Author Archives: Keri Vergari

Hot Days, Cool Nights … Siesta Anyone?

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Mount Rainer in the sunshine

The past few weeks our days start early, until about noon, when the thermometer hits 100+ it’s time for me to hide out in the air conditioning until about 20:00 (that’s 8:00 pm for you non-military time folks). It’s so hot I’ve run out of adjectives … blazing hot, melting hot, boiling hot, sizzling, scorching, red hot … and if someone says, “well, it’s a dry heat at least” … as they search for a positive … I’m glad they’re positive. Sweetie hooches up in his gun shop while I spend time researching an elusive ancestor and reading … I now understand Spanish and Italian siestas and I embrace them!!

But, I’m positively breaking my live in the now philosophy and am looking forward to next week when we’ll hitch up the Mini Winnie (I’ve yet to find that perfect name for her) and head for the mountains and rivers of Eastern Idaho and Montana and wishful thinking … cooler temps? maybe?

You’d think with all these free afternoons hidden away that I’d have my traveling list written and have everything ready to go. Nope, notta even a little bit, well, except when I think about it in-between books. I suppose I’d better get out from under this siesta fogginess and make sure we don’t forget something … though one of my well-worn travel motto’s is “if we don’t have it we don’t need it”, or  if we really do need ‘it’ then “Improvise, Adapt, & Overcome” (Marines Thank you for letting me steal your unofficial motto).

It’s a celestial month, August 2017, and on the night of the 11th we’ll be in the mountains of Eastern Idaho and in the midst of the Perseid’s Meteor Shower  and although there’ll be a waning gibbous moon  I’m hoping to see more than a few “shooting stars” sitting in the darkness on that mountain side.

When we return from mystery rivers, dutch-oven dinners, concerts and the night of shooting stars, we’ll only have a few days to prep for before Solar Eclipse Party people  head our way.  Oh! I’ll need a list for that too … our 30+ people eclipse party seems small compared with the thousands upon thousands of solar eclipse seeking hordes that have rented every hotel, motel, cow pasture, campground and free open space between here and the west coast just to watch the stars come out in the middle of the day (or that’s what the solar experts are saying)! Our little “ranch” is dead-center of the solar eclipse path … That reminds me, I’d better practice my camera’s time-lapse settings (like the rest of the world is doing). I’m planning on this party to be as much fun as 4th of July last year … I hope no one is disappointed … sometimes it’s hard to beat a chart topper, but it’s definitely a bar to reach for.

Sunset in Packwood Washington

Last weekend we packed our fishing gear and headed to Washington state to fish some creeks and rivers near Mt Rainier … we weren’t disappointed. Sweetie’s daughter, new to the fly fishing addiction, caught the 2 largest trout while I not fishing at the time &  hiking in my flipflops slid right over damp moss, down slick rock and into the creek. Two lessons from that watery encounter … First, take your own advice and remember the lessons you taught the grandkids to “Don’t hike in your flipflops”, and Second, don’t put your phone in your jacket pocket when you skid into an icy cold mountain stream … can anyone say, “Hello new iphone 7”?

Hot days, cool nights and breezes through the pines … life is good!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No Bears are Out Tonight

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Bear River Campground Me & Jill, the Mini Winnie & the Tiny Trailer

Last week, heading southeast to Wyoming to fish with my friend Jill, I started wondering about place names … it started when I noticed the next exit to Rattlesnake Pass. We’ve had a lot of rattlesnake sightings and funerals this summer up at the ranch and we are in hyper-watch mode. I imagined  homesteaders trailing into the desert sagebrush frightening and frightened by enough rattlesnakes that the place became a landmark. You know, turn right across Rattlesnake Pass.

If names reflect the landmarks then what do I think as I pull into the Bear River Campground, which is next to the East Bear River Campground, both of which are right on the Bear River? I’m thinking that I didn’t bring bear spray only my new little Kel Tec 22 pistol with snake shot … then to enhance my awareness of place names there were the bear warnings everywhere in the campground. Do NOT leave any food outside, nor in tents, nor in tent trailers that could attract bears. Do landmark names really reflect the truth? As I set up the Mini Winnie I wondered if it was bear proof?

Forgetting landmark names  and thinking FISH, the first morning out we headed up the Mirror Lake highway past all the private property & no trespassing signs to park in an off highway spot (remember to pick up your parking passes at the Ranger Station). Down to the river through willows and brush and trees. Jill went downstream and I went up.

Day one was eventful … I was sucked into a quicksand/mud bog hole crossing a side water stream to reach a rocky island where I went from mid-calf water to over my knee in a blink … luckily I fell into the bank, desperately holding my fly rod in one hand and some wee grasses with the other,  hoping I didn’t fall all the way in and wash downstream. Slowly I  pulled myself out of the water with a mucky sucking fuoosh as the black goop let go of my foot. All that and I didn’t catch one fish … notta … zippo.

Fire Scar Meadow …

Day two started with a beautiful hike to the East Fork Bear River through an old fire scared meadow down to the river … I caught a few fish, evaded some extremely large bovines and fell in the river (again). Yes, you heard me right … I fell in the river.

Wet wading in t-shirt, shorts, and my trusty old Asolo trekkers with my wading staff floating at my feet I caught a flash of fish out of the corner of my eye. I turned too quickly, not watching my feet placement on the slippery stones nor my wading staff floating between my feet. I turned, the staff didn’t and I went down on my butt, water to my chest and my backpack acting like a balloon on my back. Not good. After I righted myself and found my footing again I stood dripping in the still cold, winter run-off water, holding my legs still so my shorts wouldn’t touch them.

Then, planner that I am I remembered the change of clothes in my pack, just in case, because, let’s face it … I tend to slip on rocks in a rushing river. However, opening my pack it was obvious that it wasn’t waterproof. Everything was wet or wet enough that it wouldn’t have made a difference if I changed or not.

I just started fishing again (further up stream from my debacle) hoping the sun would peep between thunder storm clouds which didn’t happen, but I got a double soaking when the heavy clouds opened up  as we hiked the miles back up to the parking lot.

Evening found us up at Lily Lake, named for the thousands of lily pads that clog about 1/3 of it  and it was a beautiful spot (to lose a lot of flies) … I’ve not fished lakes with a fly rod much. Score: Lily Lake Trees about 10, Fish 1 and Me? Zero.

Bear River off the Mirror Lake Highway, Wyoming

Our last day I headed back up river while Jill packed up her tiny trailer. After catching a few fish and enjoying a sunny morning I headed back to the truck … when I arrived Jill was waiting and watching the river. She worried I had fallen in and drowned myself … she was checking the river to see if I floated passed. Day Three … I did NOT fall in the river. I count that a plus.

If you’re looking for a quiet night and pleasant camping, and aren’t pulling a gargantuan sized trailer the Wyoming side of the Mirror Lake Highway is a nice, peaceful place to stay and it’s away from the heavily packed campgrounds on the west side of the mountains … I highly recommend giving it a try.

Though the fishing could have been better the camping was great, we didn’t get many thunder storms and there was plenty of firewood to be picked up from old slash piles. But, we didn’t press our luck and play no bears are out tonight … we just watched the fire burn to coals and listened to the river’s song.

Next trip, Sweetie and I are heading to Washington state to fish near Mt. Rainier with his daughter & son-in-law where I’m hoping to catch a few more fish and NOT fall in the river.

Until next time friends, tight lines and blue skies.

Chills, a Nudge & Footsteps

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Hyrum C & Isabella Murdock Nicol Homestead Uintah  County, Utah. Settled 1906

Five years ago I was in Duchesne (pronounced Do-Shane) Utah over the 4th of July on a fire assignment … before in-briefing I spent a couple of hours in the county records office researching the homestead my great grandparents had near there. I was able to get a copy of the ledger page showing the final patent they received and the sale of the homestead. Just before we left for another assignment, a few friends and I drove up Sower’s Canyon and found the old place which is now inside the Uintah-Ouray Reservation. We took pictures, Dick made a video and at home I found a photo of my great-grandfather and grandfather outside the door of that cabin. It gave me the chills.

Well, lately the “Indian Ranch” has come to mind more than a few times; I don’t know why, but I have learned that when something comes to mind without a reason it’s something I should pay attention to. The attention I’ve been paying to the nudge has lead me to read old newspapers, searching for my great-grandfather’s name. Eureka! There were more than a few articles and advertisements found; one or two with my great-grandmother’s name also. So I’m on a hunt. For what, I’m not sure, but I’m certain in time it will be revealed.

In the meantime I had a wander through old newspapers. They’re fascinating, filling the bulletin board of a frontier and homesteader’s life: Who is traveling, who is sick, who changed jobs, who built a barn, bought a cow or a horse, put up fence in record time, or bought a murder house cheap. The insights into the world of frontier homestead towns and people had me thinking of the hard life and many sacrifices they made to build a country from nothing but raw materials and their hands. A big box store wan’t around the corner to pick up an extra board, saw blade, or food. They cut the trees, forged the iron, plowed the fields and built canals and dams in the desert to water those fields, their cattle, their gardens and themselves. They were no strangers to government greed and graft, religious contention, migration and immigration problems, financial market fluctuations, divorce, and violence.  I highly recommend a perusal through the Utah Digital Newspapers project if you have Utah ancestors or even just want to peer back in time.

So as I sit here, hooched up in my air conditioned room, on a comfy couch, sipping a smoothie after an early morning golf game peeking into the windows of my ancestors lives and I’ve decided I’m grateful that it’s not the time I was called to live in … because I know that I’m soft, and expect water from the tap, commodities in the store just down the street, instant communication, and stuff to do, places to go, access to everything I could ever want or need at my finger tips and once ordered they’ll show up on the doorstep tomorrow.

I also realize I live under the same sun, watch the same moon and stars each night, and by walking (figuratively or not) their trails and holy places, I follow their footsteps and I’m grateful for the realization and knowledge that I am part of an eternal chain of life; mother and father to child, as far back as life itself.  Now it is I  who is great-grandmother and I ask myself, what story will I leave behind? Where are the prints of my footsteps heading?

 

 

 

 

Moving onto Boise Time

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My “Up Early” in Council is about 7 a.m. and means a saunter up the rails to trails, while the sun rises, the dog chases tweety birds, and what the day brings is generally a surprise.  But, when I’m on Boise Time it’s up at the sun crack of dawn to start my Get Off My Butt and Get Something Done list before I have to hooch up and hide out from solar activity (right now the temp is hovering mid-ninety and climbing). The past couple of days the list included finally planting the patio flower pots, moving & fixing the drip system, thinning the peaches and apples, hunting weeds, weeds, weeds and Virginia Creeper taming … you know, vines up and not down the arbor posts. The grapes, peaches, blackberries, apples and pears still need to be put under  camo netting to keep the crazy bird lady’s battalion of voracious beaks  from devouring the fruits of the mini-orchard’s labor.

2017 Garlic Harvest

For the first time this season the dehydrator is off the shelf and I’ve started the first batch of winter’s mint teas.

This year’s garlic harvest is drying out and I’m pleased to say the bulbs are big and healthy. They weren’t part of February’s Great Greenhouse Apocalypse, but were snug in their beds enduring this winter’s snowmageddon.

Garlic & Clam Sauce anyone?

Speaking of the Great Greenhouse Apocalypse you might be interested to know that 8 tomato plants, 8 peppers, and one basil plant survived … we had to breakdown and buy a spaghetti squash, San Marzano tomatoes, a roma grape tomato, and a couple more basil plants. They seem to be taking well to their new home and are already flowering.

Next week I think new potatoes may be ready to debut on the dinner table … along with some fresh peas and a maybe a steak?

I’m psyched though and hard work has a reward! Tomorrow the shovels, rakes, hoses, and ladder are going back in the shed ’cause “We’re Going Fishing”!! Yeah! Fishing Time! Finally the snow pack has melted enough that most of these western rivers are actually not flooding, so maybe, we won’t get swept away. At least I hope not.

These are my slow wanderings … where my wandering doesn’t always mean I need to be going to some great, distant adventure; sometimes it’s just a bit of gardening, a good book in the shade, checking a few items off a list or an evening standing in a river with my Sweetie.

For all of my blessings, I am thankful … Life is good and I am blessed.

This is a taste of Council Time …  where I plan my next adventures and wanders.  

and We Didn’t Take Any Photos!

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Upper Bear Creek Trail, Payette NF … hiked to snow line and we were stopped at crossing 5 of the raging creek.

Wanderingkeri isn’t lost … and I’ll stop talking about myself in the the third person … this summer so far is Awesome! Between friends and family our guest rooms are full and what is summer without parties and road trips? There’ve been some garden days and more than a few wish it would actually spring up days and quit with the rain and wind. The youngest grandson MK and I were washed and snowed off the mountain on our camping & hiking trip last week and it hasn’t been truly warm since we parked the micro mini in the yard. It’s June 13th and there is a fire in the stove … really!

I really hope the winter run off starts to slow a little, the rivers are too fast for my fishing skill level.  Our fishing gear has been cleaned and ready  for months … and so are the golf clubs, and the bicycles too. I’m still in the find some new hiking trekkers ’cause just in case you’re wondering … my new Asolo’s are relegated to winter (no gor-tex for summer for me). I’m back to wearing older pair 2 until I can find a suitable replacement …

2017 American Fork High School Graduates; Bryson Taylor & Kaylee Quinn Taylor … Go Cavemen!!

I love summer! And I’ve come to realize my mantra so far is “we didn’t take any photos”!!

Just because this makes my mama heart sing!

 

7 Days 7 National Parks … RED ROCKS TOUR 2017

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We’re Baaaack! If you were wondering whether I had truly packed too much into our southern Utah/northern Arizona red rock road trip … the answer is Nope! I surprised myself that the sack was just big enough and not too full. It is possible to smorgasbord a little bit here and a little bit there and taste some of the wonders of my favorite part of the world … whetting the appetite for more, and more, and more.  Of course, the more and more is for another adventure. It always comes down to too little time and soooo much to do, see, learn & experience.

So, after planning, mapping, and anticipating this 8 day adventure (not counting the going there and getting home days) I can recommend this Itinerary with the caveat that in my experience, going to a National Park after Memorial Day is only for the strong of heart and crowd loving. That said, even two weeks before the official start of the summer travel season the National Parks, camp sites, view points, restaurants, and highways were FILLED. It was a shocker to my system.

We officially started our road trip from American Fork Utah when we met up with the cousins from PA , driving their rented from Salt Lake City RV America motor home. On to Moab, Utah where we arrived to find EVERY campground full, every side track FULL, and finally found an unpopulated gravel pit 10-12 miles down SR 313 toward Dead Horse Point, off of a side road. I’m not kidding, any area that would accommodate a tent, a car, a trailer or RV was taken.  So beware.

Delicate Arch … there is Always someone beneath it. Sigh.

Arches National Park, by 9 am was almost bumper to bumper to the Delicate Arch parking lot. The hike to the arch is worth the effort. Honestly! In the evening Dead Horse Point, showed off the river and canyons with joy. Albeit with cold wind and gray clouds making us hurry more than usual. I was murmuring outloud that I wished the sun would come out and put the canyon walls on display. Someone took ‘offense’ at my remarks, saying something like This is Beautiful … what more could you want? If you’ve never seen a golden sunset on red rock walls and reflecting from the ribbon of river wound through the country below … well, you can want more than flat light.

Island in the Sky never fails to inspire the heart and soul and the walk along the rim shows wonders yet to explore (next time). Then off to Bluff, Utah … pioneer history, Hovenweep … ancient history, Butler Wash … even more ancient history, then Monument Valley … John Wayne history (think Nathan Biddles in the 1949 movie, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon), and onto the southern route to the Grand Canyon.

Monument Valley: We didn’t see Forrest Gump, but did see a group of Japanese kids recreating the iconic scene!

 

We turned onto a Kaibab National Forest road about 8 miles from the south entrance and found a grand camping site. Then the wind and rains came.

It’s May … not Elk Camp in the Fall!!

Here were are, in ski hats and winter coats (we could have been at fall elk camp it was so cold). In fact, the next morning traveling toward the gate at the south entrance to the park there was SNOW on the ground. Not just a skiff, but large patches. And I was into layers of jackets and a coat to stay warm.

What can I say about the Grand Canyon that isn’t a cliche? It’s is an experience everyone should aspire to behold. Photographs, paintings, watercolors, mixed media interpretations just can’t open the heart to its immensity and timelessness.

Packing up that afternoon we were again on the road through Cameron AZ toward the Escalante-Grand Staircase National Monument where we arrived too late for a camp spot at the Stateline campground near the Wire Pass Trailhead … so morning found us waking up in the trail head parking lot, along with several others.

Buckskin Gulch

The hike into Wire Pass and a right turn into Buckskin Gulch slot canyon(s) is always a wonderland of experiences … and this one was no exception. The usual drop over the rock at the mouth of the first slot was made much harder from last fall’s rainstorms which washed out the landing area … the drop was far greater than the last visit. Getting back up was accomplished only because we arrived at the same time folks were starting the drop. A big push from below, a huge tug from above … no skinned knees, but it was a blessing ‘fer shur’.

The last stage of the trip, a night in Kanab, dinner at Houston’s Trails End,  and some sand scraping before the final day at Zion National Park. Description? ZOO, it was a ZOO! There were so many people and cars, trucks, motorcycles, trailers, RVs, bicycles and hikers that I went into sensory overload. We hit the road north early and stayed the night camped at my mom’s in Orem, which was a smile on my heart.

Last night of the trip found us in Salt Lake City, at the Little America Motor Lodge … ah, a long hot shower, dinner with some of the Utah fam and Sunday morning to sit in the historic Tabernacle at Temple Square and listen to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir (for FREE)! Wonderful.

I slept most of the way home to Boise.  So, chalk up another 2100 plus mile road trip that’d I’d take again in a heart beat and stick around a few areas a while longer … that stick around a while longer is already added to “The List”.

 

Catchin’ Up & Road Trips

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I’m still wearing a jacket going outside … it’s supposed to be spring, isn’t it? It’s rained so much in Boise I haven’t gotten my peas in the ground, and I’ve given up on the whole lettuce thing. I haven’t pruned my grape vines and they are running amok already, just like the blackberry bush. I guess you could say I’m being a lazy gardener … or rather, I’m a blue sky gardener just like I’m a blue sky skier.  Then I remember my grade school rhymes: April showers bring May flowers. There must be a reason it’s in a rhyme, rain in spring isn’t a punishment, it’s anticipation of reward later. Patience Keri patience.

With no patience,  I am going into avoidance mode … no gardens, lawns, or dirty windows and so I’m tweaking the little campbox on wheels. The designers of the campbox table didn’t really think it through very well. When you decide the mitigation to a lousy design is to add a tie down strap over the table to keep it from falling over don’t you think someone would say, let’s not put that idea into production? Well, someone didn’t make that decision … duh.   First there is a 1 inch gap between the table and the wall, and the table wobbles on 2 aluminum pipe legs. When you place a plate on the table, or lean on it, it tips your food onto your lap.   So last week Sweetie & I took on the table stability issue, building a frame that is screwed onto the floor plate, and is built with a lip the table sits on.

Hey Winnebago … rethink your table design in the Micro Minnie Winnie. Something like this will work! 🙂

A bit of formica, a couple of screws, a few pieces of industrial strength hook tape and the table doesn’t wobble like a Weeble.  Score One for us!

Always one for a party, daughter #2 and I did a down and dirty trip to Utah for Girl’s Night at the Community Theater with the mom, the sisters, Aunts and cousins … and blasted back the following morning.  We did take a quick side trip off of exit 182 on I-84 to oooh and aaaahh over Shoshone Falls on the Snake River. With snow pack melt and lots of rain the falls were booming.  It was worth the detour. 

Tomorrow I’m hitching up and heading south to Boise for final preparation for the 10# in a 1# sack trip to southern Utah and Northern Arizona.  Shopping for, preparing & freezing dinners for those easy to thaw, heat & eat at the end of exploration day meals.  Wouldn’t you like to come back to Creamy Chicken Enchiladas? How about Red Rice & Beans? Of course, one night will be grilled steak … you can’t camp if you don’t have great steak at least once while you’re on the road. Or at least, I can’t.

Just catchin’ ya up on Wanderingkeri … May is already booked out and you CANNOT imagine how EXCITED I am to connect with friends and family from all over the country.  Idaho, Utah, California, Oregon, Washington, & PA … and it’s ONLY MAY!!