Gardening in Your Motel Room – Why Not?

TowerinMotelMost Motel 6’s that I am familiar with have outside entry. However, the Motel 6 in Bend is different, with access to rooms from the inside. We created quite the stir when we carried the Tower Garden in through the lobby. The Assistant Manager working at the front desk was so excited and asked if she could take a closer look at it. Apparently the growing season in Bend is quite short and it is difficult to get tomatoes to ripen before the first frost of the next season.
I loved having our Tower Garden in the room with us. The green plants and flowing water created a soothing environment in a place that I was not particularly comfortable in. And hey, it sure did add some life to our room!
When Paul was loading up the truck the next morning she asked about it again in front of a co-worker. Her co-worker immediately knew what she was talking about and went into her back to pull out a flier for Tower Gardens she had received many months before. It turns out she has been a Juice Plus customer for a couple years and later went in to bring out her chewies to show her friend. A small and friendly world for sure!

Meridian, ID to Bend, OR – Death Cab for Cutie-Bound!

Expected time: 5 hours 19 minutes, 310 miles     Actual time on road: 6 hours 30 minutes

The drive to Bend was a wonderful one. I felt like I was coming home when we entered Oregon, even though it was only “home” to me for a couple years. We stopped in the small town of Burns for a sit down lunch and had the pleasure of meeting Jerry and Rosa Lee, owners of Ye Olde Castle Restaurant for 27 years. It was a collector’s museum of old, interesting things: children’s toys, bicycles, and even a carnival house mirror. Jerry was taken with the boys and visited our table a few times to chat and entertain the boys. It was certainly a unique experience and we left smiling.


Death Cab for Cutie is one of my favorite bands. When I learned they were playing at the amphitheater in Bend when we were due to travel through, I knew we needed to go. We bend2checked into our Motel 6 (they happily took our reservation for 3 boys, 2 dogs and a Tower Garden without question) and we were off to dinner before the show.
We left a wonderful concert with 3 new Death Cab fans. Our boys loved the show. Grayson danced happily around our blanket and took pictures while Aaron lounged in Paul’s lap listening to the music. They each got a special trip down to the front and loved every minute of it. We have had numerous requests for Death Cab from the boys ever since and Zach said he wanted to see the show all over again.

Bend3 Bend4

MeridianPaul’s cousin lives in Meridian, ID. Paul and I lived in Portland for two years and never made it over to visit while we were “in the area.” So when we could fit a quick visit in during this trip, we were thrilled. Great company, a couple great meals, some rest from the road, shopping and new Legos: we were recharged and ready to continue on our way to the northwest. Thank you to the Altringers for being such wonderful hosts!Meridian2

Road Delay – Ashley National Forest, UT to Meridian, ID


As we were driving through Wyoming, a car with flashing lights warned us that there were cattle in the road. We slowed and watched as we passed cattle on both sides of the road and sometimes in the middle of the road. All were Mama cows with their calves. It was quite a sight. We drove on in this manner for about a mile until we approached a bridge and what looked like hundreds of cows and their calves crossing over the bridge. There was no way possible to move forward. All we could do was wait. We rolled down the windows and listened to the cacophony.
The most impressive sight came from the end of the herd. Close to twenty real-life cow “boys” were herding the cows through the narrowed bridge. It looked like four generations of family…from weathered and weary down to little boys with helmets tethered to another’s horse. Women too. It was awesome.
As the last of the cattle plodded through the narrowed road, one lone cow refused to cross. She bolted this way and that as four skilled cowboys herded her where they wanted her to go. Herding is an art and is hard work. I know this now after watching that display of effort. It was an honor to watch this family do their work – well worth the delay.

Rain, Rain Go Away!!

When you are traveling with solar to power your Tower Garden, the battery and inverter need to stay dry. We were keeping them underneath the camper, but when the rain threatened at 1:00 pm on our second day, we decided to be safe and move them inside. It was a good thing, as the rain stayed until 9:00 pm! The amount of water that came down during those 8 hours was unreal. It was pretty miserable packing things up the following morning. Everything was soaked. That quickly became the least of our troubles though. As soon as we loaded up and headed out, we quickly realized the solid dirt road we drove in Rain2on had turned to 3 – 12 inches of mud through the night. Our truck is a 2-wheel drive and we needed to get down a hill and back up the hill to get out. The next 60 seconds were the longest of our entire trip. Our truck slid all over the road and at one point, the trailer went in a different direction, threatening to pull us off the road. Were it not for Paul’s skills navigating his truck, we would have surely ended up off the side of the road, stuck indefinitely. Thankfully, we made it to more solid ground to continue our travels. Feeling incredible grateful!

Discovering Spirit Lake

We had a change in flow today, away from our forced “family hike” time after breakfast in the morning. (We always feel like we are pulling the boys away  Perhaps it was because Paul slept in much later than normal, perhaps it was because we only have one day here and the boys needed some time. Regardless, it ended up being an easy-going morning. Paul took a hike by himself and I was able to take a short cat-nap in the hammock under the aspen trees. However, shortly after lunch, the clouds and thunder rolled in. We decided to jump in the truck, as usual, and do some exploring.Spirit1

Our exploration was a little different as we drove through pouring rain and even a couple episodes of hail. It was still beautiful through the windshield wipers. We saw four different lakes during our travels. Each one more beautiful than the former. We ended up driving up to Spirit Lake. The drive up was spectacular; the road followed a meandering river in the middle of lush greenery. The lake at the top was beautiful, with a stark, red rock background surrounding it. We decided to brave the rain and venture out to throw some rocks in the stream. It was well worth the long, drive to get there.
Spirit3 Spirit2


Frisco, CO to Ashley National Forest, UT July 5th


The drive was approximately 300 miles and expected to take 5 hours and 20 minutes. It actually took us 6 hours and 30 minutes. Not bad! However, the first part of our travels through the Rocky Mountains were filled with fallout from the 4th of July parade candy and a very late night watching fireworks. I also think, at least with Zach, there was some sadness in leaving behind their cousins and not knowing what to do with it. So, through the beautiful pass of Vail and the gorgeous Glenwood Canyon, we endured some screaming and fighting, name calling and hitting. At least the scenes around us were soothing. If only one could hear inside of the cab of our truck!
It rained for most of our drive up through northwestern Colorado and into Utah. I was a little apprehensive about getting to our camp site in the rain and having to set up that way. Trip2However, as we drove through the gorgeous roads of Ashley National Forest, climbing higher and higher into the clouds, parts of blue sky peaked through, promising a nicer evening.
Again, we pulled off the highway onto a forest road, not having a clue of where we would set up camp. We immediately saw three beavers, one right after the other. I was so excited because I have never seen one in real life before. Aaron immediately proceeded to say, “Did you know one beaver can cut down 1300 trees in one year?” Thank you Wild Kratts!
The urge to explore drove us further down the road, past already established camp site. Suddenly we found ourselves scaling around mountains, much like in Delores Canyon. It was surreal and beautiful. Down the first mountain we went to cross over a river (no disbursed camping unfortunately) and back up the other side of a new mountain. As 5:00 pm came and went and we continued to drive, we started getting a little nervous. Finally we decided to turn down a road marked “Hidden Spring”. We passed a couple camp sites where there were ATVs and people target shooting. (Not my favorite way of camping) We continued down the road a bit more, and a bit farther and found another perfect spot – amongst pine and aspen trees and sitting above the hidden spring. The sun was shining and we were home for the next two nights.
Ashley1 Ashely2