Saturday, July 31, 2010

DAY 31

Oxbow Bend

Yesterday was another glorious day standing in the shade painting on the hill above the Snake River at Oxbow Bend with its stunning views. Oxbow Bend is known for its wildlife and scenic overlook, home to otter, beaver, all kinds of birds. The ravens are huge here...the size of small dogs. Dave was fly fishing in the river below and drew my attention to a golden eagle and an osprey darting back and forth in a territorial dog fight in the crystal blue sky overhead. Can you imagine, all this glory and excitement for a mere $10 a night with our invaluable 62-and-over, Golden Age Passport card that gets you into all National Parks free, plus half price on the campsite fees. Growing old has its advantages.
Polly wanta cracker?  
Osprey fishing (I added the enlarged inset from another photo I shot)
Another shot of Oxbow Bend later in the day...check out those mirror reflections in the water...very exciting.
You can certainly tell the dollar is weak judging by the number of foreigners staying and working here in this area. We are surrounded by French, Swedes, Austrians, Germans, Russians, Canadians and Swiss accents everywhere we go. It is almost a surprise to hear an American voice every now and then. I keep thinking we are somewhere in Europe versus the United States. Yesterday while painting at Oxbow Bend, I must have spoken to at least 75 tourists who stopped by just to "take a peek" and 90 percent of them were foreigners. They were all very friendly and curious, quite a few asking me to pose for photos standing at my easel in front of the overlook. By the end of the day, I was beginning to feel almost famous. : )

White Pelican in Two Oceans Lake

Earlier in the day we drove out to an isolated lake called Two Oceans where we attempted to paint and fish but were run off by relentless scores of horseflies the size of my fist ... well, maybe not quite that big. However all was not lost, in a short 45 minutes there, we watched an osprey diving for fish, cormorants, loons, and an enormous white pelican. In fact, he was so large that I thought a child had forgotten his giant blow up water toy. This bird must have been five feet tall while sitting in the water, and when he flew away his wingspan was six to eight feet... truly an unbelievable sight!!! Then, on the drive back to Oxbow Bend, we passed an entire herd of bison grazing on the hillside. And, this is just Wyoming, I can't even imagine what we are going to see in Yellowstone which is better known for its wildlife? I hope that doesn't mean another hungry momma bear with cubs...EEKS!!!

Friday, July 30, 2010

DAY 30

"Oxbow Bend" 11x14" Oil on Canvas

I took a short little hike yesterday, maybe 30 minutes one way and these are the photos I snapped along the lakeside path here in the campground. I swear it is impossible to take a bad photo...everyone of these could be sold as postcards.

My painting today (see above) again, like all the photos I take of my work, is not very good and the colors look muted... but oh'll get the gist of it. I'll tell you all about Oxbow Bend where I painted and Dave fly fished today, along with the photos in tomorrow's post. All I can say is WOW!!!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

DAY 29

"Canoe at Rest" 5x7" Oil on Canvas Board (photo is blurry)
Here is a little better photo of "Patch of Green" posted yesterday
Re-post of better photo of "Fallen Tree"

What a glorious storm we had last night, thick clouds covered the white snow tips on the mountains and the sky was a threatening dark gray blue. The wind was howling through the forests so ferociously the pines looked like they were going to crack in half. We thought for sure we were in for a gully washer but instead, as it turned out, there was only the sounds of a gentle rain playing a soft lull-a-bye on the top of the camper all night long. This morning was quite chilly kicking the heater on inside the camper but the sun shone brightly and ushered in a clear blue sky over the park all day today.

Yesterday, we were totally looking forward to a nice hot shower at the campground while we washed clothes, however when we arrived we were told there was no hot water. So we bit the bullet and took ice cold ones instead. The water was so cold it took me an hour to restore my core temperature and finally feel warm again. The good side of the down side is that the $3.75 per shower, per person charge was we saved a little money. 

Order of the Arrow Dave is cooking dinner tonight, making his old Boy Scout camping dinner of ground beef, potatoes, onions and carrots wrapped in foil and cooked in the coals of the fire he is building. The next thing you know he'll probably make smores and want a merit badge.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

DAY 28

"Patch of Green" 7.5 x 12" Oil on Canvas Board
I could not get a good photo of this painting no matter where or how many shots I took, but I guess it's better than no photo at all. I'll re-post it once I get a better image. This is the scene right behind our camper. This afternoon a beautiful light broke through onto a path leading into the dense forest right in front of a stand of Aspens. I was attracted to the play of dabbled light on the cool pathway. The painting really looks a lot better than what you are seeing. I am finding my landscapes here are all moving to a much more abstract quality for some reason? The mosquitoes tried their best to take me home for dinner while painting it.

This morning we drove over to the Jackson Lake Lodge, which sits in the most picturesque setting in the world, for a splurge breakfast sitting outside on the terrace overlooking the entire valley. By now the oatmeal and dry cereal is starting to get a bit old. However, by the time we ran a few errands and arrived at 11:00 a.m. (Dave is not a morning person) the buffet was over and the only other options was to eat in their diner-like cafe. Unfortunately, the diner was transitioning on to lunch and would only serve us granola... inside...and without the view. Drats!!! We did get to take our coffee outside on the patio so all was not in vain. Here are a couple snapshots of the view.


Yesterday was a really great day of canoeing, fly fishing, and painting along side of the lake which is just a football field away walk through the woods. We stayed there all afternoon in the warm light until the sun finally took its final bow and dropped behind the Tetons, and the evening chill began to creep in. Back at our camp Dave built a campfire and we feasted on the best hot dogs and baked beans ever!!! Life is so good. What a blessing this trip has been for us.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

DAY 27

"Fallen Tree" 11x14" Oil on Canvas
Canoe trip fishing and picnic from this morning

Jackson Lake

Animal (of some sort) near our camp

Picnic spot
Today we rented a canoe for a couple of hours and did some fishing, picnicking and sight seeing. This National Park offers such diverse landscapes as Alpine peaks, dense forests of lodgepole pine and other conifers (Douglas Fir, Englemann spruce, lumber and Subal pines), sagebrush flats, wet meadows, the Snake River, lakes and ponds. Local wildlife includes: very active grizzly and black bears, bison roaming freely, bald eagles, moose, red tail hawks, herds of elk and antelope, deer, badgers, beaver, pika, weasels, marmots, pine martens, wolves, coyotes, prong-horns, plus other birds such as sage thrashers, green-tailed towhees, western meadow larks, vespers and Brewer's sparrows. Okay...end of Nancy's nature-in-the-wild talk...bottom line it is all so unbelievable!!!

Unfortunately, I can receive messages and post to the blog but am unable to send out notifications when the blog posts. Please check back to keep afloat with us.

Monday, July 26, 2010

DAY 26

"Green With Envy"
6x6" Oil on Canvas Board

Vernal, Utah
"On the road again, just can't wait to get on the road again, like a couple of gypsies we go down the highway"... 

Leaving Vernal we pass through the Unita Mountain range north on Hwy. 191 and into the Flaming Gorge where Triassic formations of fossilized sand dunes, and formations of coal, oil, and phosphate used in fertilizer were made. We continue on into areas where fossils of crocodiles, sea creatures, the remnants of an ancient sea, and precambrian volcanic ash exist. Actually, seeing a dinosaur appearing at that point wouldn't have surprised me in the least.
Entering the Flaming Gorge Area

Dam in the Flaming Gorge
Hoback River
Crossing the border into Wyoming's mesas and valleys, the sky is covered with hundreds of flat bottom clouds that look like huge gray floating platters serving up mounds of fluffy mashed potatoes...maybe I am just hungry? Blue silvery mountain lupine line the road in reckless abandon in so desolate a country that only an occasional road sign interrupts the feeling of being the only two people in the universe.  We travel on between red tiered mountains both to the east and west. Near Rock Springs I begin to see more mountains popping up on the horizon to the north, veiled with misty layers of atmosphere, and near the tops tiny streaks of snow are visible at the highest peaks.

Munching on peanut butter and honey sandwiches, hard boiled eggs, bananas, and one of those you-only-have-to-have-one-of-these-chocolate cookies, we've entered an area of land so dry and barren it must be called "Dry Gulch." Everything I see for miles and miles is the color of dust, with just an occasional hint of raw umber and a touch of sap green, even the grass is a colorless flaxen. To the west, the mountains look like one long row of the tops of taupe cowboy hats all lined up one against another; only the coral snaking body of a passing train transporting double-decker sea land containers provides a glimpse of any real color to the scene. A little further down the road we enter the town of Eden, population of 220. The Wind River Mountains rise to greet us with rich fertile fields of yellow and bright green, dotted with neat little stacks of freshly baled hay. This must be the land "Home Home on the Range" was written about because there are antelope appearing in nearly all the fields we pass by.
Jackson Lake Marina

After seven hours on the road, we finally arrive in one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen, Jackson Hole sitting right at the base of the jutting Grand Tetons. Another 40 miles on to the north, sitting on Jackson Lake lies our destination, Colter Bay Campground. However, we arrive only to find all the sites have been taken, so we opt to rent a Cabin Tent with a pot belly stove for the night. A cabin tent has two log walls with bunk beds and the rest is all canvas. It turned out to be quite cozy once we built a fire in the stove to warm us in the 40 degree morning mountain air. Today we were able to move into the campground with our pop-up.  

Wifi is only available in the restaurant so I should still be able to post to the blog everyday. Gosh, this place is spectacular...I'm off to paint and then head down to see the lake.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

DAY 25

Black Bear

Lions and tigers and bears...oh my! I warned you there were dinosaurs on the loose around here. As it turns out, Vernal sits amidst some of the most spectacular geologic and paleonotologic resources on earth, all within an 80 mile area. Yesterday we toured Utah Field House of Natural History State Park Museum and were highly impressed with the 2.7 billion years of history revealed in rocks, fossils and dinosaur bones on display...some you can even touch. I didn't have time to paint today since we are on the road all day driving to the Grand Tetons and Jackson Hole but here are a few photos from the museum.
Two Wooly Mammals
Allosaurus Jimmadsenil

Dinosaur Kiss
Things Grow Big Here...Real Big!!!

For all you fossil and dinosaur freaks, like my son and grandkids, here is a link to all the photos I took of some of the other displays.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

DAY 24

"A Pear of Plums"
6x6" Oil on Canvas Board

Hot diggity, dog diggity we made it to Vernal, Utah where dinosaurs still roam...hopefully I won't run into one in the middle of the night on the way to the ladies room.

We enjoyed another sunny day yesterday meandering along a winding country road through gorgeous canyons, rivers, streams, and mountain passes speckled with cattle grazing on the steep rocky slopes. I kept looking for the Marlboro man to come riding in on his horse across the mesas. Every now and then we'd pass through an eye-blink-of-a-little town where we actually saw a very official-looking metal roadside sign that read, "Vending Machines Ahead"... now that's a sure sign of a small town!!!

Deep Thought for the Day - Why is it that the brown M&Ms don't taste as good as the red, blue, green, orange and yellow ones?

Mountains with deep shadows on the way to Vernal
Top of the pass looking back down through the canyon

Friday, July 23, 2010

DAY 23

Dave fly fishing on the Uncompahgre River, while I painted the scene 
below standing along side Buckhorn road.

"Roundup Along Buckhorn Road"
11x14" Oil on Canvas

Okay folks, we are still in Montrose, Colorado. I hope you are not getting bored but we just love this friendly little town, and have been spoiling ourselves with the all the conveniences of real stores with names we have heard of like: Albertsons, Home Depot and WalMart. There is something to be said for convenience when you need art supplies and have minor repairs, not to mention the joy of splurging on actual selections of fresh fruits and vegetables that didn't come from cans. Add to that, the tap water here is safe to drink, and it has been hard luring these indulgent consumers forward. However, with the laundry all Bouncey fresh we are heading on north today. Our plan is to camp tonight in Vernal, Utah which is very close to the border of Wyoming and then on into Jackson Hole, WY by Sunday. Slowly but surely we are getting there...but what's the hurry anyway, we've got three more weeks to soak in all of this abundance. It has been so nice to have had the last several days to completely devote to painting and writing, and not having to squeeze it in between setting up the pop-up and foraging for water and food. 

Thank you to all my readers for your comments and emails of encouragement and support. I can't tell you how I have enjoyed hearing from so many of you and for all the thumbs up for my paintings and even writing. This has totally surprised and thrilled me to no end!!! Happy Trails!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

DAY 22


"Run for Cover" 
 11x14" Oil on Canvas

Today is the halfway mark of our sabbatical. We have officially been living on the road in this little pop-up for three weeks today. The time is going by so quickly but we still have lots more to see, paint and write about. Today's painting above is a scene right outside my window as I sit here. It rained a lot yesterday, last night and again this morning, the sky dark and threatening most all the time. This painting reflects the changes in color and mood. The farthest mountains have been barely visible, and the entire valley is covered in a ghostly fog, hovering overhead like a filmy white muslin sheet. It has been a perfect time to paint but a bit difficult from inside the camper. To give you an idea of how small the space is here is a photo of what it looks like on the inside. I took this photo from on top of the bed at the farthest end, looking across to the other side. The entire length is about 15' by 7' wide when fully open. I have to sit my easel case on top of the table in the center where our computers usually sit, and paint sitting down. It sure makes a tight squeeze for Dave to move about.


The best part of being on a vacation is the ability to stay in and connected to the moment most all the time. The future only seems to pop-up when my stomach starts to growl and I realize that I have to think about finding something to eat, or all the clothes are dirty and I need to find quarters for the washer and dryer. The past only surfaces when I think of all my loved ones whom I miss so dearly, and my daily Mass. However, this lifestyle is so simple and uncomplicated, such a wonderful break from the fast-paced multitasking world I normally live in...or is that really living? It seems so very unreal right now in comparison to how alive I for thought?...Gotta run make the oatmeal.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

DAY 21

"We're Surrounded"
6x6" Oil on Canvas

We're holding up here in Montrose for another day. This is such a beautiful town surrounded by mountains and an ideal spot to paint. We are going to try and find a fishing stream today so Dave can use that fly rod that has been burning a hole in the back of the Xterra. I am excited to paint a mountain stream...that is if it doesn't rain. We had a violent storm last night right in the middle of our game of Scrabble. The pop-up rocked back and forth like we were on the ocean but survived the huge blasts of wind and rain firing down on us from the mountain. We had a few tense one point I thought we might just end up in Kansas with Dorothy before it was all over.

I struggled with this little painting trying to get the nectarine to actually look like one. It still needs a little work but I am happy with the way the cherries came out. To those of you that follow Carol Marine's daily paintings, she can paint cherries like no body's business. These were on the verge of going bad so thought I'd give it a try before they got pitched. Sorry all the photos of my work are at weird angles. The only way I can get them to come out decent is to hold them upright with one hand under the shade of a tree, and snap the photo with the camera in other hand...not an easy task, especially on slopes.

Here's a couple of photos from the RV Park that I snapped at my "magic time of day" yesterday. Magic time (for me) is that early evening time, right before the sun starts pulling down the shades, when everything in the landscape is seen in high contrast, flooded in a warm golden light that casts these elongated pools of cool shadows all around. It is magnificent!!! I think I love this time of day even more than sunrise. The gift of sight has to be the best gift of them all!!!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

DAY 20

"Silverton Hillside" 
11x14" Oil on Canvas

The hills are alive with the sounds of rustling aspen leaves, icy streams rushing by in the last run off of winter snows, cries of a raven soaring overhead, and the mighty thunder of the forests. We drove some very narrow and scary mountain roads with sheer drop offs in second gear all the way, snaking up, down and around these twisting treacherous two lane highways from Durango into the old mining town of Silverton with its infamous train ride. After lunch we continued the roller coaster ride into Ouray (prounced oo-ray). The roadside sign might give you some indication of  bone chilling leg of this journey. Silverton must have gotten its name from others arriving from over the mountain range, who probably also yelled out in jubilation, "hooray we made it!" I have never felt so glad to arrive anywhere. I even had to close my eyes around all the hairpin turns, sure must have worn my guardian angel out with all my petitions for protection.

We are now in a luxury 8 Star RV Park in Montrose, CO that has all the hookups for water, electricity, and sewer ...Whew, we are living high on the hog now!!!  There is an amazing Aspen right outside my side of the bed/4" thick mattress who sang to me all night with the voice of what sounded like, an Indian rainstick as light rain softly danced on the canvas overhead. We'll stay here again tonight before continuing on toward Grand Junction and Jackson Hole, WY.

I wouldn't have been able to blog on this trip without the help of my very cool energy charger which I found at Radio Shack before we left Conroe. I can charge my camera, computer, and cell phone all at the same time in the extra cigarette lighter not being used by the GPS!!! I wonder why cars have cigarette lighters anymore? They need to be re-marketed as techy- booster bars. Another great device has been a $12 compact flash read/write drive. I can download all my photos onto my computer in an instant while riding down the highway, and have them all Photoshoped, named and filed by the time we arrive at our next destination. Its so very time efficient, leaving me time to paint once we get the pop-up cranked up and the sleeping bags rolled out. It's the not-so-simply things in life that allow us to enjoy the simple things? ... sounds like an oxymoron to me?