Saturday, October 26, 2013

Countdown continues

At the time of writing this post, we had a little over 14 hours left before departure.  The last day is always hectic, perhaps too hectic, but there's no way to avoid it.  It is what it is.

Here we are almost to 6:30 pm with substantial tasks still remaining.  And what, you ask, would be a substantial task? 'bout packing all of our electronics and paperwork?  Yeah, those tasks are kinda substantial.

We are still in the process of blowing our pipes.  The city water guy turned off the water at the street at 4 pm today and we've been blowing air into the various hose bibs, faucets, etc. ever since.  The water heater is still draining--that's a process that takes a long time.  We have to run antifreeze through the washing machine pump and then treat all the traps and so forth.  Some will get treated in the morning, some tonight.  It's a long process.  We wish there was a way to shorten and simplify the winterization of the house.  Unfortunately, there's no such thing as a short, simple way to accomplish this vital task.

Before the water went down, we were hustling to get all the chores done that required running water.  Susun cooked dinner and washed everything up so we can simply eat tonight and have no dishes to do.  We pre-ordered a dozen home-made tamales so we have breakfast tomorrow with no muss and no fuss.

Annie and the Skamper are packed.  All our clothes, toiletries, trip food, etc. are all packed.  The Nissan is half-packed.  The Samurai is probably 90% packed.

We taking a big leap of faith on this trip.  We've had a series of vexing problems hitching up the Samurai since last April.  IN fact, there were a few times this summer when we COULD NOT hitch up the Samurai.  We had some work done on the hitch but it has NOT been field tested yet.  So, yeah, we're being optimists on that issue.  We sure have our fingers crossed that it will all work out OK tomorrow morning.

We're getting out of here just in the nick of time.  The winter storm is definitely coming Monday--no doubt about it.  The storm is now also expected to bring some impacts to Northern Arizona--mostly high winds and a little spit of rain.  Snow might fall from 6500 foot up, "might" being the key word.

It looks like we will probably be at Vermilion Cliffs on Monday evening before the full frontal force arrives.  Tuesday and Wednesday look to be very blustery and chilly days--perfect for exploring some of the areas of Marble Canyon, the Navajo side of Lees Ferry and House Rock Valley.  At this point, we're probably going to head down to Rimrock on Thursday or Friday.  The internet gets turned on Friday, November 1st so we might just dilly dally at Vermilion Cliffs and break camp Friday morning to head home on the 1st of the month.  There's a possibility Susan and Jeff might drive up to their cabin to meet us and that would extend our stay for sure.

When the gubmint shut down Lees Ferry there was some talk about trying to access the Navajo side of the Ferry.  We've always thought that was impossible.  Anyway, it will be fun to find out if it's possible.  Also, as you know, Marble Canyon Lodge burned to the ground earlier this year.  We'd really like to find out every possible detail of "whazzup" with the rebuild.

Heck, give us enough time and rope and we might decide to try to get a permit for Coyote Buttes, too.

Well, we have many hours of work ahead of us tonight and in the morning.  We arose at 5:30 am today and will probably get up at 5 am...or earlier...tomorrow.  That's the way it goes when we're doing this semi-annual migration gig.  There's a lot of work to be done and there's simply only ONE WAY to deal with it: JUST DO IT!  Of course, we both know the clock doth ticketh on us and we both know the longer we dilly dally tomorrow morning, the more traffic will be on the NASCAR track through the Salt Lake City Gauntlet.

It's a fine line we tread the day before our departure south each year...a fine line, indeed.

We will write up another summary tomorrow before the last minute frenzy ensues.

Thanks for reading.  Many Cheers, jp

Friday, October 25, 2013

Travel Weather

The red "X" marks today's location of the low pressure that will be affecting Utah next week.  Obviously, there appears to be a significant amount of water vapor associated with this system. (the darker the yellow/orange--the more the water.

Here's our travel weather.  As of Friday afternoon, the Salt Lake City NWS Office has this to say about the upcoming week:


The above forecast virtually assures that we will be taking the Nephi-Salina-Kanab route south.
Although the highways themselves "should" be in good shape on the Price-Moab-Kayenta route, the back country Slow Roads we planned to drive will be a sloppy mess.  Better safe than sorry, eh?

The small map shows the basic Fast Lane route south. Here's how it works:  Drive I-15 South to Nephi.   From Nephi proceed south to Salina. Take I-70 West to us Hwy 89 exit.  Proceed through Big Rock Candy Mountain along the Sevier River to Panguitch, Utah.  From Panguitch proceed to Kanab and thence to Jacob Lake, Arizona.  From Jacob Lake go to Vermilion Cliffs.  Then cross Colorado River near Lees Ferry and proceed to Flagstaff.  Get on I-17 and go home to Rimrock.  Driving distance is 800 miles.  Actual driving time is "usually" 16 hours.

We generally camp in the Yuba State Park "Painted Rock" campground on the east side of Yuba reservoir.  Then we generally stay at Susan K's place on Badger Creek Road at Vermilion Cliffs.  Then we generally drive home from there.  Hopefully, this year we will stay a little longer at Susan's Place.

In closing this blog post, we'd like to leave you with both a glimpse of today's jetstream as well as the Northern Hemisphere view of the East and West Pacific Ocean.
Here's today's jetstream.  The part of it in the Pacific Ocean sure looks like "The Big Bird" with its wings spread.  That participle sticking up sure looks like a head!  In any event,that's a major dip in the jetstream.
It looks like that dip in the jet is carrying a lot of water vapor with it as well.  We're guessing those potential storms will hit the Idaho area in 7-10 days. If they hit square on, it could be a heck of a winter storm!
Here's the West Pacific water vapor view.  Looks like there's plenty of upstream water vapor riding over the top of Siberia.  Perhaps a winter weather patterns is coming soon to the Northland, eh?

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

3.5 days

The countdown clock says there's 3.5 days left before we depart Idaho Falls.  That's why we like countdown clocks so much--we don't have to think--we just look at the clock and it says it all.

There's so much yet to do and 3.5 days seems like such a small amount of time in which to do all that remains.  However, we know from experience everything will get done and we will life off as we always do--right on time.

It's just always such a weird experience sitting 3.5 days after form takeoff wondering how everything is going to get done...yet sitting here with the knowledge it WILL get done just like it always does.  Somehow we seem to go into auto pilot mode right around this time and things magically and mysteriously happen just the way they should.

Strange how that works!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

A golfing we will go

Putting Practice.
Golf?  You betcha.  We actually do play golf.  In fact, we played golf this very morning...proving once again that we're not all work and no play.

Just what kind of golf do we play?  We're glad you asked that question.  We only play "Junior Golf" which is kind of an oxymoron for a Senior Golfer.

The City of Idaho Falls has three truly first rate regulation golf courses.  Pinecrest is considered to be one of Idaho's top municipal golf courses and some say it's nationally ranked as well.  The other two courses are Sage Lakes and Sand Creek.

Sand Creek has a sweet Junior Course tucked away behind the cart shop.  That's where we play golf.  It's also known as the Short Course and the Kiddie Course.  it's the place parents often bring toddlers to introduce them to the game of golf.

Typically when Dear Friend Terry M. and we play golf, the Junior Course is totally deserted and we have the place to ourselves.  It costs a mere $4 to play the six short holes there and it generally takes us less than an hour from start to finish.
Terry tees off on Hole #4.

Neither of us have the attention span or desire to spend all day playing golf.  A few times each summer is just fine with us.  Terry's clubs are probably 40 years old.  We bought all of our clubs at thrift stores. In fact, we bought enough clubs to put together actual sets of clubs and sell them at a profit on Craigs List.  Therefore, all of the clubs and golfer stuff we now own is free since our profits offset the cost of everything.

All of our golf balls were donated to us and so we're into this normally expensive game for nothing.  It's pretty hard to beat a $4 green fee, too.  Meanwhile, we play by our own rules.  Terry calls them "Australian Rules".  According to Australian Rules, HIGH score wins.  None of this stupid low score stuff for us.

Today, for example, we were tied going into the final hole.  I shot a 5 and Terry a four and therefore I won the match by having the highest score of the day.  Terry dutifully congratulated me and we walked happily back to our cars.

One of the truly nice things about the Kiddie Course is that we can hoot and hollar and goof off and we aren't offending anyone.  Real golfers act like they are in church or something.  They speak in low tones and act reverential and show no discernible signs of glee.  On the Kiddie Course, Terry and we can be kids ourselves once again.  This is a real bonus of our golf game.

Once in awhile we speak or laugh far too loudly and we get mean stares from the Real Golfers on the nearby course.  Ah, who cares?  They are a bunch of stuffy old fuddie-duddies--WE are the ones having Real Fun.  We might not be Real Golfers but we definitely can have some Real Fun.

We remember back in 2010 when we bought our first thrift store clubs--many of our Dear Friends thought we'd gone daft and taken leave of our senses.  Well, suffice to say, we've been having great Real Fun ever since and dearly love our Golfing Game.  Real Golfers turn up their noses and roll their eyes at our make-believe Golf Game on the Kiddie Course but it suits Terry and me just fine.
We'll see ya next year!

Back to blogging

Blogging is a lot of fun.  We've always said we love to write even if no one is reading what we write.  So, we're going back to blogging while trying to wean ourselves off Facebook.  Not totally off Facebook, mind you, but just enough to keep the monster in remission.

What is it about Facebook?  It's probably the relatively instant feedback--the "Likes" and occasional "Shares".  Humans thrive on positive feedback and Facebook has created an addictive, self-reinforcing feedback loop the likes of which the world has never seen or experienced before.  Last we heard there are 1.5-billion Facebook users.

Blogging is a staid, old-fashioned communications methodology compared to the Facebook fast lane.  Writing and/or reading blogs requires an old-fashioned "attention span".  Facebook probably exacerbates (and possibly creates) Attention Deficit Disorder.  The shorter the sentence, the quicker the quip, the more Hee-Haw the graphic, the more riveted are the Facebook denizens.

To paraphrase a famous cliché: "The quick brown Facebook fox jumps over the lazy blog."

One of the many, many things I dislike about Facebook is the foundation of its very success--the perpetual "instantness" of the news feed stream of consciousness.  It is as if we are all being carried along like twigs in a flood.  The downside of this successful business model is that there is hardly any past.  History is a word, not a tangible reality for Facebook.  Have you ever tried to find something more than a few days old on your Facebook?  Good Luck.  It's possible to find older posts and photos but, trust me, it is a laborious, frustrating process practically guaranteed to generate significant frustration, if not downright animosity toward the nameless, faceless HAL of Facebook's vaunted algorithms.

We have had two very good role models to encourage us to continue our Blogging: Kirsty Sayer and Wayne Ranney.  Now, we have two more such worthy scribes in the blog-o-sphere: Sue Malone and Nanette South Clark.  The more we focus on the awesome blog posts these four writers produce, the more motivated we have become to once again pick up the blogging baton and run with it.

We are grateful these four never abandoned their blogs for the siren call of Facebook's seductive ease.  We are inspired that these four continue to put real thought, time, energy and virtual cyberspace elbow grease into the beauty of each of their respective blogs.

True (non-political) bloggers are becoming almost an endangered species compared to Twitter's cast of 140 characters and Facebook's peer pressure to "keep it short, stupid"!  The fact that far fewer readers come to visit my blog than my Facebook ought to be a badge of honor for me.  Rather than looking at the "Likes" and "Shares", I ought to be once again writing for the pure pleasure of the exercise and not for robust blog statistics.

Instead of wondering whether anyone is reading my blog, from this point forward I am going to back back to blogging for the very same reason that we started this effort on 1/1/10 and that is to have a point and place of reflection upon which to ponder the progression of our lives, our hopes, goals, aspirations, Dear Friends and, indeed, the wonderfully delightful potpourri of our past, present and future.

We wish to thank Kirsty Sayer, Wayne Ranney, Sue Malone and Nanette South Clark for providing the spark and motivation to once again jump start our move back to blogging.  Facebook's fun but blogging is beautiful.  We also wish to Thanks Natalie Neal Whitefield for her own unique inspiration to the process of going back to our online writing roots.  As Natalie loves to say, "Writers write."  Write ON, Natalie!

Here are the blogs were are now turning to for our inspiration:

Sunday, October 20, 2013

TVRT Wrapup

The Spirit's willing but the clock's not.

As much as we would love to write a nice tidy tale about each of the aspects of our Teton Valley Road Trip (TVRT), we simply do not have the time at this juncture of our life.  Therefore, we will write a short summary and "call it good".

After we tried to find the slow road to Susie's Nipple, we spent some time perusing the Scenic Byway information and checked out the Harrops Bridge RAP (RAP = River Access Point).  Then we drove into Driggs and checked into the Teton Valley Cabins about 5 pm.

The cabin was really great. It was hard to believe the rate was $25 per night.  Everything was top notch, except the WIFI which didn't work.  We definitely plan to go back to this place next year if the same deal is available.  We deduced the owners offer a $25/night rate from October 1-November 15 simply to employ the family who runs the place on their behalf.  If so, that's a smart plan.

After Susun had a nice, long nap, we drove out to the Nickerson Bridge RAP and studied the RAP map for the Teton River.  It felt quite cold as the sun set into a cloud bank over the Big Holes.  Meanwhile, a storm cell hovered over the route to Teton Pass. All-in-all it was a nice panorama of stormy evening vistas.

When passing back through Driggs we stopped off at the city's Destination Supermarket--Broulim's.  This grocery palace could legitimately be a tourist attraction.  It's arguably the only grocery in rural Idaho to place a sushi bar right inside the main door.  Next to the Sushi bar is the Asian buffet table.  Broulim's produce dept. carried some vegetables I've never even seen or heard of.  Meanwhile, the aisles and shelves are filled with gourmet this and specialty that.  'Tis quite the establishment!

Upon our return to the cozy cabin we enjoyed a fun Happy Hour, played cribbage and plotted our upcoming day's travels.  We were slow to rise Tuesday and didn't get out of the cabin until 10:30 am.  Having a full kitchenette in such a sweet spot encouraged us to linger longer.

As you know, we love tent can truck camping.  However, we maintain a "Motel Camping Kit". We always take our own coffee maker and coffee.  We've never met a motel yet that had a decent coffee maker.  Likewise the so-called coffee grounds barely deserve the name "coffee".  After a nice breakfast of tortillas and chili with cheese, we set forth on our day.

We drove north toward Tetonia and headed out Rammel Mountain Road.  This road started out in nice condition but all sorts of mental red flags started flying as soon as the road crossed into Forest Service lands.  We wisely turned around and retreated.

Eventually, we found out way onto the Jackpine-Pinochle Loop. This is one sweet gem of a road.  Every aspect of it is top notch. We remarked it represents the state-of-the-art of the heyday of Forest Service road building.  In today's times, the Forest Service doesn't build roads any more like the agency once did.  Money's too tight.  Environmental clearances could take years to obtain.  Logging's mostly fallen into the dust bin of history. Mines are few and far between.  Even ranching is nowhere near its peak of the 20th Century.  However, back in the day, the Forest Service built some very awesome roads and the Jackpine-Pinochle Loop is definitely one such road.  The periodic views were great; the forest itself is in very good health no no discernible beetle-kill; and the occasional aspen groves provided perfect fall color accents. We definitely plan to return to this gem of a road.  If and when we were write a guide book to "slow road sweet spots" this loop will be one of the highlights.

After coming back out into the valley farmlands, we made an attempt to find a short route to the Bitch Creek railroad trestle.  We drove through a ghost subdivision and spied out a place where we would probably hike the old railroad grade to reach the trestle.  After some debate, we decided to continue with a pure Slow Road Day and not mix in any day hiking.

Ghost subdivisions are seemingly everywhere in the Teton Valley.  Prior to the housing bust and The Great Recession, land developers had the Teton County Commissioners in their pocket and received approval to plat subdivisions in every far flung nook and cranny of the valley.  Of course, they are all now abandoned reminders of the financial excesses which helped spawn that sad chapter of our country's economic history.

We enjoyed watching a farmer plow some fallow land.  We both enjoyed the ambrosia-like aroma of the freshly tilled soil.  Susun almost tasted some of the heady loam.  We stopped briefly to stand on the old railroad which is now a state "rails-to-trails" project.  We hope to return with our bicycles to check out this alluring venue.

Then we drove to the Idaho Highway 32 bridge over Bitch Creek and pondered the incised enormity of this little-known drainage.  Afterwards, we checked out Felt, Idaho, and then wound out way over hill and dale to the Felt hydroelectric site.  The site itself sits in a deep, steep canyon.  The road is gated at the top.  The road is also too steep for either of us to be interested in actually driving it.  In fact, the road is so steep neither of us was interested in walking it either.

The Teton River lies flat and placid in the valley floor.  It seems to fall off the edge of the flat earth as it plunges ever deeper into the basalt canyon nearby.  We drove back out to Highway 33 and returned to Harrops Bridge.  Nope.  There's nary a word of warning about the dangers of the river once it leaves the calm meanders of the valley.  We both that that was very strange.

After looking around the Harrops RAP, we headed back to find the road to Susie's Nipple.  Did you know the Western landscape has many nipples?  Yep.  Molly's Nipple in Utah is perhaps the most well known but there are named nipples lurking all over the place.  It has a lot to do with lonely male pioneers seeing things on the horizon.  Someday we will do a separate story on anatomical place names.  Such an essay is far beyond the scope of this post.

Anyway, we eventually found the "road," if you want to be generous and call it a road, that heads out to Susie's Nipple.  The road was more like a route through mudholes.  We definitely shouldn't have been on that road but, well, we were there and you know how that goes.  Luckily, we didn't get stuck.  We certainly could have been stuck and at least once we should have been stuck but escaped such a potentially embarrassing fate.

This particular public so-called road bisects private property on both sides.  It became quickly apparent the property owner was running some sort of private hunting preserve.  There were ring-necked pheasant thick as flies.  They were seemingly everywhere.  We've never seen as many pheasants as we did on that road.  We lost count of their numbers.  At first they were fun to look at but then they simply became a nuisance and we hoped we didn't run over one or more of them.  We were glad when we finally exited both the mud and pheasant zone.

We enjoyed some really nice views after getting out of that muddy pheasant infested area.  We then threaded our way through some obscure roads to get onto the Packsaddle Loop Road.  If we thought the mud from the previous road was bad, it was actually just a preview of the mud on the Packsaddle route.  In some places, the muddy hills were so bad we were simply free-falling down those slopes in the Nissan.  We could only hope the free fall didn't take us off the steep slopes into a tangle of trees.  Suffice to say neither of us were very enthusiastic about being on the Packsaddle Loop under such conditions.  Luckily, we encountered only one other vehicle on that loop and, luckily, we didn't have to back up very far to find a place for us to pass each other.  Thanks goodness the road was essentially deserted!  Local folks obviously knew better than to be on that road about a couple of days of rain.

The Packsaddle loop really mudded up Marvie.  It took five dollars in quarters to feed the car wash to get Marvie clean once we came back to Idaho Falls.  We're talking serious MUD out there, folks!  After finally getting back on pavement we were very Happy Campers.  We decided we had enough of mud for one day and went back to our cabin to enjoy a fun and fine evening.

We were checked out of the cabin shortly after 9 am Wednesday morning and arrived at Daphne's Place at 9:30 am.  Daphne and we met when we actually had a paid job in Idaho Falls but that's another story too long to tell here.  Daphne's husband, Rick, and Daphne's Mom, Jacque, hosted us for a delightful morning in their sun-filled house with soaring windows looking toward the majestic Teton Range beyond.  Daphne made a superb veggie pie and banana bread and some awesome coffee and we all enjoyed a couple of great hours visiting together.  THANKS, Daphne, Rick and Jacque!

After we drove away from Daphne's Place, we headed to the famous Spud Drive-In Theater to set up a tripod and take our picture there.  Then we went to Fox Canyon to try to find the limestone quarry that was in a symbiotic relationship with the Idaho Falls sugar refinery for so many years.  Afterwards, we drove to the Grand Teton Brewery for a "look see" and then up to Pine Creek Pass to try to find the SNOTEL site there.  We didn't find the SNOTEL but we found some awesome views.  Then we drove home, arriving at 2 pm.

That's our story and we're sticking to it.  Thanks for reading.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Relay Ridge

Susun loves maps. As we drove east on Idaho Highway 33, Susun happily called out the various landmarks visible from the newly-rebuilt road. “Look, there's Canyon Creek Butte,” she pointed, “And here comes Canyon Creek itself!”

Sure enough, the road dipped into a drainage with a large bridge across a step-walled basalt canyon. Susun said, “Look there's a road that goes up Canyon Creek!” That's when we hit the brakes and did a quick U-turn. “Well, let's go up there,” we said.

We hadn't planned a trip up Canyon Creek but it turned out to be a great little Monday side trip. The total mileage off pavement was probably about 25, plus or minus and the side trip took less than two hours. It was a great place to visit for all these reasons:
  • A sweet creek
  • Strange wind-eroded rock formations
  • A hot springs with a 1930's bathhouse
  • An dubious historical marker
  • A challenging, narrow, steep road
  • Bald & golden eagles flying close by
  • Driving into the storm clouds
  • Rain turning to snow
  • A sloppy, messy road
  • An interesting forest
  • Sweeping views from under the clouds
  • Golden aspens galore
  • and some small red potatoes

We could have probably continued farther into the foggy, snowy east side of the Big Hole Mountains on the Relay Ridge Road. However, the road slopes were turning icy and slick and the snow seemed to show no sign of letting up. So we picked a safe and solid place to turn around, set a GPS waypoint and drove slowly back the way we came. Going or coming, we didn't encounter a single other vehicle. We thought that was odd considering it was a holiday and deer season. Maybe the weather scared them all off.

Whenever we drive lonely forest roads such as this one, we always ask “Why is this road even here?” Perhaps you, too, have wondered about various Forest Service roads. Well, all of them had some sort of purpose, however specious, “back in the day”. Roadbuilding was once part and parcel of the agency's fundamental purpose to create, enhance and maintain “multiple use” of the land and its resources. The typical reasons for existence of most roads included: mining, grazing, logging, and infrastructure.

In the case of the Relay Ridge Road it would have been communications infrastructure. As the name suggests, the road dead ends at one of the highest accessible spot in the Big Hole Mountains and, yep, you guessed it, that spot is cluttered with tall towers serving who-knows-what purposes in shuffling waves of unseen signals to and fro amid humanity's sea of electronic devices.

Whenever we travel roads such as the Relay Ridge Road, we always give verbal “thanks” to whatever special interest group had the sway and money to coax creation of such a road out of the Forest Service bureaucracy. Without those radio towers, we would have never been able to visit such special scenes on Columbus Day 2013.

After we were back out on the back out on Idaho Hwy 33, we began looking for the road to Susie's Nipple.  Alas, we couldn't find the route as the clouds dropped down onto the deck and rain began turning to snow.  But we did find the Karma Way and knew everything was OK.  

Coming Soon: Teton Valley Cabins; Driggs; Nickerson Bridge; the Jackpine-Pinochet Loop; Bitch Creek; Felt Hydro; Susie's Nipple; the Packsaddle Loop; Daphne's Place; The Spud; Fox Canyon, Grand Teton Brewing; the Pine Creek Pass SNOTEL and home. 

Here's more photos from the Relay Ridge side trip:

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Teton Dam

Rigging, packing and fiddlin' for our Road Trip went well Columbus Day morning. We stopped off at Fred Meyer to pay a bill and buy some last minute groceries. We departed the Freddie parking lot at 11:30 am.

As we drove north on US Highway 20, we were lost in thoughts about the various floods of modern and pre-historic times. Crossing The Snake River on the Madison-Jefferson County line's Lorenzo Bridge, we wondered how far under water the area was when the glaciers melted. We mused the glacial floods would have made the Teton Dam Flood look tame.

As we crossed the tiny, placid, bucolic South Fork of the Teton River at Rexburg, it was hard to imagine the raging torrent that crashed through there only 37 years ago. On the left of the highway lies a picture-perfect golf course. On the right a seemingly mature riparian gallery forest crowds in on the narrow little stream they call the South Fork of the Teton River.

We smiled at a thought of untold hundreds of thousands of Yellowstone-bound tourists who have passed that spot in recent years without a clue as to the wrath of nature that swirled across this area back one month before our Nation's Bicentennial Celebration.

As we sorted through our wandering thoughts we took the wrong exit but it turned out to the the right exit. Why's that? Because the wrong exit took us down Main Street of Sugar City. Sugar City was totally destroyed by the Teton Dam Flood. The majority of the 14 fatalities recorded during this tragic event took place in or near Sugar City. 

During the peak of the flood, our little old Nissan would have been well under water on Main Street as mobile homes, storage tanks, dead cows and the incredible detritus of destruction passed by on the surface of the water overhead.

On Columbus Day 2013, Sugar City looked just like every other small LDS farm town. Everything was neat a pin, children romped in the school yard, tidy houses, industrious people—the picture of normalcy. To us, at least, it seemed somewhat spooky driving along Main Street with all those indelible images of unimaginable chaos still in mind from our Teton Dam research over the past few days.

An estimated 50-million cubic yards of mud spread over farm fields in the path of the flood waters. Now as far as our eyes could see all the fields are in production of all of Eastern Idaho's typical crops.

The turnoff to the Teton Dam site is well signed and easy to see at Milepost 110 on Idaho Highway 33. The highway itself was completely rebuilt during the summer of 2013 and a new turnout was constructed for the state historical marker. The survey stakes were in place but the sign itself had not been reinstalled.

A 1.5 mile paved road leads to the overlook at the dam site. The road bisects gently rolling barley and potato fields. Shiny new John Deere and Spudnik potato harvesting equipment sat lined up beside the road, idled because of the rain storm.

As we approached the unkempt parking lot, we noted two other vehicles and decided to park far away from both. One was an older camper van with New York plates. A bushy-bearded burly bubba bustled about the camper van. Meanwhile, a shadowy character sat in his truck cab under a weather-beaten willow and this individual clearly wasn't interested in looking at the dam. We simply sat a safe distance away from both vehicles and waited until they left the area. As the camper van drove by the guy motioned for us to roll down the window. Luckily, he was only interested in the dam and asked, “Do you know anything about this dam? What happened here?” We told him its history in 50 words or less. He smiled, gave us a thumbs up and drove off. The other vehicle left about the same time.

It seemed odd to us that there are no interpretive signs at the dam overlook. However, judging from the poor, vandalized condition of the concrete barriers, such signage would probably be destroyed about as quickly as it would be put in place. However, because of the missing Highway 33 historical marker, on October 14th, there would have been no way for a visitor to have a clue about the monumental ghostly remnants of a failed dam in the middle of nowhere.

The gloomy, overcast day set an appropriate background as we both stood at the graffiti-spattered overlook staring at a ghost dam. Indeed, if there are such things as ghost towns, then this is truly a ghost dam.

When we visit ghost towns, we often think of their heyday and all the people tending to business, family and the chores of daily life. Here at the dam site, we could only think of death, destruction, and the science fiction scale of a hydraulic nightmare beyond anyone's wildest imagination. We could only think of all the human effort in planning, design and construction—of all the time, money and dreams invested in this project. Our mind was filled with the echoes of tragedy, the multi-year clean-up and rebuilding efforts, the investigations, recriminations and now the strange quiet that lay upon this land.

The Teton Dam Site will remain for all time as a man-made geologic monument to engineering and bureaucratic arrogance; hydrological mismanagement and the local cultural myths that begat this dam in the first place.

Even though we were both peering into the looking glass of a civil engineering wasteland, we were both somehow momentarily transfixed by the scene. We wished we could decode the remaining visible evidence of that sad chapter in the Bureau of Reclamation's history. A cold wind kept us from spending even more time at the site.

We left with more questions than with which we arrived. Although it took us many years to finally visit the Teton Dam site, we will return at least once again to attempt to decipher the various abandoned elements of the dam and its operating components.

If you go to this haunting place, be sure to attempt to educate yourself beforehand. Although it is very sad to view the historic visual archives, such resources will help you grasp the enormity of the tragedy which took place June 5, 1976. Likewise, you will not leave like that puzzled New Yorker asking, “What happened here?”

As we drove away from the Teton Dam site, we quickly changed our mood by stopping off at the idled potato harvesting equipment. These machines appeared to be brand new, totally state-of-the-art, GPS controlled space age apparatus. We joked, “This is where potatoes come from” as we prowled around and peered at arcane, incredibly expensive agricultural technology. We wished there would have been a friendly tour guide in bib overalls to tell us some potato jokes and explain all about how this stuff actually works.

The inside of the cabs of these treaded tractors look like a cushy corner of a home theater room. We wondered what the operator would be watching on the digital display beside an instrument panel that resembled that of a small jetliner. Chances are the operator would be monitoring all of the computer data from both the tractor, the digging platform as well as his GPS location in real time in the field. However, we couldn't help but wonder if the operator didn't sneak in viewing a few Hee-Haw DVD reruns, too.

Susun gleaned a few small token russets and we proceeded on.

Click here for all 39 photos of this part of our Teton Valley Road Trip:

Sunday, October 13, 2013

2013 Bucket List Update

(Updated 10/13/13) On January 1st this year, we printed our bucket list on this here blog. Periodically we update our progress.  Our last update was July 17th, almost 3 months ago.  Time for an encore. (Note the July 17th updates are retained and noted as such. Bucket List Goals are now in much larger type.)

Year 2013 Bucket List

Day Hike More Often w/Susun
(10/13) Day Hiking hasn't worked out the way we hoped so far this year.  We hope that we can finish this year on a more aggressive day hiking note when we return to Arizona.

Play more cribbage, croquet & darts w/Susun
(10/13) We expect the pace of playing these three games is going to pick up as the year draws to a close.  We tend to play a lot more cribbage when we're traveling and Arizona is our is our dart and croquet playin' place.  Oddly, we played virtually no croquet this summer in our green grass back yard.

(7/17)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
(10/13)  Our comments today are the same as 3 months ago, except the total stands are TWO rounds of golf.  Either way, that's a mere drop of the golf ball in the bucket.  Not quite sure why neither of these goals came to fruition this year.  Maybe we will do some more Big Lewbowski Bowling when we get back to Arizona.  Hopefully, we will play more golf down there this Arizona Season, too.  The jury's out on this one.  Maybe it needs to be dropped off the 2014 Bucket List.

(7/17)This one is a bust.  We've played one round of golf.
Camp at least 50 nights
(10/13)  In July we thought we might make 40 but now we're looking at 30.  That's quite a "come down" from 50 so we need to address this issue in Twenty Fourteen.  Fifty is an attainable goal and there's no reason whatsoever we can't achieve 50 in any given year.  Tonight we have been discussing how to do that.  We need to pick up our Camping Game in Arizona, that's the key.

Anyway, as of mid-October it looks like we're going to log 30 days camping for the two of us and 35 for Johnny.

(7/17) 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)
(10/13) We should note this particular Bucket List Goal was for Johnny and not for the both of us.  Altogether we (AKA: ME) logged five trips to Salmon Country this season but it fell far short of 4 weeks and that's perfectly OK.  The 2014 Bucket List will be amended to reflect this new reality.  Our total nights in Salmon Country tallies 12 this year, so we didn't even make two weeks total.

(7/17) 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
(10/13) We had two trips there.  The debate during those two trips was how to list Riverside on next year's Bucket List. We are thinking three is still an advisable goal.  Both of our trips this year were in July.  We could add one in during Smoke Season in August.  Riverside is so beautiful is doesn't matter is all of Idaho is smoked-in.  IN fact, it could be The ONLY place worthy of going during Smoke Season.  So, we'll call it "good" for this year and hope it gets better next year.

(7/17) 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
(10/13) We only drove the Reclamation Road from West to East this year and had no chance to drive it from East to West.  We're not quite sure about how to address this goal.  We think West to East is the preferred routing.  Not sure way East to West would be worthwhile.  One thing is certain--we lucked out in driving the road in the rain because there was no dust and it reduced the traffic load.  It's VERY clear this would be a HUGELY busy, VERY dusty road under normal conditions and calendar circumstances.
Visit Ken and Julie's cabin.
(10/13)  We enjoyed a Great Visit to their cabin this year and look forward to many more!  Thanks, Julie & Kenyon!
Visit Heather and The Dream at least twice.

(10/13)  We met this goal (easily) this year and we will always list it as such in future years.  It's highly likely the visits will always be in June and August.  Both of this year's visits were, as always, two of THE Highlights of our annual calendar. Heather ROX!
Write 300 personal blog posts
Write 100 blog posts on the Salmon Thang
Write at least 100 posts on other blogs

(7/1/13) 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!

(10/13) At this point, we have no clue how we're going to fare in total blog posts this year.  We won't be able to do a final tally until late December or early January.  Suffice to say it's not going to be anywhere near 500 since we abandoned blogs for Facebook.  If we were to list a tally of our Facebook posts it would be far, far, FAR in excess of 500 posts.  Probably more like 1,000.  We have greatly mixed emotions about the abandonment of our blogs.  This will be a topic meriting much more discussion as the year draws to a close and Twenty Fourteen looms ahead.
Drive the Pass Creek-Double Springs loop

Explore and camp in Sawmill Canyon

Drive the Antelope Pass-Copper Basin-Trail Creek loop
Do at least three overnight backpacking trips
(10/13)  We still hold out HOPE for at least ONE such trip in this calendar year.  Hope Floats!
(7/17) Not happening.
Explore Italian Peaks area.
(10/13) This one gets rolled into next year's Bucket List.
(7./17) We came rather close to the Italian Peaks on July 14.  We'd like to get back.
Journey to the geographical Center of Idaho
(10/13)  This is still a VERY viable Bucket List Goal and will be carried forward onto the Twenty Fourteen List.  We aren't giving up on this one!
(7/17)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
(10/13)  The only way we're going to make this one happen is to get connected to paddlers who provide the motivation and stimulus to simply GO FOR IT!  We're keeping this one on on the 2014 Bucket List.
(7/17) 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
(10/13)  It's baffling to both of us why we've lived here so long and STILL not done this.  What the heck is wrong with that picture.  Next year, we're going to make a concerted effort to get it right....FINALLY!
(7/17) Highly unlikely.
Drive the Arco-Minnedoka Road
(10/13) Nope.  Didn't happen.  Yep.  It's gonna carry forward to the 2014 Bucket List.  We WILL "git 'er dun"!

(7/17) 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
(10/13) The Spirit was willing but the timing and circumstances simply didn't happen. Next year, we will get there.  Guaranteed!
(7/17)This is likely to happen now that we have Marvie.
Visit site of proposed Grand Canyon Escalade
(10/13) OK, there's hope for this one.  We will begin to actively promote a December trip when Susun is visiting the Grin Kids.
(7/17) 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
(10/13) Tonight we talked about making this happen this fall.  It's our #1 Destination this Fall.
(7/17)Nope--didn't happen this spring--Fall will give us another chance.
Hike the Wilson & Bear Mtn. Trails
(10/13) The only way to make this happen is just do it.
(7/17) See above
Drive The Young Road both ways
(10/13) This goes back on the 2014 Bucket List.  It should be an annual tradition.  Both ways?  NO Way!  But downhill?  Always and All Ways!
(7/17) 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 and back
(10/13) Tonight we have been discussing whether this one should be an annual January tradition.
(7/17) 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. Ditto as of 10/13.  Should it be on next year's list?  Probably not as it is SOOO unattainable!
Explore Tex Creek WMA in much greater detail.
(10/13) We should definitely spend more time out there next year!

(7/17) 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.
(10/13) We consider that we met this Bucket List Goal this year.
(7/17) 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 and City of Rocks camping traditions
(10/13) We DID get into GTNP on Labor Day so that "kinda" counts.  We did NOT get to City of Rocks this year.  It would have been closed.  This goal is probably going to drop off the Bucket List and be rephrased and separated into two goals: "The Labor Day Trip" and "The Columbus Day Trip".
(7/17) Yeah, this one is a no-brainer.  Yes, we would continue to agree.
Spend a 5 nights at Bryce Canyon Nat'l Park
(7/17) 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.
(10/13)  The July 17th commentary below is still very apt for any Bucket List.  There's a lot of time left in this year to attempt to achieve some of our goals for 2013.  This whole exercise of making and updating an annual Bucket List has been incredibly beneficial and we will continue to do so for as long as we are capable.

(7/17) 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