Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Weather wonks got it right

They said there would be thunderstorms and this time they got it right. There was one kick anatomy t-storm last night about 7-8 pm. Sheets of rain, strong winds, lightning, thunder, all the stuff that makes t-storms so great. We loved it! The lawn loved it, too. There was almost a quarter inch of rain in a real short time period. The Wonks say we might get more today. Bring it on. Life is good.

Now that the Bike Seat Saga has stabilized, it's time to move on to some other project. Me thinks it's time to clean out Ye Ol' Cook Shack. Afterall, the Big Summer Holiday looms this weekend. It's UnAmerican not to grill on July 4th. Majorly unAmerican! The cook shack is a mess due to general inactivity and a human proclivity to make any unused space a storage area. It will probably take all day to get it back in shape. One of the summer's "to do" projects is to put a better roof on the small structure. That's "iffy." Heck, all I wanna do is grill sumthin.

It's also time to unlimber a boat and go paddling. Today we will mount up the kayak and take it down for a spin at John's Hole.

Susun made amazing progress whipping the basement back into shape. Our helter-skelter schedule since mid-May left the basement looking like a hurricane swept through. "Out of sight, out of mind!" Now it's back in presentable condition.

Heck, maybe I will get motivated and change oil in the vehicles today, too. Oh, yeah, and I finally get to mow our neighbor's weeds. There was this young slacker dude living there and his solution to lawn maintenance was to get a tractor and totally destroy ALL the grass front and back. Of course, the disturbed soil became the perfect breeding grounds for all sorts of major weeds. We offered to knock them down for him but he was too proud to take our offer. Now he has renters in there and we finally learned the renter woman would love to have us make the place look better. It's the neighborhood eyesore! Quite literally.

That's about it for this morning. We trust you will all have another wonderful day and Many Cheers! jp

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Have a seat

A Saga? Absolutely! Sensible? No. Safe? Maybe. Smart? Definitely not. Stubborn? Yes. Strenuous? Yes. Stupid? Probably. Smart? Probably not. So have a seat and lemme tell ya a story.

It all started at the June 19th Methodist Church rummage sale. (See photo below) We bought this Trojan Horse for a mere $5. Little did we know the black hole vortex lurking within its colorful frame. The next day I casually attempted to free the frozen seat post. It wouldn't budge. I used a large pipe wrench. No luck. I put a 3 foot cheater bar on the wrench. No luck. Meanwhile, we had to pack for the Dubois trip so I called off a full frontal assault on the post, making a mental note to take up where I left off upon our return.

After getting back into the Idaho Falls routine Saturday and enjoying a leisurely Sunday morning, I decided it was time to throw down the gauntlet with the bicycle seat post. I spent 3 hours on it Sunday. It was quite a ridiculous episode. I tried silicone. No luck. I huffed and puffed over various wrench schemes. I wailed on the post with two sledge hammers. I read up on the topic online. One tip involved using ammonia so I got some of that smelly stuff. All I succeeded in doing was getting ammonia all over the place and making a mess. The other online advice described the nuclear option. This involves cutting the top of the seat post and filing away at the innards with a hack saw blade in the same manner inmates escape from jail cells. This plan did not work. Meanwhile, I decided to poke a 4.5 amp sawzall down in the tube. This is not a safe plan. So I suited up like some gladiator. I wore three layers of clothing including a flannel shirt and a big quilted wintertime hoodie. I put on the hard hat, wore two layers of eye protection and two layers of gloves. Meanwhile, I blazed away with the sawzall like some mad inventor. No luck. It only made matters worse. Finally, I decided to drop back ten and punt to Harbor Freight. I figured I could find something there to ease my frustrations. Sure enough, I came home with a titanium step drill. I suited back up in the safety clothing and poked the whirling drill into the seat post. The only thing this did was make the situation even more helpless.
Finally, I grew tired of the whole thing and Happy Hour arrived. Clearly, it was time to call it quits.

The next day I was drawn back to the fruitless project like a moth to the candle flame. I spent a few more hours on the project on Monday. Each of the two bike shops told me it was useless and the frame was trash and to throw it in the dumpster as it wasn't worth anything anyway. I should have probably heeded their advice but I was hooked and couldn't stop investing time and money in the project.
There are some projects like that. Mentally and rationally, you know they are pointless. They start nowhere and go nowhere. How could anyone in their right mind justify spending so much time on a $5 bike frame? It's not logical and it makes no sense. I have no justification for this project whatsoever. It's just one of those projects which reach out and grab my psyche and won't let go. I became determined to WIN--to smite that seat post at all costs no matter how long it took. I won't back down and I won't blink. I will WIN--that was my mindset and psychology. (Click here for a snippet of the famous Tom Petty song.)

Tuesday dawned yet another beautiful day ripe for all the wonderful things one could do besides fight a titanic tussle with a frozen bicycle seat post that's now ground down far below the level of the top of the tube--so far, in fact, it couldn't be reached with needle nose pliers!

I called some rental companies inquiring about renting large drill bits. No luck. Finally, in desperation, I called the Idaho Falls Machine Shop. It's on Northgate Mile. It's as Old School as Old School gets. You can't get any more Old School than this machine shop. It looks, smells and feels like something out of the 19th Century. The employees are mostly biker dudes with scraggly hair and wallets on chains. Every one is covered in grease and their hands are black. The place is filled with gigantic, antique, noisy, whirling milling machines, the kind that once made America great. It's not a foo-foo place. So this biker dude takes a look at the bike and simply grabs it out of my hands and heads to the back shop. He calls two other burly bubba dudes to come and help him wrassle the bike under a drill press that's about as big as our Suzuki. Then these guys proceed to spend FORTY FIVE minutes wrassling with my bicycle. I can peek between machines and see huge drill bits going in and out of the tube, sometimes even getting STUCK in the tube. I hear muffled cussing and see frowning faces. Finally, the biker dude comes and hands me the bike and said they failed and it can't be extracted. Meanwhile, I am expecting him to tell me the bill would be $100 and I would faint there right on the spot. But he says, "Gimme five bucks and go!" Well, that almost caused me to faint.

So I got the heck out of there and then took the bike over to the parking lot warehouse sale at Bill's Bike Shop. (Note: Our house is a mere 3 blocks from TWO bicycle shops! How good is that?) Sure enough I find a seat post that "might" fit the new hole. I ask if I can take the $6 post home to see if I can get it to work and they say "yes." So, the next chapter begins. This chapter only took another 3 hours. I pounded, I wailed. I pried. I drilled. Pry bars got totally stuck in the tube. Only by minor miracles were they extracted. Finally, I knew if I could find a drill extender I might have a chance. So I went back to Harbor Freight. They told me they didn't sell such a tool. Well, I didn't believe them so I roamed around the store until I found the exact tool I was looking for. And then, just to be snooty, I called over the Staff and gave them a lecture and said next time somebody comes into this store and asks how to find an extender--HERE IT IS--don't tell them you don't sell it, OK? And I took my tool and headed back to the bicycle battlefield where tools of all descriptions lay strewn in disarray. I commenced to drill away some of the final detritus and, much to my distress, I realize I was drilling right through the freaking bicycle frame! OUCH! So, we stopped that plan right away. Then, I took the $6 seat post and put it into the vice and cut it in half. Then I wailed on the seat tube opening with a ball peen hammer and put in a shim and proceeded to get the NEW seat post frozen and stuck in place. Wholly Molely, what next? By this time, I was at my wits end. I had come full circle, getting a frozen seat post drilled and broken out only to get another post stuck in its place. How bad can this black hole get? So, I huffed and puffed and was so happy when the new seat post finally came loose. I removed the shim, whacked away with the ball peen hammer and FINALLY was able to get the new seat post properly mounted and securely fastened. I threw the frame over my shoulder and rang our doorbells to show Susun. She admits she had totally given up any hope of success on this pointless project. I don't blame her--any right minded person would agree that the whole thing was pointless and doomed. But somehow I succeeded. Go figure. She took my picture.
It sure made me happy. I took the bike frame over to the bike shop to show it off and then to the machine shop to show the greasy biker dudes. A five dollar bike never had so much fun!

Well, there's lots more to do to restore this Old Beater Bike. it needs a chain. The two tires are rotted out. I suppose there will be other stuff, too. I don't care. I'm "all in" on this one. It doesn't matter what this bike throws at me--I will WIN and one day I will ride that bike happily down the pathway.

So what's the cost of all of this, so far? We're into the bike for $16.36 so far. I've spent another $20 on tools. I've sprained a wrist and have a real sore left thumb. Luckily, I haven't been lost any blood--no cuts or nicks. I haven't smashed any fingers either. That's remarkable. Timewise, we're nearing a 10 hours investment. That's truly ridiculous but it's a fact. I'm not counting the gasoline for all the running around. The saga has only really just begun. The Seat Story has its own series of chapters but I'm sure the rest of the bike will produce some memorable stories as well. Cheers, jp

Warming up

We're finally warming up here.  Yesterday's high was 89 and it could eek above 90 today.  July 4th weekend will see temps drop back into the 70's for near perfect early summer weather.  It generally gets hot in late June and the warm temps can easily late until late September.  Believe it or not, the Idaho Falls climate data shows a record high of 102 on June 25, 1988.  The earliest day above 90 was May 16, 1964, and the latest day above 90 was September 30, 1957. Also, believe it or not, that early 102 reading stands as the city's highest record high temp ever logged.  There are numerous 100 and 101 degree days on the record books but nothing higher than 102.  The latest 100 degree day on record is August 7, 1983.  Based solely on odds, temps here can be expected to be in the upper 80's and mid-90's most of July and August.  That's why the potato growers love this place.  Hot days, cool nights and very little rainfall--it's perfect for growing fat spuds.

Hey, we might as well use this phrase often in this post!  Believe it or not, Idaho is experiencing Monsoonal Moisture today.  Yes-sirree, it sez so right in this morning's 2:32 am AFD- "MONSOONAL MOISTURE FROM THE SOUTH IS EXPECTED TO ARRIVE TODAY."

Supposedly, we're going to have typical monsoon thunderstorms.  Novel idea, eh?

Moving right along, we also checked into various other weather and water websites this morning.  The Snake through the city is running over 11,000 cfs and crystal clear over The Falls.  Great "pretty water" as the local folks call it.  The Henry's Fork below Island Park Dam is running only 500 cfs so there's no point in taking the Lynx up there.  That's too low of a flow.  The Salmon is running about 3000 at Yankee Fork; over 6000 at Salmon City and over 9000 near Shoup.  That's higher than we'd prefer to mess with right now.  Hopefully, it will continue a steady seasonal decline.

The Middle Fork is about 4 feet at the Lodge.  That translates to a flow around 3,000 cfs.  It appears that the August 7th flow might be adequate to think about a possible river trip then.  I haven't put any thought lately into whether I'm going to use that permit.  I'm leaning against it right now but one never knows.

It was great feeling the heat yesterday.  I even hung around on some black asphalt during the hottest part of the day to soak up some of the radiant rays.  When we were up at Bowery, we thought it got mighty hot and told one of the ranchers our feelings.  He said he loved the hot weather because the winters are so long and cold.  He said the hot phase was too short and that the local folks savored every one of those hot days.  We now understand where that guy was coming from with his comment.  It's not like the Arizona heat where it gets hot early, stays hot forever and finally cools off in late fall.  The nights are always cool here and the summer heat is very short-lived.

OK, why was I standing around on asphalt late in the afternoon?  Good question.  It's a long story--way too long for this blog post.  However, we will try to keep it short.  We bought that old clunker mountain bike June 19 for $5.  The seat post was stuck.  I got stubborn and hacksawed off the post and spent hours attempting to free the remnant stub inside the seat tube.  It's beyond hope now.  I took it to Bill's Bicycle Shop and their ACE Mechanic said there was nothing he could do--he told me to wave "bye-bye" to the frame.  It's toast.  Well, lo and behold, Bill's had just opened up their annual parking lot warehouse sale when I arrived!  I made several trips back and forth to that hot parking lot all day, buying various items and improving Susun's bicycle.  She now has a really nice new seat and a spiffy back rack above the rear tire.  Well, that's about all for now, we want to get onto the Greenbelt before it gets too hot today.

Thanks Marti B. for emailing from Croatia--it's great to hear from a European LBR!  Have a great day & Cheers, jp

Monday, June 28, 2010

Dubois Retrospective

'Twas a mere week ago this morning when the truck was all packed and ready to go.  'Twas a mighty fine trip!

We were pleased to find such a nice library in Dubois that enabled us to post up a synopsis of each day's activities.  That helped us get ahead of the curve and not face a huge backlog of writing upon our return.  The challenge now is to frame a few words putting last week's trip into perspective.  Here's the short of it:

We really enjoyed Dubois and the Togwotee and Union Pass areas.  It's definitely a "come back" spot.  It has everything we now look for in a destination.  We hope to return there at least once a year and possibly twice.

Here's a list of the Top 20 "pros" of Dubois.  (There are no "cons" that we can think of.)

1) Close to home--less than four hours away including three stops.
2) Great campground that's reservable online. Big waterfalls within walking distance.
3) Campground has electricity which means no annoying RV generators are heard.
4) Campground is a mere 25 minutes from "civilization."
5) Campground is centrally located and surrounded by cool stuff to do.  (Cool is both literal & figurative.)
6) Dubois is in the Wyoming desert--the geology reminds us of the Southwest.
7) Dubois is a hopping little town of 962 people.  Lots to do there.
8) The grocery store is a great little store.  Prices are high but they have everything one could want.  Ice is cheap.
9) The library is wonderful and the free WIFI is top notch.
10) Dubois has a great city park with a great riverfront pathway.  Nice hang out spot.
11) Union Pass Road holds great allure.  The Green River Lakes beckon!
12) The National Big Horn Sheep Interpretive Center is well worth several repeat visits.
13) The Dubois Museum was a big surprise.  It's going to take several visits to digest all that place has to offer. (See additional comments below.)
14) We get to drive along the Upper Snake River and in front of the Teton Mtn. range both going and coming.
15) The view of the Tetons from Togwotee Pass is epic.
16) We can stop at Dornan's going and coming, too.
17) There's a Wendy's in Jackson.
18) The Absaroka Mountain Range awaits exploration. Trails every which way everywhere.
19) Three giant watersheds head up nearby: The Columbia, the Colorado, and the Missouri.
20) There's water everywhere and the forests are beautiful.

We  were both quite smitten by Dubois itself.  The downtown has a lot of great shops.  Susun really enjoyed herself during the short times she had to prowl those streets.  Any small town worth its salt oughta to have a great thrift shop and The Opportunity Store in Dubois fits the bill.  There will always be something waiting for us in that store.  The Dubois Museum was the real sleeper of the trip.  We had very low expectations and we were both amazed at the caliber of the facility.  It's far in excess of what one would expect out of a town of 962 people.  It's much better than cities of 10,000 have to offer!  Point of fact: Mountain Home's museum falls far short of the Dubois facility by every measure.  Mountain Home has population over 12,000 with a major Air Force base nearby.  The Mountain Home museum is virtually nothing compared to the Dubois museum.  How did Dubois manage to muster up such a great facility?  Who knows?  For whatever reason(s), the Dubois Museum is a home run ball with the bases loaded.  I could easily spend hours there and then come back for more.  Their exhibits about geology and Native Americans are really professional and genuinely educational.  We'd really like to learn more about both topics so having such displays really floats our boat.  Meanwhile, as you know, we wanted to learn about the Tie Hacks.  The museum delivered Big Time with its Tie Hack interpretive material.  In fact, they devoted an entire separate cabin to the topic.  You walk into this cabin with no knowledge of Tie Hacks. You walk out feeling like you got a Master's Degree in the subject.  That's a tough act for a small museum but the Dubois Museum delivered like a Big City Pro!  The Museum's bookshop is also a gem.  There's a book addressing just about everything you can imagine about Wyoming and Fremont County in particular.

Well, that about wraps it up for Dubois.  I doubt we will be able to return there again this year.  We are already looking forward to next year's trip.  Susun wants to make it a Summer Solstice Tradition.  We'll have to monitor the snowpack, the mosquitoes and the black flies before we commit to that plan.  It's a good idea, though, and at least for now it's penciled on our 2011 calendar.

One of these days this week (hopefully) we will put together all of our photos and gin up an online slideshow.

Cheers, J&S

Sunday, June 27, 2010


As you know, we dearly love to ride our bicycles around the city.  Believe it or not, two years ago our awesome City Council actually legalized riding bicycles on city sidewalks.  What this did is make this city hugely more "bicycle-friendly."  With one fell swoop, it made it possible (AND legal) to ride the wrong way on one-way streets while separating your bicycle from dangerous high speed vehicles driven by distracted texters.  Suddenly, the entire Heart of The City became one giant maze of newly designated bicycle-legal paved pathways!  What it also did was bring a new delight into my bicycle life--low hanging leaves.  There's ba-zillions of thousands of trees in Idaho Falls.  Many of them have their branches hanging low over the sidewalks.  As a result, a cyclist has the distinct pleasure of riding through these bowers while feeling the soft leaves brush against their face and helmet.  Once in awhile a leaf will actually get stuck in my glasses and I look like a one-eyed pirate riding along with a green eye patch plastered to my face.  I can't begin to describe how much simple fun it is to enjoy these sidewalks and leafy limbs.  To say I feel like a kid again is a vast understatement.  It's just wonderfully delightful and one of the joys of a River City Summer (RCS).

Sun Day

Blue Bird Morning--classic Summer Sun Day. Yesterday's high of 83 will probably be repeated again today.  This weather's like a big, fat ear of delicious sweet corn--grab it with both hands and enjoy!

Yesterday went pretty much true to the morning's predicted agenda.  Breakfast on the Bank was great, the yard sales were fun and Bluegrass on the Greenbelt was a fine way to end the day.  In between, we each found a "new project."  Susun now has a spiffy table to serve summer buffets in her courtyard.  Me?  I found a 1952 Coleman 413D campstove for $10 at the LDS Deseret Industries mega-thrift store.  We did our first post on the Camp Tip blog about this stove. Click here to see it.

Not much else going on here--no real news to report.  Below are some thumbnails of various activities yesterday--as usual, click on the small picture to see the larger versions.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Home Sweet Home

We don't often put up a picture of our house.  The last one might have been when we returned from Arizona in late April.  The one before that showed a LOT of snow.  I guess this is the "Summer House" photo.  The next one will probably be when the trees have all turned their fall colors.  Susun's Famous Courtyard is in the deep shade of that giant maple tree on the west side of the house. 

Another "Last Saturday"

How quickly do these months seem to pass?  FAR too quickly!  That cliche phrase "it's seems only yesterday" rings once again in my brain.  Ah, June 1st, we remember it well at The Mystic Canyon Ranch near Mountain Home and, gee, wasn't it REALLY only yesterday?  All my life I've heard old people say, "Time passes faster when you get older."   I am finally beginning to understand what the heck they were talking about.  They were telling the truth!  Who knew?  Heck, at this rate, I can blink six times and it will be Christmas.  (Even though this is the 26th of the month, it's actually 182 days until Christmas.)

It's great to be back home.  Both Susun and I dearly love camping.  We're lucky that we both love is as much as we do.  If either one of us didn't love camping so much, well, one of us would have a Big Problem!  So, we're lucky.  You can flip those words to "We're SO Lucky."  Either way, it works.  Our camping lives have ebbed and flowed and taken us through many incarnations and permutations.  LBRs have a pretty good idea of our current "State of Camping."  One thing that hasn't been explained is an evolving idea of the "duration" of camping.  We're into weekday camping now--leave on a Monday and return mid-day Friday.  We want to enjoy all the stuff Idaho Falls has to offer on the weekends.

Idaho Falls is a "working city."  Pretty much every family that isn't retired has at least one family member who's tied to a Monday through Friday job.  Unemployment is much lower here than almost any place in America because practically everybody works.  This reality creates a "Weekend Warrior" mentality and the region's recreational resources are maxed out on Friday-Saturday and Sunday.  Meanwhile, there's tons of fun stuff to do each weekend INSIDE the city of Idaho Falls.  Every weekend is jam packed with stuff to entertain the "stay-at-home" families who don't have ATV's, dirt bikes, fishing gear, boats, toy haulers, 5th wheels, or whatever.  We love Idaho Falls for many reasons.  One such reason is the weekly summertime smorgasbord of things to do here.  It's great to be back home with a full weekend ahead.

Today is the annual Bluegrass on The Greenbelt event from noon to 9 pm.  There's quite a story behind the scenes of that totally FREE event. (Click here to visit the event's website and be sure to check out the websites of the various bluegrass bands.  Pretty awesome lineup.) There's another nice event going on at Snake River Landing.  It's called Breakfast on The Bank.  Click here to check it out.  Of course, the two Farmers Markets are well worth a visit.  If that's not enough, there's 106 yard and garage sales in this morning's paper, too.

This past week was our first true opportunity to test out the Monday thru Friday Camping Plan.  We were sorely tempted to stay near Dubois, WY for another 2-3 days.  We actually talked ourselves into staying there during Thursday night's Happy Hour.  Luckily, we awoke yesterday and decided to pack it up and head over the hill and down the river back to Grand Ma's little bungalow on 12th Street.  We're danged glad we did.

Speaking of camping, LBRs know I have a proclivity to devote entire blog posts to arcane descriptions of various camping techniques.  Well, progress happens.  I'm taking all of those types of posts away from this blog and putting them on a new blog I created this morning.  The new blog is entitled "Camping Tips" and it's actual address is  It's a newborn blog. (We posted the first post on Sunday.)

I know some LBRs roll their eyes and hold their noses when a I start rambling on and on and ON about some arcane camping technique.  Now, I will get to write ad infinitum about everything I'd like to discuss about camping.  Meanwhile, I will spare the bulk of this blog's readership from terminal boredom.  It's a win-win situation.

Hey, Magic Happens!  Remember that great soon-to-be-bumper-sticker-phrase?  OK, this one goes way back in the WAAY BAACK time machine.  Only a few LBRs have been reading this blog long enough to remember this episode.  Way back not long after the birth of this blog, I agonized over whether to go to Coeur D'Alene for a late February conference.  Much angst was aired on this blog.  I finally decided to go and it was the final event of my position as RSVP Director since I retired precisely five work days after my return from the conference.  OK, the State of Idaho promised to pay transportation and lodging expenses.  Lodging was no problem but I had to pay upfront for four flights to get there and back.  State Staff said reimbursement would be no problem.  WRONG!  I turned in all the required paperwork--that in itself was quite a chore--before departing from the job March 5.  Well, the check never showed up.  The check got vaporized by the Post Office.  The check was actually cut on March 11, the day after we arrived in Arizona.  But it simply disappeared.  Poof, gone, never to be seen again.  Now, folks, we're talking real money here--it ain't cheap to fly from Idaho Falls to Coeur D'Alene!  Loss of this check was a serious "owie."  I contacted my State contact and she then contacted some obscure finance dept. deep within the bowels of state gubmint.  Eventually, I rec'd a form to fill out.  It had to be notarized and it took a long time to finally get all the eyes dotted and the tees crossed.  That whole process started in early April.  Well, I sent in the form maybe sometime in early May, I've forgotten.  No check.  Not only no check, no word whatsoever.  This was very discouraging, as you might understand.  Finally, on this camping trip, I mentally came to terms with the fact I would never see the check and would have to eat the high costs of travel to and from Coeur D'Alene.  I actually finally "let go" of the process and decided it was simply a footnote in the 2.5 year history of that RSVP position.  No problem.

So, imagine my delight to return yesterday find the check in the mail!  HA!  Give it up and here it comes.  It's several hundred dollars that will come in real handy for paying off the credit card upon which I charged the flights in the first place!  That's a real nice bonus for the last Friday in June, eh?

Don't worry, we have forgotten about writing up a summary of our Dubois trip.  We'll get 'round to that sometime soon.  This week, as you noted, we posted in the afternoons.  We will now be going back to a morning schedule.

Have a great day and Many Cheers!  jp

Friday, June 25, 2010

Safe @ Home

Gee, it's a little after 7 pm.  I've obviously been remiss in not posting up to this blog earlier.  We left The Falls Campground precisely @ 9 am and arrived at our home in Idaho Falls @ precisely 1 pm.  All gear was unloaded into the Camp Warehouse, the truck was refueled and parked by 2 pm.  The lawn was mowed by 2:45 pm.  All shopping errands to various stores was completed by 5:15 pm.  Happy Hour then commenced.  Susun did a great job making the place look great this afternoon.  Lately, she has been showing off her Secret Shopper purchases at the Dubois Opportunity Store. WOW, she did a great job.  There's lots more to report, of course, but at least we posted up here this evening.  Now...back to Happy Hour.  We'll C-YA tomorrow morning.  Have a great evening & MANY Cheers!  jp

Thursday, June 24, 2010


Lazy Morning again.  After a couple of pots of coffee and last night's chile served over hashbrowns we set up some Campfire Croquet.  LBRs will remember a recent post about Extreme Croquet.  This was our first attempt at it and we called it "mildly extreme croquet."  The rocks, twigs, roots and steep slope made it a real challenge.  It's a LOT more fun than croquet play in clipped, smooth grass!

Then it was off to attempt to get to Jade Lakes.  We didn't make it.  There was too much snow but we got to within maybe a quarter mile of our goal before the snow became overwhelming.  I fell in one drift darned near up to my armpits and had to swim out on my belly on the surface of the snow--no other way to get out--totally soaked when I got out.  Anyway, Prudence told us to turn back-you know Prudence, don't you? She's totally cool.

Came into Dubois and toured the Museum.  It's the best small town museum we've ever seen.  Will talk more about it when we return to Idaho Falls.  Time is running out on me here today at the Dubois Public Library.

Susun is touring the downtown shops while I check email and pen something on El Blogosphere.  Dubois claims to be home to the Giant Jackalope. Well, it's been a great trip here--we want to come back soon.  Will be hitting the road early tomorrow so we can goof off in the Tetons--maybe rent a canoe on Jenny Lake.

Thanks, Wayne, for your awesome comment!  Well, gotta post pix and run.  TTFN & Cheers, jp
PS--We each got to see a pretty good size rock fall from the Breccia Cliffs.  They sound like a gunshot and then there's a huge cloud of dust and you see big boulders rolling down.  Amazing.  Also, the falls are 150 feet.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Dilly dallying in Dubois

Howdy once again from the Dubois Public Library.  It's a little after 4 pm and Susun is napping in the truck out in the parking lot.  We decided to stay all week here near Dubois, Wyoming.  Why?  Well, for starters we became slackers.  We decided we plotted out much to much of a Type A plan.  We need some R&R after the schedule we've been keeping lately.  Plus, the Falls Campground is wonderful. We love it.  Dubois is charming and there's lots to do here.  Plus, our new slacker schedule this week allows us to sleep late, go to bed late, and be leisurely.  Today, for example, we didn't get around to eating breakfast until almost 9:30 am.  Now that's definitely a slacker schedule!

We left camp about 10:30 and drove up to Brooks Lake.  It's at 9100 feet so it's still mostly frozen over.  Only the near-shore margins are thawed.  Still lot of scattered snowfields dotting the landscape.  Tomorrow, we're going to go back to Brooks and hike to the Jade Lakes.  You can click here for a Google map to see Brooks and the Jades.

After leaving Brooks, we drove down to the Tie Hack Memorial to read the signs.  We visited the memorial late yesterday afternoon but the wind was howling and the storm clouds were threatening.  The memorial was put up in 1946, the year before we were both born.  Consequently, the stone carving is in the classic 1930's WPA style--very heroic.  it's quite good.

We headed downstream on The Wind River once again towards Dubois but felt a strong tug as we approached the Union Pass Road.  So, we turned right and headed out for a 3 hour adventure.  It's really classic "High, Wide & Lonesome" out there in the glacial till and lateral morraines of the Land of Three Rivers.
For some odd reason, there's no marker for the Continental Divide at Union Pass.  Very odd but true.  We actually had to deduce the location by haggling over our maps and dusting off our logic skills.  Meanwhile, we overshot our mark by 10 miles and wound up at a MOAN place called Fish Creek Guard Station.  We actually made it about half way to the Green River Lakes and turned around in the headwaters of the Gros Ventre River.  On the way back, we stopped at the spot we were certain had to be the Divide.  Sure enough, I spotted an overgrown one-foot-wide gravel trail and followed it to the historical marker(s).  What a treat!  The markers contained some of the most outstanding, lyrical, "over the top" narrative writing we've EVER read on any historical markers we've seen ANYWHERE!  Incredible stuff.  So, we soaked up Union Pass and then made our way back down into "The Valley of The Warm Winds."  That's what Dubois actually calls itself on the signs at either end of town.

We're here in the library to check on The Schultz Fire.  LBRs filed four great comments since yesterday and they were a real treat to read.  THANK YOU and keep 'em coming.  LBR Kelli W. sent two great historical photos that I hope to post tomorrow when we are back in town yet again.  Thanks, Kelli, those are cool photos.

Yesterday, we spent a lot of time at the National Big Horn Sheep Interpretive Center.  We both learned more about Bighorn Sheep then we ever knew we might oughta know.  Fabulous place.  We've run out of time today for visiting the Dubois Museum so we've put that on our Thursday agenda after the Jade Lakes hike.  We also spent quite a bit of time at the local Forest Service office.  The front desk guy there was great.  He told us the road from Union Pass down to Pinedale was long and rough--that's pretty much what swayed us to stay here instead of going there.  Meanwhile, we gave us a great tutorial on how to use bear spray and we both learned stuff we never knew.  It was the best advice we've ever received on the use of bear spray.  It also makes us wonder why it hasn't been written up in the user manuals for the spray.  Luckily, there haven't been any bear attacks for the past 2 years here.

After we got back to camp, we walked over to The Falls.  Somehow, we both thought the namesake of the campground would be a wimpy little falls maybe 20-30 feet vertical drop.  HA!  This is a real falls--muy, mega, major falls.  We're guessing the vertical drop is at least 150-200 feet, maybe more.  Vertical distances are so deceptive.  Anyway, the whole Wind River drops over a cliff and it's quite a stirring sight to see.  Hopefully, we can get the east light shining on it tomorrow morning and capture a photo for the blog.

If you click on the second photo from left in the top row, you can see the small red "X" below the breccia cliffs.  That's the approximate location of the Jade Lakes.  Well, have a great evening and a wonderful day tomorrow.  C-YA soon, Happy Hour Beckons!  Cheers, J&S

Opps, almost forgot another photo from today. I titled it "Snow Head."

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Site #14

Here's some photos of our setup at the Falls Campground. Later in the season we figure it will be real dusty, crowded and filled with mosquitoes and blackflies, not to mention hordes of annoying tourons.  Right now, it's about as good as it gets.  Chances are it's going to be quite wet up there today--it's already raining in Dubois and everywhere you look there's dark clouds on the horizon.  Nice day to hang out in the museum, library, thrift store, grocery and Welty's General Store.  The shot of the rock is known as The Breccia Cliffs.  The photo was taken about 50 feet from our tent.  Lots of Kodachrome Moments 'round this neck of the woods.
We put in a close up of the tent rig especially for LBR Drewster.  He's quite the camper, too, and we have been swapping various "camp stories" in the past few weeks.  Prior to this trip, we bought two more 2x2's.  Each of them has a 10 penny nail in the top.  The nails fit through a tarp grommet.  In this manner, it's posisble to "fly" the tarp much like a sailboat sail is "flown" from the mast and boom of a sailboat.  It makes for a really stout, taut tarp rig that should be able to withstand today thunderstorm winds.  "Should" is the key word here.

Note the small sign we made for this trip.  It's at the bottom of the post by Susun's feet.  It's a whole lot friendlier than the previous sign we had--the one that said, "I buy poodle pelts."

Togwotee Pass Overlook

Togwotee Pass was far more beautiful than either of us dreamed it could be. The beauty just went on and on and ON! There's a developed overlook that dates to 1965 on the west side of the pass. Here's a panorama taken from the overlook. It's far more spectacular than any photo can depict. The top of the pass itself is still a huge snowfield--so much snow that it would be a great place to snowshoe right now or x-c ski, for that matter. Water is gushing everywhere--all the streams are near bankfull and running muddy. Most of the Forest roads are still closed because of the heavy snowfall this past winter. Wyoming's water situation is the best its been in years. Click on either photo to see a larger version. The small shot was taken from where we Twittered yesterday. Ansel Adams made the place famous with one of his legendary black and white shots decades ago.

Culture shock

I've seen this photo before--it's SUCH a ridiculous picture. We didn't realize the photo had its roots here in Fremont County, Wyoming. Dubois is in Fremont County and I am in the library reading Fremont County history. Anyway, Hollywood actor Tim McCoy somehow conned a bunch of Shoshone and Arapaho Chiefs into going to Hollywood. Above, you see one of the timeless icons of Classic Culture Shock. WOW!

Howdy from the Dubois Library

Hi, there!  We're sitting in one of those awesome small town Wyoming public libraries.  From what we've seen overthe year, Wyoming really, TRULY cares about public literacy, all the goat roper jokes aside.  This library here in Dubois is a tremendous facility--totally modern--great internet access terminals and free WIFI, too.  It's big, well lit and a delight to visit.  We alwyas like to say that a libraries are like human eyes.  Human eyes are supposed to be the window to the individuals soul.  Well, we believe libraries are the window to a community's soul.  You can really tell a LOT about a community by the quality of their library!

We had a delightful day yesterday, piddling around here and there--it was great--heck, we didn't even get out of River City until about 11 am.  Stopped off in Jackson and then at Dornan's, as you know, and really took our time making up up and over Togwotee Pass.  We arrived at the Falls Campground in the far upper reachers of the Wind River headwaters about 5 pm and took our time setting up camp.  We enjoyed the last rays of the longest day and finally went to bed about 10 pm.

The Falls Campground has been completely rennovated--brand new everything.  It's a real treat so we decided to stay another night.  Depending on how we feel, we might even spend the entire week there.  Our initial travel schedule was pretty Type A.  It's a 25 minute drive to Dubois from the campground.  That's about the same as a trip from Rimrock to Cottonwood, except we're driving along the Wind River and looking at pretty darned spectacular scenery.

I've only got 3 minutes left on my little thingie that allows computer access.  Maybe later I will drag in the laptop and check out the WIFI and post some photos, too.  One cool thing about that Falls Campground is that they hagve racked up about a quarter cord of wood at each campsite--so all the firewood you can possibly burn is free!  Yippee, skippee!  Also, it's only $5 a night now because the water hasn't been turned on.  No mosquitoes or black flies yet because it's been too cold.  There might be some big t-storms this afternoon but the weather is supposed to clear for the remainder of the week.

Thanks for everyone's commentys--there were 5 of them!  Awesome.  We've checked in on teh Schultz Fire and it looks like they will get a handle on it today.  Thanks Maggie for your photos!  Well, down to 20 secons so I guess I better log off.

Monday, June 21, 2010

WIFI from The Tetons.

Photo's not the greatest--light's kinda weird--but you get the idea--we're sitting on the deck at Dornan's in Moose, Wyoming, with an awesome view of our favorite "pointy things," The Grand Teton Mountains. Real nice WIFI here--4 bars. We wanted to check on the Schultz Fire. LBR Wayne R. sent a great link to a map of the fire. Click here to see it. You wuill have to scroll down to get to the link for the map--it's a very current map showing the acreage burned at 8859. Looks like it was updated at 12:45 pm Arizona Time. Well, we're heading out to Togwotee Pass this afternoon. Perfect bluebird day here in Jackson and the Tetons. Nary a puff of a cloud over Grand Teton itself. This place ROX! Also, we're moving the Twitter feed back to the top. Maybe we will get a WIFI in Dubois--we shall see. Cheers, jp  (Below is a photo of Menor's Ferry--it's just below Dornan's.  Much better view of the mountains.  The ferry is beached until the water drops.

First Day of Summer

Welcome to Summer! We had the truck fully packed at 7 am this morning. Could have actually left by 7 if we desired. We probably won't get out of here until 9 am but we wanted to see if we really COULD get the truck ready to go by 7.

It's nearing 9 am now as we've had a leisure morning. We probably won't get out of the city until maybe 10 or later. It's nice to be on an easy going schedule for a change.

We just called the Dubois Forest Service office over in Wyoming--talk about timing! They just opened the Union Pass Road FRIDAY! Is that wild or what? He said it's real muddy but our big chevy would be more than adequate to make it up and over to Pinedale.

We're going over to Sam's to buy a fresh card for the camcorder--hopefully we will do some video on this trip. We're gettin' a hankering to post up some YouTube soon.

Not much else to report. We pray they get a handle on the Schultz Fire--it was 0% contained this morning with high temps and wind expected today. Good LUCK!

Have a great day & Cheers, jp

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Moment of Silence

Let us please join our virtual online hands together and bow our heads in a Moment of Silence to Honor and Memorialize all that has been lost today on and around The fabled, legendary and, yes, Mystical San Francisco Peaks.

The Schultz Fire is on an epic, historic and tragic journey through the forests of The Peaks. Rumor has it that Doyle is gone. Rumor has it that Lockett Meadow is gone. Much more will be gone soon. One thing';s for sure--The plume is over 30,000 feet and visible from space. It is creating its own weather and will continue to do so until well after the sun sets.

There is nothing Wildland Firefighters can do at this time. It is far too dangerous to get even close to the perimeter of this Monster. Let us pray that it spares nearby neighborhoods. Over 1,000 homes are rumored to be at risk.

All we can do as reverent users of these once wonderful areas is to bow our heads in The Prayer of a Moment of Silence. Let us reflect upon all those great times we had in those awesome places there. Let us remember the Best of Times. And let us hold in our Hearts a Positive Spirit and know that this land will once again heal and be reborn as it always has throughout time.

We are today witnessing one of the sad but inevitable chapters of a Desert Forest. They do not exist forever. They are born to die. That much is written is history. History moves in cycles and today a new chapter was ignited.

Yes, it is very sad. Very sad, indeed. But it is a fact and it is history. Of that there is no doubt.

So, please, when you read this, Honor that place with your silent Prayer and a Moment of Silence for all those who have cared forever for that place.

May God's Grace Be With You Always, jp

Wyoming weather & Travel Plans

The graphics above are from the Riverton, Wyoming NWS Office. Riverton is about 80 miles easterly from Dubois. From what I can discern from the Riverton AFD, it looks like this pattern is going to possibly intensify tomorrow. The thunderstorm pattern tomorrow may even affect areas farther west than shown on these maps. The pattern is prognosticated to break up by Tuesday or Wednesday at the latest. All we have to do today is look out on the Snake River Plain and also look east into the Snake Highlands and see that thunderstorms are already forming even here in Eastern Idaho. There are some large t-storm cell roaming the hinterlands this afternoon.
So....this type of weather pattern and the accompanying forecast(s) have an impact on our travel plans. We're certain that we won't be driving straight through to Dubois tomorrow. Nope, we will select an intermediate camp someplace, maybe even inside the Grand Teton National Park. Another option might be to investigate the campground in the Snake River Canyon between Alpine and Hoback Junction. Lots of protective trees there and probably fewer mosquitoes than the Gros Ventre Campground inside GTNP. It's a dice game, that's for sure. I'm think this is a tentative agenda for this trip:
Day One--Camp in far western Wyoming
Day Two--Camp near Towogtee Pass
Day Three--Check out Dubois, visit musuems, etc. Camp at an RV park in the city.
Day Four--Drive over Union Pass--Camp at Fremont Lake above Pinedale
Day Five--Return to Idaho Falls

If we truly find something extra special Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, well then we might stay as long as 2-3 extra days out on the road. A lot of it depends on these factors:
A) Overnight low and daytime high Temperatures
B) Thunderstorm & lightning activity
C) Mosquitoes and blackflies
D) Uncomfortable campgrounds
E) Annoying goat ropers and/or Bear Nazis
F) High bear danger on targeted trails

We do know that when we return here to Idaho Falls, we're going to be pretty well grounded until July 7th or 8th or 9th. That's when we are heading down toward Montpelier, Idaho, to see Bryan B. and his sons Nathan and Sam. Chances are we will be there two nights and then return to River City July 11. I really, really want to attend the July 12 Parks & recreation Commission meeting.

Our next trip after than one will commence sometime a few days before July 24th. As LBRs know, the 24th is when we are to judge the Clayton Heritage Days Chile Cookoff. Hopefully, we will have been able to go boating for a few days beforehand.
We'd like to return to Idaho Falls that very same day--the 24th. Our travel schedule beyond late July is undetermined. I do have that August 7th Middle Fork permit and continue to be ambivalent about whether to go or blow it off. Hopefully, we can squeeze in at least 2-3 more camping trips between late July and Labor Day. We really NEED to get up there to Riverside in Island Park and enjoy Harriman for at least a few times this year. After Labor Day is the annual Jenny Lake adventure. Then Susun flies out of Salt Lake on 9/11 for San Diego to see Sarah and The Boyz (Peter, Gage and Van). She'll be gone roughly 10 days. This will then be putting us pretty close to the autumnal equinox. Our camping focus then changes to areas such as City of Rocks. Gee, the summer hasn't started and it's already over. What happened?

Cheers, jp

Sunday bike ride

It's hard to believe that we haven't been on our bicycles here in Idaho this year until today.  Our travel schedule, the weather and what not have prevented us from enjoying one of the great benefits of this city--it's bike-ability.  We were out for almost 2 hours and roamed all of our favorite haunts, drifting through the historic numbered streets, Kate Curley Park, the deserted downtown and all up and down and around the Greenbelt paths.  There was no one at the John's Hole boat ramps.  The resident geese outnumbered the people near The Falls.   The Falls themselves are in great shape--the water is almost clear again so it's pure white when it tumbles over the basalts.  We even ran into one of Susun's fine friends, Rachel.  I hadn't met Rachel until today so that was a real treat--she's fun.  We checked on Hilda's garden, went out on the pier at Snake River Landing, paid homage to the Eagles and then rubbed the noses of Billy, Dan and Ann at the public library.   The trio is famous for their roles in "Where The Red Fern Grows."  Wilson Rawls wrote the book when he lived here in Idaho Falls at 551 11th St. about a block from our house on 12th Street.
  All-in-all it was a great inaugural bike ride for Y2Ten.  The bikes themselves performed great.  I gave them a little tune up last night.  They are ready to go but won't get ridden again until we return from the Dubois Road Trip.

Thanks, Mike!