Category Archives: Road Trip

Yosemite-What More Can I Say?

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I love finally exploring an iconic area that has been on my I have to go there and experience That for myself  list.  It’s not a “bucket” that I toss experiences into with a been there-done that check one off and head to the next one on the list. That phrase bucket list seems to take the life out of wonder and has a frenetic sort of collector feeling to me … like I ‘have’ to get through this list before I die quality to me.

I’m about dreams, and what inspires me. I’m about anticipation and exploration … tasting, touching, listening, feeling awe at the magnificently spectacularly diverse world we’ve been given to live in.

By Ansel Adams wanna be Keri Vest-Vergari

Ansel Adams’ dramatic black and white portraits of Yosemite National Park’s granite peaks and roaring waterfalls ignited one such dream. And last week, for our 12th anniversary, Sweetie and I spent 2 nights near Yosemite Falls staying with friends who live and work in the park, Kelly Martin (Chief of Fire & Aviation Management at Yosemite) and her husband Paul Heffner. While Kelly had to work, Paul gave us the ‘insider’s view’ through the park. Did you know that Yosemite has its own zip code, its own jail and judge and has a permanent and temporary workforce population that is 4 1/2 times larger than Council Idaho? Or, did you know that a past concessionaire trademarked historic Yosemite names and places and once they lost their contract kept the trademarks and the park had to change the names? What? And we let them?

We picked the perfect time to visit, and although the campgrounds, cabins, and hotels were semi-full we felt as if the place was almost empty as we hiked and walked around the valley.

By Ansel Adams’ wanna be Keri Vest-Vergari

So, I joined the thousands of wanna be Ansel Adams’ and attempted black and white visions of the granite peaks from the valley floor … the Half Dome hike seemed daunting for a first hike of the season and to tell the truth, we didn’t even think about it!

Yosemite is a wondrous place and you can find solitude even in the midst of the waves of humanity that flood the canyon all year long.  We did and it was a dream.

On a personal note: Happiest 12+ years ever Sweetie!! Just so ya know … I love you and THANKS for bribing me with Yosemite. The whole week was perfect!

**photos taken with an iPhone 6 and a clip on telephoto lens**

 

 

On the Cusp

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On the Cusp … has an adventurous sound to it, doesn’t it? It portends, it anticipates, it leans forward, a balancing act one day at a time. It feels like holding my breath before I tip off the edge of the ski run, point upward toward the peak at the end of the vertical trail, open a new book, or start a plan. Anything can happen.

Today’s footwear … in Cusp Mode

Breathing, in this moment, the fire is glowing in the stove, but the window is open and I can smell the rain of spring. Here, in Council, the ground is only beginning to shed its snow coat while in Boise the greenhouse is busy protecting the baby greenlings, the piles of last falls debris are anticipating a burning and the bird-caller-finder-feeder neighbor lady’s trees are full of veracious beaks on recon while our garden beds and fruit trees are coming out of hibernation.

A MUST Read!

Today I’m cusping like this…taking a few more days in front of the fire, reading books, and thinking I need to finish the quilt laying quietly under the sewing machine needle waiting for phase 2. I finally finished with the “Beast” … my yearly January puzzle that took me like 8 weeks to complete … I did a happy dance when that last stupid pink,pinky,whitish-pink, green, greenish, greenish-black, black flower patterned piece actually fit in place.

I am cusping and planning a hiking trip in Yosemite National Park in a couple of weeks. Sweetie was a wildland firefighter, at one time he was the first Superintendent of the Union Hotshots, out of La Grande Oregon. In a few weeks we’re headed south to Reno for a Hotshot Superintendent Reunion & National Hotshot Association meeting.  Sweetie, knowing that Yosemite is on my “want to see it myself list”, suggested we spend a few days in Yosemite before heading north again.  Bless his heart!

Anticipation

In cusp mode, I’m not ready for spring yet, I’m not so secretly praying for another monster snow fall on the ski hill before I hang up the Pearls for the season. Though I did buy those new Asolo trekking shoes  and this afternoon Sweetie and I are planning on cleaning, organizing, and replenishing our fly fishing packs …

Anticipation

On the Cusp … Yeah! an adventure all in itself!

 

 

 

Breaking the Doldrums & A Major Personal Milestone

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House bound with rain, rain, rain smooshing the piles of snow outside into bogs of slush.  It hasn’t stopped raining here in Council for more than 48 hours…not gully washer rain, but steady drizzle. The rivers are raging, the creeks overflowing, basements are flooding and my cell phone blasted an emergency alert during a major REM sleep cycle about 4 a.m.

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Frosted ear piece … cold, cold day

Anyway, last week’s girls weekend was a hoot … the snow was fab down at Brian Head Resort outside of Cedar City Utah. My skiing partners even got me on some powder filled, choppy mogels and very, very, very cold … frost on the ski helmet.

Which made our spa day  at the Flamingo Las Vegas even more perfect (facials, feet pampering, steam/sauna rooms, and hot tubs). I’m putting the spa day on my TO DO agenda every time we head south … OR find ones closer to home?! Duh!

So good we had breakfast here 2 days in a row!

So good we had breakfast here 2 days in a row!

The cute Vegas neice, Catlin, showed us a hidden gem for breakfast named Crepe Expectations (it’s one of those Diner, Drive Ins, and Dives notable places). So good we went two days in a row!

In that same shopping plaza we tasted and I bought the MOST yummy hummus I’ve ever eaten … When in Vegas I highly suggest you find Happy Hummus  and buy their Lemony Spinach … it’s heavenly.

Back home and house bound, I’ve taken on the eBay world selling the ‘let’s clear out the shop’s 40 years of we won’t use this’ stuff. Easy to learn how and it’s kept me occupied … and we know I have to be occupied or I start planning stuff! Well, full disclosure I’m planning stuff anyway … a family camp out , & fishing trip, a southern Utah/Arizona road trip, and I’m still hoping for a few days on the slopes of Grand Targhee.

Keeping the doldrums at bay I’m also working on a measly little 500 piece puzzle .. my one puzzle for the year … yikes! It has driven me nuts … these little pieces of pink and green bushes are so much harder than the mostly black Star Wars one I did last year. Can you imagine that?

The sun is finally out and shining for the first time in weeks … I’m outta here … hello Brundage!  Well, I will be once Sweetie is ready 🙂

Noteworthy in My Life:  On February 14th I will be 21 years sober! I’ve not done this alone … thank you to God and my wonderful family and friends. I would not be where I am without them!! I love you All!!

 

Embrace the Chill

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I’m cold. Like most of the country we are snow and ice bound here in Idaho, but that hasn’t curtailed my winter much … well, except for the 3 days we were drifted in up at the ranch in Council before Al, our snowplow guy, could get to us. Skiing is pretty much the only thing on my agenda. The valleys are under frozen inversions yet the slopes are blue sky and squeaky snow. Where would you want to be?

Sweetie and I broke my no skiing on Saturday rule last week to attend the Brundage Mountain Beer & Gear Day. I didn’t partake of the beer, but demo’d 5 different skis (and it didn’t cost me a dime (then)). The plan was simple: ski the same slope in approximately the same lines to ensure that I gave each set of skis its chance and hopefully find the skis I’d like to replace my K2s.

I clicked into a pair of Blizzard Black Pearls , took the Blue Bird Lift to the summit and headed down the slope. The Black Pearls had great control, a smooth ride, easy turns, with a substantial feel) ,  after a couple of runs on them I swapped out to some Rossignals (they didn’t fit my ski style … too loose and chattery), I changed up to an upper end Vokl  (which were too heavy for me; I felt like I had 10 pounds of iron on each foot), the next run I tried a boutique ski made in Portland for Brundage (nice control, good carving, but I didn’t want my skis to have a Brundage advertisement on them),  back at the bottom I moved on to a different model of Rossignol’s, (their E88). ( I had no control at all with them, hard to turn, and heavy), then finally I went back to the Black Pearls for my final run.  Guess which one I chose?

Off to the ski shop for the price (YIKES)!!! So, sorry, won’t be purchasing them here. Sweetie and I took ourselves back down the mountain passing on a soak at Starkey Hot Springs and curled up on the couch for the evening.

It's Christmas in January! Blizzard Black Pearl skis with Rossignol bindings. Love at FIrst Ski

It’s Christmas in January! Blizzard Black Pearl skis with Rossignol bindings. Love at First Ski

Once on the couch out came the laptop and I found them! New Blizzard Black Pearls from the Colorado Ski Shop for about 200$ less. Bet you can’t guess what’s sitting in my living room? Well, okay, so you guessed.   Overnight shipping and viola! I do have to have the bindings set before I hit the slopes at Brundage a couple of time to get tuned into the new boards, before a trip through Utah to Brian Head Resort with my ski buddy daughter & my sister. Girls Weekend!!

Well, there are 2 more months before the end of winter and my goal is to ski at least twice a week until the resorts close. Who knows where the snow’ll be calling me.  I have a couple of loop ski trips floating through my mind. Northern Utah, back to my roots (Snowbasin, Alta, Sundance  (that is where I first learned to ski), or Northern Idaho and Montana and try (Schweitzer, & Big Sky), or Eastern Idaho (Sun Valley) then Wyoming (Grand Targhee) which is one of my favorites!  I can’t decide …  maybe rock/paper/scissor? flip a coin? or pull a name out of the hat?  Or just close my eyes and point.  Anyway I decide I ‘m hoping I can get Sweetie out of the shop for a few days to join me on a jaunt or two before spring.

Happy winter! Embrace the Chill!!

 

How to take the Perfect Free Form Road Trip

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Crater Lake National Park

Crater Lake National Park

We did it! We fled our day to day and hit the road in the Escape-mobile.  Taking a free-form, take a break, go somewhere different road trip … Sweetie and I had only one fixed destination point and time that was Willow Creek California to spend a few days with an old smoke jumper friend of Greg’s. To and from there we had no idea where we would end up …

We may not have know how and where we’d end up, but I’d put a couple of I’d like to do’s on the list: First was an item from my wanna do list ‘experience the giant redwoods’, then maybe some time on the coast, we wanted to find roads that we’d never driven, before we wanted to have fun, and I wanted to flee from the madness and negativity being generated by “the” election … banning talk radio and news reports.

In remembrance of our last spring’s no power, food, or fuel experience in Moab, I promised myself, no more road trips with out a bit of emergency preparation on hand so into the Escape-mobile I tossed our faithful camp-in-a-box, a sleeping bag, a couple of chairs and our pillows. Of course, 2 gallons of water and foodage … snacks and power bars, and several books on cd.

But in all that preparation we forgot … maps.  At the first fuel stop Sweetie bought more maps … maps of states we already had in our map case, at home … guess a back-up could come in handy … at least if we remember them.

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Crater Lake National Park in the snow … Nov 2016

All trips from Boise, Idaho start off East or West on I-84 … for us that means turn left and head west. Ontario to Vale to Jordan Valley then a right turn onto and onward through Christmas Valley on our way to Crater Lake National Park.

I love coming to a fork in the road, consulting the trusty map and sometimes almost tossing a coin for directions … we finally made it to Crater Lake; beautiful, deep blue, and snow covered.

Dropping off the mountain hunger overtook us and we stopped at a little spot called Becky’s Cafe in Union Creek. It’s been there since 1926 and is in an old and quaint log building … I had their excellent chili …

But as I sat there, I kept looking around, and then … “I think I’ve been here before”. Déjà vu .. shivers! …it came to me, driving back from a fire assignment in Grant’s Pass, a friend and I had made a detour to Crater Lake and had actually stopped at this place for dinner  years before …

Headin' South

Headin’ South

On to Medford Oregon our first night’s stop … I tapped booking.com for a place to stay … and found a nice place downtown, the Inn at the Commons from the list and booked it.  When we pulled into the parking lot and walked inside, Sweetie looked around and said, “I think I’ve been here before … it used to be a Red Lion. I was here on a fire assignment.” Laughter and  another Déjà vu!

Gold Beach Oregon

Gold Beach near Gold Beach Inn

From the mountains to the coast then north to Gold Beach, we embraced a storm so strong rain was sheeting from the windows when we stopped for lunch … the surf was high, doing a fine imitation of a 767 revving to take off. From our ocean side beach view room at the inviting Gold Beach Inn we slept with the balcony door open to the storm.

Headin' South

Headin’ South

Next morning the sun  shone bouncing off of puddles and asphalt … I was psyched … it was visit the redwoods day … Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park and a pleasant walk around the Simpson-Reed Memorial Trail … stretching as tall as possible and feeling as tiny as Tom Thumb against their magnificent hugeness.  Perfect! and another … Cliche warning … breathtaking!

Bottom Pic ... that is ONE tree Greg is standing against ...

Bottom Pic … that is ONE tree Greg is standing against …

I love checking places off my wanna do list … but I also love finding ‘that’ spot, the one I didn’t know about that just tickles me to the bones.

Like the Siskiyou Smokejumper Museum (It was cool … and we found Greg’s name on a jump log from his days smoke jumping out of La Grand Oregon). Or the It’s a Burl wood shop … I felt like I was in Rivendell.

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Our last big stop was in Willow Creek to visit a friend and fellow smoke jumper, Dick Kirsh and his wife Judy. Leaving town we stopped to check out what is billed as the largest collection of Bigfoot memorabilia in the world, but just our luck the museum was closed … and we had no sightings, fleeting or otherwise, of the creatures on our way through the mountains either. Sigh.

Willow Creek California ... Bigfoot Capital of the World

Willow Creek California … Bigfoot Capital of the World

The last couple of days of our never-drove-that-road trip we took a lot of dirt roads (which kept Greg holding his breath, fearing a flat tire).

We passed through the Hart Mountain Antelope Preserve where despite being told there were 1000’s of them … the sightings of antelope were more frequent than Bigfoot, but not by much.

Onto Frenchglen, the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, and stopping to see John French’s Round Barn before the miles and miles and miles of long, clear, vistas and horizon hiding roads before finding ourselves back on I-84 blacktop and home.

I’ll take a free-form, asphalt free (at times) road trip  anytime!  A couple of stats … 1500+ miles, 6 days, one 14 hour audio book, no flat tires and uncountable laughter.

I love travelin’ with my Sweetie.

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John French’s Round Barn … he was shot and died … the shooter was acquitted. Mr. French, he had a temper, so the sign says.

Until next time …

 

Lizard Killer

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Lizard Killer.  Yes, I’m a Lizard Killer.  Thanks Jill for your comments last week … they got me thinking that wandering is more than where I am and what I am doing now.  It’s the anticipation of doing, it’s the doing, and later, re-experiencing the doing when a sensation, smell, or word opens that door in your brain and you are again “there”.

Jill, I hadn’t thought of our whole Cedar Mesa trip for years. But with those two words, Lizard Killer, it all came back to me. Forgetting my hiking shoes until we were 150 miles from home and the small towns we passed had no shoe stores and I spent days hiking in your too short for my feet Tevas, since my slip on Birkenstock weren’t built for red rock.  I was again climbing from the bottom of that narrow, what we thought was a box canyon, saying, wouldn’t it be cool if there were ruins up there? Then clambering over fallen rocks to discover Anasazi ruins hidden behind a collapsed overhang.  I held my breath side stepping the narrow trail worn almost perpendicular to the wall which led to the tiny storage room stuck like a mud dauber’s nest to the wall of the cliff; inside mini corn cobs still littered the floor .

It was long enough past that I don’t have digital photographs.

<p>Panoramic evening view from the southern edge of Cedar Mesa, overlooking the <a Jack Brauer www.mountainphotography.com

Panoramic evening view from the southern edge of Cedar Mesa by Jack Brauer http://www.mountainphotography.com

OK, get on with it … did you really kill a lizard? You want to know ‘what happened’, so here it is: the creepy “coincidence” that gave me the moniker, Lizard Killer.

Jill and I had been hiking most of the morning and stopped 20 feet or so apart on the red rocks to talk  … during the conversation a small lizard zipped into a crack just to the front and side of my toes.

He would pop his head out, then back in, testing the air; in and out, in and out, prepping for his sprint to ultimate safety I’d guess.  I watched him for a few minutes, mentioned it to Jill, and then forgot him.  I pointed out a spot of shade with a spectacular view as a perfect spot for lunch. Just at the moment I stepped forward, the little lizard leaped from his hiding place; and I squished him.

His race to speed away and my step to shade collided and in that instant, he was flat.  I was devastated!

Later, eating lunch, I pulled a SoBe drink from my pack. I twisted the cap from the bottle and there, written inside were words bold, and black that proclaimed: Lizard Killer.

SoBe LizardI do not believe in coincidence, or karma, or fate …. but that day? In that moment, I believed.

Cedar Mesa is a mystical place; not haunted, but it feels sacred. There are hundreds of ruins hidden throughout in the 25 x 30 mile mesa … canyons to hike, containing thousands upon thousands of pictographs telling the stories of an ancient world.

What draws me to wander such far away spaces? Winds through the piñon, sage scented fire, and silence you can hear and feel.

To find the mesa, drive a long, long way to no where, turn left, then left again … and take a very good map.  It is a wondrous place of heat, canyons, red rocks, little water and mystery.  It’s a place for a vision quest.

Enter softly, walk quietly, stand in silence and the voices  of the ancients will sing to your soul. Even as they did to me, Lizard Killer.

 

 

 

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?

Confessions of a Girl from Utah

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I thought nothing, no matter how hard it tried could come close to the magnificent Wasatch Mountains jutting out of the high valley desert views from my window, nothing could capture my heart like red rock canyons or steal my breath like a grand slalom through the perfect down of an Alta power day. I thought nothing could enthrall my soul more completely than wandering through deserts, across streams, over prehistoric lakes and petrified forests. I was the quintessential Utah girl … my roots are there, my heart is there.

IMG_3621When I had to move north for a new job, move away from my beloved lake and mountains, I was bereft of spirit. It was a new adventure and I’m all for new adventures, but I was leaving my life. Leaving my world. I moved from foothills with majestic views  of Utah Lake and the towering purple mountain majesties into suburbia. My view is my neighbor’s rooftop. The mountains are only a dream and miles away. And … I resisted. I compared. I whined. I looked back and I pined.

I have a confession to make. It took me three years to find a hair dresser in Idaho, I would drive back ‘home’ to ‘my’ hair dresser in Utah. It took me 7 years before I would alpine ski in Idaho, seriously. It has taken more than 12 years and today I think I can admit, yes, it’s taken a while, but Idaho has grown on me. I’m still in suburbia, but escape to Sweetie’s home on the range only 20 minutes from the mountains. I still yearn each winter for the soft, downy powder of my first love, Alta, but there are good powder days at Brundage too. I miss the red rocks and always, always my family, but I have Sweetie up here and friends … Idaho has grown into a piece of my heart.

Jill, first morning on a river

Jill, first morning on a river

Last week instead of heading south for our annual camping, hiking, or fishing trip my friend Jill and I went north into Idaho’s panhandle. North through valleys so narrow I felt I could touch the mountains on either side of the road. I loved the tiny towns and villages tucked into the only flat spots along rivers and the farms and barns scattered like bird seed through the wheat fields surrounding the Camas Prairie, Nez Perce. I lost count of the number and names of the rivers and creeks we passed or stopped to wade through, tossing one of many, many different flies in search of the elusive native cut throat trout.

A long road there

A long road there

You’ll love this … and it’s not a fish story either … after setting up camp and relaxing after the 6 hour drive from Council, a fellow camper dropped over and offered us firewood. He and his grandson brought it over, helped to stack it and even cut some into kindling for us (maybe they felt sorry for us old ladies). The fire put a smile on our hearts. The next morning, I pulled my lovely little Sage fly rod from its case and the handle fell off, it just dropped into the dirt when I started to put on the reel. Well, I didn’t have any glue and I didn’t think white cloth bandage tape would help much.  I remembered the fellow who gave us wood said he tied flies to match the hatch.  I took my poor little rod over to their camp and of course he had some super glue. Sadly, the handle just wouldn’t stick.  As I thanked him and was heading back to use my secondary rod, my dad’s (but it’s short for these rivers),  he offered to let me borrow one of his rods for the week. I took him up on it and had great days fishing.

Earth Fairy

Earth Fairy

Caddis

Caddis

So how do you thank someone who lends their fly rod to a stranger and shares firewood too? Words just seemed too small. I thought of the small fairy I was working on and figured I could make two …  so I finished the small fairy and made a little fly fishing dude wire sculptures for his grandchildren.  I think they liked them.  On another note, when I checked my fly rod  I  found that the super glue finally cured and the handle was securely in place.

Idaho people are the best. There, I said it … Idaho is more than potatoes and long drives from here to there.

Utah, I hope you understand, my loving Idaho doesn’t change my love for  you.  I’m a UTE, through and through!

My Dad’s Fly Rod

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That's my dad's fly rod ... I helped build for his 47th birthday ... he would have been 85 this year.

That’s my dad’s fly rod … I helped build it for his 47th birthday … he would have been 85 this year.

I love summer. I am a lizard and the warmer it get the more I want to ‘do’ something! I’m in summer “pack it in” mode …that’s packing as many activities into the remaining weeks of summer as I can. so far, this month; Fish camp, zip-lining, harvesting and canning/drying, then it’ll be Fish Camp Phase 2 … (and a lot more in store for September).

Last week … my first ‘fish camp’.  I’ve been invited every summer for years, but I was always otherwise occupied … fire season you know. I would get a bit jealous hearing all the fish stories … Well, not this year!  Sweetie packed the truck with our trusty Kirkham Springbar Tent (which I’ve had for 36 years)  … of course, it’s had a new floor, and new screens, a few patches here and there and new poles, but it has survived monsoons at Yuba Lake UT, a tornado at Martin’s Cove WY; storms that shredded every other tent around.  Each time we open it up the canvas exudes memories. They are in the fabric and patches and sticky zippers. It’s been shelter from sun, rain, wind and snow. It has been staked in desert sands, beneath mountainous crags, in forested glens, and backyards. It has been Sweetie’s hooch the past 8 fire seasons. It is well-loved and I wouldn’t trade it for any other tent around. Can you tell I love this tent? Anyway, toss in the sleeping bags, camp box, cots, mats, fishing gear and a cooler (sounds like a lot of stuff, but it all fits snugly into the shell of the pickup) and off we headed to “Mystery” River.

"Mystery" River at sunset

“Mystery” River at sunset

We pulled into camp with enough light to setup and spend an hour or two around the campfire. The first night was coolish, the second night was so cold it froze water 1/2 inch thick in the dog bowl and I didn’t want to crawl out of bed to even let Mala outside.  The days were windy and warm and I loved every minute of it.

The river was narrow and tree lined.  I brought the fly rod that my first husband and I built for my dad for his 47th birthday. It was designed for skinny water.  I fished with it all week. My dad had engraved on the handle and steel rod case the date, from, & why … it made me smile when I saw his hand writing.

It wasn’t a killer catch a fish with every cast day, but we returned to camp to dutch oven dinners and later, shooting star sightings after the campfire burned low. The air held the soft whirs of nighthawks’ wings and the wash of the river against the brush and rocks set the background music of our evenings.

No, it wasn’t a killer catch a fish with every cast trip; I did get to spend time with my Sweetie, friends and new friends and I caught fish with my dad’s fly rod, and I remembered him and I smiled … a lot.

 

 

25 People 5 Days 2 Bathrooms

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That's right! That's the gaggle :) Council Idaho 4th of July

That’s right! That’s the gaggle 🙂 Council Idaho 4th of July

25 people, 5 days (120 hours), and 2 bathrooms … One of the Best 4th of July’s ever! It’s rare that family and friends load up 4 multi-passenger vehicles, and a utility trailer filled to the brim to motor up to Boise, but when they do there is a smile on my heart that doesn’t go away. It’s heaven.

Our ‘peeps’ arrived staggered in stages; the beautiful daughter and 6 kiddos mid- afternoon Thursday … we ran the grocery gauntlet … menus designed to be easy to prepare and just as easy to clean up. The next bunch arrived around 10 p.m. or so with 8 more and finally around 12:30 five  more arrived. Where do you sleep 17 kids? Sleeping out under the stars in hammocks or in a sleeping bag spread out on the lawn.IMG_2586

Just hangin' around

Just hangin’ around

Friday Morning the pack the fun in started … the last 4 partiers pulled in the driveway just in time to head to Barber Park and a Boise River float.

The women ... ready to float

The women … ready to float

The river flows were reduced just the day before  (thank goodness, ’cause it was HOT) …  renting four 6 man rafts we donned life-jackets and split out … a crew of beautiful girls, a crew of rowdy boys, a family boat with the littles and an adults boat.  Perfect.

First safety lesson of the day

First safety lesson of the day

Saturday morning after putting Boise back into order we headed the 2 hours north to Council, Idaho for the remainder of the holiday weekend … fire-pit, joining the 22 caliber rifle training session on Sweetie’s shooting range (Council Mountain Gunworks, LLC), floating the swimming hole  and bridge jumping on the Weiser River.

Sunday afternoon ‘they’ all headed to McCall to spend the afternoon under the Ponderosa Pines on the beach by Payette Lake ; paddle-boarding, tubing and lounging while my Sweetie and I did some snoozing and movie watching (yep, old folks recouping). When they returned we had the fire roaring in the clay oven and it was pizza time!  IMG_2701

Anticipation ... PIZZA

Anticipation … PIZZA

For a small town, Council does the 4th of July just right.  Our day started when the adults snuck out and left the kids sleeping and enjoyed the American Legion’s Pancake Breakfast at the Peace Park, (no misnomer there) and staked our spot on main street (well, actually our chairs took up about 40 feet of prime sidewalk space) for the parade. You do know that the parade closes Highway 95 for 20-30 minutes? We know the parade is over when the 15 wheelers turn the corner.

World Championship Porcupine Races 2016

World Championship Porcupine Races 2016

After the parade the middle kids took umbrellas to stake a spot high in the grandstand at the High School football field so we’d have a perfect view of the World Championship Porcupine Races … this year there was plenty of space … the races weren’t as heavily attended as they usually are.

Later, back at the ranch, we grilled Italian Sausages and spread the tables with cold salads and hot baked beans and corn on the cob … pop cans covered every nook and cranny.

With every get together it’s the little things that build our memories and forge stronger bonds of love and friendship … like practicing for the zombie apocalypse … afterwards, we headed back into town at dusk for an evening under fireworks!

Splash targets ... ooze green when you get a head shot ... only place to kill a zombie, don't 'cha know?

Splash targets … ooze green when you get a head shot … only place to kill a zombie, don’t ‘cha know?

By early Tuesday morning we were alone … well, almost. We have a couple of grand-kids with us for a couple of weeks, with another flying in Saturday. When I take them home I’ll bring a couple more up for another week.  My whole July will be family and grand-kids … Grandma Keri Heaven!!

The only smudge on the weekend? I wanted to share … my thoughts and feelings about how much I love my country and how grateful I am for the determined men who gave all they had to build a new nation of laws and freedom.

I wanted to tell them to Be Grateful for this country we live in. Be Grateful for the freedoms  we enjoy and that we have a duty to stand with the millions before us that up have stood up, fought for, bought with their blood and hearts all that we have  today; the lives we live. in this most blessed of all nations.   I wanted to encourage them to remember that our freedoms have never been free, and that they will last only as long as we do our duty to stand up, stand tall, speak up, and act,  and fight the good fight to keep our country free.

I wanted to share John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address, not only his oft quoted “ask not what your country can do for you …” but the hope, vision , and faith he offered … a true vision to follow … and which we can strive to reach … But sadly there was loud, lovely, organized chaos … and I didn’t have a chance … maybe they’ll read this post.

How grateful I am for God’s blessings of family and friends!! My Life is Good … and I am Blessed. Happy July my friends, Happy Summer.

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The Morgans

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The Poduskys

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The Taylors (minus 2)

 

 

The Calls

The Calls (minus 3)