Sunday, November 12, 2017

Moose

Over the last few weeks, there have been reports of moose wandering our neighborhood. Each morning when Linda goes out to run I say something like "Be careful out there and don't go chasing the moose!"

This morning Linda came running back into the house and said "MOOSE!"

Now, for my birthday Linda gave me a new camera. This camera was a replacement for the one I dipped in the ocean when I was sailing with John Karpenko down in Mexico. The last few weeks I have been studying the camera, reading how to be a better photographer, and working to learn what this new technology can do.

Every day I go online and read articles from well-known photographers. These articles explain principals that I need to follow to create the best photos possible.

When Linda yelled "MOOSE!", everything I have been reading left my mind as I grabbed my camera and ran out the door.

First I used the wrong setting on the camera. Actually, it was the right setting. I just used it all wrong. After I changed settings to the one I was more comfortable with, AUTO, I was ready to shoot photos, but the moose was through posing and decided to move off. At this point, I got a couple good close up shots and then a vehicle drove by spooking my model.  Oh, the perils of the amateur photographer.

I walked back into the house grabbed my coffee and looked at the pictures I did get.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Date Night

Getting my pre-concert cowboy on!
Man, what a show! Garth Brooks really lives up to his CMA Entertainer of the Year status. I was impressed with his vocal talent. His guitar playing was amazing!

Normally, every night is date night with Linda, but this was a special night because of the friends we were with. Holly and Ryan Edwards arranged for the tickets and then Rayelle and Mike Anderson joined us for this party. We also met a really nice couple, Tim and Laura, who are friends with Holly and Ryan.

Everyone met at Timbers Gastro Pub in Post Falls where we had a great meal.  Then it was off to the concert.

All went smoothly in Spokane. We haven't been to a concert for so long that we really didn't know what to expect. The news and Facebook had been warning everyone to be prepared to stand outside in lines for a couple hours to get into the Coliseum, but we walked up, went through the search line and were at our seats in about ten minutes. We took photos and went to the beer lines for refreshments.

The opening acts were good, especially a young new artist named Mitch Rossell, but of course, everyone wanted Garth. When the show started the whole place erupted! The crowd was so loud that your ears hurt. From the moment Mr. Brooks entered the stage area he was moving and egging on the crowd. He played all his old stuff and only played one song from his new CD. His thing was "give em what they came for, the old ones!"

Halfway through the show, his wife, Trisha Yearwood came on stage and they sang a love song together and then a few on her own. I have never followed her, but I recognized most of the songs she sang. It was laid back and fun.

View from our seats.
My only negative observation was that the sound system didn't do his voice justice when he was singing the louder songs. When he took it down a bit and during the encore, he sounded amazing.

The Encore! Wow, Linda and I agreed that this was our favorite part of the show.  He came out and sang with no one else for about 30 minutes. Everything was just his guitar and his voice, and he was great! The wait was worth it!
Mike, Rayelle, Linda and I.
Holly, Laura, Tim and Ryan.
Opening warm-up performer Mitch Rossell.
Second warm-up act.
Garth!!!!





Trisha Yearwood and Garth.

Thursday, November 02, 2017

Plumb Evaded Me

The last two days I have been fishing in two very different environments. Tuesday, I went out on Pend Oreille Lake, launching out of Farragut State Park, to try to catch that lake's Kamloop Rainbow Trout (Gerrard-strain of rainbow trout).  I went out with Darren Upchurch on his boat and we attempted to fish Frisky Jenny flies, Apex lures, and Rapalas on planer boards.  We used Sidewinders and another brand of small planer boards and I guess they worked relatively well. The lake was in good shape but we only managed to catch one cutthroat trout, which we released. It was fun to try and fish this method of fishing, wish we could have hooked up on a Kam!
Steelheading with Steve.

Early the next day I loaded up with my neighbor Steve Nelson and we drove down to the Clearwater and fished planer boards off the bank for Steelhead. The day was crisp and cloudy, I would call it almost perfect for fishing. For the second day of fishing, I was skunked. That puts my steelhead fishing record at four days without a fish, kind of dismal. It was a fun trip and we were back in Post Falls by 6:00 PM.  I just might have to focus on catching something that I can be more successful with. Do you know if there are any of those Silver Carp that jump into your boat around the north Idaho area?

Clearwater Caddis.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Pine Bar Fishing

Wore my best Steelhead earrings for luck.
Back from another trip down to Pine Bar and the Lower Salmon. Fishing was not good, not a single steelhead to the boat, in fact, we had only one bump on a lure the entire trip.

Relaxing after a day of relaxing.
Steve Nelson and I, loaded in the truck and camper, picked up Tom's drift boat and drove down to the river on Tuesday and stayed until Thursday afternoon. We camped in the BLM campground and fished each day in the boat, across the Salmon, at the run I usually have fished in the past. The weather was spectacular! From experience, good weather does not always correlate with good fishing. Bummer that we didn't catch anything.

We got up each day and were on the water by 8:00 AM and then fished until 3:00 PM. Everything went smoothly and each afternoon after fishing and before the sunset we grabbed our chairs and enjoyed watching the sun disappear.


Stew and biscuits for dinner.


Precious!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Invasion

Today our neighbor, Steve, spotted a raccoon feeding on sunflower seeds in his backyard. We looked over the fence and Steve said that four of the critters were heading along the north fence, out to the front yard. We all dashed out and spotted them heading up the sidewalk. Steve's dog chased them up a small pine tree. Here are three of the young ones, the mother went one direction and the three kids ended up in that tree.


Thursday, October 05, 2017

Fall is Coming

With the rod set up, I tried on a size 8 stimulator, then secured 14 inches of tippet to the bend of the hook. On that mono I tied a brown size 12 bead head nymph. The water was clear and cold; a great fall day.  I had hoped that the rains from the previous night hadn’t put the fish down.

Walking out into the current, I crept out to about knee deep. My feet were chilled by the rushing water. Upstream was a nice riffle; a gravel bar created a smooth pour-over dropping the water into a chute that looked to be about 5 feet deep.  I started casting low in the run and let the flies drift along the crease between the slack water of shore and the swifter current of the main trough. 

Several casts produced nothing and with each cast I would step higher into the current. The water looked fantastic but there were no fish rising anywhere along this stretch.  Again and again I tossed the bugs forward and concentrated as they drifted back my way.  Cast, mend, retrieve; I had a rhythm going covering the water where I felt a fish would be laying. I moved up the chute and then started moving back down. The fish may be holding in deeper water.  I figured I would cover the water as I moved down river and then wade to a different spot where the water was deeper.

Taking in the slack on my line, I roll-cast up and across the current. The stimulator twitched aggressively and I instinctively raised my rod tip. The line stretched taut. It was a clean set and I had a fish on! The first instinct of a cutthroat trout is to run down current. In doing so they tend to help you by taking out the slack line and get you on the reel. When you are on the reel you have a definite advantage. You let the rod tip work for you. The reel’s drag gives line when the fish runs. You take line in as you reel the trophy into your waiting net.
This was a nice fish. Nothing huge, but when it was in my net  I could read that it was 14 inches of fat cutthroat. I unhooked it and let it rest in the net dipping it lower into the current. Then when it showed renewed strength I lowered the cradle away and the fish was gone.
I moved on down to another gravel ledge that poured into a big deep green hole. This is what we drive up the Joe for and it was a good start to our three-day getaway.

We left Post Falls at about 11 am. Our start was later than usual but we were in no hurry. At exit 15, east of Coeur d’Alene, we hit stopped traffic and it looked like there might have been an accident up the freeway in the direction of Wolf Lodge. We sat in a long line as police cars converged and then moved past us up the hill out of sight.

We crept forward ever so slowly. I noticed the traffic coming west must be stopped somewhere up the highway out of our sight line. This was not good! It meant that the accident was much worse and covered both lanes. We crept forward another 20 feet.  I noticed that in a few more feet I could turn and cut across the westbound lane and take exit 15 back into Coeur d’Alene. This would allow us to drive through the city and take Highway 95 south through Plummer and St. Maries. We crept forward another five feet and I eased on the gas and cranked the wheel to the left. It was a gamble but we really didn’t want to sit idling in traffic for the next hour.

The rest of the drive was uneventful. We cruised through to Plummer and took a left on the highway that leads past Heyburn State Park and through the metropolis of St. Maries. No one was on the road up the St. Joe and we made good time. It started raining about midway up the river and we moved through showers until we arrived at Huckleberry Campground. We found one of our favorite spots open, backed in, and got set up.
Throughout those three sunny days, I fished and Linda read her books. With the cold weather, we noticed that the leaves were changing colors. This change was taking place all around us as we camped. Both Linda and I mentioned that the beautiful fall colors seemed to be changing right before our eyes. It was special and very beautiful.

We had great meals and at the end of each day we watched a movie before we went to bed. The weather was wonderful but at night it got cold. We would wake up to temperatures in the mid to low 30’s. Fall is definitely here.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Thinking

I have been fishing a bit during our latest homestand. I caught some pike and a largemouth bass. Then while fishing I saw a moose cooling off in the lake near the place where we keep our boat. As I fished I thought about many things, this is one of my thoughts.

As we travel over the hundreds of miles of blue lines on a map, one of our favorite things is to listen to audiobooks. We have explored the islands in the Pacific through the humorous writings of Maarten Troost. We listened to his The Sex Lives of Cannibals: Adrift in the Equatorial Pacific and were so taken with his odd take on island life that we followed up with, Getting Stoned with Savages: A Trip Through the Islands of Fiji and Vanuatu. We laughed out loud as we rumbled on down his road and ours, the time passing surprisingly fast each day.

Following those adventures, we listened to books by comedians Jay Mohr, Howie Mandel, and Billy Crystal. All were very good; funny yet provoking. Each told of the various insecurities they had and how hard they had to work to become successful comedians. All three writers gave in-depth looks into their childhoods and what growing up provided them when they became successful adults. Again we enjoyed listening as we traveled.

Today, I was sitting out in the sun and my thoughts grabbed on to something that all three writers had said in their books. During the descriptions of their childhood, each one mentioned a quote from their fathers that had stuck with them as they grew older. Some of the thoughts were heavy and they used them to guide their way to adulthood.  Other quotes were funny and brought warm feelings of being with their fathers back into their memories.

Sitting in the warm sun, I thought back to my dad and I immediately remembered something he said every day. It was a small thing, but dad used it as his go-to acknowledgment.  Whenever someone thanked Dad, which was quite often, his reply would be “You bet!”  When he held the door for someone and they nodded thanks, he would reply “You bet!”  I must have heard him say those two words a million times, always with a smile and a nod of his head.  Over the phone, you could tell when a customer thanked him as they said goodbye because Dad would end the call with a “You bet! Good-bye!”

I smiled thinking about this little phrase. It was part of my life with my wonderful father and now that I think about it, I realize that I say the same thing quite often.  It is also my go-to acknowledgment. I say it every time someone thanks me. It’s automatic.

Now I know I have gotten many things from my parents; singing from my Mom and thumb twiddling from my Dad, to name a couple. They are a part of being this human named Dean. They are ever-present in my being just like my personal space bubble and my quiet nature.  I am so thankful that my parents raised me the way they did and instilled in me all the things that make me the way I am. 

I know that if my folks were alive today and I thanked them for all they did, Mom would smile and probably cry and Dad would say “You bet!”

-----////----

Note: Our truck is in for repair. It turned out to be a sensor in the transmission was bad. We are having it replaced and then they will do a full transmission service on the unit. Total for repairs and service, about $800. Ouch!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Casino Camping and Red Tailed Surfperch

The entrance to our campground.
The sounds were electronic, like walking into the area at the fair where the Whack-a-Mole resides. Colored lights were everywhere; flashing, blinking, trying to get your attention. But even more noticeable was all the smoke! Not the smoke from forest fires! Smoke from cigarettes. We were visiting the Snoqualmie Casino. I think the last time Linda and I were in a casino was in Las Vagas and we had just gotten off the Colorado River. The casino parking lot was to be our camping spot for this night on our road trip to Westport. The parking lots were well lit and looked safe.  Inside the casino, we were both not comfortable as we wandered around. We spent some time checking out the gaming area, stood and watched a few minutes, and then headed back to our camper. The smoke was just too much for us to handle. That brief half hour of casino life was enough for us.
Checking out the view.

Walking to our campsite located in a lower parking lot under a big street light, we noticed how clean the area was. This free camping might be something we could use more often.

Earlier that day, we had driven west leaving Post Falls and a little forest fire haze behind. Linda needed an ocean fix so we were dropping in to visit Don and Caroline in Westport, WA. As the miles passed the smoke grew thicker. The plan was to camp somewhere over by Vantage, WA, but as the miles ticked off and the smoke blanketed the Wheatland. We adjusted our plans and kept pushing, searching for smokeless skies.

We made it!!!
We crossed over Snoqualmie Pass and the smoke cleared, but finding a camping spot was a bit harder. Linda checked the Free Camping website and noted that the Snoqualmie Casino was recommended as a semi-quiet free spot so we headed there.

Once we parked and explored a bit we settled in and ate dinner. Our location was good in that we were parked in a safe zone. The light from the street lamp was very bright so it took some doing to get the camper dark enough to sleep, but we were successful.

Traffic was consistent and the gamblers came and went. Some folks stood outside and talked but all in all, it wasn't the worst spot we have camped.  In the morning we packed up and drove on.

Linda beach running with surf fishing happening beyond.
Just after hitting the road, I noticed that the check engine light had come on in the truck. Linda got out the truck operational manual and read about the indicator. It said that we could still drive the rig as long as the indicator didn't flash. With reluctance, we pushed on.

Traffic in the Tacoma/Olympia area was terrible! We spent most of our drive bumper to bumper crawling along. As we neared our exit to Aberdeen, Linda called the Dodge dealership in that city and they said we could stop there and get a reading on what the warning light was saying.

When we arrived we drove directly into their service entrance and a young fellow checked out the code. It had something to do with the transmission and so the first fellow went and got a crusty old mechanic who brought a bigger code reader box. He plugged it in and mumbled as he talked to himself.

Red Tailed Surfperch.
After reading the code and griping about life, he basically said that if the transmission was working ok, then he would drive it and we could probably make it back home. He said that everything read normal and that the code may have been a glitch. He reset the indicator and sent us on our way. He also said that if the light came back on and didn't flash, then we could probably make it home and get it repaired there. Then he huffed and said that he wasn't going to tear it apart on a Friday afternoon, that was for sure.

We thanked everyone and drove on to Don and Carolines, our truck showing nothing to be concerned about.

At Don and Carolines we relaxed, watched football and enjoyed our visit.  We really enjoy those two and love just being around them.  We laugh and talk about what's happening in the world. Don tells stories and we eat and drink.

Bennett at Bennett's.
Caroline and I went surf fishing for Red Tailed Surfperch.  We pulled on our waders and took our rods and reels in hand and marched into the waves. I used a Carolina rig with worm bait and Caroline used a pyramid weight and hook with clam bait. The first time we went to the shores the sun was out and the ocean was calm.  We caught a few, but nothing to write home about.

The next time we went out it was raining, windy and the surf was big.  I caught one fish on my first cast but that was all, we were not very successful.  I would say that we learned a lot about surf fishing, but not enough to brag.  We'll have to give it another chance when we visit again.
Almost bought one, maybe next time.

Caroline, Don, Linda and I went into Westport and ate dinner at Bennett's Fish Shack. They have some of the best fish and chips around so we all loaded up. Don's sons, Chris and Eric had been out fishing over the weekend and we were able to spot their boats in the marina across from the Shack. This confirmed that they were safe from the harsh seas that the weather was providing.

On Monday morning we loaded our camper and headed out. Don and Caroline were packing to go camping at Ft. Worden up by Port Townsend so we needed to get out of their hair and let them go.

We chose to drive home via highway 12. south of Mt. Rainier. We felt that this would get us past all the traffic and road work that we endured on our trip over and would only add a little time to our trek. The plan was to break the trip into two segments like we did on the way over and camp somewhere along the way easing the driving burden.

All was well as we veered south and crossed US-5. Then the check engine light lit again.  I made the decision to continue on because the truck was running like a dream, but I said we would drive home all the way today and get it in for repairs ASAP.

We were cruising and enjoying minimal traffic. Our route took us through Mossyrock and up to White Pass. We were making time and then came the construction. In one area, they were clearing up the results of rock slides. This cleanup stopped us several times for a few minites each time. We continued on.  At one point they detoured us onto a very curvy nerrow road thet led around Rimrock Lake. This detour took forever and we had to drive 25 mph all the way. By the time we reached Naches we were well behind schedule. The truck was running beautifully so we pushed on.

It was smooth sailing and as we approached Ritzville. We finished our book on CD and Linda picked up her phone to check Facebook for stories that she could read to me to entertain me as I drove. There was a traffic warning posted about some power lines that were stopping traffic on our route through Spokane. GREAT!

Linda watched the news feed as we approached our final traffic test. When we arrived everything was moving as smooth as silk heading east.  The west lanes were blocked by a huge wreck, it didn't affect us, but boy did we feel bad for everyone involved over there. We drove on into Post Falls and parked the truck. I was stressed to the max but the work was done.

We unloaded the gear, ordered pizza and watched America Ninja Warrior! Tomorrow I will get our truck into the doctor and get everything taken repaired.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Smoke Gets In Your Eyes

The Old Pipeline Bed Trail.
The next day was a traveling day. We all packed up and drove US-97 and US-2, which took us through Brewster, Lake Chelan, Wenatchee, and finally, Leavenworth to Nason Creek Campground where we were to camp for the final three nights.
   
As we neared Leavenworth the smoke from forest fires near the Cle Elum area filled the sky. For the next few days we were faced with smoke-filled valleys and at times, ash falling from above.

The following morning, everyone wrapped up in their jackets and hoodies and we drove back to Leavenworth and then out Icicle Road. We wanted to hike the Icicle Gorge Trail, but as we drove up the valley we noted that the smoke from the wildfires was super thick. We talked about options and decided to try this hike the next day in hopes that the smoke would not be as bad.  Changing plans, we drove back into town and up the highway to the Old Pipeline Bed Trail. This hike leads along the Wenatchee River. It starts by crossing the river on an old half pipeline.
Note the pipe creates the bridge floor. 

As we hiked we noticed that there were spawning salmon lining up in the pools, resting before they continued their journey up to Lake Wenatchee. We spent some time watching them Jump and circle as they hung in the pools.

Grant and rock.
We came to a rocky cliff area and decided to turn back. As we walked we all talked and laughed. We came around a slight corner on the trail and there was a small bear standing, looking over its shoulder at us. As soon as it saw us, it bolted down the trail. Grant gave a shout and I grabbed my camera. I was able to get two shots of the bear butt as it scampered off the trail. That was a very cool animal moment and it made our day.

Fish at rest.
We arrived back at the trailhead and jumped into the Jeep and drove back down to Leavenworth. In town we walked around the crowded streets, checking the shops and searching for a place to sit and eat. We stumbled upon the Blewett Brewing Company where we grabbed seats in the air-conditioned dining room. We ordered pizza and salad and enjoyed a delicious lunch. After lunch, we walked to the Gingerbread Factory and bought a couple of snacks to go.

Linda calls this one "Jumping Salmon."
We returned to the campground and we fixed dinner. After we ate we continued the championship and by the end of the evening the score was tied at six to six.

Morning arrived and we checked the sky. It was still smoky and looked to be another hot day. We drove down to the road that lead up to the Icicle Gorge Trailhead. This time we kept on driving on up to the trailhead parking lot. The smoke was bad, but we didn’t have the possibility of waiting another day for the wind to change and blow the smoke out.

Bear butt!
The Icicle Gorge Trail (River Loop) was a very nice, well-used hike that wound down along Icicle River, crossed on a foot bridge and then continued up the river. The trail system formed a loop and made for a very nice hike along the water’s edge. The hike was very nice, but it would have been spectacular if we could have been able to see all the peaks and crags of the high mountains around us. The smoke was so thick the mountain tops were just vague outlines in the distance.

After the hike, we were on a mission to get a brat and wound up at the Munchen Haus where brats were their claim to fame. We finished our visit with a stop at The Fudge Factory where we all purchased a little sweet treat. The drive back to camp was hot; ash from the fires dusted us as we snaked along the highway.

Our final evening was spent sitting down by the river. Ash fell on us, but by then we had become accustomed to it. We cleaned up and gathered to play our final evening of Skip Bo. Canada had a great final showing and took home the gold. I sang a very poor rendition of “Oh, Canada” (we gotta memorize that song) and we all retired for our final night’s sleep.

Next morning we all packed up and went our separate ways. It was sad to say goodbye, but we had a great few days with Jacquie and Grant. We look forward to more adventures with them. Hurry up and retire, Jacquie!

Down town Leavenworth.
Icicle Gorge and the bridge. 
Along the trail.


Jacquie and friend talk about the forest fire smoke.