Earthbound Artist

Articles tagged as 2023 Northern USA Trip (view all)

Pacific Northwest: Forests and Freshwater

25 September, 2023 0 comments Leave a comment

Northern Idaho, photo by Karen Richardson

When examining the map of the Pacific Northwest region of North America, one might assume that mountains would be the most remarkable feature travelers would encounter.

But when my husband and I explored the Pacific Northwest for five weeks in July and August, I found this not to be the case.

Northern Idaho, photo by Karen Richardson

As we camped and hiked throughout northern Idaho, Washington, and southern BC, I was much more intrigued by the pine trees, lakes, and rivers we encountered.

In my view, the mountains became more of an attractive backdrop that gave context to the landscape.

The first group of photographs pictured here were taken as we explored northern Idaho, following our travels in the high desert of Wyoming and southern Idaho in June and July.

Journeying north from Boise, we followed along the Salmon River and were thrilled to see many parties of river rafters floating in the current.

Rafters on the Salmon River, Idaho, photo by Karen Richardson

We didn't have a chance to investigate this time, but if we return to this part of the world, we will look into taking a guided rafting trip down the Salmon River.

It looked like a lot of fun, not too challenging, and the scenery was gorgeous.

Lake Coeur d'Alene, photo by Karen Richardson

When we used to travel all over the US and Canada by motorcycle, we attended a Honda Gold Wing rally in Coeur d'Alene and were impressed by the beauty of the area.

As we planned this year's trip, we were sure to include a visit to this scenic lake, pictured here from the Mineral Ridge hiking trail.

Karen Richardson and her husband

We were thrilled to take a site seeing cruise on Lake Coeur d'Alene one warm evening. We got to know some of our fellow passengers and enjoyed excellent live music by a local band, while watching the sun go down over the surrounding hills.

It was a magical experience and the scenery reminded me of Lake Muskoka, with many luxury homes and resorts nestled along the shore.

Karen Richardson in Deschutes Falls Park

We journeyed on from northern Idaho across Washington and up to Vancouver to visit family and friends for a week. Then we made our way south to Olympia, Washington.

For two weeks we camped at the Washington Land Yacht Harbor, an Airstream-only RV park and mobile home community.

From there, we explored the area around Tacoma. We asked a local resident about scenic hiking areas and she directed us to a hidden gem near the town of Yelm.

It was Deschutes Falls Park, a 155 acre sanctuary featuring a lovely old growth forest and a small river gorge, and we spent a pleasant afternoon hiking in this shady park.

In this photo I am standing beside one of the venerable trees beside the forest walking path.

Deschutes Falls Park, photo by Karen Richardson

The river water dropped 27 feet over rapids and a series of small waterfalls, interspersed with calm clear pools. All we could hear were the soothing sounds of trickling water, a breeze in the treetops, and birdsong.

The moss-covered rocks were a type of conglomerate that looked very different from the Ontario granite and limestone I am used to.

Another day, we took a bus trip to Crystal Mountain (the largest ski resort in the state of Washington) with some fellow Airstreamers. We enjoyed a gondola ride up the mountain and lunch at Summit House restaurant.

As our cable car slowly ascended, more and more of the surrounding mountain ranges came into view.

View from Crystal Mtn, photo by Karen Richardson

I loved seeing the progression of blue shades in the mountains, from pale cerulean in the far distance, gradually darkening to a smokey navy blue in the foreground. 

You can see two gondolas in the centre of this photo.

Mt Ranier, photo by Karen Richardson

At the summit of Crystal Mountain we enjoyed beautiful views of the Cascade Range and Mount Ranier, which we learned is pronounced ‘rah-NEER’ in Washington. (We had been calling it ‘RAY-nee-er’.)

With its snow cap glowing white in the sunshine, contrasting with the clear blue sky, Mount Ranier was an impressive sight. We also could see Mount St. Helens and Mount Baker (which we had glimpsed often when visiting Vancouver.).

Rivers Edge Ranch RV Park, photo by Karen Richardson

Our travels then took us east through Washington, crossing back into Canada at Yahk, BC, where we found a delightful little place to stay for a few days.

River's Edge Ranch RV Park was nestled on the bank of the Moyie River, which was a shallow glacial stream with a gravel bottom.

In this photo of the campground, you can see our Airstream on the right.

Rivers Edge Ranch, photo by Karen Richardson

The campground was just off the Crowsnest Highway and was part of a horse farm, surrounded by the Kootenay Rockies.

The owner said we could hike beside the pasture area, so we were able to stretch our legs and see the horses up close.

Rivers Edge Ranch, photo by Karen Richardson

We drove to nearby Creston for groceries (having crossed from the USA with a nearly empty fridge) and were delighted to find many roadside stands selling local produce from vegetable farms and fruit orchards. We loaded up on organic sweet peppers, summer squash, cherries, nectarines, and apples. Delicious!

The next day we walked into the quirky village of Yahk, home of Two Pump Paul's gas station, and enjoyed lunch at a tiny ice cream shop and cafe called Two Scoops Steve's. Next door was an artisan soap shop that had a pen of pet white goats.

Between the two stores was an entrance to a public garden that lead to a charming forest walk, which eventually brought us to this beautiful spot on the Moyie River.

Our stay in this interesting community, surrounded by breathtaking natural beauty, was as delightful as it was unexpected, and allowed us to conclude our visit to the Pacific Northwest on a high note. It was time to head east towards Ontario and more adventures...

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My Summer Travels in the High Desert

31 August, 2023 5 comments Leave a comment

Flaming Gorge, photo by Karen Richardson

I grew up in northern Ontario near Algonquin Park, and my formative years were spent on the Canadian Shield, a land of rocks and pristine blue lakes and rivers. As an adult, my art now centers on the wild scenery I learned to love in my youth.

When my husband and I spent several weeks exploring high desert regions of the USA earlier this summer, I was surprised to discover the most beautiful places we visited also featured rock and blue water.

Over the course of three weeks, we sampled the scenic delights of Wyoming, northern Utah, Idaho, and eastern Washington. In this post I am sharing my favourite photos of the dramatically beautiful landscape we discovered there.

Richardson rig, photo by Karen Richardson

Our mode of travel is a pickup truck towing our 2021 Airstream Classic 30-foot travel trailer.

I think of our recreational vehicle as a moveable condo, with all the comforts of home including full kitchen, 3-piece bathroom, bedroom, dining area, lounge, art studio, and internet access to support all our entertainment and communication needs.

We began our trip in early June, crossing from Ontario into the USA at Niagara Falls, and headed straight west to Wyoming.

Airstream rally, photo by Karen Richardson

Our main reason for going there was to spend an exciting, informative week at the 2023 Airstream Club International Rally, held at a huge outdoor events complex in Rock Springs.

Ours was one of 1,200 Airstream trailers and motor homes hosted at the site, each provided with full utility connections. In this photo, taken by a drone flown by one of the 2,300 attendees, you can see about a quarter of the Airstreams camped there.

Flaming Gorge, photo by Karen Richardson

At the rally, we met tons of friendly, interesting people, got to see inside vintage trailers, and attended a variety of camping-related seminars.

For example, I went to two Instant Pot cooking demonstration sessions and my husband learned about optimizing solar power on trailers, and tire maintenance.

One day, we went on a sight-seeing bus trip to tour around the 91-mile long Flaming Gorge reservoir, pictured here and at the top of this article.

We both enjoyed the rally trade show offering travel accessories and equipment for sale, and I volunteered at a fund-raising art show to benefit a local charity.

Wyoming storm clouds, photo by Karen Richardson

In the evenings, there were themed dances and concerts, and star gazing with telescopes.

One of the aspects I loved about the high desert was the dramatic and huge skies we saw there.

With no large trees to block the view, one could appreciate the vastness of the weather patterns in all directions.

I took this photo of an approaching rain storm from our trailer at the rally one evening.

Indian Bathtub rocks, photo by Karen Richardson

Elsewhere in Wyoming, we hiked on Indian Bathtubs Trail to see some interesting granite rock formations, shown here. The rocks have unusual depressions caused by natural erosion.

According to legend, when the Great Spirit decided to give rain, Native Americans played in these 'tubs'.

As we journeyed on through southern Idaho, we were very keen to visit Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve to see the lava fields there.

Craters of the Moon lava cave, photo by Karen Richardson

The most interesting feature was the lava tubes. These are natural conduits formed by lava flowing from volcanic vents.

The surface lava cools and hardens, forming tubes that later become empty underground caves after the hot lava drains away.

Over millions of years, the roof of the caves collapses here and there, creating access openings to the underground tunnels.

In this photo, my husband is pictured inside one of the huge caves. The rock debris in front of him is from a collapsed roof.

Snake River at Twin Falls Idaho, photo by Karen Richardson

Elsewhere in Idaho, we learned the Snake River aquifer is an important resource, providing sustainable irrigation for farming a wide variety of crops in the desert, including the famed Idaho potato.

When we approached the city of Twin Falls, suddenly this huge Snake River gorge appeared below us. As we stopped to take photos, we were thrilled to see base jumpers leaping off the bridge to parachute into the river.

Shoshone Falls Idaho, photo by Karen Richardson

On the other side of town, we stopped by another section of the Snake River to view Shoshone Falls, which is often called 'Niagara of the West'.

It is 212 feet (65 meters) in height, 45 feet (14 meters) higher than Niagara Falls. Shoshone Falls flows over a rim nearly 1,000 feet (300 meters) wide. It was a wondrous sight to behold.

Columbia River, photo by Karen Richardson

The Snake River originates in Wyoming, crosses southern Idaho, and flows west into Washington where it empties into the Columbia River, which is pictured here.

Having spent several weeks in the high desert, I understand how important these large river systems are to the region.

It is uniquely awe-inspiring to drive through an arid desert landscape, full of dusty brown and grey rock, and suddenly come upon a vast ribbon of deep blue life-giving water.

Stay tuned for an upcoming post, where I will share photos from the next leg of our summer journey, as we explored the Pacific Northwest.

If you have comments you wish to share, please do so using the 'Leave a Comment' button at the top of this post. 

Subscribe to Karen's Newsletter if you wish to see more travel tales, painting stories, studio news updates, or notices of upcoming exhibitions.