Sawtooth Mountains

Wednesday, June 29

A severe thunderstorm warning goes out for the town of Bellevue, ID, where I’m currently camping at Hayspur Hatchery. Nickle-sized hail pings off the roof of the Casita as I peer through the rain-splattered window of my diminutive home, parting the blinds farther to make sure my eyes aren’t deceiving me. Is he really…?

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Yep. My neighbor in the next RV over is out tending his grill in the hailstorm. Now there’s a man who takes his meat seriously! I applaud his dedication but question his priorities, that can’t feel good. I time him at about 10 seconds before he darts back inside.

The hail doesn’t last long, but thunder rolls through the campground for a good two hours. Near 9 pm the sun slips below the storm-clouds and transforms the landscape into something surreal: the sky is nearly black, and the trees and grass are yellow. Color, saturation, and contrast have not been touched in these photos.

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There’s a full rainbow in the sky, but it’s sepia-toned against the dark clouds.

Click for larger image

Click for larger image

It almost looks like the campground has been transported to another place. Five minutes later, the sun sets and we’re back on Earth again. How cool was that?

Click for larger image

Click for larger image

Tuesday, July 5

On the 30th, The Little Guide To Dreaming Big is published. I stick close to the Casita for the next five days, watching over the book launch to make sure there are no issues. Everything goes well (only one minor issue with the blog newsletter not going out on time), the guide is well received, and the introductory special concludes successfully on the 4th. Woohoo, thanks everyone and I hope those of you who purchased enjoy it!

After the holiday weekend, I’m ready to leave the campground scene behind in favor of a boondock in the mountains. From my preliminary scouting last week, I know there’s no Verizon signal up in Sawtooth National Forest, but it’s super pretty up there and with the launch complete I no longer need access to the internet 24/7.

The spot I talked about last post is open! I leave Bertha and Cas in a pullout along 75 and walk down to make sure the spur road is still in good condition after all the rain. The road is fine, this is going to be a good camp…

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It’s right along the river (I’d call it a stream, but maps say it’s the Big Wood River) with an unobstructed view, I can get in the water at my site if I wish. A few pine (lodgepole maybe?) provide shade for sitting outside, but it’s still open enough that I can move my solar panel around on its 10′ tether and keep it in the sun all day. The only downfall as I said is the lack of phone signal, but with scenery like this that’s an acceptable loss.

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I sit out in my chair and listen to the water burbling over rocks. Hayspur Hatchery got quite busy over the weekend and while my neighbors were all well behaved, it feels great to get away from the vacationers and back into nature. I take a deep breath and let my troubles and worries out with it. For me, camping in a natural setting like this is the best way to relax and get the creative juices flowing. While I’m here hopefully I’ll glean some inspiration on what my next big project should be. In the meantime, I have a hiking date tomorrow to look forward to!

* * *

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At IO I teach people how to ditch the status quo and travel full-time before retirement, and share stories of my adventures (and misadventures) to inspire future nomads and armchair travelers alike. Included at no additional charge: seizing your dreams, living boldly, and making a difference.


  1. Norm H. on July 11, 2016 at 4:48 am

    Awesome photos! Thanks so much for sharing. I’m sure your new phone/camera will give us all wonderful visual treats. Nothing quite like a Western mountain thunderstorm when the thunder rolls through a canyon. Sharing your photos with the hopes of inspiring my DW to think about a Western camping trip. (Grin). Can’t wait to read about the hiking.

    • Becky on July 11, 2016 at 6:50 pm

      There definitely are a lot of neat places to see out west Norm, I definitely recommend it. 🙂

      Glad you enjoyed these photos, I’m looking forward to seeing what the new camera can do too!

  2. pamelab on July 10, 2016 at 7:51 pm

    Wow, that storm sure did make for some gorgeous photos. Very nice, Becky. Happy you share those with us. I am still impressed that your iPhone camera does such a nice job for you. Enjoy. Thank you for your very special blog. I always enjoy it.
    In less than a month I will be picking up my Casita – first back to Houston for a bit, then to Lubbock to see more family, then up to Michigan. And who knows after that. I have some ideas, but plans may change. You have given me some good information and encouragement in my next adventure.
    Pamelab, in Missouri City near Houston…for now.

    • Becky on July 10, 2016 at 8:10 pm

      Woohoo, so close to takeoff day Pamela! I know it’s been a long time coming, I hope the transition goes smoothly for you. Thanks for reading and I’m glad you enjoyed the photos.

  3. Marilyn N-S :-) on July 10, 2016 at 4:06 pm

    Hi Becky – Your photos of the stormy mountains & the amazing golden light are just wonderful! While I especially liked the rainbow shot, the ‘shadow’ is pretty cool, too! Safe travels! 🙂

    • Becky on July 10, 2016 at 8:09 pm

      Glad you enjoyed this Marilyn, take care!

  4. Ron on July 10, 2016 at 12:02 pm

    Hi Becky, From your pictures, it looks like your vewing the Boulder Mountains north of Ketchum. The hike to Norton Lakes or to Boulder City are two of my favorites in that area. If you have time to go over Galina Summit towards Stanley, the Sawtooth wilderness is a must. You can get Verizon cell service in Stanley. Numerous hikes in the Stanley area.

    • Becky on July 10, 2016 at 8:08 pm

      Thanks for the info Ron. My RVer friends Nina and Paul took a trip up to Stanley the other day and got fantastic photos of the area, I definitely need to go myself.

  5. Annette Mitchell on July 10, 2016 at 10:46 am

    Currently we own a 32 ft. travel trailer and truck, but have been toying with the idea of also buying a small trailer and hitting the road for a few months, at least. After showing him your pictures and site to my husband, he said ” next yr we are going to get going”. His retirement job is part time at a local small airport.
    We are Canadians from southern Ontario and want to head west in US and Canada, with friends scattered around and a son in BC.
    Love your blog etc.
    Thank you.

    • Becky on July 10, 2016 at 8:07 pm

      Casitas are great little trailers Annette, actually all of the molded fiberglass trailers are good choices. They’re durable, light-weight, and dependable. I don’t think you or your husband would be disappointed if you got one, and the Escapes are made in BC which would likely be easier for you to obtain.

      I’m glad my blog has inspired you two to take a trip! There is a lot to see out here. 🙂

  6. Judy Blinkenberg on July 10, 2016 at 9:13 am

    Wow, great photography! Love your pictures. I know we will follow your path come next year. Have a wonderful time enjoying your scenery!!

    • Becky on July 10, 2016 at 8:03 pm

      Glad you enjoyed this Judy and I will. I’m sure you’ll have fun when you get here, Sawtooth is really neat.

  7. Joanne on July 10, 2016 at 7:57 am

    We enjoyed the Sawtooth last year and really enjoyed your photos! We’re discovering Maine this year – same serenity but not same dry camping opportunities! Enjoy!

    • Becky on July 10, 2016 at 8:01 pm

      Sawtooth is amazing. I’m both surprised and grateful that it doesn’t seem to be more crowded than it is. Someday I need to get to Maine, have fun!

  8. Sara on July 10, 2016 at 7:38 am

    Hi Becky,

    Your picture of the rainbow with the storm in the background was such an indescribable source of inspiration for me this morning! I am asking for your permission to tweet it on my Twitter account and possibly inspire others. So many of us on Twitter are city dwellers and it is way to easy to forget the loveliness of the earth and all the gorgeous elements of Mother Nature! Needless to write, I will post your copyright on the pic. Let me know what you think and as always I oh so enjoy your blog.

    • Becky on July 10, 2016 at 8:00 pm

      I’m so glad to hear it Sara! Yes, you’re welcome to share the photo on Twitter, thanks for asking permission first.

      I always love it when people write in about how IO has impacted their lives, even if just in small ways.

  9. Dawn on July 10, 2016 at 5:02 am

    Love that first picture of the light mountains and dark sky. The panorama of the camp with your shadow is pretty cool too! Enjoy!

    Just bought your book yesterday. We’re going on vacation in a couple days, so will read it during the trip. Thanks for writing it!

    • Becky on July 10, 2016 at 7:57 pm

      You’re very welcome Dawn and I hope you enjoy it!

      Glad you liked these pictures. I’m getting a new camera (new phone, same thing) next week finally, my poor iPhone 4S turned four years old this month and the battery is no longer holding a charge well. We’ll see how the pictures differ on the new phone camera. 🙂

  10. MB from VA on July 10, 2016 at 4:26 am

    Beautiful…..absolutely beautiful! I live in a beautiful place too. Not too far off the Blue Ridge Parkway in central VA. You can see The Peaks Of Otter from the farm on which I live and work. We have lots of wildlife and trees, meadows and even a river. But I am in such need of a change. I remind myself as I’m mowing and see a white tailed deer move into the woods with her fawn or the geese flying over at sunset, that if I were in WY I would be trying to get a picture. So, I try to remember to enjoy and appreciate the view around me while I wait for the right time to leave. Your posts help keep me focused on the dream. I hope you have a fun hike! MB from VA

    • Becky on July 10, 2016 at 7:55 pm

      That’s the right attitude to have MB, when I’m in one place for an extended period of time I start taking it for granted too and have to keep reminding myself. Because yes, I’ve been down Blue Ridge Parkway on a family road trip as a kid and I remember how beautiful it was. 🙂

      More about the hike coming tomorrow.

  11. Shelly on July 10, 2016 at 2:18 am

    Terrific photos! You are such an inspiration 🙂

    • Becky on July 10, 2016 at 7:53 pm

      I’m glad IO has inspired you Shelly, I love hearing that from readers. Hopefully I’ll hear from you on the road someday soon. 🙂

  12. Vanholio! on July 9, 2016 at 9:52 pm

    Wow! I totally loved the storm pictures, the extreme contrasts of light and the brooding sky. That’s so hard to get good shots of.
    Vanholio! recently posted..Is Living in a Van Lonely?My Profile

    • Becky on July 10, 2016 at 7:52 pm

      Nature is amazing Vanholio, I was just in the right place at the right time for those photos. 🙂

  13. Rene Kipp on July 9, 2016 at 11:58 am

    Wow, those photos of the eerily dark sky and yellow foreground are fabulous!! Hard to believe you took them with a cell phone. Idaho is a state that I wouldn’t mind living in one of these days. So much beauty packed into it. We’ll be visiting family in a couple of weeks in McCall, ID and I’m looking forward to being surrounded by tall trees and blue lakes. Enjoy your time there!
    Rene Kipp recently posted..Busy As BeaversMy Profile

    • Becky on July 9, 2016 at 6:57 pm

      Skies like that are a pretty rare thing Rene, so glad I was there to see it!

      I keep thinking Idaho would be a neat place to live if/when I get off the road, but then I remember how cold the winters would be…

      Thanks and I hope you enjoy ID as much as I have!

  14. Kent on July 9, 2016 at 11:50 am

    What a beautiful spot in a beautiful little valley.. That is what I am looking for. Colorado is pretty and all but finding a place like that with-in hours of Denver? Well, they don’t exist. Not with that kind of solitude.

    (I took a “drive” through there on GE. amazing..)

    Thanks Becky!

    • Becky on July 9, 2016 at 6:55 pm

      You’re welcome Kent and glad you liked this! Although really the spot is within view of 75 and there are other campers along the spur road so it’s not great solitude, but the scenery is fantastic!

  15. LINDAANDMIKE on July 9, 2016 at 2:55 am

    very pretty becky what kind of camera are you using …and how are you finding camp sites gps a real map plane helicopter …..i retired 8 years ago and the kids get me a computer and I’m learning any give me the heads up on camp sites please ANYWAY THANK YOU

    • Becky on July 9, 2016 at 6:53 pm

      I have a 4 year old iPhone 4S for a camera Linda, nothing special. 🙂

      I wrote an article about finding boondocking spots, you can read all about it here:

      • LINDAANDMIKE on July 9, 2016 at 10:11 pm

        THANK YOU BECKY It is never too late to teach an old dog new tricks!

        • Becky on July 10, 2016 at 7:51 pm

          You’re very welcome, hope you found it helpful. 🙂

  16. Jodee Gravel on July 8, 2016 at 9:29 pm

    Those sun and dark sky shots are incredible!! What a treat. Lovely campsite on the river, lucky you 🙂
    Jodee Gravel recently posted..An Epic, Poorly Photographed, Day Trip and A Shameless, Very Proud, PlugMy Profile

    • Becky on July 9, 2016 at 6:51 pm

      Yeah Jodee, was a nice sunset and my new camp is pretty sweet. 🙂

  17. Bobby on July 8, 2016 at 8:44 pm

    Wow. Beautiful scenes. U stay camping short time. I camp for a week and let hiking around and see more of area before traveling to next stop to reduce gas spending. I drive lifted suburban 4WD and no trailer. Traveling to Pacific Ocean next weekend. I slept in tent. Mostly boondocks and US national forest.

    • Becky on July 9, 2016 at 6:21 pm

      When I’m at a “destination” camp I tend to stay there for 1-2 weeks Bobby, when I’m trying to get somewhere I usually do overnights until I get where I’m going. Take care and enjoy the ocean!

      • Bobby on July 9, 2016 at 6:42 pm

        Cool. Have u tried Ozark National Forest in Arkansas ? I have been camp there for 3 weeks near town name Oark. Tiny town but historic store/cafe still running since 1890. There is free camping beside river 2 miles east from town. There is 2 US forest service campgrounds name wolf pen and Redding on highway 215. Ask guy name Brain the owner of Oark general store might tell u the free camping at.. Store got free wifi and no cell phone signal anywhere. These area is popular with motorcyclist and 4wheeling. Mostly motorcyclist (dual sports and cruisers). Hope u have goo travel and stay safe.

        • Becky on July 9, 2016 at 7:00 pm

          Nope, haven’t spend any time in Arkansas Bobby but I’ll get there eventually, thanks for the tips.

  18. Jeff on July 8, 2016 at 7:13 pm

    WOW! Now that’s a campsite – awesome! Hope the hail, rain, fires, et-al have now passed for you1 Beautiful pics as usual …

    • Becky on July 8, 2016 at 8:01 pm

      Looking like thunderstorms on Sunday Jeff but yes, I’d be happy with some tamer weather, haha.

  19. Rox on July 8, 2016 at 1:36 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing your experience and these beautiful photos. You are an inspiration.

    • Becky on July 8, 2016 at 7:58 pm

      You’re very welcome Rox. Thanks for reading and I’m glad you’re enjoying my blog. 🙂

  20. Ken on July 8, 2016 at 6:50 am

    Those are amazing photos.

    • Becky on July 8, 2016 at 7:56 pm

      Thanks Ken!

  21. Sarah Shillinger on July 7, 2016 at 10:22 pm


    • Becky on July 8, 2016 at 7:54 pm

      The view doesn’t suck. 😉

  22. Don B on July 7, 2016 at 10:11 pm

    That’s the beauty of Idaho. I worked for the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality until my retirement back in 2011 as their Quality Assurance Director and was fortunate enough, in that position, over many years, to see/visit so much of rural Idaho, north to south, east to west. So much is untamed, incredibly wild, and absolutely beautiful. To steal from the Texas ads, Idaho is a whole nother country.

    Am I proud of my State? Hell Yes!

    Enjoy your visit!

    Don & Christi

    • Becky on July 8, 2016 at 7:47 pm

      Thanks Don and Christi, I bet that was a very rewarding job. 🙂

  23. Ron on July 7, 2016 at 9:12 pm

    A priceless campsite.

    • Becky on July 8, 2016 at 7:43 pm

      Might be the most scenic I’ve had to date Ron.

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