Category Archives: Camping

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.

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!

 

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!!

 

 

10 Pounds in a 1 Pound Sack

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For more than 30 years Sweetie’s cousins fly from Pennsylvania to Idaho, to fish and hunt. Since I met them I’ve waxed poetic of red rocks, ponderosa and piñon pines, petroglyphs, and pictographs, the spirit and ancientness of southern Utah, and northern Arizona. Almost my FAVORITE place on earth …. so far.  We’ve encouraged, begged, wheedled, teased, and guilted them to come and experience another part of the west … and this year, in fact in 4 weeks, a couple of them are taking us up on our invitation to come face to face with God’s watercolor box.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnticipation! Planning for an extended road trip is always exciting, don’t you think? Sweetie warns me that I always try to put 10 pounds in a 1 pound sack when I’m planning … I admit, I generally do. Though I am getting better … well, at least I’m trying.

This is exactly a road trip … to taste, to feel spirit and solitude, to breathe ancientness so that it plants seeds so deep they will have to come again and again.

We’re packing the Micro Minnie Winnie campbox  that we acquired last fall … it’ll be it’s long distance break in trip. Which reminds me we have to give it a name, maybe on this trip it’ll let us know what it is.  The cousins are renting a Cruise America RV (little) and we’re hitting the highway for this 10 day road trip.

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Camp-Box Supreme Everything we need … nothing more, nothing less

In a nutshell: Boise to Salt Lake City where we’ll meet up with the cousins, then down to Moab (Arches & Canyonland National Parks), then Bluff  (Cedar Mesa and Hovenweep National Monument). We’ll drive through Monument Valley (yeah John Wayne and John Ford!) on our way to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. After the enormous expanse of that canyon we’ll head north and walk, hike, climb and work ourselves down through Wire Pass (a coooool small, slot canyon which connects to the longer Buckskin Gulch canyon). We’ll work our way west through Kanab (stopping always at Houston’s Trail’s End for chicken fried steak) then on toward Zion National Park.  To complete the circle we’ll wend our way through small towns Utah to I-15 and head north for an evening and a morning in SLC before sliding home to Boise.

It makes me breathless just thinking about it …  10 pounds in a 1 pound sack? What do you think?

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*Links are for your convenience if you want to know more about the places I’m wandering to. I receive no compensation for any links I put in my posts.

Rattle, Rattle … do ya wanna hear a Snake Story?

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snake1I was bored driving home the other day and I started thinking about snakes.; specifically rattlesnakes and how many snakes I’ve “encountered” in my life. So, how many snakes does a person encounter in their lives?

If you’re an outdoor kinda person, like me, and live in what was once the wild west then you might run into one “occasionally”.  So I started thinking of all of my snake stories … then I started counting my snake stories … and I realized that I have had a heck of a lot of “encounters” (near & far) with rattlesnakes!

Disclaimer to this rattlesnake story: Back in the day … before hyper-parenting became the norm … I actually let my kids be kids. They hiked without me, they swam without me, they rode motorcycles without me, oh! they had lives without me. And! They didn’t die … this rattlesnake story is theirs … my interaction was limited to screaming from the camp below, hugging them when they returned and reassured them guardian angels are real.

In American Fork canyon after an afternoon picnic …   I was studying, lying in the sun … the kids started hiking up a rock scree above the camp spot. Laughter and screams and rock slides were echoing across the canyon when I heard, “HOLD STILL”!  “SNAKES”!

The screams became intense and I heard Clayton encouraging Angie to jump sideways and run, or something like that. I saw a cloud of dust and Angie slide to the bottom,  screaming, “snakes, snakes”!

Then Clayton yelled, “I can’t move, they’re everywhere”!  Anyway, I heard a scream and more rocks and dust billowed out of the trees as Clayton panted towards us. “Snakes! They were all around us!  I just jumped! I don’t know how we got away from them”!

I know how they got away unharmed.  I taught them of their guardian angels.  images3

Shiver! Snake dens.

Then there was this time when my son Steve and I, were making our way along a path through a ponderosa forest in the dark. We had ran a couple of miles at dusk to catch a spectacular sunset from the Observation Point which over looks Zion National Park.  Oh! You have to see a night in a ponderosa forest  … it takes your breath away.

We had our flashlights kind of ahead on the trail, but flitted their pale lights over the trees, across the flats and into the canyon below; mostly we relied on a bit of moon light to make our way.  All at once, Steve whipped around and shone his light on our back trail … one of the biggest rattlesnakes I’d seen was coiled RIGHT in the MIDDLE of the path we had just crossed .. it was less than 10 feet behind us!

CReeeeepy!! We grabbed one another’s hands and sprinted back to the truck, flashlights flipping back and forth in front of us; back and forth to the sides of us until we jumped into the truck and slammed the doors.  I asked him what made him turn around?  He whispered, “I felt something evil”.

Deep breath! Snakes on a path.

Then there was this time coming down from Mount Graham in Arizona in the middle of the day; the traffic was stopped. At least 10 cars or so and people were out all bunched up in front of the cars … I thought, car wreak? road construction? Nope! The biggest, most GINOURMOUS rattlesnake I’d ever seen was taking the sun across a full lane of traffic!  From its tail laying on the dirt at the edge of the asphalt to it’s head almost touching the painted center line … it was just laying there, not a twitch.  No one would drive over it, or get close enough to prod it along … I don’t recall how long it took before traffic started moving again. That snake was HUMONGOUS, it could have eaten a coyote!

Eyes wide! Snakes on a road.

And then there was this time that  Sweetie and I were wading through a red rock slot canyon rain-filled pool  when two snakes slithered down the rocks, into the water, and swam across the pool. I screamed, and tried to climb the rock wall … it was more than CRrrrreeeepy!images-1

Dripping and shaking! Snakes in a pool!

Wow! I really do have a lot of snake stories!  I have a lot more, but then you’d just think I was bragging.

Here’s a thought . Although snakes creep me out and danger is always a possibility … I’ve never been bitten by a rattlesnake, not even close.  I was bitten by a garter snake I’d taken away from one of the kids. Like most everything that could be threatening … just be smart. Back away is always a good strategy … antagonizing a snake is never a smart thing to do.

So I’ve seen snakes on rocks, snakes on paths, and snakes under bushes. I’ve seen snakes stretched across roads, snakes hanging out by the front door or chilling in the garage, and yes, only once in a pool …  but I’ve never, ever, no never seen snakes on a plane.

 

 

*Disclosure. These aren’t my snake pictures …

 

 

 

 

 

Camp-in-a-Box – Easy Peasy

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I’m waxing nostalgic this morning, summer is winding down; morning has that time to go to school, put on a jacket feel and I am missing the mountains and deserts. Guess I’ll make the most out of our last camping/fishing trips of the season next week.

Towering Pines ... ahhhh

Towering Pines … ahhhh

CAMPING!! I love camping. I have from the first camping trip I remember with my folks … where? I don’t remember or how old ? I don’t remember, but I do remember snugged in a sleeping bag, on a cot, beneath towering pine trees and gazing up at a billion and one stars breaking through the canopy. Love starts early.

Go ahead! Ask me to go camping on an over-nighter and I can be ready in under 30 minutes (that includes putting food in the cooler, clothes in my backpack, and fishing gear inventoried).  I will open the back of the Escape toss in my pop-up tent, foldable mattress, sleeping bag, my camp-box, collapsible chair and the tiny cooler.

Kirkham Springbar .... THE BEST Tent Ever!

Kirkham Springbar …. THE BEST Tent Ever!

Ask me for a week and I can be ready in less than an hour. I will open the back of the Escape toss in the Kirkham’s Springbar, folding mattress, sleeping bag, my camp-box, the larger cooler, collapsible chair, a couple of tables, propane stove and a cot. OK, I admit, I take my pillow too.

Camp-Box Perfection Exactly what I need ... nothing more, nothing less

Camp-Box Perfection
Exactly what I need … nothing more, nothing less

My camp-box is indispensable! I love my camp-box! It’s my ‘camp-in-a-box’   … everything we need and nothing more. Mine is setup for two people and  the contents and container have evolved to my utter perfection. Would you like to see?

Would you believe that  this little Rubbermaid 20 quart tub with lid (water-proof & fairly bug proof) holds, a Jet-boil (with pot stand and butane), 8″ frying pan, 6″ pot, utensil box, 4 plates, 3 cups, 4 glasses, trash bags, paper towels, dish soap, hand soap, moist wipes, propane lantern (with extra mantels & propane), lighter/matches, salt/pepper, tea/coffee, bandages, sandwich bags, TP, 2 collapsible roaster sticks, bug spray and sunscreen?

Simplicity. Less is More. Easy Peasy. Just Enough. These are apt descriptions of my camping style … too much stuff = confusion; and just more ‘stuff’ to mess with and put away when we get home.

Camp-Box Supreme Everything we need ... nothing more, nothing less ... except the microwave

Camp-Box Supreme Everything we need … nothing more, nothing less

So … Confession time … we decided to simplify one more time. We now have a camp-box on wheels. Yesterday we brought home a 17′ Winnebago Micro Minnie … it is exactly Simplicity, Just Enough and Nothing More. (well, except for the microwave) …

P.S.  I’m keeping my camp-box stocked and ready, ’cause, who knows when the urge to sleep under the stars will hit?