Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Sillywood Adventure

They say “Never pick a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel.” So what did I do, I took on a soaking gun that was hooked directly to the aquifer. This was the last ride of our day at Silverwood and the three wet warriors shivered all the way out to the van. Let’s start back at the beginning of the adventure when Linda’s sister and her family, Al Dee, Kenyon and Alayna joined us for two days of fun together.

The Sollinger family arrived on Wednesday night, Silverwood was our Thursday destination so we ate dinner, talked and turned in. The morning was a mixed up mess of sleepy eyes and getting organized for the day. We arrived at Silverwood and immediately split up. The family went to the kids rides and we walked to the Timber Terror rollercoaster. The line was about 25 minutes and the ride lasts a little over 3 minutes. As short as the ride was time wise, it felt much longer as I sat and laughed at Linda. Linda screamed, in a high pitch, the entire ride! We got finished and we both giggled for about ten minutes.

We walked directly to Tremors. On this ride Linda’s screams were very different. It was not as sustained, and it came out in a much lower register. This noticeable change made me laugh again. She said it was because she was trying to control it. I agreed that she did a good job of trying to not scream, but her success was a bit limited. Again we walked to the next ride giggling about how we handled the ride.

At about noon we boarded the Silverwood train and enjoyed the slow and easy tour of the grounds. At the mine area, they have actors that collect donations and perform a skit. It was fun, but ended with an explosion that scared Alayna and got me completely drenched with water. We exited the train and went to eat lunch.

After lunch we rode a couple of easy rides, the Log Flume, Thunder Canyon and finally the Cork Screw. We walked to a theater and watched a cheesy magic act called Mad Mike. Then we split up and Linda and I went over to the newest ride called After Shock. I rode it, but didn’t like it that much. I quess I'm getting to old for the rides that scare you by speed and height.

Linda waited for me and when we were finished we threaded through the crowds and found the rest of the family. We all agreed that it was about time to head home, so it was decided that we would have one final challenge. Linda, Kenyon and I fought it out in the Bumper Boats. Part of the fun of these boats is the squirt guns on the front of each vessel. Kenyon and I teamed up against Linda, but while in the heat of battle I noticed that Diane and Al Dee had manned some water guns at the side of the pool. These guns are turned on by dropping quarters into the slots. My theory was that if I attacked the folks on the bank they would eventually run out of quarters and I would be able to soak them. I got completely drenched! No one ran out of quarters!

As we walked out of the park, dripping and shivering, I discovered that one gun was permanently on full squirt, and that lady aimed it at me the entire time I attached. So I fought the unwinnable battle against ink by the barrel!

We arrived at home and got the pizza cooking in the oven. Al Dee needed to pick up a bicycle trainer for Kenyon from Shopko so he and I drove in to town.

Al Dee wanted to visit a Waymark that I had established called, "Leopold" and since the bike pickup only took a couple minutes we drove out around the lake. On the way we talked about Geocaching and Waymarking and Al Dee told me that he was slowing down on the search for these places. His words were "I don't really do caches anymore." and "I hardly ever do micros at all!" So we visited Leopold and Al Dee took pictures. It was a beautiful sunset so the area was as picture perfict as it comes. On the way out we just happened to walk past a micro cache that Al Dee said was there, so since we don't cache that much any more, we found it.

Back at home we ate pizza and I put the bike together. There were no peddles in the box so Al Dee had to drive into Cd'A and get a couple replacements. He took a while and old Uncle Dean could not wait up so I went to bed hoping everything was alright.

The next morning we found out the when Al Dee went into town, he picked up the peddles and then also found a cache in the parking lot of ShopKo. Of course he doesn't do that as much any more!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Linda's Lower Salmon B-day

We left Coeur d’Alene at about 6:15 AM, heading to the put in at Pine Bar on the Lower Salmon. It was Linda’s birthday and we were excited to get onto the water for the weekend. The boat was all packed and I had made the shuttle arrangements with All River Shuttles out of White Bird so we basically just needed to get down to the water and launch. We stopped and Linda signed in as the trip leader. She signed the form “Linda Bennett, Birthday Queen” and we drove the three blocks to the place where we could first spot the river. Holly, Willy Wonka, the river was filled with chocolate! The water was a lovely brown color, probably caused by the rain we had received on Tuesday. I gritted my teeth and thought, “There goes the fishing.”

When we arrived there was a big guided group on the ramp but they slid their stuff over and we were able to get right in. The boats belonged to Barkers and as we unloaded I chatted with Devin Barker about mutual acquaintances. She is friends with Mike W. and Mike Beckwith, Jason Luker and a million other boaters that I know. The boating world has grown, but we still seem to know someone who knows someone everywhere we go.

With the boat ready we launched and just as we were off the bank, Tom, Sarah, Mike and Monica arrived. If only they had been a bit sooner. About ten minutes before they got to the boat launch a huge group of 30 private folks arrived and were getting rigged up. It was up to us to go on down river and get a beach for the night.

Floating on the sea of milk chocolate, we slid on down to just above Packer Creek. I had orders to not go below Killer Goat Beach and that if possible I was to get a beach on the left bank after the last farm. There was a real nice beach that fit into the criteria for the first night location so Linda and I grabbed it. The day was early so we sat I the shade of the umbrella and watched the various groups drift by. We ate lunch and talked about the upcoming couple days, unwinding and enjoying the sun.

Just as I was drifting off to sleep Linda was startled by the sound of movement coming from over our shoulders on the beach. We turned just as two people dashed down onto the beach and launched them selves at us. It was Steve and Lynnel Wassmuth that came flying out of no where. Linda was flabbergasted. Steve and Lynnel had put together a trip down the Colorado River, through the Grand Canyon ten years ago. We were with them on a beach at mile 119, where we celebrated Linda’s 40th birthday. What a wonderful birthday present and a great surprise for Linda.

Two minutes later Mike and Monica came around the corner to join the reunion. We all sat and talked, Steve and Lynnel bring us up to date on their family and the happenings of the past ten years, Mike introducing Monica and adding to the past memories. I kind of felt bad for Monica, we hadn’t ever really talked to her prior to this meeting, and we basically talked about everything we did on our Canyon trip. I hope she didn’t feel too left out.

Tom and Sarah arrived about an hour later finalizing our group for the evening. Linda and I cooked dinner as everyone drank and talked. Linda got several cards and presents. It was a great evening being together with wonderful friends. Everyone went to bed at about 9:30 PM, we had been up early and worked hard getting on the river.

The next morning Mike and Monica cooked a great breakfast as we all packed up our beds. Steve and Lynnel could not continue on down the river due to commitments back at Grangeville. They packed there gear in backpacks and then hiked back up to the farm where they had left their truck. I wish they could have continued on down the river, but it was special to see them the brief time that we were together.

We launched back on the river and continued the trip on down through Cougar Canyon, navigating the chocolate rapids avoiding Oompa-Loompas in Loompaland and continuing on down through Snow Hole and the marshmallow room;
to beyond the fudge room at China rapids.

WONKA: It's chocolate.

VERUCA: That's chocolate?!?

CHARLIE: That's chocolate.

VIOLET: A chocolate river.

GRANDPA JOE: That's the most fantastic thing I've ever seen.

WONKA: Ten thousand gallons an hour. And look at my
waterfall. That's the most important thing. It's mixing my
chocolate. It's actually churning my chocolate. You know,
no other factory in the world mixes its chocolate by
waterfall. (to Mr. Salt) But it's the only way if you want
it just right . . .

CHARLIE: Grandpa, look over there across the river! They're
little men!

GRANDPA JOE: Jumping Crocodiles, Charlie! Now we know who
makes the chocolate.

We camped just above Billy Creek on a beach located on the right bank. We set up the kitchen and everyone sat in the shade. I took a hike up river to the access road for the last cabin after China Rapids. Monica took a shower and as she stood bare on the beach she saw a bear getting a drink across the river. She alerted us that it was there and we watched it run up and over the ridge. I don’t think it was running because of Monica being bare, but who knows.

Tom and Sarah cooked a Greek dinner of humus, marinated chicken and tubule. It was fantastic and we ate till we were stuffed. Another early night for bed, I stayed up and tried to take pictures of the stars, but they didn’t turn out.

Our next float took us into the Black Canyon where we camped just above the Slide Rapid. The beach was just big enough to allow everyone their privacy at night and it gave us a great view of the passing boats as the evening approached. Mike and Monica cooked Asian food that was out of this world. They made a cake for Linda and actually had to do some improvising to get it put together. Turns out we had eaten the two eggs that were needed for the cake, but they ended up substituting Mayonnaise for the needed eggs. The cake turned out great and we all enjoyed the benefit of their culinary experiment.

The next day brought a quick float on chocolate to the confluence of the Salmon and Snake rivers where the clear Snake River tired to dilute the brown Salmon River. The result was a light brown Snake River, which we floated on down. The current was swift, but we lashed our boats together and Mike fired up the outboard for the long push out to Heller Bar.

Tear down was quick and painless. We got everyone packed up and gathered to say our good byes. Linda’s birthday month was over and everyone had to go back to their daily routines. This was another unforgettable event in our lives and we thank everyone for being a part of it.

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Happy 50th Birthday!

Linda Ray Bennett turns 50 today! Right now as this is posted she is sitting on a beach somewhere on the Lower Salmon River. Ten years ago on this night we were on the Colorado River sitting on a beach a mile 119. We had a party and enjoyed the evening.

This night is such a special night for us because we really love each other more and more. To me love is what makes the world spin and what also can make your head spin. Linda still makes my heart skip beats and everything is perfect when she is around. When I am with Linda I feel like nothing bad can happen, I'm home, it's perfection. That's what loveing Linda is to me.

I thought it would be nice to let you read what we did on Linda's birthday ten years ago. Here is what I wrode about that event.

July 24, 1998
Camp this night, mile 119, consisted of a strip of sand with Tamarisk up against the face of the canyon wall. We had plenty of room for our group and the area gave the boys a million lizards to chase. Austin kept real busy collecting Linda's birthday present and the rest of us kept quiet about the big celebration.

Steve and Lynnel cooked dinner this night, and as it turned out mostly by Lynnel because Steve was working on Linda's gift. When dinner was ready it was time to try to keep Linda out of camp. We had brought decorations to hang from the tamarisk and place on the tables so Linda needed to be out of the area for an extended time. Dean's plan was to tell her that everyone was concerned about her being mad at them and that she was acting different today. Not the best plan, but at least we could go have a person to person chat away from the rest without her getting too suspicious. We walked down river out of sight of camp. Dean started the conversation and they were just getting into it when Linda looked up and said, "Jesus, look at the size of that Lizard!" Just to their left on the rock face sat a huge Chuckwalla, chomping down on a piece of greenery. We called Neil, Austin and the rest of the group. Everyone agreed that it was the biggest lizard of our trip thus far.

Once the critter noticed us he moved off into a crack in the rock. The rest of the group headed back to camp. Linda and Dean returned to their faux talk. Dean held out as long as he could but Linda was catching on and we had to head back to camp before the cover was blown and Linda figured out the ruse.

We entered camp to a rousing chorus of "Happy Birthday". The decorations strung around were Gecko's with party hats. There was a Gecko centerpiece for the table, Gecko napkins, Gecko party favor whistles and of course Gecko party hats. With all the lizard party decorations it is surprising the chuckwallas, side-blotched lizards and tree lizards didn't invade us. The first one to approach us was Austin. He ran up as soon as they entered camp and presented Linda with the first gift. Linda looked at the present, a container with a lid. She removed the lid and immediately a big green grasshopper hurled itself out and smacked Linda in the face. She let out a scream and dropped the can to the ground. Everyone started howling with laughter. Austin thought it was the greatest thing in the world. Later Linda said something about plotting to get back at him, but she never did.

Gina gave Linda a beautiful bouquet of dried flowers and grasses she had collected through out the day. She has some real artistic talent and this gift really displayed her creativity. Neil made a Lizard catcher for his present and we even tried it out immediately after Linda received it. Brandy and Mike's gifts consisted of river bootie; a beer and some Chap Stick. Steve had made a Monkey's Fist; a complex knot tied in a piece of rope, and presented it to the birthday girl.
As if this was not enough, they made Linda close her eyes as they brought out the final present. Now, because of the trip down the Grand Canyon Linda missed a concert in Spokane, Washington by one of her favorite singers. She was very disappointed that she could not attend, but how can you miss a trip of a lifetime like this one. So the final present was a visit from the performer she missed in Spokane, Garth Brooks. Actually Paul had dressed up in his cowboy hat, wore a little black microphone like Garth does, put on a shirt that said "Garth Brooks Family Reunion," then sang the only Garth song he knew. By the end of the serenade Linda was in tears. You can talk to Linda about her 40th birthday and she will no doubt tell you that it was the best birthday party she ever has been given. At the end of all this we ate a delicious birthday cake that Mike baked in the Dutch. Night moved in and we spent the rest of the evening learning to tie Monkey's Fists and planning the next day's big hike.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

50 Years and More Beautiful Than Ever.

We celebrated Linda's 50th birthday on Thursday night. We will be on a river trip on her actual birthday, so everyone was invited over to have dinner and visit. I spent most of my time cooking Mexican marinated steak and fixing pulled pork burritos, so I was only able to get four pictures of the event.

It was a great feast and the food was amazing (if I may say so)! Alex gave me all the recipes to create the pulled pork in authentic red sauce. He even gave me his secret marinade ingredients that turned the beef into a dish so good that Jim Headley and John Sutherland stood and ate it like it was popcorn. Emily's mother cooked up a big pot of Mexican rice that was amazing! We ate and talked and enjoyed everyone who attended.

I had been planning the event for a long time, we changed dates to accommodate friends who were on river trips, many of our friends went to great lengths to arrange their lives to be there, and I thank them for making this a wonderful night for Linda. There were many of our friends who could not attend because they were on extended trips for the summer and we wished they could have made it but we understand. We'll catch up when they return and definitely we'll see pictures of their adventures (maybe meet their husband). We just wanted them to know we were thinking about them.

We talked rivers, traveling, squirrels, teaching, and summer fun. I don't know why we don't gather like this more often, It was so much fun and meant a lot to Linda. She had tears in her eyes when she opened the gift from Marcy and Darren of a hand made quilt. Her face glowed when Jim Headely gave her a big hug and sang Happy Birthday to Bug! Later she sighed and said "I love Jim, he is so special."

My brother Dale and Judy attended, wow two events in one week, some times we don't see each other for months! They had recovered from the wedding last Saturday and both looked rested and happy.

Linda is always excited to be able to visit with Barbra, she missed her so much this last year. Those darned teacher bonds go real deep.

I know that most of our Wednesday night church group had to suck it up and leave their river gear laying around there place, wet, dirty and in disrepair, to join us. Thank you for coming it meant a lot to Linda.

So now we start packing for our river trip. I'll be posting in a couple weeks I think. Our schedule is going to be busy from here on out till the snow flies. Snow flies, oh my gosh, let's not think about that!

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Sunday, July 06, 2008

4th of July, Bennett style!

Why is it the last group to arrive at a group campground is always the loudest? It is a strange phenomenon but it has proved out, time and time again. We had this happen this weekend and so I checked things out, this is what I gathered from the scuttlebutt around the camp. The last group to arrive and take the last three sites had reserved the group site at the top of the hill. Once they pulled in and saw that they would have to hike to the lake, they moved down and signed into the last of the sites down below. This would not be a bad thing except that their group is comprised of a bunch of loud talkers and they have a dozen kids each. They stuffed the campsites full of tents and toys. When this group is together, you can hear everything they are talking about. Now I am not making this up, but I have not heard a peep out of any of the other twelve sites in the camp.

I know you are all saying, “That’s Dean, the old curmudgeon.”, but these folks talk so loud that we can hear them four campsites away. They are also the types that have to explain to each other what their kids are doing. “Oh look at Shiloh, she is running!”; “Jessie is eating a hotdog.”; “Maggie wants to hug grandma.” And so on and so on, every one of them speaking at a vocal level that would put Ozzie Osborn to shame. The only good thing is that they move in packs, thus they have spent every day down at the dock. While they are massed down at the dock, the rest of camp walks peacefully around enjoying the quiet.

On the 4th of July we drove into Harrison. Once we were there we discovered that we were so busy packing dog items that we forgot Linda’s purse, my wallet, and our lunch items. We had Kobi’s duck and everything he might desire, but we had no money or credit cards. So we decided to just do a quick walk and maybe pick up a geocache or two. I looked over the geocache information sheet and the cache we were closest to said to bring your own writing device. Without Linda’s wallet we could find nothing to write with, in the Jeep. We once again quickly changed plans and we took a walk up the Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes (TotC). As we walked Linda worked with Kobi and I looked for something to write with. We knew there was a geocache about a half mile out on the trail and I thought there would be an extra pencil in the cache box that I could “move” to a new cache. We got to the cache and I found it and looked into the container, but there was only one pen there and I could not leave the cache with nothing to log in with, so we put it back and headed back into town.

As we got ready to leave the big city, I looked under the lip of carpet by the car jack and found a pen wedged into this area. We were in geocache business again and we were then able to drive to a cache called “Narrowed Bridges of Kootenai County (GC16632)”. It was an easy find and we signed in while Kobi sniffed the area and peed. As we drove back along the road that parallels the TotC, we loaded another cache coordinates into the GPS. It turned out to be just off the road and along the TotC and we were able to pick it up as we went home. This cache was called “CDA Trail Cache (GC1DN56)” and it was a very easy find.

When we returned to camp we started the Bennett Camp Duathlon. This consisted of a game of Cribbage followed by a rousing game of Bolo Toss. Dean won the Crib game and Linda kicked butt in the Bolo Toss. So we had to have a playoff of one game of Solitaire, winner takes all. I know what you all are thinking, “Those Bennett’s really live on the edge, I wish we could have the life of extreme living that they do.” Dean won the playoff 6 to 4 and was crowned the champion for the day.

The evening was filled with loud booms and fireworks over the lake. Bell Bay was very quiet, the hosts had the Sheriff pay a visit during the day, I think that kept the sky rockets in check. We went to bed about 10:30 PM and about 11:00 PM; I got up and watched a parade of boats returning from the Harrison fireworks display. Everything quieted down after that and we had a cool night’s rest in our camper.

The next morning Linda got up real early and drove into Harrison. She rode the TotC up river about three and a half miles and then had to turn around due to the trail being closed because of flood damage. She turned back and rode the trail south to about two miles out of Plummer. When she arrived home Kobi and I were just having our morning moments where we lay in the sun, stretch and scratch. He likes the attention and I like to wake up slowly so it works out well for both of us.

I started my morning routine and Linda sat to play with Kobi. As I sat in the camper I could hear the two of them playing. Kobi makes Linda laugh by doing his little cute puppy things. It makes me feel good to hear Linda laugh like that. Her school year can be very intense and I don’t get to hear her laugh like that as often as I would like. She has a wonderful laugh and I am thankful Kobi is releasing it.

After breakfast we hiked and did some Kobi training. We returned to the camper and I beat Linda in Cribbage (that’s twice this weekend.)

Beth, Bill, Paige and Cheyenne came out in Bill’s boat. We met them on the dock and the girls got to see Kobi swim. We talked for a bit and had lunch. Someone said the word “ice cream” and that was all it took to get us loaded into the boat and cruising to Harrison to visit the Creamery.
Bill’s boat is a very nice vessel with a full cabin. It contains a kitchen, bathroom and two sleeping areas. I was impressed with the room and the amenities. Harrison was ahopping! The line at the Creamery reached the door and there was a large group of eaters standing outside on the front walk. Linda went in and lined up to order and I sat with Kobi and watched the spectacle of the small town unfold.

As we were getting our Creamery fix for the weekend, Fitz and Julie were driving out to visit us at Bell Bay. We were hoping that our timing would work out well enough that they didn’t have to wait very long for us to motor back.

While Beth and the kids, Linda and I were getting our sweet treats, Bill watched the boat and fished off the dock. It probably took us about an hour in Harrison and another twenty minutes to cruise back to Bell Bay. Steve and Julie were sitting up in camp when we arrived.
We talked and snacked telling stories and finding out we all had various friends and acquaintances in common. It was fun to see who knew who and how our lives had run in circles that intersected through different individuals. Fitz and Julie had to get back and we were sad to see them go.

Bill and I went fishing for a bit after things quieted down. I was in my little boat and Bill in his kayak with the two girls. I caught about three bass, nothing to write home about. I arrived back at camp and we made dinner, ate and talked around a campfire till about 10:00 PM. Bed called everyone and the camp was quiet by 10:30 PM.

Sunday is pancake day for Dean. I love to cook the little flat buggers until they are a golden brown. Linda perfers eggs and cheese over the cakes, but I've got to have my little butter and maple flavored friends.

One of my weekend goals was to read a book that Heather E. gave me. It is called The Art of Racing in the Rain, by Garth Stein. It is the story of a man and his family as told by their dog Enzo. Heather warned me about how it would make me cry and all that, she said I would enjoy it because of the authors weaving of auto race theory and driving technique into the story. I have to admit it is a real good book. Did I cry? How could you not? Many of the dog’s thoughts reminded me of Baka. I used to always wonder what he was thinking, what made him react as he did, and where he is now. I cried a bit, not as much as Linda did as she read John Gorgan’s Marley and Me, but I had my sniffles.

So now we are home, Linda and Kobi are asleep in the living room and I just finished chapter two of Marley and Me. I’ll let you know if I cry, I am a sucker for a good dog book.