Sunday, August 24, 2008

Another Weekend

Linda and Kobi left me and took the camper. They drove down to Bell Bay on Thursday; it turned out to be a very rainy trip. Once again our weather is letting us know that fall is coming, school is starting, and the lazy days of summer are almost a thing of the past. Last year I thought the weather changed too early, but if this is any indication we are truly in some type of climatic change. Maybe I’m jumping the gun a bit, they say the weekend will be beautiful but then again they are calling for cold weather for next week. I certainly hope we have a good Indian summer this year. We’ll be out camping in any condition that might arrive.

Linda made the nasty trek down to the campground with minimal problems. She said it rained so hard that she almost had to pull the truck off the road and wait for a break, but she also said that there were few pull offs where she was traveling. Between storms she set up the camper and got everything turned on. Kobi kept watch and explored the area around our spot.

I was back at work getting sick. I don’t know what hit me but I started shivering about noon and then had to leave work and was home by two o’clock. I slept until 6:00PM and then went to bed at 8:00PM. In the morning I still felt bad but was good enough to help Alex with a Q-6 News live feed dealing with Table Tennis.

After the news filler was complete we all attended a meeting dealing with what to do if a person started shooting people on campus. I made it through that program and then left campus and drove out to Bell Bay. I arrived about noon and immediately went in the camper and layed down for two hours. I slept hard and when I woke up I felt much better. We took a walk, ate dinner, cleaned up and went to bed. I slept the entire night and by morning I felt fine.

At Bell Bay we did the usual, a lot of reading and resting. Kobi is a real waterdog, he loves to swim. It's funny but we pack a bag full of toys and when we get to camp Kobi finds a stick and chews on that the whole time.

We hiked up to the upper campground; there is a geocache up there that has been avoiding us. We have searched for it three times but never found it. We looked around the same location following the coordinates we used before, but no luck. After about a half hour we gave up. I was just looking at the GPS and noticed a second waypoint about 160 feet away from the other location that we just had scoured. I thought maybe it was another cache so I went to look. I found the container and it was labeled Bell bay Cache. So we had been looking at the wrong location all this time. I don’t know where we got the bad coordinates, or even where the real coordinates came from, but we collected the cache and that’s all that matters.

At about 1:00PM I drove down and checked out the closest boat launch. I did some fishing and then returned to camp. At about 4:00PM Linda and I drove into Harrison and explored the area a bit. We drove out a road that led to a sportsman’s access on Round Lake. It was interesting and something to know just in case there was a chance to fish that lake.

We returned to camp and fixed dinner. While we were eating Dale Johnson stopped by and we talked a bit. On Friday Alex called and said that Dale and his family were going to be camping at Bell Bay. When they arrived we were there and said hi. We saw them periodically throughout the weekend. They will be staying at the campground next weekend so we made plans to get together. We are hoping that maybe a few of our friends can get together over the three day weekend.

The big controversy of the weekend was the group that camped across the road from us. They were rather rude and loud on Saturday night. It’s not the folks can’t get drunk and party on the weekend; it is just their choice of locations for the obnoxious behavior. If you’re going to gather a group and party, then go up the numerous rivers and find a location that is not right next to other campers who have children along. It’s just not right to subject family campers to “F%#k!” every word. Bell Bay has a 10:00PM quiet rule but this group ignored it completely. During the night the camp host, Bob, asked them to quiet down twice, but they ignored him. He monitored the situation until two of the women started screaming at each other and it sounded like a fight, so he called the Sheriff.

When they saw the car coming down the hill they all went into one of the trailers and only one person was there when they arrived. He said that Bob was being picky and that they were not doing anything wrong. Then when the car left everyone returned and the party went on. Linda said it stopped about 3:00AM. I learned all this from the camp host and from Linda, I slept through it all. If you are out camping and a truck pulls in with Shoshone County plates on it the read MUCKER, do everything you can to keep them away from your camp, or just get ready for a party and a fight.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Shoshone Creek Ramblings

Of all the items that I never go anywhere without, my camera stayed exactly where I put it last week and so there are no trip photos. What this means is that I am obligated to fill this blog entry with my ramblings.

They are called “Puppy Circles”, they are not found mysteriously stamped into a wheat field somewhere on the Palouse. We can’t seem to predict when they will happen or especially why or what sets them off. It happened today when Linda and I were sitting in Shoshone Creek on our river chairs. You can see it building; Kobi gets a look in his eye and kind of squats down. His tail goes about a million miles an hour and then it all breaks loose. Kobi starts running as hard as he can, low to the ground deliberately reaching for the next stride his small legs pulling and pushing with all his strength. He corners low and wild, loosing much of his control due to the speed and centrifugal force of the maneuver. Sometimes he just stops short and puts his head down his little butt up in the air, tail wagging.

Today’s puppy circles were extreme. I think it was the location. With Kobi up to his belly in water every move produced a turgid spray of liquid. Linda was his main race pylon and he cut in as close as he could as he rounded her. When he wasn’t circling Linda, he spent his time trying to lie under her chair. This process posed a problem because he had to push his head under water. He was perplexed, usually he was able to snuggle under the chair and lay. With the water, his favorite spot was not available. That didn’t stop him from trying and as he pushed his head under the chair you could hear him blowing bubbles keeping the water out of his nose. Unable to get under the chair, the puppy Circles continued.

With twenty minutes of circles behind us, we all went for a walk along Shoshone Creek road. Out camp spot was in the sun and the area along the gravel byway definitely never has gotten direct sun so it was a cool and pleasant place to walk. When we returned to our camp it was about 5:00PM. The sun was still out hitting this location in full force. We had noted the spot across the road and it was in shade starting around 2:30PM. We quickly made a decision to move our camp over across the road to the other spot. The pros were less flies and more shade. The con was that it was closer to the road therefore it would be dusty whenever a vehicle went by. We hadn’t had a lot of traffic yet so we hoped that we could manage the dust in exchange for shade in the hot Saturday afternoon.

After we made our new camp we ate dinner. Linda got quiet and asked me if I remembered this day one year ago. I’m not much on dates so of course nothing came to mind. She said that one year ago exactly, August 15, 2007, was the day we had to put Baka down. We were quiet for a while and I said he was still the “best” dog. We’ll visit him this Sunday when we go up to John and Loretta’s for dinner.

Saturday morning was cool and quiet. Linda got up and ran, I stayed in bed and slept, our usual camp morning. From about 10:00AM till about 2:00PM, I went fishing. I started from camp and fished up about a mile and a half and then turned back. It was the first time I had fished for a very long time and I was a bit rusty. As I walked up stream the touch it takes, started coming back and I was able to get the fly where I wanted it.

Fishing was real good if you liked relocating little fish. About every cast I would get a strike and every other cast I would catch a fish, move it ten yards downstream and then release it. I kept thinking about how good this was for the fish population. I would move the fish around thus keeping the bloodlines mixed up. I did catch several good fish though, and one was particularly satisfying.

The run swept in from the left and pushed up against a layered rock face. Just at the tail of the turn was a green moss covered rock that split the current. The current closest to me spilled down about an eight inch drop and the rest of the clear water swept behind the green bolder and flowed into the pool below. This entire area was in the shade so it was cool and quiet. I approached downstream and found a log on the bank where I could have my lunch of string cheese and a hardboiled egg. As I ate I watched the run. Bugs were coming off the water, caddis, light brown; the perfect elk hair caddis color and size.

As I drank some water I noticed a dimple quickly appear and a bubble form just behind the slime rock in a shaded slick of the current. The bubbles slowly moved on downstream entering the tail out pool on the far side. My attention was fixed to the spot of the dimple when I saw a caddis struggling in the current just above where the bubble had appeared previously. It fluttered a moment and then I saw a nose dolphin up and all that remained was a bubble in a ring. This sight is something that makes fly fishermen shake, their breath quicken and mussels key up. I quickly put away all my lunch items and picked up my rod. I had been fishing a Stimulator up to this point and it had been doing well for me, but I wanted to make sure I was serving up what that fish was feeding upon, so I snipped it off and put it away. I looked through my caddis collection and found what I felt was the right bug for the right moment. The tippet was still good so I tied the caddis on; making sure the knot was impeccable.

The fish rose again as I readied my line. From the type of rise I knew that this fish was a bit bigger than the ones I had been bunging out of the water and transplanting. Placing a bit of Gink on the fly I stripped the line off the reel. I took a faults cast and then dropped the fly on the water. It glided downstream and at the last moment peeled toward me on the wrong side of the rock. Quickly I picked the fly off the water so that I would not catch any of the smaller kamikaze fish from the pool below and readied my second attempt with a back cast. Drawing a bit more line out on the back cast I sped up my line. This time the fly fluttered down closer to the rock face and touched the water. It drifted and caught the current behind the mossy rock. The fly hung there for a second, and then there was a slurp and a splash as I set the hook.

The fish was a bit bigger than the ones I had been catching, but nothing that would set records. It fought well, but there was no worry that it would break the line and escape. Why then did this particular fish stick in my mind as the best catch out of probably fifty fish throughout the day? Fly fishermen would know the answer right away. It was because I saw it rise, I figured out what it was feeding upon, I stalked it and fooled it into taking my fly. That’s what it’s all about.
Once home we played with the dog in the stream where it formed a pool. We are teaching him about current in the water and this area was just the ticket for that exercise. Kobi is a true swimmer and he has no fear of the water or anything connected with it.

Once we swam for a while we went for a walk and played Chuck-It. This dog toy is amazing; I would wear out my arm tossing the tennis ball without it. Kobi loves to chase and bring back the ball. We finished walking and chasing at about dark. We ate dinner and put Kobi into his crate and read for a while.

Sunday we loaded up and drove to the Shoshone Ranger Station and dumped the camper waist. As we drove into town we stopped at Wolf Lodge Bay where we tossed the duck for Kobi. We drove home and unloaded the camper , we were done by 1:00PM.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

A Little Rain Never Hurt!

The night before the Coeur d’Alene Triathlon and Duathlon we had a weather change. The heat and humidity of the week lead the way and a system pounced in that brought clouds and lots of lightning. It did cool thing off for the night which made it a bit easier to sleep. Linda worried because of the possibility of rain.

The morning came early and we loaded all Linda’s gear along with Kobi into the Jeep. We arrived at the parking lot and headed into the mass of participants, friends and families. Linda got settled and I ran into David and Carol Lindsay in the comglomeration of people. Carol was doing her first triathlon and David was involved in his first support roll. Just as the race began, the sky opened up and it poured, soaking everything. I could feel a tenseness come over the participants. Rain makes the bike course slick; it could make the race interesting.

With the race underway the rain stopped, Kobi and I found a corner bench located at 3rd and Lakeside. It was a good place to watch the Coeur d’Alene duathlon as the bike leg progressed. We had our own duathlon of sorts today. We helped Linda get all her gear into position for the start of the race and then watched the swim start for the Triathlon. Swim starts are much more visual then the run starts of the duathlon. So I chose to do the visual thing then to support Linda at the start. Now don’t get the wrong idea, it was very hard to see the start of the duathlon, it’s located in the middle of mass chaos at the event finish line. If you are part of the duathlon crowd you find that there is a distinctive separation between how the duathlon and triathlon are run. Everyone pays a lot of attention to the triathletes and the duathletes basically are there. If you don’t swim, well, need I say more?

The second part of the K & D duathlon came when we walked down town and attempted to quickly get coffee. I put my bag on a chair and tied Kobi to a lamp post right next to the chair. Then I got in line behind some triathlete supporters. I have had interactions with this group several times a various events. The group consists of grand ma and grand paw, the wives and a mass of crying kids. It’s a great family thing, but they lay siege on any place they go so everyone around, look out. I got caught in the frenzy. They all ordered and fussed about, two kids cried, one wanted outside. I got my coffee and was about to reach for a lid when granddad stepped back to control fusser one and bumped my coffee. There I was with coffee on my shirt as the pack exited the shop. I followed to get to my chair and maybe clean up a bit and found that the group had commandeered my table and somewhat pushed Kobi out of the way. I untied Kobi, untangled him from their chairs and we walked to the park bench on Lakeside.

The final part of my duathlon consisted of watching a huge life sized game of Frogger being played out in front of this corner. Imagine sitting in an arcade and looking down on a street corner. On the left side of the screen you have a animated traffic control person standing in the middle of the street stopping cars, trucks, motorcycles and semi-trucks. Coming from the top of the screen down are speeding little triathletes and duathletes roaring down Lakeside to the park transition area. The music plays in the background, vehicles stop at the light and cyclists speed down the street.

At first when we sat at on the bench only cyclists were moving out the street to start their long fast ride. The little animated “Mario” looking control girl could stop traffic and send the various vehicles across the street with ease; they were only coming from one direction. Then as the pace quickened more bicyclists came and it was increasingly harder for the little controller to do her job. Then you add the pedestrians: moms and dads with kids, dogs, strollers, clueless humans walking all directions. The music starts getting a bit frantic. As the scene progresses the cyclists start coming back from their ride. Now you have bikes going out, bikes coming in, stupid humans and the vehicles trying to cross the road. Finally we have to add one more distraction. The people in the stopped vehicles now have to start getting out of their cars and chirping at the little Mario girl. Which buy their actions does not in any way help the situation, because when they get out of their cars, there is invariably a larger break in the cyclists and they have to run back to their cars. Of course they are now too late to cross the street!

There were some close calls and I could not believe that no one got hurt or lost total composure. The race continued and Kobi and I returned to the park to find Linda as get lost in the confusion of the finishline.

We just looked up the race results and here is what we found. There were 85 participants in the duathlon. Linda came in 25th over all. First in her age group of women 50 to 54. There were 37 women in the race and Linda came in 6th. She came 4th in the masters group, that is women 40 and older. Very cool don't you think?

Friday, August 01, 2008


The route of the Hiawatha starts in Montana and winds through 10 tunnels and over 7 high trestles on its 15-mile course that crosses the rugged Bitterroot Mountains. Our Friday trip was to ride this trail and see the beautiful country that the old railroad people opened up.

This adventure started the night prior with the hunt for the bicycle peddles, and continued the next morning as we drove into Wallace Idaho to hunt for our day’s lunch. We had packed the entire van and our Jeep with bikes, lights and clothing for our 15 mile trek on the Hiawatha Route. We had even made a huge lunch that we put into the refrigerator earlier that morning. Just outside Wallace Diane realized that our lunch sat in the refrigerator back in Post Falls. It was too late to turn back now, so we had to stop at “The Center of the Universe”, as the Wallace folks decreed, and pick up some food. It only took about a half hour and we were back on the road driving up over Lookout Pass and into Taft Montana, where the road left highway 90 to access the trail head.

We put together our gear; bikes, headlights, kid trailers, lunches and drinks. Everyone was ready and I made one last adjustment to my bike seat. I lifted the seat up a bit and then cranked on the lever to set the seats position and “snap”, the bolt broke off. This made it a bit hard because we didn’t have anything to fix it with. So I rode the 15 mile trail with the seat set in its lowest position. I felt like a BMX biker, my knees up around my ears with every peddle push.
We talked to the nice folks at the starting point of the route, they were great. One of them offered to give me a part from his daughter’s bike, but it didn’t fit. Finally we hit the road, our small little group of misfit bikers.

We entered the Taft Tunnel with our full brigade of headlamps, bike lights and Mag lights. I thought we would be lighting the tunnel like an airport runway, but boy did it get dark and it seemed like our lights did little to cut the black. There was enough light to keep everyone happy and on track and soon we could see the round light, our exit destination. I found that as I road if I focused on the round dot, it was much easier to keep my balance in this dark environment. We exited the dark, gathered up and took a group shot in front of a beautiful waterfalls, our adventure was underway, progress was slow but we were on our way.

The kids did real well throughout the day as we rode down the old railroad grade. Alayna sang and played with a flashlight while she sat in the little wagon. Kenyon rode on the trainer bike, sometimes almost parallel to the ground. Because of the bike peddle problem the night before, we forgot to finish the assembly process and we really needed to tighten two bolts and nuts. These help keep the bike upright if the little rider’s skills are not quite developed. As Kenyon rode he became more skilled and that made him ride in a more upright position. Kenyon started by leaning like the Leaning Tower of Pizza and finished riding like Lance Armstrong. As this skill development took place we picked up our pace considerably.

We ate lunch at one of the trestles and then continued the downhill tour. About that time I gave up the slower pace and stood up and cranked on down to the finish. Everyone arrived in one piece and we loaded into the bus for the shuttle back up to the top. At the upper parking lot they unloaded us and we biked through the Taft Tunnel to our vehicles. The tunnel ride went much quicker this time and we had no problems. We loaded up and drove back home, stopping a one rest stop along the way to find a Geocache. Al Dee does not cache as much anymore, but I wanted to collect this one.