Gramma huh?

I’ll Gramma you son.

Tuesday, 9/14/21.  This may very well be the last blab of this trip because I sense soon we will be pointing east and heading home.  On a positive note – we have had extremely nice weather.  Not too hot, not too cold, rain only at night, no snow, not much wind.  On the flip side – there aren’t any elk here.  Nadda, none, zero.  We’ve concluded there isn’t ANYTHING here with the exception of a little red squirrel (a female according to the men because it is a noisy little thing), our friend “Porky” the ground squirrel? Pika? We aren’t sure what Porky is, but he has provided hours of afternoon entertainment as we watch him eat from the buffet we put by his hole every day.  Yah.  That boring.

Porky and his veggies.

On Sunday we went down the mountain to Lochsa Lodge to watch the game.  It was a treat because we had just been there for dinner the night before.  Feeling like a “regular” – we know the names of our waitress Shelly (who has served us every visit-and runs her ass off like a crazy lady), new girl “Madison”, Isaac the lying Seahawks fan, Mitch the giant old guy who looks like he’s kicked some ass back in the day, Josh our bartender.  Today we met the owners of the lodge who have just returned from their cabin in the woods 4 hours from here.  2 guys in their late 40’s/early 50’s – they appear to be partners in more ways than just the lodge ownership.  The employees seem anxious to see them – happy …   On Sat. night I decided to save a dollar and buy a whole bottle of wine instead of by the glass.  (It’s really not THAT much wine).  I had a pretty good buzz on and was enjoying having other people besides the guys and Porky to talk to.  Josh let me know that “pear girl” and her friend worked for the forest service.

Pear girl appeared on Friday night (yes, 3 days in a row we went down the mountain due to lack of elk hunting action).  She and another young girl came into the pub dressed in tie dye pants and peasant type shirts.  Pear girl was braless and left little to the imagination.  She was carrying a bag of pears that she handed off to Josh.  Floosy!  Her friend was a bit more modest.

When Pear girl and her pal and another blonde appeared on Sat. night – I took my wine glass and went outside to chat.  Under the disguise of just “needing some girl talk after spending a week with the 2 men” I weave questions about potential elk locations into the conversation.  I’m sneaky right?  New blonde girl, “Lindsey” is the smart one.  She’s a cheesehead that moved out here to live “because Wisconsin doesn’t have mountains”.  She offers some intel on where she has seen elk.

When I came outside to talk to the girls two of our other new friends (also hunters) had just arrived for the daily download of “No Bullshit” hunting stories.  Brandon and Bailey from Oregon. The “Jeep guys” – my boys had met them previously while out driving around and laughed when they pulled up to each other and Brandon’s opening line was, “OK no Bullshit – what are you seeing?”.  We had also seen them at the pub on Friday night and had some good laughs.  Brandon is working on a tug going up/down the Columbia River.  On his days off he found a coffee place that sells coffee and for an extra $20 the waitress will show you her boobs.  We discuss something I recently learned – that if you go to a massage parlor and are laying on your stomach, if you fold up a $20 and discreetly hold it inbetween your fingers (signaling a little bit more-I assume) it is referred to “as a fin”.  To protect the innocent I will not say who shared this noteworthy information with me.  

The guys tell me on the ride down Sunday they have “something for your blab”.  Cool.  What is it?  They both giggle, “we can’t tell you until the way home”.  So THIS is Bullshit.  Don’t tell me you have something to tell me – then tell me you can’t tell me.  I remind them, the blab is going out when we get to the lodge/pub, I need the info NOW.  They don’t budge.

We watch the game in disgust along with the other few people that have assembled.  B&B/No BS/Jeep boys don’t show up.  Either does pear girl and her pals.  When it’s clear we aren’t going to be hanging out with our friends from the night before my guys finally fess up the story.

It seems that on Sat. night while I was outside with the girls – one of the B&B guys was taking an interest in making a hit on pear girl.  (again, I won’t say who to protect the innocent- ha).  The other boldly stated, “Well just go shoo “Gramma” out of there and talk to her”.  

My guys laugh and laugh and laugh telling me about this.  They apparently responded to his comment about me (gramma) with gasps that scared him.  Oh boy.  

When I came back in – pear girl and pals in tow (promise of a beer on us for their elk hunting intel) the Gramma boy sat silent.  My guys giggled to themselves.

I’ve been called worse.  And technically I am a grandma.  Actually, I didn’t even feel offended – BUT I sure would have liked the opportunity to give Brandon some shit back – and I don’t believe I’ll be able to as they are packing up and heading back to Oregon on Monday.  If by chance Bailey reads this … please send my regards to sonnyboy.

Monday the guys took a long drive further into the wilderness, and a long 8 mile hike.  Gone all day, they returned at supper time with the report of “nothing … more nothing”.  Not a track, or poop, or a bugle.  This is the worst elk hunt ever.  They discuss next year.  Dean is planning to take up sewing he tells us.  I suggest a nice ranch, with boys in tight Wrangler jeans where Dean’s wife and I could sit on the porch and read all day while the boys go out hunting .. then we can all sit in the lodge by the fire at night.  I mean – one can only hope?

Again today the guys left @ 5:30 am.  68 miles round trip into the wilderness even further. Nothing.  The excitement of the day was Bob leaving his General Kinematics coffee mug on the back of the ranger when they stopped – drove away – lost the coffee cup ….. And low and behold Dean spotted it on the way back.  Highlight!

I’m thinking about opening a taco stand here at the intersection.  Lot’s of Motorcycles/dirt bike ish.  “The 500 road” is famous and at least a half dozen bikes stop here – all the same.  They stop.  They look at the sign that tells this is the beginning of the 500.  Almost always they stand behind the sign and take a leak – unless of course Mrs. Kravitz is outside the camper not just peering thru the kitchen window.  Taco’s, coffee, firewood, information … all these things could be at my store.  Not. 

The moto’s stopping to pee and read the sign

I have given up on the bike.  These roads are too steep, too rutty and I have had ZERO enjoyment from trying to ride my bike (now riding Bob’s bec. Mine is still out of commission).  I’d rather walk – at least then I can look up and look around.

It’s a wrap. Wed. 9/15/21. We are on the way home. The guys heard the same strange sounding elk this morning, were on the chase for a while in thick, steep country … and have had enough.

We make a quick stop to see how everything in the camper/trailer survived the very rough trip down the mountain. I’ve got cupboards open and stuff all over the floor.

Can you find Bob?

I’m happy to have a few more days before our next adventure – Colombia (the country) for a couple weeks with Jeff/Shelly. Time to get things cleaned up from this trip, get my tooth fixed and touch base with family and friends. Peace out my friends.

Cool moon last night – wish I could have got a better picture

Best $10 ever spent

We have discussed the wonder of baby wipes … they can go a long way in keeping you smelling good enough to be in public without offending others … but a shower to wash the week of baby wipe slime off, even if it cost $10 bucks is a great deal. Today was “shower day”. Not in the camper (water conservation mode shower) – but a real shower down at the lodge.

Lochsa Lodge. 30 minutes down the mountain. The guys have been spoiling me — 3 trips in a row! Internet, someone else cooking, and today … water.

Sadly, there is not much else AT ALL to blab about. The elk live in a different state – not Idaho, or at least not where we are. We have met a lot of other hunters – same situation – nadda.

The end of another day… ahhh

When we venture to the lodge we see the same people. “Shelly” our waitress (every time). Isaac the bar fly (think he works here) – same stool, today we see he is a Seahawks fan. I’m about 3 beers from asking about the jingle bells he’s been wearing on his arm?

Isaac was the guy that on our first visit I asked “any chance you’ll have the packer game on sunday?” His response – “Probably not, we only get 2 channels”. Liar liar … Turns out you have DISH …. So not really feeling the love for my Seahawks buddy.

Today we are here for the Packer game … Luckily an old guy who is a local (looks like Walter Moore) – or slingblade … anyway – he showed up wearing a leather packer jacket (it’s about 80 outside) and packer hat …. so nobody is arguing about what game to watch.

Broken Bike AGAIN

I took the bike out for a spin … It quit … one mile down the mountain. I had half a mind to just push the stupid thing off the edge. I tried everything – no luck. I guess it was a good work out pushing it back up to camp. UGH.

As far as the elk hunt. “Mr Crabby pants” as Dean named the one elk they have heard (4 days ago) … has stopped talking. The guys get up before dawn every morning … go out and call … no return love.

Frustrated they are going to plan F … I think that’s the plan they are on. Tomorrow the clock is going off @ 4:30 am… and they are going far, far away …. God willing they see something.

At our “intersection” where we are camped, several hunters … ok maybe 3 or 4 per day stop by for a report. It’s the same … NOTHING.

Last night at Lochsa lodge we met a few young ladies from the Ranger Station… One who reminds me of my pal Heather Mullins – looks and brains … she is a fire fighter/rescue person. Lindsey. she seems to have the most information – she has seen elk where we are. They are in pockets … good luck.

Everyone is searching.

Not the greatest biking road

Let’s see … pretty slim pickings for blab material. I chipped a tooth on a MikeN Ike … so trying to get a dentist appt lined up for when we get home. Feeling more and more excited about our next trip (Colombia)… and that’s it for now.

Peace Out!

Studying the maps
Dean’s love nest in the trailer
Home Sweet Home

Montana State Police

Hello Montana State Police

Our “day after Labor day” – Tuesday was a long one.  The evening before while gazing at the campfire Dean noticed the UTV (aka “Ranger” “Polaris”) had a flat rear tire.  He and Bob had taken it on a far away journey (40 miles roundtrip) in search of elk and apparently one of the gazillion sharp rocks poked a hole.  

My usually over thought, over prepared husband was ill prepared to deal with a flat on the UTV.  Luckily it held out until back at camp and they weren’t stranded 20 miles away.

After much discussion and some whisky it was decided a trip to Missoula was in order.

I quickly took inventory – pretty well stocked for food – drinking water and “other” water was a need.  We battened down the hatches of the trailer and bikes at the campsite and made our way with the truck/camper down the mountain.  It’s a crappy route.  5 miles took something like 45 minutes to the main road.  Another hour to get to town – and the first ping of a cell tower.  If you look in the dictionary under “boondocks” – you will see a picture of our campsite.

The camper is loaded with empty water jugs, empty gas cans, 3 bags of trash, a large empty cooler, and the flat tire/wheel.  We have things to do!

First off is calling every Polaris, or off road vehicle dealer in a 100 mile radius.  My husband is not only in search of repair of the screwed up tire – but he wants a spare wheel/tire.  Most places take our number and tell us they have to “look out back” for the spare.  We motor into MIssoula and go to the Harley shop/Polaris shop.  They offer a plug kit and the boys get to work in the parking lot fixing the flat.  They don’t have a spare- but can order and have it next week.  Dean searches facebook marketplace and has a few leads.  

I enjoy INTERNET 🙂 and get the blab published, scan our email, check the security system at home, Look for solutions for fixing my bike and cut/paste for review later, shoot a couple text off to the loved ones etc.

We wait for a call back.   And wait.  I recall that on our last trip to Missoula (Bob and I) we had a beer at Big Sky brewery and as luck would have it – it’s about 100 yards away.  Last visit I bought a cool metal art piece from a guy there and I’d like to see what else he may have created since then.  We enjoy a beer, check out the artwork and wait.  Finally a call back – no wheel/tire, another call back – again no luck, but “Try Kurt’s in Seeley Lake”.  One hour drive – the opposite direction …. Kurt and Bob talk and after a few phone calls we are on our way.  He has a “take off” – whatever that means we don’t know, he will sell it for $150.  The price seems too good to be true so we all cross our fingers.  They close @ 6pm.  It’s 5pm when we get confirmation they have one and we take off.  The drive is familiar.  Bob and I have been on this road before????  Trying to remember which trip out here.  We make it to Kurt’s by 5:45pm, throw the 2nd wheel/tire in the back and back track to Missoula.  I know at this point we will be driving up the mountain in the dark and that isn’t something I’m looking forward to.

As we approach Missoula on Interstate 90 (same as when we first arrive) – my google map tells me to take the 2nd exit (vs. the first that we took before).  The previous trip into town was a strange one taking us thru a residential area, so I assume option B that we are given this time will be better.  Off the exit, under the interstate, thru the round above and in front of us …… 

A viaduct.  Just like the ones in Amherst where the train goes over the road.  The sign says “13 feet”.  I say, “How tall is the camper?”  and Bob slams on the brakes.  12 foot 10 inches – the camper height, Bob looks at me and says, “I’m not going under there”.  In hindsight I think this announcement is sort of funny … perhaps I was just about to say, “Hey Babe, just gun it – what could possibly go wrong?” … I don’t think so.

Public Service announcement to Missoula – I’d  suggest here that when you only have 3 exits to your city – and one of them has this restriction, adding that information to the exit sign might be helpful.  I can only imagine we are not the first ones in this predicament.  

Bob puts it in reverse and I look in the back up camera to see a white car about 2 inches from the bumper.  I yelp “car!”.  The car beeps – and sits there.  They don’t get it.  Bob puts it in reverse again –   the white car beeps again, but at least this time moves back – about 2 feet.  We need to back up to the previous cross road – 50 feet.  Dean bales out of the truck and starts directing traffic that is now piling up.  People are trying to pass us – oncoming traffic is swerving … my hubs is freaking and yelling at the windshield.  I bale out of the back seat and lo and behold there is a Montana State Police Car/Man with lights going up at our intersection…. That was quick (or they have one on stand bye for this situation because it happens 20 times a day).  He yells to Dean – “Tell him to back up AND not to hit my car!!!”.  The boys manage to stop the traffic both ways and Bob gets the camper back up to the intersection.  We head down the narrow back street (with lots of low hanging branches).  We aren’t even a block and Bob swears – “The cop is behind us with his lights on”.  We pull over and he comes to the car.  Nice guy – just checking that we know where we are going?  I have the route up on my phone and he confirms this road goes OVER the railroad tracks vs. under.  Thank you sir.  

I forgot my phone on this “down the mountain run” so today’s blab pictures are compliments of Bob’s phone:

Too lazy to make a fire after our town run to Missoula … this will have to do

Tick, Tick…. Now we are really getting into the twilight hours.  We stop at Walmart and we all have assignments – go .. quick .. run ….  I grab the few groceries we need, water etc….As a treat I toss in some “huckleberry beer”.  When in Rome – right?

The guys head to the tool section to restock our tire changing equipment.

Back at the camper we onboard our walmart crap and ditch our garbage in their dumpster.  Normally I wouldn’t do this – but we have spent a couple hundred at this store on this trip – so they can be our garbage drop.

We speed off like bank robbers.  We did manage to fill the camper with water earlier at a public water spout (how handy!  Love I-Overlander app for stuff like this).

Next stop – Lolo gas station.  Again we have pre determined assignments – Bob fills the truck with gas/wash windshield; Dean fills the gas cans, and Kim goes for ice.  Boom!  We are like a Nascar team changing tires.  One more stop – Tractor Supply?  The tool section at Walmart left something to be desired –Bob gets the tools and we are on our way in less than 15 minutes.  

The drive back is in the dark – It’s been a long day.  It feels good to pull into our campsite – we have a quick night cap.  Too lazy to build a fire (and not staying up that long) the guys improvise with a solar lantern.

Yesterday morning we are back at the hunting program.  5:30 alarm gives me just enough time to roll out first, make coffee and breakfast sandwiches and climb back in bed while Bob hustles thru the camper getting dressed.  The boys are going up to the ridge that I saw a track on a couple days ago, and they saw a rub when they went to visit Sierra Montana in the lookout tower.  

I zonk back out and enjoy a nice few hours more sleep.  I’m awoken by voices.  Moto bike guys blabbing down at the intersection.  One is completely freaked out by the bike he is riding and the roads they are riding on – he complains – apparently on deaf ears.  His partners don’t sound sympathetic and eventually tell him to “just get going then”.  They stand and BS for another 15 minutes, apparently giving him a head start.  I’m laughing to myself … he hasn’t even seen the shitty, scary, steep drop offs yet – he’ll really be whining at their next break.

Lost Lake Trail .. and “Lost Lake”

Around noon my boys come back.  THEY SAW and HEARD an ELK !!!!!  wahoo !!!  We seriously were doubting the existence up here – and starting to believe the stories about wolves taking them all out.  He bugled, Dean bugled, the chase was on … the elk was on the road – they guys were on the road — no shot.  BUT – at least they have something to chase after!!!  I call it a WIN.  I will also take total (ok 90%) credit – as I have been yiping for 3 days that “to me” that seems like a great place to live “if I was an elk”…. Don’t know why – but it just seemed like the spot to me since we first passed it.  I also have been chanting that where I was hiking the other day – and saw the tracks seems like a good place.  The guys discount this because it is south facing — but …. They should go there.  It also is near “13 camp” on the map – and we all know how much I like 13.  They will return this morning to the area of the sighting – and god willing …..

As for yesterday – we didn’t do much.  I read about 200 pages of my book.  The guys figured out what the solar panel is for on the sign in our intersection.  Some type of inter active internet (but not the internet) thing that you can see maps of the area, and hear little pre recorded info about Lewis and Clark (their expedition goes right through here).  They amused themselves with that.  We watched the prairie dog-ish animal that is tunneling across the road come up and eat the lettuce, apple peels, etc. we left for it – His name is “porky” and we all had conversations with and about him.  We talk about (and miss) Al.  He’d have the thing eating out of his hand by now.  We just watch from afar.

A fellow on a moto coasts into the campsite from up hill and says hello, followed quickly by “you don’t have a little gas to spare by chance?”.  Bob and Dean look at each other and neither one answers.  Buttheads.  Finally, Bob gets up and asks what he needs.  He claims to have been riding since Washington State – acts a little confused about where he is going – ie: gas at the bottom of the Mountain *6 miles.  Bob gives him the gas can and he takes a splash. After he leaves I comment on how the men didn’t respond when he asked, “we wanted to make him sweat”.  Right.  I suggest the “good karma” that comes with sharing with your neighbor.  MEN!

Another “dude” stops and comes to chat.  He is here with his dog “Kelly” (who quickly finds our porkchop bone in the bushes and is crunching happily). -Dude is with some group that wants to make some of this land “Wilderness” – aka – No motorized vehicles.  He appears to be pretty much full of shit and has a hard time asking our firing squad of questions about the group he represents – Conservation of the Burn ?  or something like that.  Claiming to have been coming up here for 20 years he doesn’t yield much info about elk hunting.  After he pulls away we all conclude he probably works for the forest service and is really just a spy.

We have a real fire tonight.  I test one of the Huckleberry beers – YUK.  That will definitely be that last thing in the cooler.  The boys join my wine drinking club – we have 3 boxes – 2 are descent, one is shit …. Also will be the last thing available for evening cocktail hour.

I have made contact with the world via mini-garmin and have game time for the Packers Sunday.  I hint/suggest that our next trip down the mountain happen in conjunction with the game.  That’s a few days from now.  UNLESS of course we kill the elk !! Fingers crossed.  

I laughed yesterday when I told the guys – the first year I came as camp cook I got up every morning and seriously thought – This will be the day they get an elk!.  This year I haven’t felt that way at all – just happy they actually SAW an elk.  Keep it coming mother nature … keep it coming.

Peace out.

PS – the directions for fixing the bike worked!  Back in action 🙂

Transgender Elk.

The boys came back yesterday morning defeated.  They had “met up” with the elk from the previous morning (they think the same one).  It bugled, it barked, it “chuckled”.  That’s a new one – a chuckling elk?  Bob explains this is not your ordiinary elk.  It is making noises they don’t normally hear (a male bugling for love is normal).  The guys blow on their fake elk noise horns pretending to be another male (game on!) or a female (hello my love).  “It” responds.  My response?  “Shoot the damn thing so we can find out what it really is”.  Bob has not seen with his eyes this elk.  Dean saw “something brown” jumping in the bushes the first day.  Together they have heard it respond to their calls.  Hmm.  The suspense is killing me.  Not.

Other than that yesterday was a MOST boring day.  I read about 250 pages and finished book #2.  Dean is becoming an expert on all things of this area – why the creeks are named “5 squaws creek – and papoose creek” for example.  These are folks that were captured during the Indian War.  I ask – “What became of the 5 squaws and papoose?” … answer not supplied by the interactive learning.  I suspect we’d find their bones in said creeks.

The guys did an evening hunt up the mountain.  Nadda.  Bob explains that Dean tried to kill him in the morning with a request to “drop down in”.  Apparently this was a sheer cliff face and dropping in was a lot of work – even more so crawling back out.  My 63 year old came back looking like he needed a nap!  It’s not your normal woods here – it is THICK brush.  To even try to walk 10 feet into the woods from the road is a major deal – and steep drop off’s seem to be the common denominator.  I was searching for the marked “Lewis and Clark” trail and just gave up after awhile – you’d need a machette to get thru this crap.  Apparently not very well traveled.

It’s getting to the point (same as every year) where each morning feels like ground hog day.  5:30am alarm.  Act like hot lunch lady – producing 2 egg & something sandwiches and 2 cups of coffee, back to bed for a few hours as the hunters leave.  Up for small house (camper) cleaning, sweep the mat and take a walk, read a book, wait for the elk story of the day…… repeat.  I’m not complaining.  I think it’s good for the soul to just power down for a few days (or weeks).  If a person wanted to unplug – this is the place to do it!  Peace out my friends …

UPDATE – Friday 9/10 – Suggested to the boys this morning it was time to go visit the locals down the mountain and see what they know about elk here? AKA – civilization. I’m busy typing – while they drink a beer. Off duty on cooking tonight as well. Mr. Elk had nothing to say this morning; just talked to another set of hunters who were limping and shaking their heads. Took a spin on the bike and the stupid thing broke at the bottom – 1 mile of pushing it up the hill gave me a good workout …. Peace Out!

STEEP

Idaho…Land of Potatoes – How about ELK?

Sept 4, 2021 – 10:27 am CST ?  or mountain or ?? not sure.

Writing from middle of the woods nowhere – Lolo National Forest – Idaho … close to Montana.

Here we are again.  The annual pilgramage in search of the almighty elk.  

Last year we had more people than elk.  A lot more!  This year I put the message out early – I don’t want to be surrounded by people all day, let’s try someplace else.  I’m here to tell you all that we are on the polar opposite of last years hunt site.  I have no idea when this will be published because a cell phone ping is something I haven’t seen in a very long while.

Bob and I packed up on Tuesday.  The camper was pretty much ready to go with the exception of the last groceries.  We had the “hunting stuff”, and the trailer, UTV, gas cans, coolers etc.

He also felt the need to mow the lawn before we left (I disagreed on the importance of this).  In the end Karma won out and the wheel on the pull behind mower broke off – so that ended that task.  Meanwhile I had push mowed around all the trees, and other obstacles – so we will return to a very strange mow pattern – then grown up for sure.

Thursday our friend Dean was at the house at 6am.  I really should have told him later because we (the half that is not me) was not ready.  God love him – my Bobby just doesn’t do mornings well.  It’s going to be a long day in the truck (12 hours estimate) so I just stay clear.  Careful not to talk to much.  We finally pull down the driveway at 7:30 am.  Not terrible.  

I have selected the northern route thru Minneapolis, Fargo etc..  The weather looks clearest there and I am sick to death of the Iowa, Nebraska route.  It’s uneventful.  I enjoy having Dean along.  New person, new conversation, and a good back up driver to give Bob a break.  I have made a very comfy nest in the backseat, manage to sling the middle seat belt around myself enough to keep the contents of my body in a full on crash inside the cab, and hopefully keep me from drop kicking the boys heads off on my way out of the front windshield.  Nice positive thinking right?

The guys spend a good couple hours rehashing every hunt they have ever been on.  BORING.  I practice my spanish, dink around on my phone and commence chowing down the first of many little boxes of candy my neighbor LIl Anne has sent along on the trip.  My drivers are excellent in pulling over for a stretch and a pee as needed.  We reach our goal – Dickensen, North Dakota about 7 pm (1 hour time change added).  Our “campsite” is a Harvest Host – a brewery (why not?).  They have good food, beer and fast free wifi.  The boys download maps.  Besides a brewery and restaurant they have axe throwing in the back.  Loved the creativity of this ad campaign!

I kiddingly make a comment to the young lady that is bartending  about “since Dean got out of prison….”. And her eyes get really big as she says to Dean, “If you don’t mind me asking – what were you in prison for?”.  We don’t have our hunting buddy, biggest bullshitter in the world Al along this year – so someone had to pick up the slack.  Dean shakes his head, says “I’ve never even been in jail”…. She seems disappointed and then shares that in High School she got busted at a field party “with maybe a little marijuana” and was put in jail for a couple hours.  I think she was trying the “I’ll share my badness, and then you share yours” on Dean … but he held tight to his story that he was innocent.  For the record – he is innocent.

We all tucked into the camper by 9pm and the morning report is that we all slept pretty well.

Day 2 of driving was much of the same.  We bolted early with a cup of gas station coffee.  After a couple hours we stopped at a pretty little overlook wayside and made breakfast, stretched out and then we were set for the day.

This day was about 9 hours driving.  Again the boys did a nice job of not making me squawk too many times.  Dean modeled excellent behavior using his signal light when changing lanes that we can only hope wears off on my love who is apparently saving the bulb for the second 100,000 miles the truck will run.

Night 2 was Missoula, MT.  We hit up the Cabela’s for our “wolf” tags and hoping to find a UTV tag (no go on the UTV tag -we’ll be running illegal).  After a quick visit we all agreed to just stay in Missoula vs. heading to Lolo National Forest.  It was supper time, we’d had enough of the ride.  Our Harvest Host was on the campus of the U of Missoula – a golf course.  They had a nice little restaurant with outside seating where we could watch/heckle the people on tee 1.  Very pretty, nice weather.  We went back to the “campsite” – aka the parking lot and sat outside for a bit having a night cap, before all piling back in the camper for some sleep.

Next door to the golf course was a play ground – and on our side of the bushes the guys spotted this chair.  In debate over if the creeper that owns the chair is sitting in the bushes watching little kids on the playground – or facing our way watching the young college girls in thier little golf skirts.

Day 3: 

We were up pretty early yesterday – the golf course camp was close to a busy road and between that and the early morning mower we didn’t stand a chance of sleeping in too much past dawn.

Heading to Lolo National Forest, we filled gas cans, gas tank, got ice, a few more groceries and headed off into the wilderness.  We made our way to the Ranger Station – only to find out it had been relocated 10 years earlier ..had lunch, backtracked to the Visitor Center – found out during the ranger station relocation  – they ditched the ranger, so no information really available.  Dean bought a map to go with the other 20 maps he has for this location – I bought some note cards and off we went back to the hunt spot.

As we started up the “road” – and I’ll use that lightly, we discuss how far we will go.  Bob and I are pretty confident and experienced in taking the truck/camper about anywhere (less low hanging branches); but we have a trailer hooked on with a ranger and a pile of other shit inside to consider.  Bob goes slow.  It takes us 2 hours to go 5 miles.  The road is “not as bad as Wyoming” – but it’s not great.  We get to Powell Jct. and I throw the flag.  It’s a nice 4 way intersection – with a nice flat place to camp.  Lets stop here before we wreck something is my chant.  The boys agree and although we have some “discussions” about where the camper will be parked – (Mrs. Kravitz wants a view!) we get set up in an hour or so.  

Home Sweet Home

It’s about 3pm, and the guys want to go and scout further up the road.  I’m happy for some alone time and want to get stuff unpacked and in a place where I’m not climbing over it constantly.  They leave and I expect to see them in a couple hours at most. 

After settling in I take the bike and head off in a different direction.  I’ve got my gps tracker, phone (no service – but works as a camera).  I see a small road/trail and decide that looks interesting.  It hasn’t been traveled in a while.  After about 10 min of almost crashing due to rocks, ruts etc. I find a pile of firewood and a fire ring.  No people now, but the last ones  left behind treasure.  I feel lucky – it’s the little things.  I will come back later and get it when the guys bring the ranger/UTV back.  I decide I’m too tired to be out riding on this terrain today and head back to camp.  *Note, it is a steep drop off – so crashing the bike would equal – bike crash followed by tumbling down the mountain/splat.  Not ready for that!

The prep work / studying I / we have done about this area is that not too long ago it was infested with wolves and bears.  All the elk babies got ate when they “dropped’ from the mother elk (*this is guy hunter talk I learned on the way out).  Other claims are that when you bugle for elk in this area – packs of wolves will come running.  Doesn’t sound very promising for the elk hunters does it?  We have chosen to ignore this information and believe that not all the elk are gone.  Stats from the State of Idaho Game/fishing people show that people are still killing elk in this unit (100 hunters took 10 elk last year – that is GOOD odds).  The problem for me with this information is that I am still not completely convinced all of the bears and wolves have left – so this is on my bicycle riding mind as I bump on down the trail.  

As I pass some high bushes (as tall as me and thick) I think … yep , if I was a bear – I’d be hanging around here…  and then I get a creepy feeling.  The kind they say is instinct and you should GTFO when you have it.  I trust my instinct and go back to camp.

The sun is setting and I’m expecting my boys to be showing back up soon.  Bob left just wearing the shorts and tshirt he put on this morning, they didn’t even take any beer along (Al would have never let this happen – just saying).  I make some BBQ and beans and sit down to enjoy my book.  I read and listen.  No sound except a few bird chirps and the wind high in the treees.  A few vehicles pass – maybe one per hour.  A truck with 2 boys from Minnesota wave as they roll by.  A guy on a backroad type motorcycle stops to take a picture with the sign.  I offer to take it for him as he fiddles with a tripod – as he leaves he hollars over, “have fun with the bears!” … whatever asshole!  A jeep, another pick up – everyone traveling different ways.  

Now its dark.  8pm.  No guys.  I move inside and keep reading.  9pm.  No guys.  I’m starting to worry.  My guess is they are lost.  I look around – both phones with downloaded maps are here at camp.  Both gps trackers are here.  I listen.  Nothing.  

About 9:30 they finally show back up.  WHERE THE F WERE YOU?  Bob is freezing and starving.  (even tho the ranger has heat – ha).  I rewarm supper and they recount the people they have met and talk to.  Bob says, “when you get internet you need to google stalk this one guy”  (Tom Harder/Harter)… sure thing…”when” is the key word.

The guys have hope.  Tomorrow they will hike in and look for signs of something – whether it be the wanted elk sign, or wolf or bear.  

Day 2:

The crew is a slow moving train.  They wake up – when they wake up, not to an alarm (which is fine by me).  Everything in our camper is a struggle.  Finding clothing, binocs, packing food etc. etc.  Bob tells Dean – “I remember when I left home with all this stuff ready to just jump out of the car and hunt”.  Yah… not today.  I make coffee and breakfast sandwiches and stay the hell out of the way.  Finally they depart.  Up the hill.  Good Bye and Good Luck.

The day for me was magnificent.  I remember why I like tagging along.  I spend some time cleaning up the camper, sorting out the fridge, writing the blab from above.  It’s beautiful outside – just a little hazy/smoky.  I remake the bed – if you have a camper you know what a circus act this can be.  Imagine making your bed without touching the floor.  Pretty much you lay in the bed and make it.  It’s as good as 15 mi n of aerobics I swear.

I feel a little altitude headache – we are only at 5800 feet, but still I’ve had it before and that’s what I’m guessing is my problem.  It’s SO DRY.  Dry skin, hair, eyes, mouth.  I keep reminding myself to chug a lug on the water bottle.  After making the bed I just lay there.  Nothing – not a sound.  It’s about 11:30am and the next thing I know I wake up and its 1:00 pm.  Guess I needed a nap!  The headache went away – hooray!

I decide a trip on the bike is next.  I pack up an extra battery, study the map and am about to head off when 2 moto-bikes pull up to the intersection.  One guy (older than me) walks over with a sandwich in his hand and says, “What’s for dinner?”.  My initial thought ?  “A shit sandwich you chauvenist pig” … I keep that comment to myself and say, “whatever it is you are eating I guess”.  They small talk.  Heading to the “blue cottage” – free camp, hoping nobody beat them to it.  I remark that one bike is all that has passed today – but it was heading that direction.  

My bike ride is work.  The roads are rutted, so pretty slow moving – even with the E bike.  Long drawn out hills.  Going up is actually easier, because going down is just trying to stay upright while on the brakes.  I hear my water bottle fall off and realize my sweatshirt is no longer on the back.  Down the way I came I recover both.  Finally, I get to a road that is a descent bit of riding – for about 10 minutes, then more of the same rutted, rocky crap.  I guess this trip will be more about hiking than biking.  I don’t see a soul.  I don’t see anything alive – except one chipmunk.  At camp we have a few birds hanging around – but nothing else.  It’s strange in this wilderness.

I see one hoof print, fairly new – and bigger than a deer.  The area looks to me like elk country  – I shall report this intel to the hunters tonight.

After the bike ride I park myself in the sun and read.  Book #1.  Completed in 2 days.  It was a good one.  “The things we do for love – Kristin Hannah author”

The boys come back before dark.  They look tired.  The report.  Nothing.  No sign of anything.  They did some hiking – nothing.  The hope from yesterday is gone.  We have porkchops, mashed potatoes and veggies, gravy for supper.  They are hungry and scarf it up.  I have retrieved the wood I saw on day 1 and we have a little campfire.  

The stars here in the land of NO LIGHT are amazing.  One of my favorite things.  We have been having trouble getting our garmin in reach satelite things to work so we determine which overhead satelite flying by might be the problem.  We discuss all the junk out in space.  Early to bed 9 or 10 – we don’t know which.  Our phones have one time, our garmins another.  It doesn’t really matter.  They are leaving at / pre dawn.

Day 3:  The alarm goes off and both Bob and I groan.  This seems like work.  I hop up and make coffee / breakfast – then climb back in bed.  I can’t fall asleep after they leave so as tradition dictates – I watch Eat, Pray, Love.  I’ve seen it probably 6 times – always watch it at least once on this trip.  Love that movie.

And now I’m in the truck, charging the laptop battery – and everything else that needs it while the truck idles.  Today I’m going to bike up the road.  The guys caught a cell signal they tell me – so I’m going in search of it.

Happy Labor Day?  The computer says it is Sept 6.  I have lost all track.  If I was looking for isolation – I have definetly found it.  I told the guys “this will be the longest unpublished blab ever”.  Maybe it will be a book?  Not.

I thought things were looking up as far as the elk hunt part of this trip.  They aren’t.  It’s like ping pong – one day we have hope – the other day we have no hope.  Yesterday’s Debbie Downer was a local up here trapping wolves who stopped to tell the guys, “sorry to ruin your hunt, but you won’t see/hear an elk here”.  Hmm. 

My boys don’t give up that easy though.  This morning the alarm went off at 4:30 am.  UGH.  I am like zombie girl making breakfast – today they will have sausage burritos, an apple turn over and a banana.  I feel like the hot lunch lady.  As soon as the coffee is done and things are packed up – I crawl back in bed.  Good Bye and Good Luck.  The guys are heading far away today – about a 1.5 hour drive from camp in the ranger.  Bob took me on a firewood scouting mission in the same direction yesterday and I feel freaked out about them driving the rocky path with very steep (you will die) drop offs – they’ll be traveling in the dark.  I have a vision of Bob trying to drive and shove a breakfast burrito in at the same time.  Say a prayer.

It was easy for me to fall back asleep and I snoozed til 10:am.  Did I mention this is one of my favorite parts of this annual trek?  I feel like I’m catching up on all the sleep I needed the past year.  Yesterday afternoon Bob took a 2 hour nap – he never does that.I started book #2.  Actually #3.  #2 was pretty boring so I put it back on the shelf and started “The girl who played with fire” Stieg Larsson/Swedish author.  It’s good! The guys took a drive where I had the bike the other day.  They saw elk sign, and a black bear.  That would have been exciting on a bike!  Especially now that I broke my bike.  Yes, it’s true.  Took it for a spin yesterday afternoon – jammed the brakes or something and the power kicked off.  Of course at the bottom of the mountain, right by the “bears would like it here tall bushes”.  I got my work out in pushing that beast up the hill and back to camp.  The guys fiddled with it last night but didn’t figure it out.  I tried this morning and still no luck.  Luckily we have 2 so I can take Bob’s bike instead.  I’m convinced its just easier to hike anyway and pulled my boots out this morning for today’s adventure.  It’s a sign maybe?

While the guys were out looking at bears they made it to the Rocky Point lookout.  That is on my list of bike trips one of these days.  They met the lady that “lives” there 4 months out of the year.  She is a writer “Sierra Montana” pen name.  I’m sure we’ve all heard of her?  As the report from the guys go – her hubby drops her off (so she has no vehicle).  She lives in the look out tower from July through October.  There is no wifi, no cell service.  She writes.  Dean tells me Bob picked up an application for me.  Right!  I don’t think so.  She is about 65 years old.  She reports that she hasn’t seen any elk, wolves etc.  They guys see elk prints very near the lookout?  She’s a liar?  Or she’s protecting her pets?  Or she’s near sighted?  (*probably not good for a lookout employee).

It’s a struggle to find blab material on this trip.  Boring?  No not really.  Peaceful yes.  I go back to wondering about the people that hike the long trails – what the hell do you think about?  I think about dead people alot.  Not sure if thats a good thing.  As I was biking the other day and admiring the wild flowers I had a clear, very strong feeling? (not sure how to describe it).  It was my grandma Doris.  I said outloud, “Hi Grandma”  followed by “You aren’t coming to get me I hope!?”.  And that was it – back to the reality of keeping the bike upright on the rutty path.

I can’t help but think about our Wyoming hunting buddy Matt who just was killed in a car accident.  He would be loving this wilderness, and the hunt.  His memorial service is next week and I’m also thinking about his parents, girlfriend and his hunting partner Brad.  Guessing Brad is up in Sweetwater hunting by himself this year.  That’s got to be tough.  I hope Matt shows him some love from above and sends a big boy past him.

Today’s plan is to clean up the camp a bit, read a bit, take a hike and ?? make some supper for my hunters when they roll back in later tonight.  Peace out for now.

Some pictures from my hike:

9-7-21 Tuesday.  We are off to town.  Not just for civilization, but for a new tire for the Ranger UTV.  After traveling 20 miles one way to the hunt spot and 20 miles back as we sat around talking about “no sign of elk or other living things” – Dean noticed we had a flat.  The roads are rough, rocky – pointy rocks.  The day before I had put a can of Fix-a-Flat and the bike pump into the ranger as a “just in case”.  LUCKILY the flat didn’t go flat until back at camp – otherwise I’m not sure how the fix a flat would have worked out in reality.  On board in the camper we have the emergency jump start/air compressor thing – and that worked WAY better than the bike pump.  We found the leak – a little slit in the tire.  We sat with a whisky and discussed our options.  In the end the guys used a combination of tools, jack etc from the tool boxes and the truck.  It’s laughable the “tool kit” the Polaris comes equipped with – it’s not much.  

So wheel off we are heading back down the mountain to Missoula Polaris dealer – hoping to fix this one and buy a spare.  

I’m happy for a window of internet !!!

After the tire debockle we sat down with another drink.  It was that kind of day.  The guys had came back with the UTV full of wood, so we are in campfire heaven.  Surprisingly we have seen no warnings about having a campfire?  We are careful anyway.

As we sit and chat we hear this big time crashing in the woods across the driveway.  Bob grabs the bear gun and we all creep forward listening as whatever it is tears something apart in the woods.  The guys have faith that it is an elk “racking” his horns on a tree … but after the noise keeps up for at least 10 minutes they conclude “bear”.  Do you know what is even more scary than listening to a bear banging around in the woods next to your campsite?  The quietness when it stops.  Ahem.  We go back to the campfire…. Maybe pour one more drink – Make the plan for the next day.  Breakfast in bed (just kidding), we did have breakfast in the camper with a little GunSmoke DVD; then we all took a shower!!!   Yahoo, that felt good.  Looked like I washed a dirty dog in the sink when I finished my hair.  Note to self – don’t use coconut oil in your hair when you are residing in a dust bowl!  And now the guys are sorting out what is going, what is staying – what is getting refilled – water!! And I’m quick finishing this up.

Ah yes – yesterday before the tire business – I took the sweetest hike (pictures above).  The bike is still out of commission and I don’t really care – I feel safer on these roads just hoofing it.  I found a few spots of “sign” and have reported back to the hunt team.  I also found some amazing wild flowers and plenty of seed pods – made me think of the good old days when my buddy Leslie and I picked seed pods at the Powell Gardens – I think that was legal ?  ha ha.  Anyway – for sure will return to bring some of those home.  On the hike 3 grouse (aka flying chickens) left the roost about 5 feet in front of me drawing a scream.  As it happened I was looking at the ground and thinking about seeing a snake – so I was all ready to let a yelp out anyway.

Peace out … not sure when we will chat again.

Rest in Peace Wyoming Matt

My heart is heavy today and I can’t shake it. Hoping that taking a moment to reflect, think, and write will help me get this lump out of my throat.

Wyoming Matt and just one of his prizes

When the sun came up in Wild Rose this morning, I checked my phone and saw a text message from our friend Brad from Wyoming (Elk Hunt 2019). “I wanted to let you know that Matt died in a car accident tonight”.

Shit.

Matthew Letsinger. Our friend from Sweetwater camp/ Elk hunting adventure 2019. If you are a blab reader you might remember our initial meeting. Bob had taken the truck and drove off to hunt, leaving my, myself and I to keep camp (in the camper), and wait for his call. Plan A – take the bicycle (pre E-bike), and peddle to meet him and help haul the elk.

I met Brad and Matt and after just knowing each other a couple hours, Matt forked over the keys for his ATV. He was leaving to work for the week, I could use it if I needed it. AT THAT MOMENT I knew he was going to be a favorite of mine. And he was.

We kept in touch, and last year when we were sort of in the Pinedale/Hoback area we met up at his job site to see the house he was building. Beautiful. Talented. hard working.

Bob with Matt checking out the building project

Recently we were planning for him and his new girl to come to Wisconsin and spend some time with us. Deer hunting season (of course).

And just like that — he’s not coming. We never met his folks, but I know their hearts are breaking – he was close to both of them and talked about them when we were together. We never met his girl Kelly, but we know her heart is breaking too. He was SO excited to tell us he had a girl !!!

I’m thankful that Brad thought to send us a message. I can’t imagine how sad he is. These 2 boys had a lot of history together. Friends. Hunting buddies. Hugs to you Brad.

I’ve spent the morning waiting for something to be published about the accident. The road in front of his house – Wyoming 353. The road we all have traveled back/forth to the hunting spot we shared. The road he has been driving on for 20 years. No seatbelt. Shit.

I laughed when I looked back at all the texts we’ve had. Always holding a fish or a dead animal head. He was a lover of nature and the outdoors.

One of the pictures he shared with us this past year

I remember one chilly morning when he told me that he took the breakfast sandwich I wrapped up in foil for him and decided to build a little fire and warm it up. Much to his surprise there was a paper napkin inside the foil and he almost lost the whole works up in smoke.

We won’t forget you Matthew. GO GET THE BIG ONE! and send a little help to the hunters you left behind this season. Forever in our memories and hearts our friend.

According Wyoming Highway Patrol, 39 year-old Matthew Letsinger died in a traffic accident on Wednesday evening.

Read More: Driver Killed in Traffic Accident Near Pinedale | https://k2radio.com/driver-killed-in-traffic-accident-near-pinedale/?utm_source=tsmclip&utm_medium=referral

Aunt “KimK”, Aunt Kim, Grandma Kim and Dave.

It’s our last day and I’m writing while flying to Atlanta.  Our original trip back was a 11am departure, with arrival @ 9pm in Appleton.  Flying via Atlanta.

Yesterday we got up and got moving “nice” and early.  We had all packed up the night before, so after just a little prodding we were on the way.  With some extra time, we decided to stop and see the new houses being built on the skirts of Springdale.  I mentioned to the girls that for a fleeting moment before U.Bob I had thought about retiring and having a home looking at Zion.  As I turned up the street that I have walked and driven to on previous visits we found something new.  A gate.  Evan followed orders and jumped out of the car to push it open – but it wouldn’t go.  As I looked into options for a Y turn to get us back away from the gate, a construction truck pulled up behind and opened it. 

Well … there  you go then – might as well continue our snoop adventure.  The houses are cool.  People have done a nice job of using colors and materials that blend with the background.  After our tour, we return to the gate only to figure out – we can’t get it open to get out.  Hmmm.  We Y turn and head back up to the construction site.  I set things in motion to pimp out Tasha (22 yr. old) to get the code or whatever we need to open the gate.  Instead we meet a fellow in a skidsteer and he tells us its automatic, a sensor about 40 feet from the gate we just “drive by”.  Tasha stays in the car, we will save her sweet smile for something else.  I head back and the gate/sensor – well, it just won’t open.  I get out and wave the sensor thing around, do the hokey pokey and turn myself around … and nothing.

Just then a teeny fragile little gramma pulls up with her Prius (no doubt a home owner), and waves her magic remote opening the gate for herself and us.  Yeah!.  We escape.

We head toward “Valley of Fire” NV State park.  I’ve visited before, and it has a nice vibe, similar but different than Zion.  We’ve got time.  On the way we get stuck behind a truck advertising Vodka that is poking along.  The roads are curvy so the first chance to pass is while we are going thru some little pohunk town.  I don’t think twice.

About a mile out of Pohunk, I look in the mirror and see flashing lights.  WTF?  I pull aside to allow them to pass, and the cop pulls behind me.  I’m a little baffled to be honest, because I’m in a 55mph, and am going about 57?  I’m not known for speeding -just ask Bob.

Woo Woo

A nice guy comes to the window as I shush my kids in the back, and Tasha digs out the rental car paperwork.  I hand him my license, paperwork etc.  He says, “you were speeding – it’s 25 mph, you were going around cars”.  Well sort of – it was a Vodka truck.  I give him the, “Oh sorry about that smile”.  He takes the paperwork and heads back to the squad. 

We discuss if anyone if capable of crying on demand … as in, “Oh Aunt Kim I’m afraid of the Police man!!! Boo hoo”.  We laugh.  He comes back to the car, asks where we are headed and says, “Slow down and have a good day”.  Thanks my friend!

The VO Fire is cool.   It’s hot as hell outside, but the girls have fun climbing the rocks and posing.  We burn a couple hours and head to Vegas.

It’s almost lunch and after having a light breakfast of the things left in the fridge from hiking Tasha maps out a Chick Filet that is only 3 miles from the Interstate.  I want to top off the rental car gas so we take the exit and head that way. 

Chick Filet is packed – 4 lanes wide in the drive thru.  The girls all order nuggets and I just order a plain old “chick filet” sandwich.  We pull up as requested, first comes drinks…. And few minutes later a couple bags of food are thrust thru the window.  I start driving and Tash begins dolling out the lunch.  At the bottom of the bags …. No Chick Filet.  FU CKERS.  I’m already headed back to the interstate, so not going back to claim my chicken.  I gripe.  The girls each offer up a nugget and some fries.  I will be taking this up with the President of CF upon my return home!

We are staying at Harrahs for the night.  Too early to check in we just park there and commence our walk down to NY NY so Tash and Presley can ride the roller coaster.  It’s a death march in the 100 degree heat.  Made worse by many non-operational escalators used to get you over the streets.  We duck into a couple casino’s just to cool off along the route.  It is a total tourist trap to get tickets, then get in line, then finally the ride.  I’ve done this coaster before and wasn’t impressed enough to shuck out another $20 to do it again.  Instead Evan and I wait at the bottom of the steps.  I shuck out $8 for a glass of beer (seems like a better buy), and get some ice water for E.  It’s about 30 min. until we see the rest of our team again.

Another planned stop was the M&M store, but we (me) just veto the stop in order to get us back and ready for dinner and our show. 

The girls told me this morning they are using different titles for me this week.  Aunt Kim is for when “I’m acting like myself”.  Giving direction, wake up calls etc.  Tasha tells me that brother Keith (her dad) replied to her announcement about coming on the trip by saying, “She will have you everywhere an hour ahead of time”.  Ha – you bet I will – better early than late.

I also am getting called “Grandma Kim” – and this is when I am reminding them of my mom, and their grandma.  Examples are when I tell them how beautiful they are – and the flip side is when I get a little bitchy at them – ie: move it, we are leaving in 5 min.

I get called “Dave” when I’m enjoying a cocktail in my insulated cup (found under the seat of my brand new car when I bought it – it say’s “Dave” and has a deer head on it”. The kids like screaming “HI DAVE” across the pool at me.

Lastly is “Aunt KimK” (my favorite) – this is when I am “nice”.  Ha ha … I tell them I haven’t heard that much today (running to the airport)… and they just give me a response look like this is all in my hands.

I did have a “moment” during the drive yesterday – post Chick Filet …  merging back on Interstate 15 in huge traffic (6 lanes) – where I said (calmly)… Please just shut up for 10 minutes. 

They did.  Otherwise we haven’t had many moments of me losing it.  We’ll see if their stories differ when they get home.  Laughing.

We got cleaned up in a hurry.  They all put on their cute little sundresses.  I laugh at the 2 teens who wear gym shorts under their little dresses so they have a pocket.  It secretly makes me happy they have another layer of protection against the creeps of the world. 

We stop and see “Big Elvis”.  A performer that has been in town for a long time.  He has lost a lot of weight since I saw him last.  Great voice.  Tasha and I get one of those way to expensive vodka waters and we hang for a few songs, long enough for Presley to get a selfie with him.

Our dinner is wonderful.  At “Lago” in the Bellagio.  Italian small plates.  We were seated at a window and able to watch the fountain show 2 times during our meal.  The girls did good on food selection and licked their plates clean.  We had a couple fancy and delish deserts and enjoyed the fanciness of it all.

Lago

Next on the agenda was the circ de solei show “O”.  I had bought these tickets a quite a while ago and was super surprised and excited when they turned out to be center state, row 2.  Tasha – a dancer and gymnast exclaimed, “I’m just going to cry”.  The show was good and something we all enjoyed.

Getting ready for the show – Aren’t they beautiful ?

After Tasha still had enough energy to head to Fremont Street via Uber to meet her cousin who was in town celebrating her 21st birthday.  Honestly, it made me nervous.  She was a trooper and kept texting.  The rest of us went back to the hotel room and watched a little TV and went to bed.  I was in “watch” mode, not really sleeping, but happy to be laying down vs. walking amongst the crowds of people on the strip.

Tasha made it back a couple hours later and we all slept pretty well.

The morning came early enough.  I hit the shower and started picking up my stuff.  Checked the phone and found a flight delay.  Instead of leaving at 11am, we were delayed to 12:45 – meaning we’d miss our connection in Atlanta.  Delta auto-rerouted us on another flight via Minneapolis, but not arriving home until almost 11pm.  UGH.  I try the “Gold Medallion help hot line” … 1 hour wait to talk to someone.  I search the other possible flights and find one at 10am, that would allow us to make our original flight home from Atlanta.  As I’m changing our tickets, I’m “Aunt Kimming” the message for my sleeping beauties to get up and MOVE. 

One lesson learned is we pack up everything except what is going to be worn the next day and bathroom stuff the night before – so moving them while they are still zombies goes a little quicker.  Evan and I head to the car and get things in order.  We make it to the car drop, shuttle bus, baggage drop, security line, tram train and delivery to gate with over an hour to spare. 

One more flight and the trip will be over.  I will miss my little team of girls.  They have honestly been everything I hoped they’d be.  Funny, Cheerful, Honest, talkative, Thankful and well behaved.  We have talked about “What’s next” and the boys are still completely out of the picture.  Tasha may move to Spain after graduating college next year – so that is a possibility.  I think we could go about anywhere and have a good time.  I’m looking forward to it for sure.

They remind me of Handmaiden Tale girls with the hoods up!

Peace out!

Coffee shop in Springdale

They do like to eat!

Pop off Queen

Pop on, Pop off … apparently there is a difference. It’s just one of the things I am learning on my trip.

“Pop Off Queen” is the correct way of saying this phrase (which I had to look up: (slang, informal) To do very well. You really popped off last night! Uh huh. After a bottle of wine I tried (to be cool) and use it. “Pop on girls!” … Met with eye rolling and low level groaning. Wrong! Later I said something else and was told that was a perfect opportunity to say “Pop off!”. Today is a new day, I can’t wait to try it again.

The other “word game” we have been playing is: NO LIKE. Seems I have 3 girls with “Like” disease. Used as a comma, a space, and every other time they could just take a breath. Example: “It was so, like, great, like I can’t believe we, like, saw this”. When challenged to “no like day” they became pretty quiet. I even signed up for a “NO F-word” day, and if you know me – you get this. There is improvement. We had one day we took off from our self-improvement project, and it seems better. I catch them counting each others “like” and giving feedback. All in good time. Bob told me on the phone that I am catching “like” disease. Uh Oh.

Thursday – our last full day in Utah. It’s “sleep in” day – they all have been begging after early morning get-up-and-go days. Two things I have learned about these girls – they like to sleep and eat. Holy shit I can’t believe the food they put away and still stay skinny. Those were the days!

Sleep In day

Yesterday we got moving in time for a quick toast/butter/avocado breakfast and off to pick up our E-bikes. I’ll say it again – Such a fun experience !!! If you are visiting this park, it is an AWESOME way to see it. We had the bikes for 4 hours. The same brand as our bikes at home (RAD), these were a smaller model – and seriously I’m considering buying a couple more of this style.

The girls caught on quickly and we had a great time without incident. Almost. On our way back to the shop we did a quick stop at the hotel room to drop stuff off. After about 10 minutes in the room we went back out and from the balcony I counted 3 bikes. We hadn’t bothered to lock them up and I thought, “Are you F-ing kidding me? Someone stole a bike!”. I flew down the steps, only to find the housekeeper had just moved it under the stair way so he could get thru with his cart. Heart attack diverted.

At the top of the canyon we took the Narrows hike (1 mile-each way) and attempted the walk up the river. TOO MANY PEOPLE. I’m saddened the park hasn’t put some type of limit on the Narrows hike access. It’s getting ruined. I remember hiking with a few people, in clean water. Now the river is cloudy, the rocks are covered in slime (10 million people coated in sunscreen) – it made me almost feel pissy.

We cruised about a half mile up the river. I took one digger on a slippery rock – no injury thankfully. This was supposed to be our hike for today/Thursday – and after this short sample the girls agreed we’d seen enough.

We were happy to have the neoprene socks I bought on Amazon, and the hiking poles to keep us upright (most of the time)

The bike ride back down the canyon was fun. The sun was Hot as Hell, and we all talked later about the crazies we met hiking on the blacktop.

After returning the bikes, we ordered a quick lunch from the restaurant on our hotel property. Camp Zion – it’s a new place and really cool, good food and super handy. There was talk of shopping, but the heat turned us all toward the pool instead.

The girls had fun playing different pretend games. OMG – they have such amazing creative minds!! Today they were mostly pretending to be alive, vs. the previous day of killing people off. They did a bunch of water skits impersonating other family members in the pool that had me laughing my head off.

All three of my nieces are lone girls in their family. Nobody has a sister. There was a little try-out of Evan being Presley’s older sister, but there is too much “Boss Voss” in both of them for this to work out. Best just to keep it at really good cousin/friends 🙂

One of the “games”

We cleaned up and dressed up for dinner at the Switchback. The teens announced pretty quickly that it was “too fancy of a place for them”. We talked about ordering steaks (not asking for A1 before trying the steak), Toasting wine glasses and looking the other person in the eye etc.. It was fun. I was MOST disappointed when the Halibut special was sold out. Booooo…

We all agree this wine cellar would look nice on Alp Court

Aren’t these ladies pretty?

YUM trying out the Creme Brulee’

Tasha has been the “braider” for Presley

Tasha’s nice work on Presley’s head

It’s 9:00am. The sleepyheads are still sleeping – but I’m about to start the awakening program. Last night after dinner we stayed up until almost midnight … mostly solving world problems. Lot’s of questions from these guys – who knew Aunt Kim-K (my new nickname) was such a mystery? Ha ha. I like the “Kim-K” handle. Better than “Aunt Karen” – which got squashed early in the week – some of you know this, and luckily I did too so I could show my disapproval early on.

Today we will shop. (ugh). The girls have suggested they want another hike like our first one – scrambling on the rocks, so we will see what we come up with. The temps are already rising so ??? It’s a “free” day. Going to let them decide the agenda.

Peace Out all!

This is the kind of disaster two teen girls can make in just a few short hours

Here’s your sign…bit life

Presley shows me a road sign on her phone and asks me what it means – multiple choice answers. “Two lane divided highway”. I don’t think much of it until the next day as we drive and she asks me another. You are 12 going on 13 – are you in drivers ed or what? “NOOOOOO Aunt Kim, it’s “Bit life”. A game on the phone that keeps them quiet in the car – pretend “life”. They are getting married, divorced, dying .. and driving I guess.

In real life they are in pretend land some of the time also – Wait until you see the postcards! I’m concerned that my sweet little nieces seem to have a dark side. Post card stories of people falling off cliffs, deaths, broken arms etc.

Creative Writing. Let’s leave it at that!

Yesterday we started the day with a 6:00 am wake up. I did a “soft start” with lights coming on, window shades opening, little noise (coffee maker) for about 15 minutes. Tasha tells me she prefers this method (vs her Dad, my brother Keith who “scares her awake” by saying “TASHA-WHAT TIME DO YOU HAVE TO BE AT WORK?????” She climbs out and gets moving first. I tickle the feet on the 2 littles and they barely budge. I take the blankets off of them and turn on more lights … MOVE! They sit up and look light deer in headlights for a few minutes. We (me) makes sandwiches and keeps them moving forward calling out “15 minutes until we are walking out the door” commands.

We head off for our hike. It requires a 30 minute drive to the shuttle that will take us to the trail head. We stop for the NP Sign photo 🙂

whoops forgot to edit it/flip
Can’t quite get the timing down on this!

A couple years ago a rock slide closed the previous path to Observation Point that ran from the inside of the park. To get to it now you access via BLM (not black lives matter) – Bureau of Land Management – land. This trail head sadly is getting over run with idiots that are crowding, parking on plant life, leaving their shit paper, garbage etc. The local resort offers a shuttle for $5 which is a steal. Our driver tells us they are working with the Federal Govt to shut off public access – and in my opinion it can’t happen fast enough.

The trail is nice. 3.5 miles one way – with the first 2 miles a wide packed trail with a lot of trees and shade. The last 1.5 is more like the old trail with climbing. I had read a review where the person said they took a kid in a stroller and we laugh to think of how that might have worked out (not well).

I enjoy just listening to the girls talking while we hike. They share stories about their families and ask for dirt on their parents that I might know and they don’t. We talk about Grandma Mary and Grandpa Roger. I smiled yesterday when Tasha said, “Aunt Kim the more time I spend with you the more I realize how much you remind me of Grandma.. your mannerisms and things you say”. I replied, “Well I have known Grandma for 57 years”.

Tasha is so sweet with “our littles”. Such a kind old soul my 22 year old niece is, asking them questions and sharing her thoughts. It’s making me tear up just reflecting.

Beautiful Tasha leading our pack

I asked the girls as we hiked, “what do you think about bringing the boys in the future? (ie: nephews)” I’m struggling a little on making things fair. They almost in unison replied “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!”. “Let Uncle Bob take the boys somewhere”. I’m not sure I have a good solution – am hoping one of the Uncles aka…my brothers, steps up for the male Voss clan. I agree – this will remain the Voss girls trip in the future (sorry boys).

We arrive to Observation Point and enjoy having it to ourselves. Leaving early pays off. Everyone gets their fill of pictures and tick tocking and snapchatting and…..

We TRY to eat our lunches – but the chipmunk population is out of control. They would crawl right in your pack if you let them and we are all freaked out by how aggressive they are. One jumped right on my leg- EEEK. We’ve had enough (of the chipmunks) and decide to start back.

I notice my Evan has gone radio silent and when I ask she tells me she isn’t feeling well. Headache. We are at 7000 feet, and I’m guessing she’s got the same altitude problems I’ve had before while hiking in the mountains. Her and I slow down (which is fine with me because we have a pretty good up hill climb) and make sure to drink enough fluids. It’s a tough hike for her on the way back. She doesn’t feel good. Poor kid. I take her pack (just like others have done for me) and keep on moving encouraging her that we are almost there. It’s a lie, confirmed by someone I ask on the trail – we are 1.5 miles from the end. We make it to the trailhead and find the other 2 girls and the driver waiting. Evan tells me she is off the “ashes spreading team” and not going to hike this trail again. Kristy move over, she wants to join you in the helicopter.

We didn’t consult each other on the color of the day – but it sure looked nice!

Back to town, we drop off Evan for a nap and head to Whiptail Grill for some lunch. I lick the plate and enjoy the Chili Relano (my favorite!), washed down with a Polygamy Porter beer (we are in Mormon country).

Chili Relano – Pablono pepper stuffed with goat cheese, panko fried

It’s hot as hell so the rest of the afternoon is spent at the pool.

The view from our balcony. LOVE

Evan revives herself after a nap and some Advil. We are glad she feels better. Tasha has been giving the littles lessons in synchronized swimming moves and that is pretty entertaining to watch (the beavertail slap, the clam, etc…)

We agree to have ice cream for supper and take a quick walk to find it. A little shopping, a stop at an art gallery and back to the room for the Bucks game. We all watch and cheer! GO DEER! Tasha and I high-five on our winning bet!

Peace out my friends … today we bike!

and Finally the day is here.

Several months ago I asked Bob what he thought about me taking my (3) nieces to my favorite place on earth.

ZNP = Zion National Park. He shrugged, he’s “been there – done that” and was busy listing off the future projects needing to be done at home. He gave it the go ahead nod and the trip was in motion.

TV – age 22 signed up quickly; a little finagle with the help of EV and PV’s mom’s to get around camp, sports etc… and we found a 6 day window we could all agree on.

I teased that I was looking for someone(s) young enough to be able to haul my ashes (a long time from now) to Observation Point – they have all assured me they are willing and able!

Yesterday the goal was just to get from Point A (Appleton) to Point B (Vegas). Thanks to our driver (Dawn), and our farewell committee (Dawn, Keith and Janet) we headed off for our first flight over to Minneapolis.

EV was a first time flyer and we enjoyed her experience beside her. A little nervous, she hung on pretty tight to the arm rest, but after take off and just a couple minutes she poked her head into the window to check things out.

“All the roads are so straight down there… perfect squares”…. “they seem so curvy when you are down there driving on them”.

Tasha (22), AK (57), Evan (14), Presley (almost 13) — we are all about the same height and all have big feet !
Take off #1 …. she did pretty well!

Evan calmed down and was doing really well until the captain came on and announced we had reached 22,000 feet of altitude which sent her back into the brace position momentarily.

We were SO EXCITED to have a Chick Filet next to our gate, only to curse them when we saw they were closed and remembered we were flying on a Sunday. PV thought this was a good reason to question why we were flying on a Sunday … ummm. We all ate Orange Chicken and Fried Rice from some very poorly staffed and pretty dirty looking China fast food in the airport … yuk.

Vegas arrival was delayed just a little, the car rental shuttle line was long, but Alamo line was short. We squeezed our 4 giant (we are girls) suitcases in the trunk and headed to our nest for the night. Another long line @ Flamingo … NO PEOPLE at the front desk. You wait your turn for a computer/machine to check yourself in. Get ready for more of this folks! Anyway 2 were broke down – all I could think is if they were “gambling machines” they’d be fixed and operational.

The girls were more amused with the smoked glass bathroom walls ??? than the view of the High Roller ferris wheel. I was amused with the girls. We dumped our stuff, washed our faces and put on some new clothes. It’s HAF outside, so we all opted for something cool.

We took a walk to catch the end of the Bellagio show, saw a bunch of Vegas wierdos. One decided to make a strange croaking noise at Presley (the youngest) that freaked us both out. Tasha was good enough to say yes when I slammed on the brakes at an outside bar and asked “you want something?”. We both had a vodka/water .. and when the bill came to $38, I was happy to have the 2 youngin’s under the drinking age!

We took a trip thru Caesars, took a ride on the escalator that went around a corner (who knew?), looked at statues, had supper, watched “Fred the fish”…. Managed to stay out until midnight Vegas time (aka 2am Wild Rose). TV and I put a big bet on the bucks which will make us both $5 richer WHEN they win Tuesday ….

As expected, they are snapchatting and tik tocking … and trying hard to explain it all to me (the oldest person on earth!).

I can’t stop laughing …

This morning, the one that supposedly would be a problem was the first “kid” looking awake, so I offered up a walk on the strip. We did about 3 miles, had a nice chat and enjoyed “morning vegas”.

Checked out of the hotel by 9am … (I’m impressed we are all moving!) – Spent a bit finding the car in the ramp and dragging out suitcases up/down stairs …

Made it to “THE SIGN” and enjoyed the help of “Elvis” (w/Presley) and a photo guy the Vegas Chamber of Commerce must pay – he was great and took a batch of nice photos. I’ve been to Vegas at least 15 times and never stopped for this photo before.

Groceries, fast stop at McD, and we made it to Zion/The Pearl by 2pm. Again – suitcase dragging up stairs, quick 30 minutes of rest and on to the hike for today.

It was raining when we left the car (and 95 degrees); rocks were a little slick, but we all just took our time. Great views, rain let up. My other Teva hand me down shoes started falling apart on Presley’s feet (fixed with a ponytail band)…

Can barely find time to finish this blab! The 3 girls are heading to the pool and I am enjoying some wine. Tomorrow we have an early wake up to get to Observation Point. 7am out of the hotel room.

I missed this place. Always will have it as my #1 and it’s just better with these girls.

Working on post cards … the little “naughties” are writing some “dark” versions . It makes me laugh – little shits. Wait until they arrive if you happen to be on the receiving end.

Peace out.

I’m ready

Yes, I’m ready to go home.

Yes, I’m ready to think about another trip.

Bob laughs when I tell people, “this is it, then we are staying home all summer”. Well not quite, HE is staying home all summer (projects!). I’m packing up in July and heading to Zion with my nieces for a week. But mostly I’m staying home all summer. Picture my husband rolling his eyes.

The truth is, I enjoy planning our travels as much as going on them. I spent a good share of time this morning reading the ins and outs of where we can go outside of the US, and what covid restrictions are etc. There is only a small window of time left in 2021 where I’ll be able to convince Robert to squeeze in one more trip. You see we have projects for the months of June/July/August …. then OF COURSE we will go west on the elk hunt for the month of Sept. — the window is October … then back for November hunting at home, and my favorite holiday season (that’s a lie).

Bob’s remark, “I suppose we can’t go home from this trip until you have the next one planned”. Well … kind of.

We have spent the last couple of days just chilling here in Anacostes, Washington. It’s about as far Northwest as you can get in the US – close enough to the Canadian border that yesterday my phone dinged to tell me I was now roaming on a Canadian cell tower.

It’s a great little sea town. Reminds me of Door County a bit – not quite that touristy.

We are staying in an AirBNB “Loft” – that is one of the best we’ve been in. It has been decorated by someone with Jacki Johnson skills … the books on the coffee table are a 100% color match with the paint on the wall. We have 2 little decks to sit on, although the owners dog barks at us when she spots us on the back one. The owner is a flower gardener that spends all day weeding – the results are remarkable. It’s a beautiful little sanctuary.

“Nutmeg” keeps a close eye on the new visitors (us)

Ooops… forgot to add these pictures to the blab. This is the place we stayed at in the Cascades. A nice hike near the river just outside our door. And a chapel for our Sunday Service.

Our past couple chill out days have revolved around hiking, drinking wine and stuffing ourselves with seafood — not much “story” to tell. The pictures tell the story. It’s quite beautiful here.

I can just imagine the grandkids scaling up one of these giant trees!

And … that’s it. Today we head back to Seattle. Quick stop at the seasoning/spice shop in Pike’s Market – and to admire the flowers there, then off to the airport hotel for “packing”. I barely have any plants or rocks considering its been 2 weeks, but there might be a few things making the trip back to the Rose.

See you all soon. Peace Out!