Montana & Idaho Hot Springing Adventure

Quite a bit has happened since I last published in this blog. You could say I am the laziest blogger ever or maybe just the most neglectful one. To sum up the past few years of my life; I graduated from college, got married to a wonderful man named Justin, had a baby boy named Finnley Ridge, went on countless trips enjoying many days in the great outdoors, and most recently we moved to Ireland (I will get into that later).

Recently we went on a road trip to Montana. The reason for our trip was to take our four dogs to live with my mother while we are abroad for the year. Since we had about a week off for vacation we decided to make this trip into a Hotspringing Adventure. If you ask any of my friends they will probably tell you that I love Hotsprings. Me and my husband even went to Iceland for our honeymoon so we could spend our time in Hotsprings. One of my favorite things to do during the summer and fall would be to mountain bike up to Diamond Fork Hotsprings in Spanish Fork Canyon, Utah and to sit in the springs for a good long soak. There are a few of us regulars, most of whom are men in there 50’s but then there is also me the 20 something old who always has her bike and four dogs and now, husband and baby.

We started our road trip with four dogs (2 toy poodles, a Chihuahua, and Standard Poodle), our ten-month-old son, two mountain bikes, camping gear, and the entire luggage required for a baby (if any of you have children you will know that they require a considerable amount of stuff, things you have never heard of before). We drive a scion XB, it’s not super spacious so we had to buy a roof box after we had the baby. Still, with everything in the car, we reach our maximum capacity limit. One wrong move and something is hanging out of the car window. When traveling I wish we had two roof boxes and even an extra car.

The drive started in Utah and headed up through Idaho into Montana. We didn’t plan on stopping at Hotsprings but as we were headed to Bozeman, Montana we spotted a sign for this nice looking spring called ‘Norris Hotsprings’. It was in the middle of nowhere, but it had a nice little vibe. There was a pool and adjacent to it was a bar and a stage, where you can find bands playing on the weekends.

Norris Norris Hotsprings

After soaking we headed into Bozeman for a few days. After dropping off the dogs the adventure began. We purchased a couple Hotspring guides at the local Barnes & Nobles and headed to the next spring.   The spring is called Potorsi Hotsprings, it was a great spring and there was even a free campsite near the springs. You might encounter a bear at this campsite because it was in close proximity to the water and it’s located in a very dense forested area.

Potorsi Hotsprings Potorsi Hotsprings 4 Potorsi Hotsprings 3 Potorsi Hotsprings 2Potorsi Campsite

Next on the list was Renova Hotsprings, it was out of the way but looked like it would be worth it. However, when we arrived at the Hotsprings they were lacking the most essential part of the spring, water. We immediately left and headed to our next stop, Fairmont Hotsprings, a commercialized hot water spring. The water gets piped up to a resorts swimming pool and has its own water slide. The slide is not that bad but the trek up to the slide is quite disgusting. You have to walk through random hallways and up stairs that are carpeted. Why would you have carpet in a pool? It receives constant foot traffic from pool goes and surely must never dry. YUCK! I will tick this Hotspring off of my list but shall never return.

Faimont Hotsprings Renova Hotsprings

We trekked on heading towards Missoula Montana. Right outside of Missoula is a spring called Nimrod Warm Springs. This water isn’t very warm, but on a hot summer day they are nice to take a dip and cool off. We met some other travelers at this spring and they told us that they were at a festival nearby called the (Testes Fest). I was unfamiliar to this festival but later googled it and found out way to much information.

Nimrod Warm Springs 3Nimrod Springs Nimrod Warm Springs 2

After driving through Missoula we headed up to our top destination on the list, Jerry Johnson Hotspring. These springs are located in the Clearwater National Forest in Northern Idaho they cross the Lochsa River. After crossing a bridge from the parking lot there is a mile long hiking trail through lodgepole pines, cedars, and fir trees that eventually leads you to the pools. These pools were fantastic to soak in; they are located right next to the river so you can choose to soak in hot or cold pools. There is even a waterfall of warm water that gushes into one of the soaking pools. These are truly magnificent pools that I can’t wait to soak in again.

Jerry Johnson Hotspring 2 Jerry Johnson Hotspring 3 jerry Johnson Hotspring 4 Jerry Johnson Hotspring

Making our way back to Utah we drove through the middle eastern Idaho and towards Goldbug Hotsprings. To get to these springs we had to drive three hours from Missoula through the Bitterroot Mountains and past Salmon Idaho. The book marked this three-mile hike as strenuous but from the past hikes I thought their idea of strenuous would be easy, I was wrong. This is a very steep strenuous hike, and poor Justin had to carry a 40-pound backpack with little Finnley as a passenger.  However, when you get to the spring it is all worth it, no wonder the travel books describe it as a “geothermal gem”.  Well worth the hike!! Ending our Hotspring adventure with this spring was a great choice and Finn seemed to enjoy the soak just as much as his parents.

Goldbug Hotspring Goldbug Hotspring 2 Goldbug Hotspring 3 Goldbug Hotspring5Goldbug Hotspring 4 Tired little boy

After a week of soaking, only one swimsuit each, and towels that never got washed, we were overdue for a good laundry mat and a nice long shower.

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Life in the Bush

One of the best decisions I have made in a very long time was to come out to Tanzania this summer and volunteer on a research project focusing on human-elephant conflict. Africa is such an amazing, wonderful, crazy, and mad place; anything can happen, you just have to let it all in and go with the flow.  Later I will try to catch up on the last month and half of my time here but until then here are my stories from living in the bush.

Safari:  Today, is the day that we meet up with Sarah, the women from Colorado State University whose project we are working on. She is only able to come out to Tanzania about every six months and see how the project is coming, so I feel very privileged to have the chance to meet her while I am out here.  Because she was flying into the park we decided to wake up very early and meet her in he park for safari.  The day begins with us waking up very early in the morning, about 5 am, and waiting about an hour for Rowland our trusty driver to pick us up.   We come fully stocked with supplies:  30 beers and each a camera.  It was Devin’s birthday so Tara and me decided to wake up even earlier to make him French toast and surprise him.  Yesterday we bought some candles and party blowers with Cinderella on them for a birthday party.  Did I ever tell you that you can find absolutely anything in Africa? The safari was epic immediately we spotted lions in the park, a large herd of cape buffalo (my first time seeing them), picked up Sarah and her boyfriend Noah at Ruaha airstrip, stopped at this classy lodge inside of the park called the Ruaha Old River Lodge, enjoyed ourselves many hot beers, and saw an amazing sunset.


Beehive Fence:  The Beehive fence has been this idea that I have heard about since arriving but did not expect to get to participate on it.  A beehive fence is supposed to keep elephants from raiding farms in areas that they are known to travel through to reach water supplies.  Materials to build this fence cost approximately 150,000 TSH, which is close to $90.  What amazed me most about building this fence was the construction that went into it.  To accomplish building this fence we had to dig 17 holes, place large tree posts in these holes, tie wire between all posts and then attach hollowed out beehive logs in-between every other post.  Once the beehives were hung we had to then cover each hive with shading so they didn’t burn from being exposed to the elements.  As we are standing there waiting to get some constructing supplies, two villagers come up and start digging holes with machetes, supposedly this is how they dig holes in Tanzania.  This is a very slow but effective process; the ground in this area is rock hard, which meant spending hours working on these holes.  So there we were 5 muzungus (white people) and 5 Africans sitting on the ground with machetes digging holes that needed to be 3-4 feet deep.  I was amazed at how fast we were able to dig those holes and get those posts to stick in the ground but we did.  Digging holes with machetes was so much fun and by the time we finished we were all coated in a thick layer of mud.  Once the posts were securely in the ground we began to hang the beehives along the fence and finished the day off with everyone munching on stalks of sugarcane, a favorite of the locals.


Last days with Devin:  Tomorrow, Devin, one of the other volunteers who has been here since I arrived is leaving; which means that today we have to catch the Makungu bus into Iringa.  Every time I ride on this bus something new and exciting ‘what the hell’ moments happens.  We walk from our camp to the dirt road and wait for the bus to pick us up at 6:45 am with all of our crap that we need to somehow fit on this small cramped bus.  As the bus arrives we all hurry to get on as fast as possible and try to make it through the small rows without hitting people on the head with all of our bags.  Once we have secured our seats we sit down and begin the treacherous ride to Iringa.  The ride should only take two hours but on this bus it takes four.   This is  in part from the terrible roads in this area of the country and the bus constantly stopping at every village to let people off and more on.  In the past I have seen everything boarding this bus.  One morning we were just sitting there and all of a sudden a chicken started clucking and flying around the bus.  Another time, a passenger was looking out the window and laughing saying mbuzi; and sure enough they were putting a live goat in the bottom of the bus in the luggage storage.  Today, we witnessed a baby peeing out the window of the bus, some might say, “Only in Africa”.  The entire road to town is not paved and the inside of the bus is so load that you can’t even hear yourself think.  There is even one part of the trip that you actually have to get out of the bus and walk down the hill because it is too steep for the bus to make it down with passengers on it.

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The amazing toaster

My car really impresses me! Every time we load the Scion XB, aka the toaster, I can’t believe how much crap and human beings, sometimes poodles, we can manage to squeeze into such a small area.  We originally chose the car for it’s amazing gas mileage of 35 mpg and after acquiring over 100,000 miles on it in only four years it has proved to be one of the wisest decisions.  When I look at the silver toaster I see an old wise car that has lived a more exciting life than most people I know.  A car with enough racks to fit three bikes on the top and two on the back and a crappy hitch that only a place like U-Haul could’ve installed.  You have to take corners at an angle just so the hitch doesn’t bottom out.  Because whenever the hitch hits anything at even the slightest angle, less than 5 degrees, all you hear is a deafening screech of metal combined with road.  As you enter the parking lot of the grocery store in Moab, UT (biking mecca) you suddenly don’t feel alone. The entire entrance way is carved out from hitches scrapping along the pavement.  You almost feel part of this secret club and only others with an annoying low enough hitch can relate.

The scion has traversed the frozen wasteland of the Western United States, a place that I so fondly call home (a.k.a. North Dakota); it has been to the far reaches of the great Utah desert.  It has slowly trekked along the washboard roads in Escalante Grand Staircase.  A place that our friends Ford truck couldn’t handle, as you heard see screws falling out and inevitably their tailgate laying their in the middle of that lonely dirt road.  The little scion that could, managed to stay in one piece.  A few years back my ex drove into the carport with two bikes on top of the car, a dumb mistake that happens more than bikers want to admit.  The scion was out of commission as it spent two weeks at the shop after which it came out good as new.  When you live in a place like Utah, where apparently every street and freeway is under construction it is nice to have a reliable car that doesn’t explode as you drive down the apocalyptic freeway.

I will have to say that I am very impressed

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Hello world!

Enjoying Life

Essentially, this blog is my quest for finding a life in the great outdoors.   Probably I should begin with telling you about how this idea of the great outdoors came to be.  It was about five years ago, I was a a non-Mormon living in the most Mormon place on earth, Happy Valley, Utah.  I had just gotten married and  moved into these apartments that had these ridiculous rules, for example no liqueur bottles or alcoholic beverages in the apartments. There was an older couple who lived across from us, by the way these apartments were horribly designed and the basketball courts were right outside our doors, with the ground painted a hideous bluish-green fake pool looking color.  Anyways no matter were we go we seem to attract the most tree-hugging outdoor people you can ever meet, and that’s when I had the pleasure of encountering the most kind and loving people you could ever meet in your life, we called them Grandpa and Grandma.  We instantly became friends and they invited us to join them one summer up at their commune camp in the mountains, which consisted of their three converted buses, one they serve food out of everyday, and a constant supply of tea from a kettle.  Did I mention they are from South Africa and it wouldn’t be until at least three years later after visiting South Africa I would grow fond of a kettle and come to love the small joys it brings.  I guess I’m jumping ahead in my travels, so that story will have to be for another day.  Anyways after living in Utah for about three years, when I met grandma and grandpa I hated how much people in this area judge each other for being different and not being a member of the LDS church.  When speaking with Grandma and Grandpa you could tell that they were religious people, but when asked what their religion was, they told us that they are members of The Church of the Great Outdoors, and so in honor of them and their lifestyle, which consisted of devoting their time to feeding people in need from a bus, I have joined their religious traditions and am in search of happiness and enjoyment that can only be found in The Church of the Great Outdoors,.

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