Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Last Hurrah!

It’s quiet right now; most of the camper folks are in their rigs doing whatever they do inside their mobile nests. We thought a lot about this weekend’s outing. It will probably be our last trip in the camper until spring break. We talked about going up to Priest Lake or up the Coeur d’Alene River. Both were good choices, but we felt that the cold weather may have taken hold of those areas and made them a bit too frigid. Steamboat Rock State Park has always been somewhat mild this time of year, the openness of the area lends to good sunshine if the clouds permit. We Googled the distance to Priest and then the distance to Steamboat Rock and found them to be almost the same drive. We checked the weather and it looked to be partly cloudy in both areas so we got on line and made our reservations.

The drive down was fun, Linda and I can travel together very well. We talk and make jokes, sometimes we talk about the future. It seems we have been talking about what we are going to do with our selves over the next two years quite a bit. Linda needs a change, and I will probably see a change when it comes to our jobs. So when we drive, we talk about the near future and we always talk about our retirement, today’s trip was no different.

When we hit the big town of Wilber, I needed a break, so we stopped at the grocery store. We bought a few items to munch on and I used the restroom. The store was quite busy and of course the checkout lady knew everyone. The campground was about 45 minutes down the road, through Grand Coulee and Electric City. We pulled in early and set up our camper, we had a great camp spot.

Once we got situated, I started a small little project on the camper. The light system for the back door gave us two options; the touch light, which stays on about fifteen seconds after you touch the pad, and a set of four lights that are controlled by a switch inside the camper. Both work great, but both have disadvantages. The touch pad doesn’t stay on long enough to let you do more than unlock the camper; the other system lights up the back like a 747 lights up the runway. When the second system is on it is actually lighting six bulbs. I feel that takes way too much power to leave it on very long. My solution was to buy a light that we could use on the back that was a compromise between the two. I went to Northwest RV and found a light called a Bunklight. It is a portable system that plugs into a special receptacle. My project today was to find a location and install the receptacle.

I took my time on the project. First I spent an hour looking over the camper trying to find a location for the receptacle where I could connect to power and be in a good location for the light. Once I found the perfect location, everything went very smoothly and within about an hour I had the job completed. While I worked Linda read and took a nap. Kobi chewed on a stick and played with his ball. It was a very relaxing afternoon.

We started a fire and I beat Linda in cribbage. It was dark by 6:30 pm and as it got dark the Mule Deer mover into the campground. Kobi did great with the animals moving about. He growled at them once and kept an eye on them all the time. As it got darker the deer moved in closer and at times they were within 25 feet of us. Kobi has developed a symbiotic relationship with them, they move closer, Kobi gets fresh deer poop to munch on. We have been kept busy telling Kobi that he should not eat the poop, he hasn’t got that yet.

Soup was on the menu for dinner so we tied up the dog and ate inside. I made heated up two types of soup. The chicken noodle from Costco was pre-made but it looked to be far too little for both of us. There was a bag of chicken tortilla soup that we had used down in Utah, so I mixed it up for me, hoping it would be good. Both soups were great! I ate the tortilla soup with corn tortillas heated on the stove. I could not believe the flavor. I’ll have to find more of the mix; it may be hard because we bought it in Utah. It’s called Bear Creek Chicken Tortilla Soup; if you see it, try it!

We cleaned up and took Kobi for his last walk. He went right into the crate and we went right to bed. The coyotes were out in force and they yipped several times during the night. It always makes me smile to hear them, they sound like they are enjoying the night.

Linda woke early and went out for a run, I got up and let Kobi out and put him on the rope. I made coffee and tea and watched the sunrise. At this early hour there are no clouds in the sky so I hope we get the warmth we were searching for.

Once Linda got back from her run she took Kobi for a walk. I made tea and took my coffee and Linda’s tea and joined the two of them. We walked for a bit and made our way into the direct sun light. It was warm and wonderful. Back at the camper I made breakfast and Linda took a shower. We got our gear together and headed out for our hike.

The destination was the top of Steamboat Rock, we have hiked it before but this time we are going to get to the eastern most points. There are about 600 acres at the top of the rock structure. The first time we hiked up we walked due north and looked down from that area. With the sun out and the 800 feet of elevation gain, we knew that we would be working up a sweat as we hiked.

Kobi lead the way and we tried real hard to keep him on the trail. As it turned out every time he left the trail he picked up a burr in his paw and had to get it taken out. He learned fast that the trail was the best place to walk. The trail is a wall worn path that starts steep and levels out, only to get steep two more times. Once on the top you get spectacular views of the coulee formed by glaciers and the floods of Lake Missoula. The cliffs are straight down, and every time we walked close both our stomachs turned. We put Kobi on the lead when we were walking along the big drops. I know he wouldn’t jump off, but he might trip, he runs like a water buffalo. I took a picture of a US Benchmark for Al Dee, eat your heart out.
The hike up was hard but rather fast, the hike down was slower and a bit harder due to our mature body parts. My knees took a bit of a beating and Linda was suffering from sore muscles that she had from weight lifting. All the way down it was little steps and grimaces. Kobi did fine, there were two spots where we had to show him the best way path down, but he never once complained.
We made it back to the camper and sat down to enjoy the warm sun. Linda worked on home work and read; I sat in the Lounge Lizard and immediately fell asleep. We stayed this way till about 5:00 pm and then we started moving again. We took a short walk and then I built the last fire of the season. We sat in the warmth of the fire, used all the wood and ate dinner. We didn’t want to go inside and end the summer’s firesides, but eventually we put the last stick on and were forced to turn in.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Yeah, It Was Work!

Last weekend I traveled with the students to Portland Community College in Beaverton Oregon. We drove down on Thursday and returned on Sunday night. It was a long trip, but the students were great and we had a lot of fun.

At the conference I was given an award by the region. It surprised the heck out of me, I really had nothing to say. I was very flattered.

We took some time to explore Portland and ended up going to the Saturday Market. It is amazing how many students have never traveled to areas like Portland, or for that matter visited any cool tourist sights on the way to the big city. Here are a few photos from our trip.

Monday, October 13, 2008

It's Getting Cold!

It’s winding down almost too fast. Our camping season probably will end after this weekend. There is a slight possibility that we will get out once more, but our weekends are getting fuller and the weather is getting real cold. I doubt that we will see temperatures going up much.
I drove down to Heyburn State Park after work. Linda is at Phantom of the Opera in Spokane tonight, she plans on driving down in the Jeep in the morning. It’s kind of weird without her here. Kobi and I got to the park and took a long walk. They sure have changed the park! They added a park office that looks out over the marsh. It’s a real nice building and they placed it in a real nice setting.

After the walk I went into the camper while Kobi ate dinner. I made my dinner while he ate and then I ate while he slept. It was getting colder so I put my little buddy into the crate and then started blogging.

I feel a little decadent right now, I have the TV on and I’m watching Americas Hardest Jobs and working on the laptop. I guess the fact that I am so comfortable and have all the major amenities might suggest that I’m not really camping. You know what? I don’t care. We have talked about this many times. We paid our dues and now it’s COMFORT TIME!
I went to bed and read for three minutes. The phone rang in the morning and Linda said she was on her way. I got up and walked the dog and in about an hour the phone rang again and Linda was here. She settled in a bit and then we took a walk along the lake trail. About ten minutes in we heard some guys yowling across the bay. We listened closer and it wasn’t humans celebrating the goose hunt, but coyotes bawling and baying. This went on for a few minute and it sounded like it was right next to us. We kept Kobi closer as we hiked around the lake. I had Linda do her best imitation of a coyote. She did well once we corrected it from a seal bark to more of a wail and a coyote sound. Nothing replied but I think Linda could run with the pack some day. Kobi ran around and got into the mud, then into the water. I can’t believe how much he loves the water, he is a true Retriever.

We hiked back to the camper and ate lunch, and then we loaded the Jeep and drove up the St. Joe River to see the fall colors. Our drive took us thirty miles up to Huckleberry Campground where we stopped and checked the park out. There were quite a few hunters camped there but the place was nowhere near full. The camp it’s self was very nice and clean, we took a tour and then headed for home.

At the road leading to Calder we decided to check out the city, so we drove in over the river to the center of town, I think. There is not much in Calder, except we did get to see a moose head and body parts in the front yard of one of the residences. Folks were gathered out front as the butchered the big beast. I have seen larger racks, but it looked to be good sized. We drove by slowly and then headed out of town and back to our camp.

Back at Heyburn we built a roaring fire and sat around the heat. We tossed the Chuck-it ball for Kobi for over an hour and a half. He just kept chasing it. He has so much enthusiasm when he goes after the ball, it’s like every time is the first. He throws himself over stumps, roots and obstacles. He crashes through brush and down hills head over heels. Nothing stops him from getting that little orange ball.

I made dinner while Linda read and played toss with the dog. We had chicken noodle soup and corn bread. It was the perfect meal for this cold clear evening. After dinner Linda did the dishes and we read some more. We went to sleep listening to the coyotes across the bay. There howls and barks made us feel like we were “out there” again.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Ross Point Weekend

I spent last weekend with the students at our leadership retreat. The Ross Point camp was very nice and I was a little impressed with what they have hidden over there. It's a bit old school, the areas have a damp mold smell, but the area and what they have done with the outdoor views is very nice. It's like a camp in the woods, but not out of town.

I stayed in the camper, but didn't get much sleep. The first night we stayed up late playing games. The second night the girl scout reunion folks at were staying at the camp stayed up late singing around the campfire that was near my camper. I'll sleep tonight and catch up.