Thursday, March 1, 2018

Boondocking "The Big Quiet" the Owyhees!

Big Quiet it is, there's not many places quieter. Is that a word? It doesn't look quiet right even though it was quite quiet. I'm thinking there's a tongue twister in there somewhere. 

Lynn had a week off and of course we don't let that get away without camping. In Meridian Idaho now after twenty plus years in Arizona we now have to deal with winter weather which we do love but throws a different curve ball into camping trips. It was downright nasty when we left Idaho heading to the Oregon, Idaho and Nevada border. Turning back was discussed, and the idea thrown out the window into the face of that nasty weather. A lifetime of experience has shown us that some of the best trips happen when you expect the worst. I also think there's a life lesson in there somewhere too, but I refuse to use the word lemonade.

Our first stop was for Cattlepond Iceskating and a new Olympic sport, Dog Sliding. Not sledding, sliding. 

Once again we were just driving on a dirt road without a solid plan. I had a destination in mind but not sure how to get there. In the meantime we just had to cross a frozen creek, I was wishing for my George Washington hat.

Boy that's thick...

he said with an icy stare.

Open skies came and went making for a great day. This was home for a night.

I told Duke we would stay here for the night and he got excited.

The Little Owyhee River cruised through the tamarisk behind us.

It was so cold I had to double down. Ah, double down? Yes, that would be two down coats, I was feeling Wimpy that day and would surely pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.

Time for a walk

Her nose is crooked, upturned eye and a scar from before we got her as a puppy, the rescue center called her Presley as in Elvis and his famous curly lip. Bailey is a rock solid outdoors girl.

So is my other girl.

To me personally, the only time tamarisk "salt cedar" trees look good is when they're dead. They choke waterways and use an enormous amount of that water. In many places they are being removed as the landscape allows. Plus they grow so thick it becomes impossible to get to the water, something we like to do when it's warmer.

Driving out the next day a plan had evolved. I had two choices to try to get to an old ranch on the Owyhee River but one of them would have us walking across the Little Owyhee in water shoes. Being wimpy I decided to make a much longer drive on questionable roads to get to a canyon overlook and hike down without a water crossing.

The roads became less and less traveled the farther back we got, it was an incredible place.
You can see cat tracks as it too used the manmade trail.

I have a new 18-400mm Tamron lens for my new Canon 80D camera, it almost got me to the herd. My wife saw them, they were so far away I couldn't hardly make them out. We saw two different herds of antelope larger than any I've ever seen, I zoomed in and still had to crop to get this picture as they loped off.

Whoa cowboy, this was an old camp up against a psychedelic rock.

It was a great place to fake a nap.

The best in FridgidAir outdoor cooking, I almost felt like I was home on the range.

The road degraded the farther we drove yet was a fantastic drive. It was funny also, covered in snow and not yet frozen were many good sized mud holes. You couldn't see them under the snow, would hit one and almost immediately go sideways giving Lynn a constant case of consternation.

Following trails on a topo map I was looking for a butte, labeled right there on the map, a butte. Having spent a lot of time in the southwest I thought I knew what a butte was. And we almost took a wrong turn while looking for the butte. Ends up tada...the butte.
More like a sloping hill with one tree this must be a butte to folks of the northwest. At least to the cartographers.

Even the sage grouse used the trail. I did not see any cat tracks right there though, lucky grouse.

I would certainly call that the middle of nowhere and it felt good to be there, nowhere.

We finally got somewhere, in nowhere, and stopped. Parked at fence corner the topo showed me we were where we needed to be. So we crawled under the fence and took a quick look down-canyon to where we would hike tomorrow. Yes I know, I'm kinda slow at crawling these days, what's your point?

Even Lynn needed a little poking to get her under the fence. We're somebodies Grand Parents you know.

Looking back I can honestly say it was, the middle of nowhere. About 245 Google Map miles from home yet probably only about 60 Google Earth miles. Canyons, mountains and rivers do that to a guy in a truck camper instead of an airplane.

Then the flat grasslands gave way to the gravity of water in the form of a canyon.

We would be hiking down there tomorrow, looking for an old ranch along the Owyhee River called the Five Bar.

This was The Big Quiet

That night we were cooking hotdogs. One little ol hotdog anyway.

To me, this picture is great. This was what we look for every time we go out, The Big Quiet. Sixty full miles back on a dirt track, no-one remotely close to us. I have to say the snow added so much to the scenery and atmosphere, or did the atmosphere add to the snow? Without the snow it might be just another huge cow pasture but I know that we love snow manageable amounts hah, of snow. The Big Quiet it was...

Next morning, a great hike happened. No trail but small amounts of snow over broken lava and brush. Thank goodness for good ankles, a roll-over could be catastrophic.

There is always the thought of hiking the canyon bottoms but I tend to stay up higher when I can, thinking it's faster to cover ground. But not always right? There are really no rules when out exploring, just the fact that water runs downhill.

First view of the Five Bar

Duke checks out the Owyhee River. I think he has a hard time saying "Owyhee" so he just stares.

Was I about to hoop it up?

There were some rocked "dugouts" in the small canyon behind the house canyon side.

Some rusty old relics of the life they had and work they did, with this picture being taken by another rusty ol relic.

I was pretty wound up when we found this place.

After lunch at the ranch we started back to the truck. I was so full I felt like I had eaten a cow.

Looking back I could see how a low soft spot in the land must have given way to water, and how all canyons with streams and rivers must have started.

The truck camper was easily seen from a ways off with a lack of trees. It would be hard to get lost here.

We started off facing north for the view of the Owyhee Mountains, but soon switched to face south due to a darn cold breeze out of the north. Very small breeze, but that's all it takes when it's just below freezing out.

We were joined by some very curious cattle.

Or should I say the cattle were joined,

at the hip.

I offered to share our ground beef patties but they moooved away. I think I offended them somecow.

It was so incredibly quiet except the fire burning, what an evening.

A little later while sitting by the fire, after eating ground beef patties called hamburgers, we herd a small noise. Holy Geez!

The cows were back and honestly a little bit scary. We looked into the fire a few more minutes and when we looked up they were closer. HTG! (Honest To God!) One of my favorite all-time movies is Killer Klowns From Outerspace. Now I was seeing Killer Kows From Owyhees moving in on us! Funny thing is, I took two pictures with flash that didn't bother them a bit. Then I accidentally tripped the flash while it was pointed at the ground. A stampede happened, as they tore off into the night never to be seen or herd from again on that trip. True story.

I had meant to get up early the next morning to get driving while the trail was still frozen. Wrong. It was 9 o'clock before cracking an eye open. That's what you get when there is no noise, in the Big Quiet you get the Big Sleep hah. In the meantime the sun had melted the snow on the trail. It was never above freezing but you know what direct sun does to things, that and the constant wind.


That is why I have front mud-flaps, I've done this before and the chromey steps were packed and unusable. By the end of this trip though even the door handles were packed. We had 60 miles of this stuff, argh.

These are leaf springs.

Back by our previous camp spot the snow was gone there as well.

I drove through the Little Owyhee, and backed through the Little Owyhee, and did it again a good five or six times trying to leave as much mud as possible. Plus it was fun.

The skies and clouds were getting more spectacular as the afternoon came on.

Not sure where to go next I needed time to think. It was about margarita time so we stropped, just stopped. In four days we had not seen a sole other than cows, coyotes and antelope so I figured this road would be good for another night of "aloneness."  There were no towns close, maybe thirty miles the closest.

To say it was an incredible place to be and sky to see would be understating. This was that great reason to keep driving when the weather said to stop and go home. You know how it works sometimes. Not always right? But sometimes and this was "sometimes." I don't remember a sky like that before. My pictures will never do justice but I don't know if any camera could, it was that kind of sky.

Lynn's iPhone shot thru the camper window, I liked the effect.

Lynn takes better iPhone pics than I do with my new handy dandy DSLR, I don't mind a bit..

Duke tends to get bored when pictures are                             
being taken of things other than him.                                          Come on Duke, don't be such a diva. 

After the sun drops we hope and pray for afterglow. That evening it was afterglow heaven.

That night we slept with the sound of wind and snow hitting the softwall of the camper, it made for great sleeping. We sleep like babies in our pop-up camper with two heaters and two dogs as back-up. Just as long as it's not torrential rain, white-out blizzard or a hurricane...we're good.

Next morning was fabulous as well with another storm moving in.

It didn't matter to us, we were watching Silverado on Lynn's iPad and came out after the storm passed. Ah the life of a truck camperer. Did I just make up a word? No, I won't use my Scrabble joke here Bryan, I don't think it's a real word 

With a break in the weather we left. Storms were coming and going all the time. For most of the trip we could never tell what time of day it was because of clouds and weather. You know those kind of days, and I felt like we were on some kind of Twilight Zone trip where driving through dense clouds you'd break out into another time zone and landscape.

After those clouds passed we found ourselves next to a crater with me walking up the side. Funny how that worked out.

The lava flow went for miles and looked like some beautiful Oreo ice cream. We pause now for intermission and dessert.

One last picture while leaving, my good mood cratered thinking about going home. At least I still have two lava lamps in my office, I'll turn them on when I get home.

Driving away from the crater there were no clouds to drive through yet a couple of miles away it was a different world...again.

There was a locked metal gate across the road at the top of the canyon. I wanted it open pretty badly but I could see the steepness...and the mud about halfway down the canyon. I was actually glad for that gate, that one time.

We backtracked on now melted roads, it happens pretty fast when hit by wind and sun. More mud but a few more pictures too.

Two sage grouse crossed right in front of us, no worries on their part. We were rolling along when we saw them, yet they walked across right in front of us like they owned the place. They must be special birds.

I stopped at a viewpoint for some pics of our new(er) home and took pictures of the too quickly growing Treasure Valley.

Thanks a lot for reading or just plain ol viewing. I never did "read the articles" myself.
Dave Rogers


  1. Love your trip reports Dave. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thank you Bob! Hey nice pic of you and your wife with those gorgeous San Juan Mountain flowers.

  2. As good as trip reports get! Wow- the good life!

    1. Hi Mark, I guess it's as good as my trip reports get since I think they're all the same but a big yes to "the good life." I hope you're is as well.

  3. You always get the most out of nothing and I really appreciate it...thanks

    1. Hah Bill, you are dead on. I can sure as heck make a mountain out of any molehill and do not all the time with trip reports. If you appreciate it, I'm happy!

  4. I enjoy your blog and photos. You find places where I would like to go. Do you have any advice on camping with your dogs? We are going to start camping this year with our dogs. Our camper is a pop-up pickup camper 9.5".

    1. Morning Tootsie, I'm always scanning books and magazine articles to find these places as well as Google Earth. There are more and more places out west not allowing dogs so we typically try to choose out of the way places. My main advice would be to get your dogs the oral tick medicine. It's maybe not something you'd think of but we've learned. Camping with dogs has always been easy for us and I'm sure it'll be great for you too. Oh yes, and we hike with a small plastic hand shovel wrapped in a plastic bag, in the pack. We're real big on picking up their "gifts" so there's less reason for places to close to dogs. I can dig a hole for it or put it in a bag if necessary. The stuff does not decompose for a long time in the west. Thanks Tootsie, have fun camping.

  5. Those videos are priceless! And some of the best cloud shots I have ever seen. Thanks so much for posting this!

    1. Thanks Dan, I like the videos too, unless I'm doing the narrating. Those clouds and colors were completely out of this world. I'm glad you enjoyed the pictures, I should have done better.

  6. You're pretty brave in taking your truck into some sketchy situations in very remote places! Have you ever been stranded? Your photography is awsome but I think it would be hard to take a bad picture of most of the places you visit. I would love to pick your brain sometime to get some insight on how you find the places you go and boondocking in general.

  7. GR8 pictures and story and wife.

  8. I just saw the post on RV.Net and followed the link. GR8 photo's and TR. What model Camera do you use?

  9. You guys outdid yourselves with this one! Absolutely fantastic. Thanks for sharing.