesome.   Then by riding the trolley back to where we had left our cars – we didn’t have to deal with all the traffic.   It was a lovely night.

Debbie and I also made plans to go to Point Loma (in Cabrillo National Monument) during low tide and walk along the tidal pools.   So we set a date for July 7th.   I had been checking out campers in the San Diego area, and went to see one before Debbie and I went to the beach.   I tried to crank it up and couldn’t even do it by myself.   So that was a learning experience and definitely a “non-starter”.  So off we went to Point Loma and had a lovely time!

On our way back to her home, Debbie said that there was another camper in El Cajon, just a short way from her place.   So we decided to go take a look – and before you know it, I had bought a camper!  Debbie said my face just lit up when I stepped into it!   Yikes!  It is a Rockwood A-liner – which folds up to be towed, and is a cute little A-frame when it is popped up.  So – I signed the agreement and made arrangements to pick it up the following Friday.   Whew!

So I had lots to do that week:  GrayJay needed to be wired to pull the A-Liner, I needed to get a certified check, and bits and pieces for it: sheets, pillows, etc.  And by Friday, there I was getting “trained in” on how to erect it, fold it up, hook it up, etc.  I added a couple of things that took awhile: an extra marine battery, along with a kill switch for those batteries, etc.  I had hoped to leave the dealers’ before rush hour, but needless to say, by the time I left it was rush hour.   So I had to learn the ins and outs of towing it with “trial by fire” – San Diego rush hour!   But all went well, and I was able to park it in front of Steve and Chanda’s.   Yikes – I really did buy it!

Debbie and Michael made me some blocks for the stabilizers and wheel chocks – very fun to have those even before I had the A-Liner.   And it didn’t take very long till this camper had a name:  AJay!   (Since my truck is: GrayJay, and my van in New Zealand is: BlueJay – AJay just seemed to fit!  Thank you, Corinne, who came up with the name!)

So Steve and Chanda and Gates got home on the 14thof July, and on the 16th, I was on my way back to Colorado pulling AJay.   I think it took me about 300 miles before I quit “gripping” the steering wheel (but maybe part of that was the California Traffic I was going through!).   GrayJay did remarkably well – she never once overheated – actually never got past normal temperature.   But she is only a 4-cylinder engine, so we go really slowly on the hills!   And, remember, she doesn’t have air-conditioning – can you imagine how hot it is in Nevada and Utah in the middle of July?  Really hot!  I did book campgrounds for those first two nights with AJay – and by having power; I had air-conditioning to sleep with!    So this may be a new lifestyle for Talie/Mom!



I got home to Crested Butte on July 18th and parked my new home in the National Forest.   I had a view down valley to Crested Butte Mountain and up valley to Gothic Mountain.   This is such a beautiful place – I feel really spoiled!

I only had one day to “chill” because the next day our UCC church was host to 10 friends from our sister church in Spremberg, Germany.   We have had a relationship with St. Michaels Church there since the late ‘80s (back when the “wall” was still up).   They have visited Crested Butte before and I have been to Spremberg several times (6 to be exact!).   I had been emailing with Roland about this trip for many months so it was exciting to see it coming to fruition.  I already knew all but 3 of them, so it was like “old home week”.

The UCC had 6 days of Crested Butte activities planned for them which included: a visit to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Sunday church service in which Mario (who is only 6 years old) got baptized, a chairlift ride and hike to the top of Mt. Crested Butte (we got 15 people from ages 6 to 80 on top), a driving tour to Paradise Divide, a day at Lake Irwin, and a walking tour of Crested Butte.   Whew!

When these lovely friends had arrived in Denver, before they came over to Crested Butte, they rented RVs and a van.   So after several days in Crested Butte, the plan was to drive to Yellowstone.  Roland had asked me many months before if I would go with them on this part of the tour.  So I closed up AJay (she was only going part way on this tour), and we all met at the UCC church at 8:30 am on Thursday, July 26th.    It was quite the caravan – GrayJay and AJay, then 2 large RVs, and a “hippy” van.

Our first stop was Grand Junction for groceries and supplies.   They informed me that AJay’s taillights were wired wrong (yikes) – so I quickly found a place that would fix that while I sent them off to drive through the Colorado National Monument.   All worked well and in a couple of hours we were back on the road!    I found a great “boon docking” (free) camping spot near Dinosaur National Monument for our first night.

The next day, we toured Dinosaur and then headed North toward Yellowstone.   We had a quick stop in Vernal at the medical clinic to deal with an intense migraine headache for Kiara, and then I stopped in Green River to drop AJay at a storage lot.  We found another free campsite at Big Sandy Reservoir along the way for our second night.  It was good level parking and we had our own beach.

On to Yellowstone, with a couple hours stop in Jackson WY.   They love the western flavor of Jackson – but I thought it was way too crowded.   Roland had booked 4 nights for the RVs in Yellowstone, and (since I didn’t have AJay) I could “tuck” into one of their sites.  So we had a 3 lovely days touring Yellowstone – it is such an awesome National Park.   We saw lots of Bison, the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, lots of waterfalls, hot springs, Old Faithful, and (needless to say) other tourists!

From there we drove back South and camped (another free spot with our own lake!) above Lander WY.  That next morning we treated ourselves to breakfast in a restaurant, and  (after tears and hugs) they all headed toward Denver to return the RVs, and I headed to Green River to pick up AJay.   From Denver, they flew to Florida for another week of touring (including Kennedy Space Center, the Everglades, and Miami).



I had some friends in Crested Butte who I knew were planning on doing a llama trek in the Wind River Range (WY).   At the last minute, one of them couldn’t go, and they asked me if I would take her place.  Well…. YES!   It was a bit of a juggle to organize at the last minute – but totally doable.   Since I was already in Wyoming (with the Germans), it made sense to just stay up there.  That was the reason for the decision to take AJay and store her in Green River.   So I brought her up to Lander and camped a couple of nights in AJay before the Llama trip.   Luckily one of my cousins lives in Lander, and he said I could leave AJay at his house while I was out with the Llamas (Thank you SO MUCH Gates and Rachel Richards!)   So Sunday night, August 6, I joined up with Angie, Pat, and Maureen, in a bed and breakfast to be ready to take off at 7 am the next morning.

What fun – I think I am in “llama love”!   Since the llamas were carrying all of the heavy gear, all we had to carry was our rain gear and water.   I had arranged with the Lander Llama folks to be able to bring some special foods so I could still stay on my diet.   Thus I carried my lunches (which were different from the others) and I had supplemented with my own food for the other meals (which worked wonderfully).

The first day had a couple of hours of driving to get to the trail head, and then packing up the llamas and getting on the trail.   I led a llama the first hour or so – way fun!   But then we had a long downhill to navigate and I needed to use my poles and couldn’t lead the llama – oh well, he was tied onto the “string” with two others.  Doing a guided trip is certainly nice!  Having the llamas carry all the heavy gear, and then having the guides set up the food storage, and cook all the meals – whohoo “cush”!   (Of course you are paying for it – but it sure is nice!) It took us two days to get to our campsite that was closest to the Cirque of the Towers, and the next day was a “day hike” up to the towers, so we didn’t have to pack up our tents and gear.   It was a beautiful hike and lovely area.   We hiked up to Jackass Pass and then came down to Lonely Lake for a picnic lunch.   Beautiful!  Of course the next two days were hiking back out the way we came, but it was still lovely.   We were blessed with clear blue-sky days for the whole trip!




Another thing that I had been planning all summer was to be in Santa Barbara CA on August 17th.  That was Craig’s 50thbirthday!   Yikes, am I really old enough to have a 50-year-old son?  Guess so…

So by being in WY, I had figured the easiest way to get to Craig’s was to fly from Salt Lake City to LAX and then take the shuttle to Santa Barbara.   AJay was back to her storage yard in Green River WY while I drove to SLC, and off to California.

It was great!  Needless to say, I loved being with Craig and his family!   He was pretty busy working – now that he is doing the music for NCIS-LA, it takes full time from August to April.   But we still had time to reminisce about his growing up in Spruce Pine, take a couple of walks on the beach, he cooked a couple of great meals, and we went out to celebrate his actual birthday night.   It was “short but sweet”, and on Saturday am I was back on the shuttle to LAX and flying back to SLC.   Whew!




When my friends, Jane and Robin, heard I was going to be in the Wind River Range, they thought it would be fun to come up and explore those mountains too (none of us had been to the Wind River Range before).   So they made plans to meet me in Pinedale after my California trip.   So from SLC, I drove back to Green River and picked up AJay – it had been a long day and I wasn’t up to driving another couple of hours.  So I found a great free campsite on the Wild Horse Loop above Green River.   During the night I could hear the wild horses – way fun – and the next morning I got a couple of pics of my nighttime visitors.

Jane and Robin and I drove up to Green River Lakes and booked a couple of nights in the Forest Service Campground there.   No real amenities, but we had a “long drop” (outhouse), water, and picnic tables.  Jane and Robin hadn’t been camping for about 20 years, so it was a real treat!   There was a lot of smoke from the wildfires around California and Idaho, so the mountains were hazy.   But it was still beautiful!   We went out hiking both days and luckily were back before the rain and hail came in each afternoon.   Then after a night in Pinedale, we spent a day driving up to Jackson and the Grand Tetons.   It was still smoky, but those are such spectacular mountains!



So I took a couple of days to drive back to Crested Butte – it is hard to believe that I left a whole month ago!   I stopped in Grand Junction and paid for a KOA so that I could get all my batteries, etc. charged up.   GrayJay doesn’t break any speed barriers when she is towing AJay.   We go really slowly on the up hills (but I put on my flashers and pull over where I can).  With her only having 4 cylinders, I am happy that she is doing so well and not even thinking about overheating.  On the way up to Pinedale from Green River, she actually passed 300,000 miles.   Way to go, GrayJay!!!


So I am back in the Butte.  I have several housesitting/dog sitting/cat sitting jobs lined up which will take me up to November 1st.  Then it will be off to California again and I will be flying to New Zealand on December 3rd.   Yahoo!



  1. WOWZIER girl… dust on you! Love your new pop up trailer/camper and of course seeing a quilt on the bed is pretty cool. So many wonderful and beautiful places you have been visiting. Happy house sitting etc, perhaps we will catch up again when you are here in NZ. xxxkiwihugsxx

    • Hey Leeanne – I arrive in KiwiLand on December 5. I’d love to see you! How is your hiking going? Do you want to try to meet somewhere for a tramp? Or just for day hikes? I’ll be sure to check in with you before I head South. Hope all is well you! ❤️ Talie

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