Sinks Canyon

The coolest thing I saw on our annual road trip to the midwest was Sinks Canyon State Park in Wyoming. The river, The Popo Agie, tumbles through the limestone and granite layered canyon over huge boulders and twisted roots. It is powerful and beautiful. It flowed right next to our campsite, which made for some mad boulder-hopping fun.

The best thing about Sinks Canyon is not the crazy beauty of the river. It wasn’t even the amazing encounter I had with a little Spring Azure butterfly which fluttered all around me and alit on my toes, my fingers, my shoulders and my pen as I sat on a big rock with my journal. The best thing about Sinks Canyon is that it disappears down underground for 1/4 of a mile then reappears by seeping up in a crystal clear, calm pool. You can walk right down to The Sinks, then drive down the road to see The Rise.

I hope the pictures show at least a fraction of the coolness we experienced there. On a side note, the river is pronounced nothing like it looks. It is a Crow word and is pronounced puh-po jzhuh. Now you know.

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The Popo Agie disappears into an underground limestone cave
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And rises 1/4 of a mile downstream in a clear pool
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The Popo Agie

The Tub

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The outdoor tub promises an awesome sunset soak all year. In the summer, the first one out can roast dinner on a stick just as the first stars peek out and the bats flap and swoop above the creek.

In winter, there’s nothing like a hot soak before warming up by the fire. Add a nice glass of something tasty and a story or a game and you’ve got heaven.

It takes about 3 hours to heat up a tub half-full of water to Way Too Hot. The we pour a couple-few 5-gallon buckets of cold water to a comfortable temperature.

Becky Bee, my queen of cob, wrote the book on it. Everyone should have a wood-fire tub!

We got the tub at Salem’s Bargain Barn, one of our favorite haunts.

Preparations for Winter

The ground is frozen. The snow doesn’t melt in our little pocket of Oregon’s Coastal Range. We are now regretting not working harder in the summer to get ready for winter. Oregon isn’t known for it’s cold, icy winters. I always considered all parts of Oregon (except higher elevations, of course) to be moderate, warmish winters. That’s when I had four insulated walls and central heating.

The wood stove is toasty. The change from oh-my-god-I-can’t-handle-this-freaking-frigid-see-my-breath cold to ahhh-fire-warmed-cheeks-melt-into-the-chair warmth is (as the Deaf say) CHAMP. But the time in between those two states of being could have been better had we planned ahead.

If you plan to do this, get FULL INSULATION. I know it makes the yurt more expensive. But do it. Do it. Believe me. We got roof insulation and added floor insulation ourselves. The walls get damp and tend to drip at night and when we aren’t there. The furniture swells so we can’t open the drawers. I had to practically take apart the dresser to pull pants out of the bottom drawer the other morning.

We should have put up more pole-buildings, even if we didn’t know what would go there… Just a dry place to stand with a pocket rocket (Not the sex toy! The rocket stove!) The toilet is a flimsy frame with a tarp thrown over it right now. One morning after a rainstorm filled the tarp with water, I tried to just gently ease under it. I didn’t mean to hit it with the back of my head. Yes. It was 5:00 am and at least 10 gallons of water dumped itself all over me in my compromising position. I believe my scream was returned by a pack of coyotes. We are now building a sturdy roof on what we call, The Thump.

We could have made a better icebox, tested the outdoor kitchen for convenience, built a woodshed and storage shed. Ah, hindsight is 20/20, of course. Sitting here in almost-February in 29 degree weather, I have never been so excited about spring coming. Ever. It’s just like waiting for the stove to heat up the yurt.