Vida’s First Roadtrip: Surfing & Sierras!

Vida’s Second Summit, Dio’s Thousandth (?)… Lucky Peak Reservoir, ID

Overlooking the Lucky Peak Reservoir. We were unexpected waylayed in Boise for 5 days by transmission trouble… always an adventure traveling in older rigs!

Our (somewhat) trusty steed “Jerry Odyssey Americano” a 1990 Toyota pickup camper (Don’t worry, I still have the teardrop! This is just better suited for two people.) Notice the funny rock formation behind Jerry… we climbed to the top of it!

Climbing up the third of three pitches to the top of the Santiam Pinnacle… our first multi-pitch climb of the season! Multipitching is where you and your climbing/ belay partner leave the ground behind and link multiple pitches (or rope lengths) up the rock, usually to the summit. It’s our favorite kind of climbing and you’ll see a lot of it on this trip!

Looking down at Jerry from the top of the Santiam Pinnacle! The dogs stay at “home” during multipitch hikes. We like to think they’re down there, watching us, thinking humans are pretty crazy creatures.

Our goal on this roadtrip was to alternate between climbing and skiing. Here we are skiing the Pacific Crest Trail from Santiam Pass in Oregon after a few days climbing at Smith Rock. Vida loves skiing!

A few thousand feet lower and we were in spring…

Feeling Lucky to be back in Oregon, the first state I fell in love with west of the Mississippi.

We hiked up Mary’s Peak in the Oregon Coast Range, one of my all-time favorite summits. This was the site of above photo with Bowie in 2005, my very first shoe self-portrait!

Vida on Mary’s Peak, 2017. I’m teaching her to do jump on command. She’s got ups!

Vida’s keeping Dio on his toes…they play like pups

In her more reflective moments, she has Bowie’s eyes

And his desire to be a lapdog, though she’s a much more practical size, about 30 pounds

And his sense of humor, always a clown.

Vida turned one year old on Cinco de Mayo and to celebrate we took her to meet the Pacific! She was STOKED.

Vida’s meets a Dungee

We rented a boat and some crab traps and caught a whole bucketful of dungees and rock crabs… more than we could eat in one sitting!

Jerry can hold a lot of surfboards

Dan coaxing Vida to try surfing

She’s up!

Good stance

Catching a wave…

Riding it out!

Vida didn’t love surfing. She’d much rather stay on solid ground where she can RUN!

Rock of Ages. Twisted Greenschist on the Oregon Coast

Beach Flower Bloom

Zen D.O.G. I love this picture of a totally content Dio so much. You’d never he was once terrified of brooms. He’s come along way.

Jerry makes friends easily. Seriously, this little rig gets a lot of compliments on the road. A V-6 manual Toyota with a killer rearview… what’s not to love?

Rain chased us south and inland, to the Redwoods, which are best experienced in the rain.

The next sunny day found us scaling the granite banks of the Yuba River. This was a hairy 2-pitch climb with a lot of exposure pulling out over that roof.

The roaring Yuba, full of record-setting snowmelt.

Time to go skiing… Castle Peak near Donner Pass… we went all the way up there!

Vida’s new to mountaineering but she has good instincts. Here’s she’s keeping to the rocks and off the sketchy snow to the corniced summit of Castle Peak.

Dognap on the summit. These two cuddle all the time and it melts my heart. We also bagged Basin peak in the background.

Did I mention, Vida LOVES skiing! She’s so fast!

Home sweet home for two nights at the Peter Grubb backcountry shelter

This hut was built in 1938 as a memorial to a wilderness lover who died young. It’s just off the PCT north of Donner Pass, where the Donner party spent a miserable winter in 1846-1847.

The sleeping loft sleeps 15 but we had the place to ourselves

The hut is actually two stories but bottom half is buried by about 15 feet of snow. To get into the first story you have to plunge down through this snow tunnel.

Happy Dogs, Happy M

Next stop: Lake Tahoe!

Vida’s swimming lessons. paying off!

After skiing, climbing at Lover’s Leap, a huge granite wall south of Lake Tahoe

After climbing, more skiing! This time riding the lifts at Squaw Peak! Long-time readers will remember I hiked all over this place in summer a few years ago. What a treat to come back and ski it!

The Mother Tree and the Mother Ship at Squaw (aka the KT-22 chairlift made famous by Shane McConkey)

In case you’re wondering how we fit four pairs of skis and mountaineering gear in a rig the size of a regular parking space… it all goes under the bed!

Traffic Jam on Highway 50, the Loneliest Road in America. Actually this photo was taken on 722, an even quieter scenic detour off highway 50, which is actually kind of a busy road these days.

Camping at Ibex in western Utah. Since we just went skiing, it’s time for climbing!

Looking down on the rig from the top of the Ibex wall. Can you spot Jerry down below?

The rest of the roadtrip we alternated between climbing and soaking. This is the view of Utah Lake near Provo from Rock Canyon. We soaked at 5th River Hot Springs before and Crystal in Honeyville after. Then headed to City of Rocks, Idaho and Durfree Hot Springs.

Me scaling the last pitch up Castle Rock in southern Idaho. I am getting more comfortable in the vertical world but it’s always a thrill for me!

A belay ledge with a view… of my tingling feet

One of the best campsites of the trip! City of Rocks National Preserve in Idaho. My kind of city!

At the end of our roadtrip, we met up with friends from Home

Dan teaching David about top-belaying for multi-pitch clinbing. The four of us climbed Steinfell’s Dome, the highest formation in the City of Rocks. My third time to the top in a year!

All my years traveling solo have made me treasure shared experiences all the more.

Our Kind of City

Back in Montana for a summer of hiking, climbing and backpacking in the Yellowstone ecosystem… the Last Best Place on Earth!

About theblondecoyote

Mary Caperton Morton is a freelance science and travel writer with degrees in biology and geology and a master’s in science writing. A regular contributor to EARTH magazine, where her favorite beat is the Travels in Geology column, she has also written for the anthologies Best Women's Travel Writing 2010 and Best Travel Writing 2011. Mary is currently based in western Colorado. When she’s not at the computer she can usually be found outside -- hiking, skiing, climbing mountains and taking photographs. Visit her website at
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12 Responses to Vida’s First Roadtrip: Surfing & Sierras!

  1. pmdello says:

    Wow! That was quite a trip.

  2. John says:

    Thanks for sharing. I always enjoy reading about your adventures.

  3. Thanks for sharing! Awesome post.

  4. ritaroberts says:

    What and exciting trip. Thank you for sharing your adventure !!

  5. Dedra says:

    I’m so glad your blogging again.
    I really missed you.

  6. Bill says:

    Looks very enjoyable.

  7. gaucho8782 says:

    Awesome road trip!..I’ve been following your adventures since your days living in Cerillos , NM. I live in Sandia, NM and you have given me some great adventure ideas! …keep living the dream~

    PS Dio is one lucky dog ; )…what a life he has had

  8. steven joly says:

    Nice photos. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Jack Handley says:

    Much enjoyed your last post. Glad you have so much new: Dan, Vida, Jerry, Multi-pitching

  10. Kathy says:

    Great pictures, the trip looked amazing.

  11. Tiffani says:

    Thanks for sharing your adventures. I’m sure Bowie is looking down and smiling about the wonderful life you are giving Vida.

  12. Gorgeous puppy! Thanks for sharing your travels. Please feel free to check out our account and site at

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