Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Here and There

Tuesday morning here on 12th Street is one of those glorious summer mornings.  Not a breath of air moving--city stillness so still that a passing car sounds really loud and then stillness resumes.  Green grass growing every which was--leafy trees standing stately and serene--early morning walkers striding off their calories--and rays of low angle sunlight illuminating our profuse holllyhocks and Susun's gorgeous flower gardens.  Ah, summer delights!

Susun loves to say "Here or There, two of our favorite places."  Yea, verily, we've just returned from our favorite campsite--#9 at the Cottonwood Campground near good ol' Ellis.  The Salmon River has a noisy little riffle lapping right to within 30 feet of our tent door.  You look out at this enchanting river flowing downward toward its destiny and it's just such a powerful, fabulous place.  Then we come home and feel as happy as if we were perched beside the river.  It doesn't seem to matter much whether we are "here" or "there."  They are both good--each in their own way and we love them both dearly.  When we are here, we are very happy to be here and don't want to be anyplace else.  Ditto, when we are there, wherever that may be, we are delighted and thrilled to be there and wouldn't trade it for any place else.  It's a delightful dichotomy no matter how you dice it--here or there really ARE our two favorite places!

We got a really late start out of Idaho Falls last Thursday and, get this, I-15 was CLOSED!  Yep, closed Big Time.  We had to drive backroads over 20 miles north of the city to find an onramp that was open.  Why?  Well, they closed the interstate because of the Blue Angels airshow.  Amazing but true.  That unexpected delay really set us back but we were nonetheless able to arrive at Ellis precisely by 3 pm for our meeting.  Luckily, our new boss was late so it all worked out.  We met until 4:45 and signed formal volunteer agreements and we were "good to go" on the new project.  We enjoyed a magical evening there in Site #9 and set up a nice camp.

Friday, we met with Jeff in his Challis office during the late morning.  We finally managed to get on the water about 1 pm and floated 13 miles.  After running the shuttles and so forth, we were back in camp by 6 pm.

Saturday, we flew out of camp by 8:45 am and arrived in Clayton precisely at 10 am.  Judging the chile thing was a real hoot.  Mike slipped me a hundred dollar bill and that was nice, too!  He invited us back again for 2011 and the entrants and spectators really seemed to love our schtick--we wore matching red, white and blue aprons and used our digital laser thermometer to really ham it up.  They had prize money this year and so I got to pass out ribbons and money and that livened up the scene considerably.  We got to perform in the replica livery stable and it was really a memorable moment.  Much to my abject surprise, some guy dressed up like a mountain man came over and asked me to participate in the black powder shoot.  I told him I didn't have a rifle and hadn't shot black powder in maybe 40 years or more.  He said, "No problem, you can use my .54 caliber Hawken."  I about fainted dead away.  Sure enough he had this awesome Hawken and refreshed my memory on how to charge it and I got to get off 8 shots and hit the target on four of them.  It was a true hoot!

We finally got out of Clayton about 2 pm and were on the water again by 3 pm and got off about 5 pm.  Once again were back in camp about 6 pm and enjoyed a real nice evening Happy Hour there on the banks of the Salmon.  There was a huge wedding going on in the day use area and Susun danced her booties off for a few hours.  She really got to exercise her Social Muscles to the Max Saturday night.

Sunday was a real slow moving morning. and we didn't get back on the water until 1 pm.  We had a great run through Royal Gorge--lots of fluffy whitewater and some rocks to dodge, too.  We were off a little after 3 pm and this time got back to camp about 5:30 pm.  In total, we ran about 27 miles of river in 3 days.  Our volunteer agreement targets a 15 mile per day average so we need to play catchup on our next trip. The boat is now nicely rigged and performs very well.  We can rig and derig very quickly and we have everything we need for the short day trips we are taking.

The Turco oven was the star of the show on this trip.  Normally, we wouldn't bother to mess with charcoal dutch oven cooking on hot July evenings.  The Turco made baking a piece of cake (pun intended).  We baked chicken leg quarters, cornbread and foil-wrapped Idaho potatoes in three separate sessions.  That oven is a "legacy" item.  It's one of those camping things that is a real game-changer.  Man, it's totally awesome!  Tonight, we're going to smoke some corn on the cob. What a treat it is to use the oven.

Our other two camping tricks this trip were new-to-us.  We brought along a fly trap and caught at least 1,000 flies. (Susun says 2,000.)  It sure made camping a lot more fun without all those dastardly flies buzzing about in our food and faces.  The other gig was cooler management.  It was HOT during the day--well into the 90's.
The coolers were going to sit out in the direct sunlight.  So, we used our fire chimney--the galvanized silver roofing as an Okie-style reflective cover for the two coolers.  We covered the coolers with foam sleeping pads and then made a little enclosure of the reflective metal and then staked them into place with the 3-foot concrete form pins.  The plan worked to perfection and we had zero food spoilage and our ice lasted quite well and we were Happy Campers.

We toyed with the idea of staying Monday but we've encountered a slight problem in data collecting on the river.  So, we came home yesterday and will work here to resolve the GPS compatibility issue with the BLM's GIS systems.  Due to some recent luck, we maybe be able to actually acquire the necessary equipment on our own rather than waiting for the BLM to resolve the issue.

It was a nice cool day to drive the desert yesterday--a rarity in July.

We got home at 2:30 and were completely derigged before 4:30.  We enjoyed a wonderful evening and celebrated a great stroke of good luck.  It's a long story best told by email.

Well, it's going to be a great day once again, being here instead of there.  Many Cheers!  J&S

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