Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Lump

Kobi had a lump removed from his backside today.  As you can see the area had to be trimmed a bit before the surgery. TRIMMED A BIT! Oh my gosh, they shaved the entire rear area. I guess that's OK because the Dr. said he would have to make a four-inch incision in order to get the lump out. He only had to cut it three inches. So the poor boy has that going for him.

We noticed the lump when we returned from Mexico last spring. It felt like a tick and even had the look of one.  After figuring out that it wasn't a tick we left it alone and in about two months it grew a bit of a head and felt like it might be an ingrown hair.  We left it and watched it.

In early summer, we went to the Vet and he checked Kobi over saying "Let's watch it."  So we did and it grew. Kobi went about the process of having a couple other problems that needed meds and so when we reached a time that he was off meds and operable, it was a big lump.

$500 dollars later we have our boy home and as you can see in his eyes. he is pretty much out of it. We are so glad to have him home, now we wait for the biopsy results.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

The Sun is Still Shining!

It’s Monday morning and Linda said to me, “I think this will be our last trip in the camper this year.” I looked at her and shook my head. It’s only October and we have until the end of November to get out and enjoy camping.  This is our annual Steamboat Rock State Park camping trip and I will guarantee that we will get out camping again before we head to Mexico.

Steamboat Rock has been our favorite fall, end of the season, camping adventure.  We usually make the trip over here around Halloween, but this year we have scheduled a bit of surgery for our dog, Kobi around that time.  Kobi has a lump on his back near his butt and we feel we need to give our vet another $500.  Oh, I guess we need to take care of the little mutt, but he is starting to run up quite the tab. He’ll have to do a lot of face licking and acting cute to pay for this.
We drove over to the park on Monday. The weather was misty and foggy all the way over. We entered the area.  Linda and I thought we knew the routine so we picked a spot and as I set up, Linda went over to the usual area to pay. She was back in a short time carrying the check and registration card. We no longer paid there, we had to walk up to the park entry and pay via our credit card. So we walked over and Linda called using the “Yellow” phone. After several minutes and quite a bit of conversation, she hung up and said, “Let’s go, we can’t check in until 2:30 PM.”  We were a bit confused and frustrated. It was now 1:30 PM and we had to walk back to our rig, about a 1/2 mile away, and then come back and call again at 2:30 PM.

Off we walked.  After a few minutes, the park ranger drove up.  We talked for a bit and asked about the process suggesting that they put a note up as you drove in stating that you couldn’t register until 2:30 PM.  He laughed and told us that all we have to do was drop our check into the box at the park entry pay station. He also said that all spots were first come, first serve.  We smiled and reiterated that it was very confusing and he agreed. Off he drove and Linda walked back and dropped our registration check into the box.

The mist had gone and the fog had burned off leaving us to lounge around in the warm sun.  We read and played with Kobi as deer and turkeys sauntered through our campsite.

Tuesday morning Linda and Kobi went for a walk. After their adventure, Linda was soaking up the morning sun and Kobi got stung on the paw by a couple yellow jackets.  It was tragic! At least to Kobi and Linda it was. Kobi was shaking his paw and licking it so we confined him to his leash and Linda and I went for a long hike around the area.  One of my goals was to climb up to the top of Steamboat Rock while we were here.  We have done it many times, but this time it would be with new knees and I wanted to see if they have healed enough to make it to the top.  Today’s climb was postponed due to me having to use the restroom and there is no pot on the top. I’ll make it up tomorrow!

We hiked on and went down to the east end of the park.  The water in Banks Lake is very low, the lowest level of all our visits.  The shores made for great walking and sightseeing so we followed them around to the east face of Steamboat Rock. There were two red tail hawks floating on the air currents above us and just off the huge rock faces.  Suddenly we heard a commotion and looked up to spot one of the hawks attacking a nesting pair of birds.  It was so high up on the cliff face that we couldn’t identify the birds that were attacked, but we could see the hawk as it sat at the nest after the attack.  I took a picture with my camera's telephoto, but just as I got ready for my second shot the battery went dead. So much for my National Geographic Moment!

Back at the camper Kobi was still favoring his paw, but it looked like things would be OK by morning. We sat in the sun, looked at maps and planned our future trips. We took a walk to the west campground area. On the lawn in the middle of everything were 30 turkeys and 22 deer, none of which were afraid of us. Once the sun, set we went inside, fixed dinner and played cribbage. The series is now tied at two apiece. We decided that we can’t go home in the morning because we are now in a best of five series.

We packed up the camper and headed out to Electric Avenue; I mean Electric City and turned North.

We decided to take a different route home, one that we had never driven and one that could lead us to another night's camping.  After driving through Grand Coulee and Coulee City we followed Highway 153 to split on to #13 Cache Creek Road where we drove easterly. This took us over a pass to Highway 21 and ended at Republic WA. We followed Highway 20 southeast and went over Sherman Pass ending on Highway 25 at Kettle Falls. We followed Lake Roosevelt’s eastern shore until we found Gifford Campground.

Gifford was right on the lake and we were one of four rigs using its campsites. There must have been 80 sites available so all of the RVs were spread out and individual camps were very private. Our site looked west over the lake. It was very pretty. About a quarter mile down lake was a free ferry that operated during the day.  It crossed over the lake about every half hour and seemed to always be loaded with vehicles.

We left Gifford and drove the scenic highway south. At Davenport, we turned east and drove through Spokane and on to home.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Lower Salmon Fishing not Catching

On Monday, we drove down to the Lower Salmon at Pine Bar.  We listened to a book on CD the entire way down and back, what an intense story. The book was Soft Target by Stephen Hunter. I recommend it, but the book on CD is a great listen.

Our plan was to get a campsite and then stay a few days so that I could fish for Steelhead.  Mark Harris, and Tom and Sarah Husby arrived about the same time and we set up camp.  Shortly after that I took Tom's drift boat over to a favorite spot and Tom and Mark started spay rodding down the river.
We fished about five hours, catching nothing. During this time Linda, Kobi, Sarah and her dog Sal went for some walks and sat around camp and read.

We ate dinner and sat around the campfire and then turned in to get some needed rest.

Next morning I was back in my spot in the drift boat, Tom and Mark fished the beach run and then at noon returned to camp.  After lunch, the three of us took the drifter down river in hopes of fish.  We went down to American Bar but caught nothing.

That evening we had a great dinner and tried to stay up past 8:30 PM.  It didn't work.

We fished Wednesday morning and then broke down camp.  No fish for the two days of fishing. I guess the steelhead weren't running or we just had the wrong stuff on.

We drove back listening to the CD, and didn't finish it! Now we have to take some time and finish it up.  We only have one CD of the seven CD set left.  Wow, I can't wait!

Upon edit, we listened to the end of the book. It was great! Also, the fish checker down on the river counted no fish for the days we were fishing. I guess no one was lucky.

Friday, October 09, 2015

Yellowstone, A Very Big Park!

Over the past month Linda and I have been watching the weather; following current fire conditions and deciding on several camping spots that we could take our friends, Jill and Barry Urquhart, to when they visited us from their home in Canada.
When they arrived on Thursday, they immediately invited us to join them on the next part of their adventure down south, which meant we were heading to Yellowstone National Park. 

We spent the next couple days showing them Coeur d’Alene and packing supplies in our camper. It had been a long time since either Linda or I had been to Yellowstone, so long that most of what we remembered was buried in cobwebs in our brains.  Jill and Barry received the down-and-dirty tour of our area. We took a boat ride on the lake, tooled Sherman and did a bit of downtown shopping. But mostly we planned and packed for our next great adventure.

We left Post Falls at 9:30 AM on Sunday and drove east on I-90 past Missoula to our first night’s stop at Fairmont Hot Springs.  Once we had checked in and set up we grabbed out swim suits and headed for the steaming hot water of the pools.  I can’t believe that it only costs $5.75 each for a relaxing swim in the pools. We have had campsites that charge $3.00 for six minutes of shower time; this activity was a real steal.

The hot pools sucked the energy out of us and we wandered back to our rigs for drinks, dinner and a game of cards.  We hit the sack early knowing that we would be up and out on the road early enough to get down to a camp area just outside the park.
Loaded and ready we drove through Butte and turned south on Highway 191. Barry led the way and we made good time down to our camp destination at Baker’s Hole Campground. Baker’s Hole was suggested to us by our friends Daren and Marcy. They have stayed there several times when they ventured down this way to fish.

We found two great campsites and got our rigs set up. Then we jumped in the Barry’s truck and drove into West Yellowstone to get the lay of the land.  We shopped. I got a hell of a deal on some waders at a fly shop.  It was an end of the year close-out or I would have never bought them.  Linda sort of insisted that we didn’t pass up the deal; I think she was tired of hearing me whine about wet feet every time I went fishing.

Barry drove us to the park entrance and we picked up some maps and info sheets so we could do our research and set up a plan for exploring the next day. We drove back to camp and sat by the Madison River and had drinks. After dinner, we planned our adventure and went to bed. I slept in my new waders that night with visions of rainbow trout dancing in my head.

There are 2.2 million acres of land to explore in the park boundaries; we made the decision to divide the park into two loops. We would drive one loop on Monday and then explore the second loop on the next day.  2.2 million acres is a lot to explore, even if you divide it into two loops.  By the end of day one, we had decided that we had misjudged this park and that a good exploration of the minimum sights would take at least a week.  Here is what we accomplished in our two-day hurricane adventure.

We entered the park through the West Entrance and followed the Madison as it wound its way beneath the shadow of Mount Haynes and National Park Mountain.  We must have passed a million fishermen, spaced approximately 30 yards apart knee-deep in the waters of the Madison. Our first big game encounter was a huge lone Bison walking the highway’s shoulder. We paused just long enough to get a photo and then we were off.

Several miles later we came upon a heard of bison resting in the mist of venting steam. Here we pulled off the road and got some great pictures before we drove on.  At the first junction, where the Gibbon River and the Firehole River meet to form the Madison, we turned south.

Our first stop was the Lower Geyser Basin. Since we were early in the day, the entire area was shrouded in mist from the various thermal features.  We walked among the geysers, springs, and vents, steam rising into the blue sky. I took many photos as we walked. An organized photographer would have taken a shot of each feature’s names, then a photo of the subject. I didn’t do that, so many of our photos will be of beautiful and intriguing items that will never be named.

I also found that photos of gray mud pots with steam and water look like white out of focus ghosts. Lessons that are learned but can’t help the photos you took that morning. I did get some very nice photos during the day and we really enjoyed the sights of the park.

We drove on to the Firehole Lake Drive area and then visited Biscuit Basin. The day was getting warmer and the mist from the various boiling ground features was much less. We hiked the trails, stopping to inspect each item. The smell of sulfur or rotten eggs filled the air.

The park was full of visitors. We all felt that it was a bit crowded, but we never had elbow to elbow conditions. We spoke to many people who had visited in the summer months and they said that it was a madhouse with people everywhere.  As we walked we noticed many Asian families and quite a few German speaking folks. The Asians were dressed to the nines and they took selfies at almost every feature. Once I had to wait as one girl took pictures of her friend doing the jump kick pose. She must have jumped twenty times before they got the shot. Doing that at every geyser would really wear me out!

We pulled into the Old Faithful area at the perfect time. Hundreds of people were seated around the most famous geyser in the park waiting for it to erupt. We found seats and within about twenty minutes Old Faithful did its thing. Once the steam and water was released, the crowd moved on. We all felt a bit of a letdown. The geyser itself was mostly lost in a huge, tall plume of steam. I guess that’s one of the things you have to accept if you visit when it’s chilly. We left a bit disappointed but happy to be there anyway.

We loaded in the truck and drove to the West Thumb Geyser Basin, did our sightseeing on that section of the huge Yellowstone Lake and then headed back in the direction we had come ending our day at the Midway Geyser Basin.  With the day running out, we looked at our progress and found that at the end of day one we had made our way a third of the way around loop one. Barry fired up the truck and we headed home.
As we drove back along the Madison River we came across a herd of cow elk grazing by the river. We took some pictures and headed on back to Baker’s Hole for dinner and sleep.

We were up the next morning and on the road for our next attempt to drive an entire loop.  This time, we followed the Madison to the junction and then turned left or north toward Norris, Mammoth Hot Springs and Tower-Roosevelt.

Our first stop was at Gibbon Falls. We walked down the roadside walk and took photos of this beautiful falls.  The water level was very low, but we felt that having low water made the velvet cascades of the falls much more delicate. Higher water would have looked much pushier and not as serene.

Everyone enjoyed the Artists Paint Pots and I tried several methods of catching the bubbling mud with the camera.  We continued on to the Monument Geyser Basin and hiked the trails. Then we found our way to the Norris Geyser Basin checking out its wonders. While standing in line for the restroom a fellow said that he had just come from the Artists Paint Pots area, where two wolves had been spotted eating on an elk they had brought down. We loaded up and drove back the four miles to see what we could see.

There was a crowd gathered on the side of the road just north of the paint pot turnoff.  Rangers were present keeping an eye on the tourists. We pulled off the road and found a spot out of the way, but where we could see a white female feeding on the carcass. We watched and took some photos. The wolf was about fifty yards away and hidden behind some brush and trees, but using my zoom I did what I could to capture the moment.

Linda was so excited. This was one of her bucket list items, wolves in the wild! She was able to talk to a lady standing next to her who knew quite a bit about these two particular wolves.  She said the white female was about ten years old and was once the alfa female of the Hayden Valley pack of wolves. She and her alfa male mate had been together eight years. They were run out of the pack by their daughter and her mate sometime in the past two years and have been fending for themselves. We did not spot the male because he was hiding in the tall grasses, probably due to all the humans hanging around.
The female drug the carcass further into the trees and we could no longer get a good view. We returned to the truck and drove back north past Norris and on into Mammoth Hot Springs.
We hiked the trails of Mammoth as the weather changed and the skies grew darker. The last bright sunny photo I got was of the white cascades of the upper rock formation. After that, the sun went away.

Leaving the hot springs and entering the town of Mammoth we were greeted by a heard of elk sauntering around town. When we hit the junction we turned right and headed to the Towers-Roosevelt area and beyond to see Tower Falls.
We finished out our loop by driving through Canon Village and back through Norris to Madison. All along this route we spotted bison up in the hills grazing without a care in the world. 

Following the Madison River back toward the park entrance we, once again, came upon the heard of cow elk grazing along the river bank.  About a mile further on we stopped where we spotted a bull elk grazing in the middle of a field. He was a big fellow and I was able to get some good photos ending a very busy long day.

That evening we sat in Jill and Barry’s trailer and shared photos talking about the events of the past several days. The next morning we said our good byes. Jill and Barry continued on through Yellowstone to Jackson Hole Wyoming and Linda and I turned north and headed home.
On our trip back up we turned off highway 191 and on to highway 287 where we followed the banks of Hebgen Lake to the Madison River Canyon Earthquake Center. Though the earthquake center was closed for the season, we stopped and visited the memorial boulder where a plaque had been placed remembering the 28 people who were killed the night the mountain fell.

On the night of August 11th, 1959 my cousins were camped in a camping area next to the Madison River. At 11:37 PM the earth shook and the mountain top came down killing my Uncle Purly Bennett, and my cousins Carole, Tom and Susan under tons of rock and debris. Just moments prior to the quake Phillip Bennett had gotten up out of the tent to use the restroom.  My Aunt Irene had noticed this and had gotten out of the tent to see if Phillip needed anything.
When the mountain fell they were both pushed by the tornado-like winds that preceded the mountain side of rock. Both were later found a quarter mile or more from their original camp area, both were seriously injured but had survived.

They were rescued and sent to Ennis Montana to the hospital there.  My Dad traveled down to Ennis and spent a long time with them as they underwent many operations and a long recovery.
I remember very little about that terrible event. I was four and a half and about all I could recall was a feeling of great sadness, seeing my parents crying and then my father leaving for a long time.

Irene and Philip lost so much that night but were able to regroup and both lived on and led long and wonderful lives. Aunt Irene remarried a wonderful man named Jack Dunn and they lived up in Hope, Idaho until their passing. Phillip married, moved to Seattle and helped raise a family of three daughters. He is retired from Boeing International and still in the Seattle area.

Linda and I read the information at the center took pictures and drove on up highway 287. In Ennis we stopped and ate a late breakfast and then continued on to I-90. We drove on west to Beavertail Hill State Park where we stayed for the night. Linda and Kobi spent the afternoon outside in the sun playing fetch and reading (Kobi did the fetching, Linda did the reading) and I worked on the computer getting everything into the blog.  We ate dinner and went to bed. We had a leisurely morning. I polished up the blog and Linda went for a run. We packed up and drove home. What an adventure!

During our exploration of the park we all kept making the same statement. “What would it have been like to be the first person to visit this amazing place?” We talked about this over and over. All we can really say is that we are so glad someone had the foresight to preserve so much of this and that we will 

More Photos From Our Trip

Linda checks out the water temperature of the Firehole River. 

One the entrance bridge, Midway Geyser Basin.
Firehole River.

Grand Prismatic Spring

Looking down the Firehole River.

Old Faithful

West Thumb Geyser Basin looking over Yellowstone Lake.

West Thumb Geyser Basin.

Looking down river at Gibbon Falls.
Norris Geyser Basin

Female wolf eating elk kill near Artists Paintpots.

Tourists at area of wolf sighting.
Bull snake along the trail at Mammoth Hot Springs.

The ladies at Mammoth Hot Springs.

Town center, Mammoth Hot Springs.

Tower Fall.
The only deer we spotted and a Barr.