That’s a wrap …. maybe

9.22.2020

That’s a Wrap … Maybe

I believe today will be the last day of elk hunting 2020.  Our hunting partner, Dean is the only one in our little group still working and needs to get back.  Not really, he has vacation days – but if the elk “aren’t talking” no sense in beating the bushes anymore.    His hunting partner Al is on sick leave here at camp, bunged up his knee and is limping -so he and I have been “camp bitches” while Bob goes out with Dean each morning.

The morning take offs are a flash back of last year.  The alarm goes off about 4am.  Both Bob and I groan – ugh.  I get up and commence making grilled cheese/ham/egg/bacon sandwiches x3, package them and leave them on the counter and go back up in the bunk.  Bob crawls out, struggles and swears putting on his socks, shoes etc.  He’s gotten pretty beat up on this trip.  62 and is feeling it.  I listen as he bangs around getting stuff together (he has improved on night-before planning).  Today’s missing item is “the comb”.  He needs it!  You should see this frock of hair.  He claims its ALL coming off when we get home – if he shaves his head he will really look like Dad Bob!

The final day of hunting, the boys took the Ranger and headed out to the good old horse cock.  I mean, why not so you can say it just a couple more times. 

It’s been interesting this year as compared to last.  The Wyoming hunt of 2019 had me talking to the trees and spending a lot of time without anyone in sight.  This year I’ve had Albert, Dean, our neighbors Stephanie and Don, 2 guys across the street, and the Fondy crew (Tower, Mike, Pee Wee, Scott and John) just 30 feet up the driveway.  Every night we have got together for a beer, shared food, stories etc.  I only made it through 1 book, and #2 sits on the table in front of me.  It was fun, but on reflection – I think I’d take another year without the crowd.

Our journey continues ….  Bob and Dean came back from the morning hunt around noon.  Just prior I noticed the camper fridge (freezer full of elk meat) was red-lighted.  Knowing we had a full tank of LP, I figured the batteries must be getting low.  Thought I’d start the truck to give them some juice and found out the truck battery was dead as well.  Thankfully Al and Tower were in camp and got the truck jumped and running and I fired up the generator to help out the camper situation.  This should have been a sign of how the rest of the day was going to go.

Tower and Albert – my mechanics (*PS doesn’t Tower look like Danny F?)

We packed up, loaded the ranger, bikes etc and set off on the “back road” to Steamboat Springs.  I had checked on Sunday and the booking.com showed plenty of available hotel rooms, and we always have the freebie parking spots as back up.  Bob tells me he wants a hotel, so as we enter town (after a really nice scenic drive) I start hotel searching. 

I love these aspens!
Mountain Roads – Beautiful Views

Our first wish is the Hampton.  I walk in and ask for a room.  The front desk kid, who was very nice tells me they are completely sold out.  I show him the booking.com app and that I am able to make a reservation, with a confirmation from his hotel ??  He shakes his head – no – no rooms, not sure why this is allowing a reservation.  We have a stand off and I play dumb, “why would it let me make a reservation???” … he tells me again, sorry – but even if you have a reservation, I don’t have a room.  WTF?  Of note, I have used booking.com many times all around the world on our travels – frustrated.  He suggests the Sheraton, or Grand Hotel just up the street.  I clomp out to the camper where Bob is waiting and tell him the bad news.  He’s about had enough driving for the day and I can tell.  We head up the hill and see the 2 hotels across the street from each other.  We pull into the Sheraton.  This is a test in itself.  The hotels are jammed into small spaces, tight corner, over the curb, entry via the exit….  I go into the hotel and inquire about a room.  As the lady behind the plexiglass and mask starts looking (again, booking.com shows me 10 different room types available at THIS hotel), I think to ask about over size vehicle parking.  She tells me it is available, public not related to the hotel and gives me some quick directions.  I have a bad feeling and tell her I want to check out the parking situation first.  I walk outside and see the valet guy giving Bob directions.  I hear, “take a left, another left and then when you see the ramp that says one-way, do not enter … just take that anyway.”  OK, we are getting tired.  I go back in the hotel and re-start the room inquiry.  Same lady tells me, “I only have one room type left – 3 bedrooms, and $400 per night”.  I say, my app shows several rooms ??  “nope, only the $400 room”.  Thanks, but no Thanks.

Back to the waiting camper/husband.  I dial the reservation number for “The Grand” (across the street).  On the other end of the phone I get some chick that barely speaks English, a mouth full of marbles, and a scripted response that she reads over and over.  We go back and forth.  Me- what??, Her – “how do you pronounce that? (Jezwinski) …  13 minutes to make a reservation.  I was ready to scream.  I whisper under my breath that Walmarts free parking lot is looking pretty good, but husband wants a real shower with unlimited hot water.

OK – reservation made; now for the parking.  It takes several back and forths to get un wedged from our current spot, out of the Sheraton and around left, left …. I see the NO WAY ramp.  90 degree turn and cement flower boxes.  The camper misses getting a smuck mark by about 1 inch as I yell STOP!!!!!  Bob manages to get around the corner and onto the ramp, just in time for a car to come from the other way.  FFS.

Next my engineer over analyzes where to park for about 10 minutes.  There are 100 spaces, and only about 5 are filled (it’s 6pm), he’s worried the lot will fill up (it won’t) and he will be trapped.  As he is doing his thing ie: worrying, I note a “no overnight parking” sign, you will be towed etc….  I see a number and call it.  “Steve” the parking cop tells me not to worry, we won’t be towed, just get a pass from the hotel front desk.  I hang up and Bob says, “I wonder if I can park cross wise?”.  I hand him my phone and tell him to call Steve back.  Instead, I call Steve.  “You can park however you are comfortable, it is not that busy this time of year”.  Thank you sweet Jesus.

Parking “biggest stick in the harbor” ..

At the hotel front desk the gal asks me how my day is going and I have a mini therapy session with her totally unloading.  Piss and Moan!  I tell her about the reservation system lady and she nods and says, “you have really long eye lashes”.  OK , thanks for listening.

Our room is about a mile from the front desk.  Nothing to write home about.  The ice machine is broke on our floor, so back one mile, down a level, another mile in the opposite direction .. yadda …

Bob showers and then we head out for dinner.  Everything is closed.  Combination of Covid and “it’s not ski season”.  We end up eating bad, over priced hotel food.  And that’s a wrap.  Overall pretty good day considering we didn’t kill each other.

At least he’s still smiling
Bob is impressed they consider “Korbel” for the coffee list
It doesn’t get much worse – Note the $13 Jameson/rocks .. YIKES

Today we start fresh.  Olympic event #1 is to get the camper/trailer down the ramp and off the parking structure roof.  Heading east into Estes Park (I think, still waiting for reservation system to open up).  It’s starting to feel like it’s time to head home, but will give this new day a shot first!

Peace Out.

Fall colors are stunning!

Let’s Party!

9.18.20

Quick notes as I’m heading up the hill to get some cell service/wifi.

Cell Service Mountain – little hazy today with the Colorado Wild Fire smoke

No additional elk to report.  Continues to be over crowded with people and I’m more thankful everyday that Bob took the one he had a shot at and didn’t wait for a monster w/big horns.  I think he’s pretty satisfied as well.  Meanwhile the meat is pretty much completely frozen, so the “work” part is over.

Yesterday morning they all leapt up at the ass crack of dawn – 4:30 alarm.  I forgot how much I hate early morning alarms!  Back in our WF days, that was the norm, but geez not for the past year.  I quickly had flashbacks of last years hunting.  The morning before my hubs was being an ultra butt head, half way accusing me of hiding his hunting stuff (of course, I have nothing better to do) as he stumbled around camp, camper etc.  You’d think a grown man would have got stuff ready the night before??  No.

Rant over.  Anyway – he ended up getting a loaf of banana bread thrown at him on his way out. 

This morning he has an attitude adjustment, likely because I had recanted the previous morning to the rest of the guys and shamed him a little into behaving like an adult.  I drag myself up, and with one eye open and one closed I whip up some egg/ham/cheese sandwiches for the 3 and send them on their way.

Last night Dean asked Bob to please behave himself so they didn’t get cut off on the breakfast sandwich.  Ha ha.

I stop everyday and take in the view overlooking Commissary Park

Anyway – off they went to the woods and me back to bed.  When I got up later (9:30 am- ahh that was nice) I recalled that Bob and Dean were up the mountain via the ranger, and I was assigned to go pick it up as they’d be walking back down the mountain to camp.  Al’s truck was still in the driveway, so I guessed he had ate his sandwich, opted out of hunting and went back to bed.  Good for him.  I bundle up and take the bike after the ranger.  It was a 8 mile ride and it was COLD.  One cow encounter (they ran off easy).  When I got to the ranger it occurred to me the bike wasn’t going to fit , I hopped up in the box – yanked it up (75#) and wedged it in the best I could.  While I did this, I removed the spare battery ($500) and put it on top of the ranger roof.  The leap off the side of the box. The tuck and roll into the ditch would have provided entertainment for any passerby … luckily I had the road to myself.  After dusting off, I bungee’d the bike and set off back down the mountain.  After a short distance it occurred to me to stop and do a check on the bungee holding program.  THANK GOD!   Bungees in place – AND the battery still was on the roof where I left it and totally forgot it was there.  Oh my.  That could have been a really bad day.  Back at camp, I unhook the bike, climb in the box, start to lower it off and it slips from my hands (it’s heavy/awkward) – Bounce and crash.  Good news – it’s tough – and after rebending the fender a bit, it works like a charm.  Drama of the day. Our neighbor “Tower” (looks like Danny F. twin) just looked up and gave me the “everything OK?” .

When I’m back “home” it’s almost 11am and still Al’s truck is in the camp, and his trailer door is closed.  2 thoughts –  he’s really tired and enjoying sleeping in also … or he’s dead in his trailer.  I don’t want to be the person to discover his dead body – so I let him “sleep”, thinking I’ll give him until noon (he’s suppose to be going to town with me).  I no sooner have this dark thought and here he comes dressed in hunting clothes and hauling his bow – ahhhhh… now I remember being told at 4am that he was going to walk up behind camp alone and hunt.  Thank goodness we didn’t have to deal with the dead body scenario.

Our trip to town was efficient.  It takes a good hour each way on the “rustic” roads.  We (Al) stops along the way to BS with other hunters.  Everyone has the same report – too many people, not enough elk.

Our first stop is the “dump”.  We have about 10 full bags of trash from our camp (and neighbors).  It’s more like a metal recycling place and a one man show.  Al parks and approaches the bull dozer – he directs us up toward a bid metal shed and tells Al its $10 to take our trash.  No problem.  We back up to the building and the guy tells us where to haul the stuff.  It is SO GROSS a whole building with trash, broken bags, no lights – UCK UCK UCK .   I say to Al sarcastically under my breath “no mice here I bet” and the guy overhears and responds, “no mice, just rats”.  That’s enough for me and I high tail it back to the safety of the truck.

In town (Walden) we find the laundromat first.  It’s a “beater”, no lights, no running water, just a window and 5 washers, 5 dryers.  No change machine, no laundry soap vending, no chairs – just a little bench.  No floor tile, just the bare boards.  Nice.   A lady folding clothes gives me “directions” – the bank is down the street if you need quarters, this machine is out of order etc.  I have enough quarters for 2 loads of wash, and brought my own soap.   A guy comes in with a garbage bag of clothes, and a towel wrapped around his face – (oh yes, covid, first person I have seen taking precautions in 2 weeks)    I get things started and leave, spotting Al across the street at the gas station.  Here I round up more quarters, and he fills water jugs.  I want to send the blab off, so I ask him if he wants to go get the propane tanks filled while I wander back to the laundry to write.  Yep – off we go in separate directions.  I get the blab sent, and do a first round of stalking the guy that has now left our camp that Dean thinks is an undercover spy for Colorado Fish and Game.  Not much out there about him.  A senator shares the same name, so most of my hits are about him.  To be continued.

After grabbing up my clean clothes (ahhhh… so nice to have tights that don’t smell like they spent the day between my crotch and the bike seat), we head to the liquor store.  I brought (6) cases of beer along and we are out.  Yes, it’s hot here in the sun.   We park in front of “stockman bar”.  About 5 years ago when I came out here the first time, Bob and I spent a night in Walden at a horrible hotel.  In order to “put the blinders on” how gross the hotel was, we went to this bar for enough whiskey to blind us.  Turned out it was a “packer bar” – lots of GB Packer stuff on the wall etc.  I remembered this and suggested to Al we ask if the game will be on this Sunday.  Rain is in the forecast, (and I will take any chance to go to town).  The front door is open, as I’m about to poke my head in and ask about the game, and old fart sitting outside the door says plain as day to Albert , “the cops were just here looking for you”.  Nailed that one on the head.  We laugh.  A lady my age with blue hair is behind the bar.  Most of the GB Packer stuff is gone.  I ask about the game, she tells me “yes, still a packer bar – but laughs??? And yes the game will be on at 11am on Sunday.  We’ll see if we end up there.  Not much for TV’s. I’ll keep my fingers crossed.

Across the street the “liquor” store has a “no mask, no entry” sign on the door, we both turn around and get back in the truck.  A lap around the block we find option #2.  “No mask, No worries” liquor store.  We grab what we need and make it to our last stop.  Groceries at “Super”.  Let’s just say, “Super” is not all that super – but it’s the only grocery option in town.  For example – 8 slices of cheese for sandwiches – $5.29; yeah – you’re not in the dairy state anymore Dorothy.  We get our list out and commence our shopping adventure.  It’s short and sweet and before you know it we are heading back to camp.  It’s smoky as heck today – Colorado wildfires.

Bob and Dean come back around supper time.  Not much action.  Everyone looks tired.  No campfire, so again bedtime is dark thirty – 8pm.  My 62 year old is wiped out and crashes hard.

Off they went again this morning.  You gotta give them credit.  Bob is Dean’s Sherpa.  He doesn’t need to carry his bow anymore, so just is an assistant to Dean.  Al just got back and reported to me that he went up the path this morning and wiped out over a log.  After laying a bit and wondering if he was bleeding (it’s dark) he came back to camp, fired up the generator, charged up the battery and then went back with the electric chainsaw and spent the rest of the morning cutting down trees on the path.  Thatta boy, the forest service thanks you for your time!  (and the rest of the hunters that have been taking this same route). 

Tonight I’m planning a Friday night cocktail and hordeurve party.  Things are thawing in the freezers/coolers and we need to EAT PEOPLE.  (Not really eating people … it’s all about the comma – Eat, People!) Going to try a shrimp/bacon pizza, a sausage & mushroom (thank you Dean’s mushroom growing harvest), fried bologna, and maybe nacho’s.  This is why I’m going up to the cell service spot – I need to refresh my memories on a couple recipe options.

Talking about heading out of camp early next week.  Not sure we will come right back.  Bob has already said he doesn’t want to pull the drive straight home (not in a hurry).  The trees are just starting to change so we might do a little lap around Colorado before heading back to Alp Court.

My book reading program SUCKS.  Still only on #2.  Just so busy with these cocktail parties – ha ha.

Peace out.

The Polaris Ranger – My “wheels”
Testing out the freeze dried yogurt my pal Barb made – *it’s still in process!
The table and bench Ryan had the kids make in their campsite before they left
Trees are just starting to change

We got one!

9.17.2020 – What day of the week is that?  I’m thinking Thursday??

Have been busy the past few days and slacking on the blab. 

The first news.  We got one!!!  Nothing fancy, nothing horny, nothing to hang on the wall (relief). 

Because we don’t have a picture; this is what our buddy from Wyoming sent … he shot this mule deer at the same time we were stalking elk – Yeah Matt!

As I was out giving taxi rides a few days ago to the cute boys, my hubs and his buddy Al went to check out a spot overlooking (you guessed it) – the horse C.  As the story goes, they sat around camp bull shitting about guns, and hunts and … you know the stuff these men can talk about while in camp for days on end.  Yawn.  Finally, about 3pm (just before I got back to camp from my run about) they hopped in Al’s truck and headed out.  Less than 2 hours later they were back, hands full of blood and smiling.

They saw three, Al sent the bugle? Or cow call or whatever imitation noise was required to get their attention and when this boy looked, Bob layed an arrow right into his neck.  I think that’s what the story was.  He wandered a few feet “and piled up”.  (Guy talk for dropping over).  They semi butchered it in the field, and came back with a pack full of meat and a couple of its hind quarters still in fur.

After a celebration beer, they went and found a snowbank, collected up some packing material, and put the poor thing on ice for the evening.  The whole idea of packing it in snow and leaving it out (even though peppered and covered) grosses me out.  They talk of hanging it for days etc.  – besides being Ed Gein-ish, and making me think of “the worms go in, the worms go out” song … I’m anxious to get this thing cut up and in the real freezer.  The following morning the guys listen to my request and we set up an assembly line meat processing plant.  They skin, de fur, and chop in smaller pieces… I rinse (hair, dirt – puking), and package.  Adaya helps me by writing on the zip lock bags what the contents are.   I will laugh each time I take out a bag of “stake”.  She’s only 8. 

I’m happy to report this morning I just checked and all meat is completely frozen.  Meanwhile, I’m cooking up a storm nightly to eat up the food that came out here in the freezer and now has been moved to a cooler.

So interesting …..

Other excitement was the arrival of Bob’s son Ryan, and his family.   They have been doing a lot of hiking and building projects.  The person that gets the campsite next is going to wonder what was going on (tables, forts etc.) – not a loose stick will be found in a 1 mile radius.  2 boys/2 girls … ages 10/8/6/4.  The kids crack me up, always busy, always into something.   Yesterday we pulled grandpa Bob out of the hunt program (he’s helping the others now) and our whole crew took a ride to the fire tower.  The ranger ride up I took the seat in the box with the kids and oh my I learned so many things in that 30 minutes!!!  Ha ha.  At the top, we definitely had kids that were enjoying the birds eye view, and those that were not.  After the dads (Bob/Ryan) announced we were going to sit up top, enjoy the view and a beer so they could all stop whining about going back down they settled in and calmed down.  Once headed back to camp I took the 3 oldest kids in the ranger, and Bob went with Ryan in his truck.  It’s a good 30 minute drive and in that time the 3 kept me entertained.  First we had a dance party (as we were driving down the gravel road), followed by at least 3 warnings to roll up the window and keep body parts inside the cab.  Thinking now, I’m not sure why I didn’t reuse mom’s old warning about how men with big knives might come along and chop off anything we had hanging out the car window.  Funny, I remember fearing this, and to this day – seldom do I put an elbow out the car window without thinking of this.  With about 10 miles to go, a total failure on the radio/Bluetooth program I suggested maybe we sing to pass the time.  We tried a few songs – what do you all know ALL the words to??  We were stumped.  Finally, I started 100 bottles of beer on the wall……  

Do you all realize how long that song is?  I instantly had more respect and mercy for the people that acted as chaperones in my lifetime, listening to a school bus of kids singing this for an hour?  We made it to 39 bottles before we got to the driveway.  The kids all “fell” out of the ranger, and then “stumbled” over to their campsite because they were SO DRUNK from all the beer drinking (or singing about it).  By the time I got out of the ranger I was ready for bottle #39 !!!!    They are leaving later this morning, and I will miss having their little questions every 10 seconds.  Last night we made pizza’s (thanks to Dean and his pizza oven attached to the generator).  Those little boxes of Jiffy crust work pretty well !  For the grown ups I made that tuna/wasabi appetizer and won over a couple of the boys on eating a tuna steak (vs a can of chicken of the sea).

I smiled when the camp behind us stopped over (they are from Fondulac) and brought a jar of pickled mushrooms from my friend John’s “Manawa Steak House”.  Small world!

Other than that its pretty much same old same old.  Bob has partnered yesterday and this morning with Dean.  Al and I are pretty much camp host, although I heard some talk of him going out this morning on his own hunt.  Yesterday Albert and I took the e-bikes for a 10 miler. I should be getting commission because I’m pretty sure he’s putting in an order for one.

My job today is to solve the full grey water tank problem, and to take the bike and go retrieve the ranger from its “drop” spot.  Then I think I will get to town and pick up BEER (because man these boys can drink it!) and some more groceries for week 2.

It continues to be super crowded.

Our neighbor “Chris” left yesterday.  I need to blab a bit about him.  For my WF folks, he was the spitting image of Brad Moses (P6 safety) and even had an accent like his.  Alone here hunting, very friendly and would always come over for a beer or two (and stayed for dinner about 3 nights as well).  From Colorado he claimed a military history, a wife, and a job as a free lance IT guy.  BUT, we aren’t sure how true that is.  As we discussed him last night post departure, the boys weaved together quite a conspiracy theory about him being a “plant” from the Colorado fishing & game people.  Based on his friendliness I guess? 

I can’t wait to get to the cell tower and stalk him.  Ha ha …. Will we find him – or was he just a dream?

My book reading program was on the back burner while the kiddo’s were here, but will try to kick start it again today.  Our weather has been fantastic and 10 days out looks the same with only a minor chance of rain this weekend.  Talk of a town run on Sunday for the packer game – Still no campfire, which is odd in the evening to just sit in a circle in the dark.  Bedtime has been 8pm almost every night – too cold otherwise to sit out there.

No talk of heading east/home yet.  Planning another week of groceries, but dang it would be nice to be packaging another elk or two before we do.  Up this morning with them to make coffee and breakfast sandwiches I have to wonder again this year about the “fun” “thrill” of this hunting business.  It’s still dark and they left an hour ago.  Back to bed? Or plumber duties?  These are my choices.

Peace Out.

Albert my biking partner
Here we go again, these guys were compliant and just ran up the hill
No vacation is complete without a trip to the dump … almost as good as the mall in Wild Rose
For all the FORD lovers out there !

Boys will be Boys

9.14.2020

Good Morning

A couple days break from blabbing, only because not much has been happening at Blackhall Mountain base camp.

When we left off, Bobby had packed up and headed into the woods, and I’m happy to say after a couple nights he has returned unscathed.   He did report that he spent the first night in the snow freezing his cha cha’s off, then got rained on; had a squirrel for a friend, and overall didn’t hear or see much except a lot of traffic of other humans.

The general hunting report is not much.  Everyone is seeing way more “people” footprints than “animal sign/ aka footprints, poop etc.”  A long discussion was held yesterday outside the camper about the idea that it is too early and our deer boy elk are not yet “feeling it”.  It has been quiet, not much bugling – and the guys think that most they have heard are coming from the other hunters.

The natives are restless!  I should say the young natives are restless.  The older ones (got nothing to prove) are not nearly in the same frame of mind as they would have been lets say 5 years ago.  My native is still zzzz up in the bunk and its almost 7am.  If I was a betting person, I’d guess his buddy in the mouse house next door is also still zzzz this morning.   (update:  he was, just saw him head over to poop rock).

Yesterday Al reminded us all early that it was Sunday, and we should rest.   He is the “elder” of our camp so we listened.  Bob was planning to hang around camp anyway because son Ryan and family have joined us for a few days and he wanted to be here when they arrived.  It was a good day for a bloody mary (or 2), to test my dilly beans (*they turned out good!) and sit around and rehash the past 30 years of hunting.

I’m laughing.  For my folks that read the blab regularly – remember my little niece/nephew camping trip a couple months ago, where everyone giggled every time the word “wiener” came out?  Well I’m reliving it with grown men this time.  And the giggle word isn’t wiener, it’s “horse cock”.  Who would have ever guessed this was code for a slender long piece of land that is just east of our camp?  Along with “the nap rock”, the “fire ring”, the “meadow” and other names to describe locations – we have “the horse c”.  The oldest boy, the bald one named Al (age 63) cannot say HC enough.  He has crafted sentences around it.  As I stand in the camper washing dishes or reading my book in the sun, I can’t help but snicker to myself every time I hear him weave HC into his sentence.  You’d think he spent the last 30 years hunting that little slab of land.  Ahhh…  Boys will be boys!  Wiener!!!

The famous Horse C behind me. Note I’m being safe with my helmet on today’s bike ride

Ryan and crew (wife Anna), Ryden, River, Adaya and Penelope all pulled in about noon yesterday.  They drove pretty much straight from Oshkosh with a little truck nap for a couple hours along the way.  My guess is they all slept pretty well last night.  I had fashioned an impromptu “treasure hunt” the day before thinking they’d be looking for something to do after the long car ride, and I think it helped burn a little energy.  I warned them of the other landmark, “poop rock” – aka the woods to the east of our campsite where the tenters are making their morning hike to.  Little River said, “I already found it”.  Oh boy.   I gave the insta pot a try.  Filled with spaghetti, and hooked to the generator for power I managed to burn the hell out of the bottom (pan still soaking this morning).  Luckily, I got the rest out without a problem and we had plenty for dinner with some left over. 

After dinner we all sat in a circle and whined about not being able to have a campfire.    It is still restricted (no burning allowed at all) despite the fact that it snowed and rained and everything is quite wet.  Am guessing they don’t really have any spare fire fighters in Colorado right now, should one of the many dead trees still standing catch a spark.

The plan for today is Bob is day packing and heading in to the south instead of toward the Wyoming border north of here.  Everyone is secretly hoping the rest of the people here get sick of the crowd and leave.  Guessing the other people might be secretly hoping the same of us.

I want the ranger (UTV), in order to get up the mountain to cell service, so we spent the early hours of the morning (when I got up, and he rolled over) plotting a way to drop him off, then return the ranger so he has it to bring back vs walking 4 miles down the road.  So many decisions out here in the wild!!!  We’ve concluded we can work something out with a combination of the ranger and a bike.  Our only other “worry” in the world is finding a place to unload our one-week-into-the trip grey and black camper holding tanks which are quickly approaching full.

The Blackhall Mountain Fire tower that we visited in June – seeing it from a new angle on the bike ride
Dusted by the logging truck

So that’s all I have to report today – We are well.  The sun is shining (warm in the low 70’s yesterday), and the night sky is so clear you can’t believe the stars.  Maybe today will be the day someone comes back with news of a dead elk????  Maybe … when they get out of bed 😊

UPDATE : a couple folks appeared across the street reporting nothing from the location Bob wanted to check out. After mulling a bit, he and Albert are headed off for an afternoon “walk”. No overnight packs, just some trotting around the woods.

I took the ranger and found the Continental Divide Trail. I had hiked this a few years ago, and was trying to remember how far away it was. Thinking I will return when I’m not wearing flip flops and yoga pants (wasn’t planning to hike today).

I did find water at a picnic area. God knows when the last time someone used it and I know why — OMG what a work out to get it to cough up a little very iron rich smelling water. I’ll take my chances and shower in the river! Until next time.

The water pump. Too much work for this old broad

And yet one more update. As I sat on the dirt road / mountain top that is my post for getting cell service, and sending the blab – as fate would have it, 3 young cutie pie boys came strolling out of the woods and onto the road. Peter, Nate and Caleb. It is about 75 and solid blue sky hot this afternoon. We chat and I ask – You guys need a ride? They are from Wisconsin and I saw their truck about 2 miles down the road. They accept and pile in the back of the ranger, w/ Peter in front. I get a full hunt report from him – not seeing much, first time out and not sure what/where to go/do. They are grateful for the ride. It was only a 10 min delay to run them down and back up here to my perch. Did I mention they were young and cute? ha ha ….

Peace Out.

“Outlaws”

9/10/20 – Thursday : “Outlaws”

Writing from the camper and looking out the window at snow and mud covered ground.  We have arrived! 

Our September hunt camp

After leaving Iowa early on Tuesday morning, we crossed the god-forsaken land of Nebraska and just into Wyoming.  Hitting a little rain, the drive went smoothly – our intention was to just motor on until we got to Walden, CO where we would get Bob’s license.  Mother Nature’s intention was different.

As I looked at my phone more and more sections of Interstate 80 were being closed.  The snow storm hit and we learned later that although the entire section from Cheyenne to Laramie might not have been hazardous driving – the DOT people block off more than needed so people traveling get off sooner and spread out more, vs everyone ending up in the same town.  We had driven close to 8 hours, so by 3pm, we found a “harvest host” location in Pine Bluffs, WY just off the freeway.  Pine Bluffs Distillery.  A new place, not busy (like we were the only customers besides 2 others all afternoon), but it is a Tuesday afternoon and the freeway just got closed.  We sampled a couple whiskey’s and played cribbage.

I like cribbage and have played since I was a kid.  Bob learned when we met and does NOT like it.  He actually isn’t much for any card games, but when total boredom sets in, he will grant me a game or two.

My guess is that most engineer type people don’t like the game.  For those of you that play, imagine you lead a 10.  Your opponent has a 5 – and they spend 10 minutes deciding if they should play it or not.  I’ve tried over and over to explain – eventually you have to play your 4 cards and so do I.  It amuses me that he thinks I have some secret strategy.  I’m actually a pretty crappy player that gets lucky more than anything.  I have a pair of something.  I will ALWAYS lead with one of those cards to suck him into pairing it, so I can triple it.  I have told him this over and over – ALWAYS.  Yet, he is shocked and pissed when it happens.  And dare I gloat or celebrate in any manner that really sends him over the edge.  It’s funny (to me).

So, we start playing on this giant cribbage board at the distillery, that although pretty – is not very functional (not made by a cribbage player is my guess).  It’s hard to see the holes, start/finish etc. (and no it wasn’t the whiskey blinding us).  Well – here’s how it went.  Bob got at least (3) 16 point hands and double skunked me the first game.  He whooped me the next 2 games, and I barely won the 4th game.  He got a crib where we both had thrown a pair of 8’s – (thank god the cut card sucked).  We had one game where an Ace was cut 5 times!  I happily proclaimed him the winner of the day and I think he might actually agree to play again in the near future.

We cooked up a pot with hot dogs and mac n/cheese, ate supper and climbed in bed about 7pm.  (8pm at home). 

Yesterday we got up early, made a quick pot of coffee, filled up with gas and got moving.  The interstate was open and just a short section at the summit was foggy, slick and slow moving. 

When we crossed the mountain range, the skies opened and were blue.  We needed a stop in Laramie to get some hunting stuff.  Tried the Walmart (didn’t have what hunter B needed) but picked up water and some other junk.  Found a sporting good store that did have extra arrow points, and some bear gun bullets (not sure why we didn’t buy these ahead of time???).  Pulling into Perkins for what will be the last breakfast I don’t have to cook in a while we hear a big scrape sound.  The light in the truck alerts us the trailer lights have been disconnected.  Hmm.  Upon further inspection we find the 7 wire electrical cord Bob made special to reach all the way from the truck (past the back of the camper) and to the trailer was caught under the jack and tore the protection and a few of the wires off.  Shit.

What happens next, is what happens in most of these scenarios.  Bob has a little fit with swearing and grumbling and I start thinking of every possible solution and quick fix there might be.  “let’s duct tape it”, “should we just plug it in and see if it still works” etc. etc.  As we wait to be seated at Perkins, Bob has been silently stewing.  I keep slinging ideas (right brain) and finally he looks at me and says, “would you just shut up!”.  Ohhhhh, those are fighting words.  I like being told to shut up, about as much as I like “C-ee Uou Next Tuesday”.  Good thing I have experience with this boy.  I obey and zip it.  We have a fairly quiet breakfast until he asks me a question totally unrelated to the trailer problem, at which point I can hardly wait to spout “I’d answer that, but I’m supposed to SHUT UP”.  Yah, in hindsight, I could have probably let it go.  We finish breakfast in silence. 

I’m lucky I have a handy guy.  He gets out his toolbox, pulls up a stool and spends the next half hour cutting and reassembling the wiring harness for the trailer lights in front of the Laramie Perkins. 

At last, around noon we are on our way! (again).  We make it to Walden, CO, – pick up his $600 and something elk hunting (out of state) license, ice, gas etc. and head up to the camp.

It’s dispersed camping.  No rules.  You find a spot and park.  We see a lot of full spots along the route and wonder if the one the guys usually go to will be full.  We chat with Al and Dean and they are about an hour behind us.  At “our” spot, we find a giant mud puddle and what looks like someone’s attempt to block off part of the area with old logs.  We discuss how /where to put the camper, trailer etc.  As we are unloading the ranger a new truck/camper arrive. 

We watch and try to help Al / Dean get camp set up.  They have a trailer that has been converted into a camper.  Bunk beds, a small kitchen area, place to sit.  A few years ago we spent the evenings in the trailer when our “camper” was sleeping bags in the back of my 4 runner.  It hasn’t been used in a while and as they unroll the outside carpet I see from the corner of my eye what looks like dead mouse and house.  I step back.  UCK.  No doubt there is more of this in the trailer.  Al starts plotting how he will “scare” me and I basically tell him that I will bash his head with a rock if he does.  Very friendly of me right?  I go back to the camper and apparently they find more mice.  Bob must have had a chat with Al and told him it is best not to push it on the topic with me, when I come back Al just says, “You owe Bob one”.  So gross.

Bob helping Al make the bed in the mouse house

I whip up a few grilled ham/cheese, we have a few cocktails in our camper with the boys.  They are telling post hunt stories and I’m caught without a pen/paper.  It’s my goal to share some of their history in the blab this year, so I have promised myself to prepare better going forward. 

Not sure when this will get sent.  I will have to get up to the fire tower in order to get service, or back to Walden.  I’m signed up for a trip there probably tomorrow because in our glee to get Bob’s license we both spaced out also getting the $25 permit for the Ranger/UTV.  If it was me, I’d just wing it, but Bob is worried about getting caught without it.  My logic is – it’s a $25 permit, play dumb; what’s the worst thing they will do??? Hardly a crime punishable with federal prison time;  maybe a extra fee??  First we have to get “caught” and when have we ever seen an official in the middle of the mountains ??? (ah, NEVER).  This morning he suggested we needed to haul truck/camper etc. back to town(60 miles one way gravel road)  and I was like … No way.  I just got everything put away, I’m not packing it all back up.  So now, I’m assigned to take Al’s truck in the morning to fetch the permit and we are just going to be OUTLAWS today and pray for the best.

Peace Out.

5am – Friday morning, 9/11/20

Awake.  It’s pitch black outside and when I first woke I could hear rain/snow pelting the roof of the camper.  I peek out the window toward Al/Dean’s mouse house and all appears quiet there.  They came back after leaving at dawn yesterday – almost at dark.  They “wandered” 9 miles on the mountain and both looked pooped out.  Not a great hunting report.  They didn’t see much except other hunters, and logging operations.  Oh and one bear paw print 😊.  I offer up turkey/gravy sandwiches but they opt out for a tombstone pizza.  They are equipped – pizza oven running off the generator. 

In past years Dean’s dad John has come along and been “camp cook and bottle washer”.  He’s a super nice guy, and I have enjoyed chatting with him.  This year he is concerned with the other C word.  If he were to get sick out here he doesn’t want to be a burden.  The guys will miss him.  Left to fend for themselves, they bought a case of frozen pizzas.  I’m hoping to work a trade – a few meals here and there for a slice of pizza ! 

Turns out we didn’t risk going to prison and the Polaris UTV is still in the original parking spot.  After a bit yesterday I looked outside to see my hubs packing up his gear.  I inquire??  He tells me he is going to “go in” for a couple days, will come back on Sat.  His mood is pretty somber and I ask him, “do you even feel like hunting?”  He doesn’t.  His new strategy this year of “just winging it” , vs previous years of planning and practicing has him uptight.  Reminds me of the old days of skydiving.  The students that would come in and talk smart or sleep all thru the classroom portion of first jump course and then totally freak out when the plane door opened and they were about to get launched out of it. 

I hang around and watch him pack.  Search and find a few things that are missing.  Offer my assistance but mostly stay out of the way.  What I really want to do is take a bike ride because the sun is finally out and I’m antsy from riding in the truck for 3 days.  I wait.  When his pack is full and he hasn’t requested anything for a while I give him a hug/kiss/speech about safety and tell him I’m going off on the bike.

I’ve done a little safety check of my own making sure the tires are at the right pressure and everything is tightened back down after jiggling away in the trailer for a thousand miles.  I have on my hiking boots (warm/dry), several layers of clothes, winter hat & coat & mittens.  The sun is long gone and this ride is going to be a chilly one.  Side note:   It has JUST occurred to me that I went the full 19 miles yesterday without my bike helmet.  Not intentionally, I just completely forgot about until now when I was writing.  Safety 3rd!  What has become of me?!

My goal is to take a ride over to Hog Park campground and see what the water situation is.  I don’t have a handy little stream out my back door like last year.  The road is gravel, but in pretty good shape except for a few rattle your teeth out washboard spots.  There are a few trucks that pass, other hunters .. they all wave and probably think – where the hell is she going?  I breathe in the mountain air.  I wish it could be bottled for later.  We are at 9077 feet elevation.  Last night I woke up with my usual first day in the higher elevation headache.  It only takes a day and a handful of advil to get rid of, but man it sucks.  Bob doesn’t ever have this problem, but I always do until I acclimate.  Happy to say it’s gone this morning.

So I’m peddling along in my cold weather gear, thinking about a documentary we just watched about a fat tire bike race on the Ididorad (sp?) trail up in Alaska.  They are some crazy people.  At least I’m not peddling in the snow – it’s just off in the woods along side of me.  I see a big “muley” (mule deer) in the road, a huge hawk/eagle?, some varmit that looks like a super size squirrel.  The e-bike makes life easier, but I still am getting a good workout on my legs.  It’s good, keeping me warm.  I have my garmin on in case I veer off the gravel and down the mountain side (haven’t totally gone rogue on the safety business).  Soon I run into what will be my biggest problem of the day. 

Cows.  Big, fat, ready for the freezer beef cows.  They graze wherever they want.  No fences.  This includes the road I’m traveling.  As I approach the first 2, they stare.  I slow down and ring the little ding ding bell on the bike.  They turn and take off.  One jumps literally off the side of the mountain and disappears.  What the?  I’ve seen the deer do this, but a 500 pound beef cow?  Who knew they were that agile?  Then again, who knows if it survived, I didn’t stop to look over the edge.  They typically travel in packs, so soon I am faced with another “group” standing in the road.  I ring the bell, still amused that it worked so well on the first two.  This time it doesn’t even phase them.  I ding-ding and yell.  Nope, not moving.  I stop short of them, and they just stare.  There are 5 of them total.  I’m farm girl enough to know they are not “attack” cows, I just have to get past them.  I put the peddle assist on 5, and take off on the opposite side of the road.  As I get closer, the first 2 just stare and let me pass; but the last of the bunch start to run in the same direction I am heading.  Turns out they CAN run as fast as I can peddle, so I can’t get past them.  I think of myself as a herding cowboy chasing along behind them.  We are going about 17 mph and my biggest concern is when one of them decides to veer left into my lane!  Just as I think this it happens and I hit the binders to avoid a collision.  OHHH I wish I had a video of this for you all.  The 3 all veer left and run up into the woods.  Ha!  I peddle on. 

The rest of the ride was chilly but pretty.  Sort of set the tone in my head of why it is I come out here.  It’s beautiful, and even cooler looking with the snow and today’s clouds.  I am hoping for a rise in the temp – just a little above 40 would be nice!

It’s dark early in the evenings – like 6:30ish.  I was in bed by 7, reading my book “The good earth” by Pearl Buck, copyright 1931.  It’s good.  Something I bought at a 2nd hand shop more than 10 years ago, that I am finally getting around to.   I’m also playing that stupid “woody” game on my phone to pass time.  Determined to beat my previous high score (last years hunting trip).  Today is town day, need to get the ranger permit.  Not sure if Al/Dean are coming along, or just loaning me the truck keys.  This is good – I can send off the blab.

Not a creature is stirring (6:12 am) at the mouse house so I’m guessing the boys are opting for a “town day”.  Next door, the new young guys that are camping by Miss Vicodin are up and off to the woods.  I don’t get it and never will – the “fun” of stumbling over downed trees etc. in the dark to get to my hunting spot.  It looks like it would be a pain in the ass in the daylight.  Bob tells me this is why he would rather pack in and camp, vs. walking in every morning.  OK.  Makes sense, but still not (ever) my cup of tea.  The garmin just dinged and my love has sent a note to let me know he made it thru the night.  You gotta love technology! (I do).

So again, from the mountain top … Peace Out.

Death Doula

9.8.2020 Death Doula

After a very calm, slow moving morning we finally climbed in the seats of the truck and pointed west at about 11:30 yesterday morning.  Bob chirps that “this is exactly when I thought we’d leave”.  Hmm, I was thinking more like 9:00 am.  Oh well, no rush really.  With the extra couple hours I have probably added another #1000 pounds to the camper.  Short flashbacks of my “camping in Wyoming for a month” experience last year, I don’t want to forget anything I “might” need.  Laughing … will be dragging a pile of shit home I’m guessing.

Again we enjoy the ability to not have a plan.  No rushing to get there, no rush to get back.  Traffic is busy because of the holiday, but my love keeps the speed throttled back and doesn’t make me car sick with worry.  We have added the trailer and loaded with the ranger/UTV, so we’ve got a bigger train.  Bob seems content to stay in the right lane with the 18 wheelers and that makes me happy.  (I’m writing on Tue morning, and he’s gotten braver – so more time out of the right lane than in it … oh shit handle time)

Before we even get to Plainfield (Wisconsin) my driver announces that he is starving.  I’m ready, veggies/dip, sausage, cheese … I feed, he drives…this will be it until dinner.  Besides this job, I’m the map reader (although we know the route by heart), the wiki look up (trying to find something interesting about the places we pass, populations, etc.), and the radio entertainment specialist.  Unfortunately our truck radio including XM don’t work with the camper on top of us, so everything has to be blue toothed through the phone.

Here we are – MORE FUEL .. average 7-9 miles per gallon ..ugh

I’m excited to listen to a podcast my brother Keith told me about the other night.  It’s titled, “25 things you can learn from a Death Doula”.  This is something I am very interested in and have thought about pursuing as a volunteer activity in my retirement.  I’m still learning more about it.  Sort of an “event planner” for people that are dying – working in coordination with care givers, hospice etc. – it’s someone that helps identify what the dying person needs/wants, communicates to family members (if they can’t be there) and may stay with the person as they die.  Unlike my sis in law who told me not to long ago that “she never wants to be with someone dying again” ; I think it’s the nicest gift you can give someone.  I’ve spent time with a few folks as they leave this world, and I feel pretty comfy being there.  Stay tuned, something I’m eager to learn more about.  Any of my readers have more insight? 

So anyway, I start this podcast and my driver makes a face .. what the ??  Debbie Diamond (the doula talking *sounds more porn star name*) is also a psychic medium, so she really gets into this and can see spirits coming to get the dying person.  How cool is that.  Well my truck partner made it about 10 minutes before he started mocking Debbie and giving me the look that means – enough.  OK OK … so now I’m listening with ear buds to Debbie, and he is listening to silence.

About 6pm we start discussing how far we are pushing it for the day.  Bob suggests we have a good meal “while we can”.  He of course is going to be eating dehydrated spaghetti from a bag soon, I on the other hand plan on making very nice meals in the camper 😊 – But, ok – let’s see.  I find a “steak house”, same owner 50 years, lots of reviews discussing the famous FREE relish tray.  It’s a few miles off the beaten path (interstate 80), there is a state park campground 5 miles from the restaurant.  I dial it in and call to make sure they are open.  We are set for a 7pm reservation.  On our little off the highway jaunt to “Anita, Iowa” we pass the historical marker of the FIRST train robbery, Jesse James and his gang derailed the choo choo and made off with $3000 (this was in 18??- so a pretty nice haul).  The town is small and we find “The Redwood” on the edge of town.  They have a huge parking lot aka campsite.  Inside we find we are the only customers, except for a couple celebrating their 57th anniversary.  The owner “Lee” plugs the jukebox (wish I would have taken a picture) and soon we have Tony Bennett and polka music to entertain us.  11 songs for 4 quarters!!!  The décor and furniture are old school supper club, so is Lee for that matter.  Our meal starts with the relish tray talked about in google reviews.  It doesn’t disappoint.  Our meals also were very good.  After eating and having a few drinks we ask Lee if he minds if we park overnight, he doesn’t care and becomes our new BFF.  Bob asks him 60 questions and the poor guy struggles to remember.  He’s old, and he’s had a stroke.  We do learn that he bought the restaurant with money from selling his farm equipment.  He kept farming with rented equipment, in fact still has land that he leases out.  He also had 200,000 chickens for about 20 years – egg farmer, and using the poop on his fields (I told you Bob was asking a lot of questions).  Lee seemed happy to have new ears, and soon offered us a complimentary black walnut liquor (made at a winery in Michigan) drink.  Mixed with ice cream they call it “the nutty Iowan”.  Hmmm…similar to Bailey’s, my love suggests it would be tasty in coffee.

We climb in the camper at 9pm and about 5 minutes later the rain started, and thunder.  It was close, like shake the camper close. Bobby was flopping around belching up something that smelled like all the things on that relish tray – think : pickled fish, radishes, liverwurst and whiskey . yuk – it stunk.  He said this morning he had a stomachache.  Yah-shocking.

4am wake up and down the road by 4:30.  We can do it in about 15 minutes but were slow moving today.  All we see on the dark horizon is a zillion red blinking lights – the windmills!!  (it looks cool from afar)

blink..blink..blink

The forecast is SNOW where we are heading, so playing it by ear.  NO sense pushing through that as it will warm up in a day.  Not sure where today will take us.

Peace Out from the most boring place on earth – NEBRASKA!!!!!!

We are the blue dot heading west – Uh Oh….

All good things must come to an end

Yep, time to pack up my clothes, cactus x3, rocks, and pink sand and head east.  We got a weather alert to Wild Rose this morning, and spent our coffee hour discussing mowing our hay field lawn when we get home.

Yesterday we picked up rental electric bikes ($60 a bike for a full day-good price).  The shuttle system into the canyon is nearly impossible to secure a seat and in hind site I’m happy it was so much trouble.  The bike ride was FANTASTIC.  I’ve been here 7 or 8 times, but felt like I was looking at my beloved Zion with new eyes.  We rode all the way up the canyon to the Narrows, with little traffic.

My favorite hike to Observation Point was blocked off due to a rock slide – which is OK because we weren’t going to attempt it in the 100 degree plus heat.  At the Narrows the people were trucking in like a Packer game.  The people watching was quite entertaining.

Teenagers – sad, long faces and grumbling about “no service”… I know, I know – how the hell will they tik-tok?  I wanted to say, can you just take a look around?  I did hear one young man in the pool yesterday look up and say to his father, “can you believe this view?”  Amen buddy, way to have open eyes.

After our bike ride we checked out Zion Brewery for a couple beers, took the bikes back, and resumed our positions at the pool.  After a full day of sun (man are we tan!) we headed out for another nice dinner – Bob chowed down Ribeye #2, and I was all set for a repeat on the halibut but they were out so I went with stuffed chicken – also delicious.

Now we are hanging at the hotel before heading back to Vegas to return the broken windshield and deal with that.  Our good friends @ Delta gave us a earlier flight home tomorrow (for free).  I love that nobody else is traveling – so many options!!!

Pictures from the bike ride.  Peace Out!

 

 

CRACK

Our day started with “bad news”.  After getting up at the “crack” of dawn (again- this time it was me), packing some lunch we headed down to Bob’s jeep, got in a saw a 6 inch crack in the windshield.  UGH.  We had both heard little rocks flying up on the Tuweep 61 mile gravel road, and apparently one nicked the glass, followed by 106 degree heat … CRACK.  I think I spoke a different 4 letter word that ends with K.

I look on the website for autoglass specialists in the area and discover that a replacement windshield, with the little jeep emblem in the corner will cost $570 bucks.  Bob let out a 4 letter word that ends with K at that news.  I send a text to the vehicle owner (Turo- you rent another person’s car); he stays calm and replies, “enjoy your vacation, we’ll work it out when you get back Monday – Be SAFE!”.  It sort of sounded like, “you already wrecked the windshield, please don’t total the rest of the vehicle”.  His partner replied to the pictures with something like, “It happens a lot with the Jeeps”.  Thanks.

By evening the crack had doubled in size.  HEAT!

wp-1596980083627.jpg
No glue is gonna fix this

We got to the gates of Zion just before 7am, and they were already open and collecting fees.  Bob proudly whipped out his ID and purchased a “Senior Life Time Pass” !!!  Hello – it was a special moment ; $80 for unlimited parks forever and ever, Amen.  Yes Andrea, there are some good things about getting old (or marrying an old fart).

wp-1596914838170.jpg

Not yet loaded with people we had a nice drive through Zion on our way to Bryce Canyon NP.  I wanted to redo a photo we took in 2014, but the lots for that hike were over flowing, so we had to keep motoring.

20141228_111306
I don’t think we’ve changed a bit 🙂

Here is the updated photo in a new spot – Checkerboard Mesa

wp-1596914837837.jpg

The drive is pretty in the morning light.  Cars stopped ahead and we see this heard of Big Horn Sheep.  They were running into the ditch so I said, “Bob, talk to them”.  He let’s out one of his “I’m talking to the deer/elk/any animal” calls and they halt and look back to see who’s calling.

The drive up to Bryce takes about 2 hours.  I’ve been here before and was unimpressed, Bob’s first time.  I’d say that although Zion is still (and always will be #1 NP in my book), I was more attracted to Bryce this time around.  We got there before the crowds rolled in and had a lot of social distancing space.  It was nice.

I took a lot of photos – beware/enjoy.

That was the days adventure; back up to Springdale, spent the afternoon baking in the sun at the pool.  Amazingly it was quiet (expected Sat. to be over run with kids).  I finished my book, “All the Ugly and Wonderful Things” (Bryn Greenwood).  It was so good at the start, but ended kind of stupid.  It is available for rent from my library, but is coming apart from getting splashed 50 times at the pool.  Ha ha.  Excerpt from the book, where they mention the title, “I mostly liked high school.  I liked learning things.  How numbers worked together to explain the stars.  How molecules made the world.  All the ugly and wonderful things people had done in the last two thousand years.”

Peace Out.

Drive it like you stole it … Blessed Be

Up early.  Earlier than I thought we needed to be.  5:30 am.  Vacation?  My driver is ready to roll, so I roll myself out of the sack and start the coffee maker and make some ham/cheese to-go sandwiches.  We hit the highway by 6:30 am just as the dawn was crackin.  Our destination?  Tuweep Overlook, or Toroweep  (interchangeable according to google).  We meet many cars coming toward Springdale/Zion, probably workers getting ready for their day.  Good roads we sail along listening to music from my phone.

“Bob’s jeep” is equipped with a nice stereo, and a big sub-woofer speaker in the back.  I suppose this is because the damn thing is so noisy driving down the road.  Today is the test – we got the jeep to navigate to the edge of the grand canyon.  6 years ago we did it in a little pick up truck and crossed our fingers the whole way.

I have a firm grip on the oh shit handle, and examine the “head bang” pad above me.  A few times I actually came close to needing it – saved by the seat belt.

The trip is 61 miles from the pavement.  First the signs proclaim “Unimproved road surface” ; followed by “primitive” roads.  Hmm.  They are bad, rocky, not graded, surprise pot holes that could swallow the tire.  Hubs rolls along about 40 mph and I just hang on a sing with the radio.  This results in him asking, “who sings this?” …followed by me answering the name of the band, and Bob replying “then let them”.  (Thanks April Ann).

We go about 40 miles without seeing another soul.  Then we meet a fire truck-ish vehicle, followed by a BLM (Bureau of Land Management) truck.  We wave, they wave.

wp-1596834983936.jpg
Bob with his jeep – note the sign behind him

The other sign that makes me laugh.  The sign for the cattle guards, with one below telling you to be careful on your bicycle.  Let me just say if you are nuts enough to ride a bicycle on this shit ass road for 61 miles, I’m guessing you won’t need to be reminded all 21 times (I counted the crossings on the way out) that it could be dangerous crossing the pipes.  Must be a law or something that each one needs its own warning.

wp-1596834983352.jpgAlso makes me laugh that no matter what “out west” state we go to, the signs all are full of bullet holes.

We make it to the overlook by about 10 am.  The best part?  We have the whole place to ourselves.  Nobody in the primitive campground, no other tourists.  I quietly thank my early bird for getting us moving today.  We wander the edge, take a few pictures that all include “be careful!” warnings.  We watch 5 rafts 3000 feet below us going down the Colorado River – hoping to see them go thru the rapids, they pull over just before. Dang.

I’m laughing about the outhouse.  I have a million dollar idea for the National Park system to make some bucks — take pictures of your 12 best view out houses and make a calendar.  They pick the nicest places to let you pee.

wp-1596834987580.jpg
Pee with a view!

We enjoy our sandwiches and a beer, soak up the sun, listen to the sound of NOTHING.  I take a walk to see if any plants look like they might need to relocate to the Rose.  Thankfully the chip bag is empty.

wp-1596834987778.jpg
PS Kristy, those Poppable chip things are evil and addicting ..

We turn the jeepster around and make our way back down the washboard after about an hour.  Almost immediately we meet an on-coming truck/tour guide.  He rolls down his window and we tell them they will have the whole place to themselves.  He replies, “right on”. (I expected this – he had the _right on- kind of guy look) ; then he said as a good bye, “Blessed Be”.  I swear I almost replied “Under the Eye”.  FREAKY  (some of you will get this if you have Hulu).

The ride back out was uneventful.  At the pavement Bob “let” me drive so he could drink beer.  He deserved it.  All I’ll say is  you won’t ever see me buying one of these vehicles.  Too wiggly feeling, if you know what that means.  As we come back to Springdale via the east to west route I wish like hell I wasn’t the driver.  This is my place.  It’s #1 on my list and nothing is more beautiful.  LOVE.

Back track – yesterday we stayed at the pool all day.  I read almost a whole book, and apparently it wasn’t the first time – half way thru a postcard from Maui (but empty/not sent) fell out … guessing that trip was when I read this book the first time.  A full day of sun, ended with a 10~plus dinner ; Alaskan Halibut, coconut risoto, asparagus … OMG so good.  Back at camp, we took a late night swim after the kiddos went to bed or where ever they go.

We met a nice family from Texas – grandma Val (she has 6 kids); her daughter Sara (doesn’t work, but does have nice eye lash extensions – we bonded) , Sara’s husband James, and kid Bode (long E).  I said, “Have you been to the National Parks in Texas?” and they looked at me like I just stepped off a space ship.  No, huh?  in Texas?  Boy.

OK ready to go back for Chili Relano night 2 …. enjoy the pictures .. awesome day!

Do you see Bob in the picture above ? wearing blue ….  Peace Out.

Ahh Zion, I have missed you so

It’s my favorite.  The National Park that I have the most magnets from.  The one that I have a “love lock” at from my last visit with Bobby when we were a fresh new couple.  I can’t wait to go back and see if its still there.

Essential travel.  I’m sure some will have the opinion that we should be staying home.  My opinion is that now is the perfect time to leave home.  Actually, it is essential – to my mental health.  A couple weeks ago, as I was researching our planned October trip to Australia/Tasmania, dealing with the 3rd major flight change, and reading the news of how they don’t expect to open for visitors until 2021 (maybe), a dark cloud settled over me.  If I’m not planning and looking forward to a trip, or ON a trip I feel restless.  Life Goal #1 – Retire and Travel.  The only option?  Plan a different trip.  This is when I did my first “what’s the news?” inquiry.  I’ve for the most part had the TV off the past 6 months.  I don’t believe most of what is spewing from it anyway.  I do a google search for “what countries are open to travelers from the US?”  Yah.  Not much.  The rejection is real.  It takes me about 2 seconds to know where I/we are going.

I find my hubs outside practice shooting his bow.  The big elk hunt is just around the corner (Sept.).  My suggestion of a “quick trip” to Zion is met with a quick “why don’t you take one of your girlfriends?”.  I pout and stomp off.  A couple hours later he rally’s.  He loves me.  How long? When?  He throws a little “what would you think if I didn’t go elk hunting this year”.  It’s his way of reminding me this trip will take away from his daily preparation (shooting the bow).  Oh no, you are going elk hunting.  I have heard the “you only have so many elk hunts in your life” statement one too many times.  We negotiate.  I’ll cut the trip to 6 days.  He clearly states “I want a jeep”.  Back to Tuweep overlook.  Good, settled.  The tickets are purchased within the hour.  And now…. here we are!

Travel during Covid.  The masks.  MANDATORY.

Mom has equipped us with these styling masks.  Thank you.  Everyone is very compliant.  Whatever.  I don’t feel safer, protected or like I’m protecting anyone else, but whatever.

Our flight to Minneapolis, 6am take off.  On time.  Half full.  Free upgrade to delta comfort, with empty seats by each of us.  I’m going to miss the half full airplanes, that is pretty sweet not to be packed in like a sardine.  No beverage or food service, but it’s only 44 minutes to fly.  We get reminded in public announcements no less than 5 times the masks need to stay on at all times.  Yah.  Got it.

Once we make it to Minnesota we stop at the airport Chili’s for breakfast.  Masks can come off at the bar.  There are a couple douche bag guys next to me drinking their breakfast and talking loud.  They can’t believe how serious the security people were about them trying to bring a billy club through.  The bartender says… they don’t mess around.  Then it dawns on me this is the city of not-so-brotherly love with the police.  Yes, I do remember seeing that news.  It strikes me that DB #1 keeps calling the bartender (who is older than me) “Boss”.  Instead of “Sir”.  “Boss, can I get another one?”, “Boss, do you have a fork?”.  WTF.

At the gate we get the good news that we have another free upgrade from Delta.  1st class for our 3 hour flight.  We smile.  It’s nice when nobody else shows up to fly.

Same story on flight 2.  Mask reminder announcement x5.  They did serve a choice of mystery boxes 1, 2 or 3.  I take the mystery box with “hummus”, Bob selects the mystery box with “pepperoni”.  Inside we find a collection of snacks.  It was fun and funny all at the same time.  Funniest of all??  The over the speaker announcement telling us to remove our masks before we tried eating or drinking.  Seriously.  Also a reminder during the safety talk to remove your mask before applying the oxygen mask in case of emergency.  I’m still smirking over the stupidness of this.

I should have taken a picture – but here is a short list of what was in the mystery food boxes:  hummus, pepperoni (sausage snacks), crackers, wheat thins, skittles, tic tacs, milano cookies, a chocolate, cheezits, almonds …. junk food smorg!!!

Free movies.  I watched the documentary on Linda Ronstadt’s life/career.  It was good.  That girl can sing!

On time arrival in Vegas – 10:11 am.  I already feel like we’ve put in a full day.  We take a “lyft” to a private business and pick up our Jeep.  Rented via “Turo”, a very cool option of using someone’s vehicle – cheaper and less paperwork than a rental car.  The jeep is a 4 door, big tires with a huge add-on speaker in the back.  Oh my.  While I assume it will be everything we need for the off-road excursions we have planned it is far from great going 75 on the freeway.  I “help” my hubs with his driving (you know how good I am at this) and suggest he can slow down before I puke.  I’ll have to take a picture today, the “oh shit” handle is deluxe.

A couple quick stops.  One at the Indian Reservation booze store.  It use to be cheaper, but I will say that is not true anymore.  I also buy a $15 pair of sunglasses because I have left mine home.  (Turns out they were buried in my bag, so now I have a spare).  A stop at a grocery in St. George, UT and on to The Desert Pearl. (hotel).  The temps have topped 100 and my god it is HOT.

wp-1596717717019.jpg

The hotel only allows one person at registration at a time, so I stand outside in the sun waiting.  Errr.  Once inside the girl tells me they won’t be cleaning our room daily, (I don’t care), but we can make an appointment  – and then we need to stay away for 3 hours.  OK.  I can clean my own room.  I feel like asking for a discount, but I won’t.

Town and the hotel are busy.  The mask thing is non-existent at the pool.  Seems like a good place to hang out.

We are winding down, it’s been a long day.  Dinner at the whiptale grill.  So glad they are still here and open.  They’ve made improvements.  I remember when they first opened it was just an old gas station with a few tables parked on the black top.  I order the Chile Releno’s.  OMG, so good.  Bob won’t even try a bite and secretly I am happy to not share.  He has the ribs – also awesome.  We could eat here every day and I’d be content.

wp-1596717717285.jpg
Chile Releno… YUM

Now it’s day 2.  I’m out on the porch in a sweatshirt.  70 with a breeze.  We are in the shade and it will heat up soon.  We slept like the dead last night.  Today is “chill out” day.  A walk, and pool time – that’s all that we have scheduled.  50/50 chance I’ll get antsy and this will change.

Beautiful orange Zion.  You have my heart.  Peace out.

wp-1596717717807.jpg
Sunset view from our deck

wp-1596719286633.jpg
This morning.  Coffee.  Beautiful Mt. Kinesava, and West Temple View.  A great spot to “Blab”