Thursday, July 25, 2013

Speaking of Habitat

Here's a great photo Susun took of Bike 2 Build for Habitat For Humanity today.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Volunteer Of The Year

Hooray for the Idaho Falls Habitat For Humanity Volunteer Of The Year 2013--Susun McCulla! We are SO Proud of You, Sweetie Susun! You sure deserve this recognition. Thank You for Your Faithful & Dedicated Service to Habitat.

Susun was surprised with the Award tonight at the annual Habitat Volunteer Recognition Picnic & Chukars Ballgame. AWESOME!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Bucket List Update

(Updated 7/17/13) On January 1st this year, we printed our bucket list on this here blog. We're going to update our progress frequently as the year progresses.

Year 2013 Bucket List

Day Hike More Often w/Susun
Play more cribbage, croquet & darts w/Susun
We've done real well increasing the number of times we play cribbage.  We only play darts in Arizona and we did well at that earlier this year.  So far, no croquet.
Improve bowling avg. to 150
Play golf at least 20 times
This one is a bust.  We've played one round of golf.
Camp at least 50 nights
This 50 night gig is pretty ambitious.  Looks like 40 nights is more likely than 50.
Visit Salmon Country at least four full weeks (28 days)
This goal is no longer operational.  We're spending  a lot of time on Road Trips this summer. We have 10 days up there, so far--might get to 14, maybe higher and that will be it for the year.
Camp at Riverside at least three times
We're only booked for twice this year and that's going to be all there is.  Still, 66% success rate ain't bad.
Drive The Reclamation Road both ways
Visit Ken & Julie's cabin.
The above two goals look doable this year.  Better get crackin' on 'em!
Visit Heather's Place at least twice.
Went twice--June and August.
Write 300 personal blog posts
Write 100 blog posts on the Salmon Thang
Write at least 100 posts on other blogs
As of July 1, we thought this goal would be doable.  That's no longer the case.  Chance are the annual total will be about 300 posts and definitely NOT 500!
Drive the Pass Creek-Double Springs loop

Explore and camp in Sawmill Canyon

Drive the Antelope Pass-Copper Basin-Trail Creek loop
This remains.
Do at least three overnight backpacking trips
Not happening.
Explore Italian Peaks area.
We came rather close to the Italian Peaks on July 14.  We'd like to get back.
Journey to the geographical Center of Idaho
Once again, it's not looking good for this goal. (Update 7/1--NO , this ain't gonna happen!)
Kayak or raft Snake River Canyon
We would not even consider this until later in the summer.  As of July 17, we'd say "no chance."  We're much more interested in Road Trips than River Trips this year.
Float South Fork from Palisades to Byington Bridge
Highly unlikely
Drive the Arco-Minnedoka Road
The window has closed on this opportunity unless we do it in the fall season.  It's going to get too hot too soon out there on the moonscape.  As of 7/1 it is no longer on the agenda.  Maybe this fall when it cools off.
Explore the area between Kilgore & Rexburg
This is likely to happen now that we have Marvie.
Visit site of proposed Grand Canyon Escalade
We sure hoped it would happen this spring.  It didn't.  We continue to hope it will happen this fall.  Hope Floats!
Visit Grand Canyon for a few days
Nope--didn't happen this spring--Fall will give us another chance.
Hike the Wilson & Bear Mtn. Trails
See above
Drive The Young Road both ways
At least we drove it one way! From what we learned on that trip, there's no way we'd want to drive it uphill coming out of The Tonto Basin.  NO way. So once is good enough.  Now we plan to do it each and every year.
Drive the Perkinsville Road to Williams & back
We definitely did do this one.  It was great.
If you get a Middle Fork or Main Salmon trip, GO!
We didn't get drawn and no one has asked us to go with them.  This looks un-doable.
As of 7/1, it's totally off the bucket list.  Ditto as of 7/17.
Explore Tex Creek WMA in much greater detail.
We will be going back out there for one or two day trips.  It's nice to know that area better.  Our June 30-July 1 trip really helped.
Become much more familiar with Pleasant Valley Country.
Probably not going to happen based on the new areas we have found to explore. Ditto as of 7/17.
Visit Yellowstone at least twice.
We actually logged one trip to Old Faithful and West Thumb. We did get at least to the tourist trap of West Y-stone.  Does that count as a trip?
Continue Grand Teton & City of Rocks camping traditions
Yeah, this one is a no-brainer.  Yes, we would continue to agree.
Spend a 5 nights at Bryce Canyon Nat'l Park
We logged three nights there this spring. If we don't get back again in the fall at least we batted .600 on this Bucket List item.
All-in-all, so far, not bad.  We have a lot of work to do to keep our noses to the Bucket List Grindstone.  Bottom Line--Don't Sit Still!  Get OUT!  DO MO, SEE MO!  Get out on the highway looking for adventure and whatever comes your way.  You can't live a Bucket List by sitting at home.  May Your Own Bucket List overflow with success, Happy Trails and Many Cheers, jp

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Mid-July Road Trip

We enjoyed a wonderful overnight campout at the West Yellowstone KOA with some Dear Friends from Arizona.  Afterwards, we headed out into the boonies for a long off-pavement Road Trip filled with delightful vignettes and sparkling memories.

Altogether, the Road Trip spanned 447 miles over a 49.5 hour period.  We posted up 420 photos on Facebook in 9 separate albums.  Each is below as a separate blog post.  Once again, you do not have to have a Facebook account to view these albums.

Some of the albums have captioned photos and some do not.  Each post below has some additional narrative.  We are really enjoying the use of Facebook's photo album functions and features.  For example, one album has 152 photos.  We were able to upload all those pictures in a mere four minutes!  If we tried to do that on Google's Picasa, who knows how long it might have taken.  Picasa is "so yesterday."  Facebook has left Google's photo album functions in cyber dust.
The Arizona Entourage at the West Yellowstone KOA.
Marvie did a splendid job carrying us into and out of a back country Disneyland.
One of the many highlights of the Road Trip--the Bannack, Montana, 1871 Masonic Lodge.

West Yellowstone Chapter 1

Our primary reason for heading north Friday was to meet our Dear Friends from Arizona.  Naturally, our timing was perfect and we were able to be "standin' on a corner" to take their picture as they sped through downtown West Yellowstone.  This album is captioned.

West Yellowstone Chapter 2

Camping in a major KOA was a real "experience."  The mgmt. said the campground would have 1,200 people in it that night.  It's probably close to the peak of the summer season.  We took a ba-zillion photos.  Most are captioned.

Saturday's Road Trip

We had a real off-pavement trip on Saturday--probably driving nearly 150 miles on dirt and gravel.  Marvie is proving to be everything we hoped the little truck would be.  No captions in this album, just pretty pictures.

Bannack, Montana

The ghost town of Bannack, Montana, is preserved and operated by Montana State Parks. It's a real treat. None of these photos are captioned. You all know how much we love old buildings. These pictures are just a bunch of eye candy for people like us who dote on historic structures.

Here's the link to the State Park's Homepage:

Bannack Pass

One of our objectives for the Road Trip was to understand how 1860's wagons traveled from the Snake River area to Bannack, Montana. These photos are captioned and explain that aspect of our trip.

Bannack Masonic Lodge

Susun's Pop, Don Meldrum was a Mason. My Dad was a Mason for a little while. He stopped being a Mason when the Catholics told him he couldn't be buried in a Catholic cemetery if he was a Mason. Imagine that. If you know anything about Masons, you're going to enjoyu this captioned album.

A Dillon Mystery

We were totally perplexed by this sculpture. It's explained in the last photo but please go through the album from the beginning to understand our perplexment.

A Dillon Mystery

Dillon, Montana

We've been wanting to go to Dillon ever since we knew it exxisted. It's kind of strange that it has taken us so many years to get there.

Dillon, MOntana


A few fun wildlife photos.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Top Ten Road Trip Prep Items

From reading our posts, you might think our Road Trips are all "fun & games." Well, yes and no. Lots and lots of prep work go into Road Trips.

We look at Road Trips the same way we have always looked at River Trips.
There's an old, forgotten River Runner Motto, "Prepare for The Worst and Expect The Best." That's that way we rig for Road Trips.

Here are The Top Ten of preparations we deal with for a Road Trip:

1) Stranding. Bottom Line: How long can you be stranded and survive in style? We take this issue very seriously. It is the foundation of our rigging.

2) Emergency! How will we respond to an emergency of our own or someone else's? We spend inordinate amounts of time tweaking our First Aid kit and checking all those items which make emergency response so much more effective. That's one reason we dote on checking our HAM radio and the various repeaters in our Road Trip zone. We do also carry a CB radio as well.

3) Food & Liquids. There was once an old saying that "an army travels on its stomach." This is so true with our Road Trips. If we don't have an alluring, attractive, "river-trip-style" diet, our Road Trips would come to a quick and unceremonious end.

4) Maps & Navigation. Our Road Trip "Map Case" typically puts our travel zone into what Pro Football guys call "double coverage." We typically have twice as many maps onboard as anyone would think we'd need. We now also roto-root our GPS and clear the decks for each new Road Trip.

5) Vehicular Prep. In this case, we're traveling in Marvie. Marvie has just had about everything replaced we can think of to replace. We've even had the front end alignment triple checked. We're so Type A when it comes to Vehicular safety, it's borderline ridiculous. We carry two spare tires, three jacks, two manuals and more danged tools and so forth than you can possibly imagine. Only a Total Truck Geek could appreciate the various gear we carry.

6) Camping Gear. If Sweetie Susun's not happy on a Road Trip, then that trip is an abject failure. We go out of our way to make sure we have EVERYTHING to make any given camp a Happy Camp.

7) Rain Prep. Into every life rain will fall. Rain seems to be attracted to Road Trips. Trust me, we are TOTALLY rigged for rain. If you can't meet rain mano y mano on a Road Trip, you really shouldn't be there in the first place.

8) Documentation. Yeah, we carry way too many cameras, video devices and so forth--sometimes even one or two computers, too. If you can't document what you did (and why) then your Road Trip really didn't exist. Remember the old "If a tree falls in a forest..." routine.

9) Entertainment. Yep, we both crave some entertainment on a Road Trip. It can be as simple as a cribbage board or as complex as a remote XM radio setup. It all "just depends."

10) Natural and Cultural History. We love knowing the history and human and natural culture of the area through which we pass. We try to study up as much as possible on all those aspects both Before we depart and After we return. For example, this Road Trip will take us through probably at least six different wolf pack territories. We know one of those packs is called "The Four Eyes" pack. We're going right through The Four Eyes Pack territory. We've been "jonesing" to be in "Four Eyes" wolf country for a long, long time. This is really exciting for both of us.

Well, that's the Top Ten of Road Trip Prep. Thanks for reading. Many Cheers, jp

Long Road Trip Ahead

 We're heading to West Yellowstone today to meet with Susan Kliewer, Kate Wheeler and their entourage.  They have three RV rigs traveling in a caravan.  After we spend tonight with them we are heading out via back road to Dillon, Montana, and then via even more remote back country routes along The Old Bannack Road to return. It will be a 400-500 mile Marvie Road Trip.
Here's a bunch of links to features of the area we will be traveling:

here's a bunch of links to various fun stuff along the route:

Big Sheep Creek Nat'l Backcountry Byway

Bannack State Park

The Old Bannack Road

Red Rocks NWR

Elk Lake Resort

Centennial Range

Snowcrest Range

Gravelly Range

Dillon, Montana, population 4100.

Riverside Visit #1

Our first visit to Riverside Campground Site A21 was everything we hoped it would be.
Below is a link to an album with over 80 photos.  Little Yonni was a very Happy Bacon Boy!
Here's the link:

Pretty Flowers

Our Wild Flower Season continues!  These were all within 50 feet of our campsite earlier this week.
Here's the full album:

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Proud of Arizona

Old Arizona meets New Arizona.  A Grizzled Arizona Old Timer just happened to be in the right place at the right time today at the middle-of-nowhere Arrowhead Bar & Grill where the Procession took a surprise pit stop half way into their Journey Home to Prescott.  Apparently, Procession officials picked the most out-of-the-way place for a pit stop to minimize the possibility of gawking onlookers and extraneous picture takers.  It just so happened that this Old Timer just happened to have an American Flag on a staff and the Procession essentially descended upon him in the parking lot.  He had been out beside US Highway 89 expecting the Procession to pass him by.  We watched as the helicopter camera following his gimpy, limpy gait alongside the line of parked hearses as he paid his respects to each one in turn..  As far we we could tell, no one spoke to him and he didn't speak to anyone, either. It was a very powerful vignette for us to watch and we are grateful to be able to have captured this screen shot.  Whoever you are, THANKS, Cowboy!  

Watching the Procession live today has been one of the most emotional experiences of my entire life. It spanned nearly 5 hours and put me though the wildest roller coaster of emotions. My tears glands are worn out and running on empty. My Heart has been wrung out repeatedly today like a Yavapai County Cow Camp dish rag.

When the Procession first pulled out of the Maricopa County Coroner's Office, I didn't think I could watch another second. I had to leave the computer. Gradually I came back, peeking at the Procession, a little longer each time. When they turned off I-17 to head to Wickenburg, the outpouring of support there had me sobbing uncontrollably.

Arizona really came together to Honor The Arizona 19. I am so proud of Arizona today. I have no words.

As the procession headed up toward Yarnell Hill, I realized what was happening was a cathartic thing. We were all collectively experiencing a statewide mourning ceremony. We were mourning together...whether we were standing beside the road or watching people stand beside the road didn't matter. We were all in this one together, totally united, totally One Heart.

In my 34 years in Arizona, I've never experienced anything like this before.

As the procession wound its way through that impossibly twisted highway between Yarnell and Prescott, "The Long and Winding Road" by The Beatles played in my head, as did many other tunes.

By the time the Procession reached Prescott, I could feel an uplifting of my Heart and Spirit. Instead of being depressed and downcast as I have been during the past week, I began to feel restored and reconnected.

In my mind what happened here has been an Arizona Wake conducted Arizona Style so that each and every one of us could confront the meaning of this Arizona tragedy in both our own terms and together with our Fellow Arizonans.

You see, today we were ALL Arizonans! No matter where our Home is located, each of us lived today as an Arizonan.

Today's Honoring of The Arizona 19 represents to me a Shining Diamond in Crown Jewels of Arizona's Illustrious History. Today, Arizona rose above and beyond and lifted The Fallen Fire Fighters To The Stars and the Heavens Beyond for The Blessings they so Truly Deserve.

I have never been prouder of my State of Arizona than today.

God Bless each and every one of you who made this wonderful moving Memorial possible. You have all made history. You have all brought respect not only to The Arizona 19 but to the Legacy, Tradition and Honor of The Great State of Arizona.

Friday, July 5, 2013

July 4th in Review

Here's 16 photos of our July 4th.

NOTE:  Somehow the photo becomes black-and-white even though it is clearly a color photo on my computer.  It must be something that Blogger is doing--it certainly isn't me doing it!

Thursday, July 4, 2013


Here's the position of the story on the July 4th front page.
Here's the July 4th article
Below is the July 3rd article:

City to try to relocate geese


The Idaho Falls greenbelt soon could see fewer geese along the Snake River if a proposal to remove some of the waterfowl moves forward.
Parks and Recreation Director Greg Weitzel said a Parks and Recreation Commission discussion about relocating the geese to a wildlife management area about 100 miles away is in the preliminary stages.
The commission briefly discussed the idea Monday.
It won't be clear where, when or whether the birds can be moved until Weitzel receives a report on the proposal from the Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services sometime this week, he said.
"I love the geese," Weitzel said. "I think that 50 geese are nice on the greenbelt; 500 geese, however, are not."
Weitzel plans to brief the City Council on the proposal, as well as a city ordinance banning residents from feeding the birds, at the council's July 11 work session.
Time is of the essence to move the birds, assuming the proposal is accepted by the council, Weitzel said, because the geese are molting and could not fly back.
Adult geese lose some of their wing feathers during the molting season, which takes place from early June to July. They are unable to fly during that period.
Commissioner John Parsons said the July 1 meeting was the first time the proposal had been introduced to the panel.
Parsons called the idea of removing the geese an "ill-advised misadventure" because so many residents enjoy the wildlife in Idaho Falls.
"I personally enjoy the geese very much," he said. "We moved to this city, in part for the greenbelt and the geese there. They're wonderful creatures."
Weitzel said the proposal was necessary because of overpopulation issues and the mess the birds leave behind.
"You can't even walk around down there," he said. "It's such a mess everywhere. We have to pressure wash and rake it off in preparation for July 4. With 500 geese in that small of an area, we have overpopulation concerns, which lead to disease.
"It's harmful for the landscaping, the water, the kids playing down there, and the physical damage is there, too."
Reporter Christina Lords can be reached at 542-6762.
The Canada goose
Geese eat 1 to 5 pounds of grass per day.
They produce about 1 to 2 pounds of waste per bird per day.
Adult geese average about five goslings per year.
The birds mate for life and stay together throughout the year.
They're federally protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
Source, Take Flight Goose Management LLC
Here's a sidebar story from July 4th.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Sunday Camp @ Calamity

Every Road Trip brings a New Awareness--a New Realization--A New Life Chapter--A New Zen is Now!  Perhaps that's why we love real Road Trips so much.  They are the essence of personal growth and expansion.  Not only are you moving through Space & Time & Landscape & Topography & Geology & Hydrology & History & Culture & Pre-History & Biology & Ecosystems Galore & Strange Things & MUCH MORE, You are actually growing and expanding, too.

How good is that?  Very good!  Our Road Trip Sunday-Monday was short but Very Sweet.  We learned so many new things and had so many awesome awareness changes.  One such change took place at Site C7 in the Calamity Campground on Palisades Reservoir.  This is our new "GO TO" spot.  You can expect to see us cocooned up here (or at adjacent site C8) at least once each year for the rest of our ambulatory lives.
One VERY Sweet Tent Spot!
One Very Sweet Sweetie in one Very Sweet Spot!
Here's Your Sign.
Indeed!  This site ROX!

Caribou Range Road Trip

We had a great Road Trip June 30 to July 1.  Here's the photo album.  There's a separate set of photos of our camp Sunday night and a couple of other albums "in the works."  You don't need to be a Facebook member to view this album:

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Vehicular Summer

Not long before we headed north this year, I told Susun, "This is going to be a "Vehicle Maintenance Summer."  We've repeated it often enough to morph that sentence into a "Vehicular Summer."

It seems as if we've connected a large hose to our checking and savings accounts and we are simply hosing money at each of our vehicles with not end in sight to the cash outflow.  It seems that our five vehicles are like a bunch of baby robins in the nest begging for food from Ma and Pa Robin.

A hundred here, a hundred there adds up real fast, especially when you throw Marvie into the mix.  Counting purchase price and so forth and we're up to $2,000 into Marvie.

Snappy's off at the mechanic's today awaiting an assessment.

Meanwhile, we still haven't got Samantha started.  She's been the ultimate Garage Queen, sitting in stately repose in the same spot since last November.  The whole fuel pump issue became so frustrating back in May, we threw up our hands (and tools) and decided we'd rather mess with Marvie than Samantha.

And, meanwhile, Annie just sits out in the backyard grinning from headlight-to-headlight.  For whatever reason, Annie's gas mileage plummeted this year.  Maybe "dropped off a cliff" would be a better word.  With the proper driving, it wasn't that long ago when we could get 14 mpg out of Annie even with the camped mounted onboard.  Now 8 mpg is lucky.  Trust me, 8 mpg is intolerable and, if we can't elevate the mpg, Annie better start worrying about finding a new home pretty pronto!

SuziQ has so far been our most reliable and least cash consuming vehicle but we know certain maintenance needs are ticking inside the little Samurai, waiting to explode soon into a cash-sucking black hole.

The trouble with vehicles is that they are really expensive these days.  Any of you who have priced late model or (God Forbid) NEW vehicles knows what we are talking about.  Vehicle prices are astronomical.  It's not at all uncommon to see new truck prices pegged at or above $50,000.  When you look at used vehicles prices on the street-side lots, seeing $15,000 10-year-old trucks is commonplace.

The idea of buying anything decent for $2000 that doesn't need a ton of work is laughable.  Therein lies our problem and why it is that we are locked up in a "Vehicular Summer."

What would be better?  Would it be better to put the money into vehicles we know and trust or would it be better to buy a totally unknown vehicle and wait for the shoe to drop.  It's simply not worth the risk of buying yet another unknown vehicle.  We might as will fix and keep what we have.

Note that Marvie wasn't truly an "unknown vehicle."  We watched it for 9 years before acquiring it.  That makes a difference.

So, we gleefully continue to pour money into our vehicles.  Oh, what fun.

Snappy for example, could have a lot of life left with an investment in maintenance.  What do you expect for a truck that has a quarter million miles on it?  Bottom line, though, is that the truck will outlast our own lifetimes so why not fix it?  We could probably sell Snappy to the Mexicans here for $1500 or more.  Mexicans love Old Nissans.  Heck we might even get $2000.  But what can you get for $2000?  I know we couldn't get even half the truck we already own for $2000.  It's crazy in the vehicle market now.  The soaring cost of new trucks has made any old decent, workable truck worth a lot of money.  Amazing but true.

We are going to sell Samantha after we get her running.  This is the Samurai we bought from Natalie a couple of years ago.  We're going to sell it for what we have "in it."  we need the garage space and it's time to reorganize the fleet.  Our Vehicular Summer continues.

Well, enough whining and moaning about vehicles!  Many Cheers, jp

Monday, July 1, 2013

July 1st

What can you say about the 19 men who died June 30th?  What is there to say?  Where are the words with which to say or write something?

We returned from a glorious Road Trip this morning only to read the news.  We were devastated.  Shocked.  Stunned.  Speechless.

We have been quiet all day today. It is such an enormous tragedy of such epic proportions that we can't really grasp it yet.  It's too early somehow to comprehend.  All those questions of "Who, What, Why, Where, When and How" rattle 'round our brain like an empty litany.

What does it matter? They are all dead.  Yes, somebody, someplace, somehow will eventually tell us how it happened in a 400 page report.  There will be the inevitable investigation.  Experts will sit at a table and intone many technical terms.  But they are dead and gone and no amount of rehashing the event will bring them back.

So why are we writing this?  Death is not kind.  Death does not make appointments.  Death does not care whether you think it's your time to go.  Death has it's own agenda.

When such a tragedy happens, it makes us think a lot about Death and The so-called "Meaning of Life."  What, afterall, is life all about?  Is it about charging full bore into the face of raging flames against all odds?  Or is it about carefully plodding along only to meet Death at the least expected, most inopportune time?

Whence and wither will Death come to each of us as it is wont to do?  We know not.  Mostly, we fear not.  We forge ahead, mostly oblivious to the inevitable, thinking perhaps we might be The First Lucky One to Live Forever and Dodge Death's skeletal Grim Reaper Face.

We think of those men, some merely 21 years of age who perished Sunday evening.  Did they arise Sunday morning thinking it would be their last day on earth?  No, we can practically guarantee you not one of them thought that thought.  They had a job to do and they planned to go do their job.

But by sundown Sunday, they were all dead.  That's the way Death Deals it's Deadline.  Like it or not, when it's your day to die, you go forward into the great beyond as did your brothers and sisters for the past many millenia.  There isn't anything you can do about it.

I always had this running argument with my late Mom.  Whenever someone would die, she would always lament they "went before their time."  I, in turn, would always reply that they died because "it was their time to die."  She would get really worked up and say it wasn't their time to die-"They died too early," she would say.  I simply said, "The fact they died today proves it was their time to die."

We argued back and forth with the same lines for many years.  I was steadfast in my point and she in hers.  Neither of us gave ground and the argument was never settled when she passed away in December 2011.  I know that My Mom died when she did because "it was her time to die."  I know that when I die it will be "my time to die."

I doubt I will be caught with 18 of my Friends and Brothers in a Biblical conflagration, but I know that I will indeed die.  Whether it will be sooner or later is something only The Almighty God Knows.

In the meantime, I know that I will redouble my efforts to spend each and every day as if it is my Last Day on Earth.  I owe it to my forebears.  I owe it to my Friends.  I owe it to Susun.  I owe it you, Dear Friend.  Expect nothing less of me from this day forward.

We may not arise on any given morning expecting to die by sundown but, trust me, the possibility is ALWAYS there.

If there are things you have been wanting to do--do them.  If there are things you have been wanting to say to someone, say them.  Do not wait until tomorrow because tomorrow may never come.

Live you life to the fullest each and every day.

Yesterday is history.  Tomorrow is the Future.  Today is a GIFT! That's why they call it "The Present!"

Many Cheers Forever!  jp