Kotor

We headed south and then east into Montenegro, to the Bay of Kotor and around the bay to the town of the same name.

Along the way we stopped at Kanoba Ćatovića Mlini for lunch. It’s an old mill converted to a restaurant. It’s on beautiful grounds and with a large covered dining area, perfect for a nice afternoon meal.

Their speciality is seafood and there were a lot of choices, but we had to go with the roasted salt-crusted whole fish. We had a fish done this way in Venice and loved it. It was just as good here; moist, tender, flavorful, and not salty like you would think!

I need to learn how to do this!

The Bay of Kotor is surrounded by granite mountains. Not sharp Rockies-type mountains but OLD mountains worn down to their granite cores.

The town of Kotor is over a thousand years old, surrounded by walls and at the base of a mountain. The town walls run hundreds of feet up the mountainside. Tomorrow we will climb the walls: over 1,300 steps.

Trsteno and Srd

Picked up a rental car this morning and drove up to a garden north of town, Trsteno (that’s all the vowels it has).

Clearly, in the past, when it belonged to a wealthy family it was an extensive, well-maintained garden on a sloping site above the sea. While there are still some nice sections, after years of neglect and war most of it is overgrown with only the remaining large trees and stone walls to hint at its former size. It would take an army of gardeners to reclaim the wild areas and a lot of money to repair and replant. Of course in its current condition it is unlikely to get either.

Recently it served as the royal gardens in Game of Thrones, and there is enough structure remaining that with a little Hollywood magic it looked the part.

Today only people serious about gardens (Cathie) or GoT fans are likely to visit.

Afterwards, since we had the car we drove up Mount Srd (vowels needed!) rather than take the aerial tram. It has a great view over Dubrovnik.

Tomorrow we head to Kotor Montenegro, both a Bay and a City.

A final view of the walls.

Lokrum Island

Today we took a ferry to a small island just offshore. It’s nicely wooded with pines, junipers, cypresses and such. There are walking paths around the island, the ruins of a monastery, and an old fort, as well as a small botanical garden. It’s a nice diversion from the old town.

You also get nice views of the city and its walls from the sea.

Tonight we headed out to the suburbs for dinner at Pantarul. It doesn’t look fancy, but the food was outstanding with spectacular depths and combinations of flavor. After dinner we decided that we needed to walk the several miles back to the room.

We are eating very well so far.

Dubrovnik Walls

This morning we walked the walls around Dubrovnik. The walls are up to 75 feet high and the east and west sides if town are at least that much higher than the central, so there are a lot of stairs. But the views of the town are great, and it was good exercise.

It’s definitely best to do the wall walk first thing in the morning; for two reasons: at mid-day the sun is warm on the stone and walking up and down all the stair will work up a sweat, and the streets are full of tour groups. It seems that every tour and cruise starts the day with tours of the city, so there are masses of people squeezing down the narrow streets and stopping to hear their guides. By afternoon they have dispersed to shop, etc. and it’s not so bad.

By late afternoon, while Cathie napped, I went out to the fortress north of town where the town and walls were visible and had a nice light on them.

The town is nicest in the evenings, not as many people, it’s cooler and the light is nice.

Several portions of Game of Thrones were filmed here. The walls, fortresses and some buildings are very old and well preserved. So Game of Thrones tours are very popular. The guides lead their groups to where scenes were filmed and hold up a shot from the film, and explain the season and the episode when it was used. I find it interesting that there is so much more interest in the fictional events than in the real history of the place.

Dubrovnik

We arrived in Dubrovnik this afternoon after three flights from Chicago. Neither of us slept much, so we took it easy: Cathie napped and I walked.

The old center of Dubrovnik is a stone city as well as a port city: stone streets between stone buildings surrounded by high stone walls.

Other than one central street, the rest are narrow and many of them have stairs, some have a lot of stairs. So it’s pedestrian only in the old city, which is very pleasant.


A lot of tourists come to Dubrovnik, but we are past the summer peak, and we picked days when no large cruise ships are in town, so it’s not bad.

There are lots of restaurants with seating on the street (there aren’t separate sidewalks), So mid afternoon I found a spot with live music and had a pivo (beer), listened to the band and people watched. Not a bad way to spend some time.

Tonight we had a great dinner with excellent smoked scallop carpaccio, sea bream and local wines, cheeses and figs. I think we are going to eat well on this trip.

Dinner Upriver

We are celebrating my birthday at Trenchermen in Chicago. They are having a “Dinner Upriver” special event with three guest chefs from Memphis.

Excellent dishes and wines. Cathie is going to have to drive home.

RAGBRAI Day 6.

What a day. I started at 7 AM when the overnight rains stopped. It didn’t take long for them to start again though. By 9 AM I was in the little town of Tripoli about 27 miles along when a lightning bolt hit close enough that there was no gap between the flash and the bang. I decided it was a good time to join the crowds in the halls of the high school. Some people even ran into hail in the storm.

By 10 AM the rain was stopping, although the wind was not. Then the next 10 miles was some of the worst pavement we’ve seen. After a brief stop in Sumner, we turned south into a 25+ mph headwind that lasted the next 35 miles.

So rain, thunder and lightning, hail, bad roads and headwinds. The only thing we were missing to make it truly epic was a plague of frogs.

Tomorrow is our last day and we will be starting before dawn in order to get home tomorrow night.

RAGBRAI Day 3

It was a hot and muggy night. I was dripping sweat just packing up. In addition today was the long day, 80 miles. The forecast was for highs in the 90’s so I started at 6:00 am. As we rode out of town the sun rose out of the steam and above the corn.

In the 90 degree heat I decided that the basic 80 miles were enough and skipped the extra loop to add 28 miles. The wind was out of the northwest so it was more of a help than a hindrance most of the day. But at the end of the day, five miles from town we turned north into the wind and a series of long hills. Most people found the sign saying “5 miles and 5 hills to go” discouraging at that point.

I skipped most of the food and just concentrated on liquids, having emptied the water bottles pretty quickly.

RAGBRAI Day 2

Today was a short day, 42 miles. So I started a little later and made several stops at the roadside stands to take on ballast: the Pork Chop Guy, the Iowa Craft Beer and Beekman’s homemade ice cream. The stops allowed me to slow down the day and not arrive at our camp site until 1:00.

RAGBRAI Day 1

I started at 6:30 this morning when they opened the road. It was a nice setup with the road lined with flags.

It was a 72 mile day, but I got to the finish line at 12:30 and our team didn’t have the signs for the camp location out yet. So I rode too far and ended up having to come back, finish with 100 miles, which was OK, but it was too much time in the sun.

The towns really do things up, with the hay bales decorated and signs hung from farm equipment.

The church ladies sell pies and such in the day time and spaghetti dinners in the evening.

RAGBRAI

Early this morning 67 of us gathered at a school north of Chicago to load gear and bikes on a truck and board a bus for a ride across Iowa to the Missouri River.

Tomorrow morning we start the ride across the state to the Mississippi. It’s about 420 miles, so it averages 60 miles a day.

There will be 8,000+ people riding, so it should be a crazy scene.

Gathering for the bus ride

Hike to Sawtooth Lake

Today was our last Sawtooth Mountains hike. We saved Sawtooth lake to the end because we heard it was still frozen and because with 1,700 feet of climb and a 10 mile hike it was going to be at the limit of Cathie’s ability.

The hike is in another beautiful valley with sharp granite peaks on either side, wild flowers all around and great alpine lakes along the way. The reason these are called the Sawtooths is very clear.

I have to say that the Sawtooth Mountains are a hiker’s dream. There are great day hikes and doubtless even better multi-day backpacking trips. There are few people besides serious hikers. The locals seem to want it under the radar to keep out the bus tours, etc. and it seems to be working. The local town, Stanley, has a population of 63, several small hotels and restaurants and outfitters. You could easily miss the town, especially if you are gawking at the mountains.

Tomorrow morning we drive to Boise and take a plane home, our summer adventure is done.

4th of July Creek

Today we decided to do a short hike up 4th of July Creek to Washington Lake. The idea was a half day, 5 mile hike. But Cathie quickly discovered that the area was full of wildflowers. So the hike took a little longer as we admired, photographed and identified all the various flowers, but for Cathie it was a good exchange for a longer time on the trail.

We did get to both 4th of July Lake

and Washington Lake.

I’m sitting on the deck outside our room overlooking the Salmon River, which we listen to all night, and watching the light fade at 9:30 PM. A lovely way to spend an evening.

Hike to Alpine Lake (South)

There are two Alpine lakes in this mountain range, just a few miles apart. It does cause confusion when discussing hikes and directions.

We took a ferry across Redfish Lake to the trail head on the other side, it saves several miles each way and certainly made the hike more doable. With the ferry the hike was about 13 miles round trip and 1,900 feet of differential according to my GPS.

The mountains started at the far shore of the lake.

We hiked several miles up the valley between granite peaks on either side.

There was a snow covered circ at the end of the valley.

But before we got there we headed up a long series of switchbacks on the north side.

All along the way the hillsides were covered with flowers.

Alpine Lake had thawed but was still surrounded by snow.