Finally Cruising!

After three weeks and a few days we finally raised anchor and headed out onto the Saone!

Back on the Boat

After being evicted from Decize for four days so the mechanics could have their way with her we finally moved back aboard Friday, June 17, almost exactly three weeks from the day we arrived in St Jean. No one was around when we finally got permission to return and, of course, the engine didn’t start. But… a couple of texts later and an H2O guy shows up with the big booster and we started Decize and moved back to the marina.

Finally back in the Marina!

St Jean had a big festival Saturday so we stayed one more day to enjoy the fun.

Cruising – Week 1!

Sunday we weighed anchor and headed south on the Saone, still a little concerned about engine starting issues …. but hopeful. Our first day we cruised 48 Km to Verdun-sur-le-Doub passing through two of the big locks on the Saone.

It was a hot, windy day and we were pleasantly surprised to find that the Captainerie served ice cream, beer and wine.

View of the Captainerie in Verdun-sur-le-Doub from our boat.
Decize from the Captainerie

With the exception of a few pretty impressive thunderstorms things are going well – the engine has started first time, every time so far. We spent two nights in Chalon-sur-Saone, a big city after three weeks in St Jean and we nabbed the last visitor spot, too bad for the people in Le Boat rentals!

Entrance to the Port de Plaisance of Chalon

And Roberta finally got her first Leffe Ruby.

We left Chalon after some major shopping (including a lot of fans!) and headed for Tournus, a place we have never been but will definitely return to. A great town with lots of shops and restaurants and a great hardware store (though a strange obsession with hair – I counted 8 coiffures in a four block area).

We spent an afternoon exploring, visiting the famous Abbaye Saint Philibert.

Our mooring in Tournus.

Two weeks, no motor, new bikes and the hunt for the elusive martini glass!

We arrived in St-Jean-de-Losne almost exactly two weeks ago. We had planned to spend a week provisioning and getting the boat ready before heading out… but things have not quite worked out.

We arrived late on Thursday and were unable to secure a taxi so …. after 24 hours of travel we had a lovely mile walk from the train station to town.

Our first view of St-Jean-de-Losne on the road walk from the train station.

The next morning we walked to the marina looking for Decize. We were directed to the H2O workshop area where we found Decize moored on the ramp.

And on board a bottle of cremant and a nice note from H2O.IMG_0745_8756

So… we are good to go, right? Tried starting the motor so we could move over to the marina but …. nothing happens. Over the course of the next week we moved out of hotel and onto Decize, we got moved from the ramp to the workshop dock and we finally met with the shipyard manager.  And….the engine still doesn’t start!

After an hour or so troubleshooting (Thursday, exactly one week after we arrived) we all agree that the problem is the starter motor. So… another almost full week waiting for the starter motor.

While waiting we decide to take the train to Dijon and get bikes. The train runs a couple of times a day and takes about 30 minutes.

Waiting for the train in St Jean

The first bike shop we walked into had exactly what we wanted.  We bought two bikes and were told to return in the afternoon to pick them up so headed for downtown Dijon to search for things we could not get in St Jean… a picture frame and …… MARTINI GLASSES! Martini glasses are not a thing here in France and we have yet to find decent ones (though we continue to look).

IMG_0873_2471
Our new bikes on Decize
Bert with our new “Martini” glasses.

And, of course, being Jason and Roberta we decided not to wait for the train (three hours away) and decided to ride out new bikes back to St Jean (about 35 kms). Did I mention these were city bikes? With not much in the way of suspension? We took the recommended route, the canal towpath which started out paved but quickly turned to rough gravel. Two hours, tired and hot, with sore butts, we pulled into the marina. But we beat the train!

Meanwhile back in motor-land we finally got our new starter in and installed. After several false attempts we finally go the motor started! We even took Decize for a quick spin around the marina but….. well more on that next post when I explain why we still haven’t left St-Jean after two full weeks.

Our new starter motor!!!

Lone Star Trail, Days 5-6

Day 5 – Thu, Jan 25 – LST 83.5

East Fork of the San Jacinto

Up and hiking by 7:15 AM. 2 miles later I am at the east fork of the San Jacinto (8 AM). The water looks deep so I scouted up and down river looking for logs across the river. I found one and attempted to cross but the bark kept flaking off and it was a good 5 feet above the water so I backed off.

My first attempt to cross – bark and loose debris on the log made me back off.

I found a pile of logs that looked easier to cross on, as they were on the water surface. As I attempted to cross the logs moved and I fell into the water. I ended up standing in water up to my lower chest. I scrambled back onto the logs and crossed to the other side..

My second (and final) attempt to cross was here.

My pack was wet up about 3/4 of the way. My pants and shirt were soaked. Fortunately my clothes bag is at the top of my pack so my other clothes were dry and I was able to quickly get into some dry clothes which was important since it was 35°. I ended up hiking in my long-johns which was not only stylish but comfortable.

After I got dry clothes on and started hiking I realized I had lost my sun hat when I went into the water. Over the next hour the sun came out and by the time I got to double Lake Campground my clothes are starting to dry a bit. I stopped for short break and laid my clothes in the sun.

Drying clothes at Double Lake CG

Double Lake is a pretty little campground with all the usual amenities. If and when I do this trail again I will definitely try to camp one night here. I was able to dump my garbage and grab a little water here also. Access from the trail is great – not more than a couple hundred yards.

The Double Lake CG across the lake.

The weather just got better today, warming up nicely. I stopped for lunch at about mile 11 at near the last crossing of Big Creek. I got water and filtered it and laid out all my river wet clothes, sleeping bag and tent to dry in the sun while I ate lunch.

Lunch of champions!

The water in Big Creek filters clear and tastes wonderful. In an hour everything was dry so things are definitely looking up.

I humped 4 L of water to my last primitive campsite at mile 83 1/2. I have one bar of cell coverage here so I was able to call Roberta and let her know that the plan is still to arrive tomorrow around noon.

And a pleasant surprise! Some kind hiker left some extra food in the camp mailbox (each PCG has what looks like a mailbox with a trail register and trail info). I was getting kinda low on food so the raisins are much appreciated!

Requisite Day 5 selfie.

After the first day I have only seen one hiker and not a single car at any of the trail heads. I’ve camped by myself every night except the night in the Huntsville State campground when I was surrounded by RVs.

Day 6 – Fri, Jan 26 – LST 96.4 

Would have gotten my earliest start of the trip (7:00) but just as I was starting out I noticed my backpack was wonky. One of he webbing straps has broken. I managed a quick fix (thank you duct tape!) and was hiking by 7:15.

Day 6 Selfie

Another gorgeous day. I am down to just snack food, and not much of that, so a 12.5 mile last day sounds good. My pack feels great – guessing it’s down to 18 lbs or so. The trail is in great shape and I am making good time.

Stopped for first break about 9:30 at the Mercy PCG (LST 89.1), after 5.5 miles or so. This PCG has a bench!!! Of course. The one PCG I DIDN’T stay at would have a bench.

FS2112 Mercy PCG …. with a bench!!!

Then back on the trail – getting near the end!

Nearing the end!

Crossing FM 945 at LST 93.1 someone’s water/food cache looks like it got raided.

Garbage on the trail near FM 945.

Thought this last 6 miles or so would be a breeze but after about mile 93 the trail is a swamp for several miles. Really bad hiking conditions. Not really a trail – just a swamp with markers.

Also noticed a lot of damaged walkway/bridges in this stretch.

The swampy conditions let up after mile 94 or so and the last couple of big bridges (over Winters Bayou and the San Jacinto) were in pretty good shape. The Winters bridge is missing a few planks.

San Jacinto Bridge at LST 92.5

Roberta walked out to meet me and we walked the last half mile together. It was a lovely end to a lovely hike. My next post will be my thoughts and observations on the LST and what I would do differenty.

Lone Star Trail, Day 3-4

Day 3 – Tue, Jan 25 – LST 51.2

Good karma to start the day! Hiking out of Huntsville State Park a guy stopped and picked me up and took me out to the I-45 feeder. Then a mile or so walk under I-45 to get back on the trail east of TX-75.

Coming up on TX-75
Back on the trail! And no rain!

Unfortunately while it isn’t raining today it is overcast so no sun to help dry all my wet stuff.

Today was my first run in with dogs. Just what the hell is the deal with these people and their dogs? About 8 miles along I hit FM 2296 and a short road walk when I was serialy attacked by multiple dogs running out from unfenced (or open fenced) yards. I used my pepper spray twice. Crazy.

Stopped for lunch along the trail after 10 miles or so. Still have seen no other hikers since the first day.

Lunch!

Ran into a hiker just after lunch, the only one i’ve seen for two days. He is doing a west end yo-yo and had just tagged Boswell Creek and was heading back west. And today was milestone day! Highest point and halfway.

Boswell Creek (just after halfway at LST 48.2) had lots of water. I scooped 4L into my dirty water bag before heading on to camp.

Boswell Creek and the log I used to get across.

Today was my first designated primitive campsite. I rolled into East Four Notch PCG (LST 51.3) at around 3:00PM, hung my tent and fly out to dry and made some much deserved hot tea.

Tent drying at East Four Notch PCG

The designated primitive campsites (PCGs) are all a bit different. They all have flat tent sites and a fire pit. Some have logs to sit on or even (gasp!) a bench. This one had the bare minimum.

The Boswell Creek water filtered to a lovely yellow color which ,while not looking all that great, tasted okay, especially in tea.

Filtered Boswell Creek water. Tasty!

Day 4 – Wed, Jan 26 – LST 68.5

Today was an absolutely gorgeous day, perfect for hiking. It started a bit chilly, 35° or even a little colder. I hiked in my puff for the first two hours while things warmed up. The first 3 miles or so were mostly on roads but did not see a single car.

Starting the day on a road in my micropuff.

It was sunny all day which was a nice change from yesterday’s overcast and the day before with the incessant rain.

Road walking.

At about LST 60 the trail crosses FS 202D. On the other side of the road the trail was very swampy with lots of standing water. I elected to stay on 202D for a hundred yards or so then bushwacked back to the trail to avoid the water.

Swampy trail near LST 60.0

Stopped for lunch at a trailhead just before 12 miles around noon. I laid out the tent, sleeping bag and all of my socks to dry in the sun while I ate lunch. I also called Roberta and we talked which was nice.

Trailhead #9, lunch in the sun drying out.

After lunch was a long road walk, starting with 2 miles to Evergreen. As far as I can tell the only things in Evergreen are churches and cemeteries. I stopped at the Baptist Church in Evergreen Park for water per the guide …

Thanks for the water Evergreen Baptist!

…and then continued on for another 3 miles on a really lousy hiking road (FM945), no shoulder and cars going 65. The guide warns about dogs in this area but I only saw a couple and they were on the other side of the road so I did not have to use my pepper spray again.

FM-945: No shoulder and cars doing 65 mph!

I arrived at my second designated PCG (LSHT Camp Site #2, LST 68.5) at my usual time (around 3:00) for my afternoon tea and a little whiskey. No logs to sit on but someone left a sleeping pad which I used for a seat.

Home for the night

Tomorrow is the East Fork of the San Jacinto crossing and I haven’t been able to get any recent information on the crossing.

Palo Duro Canyon

After a short, 10 day visit with Emilie and Francis in Colorado Springs mostly playing board games and day-drinking… we began the last leg of the trip ….

Fun times in the Springs!

… to Palo Duro Canyon! We had planned to camp in the Canyon but decided to grab a hotel in Canyon which is only 15 minutes from the park.

We decided to do the Lighthouse Trail Loop as it includes the most iconic peak in the park. So…. up early and headed for the Canyon.

The Lighthouse Trail Loop

The trail starts on the Givens, Spicer, Lowry Trail and joins the Lighthouse Trail after about 3 miles. The trail skirts the bottom edge of the canyon and is reasonably flat most of the way.

Stunning views along the Givens, Spicer, Lowry Trail
Hiking buddy!

We were very fortunate because the normal temperature in the canyon in late June is in the low 90’s but we had overcast skies, a light drizzle and mid-70’s. Not so good for pictures but much better for hiking.

More cool views.
Nearing the “Lighthouse” formation and the final climb.
Bert scales the escarpment up to the plateau between the two peaks.
On top!

It started to drizzle when we hit the top and the scramble to the top is very steep so we did not spend a lot of time on the top but the views were great.

And…. that pretty much finished off our grand tour of the northwest…. 5600 miles, lots of great hikes and some stunning scenery. All that remained was a 9 hour drive to Houston and…. Martini Night!

Utah, More Camping, More Heat and More Friends!

Up early (June 15) to beat the heat and headed to the Spiral Jetty and the Great Salt Lake.

The Spiral Jetty on the shores of the Great Salt Lake

Then we walked the mile or so out to the current shoreline (the water has been high enough in the past to completely cover the jetty).

Weirdly beautiful – all the salt you an eat!
Guessing this plant wishes he had sprouted somewhere else…

We left the Great Salt Lake just as it was starting to get uncomfortably warm (about 8:30) and drove to our campsite just east of Salt Lake City (near the Alta Ski Resort in the Wasatch Mountains).

Our campsite in Spruces Canyon

We were a bit worried because the temperatures kept rising through the afternoon, reaching the upper 90’s in town. But our campsite is 2,000 feet above SLC and the temperature was consistently 20-25 degrees cooler.

After setting up camp, doing a short hike and getting cleaned up we put on our best campwear and headed back down the mountains. A high school friend of mine (Linda Burr) who I had not seen since high school contacted me via facebook and invited us to dinner – their place is only 30 minutes from our camp.

High school friends.

We had a lovely time and drank too much of course. Next morning we were up bright and early for a little 8 mile, 3,000 foot hike up into the Wasatch Mountains.

Heading up…
Still a little snow up above 10,000 feet.
A moose on the trail!
Near the top (or as close as we got).
Lovely view

And, as luck would have it, Clifford Pugh and his husband John were staying the next canyon over in Park City (though not in a tent) and invited us over for dinner.

Dinner (actually drinks) with Clifford and John.

So, after two nights of lovely camping and wonderful dinners with friends we left Utah heading toward Colorado.

Heading South!

After three mostly lovely days in Neskowin we headed back south and east on June 12. Neskowin, after nearly 3,000 miles, was the end of our outbound journey. Next stop is the Malheur National Forest in eastern Oregon.

Campsite for the night!

Had another lovely campsite next to a mountain stream. Nice cool night in the 40’s, perfect for sleeping but Bert’s back is giving her problems so we elect to get a room for the following night. Found a little 4-room lodge along the Payette River in the Boise National Forest. Management of the hotel is a bit iffy but we have our own private hot-springs fed tub out the back!

Weather is definitely different in Idaho! And this is at 8,000 feet!

Except for the folks in one of the other rooms celebrating a 50th birthday accidently walking into our room in the middle of the night we had a nice stay. Walked to the river where the hot springs run down the side of the hill to merge with the cold river water. But it is very hot so we cut the hike short.

Hot springs run into the Payette River. Very hot or very cold!

Up early the next morning to get a short hike in before the heat kicks up. Rode our bikes a couple miles to the Kirkham Ridge trailhead and started up! The Trail climbs the mountains on the north side of the Payette River valley.

Starting the hike!
View down the valley.

After the hike we packed up and headed towards Utah. We realized last night (after pizza and beer) that we actually have an extra day before our campsite reservations near Salt Lake so we have two easy days of travel and, at Bert’s urging, we added the Spiral Jetty to the itinerary.

We also decided to ignore Google and headed west on the river road (Ponderosa Pine Scenic Route) hoping it would be more scenic and we were not disappointed.

View of the Sawtooth Mountains from the road.

After a short stop in Ketchum (Sun Valley) for lunch and to pay our respects to Ernest….

Lunch in Ketchum.
RIP Ernest.

… we headed on to the Western Inn in Tremonton, Utah.

The Oregon Coast

From Whitefish Montana we headed west, stopping briefly in Spokane to visit my brother and sister (Jamie and Mary)…

Definitely the better-looking part of the MacInnis clan.

.. and spending one night with Roberta’s cousin (Linda) in Vancouver, WA.

Our sleeping companion at Linda’s place.

We then headed to the Oregon coast to spend three days at one of our favorite spots from out Oregon Coast hike (https://rjfmac.com/home/oregon-coast-trail-2019/) back in 2019.

View from our condo in Neskowin, OR.

We had two days of lovely weather and one rainy day but all of them were cool (compared to Houston!).

The Ghost Forest of Neskowin – old submerged Spruce forest.
Cold enough for sweatshirts!

And we did one non-beach hike that was wet and muddy with almost no views. We had wanted to repeat the Cascade Head hike we did in 2019 but the trail was closed (Covid?) so we switched to another trail (the Rainforest Trail).

Intrepid hiker.
And the Salmon Berries were in season! Tasty!

We did not finish the hike as the trail became more and more overgrown as we progressed.

Big Oregon tree.

After three days of beach walks and wine on our balcony overlooking the Pacific we headed back east…. Houston is calling!

Glacier National Park (and a Wedding)

We arrived in Whitefish, Montana on June 3. With the wedding planned for the afternoon of the 5th we have a day to hike in Glacier National Park (GNP), which is only 30 minutes from downtown Whitefish. The wedding (Karyn Mathison and Samir Jerij) will be outside on the shores of Whitefish Lake. Karyn is my old buddy Dave’s only daughter. The wedding had been planned for 2020 but the pandemic caused a one year shift.

Snyder Lake Hike

Up early and heading to the park which turned out to be a good thing. You have to have a “Entry Ticket” which is valid for 7 days. I think they are trying to control the number of people coming to the park since it is one of the most popular national parks in the country. Fortunately Dave told us about this so we got our ticket months ago.

Our Entry Ticket

At Dave’s suggestion we decided to do the Snyder Lake hike (9 miles and about 2400 feet of ascent). It’s an out-and-back hike.

Snyder Lake
Fellow Hiker
Happy (hot) Hikers!
More Trail Fauna

After our hike as we drove through the park we saw a bear. Most of the bears I’ve seen in national parks have been from a road. I think they like stuff that grows near roads.

Road Bear

Wedding

After a morning bike ride around Whitefish we put on the fancy duds we brought just for the wedding and caught a shuttle to the lodge on the lake.

Ooooh …. fancy! And yes… our name is misspelled.
The weather is holding…… we hope!
Dave does the father-of-the-bride toast – and does it well!
The happy couple (and some old people).
Crazy, drunk wedding guests. Who invited these people?

We caught the shuttle back to town (and accidently ended up at the after party with the youngsters but pretty quickly realized we were out of our league and headed back to the hotel).

Last Hike in GNP

On our last day in Whitefish we hooked up with Emerson and Linda for a last (hangover) hike in GNP. We did one of the prettiest (and most popular) hikes in the park, the Avalanche Lake Trail

Avalanche Lake
A little colder today!
Avalanche Creek

After three days of fun in Montana we head west on June 7.

Big Horn National Forest, Wyoming

Our first camping/hiking spot on our way to Montana was in the Big Horn National Forest in Wyoming. We had a lovely campsite on a mountain stream.

Lovely first campsite

After we got camp set up I did a short hike up the hill above our camp.

View above our camp

The next morning we did a bike/hike adventure that turned into a bigger adventure (of course) than planned. We didn’t make it to the end of the trail which was okay since it looked to be still snow covered.

Biking in the Big Horn!
Stunning views in the Big Horn

We had planned to stay two nights in the Big Horn but after checking our travel time to Montana (more than 10 hours!) we decided to head north a couple hundred miles to make the following day more reasonable. So, we said goodbye to our lovely camp and headed to Billings.