Healdsburg, CA

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They call it Beverly Healdsburg. In the fall off season, it’s a pretty place to drink wine with a view of the vineyards. We recommend the Dry Creek valley — Wilson, Unti, and Lambert Bridge. Take a bottle to go, for a party in the park later. Chase the wine with a refreshing swim in the Russian River. Then, head downtown for a down-to-earth meal at Wurst. Dance in the city centre park to live music on many summer and fall nights.

Oakland, Berkeley, and Alameda, CA

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Two delicious days in the East Bay:

Fill up on Chicago-style deep dish pizza at Zachary’s. We recommend the tomato-mushroom pie. Then, head over to the Alameda naval yards for a tour and tasting at St George’s Distillery. Craft absinthe — yum! The next morning, sit at a communal table at Rick and Ann’s and order the flannel hash or the banana pancakes. Then walk through the U.C. Berkeley campus and admire the architecture. The Morrison and South reading rooms are our favorite places to read, while the campanile bells always give me chills.

Torrey, Utah

Torrey is the gateway to Capitol Reef National Park.

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Torrey Greenhouse: hard to find but so tasty!

The Torrey Greenhouse provided the best veggies that we’d had in a month. A chalkboard at the front of the Greenhouse shows the food of the day. Choose your veggies, then help the staff pick them. Delicious snap peas fresh from the vine, and basil bunches the size of flower bouquets. Yum!

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Sugar snap peas in the Torrey Greenhouse

On the walk back from the Greenhouse, check out the old schoolhouse.

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Torrey schoolhouse

Rim Rock Patio is the place to enjoy a pizza, hang out with your dog, and watch the sunset. They have good wifi and large salads.

Do laundry and pick up basic groceries at the Chuckwagon. There’s good free dispersed camping on the north side of the highway just west of the National Park. Cell phone reception is good here.  The camping area does fill up on the weekends.

 

 

We Get A New Wife

 

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View From Top of Wife 5 Canyon, Looking Out Over Capitol Reef

For our anniversary, my sweet husband spiced up our marriage with something every girl needs —  a new wife!

Wife 5 is one of the seven wives of Cohab Canyon. The wives are a set of short slots that drain into Cohab Canyon in Capitol Reef. Cohab Canyon was named for families practicing plural marriage (then called cohabitation or cohab) in the neighboring town.

Local lore says that Cohab Canyon got its name because the local “Cohabs” would escape to the canyon when the sheriff came to look for them. Historical evidence suggests that this was unlikely, and that the canyon name was given by the park’s first superintendent as a way of insulting the locals.

The canyon features expansive views of Capitol Reef, rappelling off a prickly bush, a tricky rope pull, and a crawl through a birthing chamber. A beautiful day!

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Unusual mud formations

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Bottom of rappel 1

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View from top of rappel 2

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Arches (top left) make easy anchors, but beware the crumbly rock

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Gaudi’s inspiration?

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The birthing chamber

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Curving canyon walls, birthing chamber

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Backing up deadman with the crumbly arches

Good Day Jim Canyon, Ticaboo Mesa

Beautiful canyon and an epic adventure.

We had our first unplanned overnight bivy here, and Katherine got to try the Aron Ralston method of conserving water. Blech! But better than running out of water on a hot day, which is what we almost did.

We took the alternate entry, as recommended by Average Joe Road Trips. This bypasses the first big keeper pot hole if you lack an Ibis hook. The alternate route goes through some squeezy narrows, then down a chute to a second pothole in the main channel. We were glad to have a handline for the chute.

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Chute. Hang onto a handline and slide!

And then things go difficult. The chute drops into a pothole that is clean-scrubbed of any rocks. One large rock sat atop a deadman anchor buried in the dried mud. We were grateful to hit the pothole when it was dry, as I have no idea what you’d rappel off of if the mud weren’t there to hold the anchor. But the problem was, the anchor was now buried so well that we couldn’t inspect it. If we dug the anchor up to check the webbing, we’d lose the benefit of the mud gripping the anchor. The visible boulder was clearly not enough to hold the anchor on its own, and there was no lip to crimp a rock under.  We spent about an hour searching for extra rocks to reinforce the anchor, or an alternate point to rappel from. Ultimately, Katherine rappelled with a meat back up, bounced around a lot, and the anchor held. So we went with it. This would be a great place to have a bolt kit!

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Analyzing the sketchy anchor

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Questionable anchor

Once we completed the rappel and said our divine thank yous, we enjoyed this lovely view.

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The canyon then narrowed up into the fun chimneys. Peter enjoyed the stickiness of his new 5.10 canyoneer shoes.

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The knee and elbow pads proved very useful.

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Katherine’s thrift store Ben Davis jumpsuit felt like the best canyoneering outfit ever. No shirt to tuck back in. No waistband to hitch up. Awesome… until the back ripped off. We patched up with Gorrilla duct tape, and then that ripped. So, Katherine butt scooted the rest of the canyon on bare skivvies and skin.

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Spare a butt patch?

The chimneys opened up to a long swimming hole with a slick exit. Katherine spent 30 minutes swimming in circles through the chilly water, searching for an exit. After belly flopping over the edge in relief, we dried ou and warmed up a little. And then night came too quickly. We chose to bivy rather than risking hiking out in the dark. We were grateful to have some basics in the emergency kit — space blankets, 2 Clif bars, rappel gloves doubling as insulation, a little water. We had a PLB to activate in absolute emergency, but chose not to use it as long as we were okay. A cool and restless night finally broke into a rosy sunrise over the lower canyon.

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So glad to greet the morning!

We woke early, hoping to get back before our emergency contacts called the sheriff. We were glad to have an emergency plan in place, in case things got worse. The canyon wound through rosy cliffs and then opened onto a cottonwood grove.

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Cottonwood grove — marker for the exit

The exit was near! It was ironic to be almost out of water, yet so close to Lake Powell. We talked about sending a water container down on a rope to the lake before hiking out. We decided to try to exit first, as we still wanted to get back before the sheriff was called. The 4th class exit can be difficult to spot. It took us 3 tries to find the right gully. If you have a boat on Lake Powell, you can also rappel out the canyon and into the boat. A long shadeless hike brought us back to the van. It was so good to be home!


 

Crested Butte, Colorado

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An easy town to live in, and a beautiful place to be. Not as glamorous as Telluride, but so much more relaxed.

Skiing: Crested Butte is a medium-sized mountain: smaller than destination resorts like Telluride, and larger than locals’ mountains like Hoodoo. The runs are short but there are many of them. There’s plenty of parking for easy access. The weather feels wetter than it was in the San Juans.

Camping: Multiple forest service roads welcome (or at least, don’t prohibit) ski RVing. The Forest Service brochure on winter recreation has a helpful map that summarizes winter access.

Work: The Old Rock Library has charming vintage architecture, friendly librarians, and cozy chairs upstairs. Since it’s a small building, there are no group study rooms for teleconferences. Rumors coffee house has plenty of plugs, organic coffee and tea, and friendly staff.

Dining: The Dogwood Cocktail Cabin has creative cocktails, appetizers, and desserts. The “absinthe minded” cocktail blends fennel, absinthe, and pomegranate to delicious effect. The Thai mussels are savory with just the right amount of spice. The Sherpa cafe feels homey and authentic. The Momo appetizers are tender and the Tibetan soup is rich and satisfying.  Izzy’s offers great breakfasts and latkes.  One morning while Izzy’s was packed, we wandering into Bacchanale and found the breakfast excellent.  The eggs baked with parmesan, butter, and cream were delicious, as was the vegetable turnover.  Prices were reasonable, and the line was short.

I already miss Crested Butte.  There’s so much more downhill skiing, cross-country skiing, and snow shoeing to be had in the shadows of the spectacular mountains.  And that’s just during the winter …

Came to Ski, Stayed for the Library

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… is the slogan of the Telluride Library. And the library much deserves the praise. The library is well equipped, beautiful, and hosts events far beyond the scope of a town of 5,000.

The entryway is dappled with rainbows from a series of prisms placed in clerestory windows. These are in memory of a past library director, keeping her presence and memory in the building that she developed. The rainbows bring happy memories of the film Polyanna, and bring smiles to library visitors.

The library benefits from Telluride’s active cultural festival programs. In a slow week in March, we benefitted from lectures from the hosts of the Mushroom Festival and Mountain Film festival. The director of Academy Award winning “The Cove” shared stories from the making of the film, along with advance clips of the forthcoming film “The Heist”. The leader of the Telluride Mushroom Festival spoke on using mushrooms as medicine and to bioremediate contaminated soil. All of this was free at the library.

The library also has an extensive collection of ski instructional videos, which helped us gain a PSIA level of skill over the week. The Clendenin ski method video offered helpful treatments for the “skier’s flu” (stemming the skis at turn initiation) and moguls videos taught us how to pole plant and pivot with the bumps.

Three group meeting rooms upstairs offer a warm, dry space for teleconferences. Residents can reserve a room, and visitors can “squat” an unreserved room. Since rooms must be reserved at least 24 hours in advance, we could usually “squat” a room by arriving first thing in the morning.

A few doors down from the library, the remodeled Baked in Telluride covers 3 meals a day. The library group study rooms allow covered drinks, so you can even take the coffee back to “the office”.