Thursday, October 24, 2013

St. Joe River Boat Ride

Spotted this eagle in a tree along the river.


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

First Fall at Hill's

Our usual visit to Hill's has always taken place in February, this year was different.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Camping, Mid Week, All Alone

By Sunday morning Canyonwren was packed and ready to escape. This weekend’s destination was Steamboat Rock State Park and we were hoping to get there and enjoy the warmth of the high desert sun.  Heading west on I-90 we contacted Darren and Marcy Upchurch and set a rendezvous point somewhere off highway 250 driving toward Grand Coulee Dam.

Just before Airway Heights on US 2 we fell in line behind the Upchurches and our little caravan proceeded to the junction of 174 turned right, then at 155 we made a left and drove the 15 or so miles to the state park entrance.
Steamboat Rock State Park was our choice this week because of many things, one of which was the fact that it is a State Park and is not affected by our stupid government shutdown.  As we arrived the park was probably ¼ full, groups scattered throughout the three areas that were open.  One camp site area was closed for the season so we found our spots on the far west side of the first open area we came to.

As we set up, practically everyone else around us was taking down their camp site. Arriving on Sunday does have its advantages!  It didn’t take us long to get set up.

Linda and Marcy relaxed in the sun as Darren and I tried to figure out why our hot water heater refused to fire up and heat the tank of water.  We must have worked on it for an hour or so and then finally gave up.  Linda and I would just have to heat water on the stove this weekend.  Bummer!
The sun was warm but there was a bit of a breeze, making it more comfortable to wear a jacket while you sunned.  We rested up and planned the next day’s hike up to the top of Steamboat Rock. Linda and I provided dinner of hamburgers and we all sat around the campfire till the cold evening took over. I walked to the camper to get a little more of a jacket and, for some reason, flipped on the switch for the hot water heater. I probably was just frustrated that we would have to spend a bunch of money to get it repaired and was flipping it on to flip it on.  It started!  I don’t know why, I can’t figure it out but it fired up and worked perfectly all week.

Monday morning the campground was practically empty.  We packed our bags with water and snacks and headed up the trail to the top of Steamboat Rock.  Hiking at a good pace for us we circumnavigated the rim from left to right.  We hiked a total of 4.9 miles from start to finish in about 3 hours.  The views were amazing and we really enjoyed our day.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Grunt, Scratch, Grunt

Yesterday was a he-man outdoor day.  I started my day by getting up and going out on Lake Coeur d'Alene fishing for Kokanee with Kevin Reed. We fished from 8:00 AM to 11:00 AM and caught 30 fish. The limit is 15 per license and as soon as we hit that we headed home.

At home Linda mixed up the brine mix for the fish as I commenced to cleaning the batch.  Linda was going to a play with some friends, Loretta Sutherland and Julie Green, in Spokane.  When they arrived Loretta informed us that John, her husband, had shot a bull elk somewhere above their place.  She said he would be working on that into the night.

I finished up my fish work and looked at the clock.  It was about 3:00 PM so I loaded up old Stinky Jeep with a pack, some food, flash light, a knife and things to drink.  Once I felt I was ready I drove out to try to find John.  My plan was to leave him a phone message and hope that he got it.  If not I would go to the shop and wait until he came down with a load.  I have never helped with this sort of thing so I had no clue if I would connect or not.  I figured that I had nothing to do for the evening and even if I missed John, being out was better then sitting and watching TV all evening.

I got to their large shop at 3:30 PM and as soon as I turned the corner John drove up on the tractor.  He was gathering the provisions he needed to cut up the elk and bring it out.  My arrival could not have worked out better.  Within an hour we were on the tractor driving up to the edge of their property where we would leave the rig.

We hiked about a mile and a half along the closed road with all our gear on John's game cart.  Once we found the ribbon marking the game trail, we split up the gear and hiked up the ridge to another old over grown road about a half mile into the woods. Once on the second road we headed east about five hundred yards to where the elk had been shot.

John had gutted the spike prior to his trip down so we started the task of getting the carcass into manageable sized loads for the trip down.  Our first task was to cut it in to two so we could pull the halves up onto the road. We accomplished this using John's knife and his saws-all. I have to admit that it was a very interesting experiance.

Once the elk was in two halves we pulled the hind half up on the road.  We cut of all the unnecessary parts to lessen weight.  We then wrapped the half up in a bed sheet and tarp using straps.  This gave us hand holds and also protected the animal allowing us to drag it along the road, down the hill to the game cart.

We accomplished this in peaty good time, it was getting dark and that would make the process harder.

With the hind half at the cart, we headed back up the hill.  The next phase consisted of dragging the front half up to the road, skin the carcass and cut the meat off.  All this had to be accomplished using a lantern for light and one knife.  Oh, I didn't mention that the knives John had set out to bring with us were still on the bench back at the shop.

We managed all this and ended the process by wrapping the meat and packing it into the back pack and a big meat bag. The elk and all the gear fit either in the pack or on our bodies.  I have to admit we were very loaded down.  It was dark but the trail was well marked so we worked our way down the hill to the cart.

Everything fit on the cart so we took turns pushing it back to where we left the tractor.  All the gear and the meat went into the loader on the tractor and we motored back down to the shop.

We were back at the shop by 9:30 PM.  It took us six hours and a lot of work getting the elk back down to the place.  I have to admit that I had a great time but I was exhausted. I felt bad that I couldn't help John with the rest of the work, but I felt I would just be in the way as he worked.

My he-man outdoor day was a long one. I don't think I have ever done so much huntin' and fishin' in one day in my life.  Grunt, Scratch, Grunt... I feel so macho.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Bees and then Rain

Sunset at the bee camp.
What better time and day to leave to go camping then 11:11 AM on a Sunday afternoon.  The plan was that every weekender would pack up camp by about 1:00 PM and head back to get ready for their work week. The Bennetts, on the other hand, were ready to get out and freeze their little butts off.

Our destination for this week was the old Coeur d’Alene River.  We had not camped up the river all summer and we felt that with the colder weather we would get a chance to see some of the early fall colors. We didn’t have an actual camp area picked out, we were just going to drive and see what was available.

Checking where we went and where we are going.
Camp turned out to be the one we call “the rock beach” camp.  It was the camp that we were staying at when we locked our keys in the truck and had to call Rayelle and Mike Anderson to drive up and rescue us. The camp was open to the sun which would provide warmth for our souls as well as solar power for the camper.

Set up was quick and as we established camp we noticed one thing. Yellow Jackets!  We were there and our gear was set so we decided to get in the Jeep and take a drive.  It was early afternoon and our plan was to be out long enough so that it got cold and the bees would go in their hive.
Books and tea by the morning fire.
We jumped in Stinky Jeep and drove upriver to Flat Creek where we followed road #400 up into the back country.  #400 was a good road; it wound around and curled up over Flat Creek Saddle and then dropped down to Steamboat Creek.

Now I make it sound like we knew where we were all the time, but actually we had forgot the map back at camp and were driving blind. We knew that we would eventually come upon a directional sign or a map. Eventually we did just that!
 We ended up following Steamboat Creek down where we met the old Coeur d’Alene River Road located on the opposite side of the river that we had traveled up on.  We drove downriver and were able to cross over to the regular road at the bridge leading up the Little North Fork in the direction of Bumblebee Campground.
This put us about 33 miles downriver.  If you were to look at a map, you would see that the river made a big V with the main river road following it. We had cut straight across from the top of one arm of the V, directly to the top of the other arm by way of several ridges.  We figured all this out when we got back to camp and looked at the map.

Pbbbt... Hunting season starts next week!
The trip in the Jeep worked to keep us out of the bugs and when we returned the sun set and we had our dinner.  We heated up leftovers and played cards until we couldn’t keep our eyes open. It was a cold night but our bed was warm and comfortable.
 The next morning the valley was fogged in. We built a fire and warmed up with coffee and muffins.  As soon as we got ready we were in the Jeep again. This time we had a map, food, and water.We drove down to Teddy Creek and followed road #802 up along the ridge tops.  We stopped several times and looked for game, but found none.  We did however find a real nice stack of firewood which we loaded into Stinky.  The road wound around and then dropped down to the main river road at Venus Creek.  We really liked this road; it was very smooth and had some great views of the mountains around us.
Hot baked goods and coffee!

Back at camp all hell broke loose.  The Yellow Jackets were out with vengeance in their eyes.  They were everywhere and relentless.  Linda and I made the decision to get the heck out of there so we packed up and fled.  We ended up down river at Juniper Creek camp.  It was just off the river road, but provided a spectacular view upriver.  We spent the evening watching the water flow and the leaves change color; happy that we made the move.
The rain came in just before sunset and continued through out the night.  We broke on of our rules and let Kobi in the camper. It was just to wet and cold for him to be out side and it would be a real long night if we stuck him in the truck.  He enjoyed being with us, but when the thunder came through, he climbed under the camper table.
How would you like looking at this every morning?
The rain continued and we went to bed.  The next morning we awoke to more rain.  For breakfast I baked orange rolls in the oven.  We sat and drank coffee eating hot rolls. Linda was looking up river when she spotted a cow Elk walking down river on the far bank.  We had taken two drives over the past two days.  Our goal was to spot some game and we saw nothing.  All it took was a couple of hot drinks and some fresh baked goods and the game just paraded in front of us.
By 11:00 AM the rain had not let up so we decided to pack it up and come home.  We could have stayed and kept warm and dry in the camper, but we'll have plenty of days ahead to do that.