Friday, September 30, 2011

Goatherder Comes to Idaho

 Oh, My Gosh, Goatherder decided to bring his whole herd up to Idaho to help us clean up our garden.  There's nothing like a herd of Toggenburg goats to bring everything back to bare dirt.  Gone are all the old dead plants.  We were really lucky and found a $3.99 flight for Goatherder and all his Toggenburg goats.  You can see him below asking WTH happened to the wine glass he had in his right hand.  Somehow it must have been lost in transit.  THANKS, GH!

End of Year

Well, not exactly.  Today's the end of the federal fiscal year which is a big deal to some people.  It's also the end of what's called The Water Year.  Bean counters who tally water drops can balance their books today, slap each other on the back and get ready for the New Year that begins tomorrow.  October is one of Susun's favorite months.  It was once her top favorite month but that was before we moved to Idaho.  Now, almost any month up here is her favorite month.

DF & LBR Terry M. and I had a great round of golf on the Sand Creek Short Course yesterday.  We actually played our best games of our golf far.  Terry made par on three holes and we on two.  We each had several of those type of golf shots where the ball goes way up in the air just like those balls do on TV's Golf Channel, except there was no gallery murmuring in the background.  Ah, well, anonymity has its own rewards.

We're making some real progress on checking things off our humongous check list.  We've actually already scheduled such things in Arizona as: reconnection of internet, newspaper and trash collection.  Scintillating stuff, huh?  Today will be more of the same.  Find something on the checklist, do it, and then check it off.

James Ward Brykit (JWB) died in Flagstaff on Sunday, September 25.  He was 80 years of age.  We learned the news during Happy Hour in a voicemail from Sedona's Jim Bishop.  (Click here for JWB's obituary.)
We were actually quite saddened by the news but managed to rally up and carry on.

If not for JWB, I have no idea how my life would have played out over the past 30 years.  It could even be a reasonable (and also arguable) hypothesis that if not for JWB, I would have never met Susun and wouldn't now be in Idaho.  When I look back over my adult years, I can count only a very, very few people whose influence truly changed my life. JWB was one of them.  Last night I pondered writing a long memorial to JWB, explaining how he changed my life.  This morning I've decided not to go there, fearing perhaps that to put those thoughts into words would make me sad once again.

Today I wish to celebrate JWB for the outstanding and exceptional human being he was.  For all who knew and worked with him, JWB added entirely new dimensions to those immortal words "Happy Trails!"  We know now that Jim Brykit is safely ensconced in Heaven, he has already successfully petitioned God and St. Peter to be Heaven's Official Trail Historian.  JWB will busy himself traveling all over Heaven documenting and describing the many Happy Trails that surely await us all there.  When we show up at the Pearly Gates, St. Peter will ask us if we want a copy of  "Jim Brykit's Trail Guide to Heaven."

Besides old, historic, forgotten trails, Jim's true passion was the Verde River and Verde Valley.  He was born and raised in Jerome where his Dad was Superintendent of the giant copper mine there.  JWB grew up with history in his blood  and "all things Verde" etched in his heart.  It was Jim Brykit who put us on that fateful path to devote the prime of our adult life to "saving the Verde River."  Without his impetus and encouragement, we seriously doubt that would have happened.

I choose to remember Jim Brykit when we was at the top of his game, master of his many skills, storyteller supreme, motivator, matchmaker and inspiration to all.  You are missed, My Friend, but know that your legacy and heritage will live forever back there in the green pastures of the Verde Valley.  You are a rare one who truly made a difference in our world, Mister Byrkit.  Thank You and HAPPY TRAILS FOREVER!

Have a great Friday & Many Cheers, jp

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Cheers to The Sunflowers & Corn

Our garden is about gone.  The critters have discovered the ripe sunflower seeds and big chunks are disappearing each day.  So the sunflower head will come off today.  The corn meanwhile will stand until it fully dries down--unless, of course, the critters start messing with our few token ears.  We're putting up a lot of photos here so we have something with which to remember out Dear Sunflowers and Corn.  It always gives us great pleasure to look upon photos of Gardens Past.  THANKS, Sunflowers & Corn!!!!  We love you!

The seasons, they are a changin'

As if on cue, the first storm of early fall will roar through Idaho next week.  The NWS Pokemon have this to say today:


Luckily, all the bluster will be gone by the time we head out to City of Rocks (COR) a week from tomorrow.  Oakley is a quaint little town not far from COR but it sits at a lower elevation and is hence warmer than COR.  Look at those great temperature progged for Oakley beginning next Thursday-Friday!  All the summer dust will be washed off--the rocks will be glistening, the roads will be nice and settled, there will be moisture in the soil for nice chilly mornings, the day time highs will be textbook nice for hiking.  The evenings will be comfy crisp. YEA!  It promises to be a great trip, especially now that we have Annie, the big truck, back from the repair shop and in good condition once again.  We camped at COR two years ago and, naturally, made a blog for the area.  There's a couple of bad links on the blog but it's still real viable.  You can click here to see it.
We have a "keeping our appointments" story to tell this morning.  It's kind of a long story but it's sure worth telling.  It started maybe a couple of days ago when Mike V. asked us to do a favor and go to Ski's Gun Shop yesterday in search of .44 Magnum brass shell casings.  It seems these items are hard to find right now--maybe it's because of all the bear stories making the news.  Who knows?

OK, at last weeks shooting match, we were once again taught that pre-match practice is a necessity unless one wants to embarrass one's self.  So, we decided to go out to the range mid-morning yesterday, put in a really long practice session and then go to Ski's when they open at noon.  (Ski's is only open noon to 3 pm three days a week--it's a very eccentric place.)

OK, so we get everything loaded up and head off to the range.  We fire off about 30-40 rounds out of the 1911 pistol and grab a box of 100 fresh rounds all excited about shooting some more.  Opps, we brought the wrong ammo--9mm instead of the much larger .45 ACP.  At first, we were slightly dejected and perplexed.  Having the wrong ammo meant that we had nearly an hour to fiddle with before Ski's would open at noon.  We packed up and drove aimlessly around farm country looking for recently-dug potato fields.  Finding none, we thought, "Oh well, we might as will go sit in the parking lot at Ski's and twiddle our thumbs for 20-30 minutes."  So, we arrive at the parking lot and quickly tire of twiddling our thumbs and thought, "Gee, let's go gas up the Samurai, that will take a few minutes."  So, we moved next door to the Maverick gas station and began fueling Suzi Q.  Imagine our surprise when we looked at the adjacent pump island and there stood none other than Ed Cannady!  WOW!  Talk about keeping an appointment!

If not for Mike's request and if not for bringing the wrong ammo and if not for finding no fresh potatoes strewn about the landscape, we would have absolutely, certainly missed Ed on his brief refueling stop.  Ed played a  pivotal role in bringing us to Idaho.  Without Ed, we wouldn't be here right now.  Ed was our Supervisor for four years out at Bowery Guard Station.  LBRs have read about him in our story recounting how we first connected with Idaho in April 2004.  We haven't seen, emailed, or talked to Ed since August 2007.  It was like a reunion.  Ed and I stood there amid the gas pumps getting all caught up on each other lives.  Ed is battle a cancer right now and it's tough on such an athletic, active strapping man as he.  His chemo appears to be winning the battle but he won't know if he really beats the cancer for a few more months.  Ed was on his way to the Tetons for a solo break from his medical issues.

In the above photo, that's Ed kneeling in front.  The picture was taken the last time we saw Ed in August 2007 just a couple of days before we left Bowery to come to Idaho Falls.  Ed brought out a bunch of Forest Service people.  The woman at far right was Forest Supervisor then and has since retired.  The guy at far left, Terry Clark, was the Forest Recreation Staff Officer and he's retired, too.  He is now Executive Director of the Sawtooth Interpretive & Historical Assn. in Stanley, Idaho.  The woman to my right in the back is Sara Baldwin.  Tomorrow is her last day as SNRA Ranger.  She's rented a bar and a band in Ketchum for her retirement party Friday night.

We didn't always see eye-to-eye with Ed when he was our Supervisor but those days were long gone yesterday.  We were really happy to see him once again and any frictions we once had were forever forgotten.  I was so happy to have crossed his path by such pure serendipity.  We exchanged a great big hug and then each of us went traveling toward our own destinies once again.

Whenever something totally unexpected happens like this, we call it "keeping our appointments."  Such appointments are usually kept by following our intuition, an unexpected turn of events, pure luck or a combination of all three.  Thanks to Mike for asking the favor and I gotta say I'm glad I can be a forgetful airhead as once in awhile as that trait can pay memorable dividends.

Have a great day and Many Cheers!  jp

Fishing for fun

 When Houn's Dawg and Suzanne go fishing, they are fishing for fun as much as fishing for fish.  If they catch a fish, that makes them happy but if that hook onto a whole big bunch of fun, they are even happier. Chances are always good they will reel in some fine fun no matter how bad the fishing might be.  This past weekend, they netted both fun AND fish!  A big part of the fun for this Happy Couple is fixin' and eatin' camp food.  Houn' Dawg is one of the few people we know who also photographs their food.  Isn't that a fine photo at left.  HD entitled the picture, "Sunday Services."  We can only imagine how they bowed their heads in reverences of those services.  Yea, verily!

Here's Suzanne with one of the seven large rainbows she caught. Once again she outfished HD as he caught only two fish. It's a friendly competition between the pair. Suzanne can charm a fish out of the water. HD? Not so much. HD & Suzanne traveled to a very obscure and little known are called the Sand Creek Wildlife Management Area. It's perhaps 60-70 miles north of here--about 15 miles north of St. Anthony. There are a series of little ponds out in the desert. Fish & Game keeps the ponds well stocked but the little water bodies receive only slight fishing pressure from the public.

Houn' Dawg not only takes photos of their meals, he is also fond of making portraits of his chuck box.  We suspect this is a fine Happy Hour thing to do when camped in MOAN Country.  We've done it ourselves a tie or two.  There's something about a finely wrought chuck box that brings out the poet and the philosopher in a Camping Man.  Perhaps it harks to our primal days or perhaps it's simply a celebration of outdoor efficiency.  In any event, we appreciate photos such as these.  THANKS, HD!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Hillbilly camper rack

What you see above could readily be found almost any day on the back roads of Hillbilly Country.  There are far less charitable ways to describe such a rig but few are fit for a family blog.  Suffice to say when the going get tough, the tough turn to Hillbillies for inspiration.  We needed to install a new gasket between the camper shell and the truck bed.  Problem:  how to remove and support the camper while the gasket was being installed.  Voila, a few warped boards, some nails, a couple of concrete form pins and, naturally, two NRS cam buckle and it was a piece of Hillbilly Cake.  Hopefully, we did our gasket job correctly and the camper won't leak water any longer.

Annie is back in the shop this morning.  We were really lucky on her problems and issues yesterday.  The bill will definitely come in less than $500 and not near $2000 as we feared.  The big oil leak was not a front motor seal as we feared but valve cover gaskets instead.  The bill for that repair will only be $200 as opposed to as much as $1000 to replace the front seal on a 454 cubic inch engine.  Ditto the brakes.  We feared we were going to need a new booster assembly but it turned out to be a simple adjustment of the rear shoes.  Whew!

Our day took an interesting turn Tuesday when we drove out to the Sand Creek Golf Course and the place was locked up tight with nobody in sight.  We learned it was closed for "scheduled maintenance" but we rubes had no clue of such a thing.  Meanwhile, America's Best called and told Susun her new eyeglasses were "in."  So, we headed down to Pokey, as it is affectionately known here, to pick them up.  We squeezed in a visit to Pokey Deseret Industries and a local gun shop as well.  After returning some, we commenced to set up our Hillbilly rig above and barely had time to log another session on the treadmill before Happy Hour arrived.

All-in-all, a busy day.

The 23rd Annual Verde River Day was held last Saturday.  We will talk more about that in a blog post soon.  You can click here for the story and 46 photos.  Ironically, out of the 46 pictures, the photographer only took 3 or 4 of the river.  Typical.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Car Talk

We're not Click and Clack, that's for sure, but we spent most of Monday messing with motors and machines.
A funny thing happened after we wrote the first sentence above.  We suddenly remembered we made an appointment yesterday to take the big truck down to Oswald's first thing this morning.  We we leaped up from this laptop and sped into action, even rallying Miss Susun to come and pick me up at the service center.  You see, Annie, as the big truck is known, is going to need hundreds of dollars worth of work to keep her ship shape and safe for the trip south.  We did all we could yesterday with our limited skills--now it's up to REAL mechanics to take it from here.

We bought Annie at a Forest Service auction on June 24, 2001, in Cedar City, Utah.  So, we've enjoyed Annie's faithful performance now for over ten years.  Whenever we have to put money into the Good Ol' Gir, we don't bat an eye or flinch.  She's a reliable friend and loyal traveling partner.  Whatever she needs, we gladly provide. 

On a side note, it's interesting that used vehicle values have rallied up so high in the past few years, that we could possibly sell Annie ten years later for what we paid for her long ago.  Strange but probably true.  Meanwhile, if you haven't looked a the cost of new trucks, you ought to do so.  We've seen them as high as $60,000 recently.  (Not a typo.)  Even a stripped down, small truck will cost about $20,000.  To get a new truck that would do what Annie does would probably cost us between $25,000-$30,000.  No kidding.  What's strange is that USED trucks are astronomically high priced as well.  We've seen ten year old trucks priced at $10,000 or more.  It's amazing.  So, no matter what Oswald's says Annie's repairs will cost, we smile and happily pay.

We have a few minor tasks remaining in the vehicle maintenance category but all the major stuff is (or soon will be) out of the way.  We are way ahead of schedule in vehicle preparation for our early November departure.  Actually, we are way ahead of schedule in all aspects of our trip prep.  That's a refreshing change from years past.  We're so far ahead, for that matter, that we're turning our attention to preparation for the October 7th City of Rocks trips.

Well, not much else to report.  Have a great day & Many Cheers, jp

Monday, September 26, 2011

Summing Up Sunday

Sunday turned out to be a very nice day.  We started off with a really nice bike ride down to Hilda's Garden.  It's at the final peak of color of the season.  From here until the first frost the colors will begin to slowly decline.   After Hilda's, we pedaled over to the Bella Vita coffee house for breakfast.  What a special spot that little place is.  It's so cool to be able to have a first rate coffee house as a bike ride destination.

After the bike ride, Susun went off to meet with Jan M. at Community Park and the pair walked three miles while chatting about all sorts of various topics.  Little Yonni logged his 13th consecutive daily session on the treadmill.  That 15% grade is feeling a lot better and easier to endure.  That bodes well for our upcoming hiking season.

When Susun came home she was al ljazzed about going someplace--anyplace.  Houn' Dawg had invited us up to Sand Creek Pond #4 but we just didn't feel like driving on the busy US Highway 20 up to Ashton.  By and by, we decided to go check out the Blacktail boat ramp at Ririe Reservoir east of the city.  We've lived here over four years now and never been to Blacktail.  Shame on us.  Shame. Shame. Shame.  The place is beautiful and wonderful and only 16 miles from our front door via a lightly traveled beautiful backroad.  The  weekend access  fee is only five bucks and it's even cheaped Monday through Friday--$3!  Why on earth we haven't been out there for all these years is a mystery to us.  We will definitely make it a regular haunt in our local jaunts.

On the way back home, we followed a whim to one of the more obscure of the city's three Community Gardens.  These little gems are one of the reasons we fell in love with Idaho Falls.  We had a plot at the Rollandet Garden in 2008 but dropped it in 2009 in favor of using our own yard to grow stuff.  We've never really checked out the one tucked off the east end of The John Adams Parkway until yesterday.  A couple was in the garden tending their amazing vegetables and heaped free veggies on us. They grew cabbages the size of basketballs and cauliflower as large as soccer balls.  We had no idea such cool season vegetables could grow so well in the hot Idaho summer here. We also learned some teenagers had planted some wheat in hopes of baking their own bread in the garden's earth oven.  Who knew there was an earth oven lurking in this city?  Strange but true.

We enjoyed a very lazy remainder of the day, finishing off Sunday by loading up a few boxes of 9mm while Sunday swapped a gaggle of texts with her daughters.  'Twas a fine early fall Sunday.

Today is all about motor vehicle maintenance.  If all goes according to plan we will spend most of the entire day fiddling with three vehicles.  Hopefully, by the end of the day, everything they need will be crossed off Ye Ol' Checklist.

Have a great Monday and Many Cheers!  jp

Sunday, September 25, 2011

A Tale of Two Yards

Thanks to Joshua and The Goatherder, our Arizona place--Second Chance Ranch--looks one heck of a lot better this morning.  Joshua and GH formed a two-man SWAT team yesterday and attacked the stubborn weeds with vengeance and determination, making a major difference in a mere hour of hard labor.  The so-called "yard" at 2CR is just dirt.  It's always been dirt except when the weeds take over.  Weeds are the only thing that has ever grown there, as far as we know, dating back hundreds of years.  Chances are weeds will continue to be the only green in our so-called "yard" there for the rest of our lives and maybe all time, for all we know.
The two yards in our lives couldn't possibly be more different.  One is pure dirt and nasty, prickly weeds.  The other is pure green grass and primped and prepped to totally Type A condition.  Ironically, yesterday while Josh & GH were hacking weeds, we hired a guy to edge our yard up here in River City.  Now it looks even MORE Type A that it did before.  There's something about green grass that really brings out the Type A aspect of some people.  Down in Arizona, we don't care if your yard is dirt.  Up here, the yard has to be "just so."  It's a Jeckle-Hyde kind of thing.  We sent the photo at left to GH last night and he replied, "Purty, but something about it makes me want to grow really tall pigweed..."  That's the way it is with Arizona people.  Most of them have grown so accustomed to yards of dirt and weeds, they wouldn't know what to do with real green grass.  If GH moved to Idaho Falls, he would probably tear up the grass yard and grow native species that closely resemble ordinary weeds.  THANKS, Josh & GH!  Ya dun good!

Well, it's a little more than an hour later and we are now back to blogging.  It was time for our Sunday Morning Bicycle Ride and when duty calls, the blog takes a back seat.  We rode down to Hilda's and then over to Bella Vita for a real tasty breakfast.  Idaho Falls downtown is totally deserted on Sunday mornings--a stark contrast to the other six days of the week.  The geese flying overhead far outnumber the vehicles on the streets.  The river is glass calm and smooth this morning--wonderfully beautiful.

Yesterday unfolded as advertised.  Winter squashes abounded at the Farmers Market for a mere 35 cents a pound.  You can't really grow them than inexpensively considering how much garden space they take up.  We learned a lot at the Nursery and enjoyed a splendid time at the power company's open house.

Susun poses in the photo below beneath our beloved water tower.  It's funky, that's for sure.  We know one LBR who would dearly love to see it painted something less garish than the red, white and blue stripes.  However, it's so funky it's really appealing to both of us.  Whenever we travel anywhere, we play a game to see who is the first one to see the water tower from a distance.  It's sort of like a giant push pin in the 3-D terrain of the Snake River Plain.  It's actually easier to spot the water tower than it is the soaring LDS Temple here.  Anyway, we will know think of this photo every time we play "Spot The Water Tower" in the future.

Have a great day & Many Cheers!  jp

Saturday, September 24, 2011


Each and every Saturday here in Idaho Falls brings a veritable smorgasbord of activities to choose from. Today is no exception.  We'll start off with the obligatory visit to the Farmers Market.  Later, there's the Idaho Falls Power annual Open house.  We're also going to a big shindig at the Town & Country Nursery.  Twice a year T&C brigns together all sorts of gardening experts to help us heathens learn how to tend to our plants and lawns.  We've missed their Fall event ever since we've lived here.  Not this year!  We especially want to see their display of the showiest fall perennials as well as learn how to store potatoes properly.  Heady stuff, huh?

Karen L. came by for Happy Hour last night and stayed well into the evening.  She regaled us with stories and tales of here many years in Island Park back in the 1970's when it was the equivalent of a "Northern Exposure" reality show.  We're encouraging her to write a memoir about her life and times there.

Most of our checklist chores yesterday were related to vehicle maintenance.  We actually even washed several months worth of bug residue and road grime off of Susun's ride, Snappy.  She remarked she can't remember when it looks as good as it does now.  We both continued to attend out separate daily workout routines. 

For some largely unknown reason, we were detoured off into the ozone yesterday, reviewing videos we made in 2009 about various Eastern Idaho Senior Center meals.  Click here for the one on the Madison County Senior Center's rib luncheon.  Click here for the one on the Rigby Senior Center's pork chop.  And, finally, click here for our favorite--The Roberts Senior Center Chicken Fried Steak.  The screen shot at the top of this blog post shows Sheila, the Robert's cook, in a little vignette at the very end of the video--past the scrolling credits.

Have a great day & Many Cheers, jp

Friday, September 23, 2011

This Spud's for you

Our dinner last night was a simple "one potato, two potato" deal.  The two potatoes (as shown in a blog post below) were whoppers and one apiece more than stuffed us to the gills.  They were easily, hands-down the best baked potatoes either of us have enjoyed in our entire lifetime.  We will have to resist the overwhelming temptation to bake and eat more of them.  Man and woman cannot live by potatoes alone, but they sure can try!

Spudboater wrote a really informative blog post about her trip to Great Basin National Park this week.  The trip took an unexpected turn almost the second she entered the park.  You can click here to read all about it.

Goatherder sent along a gripping tale about how a big ol' white horse and small female rider when mano-y-mano with a 700 pound grizzly bear to save an 8-year-old boy's life.  We sent the link out to about 50 folks on our email contact list.  We're including the link here in case you didn't get it yesterday.  Click here to read the story.  THANKS, GH!

Wayne Ranney banged out a blog post about his just-completed 10-day Grand Canyon river trip.  You can click here to read it.  Looks like the highlight of the trip were those incredible waterfalls he photographed up in Marble Canyon.  Great shots, Wayne!

Speaking of our favorite blogs, Kirsty is back to blogging again after a long sojourn on her Facebook.  Facebook is the bane of blogging--that's why we won't touch it with a ten-foot virtual stick.  It's sort of a stream of consciousness gig whereas blogging requires a different perspective and, yes, perhaps even a skill set.  Facebook people consider blogging to be soooo old-fashioned.  But I digress.  You can click here to read Kirsty's description of her return to blogging.  Meanwhile, any time you need your day brightened just go to her blog and kick back and enjoy Kirsty and her Family.  Thanks, Kirsty, for putting so much Heart & Spirit into your words and photos!

Terry M. and I enjoyed a quick round of kiddie golf yesterday.  That's one of the many things we both find enjoyable about the short course at Sand Creek--it's quick!  Terry is working on a book about his world travels.  He's been so many places it makes my head spin just to think of them all.  I will be reading his first two chapters today.  THANKS, TM!

I had a thought yesterday while doing the daily workout.  Jump into the Way Back Time Machine and rewind into your 20's or perhaps your 30's.  I seem to recall people of that age making various derogatory comments about treadmills.  They would compare their work to a treadmills and say things on a Sunday such as, "Oh, well, it's back to the treadmill tomorrow."  I'm sure I indulged in that type of commentary, too.  We all dreaded the treadmill-like aspects of our various chosen lines of work and career.  Perhaps we longed for our retirement years when we could finally be free of the treadmill.  Who could have known that retirement years would bring about a profound desire to actually PAY to get back on a treadmill again every day?  Hum....there's a great irony of life in that juxtaposition of time and space.  Well,whatever the case may be, I really do actually ENJOY working out on the treadmill.  Please stifle your guffaws when I say it is quite a lot of fun. Stop laughing, OK?

Well, we're scraping the BBQ again so it's time to stop this chatter and move on with the rest of our first fall day.  Many Cheers, jp

PS--It's been awhile since we printed the weekly blog stats.  Here they are from this morning:
The Daily News                        

                    -- Site Summary ---                     

            Total ....................... 10,650            
            Average per Day ................. 28            
            Average Visit Length .......... 3:31            
            This Week ...................... 195            

          Page Views

            Total ....................... 18,749            
            Average per Day ................. 47            
            Average per Visit .............. 1.7            
            This Week ...................... 328

Hot start for Fall

As you can see by the above 6-10 and 8-14 day temperature forecasts from the Climate Prediction Center, the Fall Season of 2011 will be off to a very hot start across the entire Western United States.  This is what our Pocatello weather people have to say about the next couple of days: A RIDGE OF HIGH PRESSURE WILL REMAIN ENTRENCHED  ACROSS THE STATE TODAY WITH JUST SOME HIGH CLOUD COVER EXPECTED. THIS WILL NOT IN ANYWAY PREVENT ANOTHER VERY WARM DAY WHERE HIGHS WILL BE RUNNING 10-15 DEGREES ABOVE AVERAGE WITH PLENTY OF 70S AND  80S ACROSS THE BOARD. BELIEVE IT NOT THOUGH...WE WILL NOT BE

It looks like Ol' Airy Zonie is going into the grips of a prolonged drought.  The NWS Droubt Monitor graphic is shown here.  Also, La Nina is back after a short hiatus this spring and summer.  That means high odds of a very dry winter in the Southwest.  Pity poor Texas as the Lone Star state will continue to bear the brunt of brutally droughty conditions.  The return of La Nina is easy to see in the ocean surface temperature graphic shown below the drought map.  Click here for a five week animation of the evolving situation there.

The idea of a cold fall season dropping our leaves early looks pretty laughable right now.  Good thing we made a plan to have someone else deal with those pesky leaves.  At least we won't have to worry about driving through a snowstorm to get south in early November.  If the longer range forecasts turn out to be true, it could still be in the 80's when we show up down there--70's are a near certain likelihood.  Looks like it's going to be a nice winter to become regular day hikers again. Cheers, jp

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Atkins who?

There's a sprawling potato field on the road to the shooting range.  We've been able to watch it since early June.  We even took Roger's photo "outstanding in his field" in early July there when the potato plants were flowering.  Well, as we drove to the shooting match last night, we were delighted to see the spuds had been dug that very day.  We practically leaped from the Samuri and ran into the freshly turned dirt.  Giant spuds lay strewn about like the proverbial gold in the streets.  We have only a few minutes so we gleaned the biggest and best we could grab.  These beauties each weigh more than a pound each.  They are textbook specimens of their species.

We've been studiously following the Atkins low carb diet for the last couple of weeks.  However, the Atkins diet is out the window tonight.  How often do you get a chance to wolf down a Genuine Idaho #1 Potato fresh from the field a day after it was dug?  Well, not real often, we can tell ya that for sure.  So, to heck with the low carb diet, Spud City, here we come!  Think real butter.  Think sour cream. Think fresh green onions.  Think a hot potato baked to perfection, steaming in the evening light.  Ah, think bliss--that's what an Genuine Idaho #1 Potato is all about.

Many Cheers!  jp

Sa it ain't so

In honor of the last day of summer...and also so I could cross something else off the checklist...we dug out the slumbering snow blower, gave it a good once over and fired the dormant little puppy up.  We even spun the blade and kick up some grass clippings just for grins.  It's not often you get to catch a glimpse of a real snow blower with flowers in the background.  Nope, these infernal machines are equipped to stand by for only one task--ripping into newly fallen snow while flinging it far and wide and usually in your face, too.  This machine could be a primary icon of why we look forward to heading to Arizona before the snow flies.

Last Day of Summer

On one hand, we're sad to see summer go.  On the other hand, we're danged happy to welcome fall.  Perhaps it's a glass "half empty" or "half full" kind of thing.  Anyway, we plan to max out the fabulous weather we're having right now.  It really can't get better than this. The high temps are in the 70's and the lows have been in the upper 30's.  It's expected to warm a wee bit in the next few days so we might have low 80's and low 40's for our daily temps for about a week.  As we've noted, fall is very short-lived here.  You can pretty well count on nasty weather showing up by Halloween.  Most locals swear that it's local tradition for trick-or-treaters to suffer through biting cold, high winds and a spit of rain on Halloween.  Generally, that's the way it works out.

One rally glaring gap on our annual bucket list is the complete lack of  "paddle time" this summer.  We had several days of "paddle time" in Arizona but nary a nano-second so far this summer up here in river-rich Idaho.  There's clearly something wrong with that picture.  Hopefully, we will deploy at least one boat on the John's Hole pool before the cold winds begin to blow.

Susun went on a tear here yesterday--she worked for probably ten total hours and that's AFTER she went to the athletic club.  Yikes!  Her biggest accomplishment was sealing the courtyard fencing.  Man, she really dove into that tough task with gusto.  She was still working inside the house when I returned from the shooting match at 8 pm.  Amazing tenacity, Susun, way to GO, Girl!

Speaking of the shooting match, my time last night of 106.18 seconds was good enough to rank 14th out of 21 shooters.  Neighbor Bill S. had an amazing number one overall time of 59.05.  He was incredible to watch last night.  I hadn't practiced or shot with the pistol I used for 3 weeks and it sure showed.  Practice pays off.

Speaking of practice, Houn' Dawg and I had some fine practice time on the Pinecrest chipping range.  DR & LBR Terry M. and I will meet at 10 am this morning to play the short house at Sand Creek.  We'll see if any of yesterday's practice pays off.  Our other golfing pard, Carrie, is in the morning paper once again--this time in connection with her debut as a regular contributing columnist.  She and her husband, Jerry, carry on a light-hearted repartee between a country boy and a city girl.

Spudboater is back from MOAN Country and gifted this blog with several comments during the overnight interlude.  Thanks, SB.  Wayne Ranney is back from a 10-day Colorado River trip through Grand Canyon and now he's off again on a Rim-To-Rim hike.  He's a real Energizer Bunny apprentice.  Heck, Wayne could teach the Energizer Bunny a trick or two.  Maybe he could even give seminars on how to BE an Energizer Bunny.

Susun has switched her Habitat volunteer to Thursday so she's off for four hours of service in the ReStore this morning.

Well, that's all folks.  Have a great end-of-summer day and Many Cheers, jp

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Check List Frenzy Continues

Yesterday we were able to check a dozen items off our travel prep list.  We expect about the same amount today.  For some odd reason, our intuition is yelling at us to get teh whole checklist done by the end of September or early October at the latest.  Who knows why?  Guess we will find out.

We will be taking a break today to meet up with Houn' Dawg at the Pinecrest chipping range.  Today we plan to go to the far side and use our nine irons across that 100-yard grass expanse.  The weather was exquisite yesterday and should continue that way for the remainder of the week.

Susun spent the morning at the dentist.  Ohm what fun, eh?  She is getting back into going to the APPLE Athletic Club so that's a good trend.  Little Yonni continues plugging away on the tread mill.  Speaking of exercise equipment, does anyone remember the appearance of the old Nordic Track ski machine way back inn the dim reaches of history?  I can't remember but I think they were introduced in the 1970's perhaps.  They were all the rage back then--the pre-cursor of the birth of the exercise machine industry.  I remember sleek and lithe men and women skiing their way to total fitness on the archaic machines.  As I recall, they were wildly expensive--costing hundreds of dollars.  Well, we have one down in the basement--one of the earliest antique models--that we've never used in the four years we've owned it.  We put it on Craigs List yesterday fro $25 and haven't had a nibbler.  Therefore, it gets donated today to the Habitat Restore.  Apparently, people who go to the Restore have a fondness for antique Nordic Track machine--Susun says they have sold four of them this year. Go figure.

When Gary W. visited here in August, he brought along a big supply of unique and hard-to-find first aid supplies for our kit.  Yesterday we finally upsized the first aid kit into a larger box and added all of Gary's gracious contributions.  Gary sent along some photos of his Sawtooth hike.  We thought some of our LBRs might enjoy seeing just how heavily he was packed for that arduous adventure.  The photo below Gary shows a typical area in which he hiked. THANKS, Gary!

Have a great day & Many Cheers!  jp

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Post Office Boxes

Tonight over dinner we engaged in a spirited conversation about how many Post Office Boxes we have had and where they were.  Whew, it was an exhaustive subject and left us both worn out while picking at our righteous repast.

Here's our Postal History from the early 1980's onward.

I remember renting a PO box at Grand Canyon in maybe 1983 or thereabouts.  I think it was Box 1023.  NEMAC and I were somehow involved in something resembling a business back then and I thought a Grand Canyon address would be really cool.  I will never forget NEMAC hitting to roof about having a PO Box a 3-4 hour drive round trip away from our homes.  Oh well, live and learn.

I think we had a PO Box in Flagstaff for awhile but I can't remember any details about it.

Somehow we wound up down at Brown Springs Ranch in 1989 and I think we had a Camp Verde Post Office Box then.  Details escape me.

I remember getting PO Box 542 in Rimrock back in the dim reaches of the 1980's.  I remember asking the Postmaster Manny Ulibarri is he had something better than 542 and he said, "How about Post Office Box 3?"  We had Box 3 there from the late 1980's until 2006.

Sometimes we would have people ask, "Well, how many people live in Rimrock, five?"  For some reason, having PO 3 caused a lot of metropolitan phone people to think we lived in the Middle of Absolute Nowhere.  Come to think of it, I guess we did actually live in MOAN Country,  Oh well, live and learn.

 One day a few years after I got the job as a Conservation District Director, I realized PO 505 was open in Camp Verde.  I rented it on the spot.  Everyone else associated with the District said WTH about that box.  I was so happy to report it was the same as the Nazi submarine U-505.  The impact of that coincidence was totally lost on them.

We almost bought 80 acres near Dove Creek, Colorado in the mid-1990's.  By some fluke, we actually were able to rent PO Box #1 in Dove Creek.  Thank Heavens we never had a need to actually USE that box.  What a fiasco that whole gig would have been.

One summer, I think it was 1999, we spent most every weekend in Monticello, Utah.  Naturally, we rented a PO Box there.  back in the Good Ol' Days before 9/11, it was easy to rent a PO Box.  Pretty much all you needed was a smile and a check for a few bucks.  Back in those days I think the annual rent for a small box was less than $10.  Well, it ain't that way no more!

In the Year 2000, we had a PO Box in Happy Jack, Arizona.  How can we forget that one?

Somehow we wound up with a post office box in Lukeville, Arizona.  Don't ask us how or why but we had one.  That Post Office there was perched right on the international border and it was truly weird.

Our first year of volunteering was ten years ago and, naturally, we rented a box in Escalante, Utah. 

Tonight, we debated long and hard about when and where the next one was.  There's been so many of those danged PO Boxes!

One time, for grins, we went to Colorado City, Utah, the place of polygamy infamy, just to see if they actually had Post Office Box 666.  They did have PO 666 and it was vacant--nobody wanted it.  If we could have rented it, we would have. It would have been such a stretch.

We think our next PO Box after Escalante was in Gold Beach, Oregon, when we spent the summer there in 2002.  We kept that box through the year of 2003 for our second summer.  I sure wish I could remember the box number.

In 2004, we got lucky and got PO Box #1 in Clayton, Idaho.  We kept that box number into the year of 2008 when we "donated" it to the Clayton Area Historical Association.  It was a funky PO Box that you opened by spinning an old-fashioned pointer.  Neither of us could ever get the spin-to-open gig quite right so the Postmaster back then, Gloria Coleman, always just yanked out our mail and handed it to us.  She was cool.

Somehow in 2006, we thought we needed a Montana Post Office Box and at that time we were in Salt Lake City visiting BTB,  We went to the Sugarhouse Post Office and somehow rented Post Office Box #1 in Sula, Montana.  We never used it for anything but at least it helped us be able to say we've had three PO Box #1's in our lifetime.  To tell you the truth, I'm still not quite sure where the heck Sula is located.

Well, we wound up with a Post Office Box in 2005 in Sanders, Arizona and then one later in nearby Chambers, Arizona, too.  I think we got that one in either 2006 or 2007.  The Chambers PO was totally Navajo and it was a real cultural experience going to pick up mail there.

We somehow managed to get PO 3600 in Idaho Falls over the phone long before we moved up here.  I think we snagged that one in 2006 or maybe 2007, who knows?

When we were volunteering for Arizona State Parks in 2007, we had PO Box 442 in Clarkdale, Arizona.  That was a cool Post Office.

Two years ago when we realized we were heading back down to Ol' Airy Zonie to deal with our repossessed home, we rented PO 21583 in Sedona, Arizona.  This spring we decided to change that to PO 144 in Rimrock.

Right now we hold only two Post Office boxes--3600 in Idaho Falls and 144 in Rimrock.

There are probably some other PO Boxes we've had here and there that we can't remember.  This recollection is the best we can do tonight.  Frankly, we're glad we're down to just two PO boxes.  I think at our peak we were managing five of them at once, maybe more, I can't remember.  It was bewildering.  We had more business cards to pass out than we could keep track of.

Well, those Good Ol' Daze of Serial Post Office Box renting are long gone.  Box rental rates are gone sky high.  We're paying $46 a year for the Idaho Falls bax and a princely sum for the Rimrock box, too.  We feel we need those two boxes to segregate our financial paperwork so there's no chance it can get kidnapped.  We consider the cost of our two current boxes to be part of our annual fee of "identity theft protection insurance."  As such, their costs are negligible.

Maybe one of these days we will attempt to make a Google Map showing all the various places we've had PO boxes.  Well, that's our postal story tonight.

Many Cheers, jp

Monday, September 19, 2011

Tomorrow's Blog Post Today

Normally, we get up in the early morning and write a blog post about what we did the previous day.   Today, we're jumping the gun so we can get jump start tomorrow.  We have been faithful to our once-a-day session on Ye Ol' Tread Mill.  Sometimes we even go twice a day.  That's what we want to do tomorrow--go once early and then another time in the late afternoon.

We're progressing right along with the treadmill.  At the risk of producing protracted Garfield ZZZZZ's, we will tell you a little bit about it.  We start out at 2.5 miles per hour with a zero percent grade.  Each minute we increase the gradient by one percent until at the 15-minute mark we are at a 15% grade moving 2.5 miles per hour.  Then we increase the speed by increments up to 4.0 miles per hour.   When the speed gets close to 4 mph, I have to cut the grade back a little.  I can barely handle 4 mph--it feels like running to me. I try to keep my heartrate in the 130 range but it gradually works its way about 140 and I always cut back when it touches 150.  After the 25 minute mark, I cut back and kick down the gradient and the speed and try to have my heartrate under 100 at the 30 minute mark.  I'm usually strolling along at zero percent grade and 1.5 miles an hour as the workout ends in the cool down phase.  Trust me, that tread mill gets me sweating like...well, we will spare the analogies.

Anyway, I've joined that SNAP outfit and am paid up until November 1st so I want to max it out.  The goal is to be in tip top hiking shape when we leave here.  In past years, we've always used actual hikes to get into hiking shape.  That takes awhile--generally a week or two to get our hiking legs back.  Hopefully, the treadmill will be a great surrogate for actual hikes.  Susun went off to the Apple Athletic Club this afternoon.  It's a real athletic club and quite the Hoi Polloi place, actually.  It's a place to see and be seen.  SNAP, by comparison, is a Ghost fitness club.  I'm usually the only one there and the most people I've ever seen there was a grand total of 3.  APPLE probably has over a hundred people on the premises at any given time.

We took off early this morning to Pokey.  That's everyone's Eastern Idaho slang for Pocatello, a city named for a prominent Native American Leader (AKA: Chief).  We often wonder if Pocatello's peers called him Pokey, especially when he got old and slow.  We'll never know.

Susun has been in need of new eye glasses for quite some time.  We've been customers of America's Best since the mid-1990's.  You can get an eye exam and two pair of lined bi-focals out the door for a little over a hundred bucks.  Today she paid extra for prescription sunglasses and custom frames and the whole package cost $150 for two pair. That's far less than the same glasses would cost anywhere else.  Over the past more than 15 years, we've saved hundreds of dollars by using America's Best.  It always baffles me why people pay huge amounts for eyeglasses when they can be had for so much less money.

We stayed on a short leash while Susun was in the eye place.  We were delighted to see Harbor Freight moved to new digs in a fancy building on "our side" of Pokey.  Previously, they were as far south as you possibly be.  There's also a new Dick's Sporting Goods store in Pokey.  If you've never been to a Dick's, it's a real high end kind of place and it's definitely NOT a discount place.

After arriving back home from Pokey, we set about doing various stuff to get ready for our Arizona trip.  We renewed out vehicle registrations.  They wouldn't have expired until December 31st but  now is the time to get them freshened.  It's SOOOO much easier than trying to do it from afar.  We quizzed the County Treasurers in both Idaho and Arizona about our property taxes and learned something new.  Here in Bonneville County, you can pay your "estimated" taxes way ahead of time and not be delinquent on any remaining balance until June 20 of the following year!  Not only that but they will sign you up for email reminders just in case you forget.  We are very pleased by that.  Our property taxes here are estimated to be $775.  As far as we're concerned, that's a colossal bargain.  We really get a lot for that paltry payment.  It would take a tome to tell you all we get for that small amount of money.

This is the first place we've ever lived where we actually enjoy paying property taxes.  We always pay them in person so we can tell the County Staff how much we appreciate them.  NO ONE does that and they are always taken aback.  Well, it's true.  We pay much more money in Arizona and receive basically nothing in return for our taxes there.  That's not a political statement--that's just a flat fact.  Paying taxes here is a joy, pure and simple.  Anyway, we're going to be all feng shui with our Idaho property taxes as of tomorrow morning, even though the local statements won't even be mailed until November.

Being the Type A sorts, we've prepared a four page spreadsheet (in 8 point type) detailing all the little nit picky steps we need to take to prep to go south.  We've learned over the years that it pays HUGE dividends to tackle these tasks as early as possible.  You simply can't get in the mentality of leaving stuff to the last minute.  Do as much as you can as early as you can because no matter how much you do far in advance, you are still going to be backed up to the wall a few days before your departure.  It's just the law of migratory travel.

Anyway, there's so many things on that four page list, we calculated we'd have to cross off at least two items a day just to be theoretically even by early November.  While it may seem illogical to be starting this early, we've learned the hard way that it's NEVER too early to begin crossing stuff off the inevitable checklist.

Golf weather beckons this week.  Possibly as soon as tomorrow, we are prognosticated for pristine fall weather conditions and such weather will certainly be here by Wednesday.  Fall in this neck of the woods is brief but it is SOOO Sweet!

Goatherder wrote a blog post today.  It includes a slide show of 97 photos taken by Kate in her trip down to Phantom Ranch in the bottom of Grand Canyon last week.  Very nice pictures.  Congrats, Kate and THANKS, GH!  Click here to read his latest blog post and see Kate's photos.

Spudboater is lost in space someplace down in the wilds of Nevada MOAN Country supposedly in or near the Great Basin National Park.  Wednesday's her birthday.  She's probably humming the intro theme song to Gilligan's Island and wondering how her three hour tour is going to turn out.

Well, we had it all wrong this year on the actual Autumnal Equinox.  It is NOT September 21.  No, folks, here in Idaho it is 3 am Friday, September 23rd.  We figgered you would want to know.

Well, that's all folks, as this spirited session of The Daily News draws to a close.  Have a great evening and Many Cheers!  jp

Six years ago

Today is what a newspaper editor would call a "slow news day."  We've already pretty well covered yesterday's bases.  So, what's a blog author to do this morning?  Ah, we can hark to the Sunday Garfield cartoon and scrape and scrape until we generate some serious "ZZZZ's"!  So let's step into the Way Back Time Machine and rewind six years.  Okie, dokie?

Back in the last half of September 2005, we finished up our second season out at Bowery Guard Station.  Susun made the earth shake under my feet by declaring she was adamant about selling out of Arizona and moving to Idaho.  Once that Girl makes up her mind about a place to live, well you better get onboard or get left behind.  We were none too happy with our situation at Bowery that summer and swore we would never go back.  HA!  There were two more summers there in our future.  But we didn't know that when we drove away from the Upper East Fork as early fall snows capped the surrounding mountain peaks.  We knew we were eventually going to Kamas, Utah, that fall but otherwise we didn't have a travel agenda.  We were simply heading south in the big truck with a pop top camper towing our first Suzuki Samurai.

Since we knew we were going to Kamas, we had already decided to take the back road route through Wyoming's Star Valley.  That meant we had to go through Idaho Falls.  Six years ago, I had a very low opinion of Idaho Falls and wanted nothing to do with the city.  Even the thought of passing through the place put me in a bad mood but there's really no other way to get to Western Wyoming than right through the heart of Idaho Falls.

Sure enough, we arrived in the city's downtown when the weekday afternoon traffic was at its peak.  We hit every stop light red and got lost not once but twice.  My dislike of Idaho Falls reached a much higher level that afternoon.  It seemed like it took forever to find a way out of the confusing streets that often change names without changing directions.  I felt about as claustrophobic here that day as I can ever recall.  Fuming as we finally saw the light at the end of the tunnel on the northeast side of the city, I told Susun, "I'm never coming back to this city and I hope I never see it again."

As LBRs know, the use of the word "never" is very inadvisable as it casts a magic spell over fate and destiny.  Simply put, if you are silly enough to use the word "never," you are 100% guaranteed to do what it is that you swore you would never do.  Perhaps it is a phenomena somehow connected with Never Never Land.  I really don't know but I've seen it happen so often that I am very, very cautions about using the word "never" ever again.  In any event, as noted, I uttered the fateful word "never" about Idaho Falls and was immediately cast into a Ground Hog Day deja vu rewind for day after day after day until we both became completely smitten with Idaho Falls.

Here's how it unfolded.  After finally escaping The City of Confusing Streets, we drove out on US Highway 26 toward Wyoming, not really sure where we were going to spend the night.  As we approached Palisades Dam just past Irwin, we spied a great little campground perched right beside the Snake River below the dam.  That campground had our name written large all over it so we pulled in and found a gorgeous site under a canopy of stately cottonwood trees.  It was a very sweet and charming site.  We actually go to that spot once in awhile to recall the changes that took place there.

Anyway, we made camp and commenced to relax in a pleasant Happy Hour mode.  As often happens our conversation took unexpected and interesting turns. I started talking about my dislike of Idaho Falls and how glad I was to be on the far side of the city.  Somehow the conversation morphed into a curiosity about Idaho Falls.  I even heard myself saying, "You know, maybe I've been unduly unfair to that city.  Maybe we should drive back in there tomorrow and give it a fair shake, what do you think."  Always the optimist, Susun readily agreed.

And so the following morning just about precisely six years ago today or tomorrow, we drove off in our little, slow Samurai to check out Idaho Falls.  That's the day we "discovered" the Greenbelt and the city's awesome library and the charming downtown with the equally charming array of art benches and also Great Harvest bakery where the free bread samples cast a spell over us.  We picked up the obligatory bushel basket of brochures from the Chamber of Commerce and trundled back to Palisades all atwitter about Idaho Falls.  I remember apologizing profusely for giving the city a bad rap.  Somehow we did a total 180 degree attitudinal change in the space of a mere 24 hours.  That's the danger of using the word "never," you know.

As we sat in camp that second evening, we made a decision to really, thoroughly check out Idaho Falls as it just might be the kind of place we might want to live when we moved out of Arizona.  That's where the Ground Hog Day deja vu comes into play.  We drove back into Idaho Falls each day for TEN straight days!
Each day we carried a "hit list" of topics to research, questions to ask, places to go and things to see.  We delved into the inner most workings of Idaho Falls and dug up the most obscure and esoteric minutia about this place than you can imagine.  Day after day we probed the city, its taxes, utilities, crime rates, media (such as it was at the time), and more and more.  Finally, we were so smitten with the place we actually decided to buy a house in Idaho Falls without having even listed our own Arizona property.  That's just how complete of a turnaround we underwent six years ago this week.

We found a Realtor willing to be a buyer's agent.  We prepared a detailed, totally Type A spreadsheet with all of our specific desires for a home here and we actually signed an agreement in the old ReMax office building on 17th Street on our last day in Idaho Falls.  In doing so, we crossed the Rubicon of no return as far as selling out of Arizona and moving to Idaho.  From that day forward six years ago there was never any doubt where we were going.  It was no longer a matter of "if," simply when.

Neither of us will ever forget those ten days at Palisades--they changed our lives forever.  We often wonder how our lives would have unfolded if we hadn't made the fateful decision to give Idaho Falls another chance during our Happy Hour the first evening in that delightful campsite.  Who knows where we would have wound up?

We now look back at the things we once disliked about Idaho Falls and happily call them "creative population control."  If you can't see past the superficial annoyances of this city to grasp its beautiful inner core, then, well, stranger, keep right on moving, ya hear? We hear from passing travelers that Idaho Falls is an ugly city ringed with industrial blight.  We hear disparaging comments about a prominent white building downtown.  We hear about how the streets that change names without changing directions drive people batty.  We hear these things and we smile because we also once felt that way, too.  Luckily, we looked past all those things and found a fabulous place that's easily the city of our dreams--even better than Never Never Land!

After our intense ten-day research project, we headed on out into Western Wyoming and thence down through Cokeville to Evanston and on to Kamas, Utah.  We signed on as volunteers for the Forest Service there and lived in the historic Soapstone Guard Station for two weeks while we wrote a successful grant to build a monument to the CCC on the fabled Mirror Lake Highway.  We lived in a canopy of golden aspens, a true picture postcard place.  However, by and large, despite the beauty of The Soapstone Basin and the Upper Provo River, our conversations always turned to Idaho Falls.  We already missed the place!

After leaving Kamas, we headed down through Heber City and over the hills beyond Spanish Fork to once again perform as Secret Shoppers for the Forest Service.  That's when we were able to thoroughly check out the 100-mile-long Wasatch Plateau and all the quaint communities strung up and down both side of that huge wanderland.  Then we drove on south to Moab to serve as Secret Shoppers for the BLM before heading  through The Navajo Reservation to spend a few days at The Hogans near Chambers, Arizona.  By that time, we were so convinced it was time to leave the Verde Valley, we even rented a post office box in nearby Sanders.

Within two days after arriving home in Rimrock, we had a Realtor visit to begin discussion about selling our place.  But that's edging into yet another story we will tell down the road sometime later.

Six years ago--Palisades Dam--Idaho Falls--Ten Days--fond memories--Many Cheers!  jp

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Doris Meldrum

Doris McCulla was born on January 31st, 1926 and she went to the Great Beyond three years ago today, September 18, 2008.  She was an Awesome Woman, An Awesome Mom and An Awesome Adventurer. Totally AAA+++!
Here she is shown with her Daughter, Susun, on Sedona's Jim Thompson Trail, January 22, 2002.
Thank You, Doris, for being such a Great Inspiration in our lives.  Your Memory will live forever.

My Shooting Pards

This is what we're calling the ICORE Motley Crew as they appeared following the four hour match today.
In spite of their stern faces, they are actually quite a humorous and fun-loving group of shooting pards.

For those LBRs who might be keeping score, I finished #5 in this group today.  Considering that these guys are lifelong shooters, I felt pretty good about a Top Five finish. These guys are Really GOOD!

Garden almost gone

The zucchini came out Friday and their vines went into the trash Saturday.  We placed the squash on Freecycle and a woman hurried here to take them all.  Do you know about Freecycle?  If not, you sure ought to.  Sometimes, there are things you simply can't take to a thrift store--like maybe a open bag of concrete mix, or some leftover boards or maybe some perishable summer squash.  That's when Freecycle shines.  Click here to read the Wiki on Freecycle.   We're Freecycle novices even though we've used it for four years.  DF & LBR Terry M has a Master's Degree in Freecycle, or maybe that's a black belt, who knows?  Anyway, it's a great tool in the arsenal of stuff management.

All that's left in our once glowing garden are the sunflowers, a few hardy corn stalks and one lovely hollyhock.  Susun and I have been debating whether this was our best garden here.  We both tend to think so and a review of previous year's photos tends to buttress our conclusions.

The day seemed to be pretty busy for both of us.  The Farmers Market was its usual delightful self--we enjoyed SOl Rio tacos for breakfast on the nearby park bench alongside the river.  I logged another treadmill session and Susun went out to inspect the Habitat "build site" in Ammon.  Late in the afternoon, I went to the shooting range to practice for this morning's ICORE match.  The group photo above is the motley crew that attended the August ICORE match.  These guys are a lot of fun.  They all know each other quite well and they love to heckle and make fun of each other during an ICORE match.  You go up to the firing line and there is this group of guys standing behind you laughing at you and telling you that you can't hit Jack Stuff. It's adds a whole new spin to "shooting under pressure."  All of these normal looking guys are quite the expert marksmen and you would be amazed at how quickly and accurately they can shoot revolvers.  The two guys on the left in mocking poses are faster than striking rattlesnakes and a whole lot accurate.  They are very impressive to watch in action.

Susun will be going on her Sunday Bike Ride with Dear Friend Teresa.  We wish we could join them but we will be otherwise occupied spinning a wheel of a different sort.  Did you know that revolvers are now called "Wheel guns?"  I sure didn't.  Guess you learn something new every day.

DF & LBR Maggie has returned from a fabulous vacation in Monterrey, California.  Boy, oh, boy, she and Steve have a superb place right on the edge of the coast and they really soaked up all of the ambiance of that trendy locale.  Steve, believe it or not, shot an 88 on the famed Pebble Beach Golf Course.  We had no idea he was that good.  Below is a sunset view from their room.  Way to go, Maggie & Steve...and Welcome Home.
Terry M, Master of Freecycle mentioned above, just send along a reminder to check out the Sunday Garfield cartoon as it is relevant to this scintillating blog here.  Right ON, Terry! (You can click on the cartoon for a larger version.)  Two more notes below Garfield.
While we were writing this blog post, Goatherder sent a note about that human reaction timing site.  He took the test and now rates in the Top 100 users.  His reaction time is less than a third of a second.  Apparently all that time he spends tending goats has made him blinding fast.  Way to go, GH!

Lastly, we wrote a story about the bear below so don't forget to scroll down, especially if you need some "ZZZ's" this morning!

Many Cheers!  jp

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Bearly There

Yesterday marked the annual "Harvest Fest" at the Snake River Landing development.  There were hundreds of people there, perhaps even as many as a thousand...or more.  We were very surprised to see the sprawling, wide array of displays, vendors, musical acts, food service, etc.  There was even a miniature train carrying little kids around.  The Scouts set up teepees and put on goofy costumes attempting to look like mountain men and Native Americans.  Although the parents were quite proud of the Scouts, they looked more like a Saturday Night Live parody than authentic mountain men.

Susun and I milled around amused, amazed and attracted to various displays and vendors.  As we came down the long gauntlet of tents, we were quite pleased to see the Idaho Fish & Game's official Bear Aware outfit fully deployed. Leisje Meates, Eastern Idaho's Bear I &E Technician, held court with a wide array of stuffed bears, plastic and plaster casts of bear tracks, bear claws, bear skins and all things bear.

We have been reading about Ms. Meates for a few years.  She has carved quite a reputation for herself, especially up in Island Park and the Teton Valley.  If there's Bear Action going on in those localities, Leisje will be in the middle of it.  Although she's not law enforcement certified, she's courageous when confronting slovenly vacation homeowners whose garbage attracts bears.  And you all know--a fed bear is a dead bear. 

Susun and I had a great time visiting with Leisje.  She's The Real Deal, as down home, honest and forthright as you would ever hope to meet.  Ask her a question and you're going to get a straight shooting answer that cuts right to the core of your curiosity.  Leisje really helped us hone our knowledge of how to use bear spray.  You'd think it would be pretty simple to use bear spray but it's not.  There's almost an art form to its use and it is a very "nuanced" skill.  Obviously, you have to be fearless to use it in the first place but once you are using it, you better be prepared to use it right or else you're going to be bear brunch and crunch.

We told Leisje about Rachel's bear spray holsters and went home to  grab them to take back for a show and tell.  That's when we asked Leisje to take our photo with one of the stars of her I&E roadshow.  She got a chuckle out of me posing with the bruin.

We asked her about reports we have been hearing about some guy in Driggs who faced down a sow grizzly with two cubs.  She said she sought him out to get his story face-to-face.  She said he was "just a regular guy," not a hunter or fisherman or even particularly an outdoorsman.  He happened to be out walking with his Malamute.  The dog charged what turned out to be a grizzly bear, apparently expecting it to run like black bears do.  Nah, Ma Grizz don't run from no dog.  So, the bear charged this apparently mild-mannered average Joe.  He whips out his bear spray and gives it a wee dose.  The bear retreats but then spins and charges a second time.  Once again, our average Joe gives it a second dose.  The bear spins, backs off and then roars into a THIRD charge!  WOW!  Somehow, this non-outdoorsman must have had ice water running in his veins and nerves of pure stainless steel because he had enough composure to have enough spray left in the canister to give the bear yet one more dose of spray, this time from point blank range in the face.  YIKES!  The third dose did the trick and the bear  turned around, called to her cubs and took off running into the oblivion of nearby willows and brush.  The dog, of course, cowered behind its master all this time with its paws over its eyes.  Incredible story.

Leisje joined us about 25 feet from the stuffed bear in the photo above and made sure we realized the bear could cover that distance in a mere one second.  The human reaction time is slightly more than one second.  I just found an online testing site.  In five tries, my reaction time was definitely OVER one second.  The first try was 1.8 seconds. You can click here to check your own reaction time.  So, the point is that even if you have your bear spray out and pointed at the bear, chances are you won't be able to push down on the trigger until the bear is on you.  That's why Leisje said to give it a two second pulse to put some spray in the air between you and the bear.  Don't wait for the potentially fatal charge--be proactive.  She also helped us understand how to spray into the wind if a bear is charging from upwind on a windy day.  She said you WILL spray yourself but it's better than the alternative and she showed us how to spray while reducing the impact of the spray on our own faces.  She was awesome and, by far, the best bear expert we have ever talked to.  Being Bear Aware is an educational process.  You can't simply read a book or pamphlet or listen to one person.  You need to assimilate a variety of insights and knowledge from diverse sources.  Maybe then, you can get comfortable enough to be "bearly there."

Many Cheers!  jp


The Arizona Centennial stamp was unveiled Friday on the steps of the Prescott, Arizona, Courthouse.  The stamp will be available on Centennial Day, which also happens to be Valentine's Day 2012.  That's Sedona's Cathedral Rock stylized by famous artist Ed Mell.  We've hiked many a time to the little notch between the left and middle monoliths.  Heck, who knows, we might even hike there on Statehood Day carrying a sheet of the stamps.  That would be a cool way to celebrate the Centennial this coming February.  We love commemorative stamps and this one is awesome.  Since they are "forever" stamps, we will probably buy a boatload of them to use over the years ahead.  Click here for a Joanna Dodder Nellans Prescott Courier article on the unveiling.  One of our blog readers, Bill Cowan, is mentioned in the article.

Speaking of Arizona, we'd like to remind our Grand Canyon State readers that Grand Falls is up and running right now.  This would be a perfect weekend to drive out on The Rez to check it out.  The weather should be perfect and the roads should be sufficiently dried out as well.  The flow is about a thousand cfs give or take.
We happened to be reminded of this factoid in a roundabout manner.  We were looking at our blog traffic stats this morning and noticed a referral arrived early today via The Hike Arizona website. That's a blast from the past and a karmic one, too.  Anyway, we went to Hike Arizona check out which page sent the visitor to our blog and it was one on Grand Falls that we posted in 2005.  So, that's what caused us to check the flow at Grand Falls.

Hike Arizona or "HAZ," as it is known played a huge role in our lives from 2002 to 2006.  This week we decided we are going to A) get back in hiking shape and B) hike as often as possible while in Arizona.  In fact, last night, we decided we're going to hike either the Bear or Wilson Mountain Trails within 48 hours of our arrival in Ol' Airy Zonie.  We'd been thinking fond thoughts of HAZ within the last 24 hours and, voila, some stranger shows up on the blog direct from HAZ.  Yeah, that's karmic.

Yesterday was a nice laid back day.  Susun found a different hairdresser and is thoroughly pleased with her new "do."  We worked out on the treadmill for two 30-minute sessions.  Back in high school football days, twice a day pre-season workouts were called "double sessions."  That's what we're now calling our two daily visits to the treadmill.  It's turning out that machine is quite fun and those 30 minutes fly by.  It doesn't seem like drudgery (or is that trudgery?)  at all.

Today's going to be another glorious day. This is the last official weekend of summer.  There's only four more days until the official onset of fall so this weekend is the true twilight of summer's siren season.

A nice thing showed up in the morning newspaper.  The editors decided to do one of those generic "slow news day" articles on what makes Idaho Falls such a special and attractive place.  They touted all the usual suspects such as "great place to raise a family," "low cost of living," and so on.  But the number one thing they featured above and beyond all of the rest was the Greenbelt, stating: "The Greenbelt tops the list of five things that make Idaho Falls a great place to live."  YEA!  That's cool.  We couldn't agree more wholeheartedly.

When we first laid eyes on this city, it was the Greenbelt that cast a spell over our psyches.  We figured any city that would invest as much in a Greenbelt as this one has obviously done was a city that truly cared about "the finer things of life."  If the river banks would have been in a neglected state of shoddy disrepair and disrespect, I doubt we would have given a second glance to this place.  We've coined a saying that "You can judge a city by its library."  The corollary to that saying is "Libraries are like eyes--people say human eyes are the window to the soul--well, a library is a window to the soul of a city." 

Well, 99% of Western cities don't have a great big famous river running smack through the middle of town.  But it's fair to adapt that library cliche to the Greenbelt.  "The Greenbelt is like a human's eyes--it is like a window of the soul of this city."  And , by the way, Idaho Falls has one of the best libraries for a city this size of any other Intermountain West city of a similar size.  It's awesome.

Well, that's all the meandering chatter we have this morning.  Have a great Saturday and Many Cheers, jp

Friday, September 16, 2011

Here Comes Trouble

Oh, oh, here comes trouble!  DR & LBR Gary W. walked over to inspect Second Chance Ranch this morning. He sent an email entitled "HOLY COW!"   The copious rainfall has worked its usual magic and weeds have taken over the place.  We will show only one photo in this blog post.  If you saw the rest of them you might faint and we don't want that to happen.  This is the worst the weeds have ever been, even dating back to when we would leave for the summer to volunteer here and there.  We're not quite sure how to handle this situation.  Obviously, all our chemical spraying was for naught.  Some of the tumbleweeds are so big they are frightening.  Bleak, that's what this is, bleak.  Well, on that nice note, we wish you a VERY HAPPY Friday and MANY CHEERS!  jp

Attack of The Giant Zucchini

The Giant Zucchini crawled forth from their liar this afternoon after a early rainstorm.  They lined up poised to continue their attack on the household kitchen not far away.  Nothing can stop them now!  Yikes--RUN!
 Just how big are these creatures?  Below is a four foot level for scale.  And below that you can see the largest green creature is 18-19 inches from tip to stem.  Who knows how much they weigh?  What are we going to do with them?  Yikes--RUN!

New plans

You know our motto, "Plans are made to be changed."  And so it is with our schedule for travel south.  We've been saying we won't leave until the leaves are gone.  Well, who knows when that will be?  We'd like to have a predictable travel schedule this year.  So, we're going to leave in the first week of November and pay somebody to deal with the leaves in our absence.  If the leaves are gone before then, great.  If not, no problem.  That means we could be leaving as early as the 1st of November but no later than the 5th of November.  Susun is lobbying for the 5th since she wants to drive through the Salt Lake gauntlet on a Sunday when everyone is in church.

Meanwhile, we made some other travel plans as well.  Susun will be spending Thanksgiving with Daughter Sarah and Grandsons Gage and Van.  She will be leaving Phoenix November 19 and returning the Saturday after Thanksgiving, November 26.  Little Yonni will be left to his own devices for both his birthday and Turkey Day.

This morning's Pocatello NWS Discussion contains the following statement:  GARDEN ENTHUSIASTS LOOKING TO EXTEND THEIR SEASON SHOULD PROBABLY BE PREPARED TO COVER SENSITIVE VEGETATION SUNDAY AND MONDAY MORNINGS.  Hum...that sure sounds like it might frost on either or both of those mornings.  So, who knows about the leaves?  We shall see.

It's probably going to rain here today--well, gee, we looked out the window and it IS raining today.  So, it's going to be an Inside Day for sure--no outdoor shenanigans like apple picking or golf ball whacking.  Speaking of rain, Ol' Airy Zonie has been getting really pounded by rain and hail storms.  Flagstaff, for example, has received 3.33 inches of rain since September 1st compared to a normal of 1.30 and last year's paltry total of .30 inches.  Judging from the notes we've received from our Verde Friends, the situation there is probably very similar. Our Arizona place promises to be a tumbleweed jungle as a result.

Well, that's all the new we have this morning.  Have a great Friday and Many Cheers, jp