I had camped last night in the (closed) Bonneville Campground, on Hwy 21 approx 40 miles west of Stanley, Idaho. Got up at 6:00 – the back hatch was difficult to open: it was iced shut! The rain had stopped and was just then beginning to snow – more like small snow pellets at first, then got larger and heavier.
I wish I knew the actual temp in the camper, but I was able to change clothes comfortably, though a little chilly. I would guess about 60°: not bad for 31° outside and no heater inside. I was comfortable in bed, and have not had to consider using the Mr Buddy propane heater.
Read until it got light outside. Seriously considered cooking a pancake, but decided not to: since I set the stove up on the tailgate, I needed an awning to keep myself, the stove and food out of the snow. I am now considering whether (and how) to install the awning. I just wanted a big breakfast, and planned to find one in Stanley. Realized later that Stanley was an hour drive away, but had a decent omelet in the Mt Village Resort.
I was a little concerned about the possibility of the gate being locked since the campground is technically closed: what if the Rangers locked up without driving thru first? Fortunately, the gate was not locked.
It was snowing as I headed to Stanley, and the snow was about 2″ deep for a number of miles, then deepened to 6″ as I got closer to town. I did not make the first tracks, but for a number of miles there were none from the oncoming direction.
Rather than driving on the right side of the road, or driving down the center, on country roads the traffic going both directions tends to run with one tire on the center line.
But when the oncoming vehicles approach each other, one or both have to move over. The snow was only 6″ deep, so I let the oncoming vehicles ride the center line while I took the shoulder. I did that several times without slowing (from 40 mph), and my tires on the shoulder threw snow like a snowplow – it was fun! People think I’m kidding when I say that I REALLY love driving in the snow, but I am not kidding.
Got 3 gal of expensive gas ($3.54/ gal) in Stanley just to ensure making it to the town of Arco ($2.79) or Idaho Falls ($2.55). I saw the clouds breaking up and the sun coming out as I finished breakfast, so I knew it was time to move out. Was 25° here in town.
The Sawtooth Mountains can be seen from Stanley, and the clouds had just begun lift and break up enough for the mountains to show themselves.
Stopped at the Ranger Station just south of town to ask about the most scenic route: northeast out of Stanley on 75, or south on 75? The Ranger at first said the best mountains were to the west, and I told him that I just came from that way. But I realized that as many times as I’ve driven that road I have never seen the mountains because of snow and low visibility (today included). I’ll have to drive it again some day. Kinda wish I had done it this time, but then I would have missed one of my favorite scenes of the day (but only the Lord knows what I would have gotten going west).
Some of you asked about the red in an earlier Photo of the Day of the same scene; I don’t know what it’s called, but it is shrubs that are approx 4′ tall.
The Ranger said that Hwy 75 south, then east on Hwy 26 would be the most scenic, but 26 east to Arco was not plowed and may be a challenge. I told him I had driven in 10″ in this truck and was not particularly concerned. But I was a little nervous about how it could be if it were a “Jeep” trail like some I had driven in Colorado, then with 8 -10″ of snow on it. But it turned out to be a well-maintained road, but with some washboard:
There was only a thin layer of snow on most of the road, and more of the surface was a thin layer of mud (on a rock base). The truck was carrying more than a thin layer of mud when I stopped in Idaho Falls, so I had to give it a bath before unloading at the hotel.
And I did see some beautiful scenery:
Checked the forecast for Cape Disappointment: 18′ waves on Thurs, Oct 17 with high tide at 2:45 pm!!! It’s late in the trip, but I should be able to stay for that. Just praying that the forecast holds. I’m excited about it: 18′ waves should be very nice while not being too big and wild (biggest I’ve seen were under 14′). Forecast calls for heavy precipitation at the time, which could limit the visibility, but I am looking forward to shooting from the protection of the Summit camper.
I keep reminding myself that I am living the dream: doing the things right now that I have been planning for and dreaming of for many months!