Tuesday, May 28, 2013

A Marvie Story

A Marvie Story. In 2004, we began our first of 4 summers volunteering at a remote Idaho back country hideaway called Bowery Guard Station on The East Fork of The Salmon River inside the Sawtooth Nat'l Recreation Area.

That's when we first saw "Marvie." It was on or about June 23, 2004, when we were driving downstream on the East Fork.  I saw the 1984 Nissan parked beside the gravel road.  Nearby out in a field was some guy adjusting irrigation pipes.  I jumped out of our government truck and ran sloshing out into the field.  I ran up to the guy and said, "Mister, you don't know me but yo're going to sell me your truck."  The man stiffened up to his full height and tipped back his cowboy hat and looked sternly at me and said real emphatically, "You sure right I don't know you and there's no way in hell I'm sellin' you my truck."

And that's how it started.  And it went on for 9 years!

Marvie, the 1984 Datsun/Nissan kingcab 4x4. was then owned by Marvin Bricker. Marvin is a lifelong Custer County resident who was actually born on The East Fork. By and by we got to know Marvin and began pestering Marvin to buy his truck every time we saw him. Almost nine years have passed since then. Each and every time we've seen Marvin B. we've always said, "When are you going to sell us your truck?" Of course, Marvin was always a gentleman and politely say, "Well, John, I'm never selling you my truck." Periodically, when we'd see Marvin, we'd get excited and say, "Marvin, we had this dream last night that you sold us your truck."

Of course, Marvin, ever-the-gentleman, would tip his cowboy hat and say, "Well, you better stop having that dream, John, it's leading you stray because I'm never selling you my truck."

We kept it up, never failing to pester Marvin as the years went by. It didn't matter when or where we saw Marvin, we'd ask him to sell the truck or tell him about the dream and he would always politely decline.

Back in April, we were camped in Bryce Canyon Nat'l Park's Sunset Campground. We just returned from hiking in the hoodoos when the cell phone rang. It was Marvin. "John, I'm calling to tell you your dream came true and I'm gonna sell you my truck."

WHA-WHOO!!!!! More than 9 years of pestering, pleading and begging paid off! YES!
As soon as we could get situated here in our Idahome, we beat feet to Marvin's Place in Challis, Idaho, 155 miles from here. The truck was everything we always thought it would be and we struck a deal on the spot for Marvin's truck, if he could let it sit for a few weeks until we figured out how to pick up his pick up.

That's why we were in Challis Sunday and yesterday. Our neighbor Kenyon bought two tipis in Challis and we bummed a ride up with him.

So now you know why Marvie is named Marvie and, as Paul Harvey would say, "The Rest of The Story." THANKS, Marvin B. You're a Good Man and we Appreciate You!
Happy Trails! jp

Marvie Meets Annie on Memorial Day 2013.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Holiday Hyper Tents

Just as the swallows return to Capistrano, Memorial Day Weekend sees a Tent-sunami.  Tents seemingly spring from nowhere, looming large in every store.  By definition, small stores sell small tents and Big Box stores sell, well...BIG Tents.

Plus...each and every year the hype that accompanies the latest and greatest MacMansion Tent always seems so over-the-top.  One wonders if ad copywriters begin anew right after Memorial Day to work on next year's Hyper Tent Text.

Let's take a classic example we found today in our local Sam's Club.  Sam's and Costco are renowned for selling the biggest, tallest, widest, longest Hyper Tents practically known to mankind.  The behemoth shown here supposedly sleeps 8.  You can see just HOW it would sleep 8 in the illustration we captured from the side of the box.

Bear in mind the 8 so-called people this tent would sleep can't be real human beings.  Nope, NOBODY sleeps in a tent like these 8 robots all lined up perfectly spaced.  Whoever these 8 tent crash test dummies are, they obviously don't toss and turn; get up in the middle of the night to answer nature's call; or any of the other things real people do when they camp in a tent.

This year, for the first time, we realized that these so-called "capacity" of these Hyper Tents must be determined by Mad Scientists. How else could they squeeze eight dummies into a tent?

Now, it gets even better for this tent.  Supposedly this 14 by 9 Taj Mahal sets up in 60 seconds and the manufacturer dares you to scan their QR code to see it happen on you Smartphone.  Yeah, right.  If you believe that, Buckaroo, you definitely still believe in the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny.

Sixty seconds, my anatomy.  Some people call giant Hyper Tents such as this "Divorce Tents."  No tent this size can be set up without lots of shouting, cussing, arm-waving, and pouting.  Sixty seconds?  Sure, I got a bridge I'll sell ya, too.

Well, what do you expect, it's Memorial Day weekend and we Americans have come to expect hype and hyperbole this time of year.  It's practically an annual rite of passage.
 Sure, we all know we ALL sleep like this, right?
 A six-foot four-inch human can stand upright in this tent.
 Sixty seconds?  Uh, huh.

 No problem, Honey, it sets up in 60 seconds. 
I saw it on my Smartphone.

Tent capacity designers at work.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013


My Mom would have loved this photo. We got lucky this morning on our Greenbelt walk and captured these goslings taking a swimming lesson with their ever-watchful Mom.

My Mom loved geese more than words can describe.  I'll never know what it was about geese that evoked such a deep affection for them in my Mom.  She was for years known as "The Goose Lady" to countless people in Lafayette, Indiana.  For more years than I can remember, she would load up the trunk of her car with 50 pounds sacks of cracked corn and go feed the geese.  The poor car was often so overloaded with bags of corn the back end looked like a Mexican low rider.

Mom always called the birds, "My Geese."  Even when they flew overhead, she would point and say, "There go My Geese." She was as protective her "Her Geese" as any real, actual goose is of their babies such as the ones shown here during our morning walk on the Snake River Greenbelt.  If Mom was alive, she would probably blow up this photo into a 20 by 30 poster to put on her wall.  The Goose and The Cat were my Mom's totems.  No words can possibly describe her love of geese and cats.

One year I went back to Indiana and Mom had stopped feeding the geese.  I was shocked.  A couple of days passed before we finally both had the gumption to talk about why she stopped feeding them.  Somehow, someway, someday she had realized she spent $35,000 on corn to feed geese.  Apparently, she realized (correctly) that she simply couldn't afford to feed geese any more.  Whenever I see that famous bumper sticker "We're Spending Our Children's Inheritance," I smile and nod and am thankful Mom stopped feeding the geese while there was still enough money in her account to pay for her funeral.

I am grateful to my Mom for loving "Her Geese."  They were a huge part of her life.  She was One With The Geese for many years.  I will never forget those visual vignettes of her surrounded by hundreds upon hundreds of goose moochers.  Mom always "dressed up" to feed the geese.  She took her best European handbag and wore clothes more suited for a country club than goose-greased grass.

We are blessed to have a thriving population of resident geese here in Idaho Falls.  They do not migrate.  They stay here all year round and enjoy a predator-free island on which to hatch their babies.  The little yellow puffballs are so fun to watch each year.  Back in Indiana we were fond of saying we liked to watch the corn grow.  Here we say we like to watch the geese grow.  My Mom would be glowing with pride and is surely smiling down on these scenes from her final resting place above the clouds.

To see the geese here in Idaho Falls is to forever remember The Best of Times with My Mom! God Bless You, Mom!  I Love You, Mom!

Many Cheers, jp

Asleep at the wheel

Golly, gosh, we sure have been neglecting this blog for the whole month of May.  Guilty as charged!  All of our online efforts have been going into Salmon River News and our twin Facebook accounts.  We've probably put up a combined total of 50 or more posts on those two Facebooks. Meanwhile, even though we've only written 10 articles for Salmon River News, those articles have chewed up great gobs of time.

Once again, we must apologize to our Dear Friends and Loyal Blog Readers for our dereliction of duty here at Live Simple Central.  You've seen this little before and you will undoubtedly see him again.  He's a reminder to remember "I Will Be Good" here on this blog.  Honest.  It's not that we're in the typical "writer's block/slump" phase.  Far from it.  We're churning out all sorts of stuff on a daily basis.  Sadly, none of what we're churning turns up here.

Part of the blame for lack of production on this blog falls squarely on Facebook.  We keep trying to wean ourselves away from Facebook.  The cartoon you see here sums up the whole Facebook thing.  One of the nice things about Facebook is that it is a cross between the chatty length of a blog post and the brevity of Twitter.  Facebook users tend to think in "paragraphs" as opposed to Twitter's 140 characters and a blog's blank palette.  Most Facebook users would be sorely challenged to put together a readable blog post, let alone the 1,542 posts we have written here.

In fact, Facebook users show a marked aversion to "long reads."  A "long read" on Facebook is another more than two short paragraphs.  If you are consistently putting up "long reads" on your Facebook, your so-called Friends will fall away like leaves leaving the tree in a November windstorm.  Consequently, it's always tempting to get on Facebook and put up some little ditty and this or that.  It's so much easier that sitting here to build a decent blog post.  Facebook is very habit forming, so much so you could arguably call it a genuine addiction.

Meanwhile, the Facebook we use to promote Salmon River News actually does its job well.  The website thrives on the attention it gets from Facebook users.  The website and the Salmon River Facebook have a symbiotic relationship with one another.  To make an analogy, think of the Salmon River News website as CNN News and the Salmon River Facebook as CNN headline News.  We can put breaking news on the Facebook and then do a longer more detailed article on the website.  It's working very well and, for better or worse, we are locked into using the Salmon River Facebook forever as a component of our business plan.  (Yes, believe it or not, we actually DO have a business plan.)

Currently, we have substantial backlogs of both posts for this blog and articles for Salmon River News.  One of the reasons we have been struggling to get material posted here is that our mindset is still fixed on our own perceived need to make posts long here.  If we could get over thinking like that, we could get much more material up and running on this blog.  Anyway, it's a challenge that we clearly haven't yet met.

We appreciate your understanding and patience in this situation.  Many Cheers, jp

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Spring Break

We've been on Spring Break with this blog.  Meanwhile, we've been putting huge energy into that Salmon Thang plus the Salmon Thang Facebook, PLUS actually going into the field in Salmon Country.

We're really proud of a couple of thing that happened this week.

First, we started a Peak Flow Contest for folks to guess the peak of The Salmon River flow at a widely-watched USGS gage called "The Yankee Fork."

We had dozens of entrants in the contest and guess, what, we won!  Of course, we're going to have to stay anonymous or else it would be a conflict of interest but, hey, guessing the peak of a huge river is awesome and we're danged proud of it.

Second, we did a photo essay on a very special event that took place May 9th and we got some really special recognition for it from The Idaho Fish & Game Sawtooth Hatchery.  They said, "Here are some great photos of the sockeye smolt release last week. Thank you Salmon River for documenting and sharing!"  That about as much of a compliment as you will ever get from those folks.  I was touched.

You can see the photos to which they refer here:


We're rocking and rolling up here and we just haven't had time for Da Blog.  Note that in our New Year's Day Bucket List we said:

  • Write 300 personal blog posts
  • Write 100 blog posts on the Salmon Thang
  • Write at least 100 posts on other blogs
We are SO Way On Target to meet that goal!

Many Cheers, jp

PS--Be sure to check out Wayne Ranney's four blog posts on his Canyonlands trip:

Monday, May 13, 2013

Mother's Day Bike Ride

We enjoyed our first Sunday Bike Ride of this Idaho Season on Mother's Day.  Here's the link to look at the pictures shown in the screen shot above: http://goo.gl/zMGbI

Note that we have given up trying to use Google's Photo Album feature.  It's far too cumbersome and difficult compared to Facebook's albums.  For many years, Google had the slickest, fastest and best photo album function available anywhere online.  Now? Not so much.  We can get a Facebook photo album up and running and captioned in a fraction of the time it takes to mess with Google's complicated new system.  Somebody at Google apparently forgot the adage "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" and proceeded to totally gunk up what was once an elegantly simple way to present photos.  Sooo...that's why we're posting our pictures in Facebook albums.  So far, we have found no more effective (and free) alternative.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

To Market

Saturdays in Idaho Falls are so much fun.  The day always starts off with a visit to the Idaho Falls Farmers Market.  Even if we don't plan to buy anything, we go to market. We see Dear Friends, we enjoy people watching.  We love all the colors and smells and the visual feast each market creates.  Click here to see 60 photos from today's market.

Heading to Salmon Country

'Tis time once again to head off to The Sawtooths and the headwaters of The Salmon River. This is where modern Huck Finns and Tom Sawyers go to hide out and play.  It's also where Cinderella and Tinkerbell hang out incognito.

So, what's on the agenda and why are we going to Salmon Country?  If you immediately guessed "because of that Salmon Thang website," ya dun good!  Yep, that's the reason we're going up to the river.

We started the website as a result of our May 7th trip last year.  We realized the BLM was probably never going to get its act together to produce the river guide we volunteered to help create.  We also realized the BLM would never be able to provide the type of information people love to read about the river.  So, we launched Salmon River Idaho Dot Net as soon as we returned home from that trip.

In just one year, the website is a huge success.  It recently passed the 50,000 pageview benchmark.  In one year we've posted well over 150 articles and--get this--over 700 photos and graphics!  Meanwhile, on February 6th, we actually started paying Google real money to place our ads for our website onto other people's websites.  Since then we've had over 75,000 "impressions" of our ads on other websites.  We designed the ad campaign to emphasize "impressions" versus "clicks."  We have received nearly 500 clicks--that's actually what you pay for in such an online ad campaign but our cost so far is only about $110.  We're pleased.

Our Salmon River Idaho Facebook has 291 Friends and they are very active in sharing our content.  We've had over a dozen "shares" of the Peak Flow Contest.  We're made some great new online Friends that we are looking forward to meeting in person this year.

When we started this project a year ago, we set modest goals and expectations.  We have far exceeded our original ideas about what might evolve out of this project.  We continue to have two primary purposes for doing that Salmon Thang: A) It's an awesome hobby and B) It's going to get us up to The Salmon River one week each month from May through September.  That means we will have spent up to five weeks in a really great place.

If we were not doing the website, there's a 100% chance we wouldn't be going to Salmon Country Monday afternoon.  Why would we need or want to go when the weather is still cold?  Nope, we'd stay home.  The Salmon Thang is doing its job--it's getting us off our anatomy here and out on the road again, seeing things, talking to people, selling ads, promoting the project and so forth.  It's keeping us totally engaged in Salmon Country and solidifying what has actually become a viable "brand" during the past year.

"Salmon River News" is now well known to the locals from Stanley to North Fork.  We're on their radar.  We're no longer a novelty.  We proved we could stick with it through the winter and produce exciting and educational coverage of the winter ice jams and steelhead season.  That's what it takes to make your name and reputation up in Salmon Country--"sticking with it."  All too many folks are "fair weather friends" of that neck of the woods.  When the snow flies and the river ices over, they don't pay any attention to The Salmon.
We broke that mold and we're earned some well deserved respect for it.

This might sound like braggin' but it's not.  It's just the facts of life up there.  We're pretty danged excited about this project.  Last year this time, we didn't have a clue what to do or how to do it.  We bought a domain name and just plunged in and flailed away, hoping something good would happen.  It did.

This year we have a much better idea of what to do, how to do it, when to do it and so forth.  That's why we're heading north in early May before everyone gets busy with the summer tourism crush.  People will have time to talk now, time to visit--quality time.  The connections we make and renew next week will pay dividends throughout this season and the years ahead.  People need to see your face and shake your hand to reassure themselves you are real and actually care about them and what they do.

Yesterday, we made our new season business cards and the tiny poster-ettes we put on bulletin boards.  We're ready to pin on our name tag, grab a camera, camcorder and computer and get down to business.  A 150-mile stretch of The Salmon River is our "news beat," as journalists are wont to say, and it's the best office we've ever had  We get to roam free range alongside an awesome stretch of one of the largest, last remaining totally free flowing rivers in the Lower 48.

Let the Year 2013 Salmon River Field Season Begin!  WHA-WHOO!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Dugout Dick project evolves

Most of you know we've been digging deep into Dugout Dick for a full year, beginning May 8th, 2012.
Well, some of it is coming to fruition in a month.  Here's the event program.  We will tell the full story in a separate post.

Thursday, May 2, 2013


Click the panorama above for a larger version.
Our PFC is definitely NOT a "Private First Class."  Nope, our PFC stands for "Peak Flow Contest."  We drummed up the idea just about as soon as we arrived here in Idaho.  We had it up and running by 8 am on May Day.  Now, about 1.5 days later, our First Annual PFC is off to the races.

What you see in the panorama photo above is an awesome place.  It's the confluence of The Yankee Fork and The Salmon River at Sunbeam Village, just below the infamous, defunct Sunbeam Dam.

Our PFC is to guess when the flow peaks at this very spot.  The USGS gauge is perhaps 200 yards downstream so this is where the pedal hits the metal for The Upper Salmon River.

We made a great webpage describing how to enter the PFC and added all the data anyone would ever need to use to make an educated guess.  We guessed midnight May 14th.  This morning, the average May guess was May 22.  New entries have probably pushed that back toward May 19-20.  We will do the math tomorrow.

Here's the webpage:  http://www.salmonriveridaho.net/2013/05/first-annual-peak-flow-contest.html

So far in 36 hours, we have a couple dozen entrants.  It's gonna be interesting to see how it all shakes out.

BTW, here's another fun post on Sunbeam Dam: http://www.salmonriveridaho.net/2012/06/sunbeam-dam.html

And, just for grins, here's a link to two old photos of Joshua W. and me running Sunbeam on June 17th, Father's Day last year (2012): http://www.livesimplecaremuch.com/2012/06/happy-summer-solstice.html

Many Cheers!  jp


Susun's finally getting an evening of relaxation.  We've both been on a Fast Track for what seems like weeks.  It's great to see her kicking back in our living room, reading "The Post-Register" by the low angle, late rays of an early May sunset.

Idaho Gives

There was a huge coordinated, statewide "giving day" today here called "Idaho Gives." You can click here to check it out.   We think the goal was to raise $500,000 statewide and they are pretty close to the goal.

Anyway, Susun and a co-volunteer, Kathy, womaned two tables at Lowe's here in Idaho Falls from 10-3 today on behalf of Habitat for Humanity. Susun actually volunteered a few additional hours getting ready and then derigging the setup.  The duo didn't raise much money, perhaps $79, but they had a good time an d it was a perfect day for sitting out in the sun.  Not too hot and not too cold.  Thank You, Susun for volunteering for Habitat for Humanity.  We all appreciate your service!

This Bud's For You

We posted up 8 photos of trees budding on our Facebook.  

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Eagles

We come back home to The Eagles as one returns to Hotel California.

"Last thing I remember, I was
Running for the door
I had to find the passage back
To the place I was before
"Relax, " said the night man,
"We are programmed to receive.
You can check-out any time you like,
But you can never leave! "

Our Eagles here in Idaho Falls are part of our Heart and Spirit!  They welcome us back as much as we welcome seeing their beauty and grace.

May Day

What does May Day mean to you?  It would be most interesting for our DF & LBRs to comment on that question.

For us, May Day is a mish-mash of images, messages and a sense of time and place.  We can pretty much remember where we were and what we were doing in early May for our entire life.

May Day is also very political.  We grew up with the scary USSR May Day Parades.  The specter of those parades still sometimes invades our nightmares.

May Day before The Cold War was all about girls and boys spinning around the May Pole.  April Showers brought May Flowers.

May 6th was my parents wedding anniversary and also the date of my first wedding.  There is always such a special excitement building as the Month of May Dawns.

Finally, I think of the "May Day" calls sent out by so many sea-faring people, aviators and others who use 'May Day" only in case of dire emergency.  The juxtaposition of the frolicking May Day with the 911 May Day and the USSR May Day is so wild.

Today has been a great and wonderful May Day for Susun and I.  We spent $350 totally rejuvenating the giant 34-inch-wide radiator of The Big Green Truck.  We met with Roger Plothow about Dugout Dick.  We visited the Hilda Garden and The Falls for the first time since our return. We took photos of the largest bicycle shop we have ever seen on Earth. Susun toured the new Habitat for Humanity building.  We tricked $4.97 out of K-Mart.  We talked with Dear Friend Terry Miller who just came back from a tip-toe-through-the-tulips holiday in Holland.  All-in-all, it has been a splendid May Day this year.

We are very happy our Idahome is in tip top shape to celebrate May Day!