Monday, July 31, 2017

Which way to go?

 Above is the Idaho Falls to Three Forks route.  It's 200 miles through Classic Big Sky Country.
And here's the Three Forks to Helena route.  These two routes keep us off the interstates.

We obviously know where we are going but we don't know where we are going to get there.  We're conflicted between the EZPZ straight, Fun Route and The Pickleball Route.  Being as how we're kinda pickleballed out right now, we're swinging back toward thoughts of the EZPZ Fun Route.

That would mean we drive up through Island Park to Henrys Lake and then turn north to cross over the Continental Divide at Raynolds Pass.  There we would leave The Snake River Watershed and drop into the Missouri Watershed via the Madison River drainage.  We'd head up through Ennis and reach Three Forks, Montana about 200 miles from Idaho Falls.  We would camp at the Missouri River Headwaters State Park right smack dab where Lewis & Clark & Crew camped in 1805.  Chances are we'd spend two nights there because it is such a special spot.  But maybe not.

Anyway, then we'd head north on A Montana state highway to get to Helena and thence via more state highways to get to Saint Mary, Montana.  If we weren't worried about playing pickleball, it would be a relaxing and fun trip.  So, that's the way we are leaning as of Monday morning on the last day of July.  It's only 271 miles from Three Forks to Saint Mary and that's a pleasant amount of travel time.  We could probably leave Three Forks in the 9-10 AM range and easily arrive at Saint Mary at or before 5 PM.

We don't travel fast when we're towing the trailer.  Our trailer tires are only rated for use at 60 MPH max.  So, we're kinda pushing it to drive 62 miles per hour.  Anything over 65 is out of the question except in the Salt Lake City corridor when survival matters more than the integrity of our trailer tires...but we digress.

Anyway, as of Monday morning that's looking more and more like "The Plan".  We've had enough pickleball lately to last us a long time.  Maybe we oughta blow off pickleball until we make the return trip.  There will be plenty of places to play heading south.  Hum...we shall see.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Two and a half years!

I've already posted more in the past two days here on this blog that I have posted in the last two and a half years! Total.

Man!  We're BAAACK!  I love it.  I am so totally right with it.  I've been gone waay too long.  It's so good to be back.  My fingers are just itching to write.


The Bear Nazis

The Glacier Bear Nazi Rig (clockwise from lower left): 1 = Rake & Broom; 2 = Step to assist entry to trailer; 3 = black box containing high volume air compressor; 4 = twin solar panels; 5 = black box containing trailer stabilizing jacks and shims and 6 = leveling block to place under a wheel.  The boxes disappear into the truck cab.  The other stuff is not considered "bear attractants" and is therefore exempt from Bear Nazi wrath.
Bear Nazis are one of the most, if not THE Most annoying species of federal bureaucrat.  Bear Nazis typically work together in a Storm Trooper Strike Force.  They drive around in a specially equipped Bear Nazi assault vehicle.  When they think they have spotted a "Bear Reg Offender," their crew cab truck comes skidding to a screeching halt and the Bear Nazi Storm Trooper Strike Force bails out in full attack mode.  They shout commands at each other and also at the purported Bear Reg Offender.

The Bear Nazis rush forward and surround the Bear Reg Offender while their Commandante shouts commands to "secure the area".  Bear Spray-armed sentries are  posted looking left and right with herky, jerky side-to-side motions of their heads.  Meanwhile, The Bear Nazi Commandante confronts the Bear Reg Offender in a loud, accusatory manner, putting his face as close as possible to the Bear Reg Offender's face.  Meanwhile, the phalanx of the Bear Nazi Strike Force stands poised and ready to tackle and handcuff the purported Bear Reg Offender.  If the Commandante orders a full confiscation, the Strike Force members will quickly gather up all the possessions of the purported Bear Reg Offender and throw them helter, skelter into the steel covered rear bed of the crew cab assault vehicle.

This is not fiction.  We have seen the Bear Nazis in action...right in our face.  Where and when?  Why in Glacier National Park in 2003 at the Apgar Campground.  What we described above is precisely what happened to us when we were subjected to the rude, insulting behavior of the Bear Nazis right in our own campsite.

What was our purported Bear Reg Offense?  Well, we knew all about the Bear Regs.  So, I told Susun we would take our beer cooler around behind our tent and sit beside it with our two lawn chairs while we enjoyed some cold beers after along day on the road.  I know enough about the Bear Regs to know that you are legally entitled to have a cooler out in plain sight if it is in "actual, immediate usage" by the owner.

Well, that didn't stop the Bear Nazis from assaulting and harassing and threatening us.  I had to get really assertive about the Bear Regs and stand my ground and state emphatically over and over that what we were doing was totally, 100% LEGAL!  It went in one  ear and out the other ear for their Commandante.  He so badly wanted to confiscate all our stuff, arrest us and take us into custody.  But I stood my ground and told him to call the Chief NPS Ranger to arbitrate the situation.

The Commandante knew I had him on that one.  He knew dang well the Chief Ranger would side with me because I was on the right side of the law.  So, the Nazi Commandate backed down, huffing and puffing and being full himself every blow hard step of the way.

Just before he mounted back into the Strike Force Assault vehicle, he shouted a warning at us, "You better have that cooler out of sight unless you are standing right next to it when we come back around this loop!"  Well, YES SIR!  I was very tempted to give the Nazi salute and shout Sieg Heil at the top of my lungs.  But I knew better and I bit my tongue and kept my restless right arm at my side.

We were so upset with the Bear Nazis that day.  We were positively fuming.  Luckily, a few cold beers took the edge off our fumes.  We were able to settle back down and enjoy the remainder of the evening.  But it's a vignette we obviously never forgot.  And we have forever since feared the Bear Nazis.  We known danged well and good that the Bear Nazis are alive and well in Glacier National Park.  If they were that gnarly in 2003, imagine what they will be like in 2017!

So, we have planned our entire Road Trip rigging specifically for the Glacier National Park Bear Nazis.  There will not be one single item exposed outside of what the Bear Nazis call a "hardside" vehicle.  There will be nothing under the trailer, nothing in the rear bed of the pickup truck.  Nothing.  Anywhere.  Not even lawn chairs unless we are actually sitting in them.

We are leaving absolutely nothing to chance.  We have "proofed" out our Bear Nazi rigging over and over and we have this drill DOWN!  We started working on this rig very early this year and we've spent months refining and perfecting the Glacier Bear Nazi rig.

That 2003 incident is still very fresh in our minds and memories.  We're ready for the Bear Nazis this time around!

Ditching a B-17

Luckily, my Dad never had to ditch in the English Channel but lots of other B-17 crews weren't so lucky.  Ditching was almost a daily occurance as crippled B-17's returned from missions over Germany.

B-17 crews in the Blue Water Pacific also had to deal with ditchings and many of those incidents turned tragic.

This is an excellent 1944 training film on how to properly ditch a B-17.  It's almost 43 minutes long.  It starts out sadly with 9 out of 10 members of a crew dying in a ditching.  The survivor determines his next crew will be thoroughly prepared.

Mirror Photos

The mirror of which we speak.
We're turning over a New Leaf on this Road Trip.  We're actually going to rerfresh our "Mirror Photos" on a regular basis.  Imagine that.  The photos on the trailer mirror have remained the same for over two years.  Stale?  Yep, you bet.  This past two-day trip to Alpine, I looked at those stale photos and said, "We MUST change out those photos on the mirror more often!!!!"

Well, one of the really nice things about taking Sunday off and not blowing outta here by 10 AM is that I had time to go through a ba-zillion photo folders and pick out 100 pictures to form a photo pool to use on the mirror.  Why 100?  Well, out local Walgreens three blocks away has a coupon code for 9 cent prints if you order 100.  Since the normal price is 20 cents, that's a smoking deal.

Anyway, it took about an hour to scare up 100 pictures and they will all be printed by about 10:30 AM today.  Sweet.

Trip's a GO but we're lazy

See all Glacier NP webcams here:
This beautiful Sunday Morning view at Many Glacier inside Glacier National Park is just one of the many reasons our Road Trip there is still a GO.  Yes, record crowds are congesting Glacier.  Yes, there could be hazy air from regional fires.  Yes, the heat wave could break the all-time high temperatures ever recorded in Glacier.  But, yes, we are definitely going there this week.  We will check into the Saint Mary Campground Wednesday afternoon.

However, we're turned lazy.  We had planned to leave Sunday morning about 10-ish.  But we're lazy and that means we're leaving Monday morning, probably pretty early, actually. And, if this lazy streak continues, we might even leave Tuesday.  Who knows?  Who cares?  That's one of the many benefits of being retired.  Other than the fact that we MUST check into Saint Mary campground Wednesday afternoon, we don't really have a schedule.  Plus, if we shine off playing pickleball in Butte and Helena, Montana, then we really, truly don't have a schedule.

It's just too nice a morning here in Idaho Falls to get all in a hurry and last minute frenzy to leave in 2.5 hours from now.  Nope, ain't gonna happen.  We're lazy and that's that.

Speaking of record crowds, the photo above shows the Logan Pass parking lot shortly after noon Saturday, July 29.  This is what we're  facing for this Glacier Road Trip.  We did a screen clip of the Glacier Twitter that's also attached to a separate post.  Basically, it looks like all the popular spots inside the park were totally max'd out Saturday.

Bear in mind, we actually had to book this trip back during the first week in February.  I think I booked it on Susun's February 2nd birthday to be exact. The Saint Mary campground was half reserved even six months ago.  The entire 142-site campground is completely and totally full right now.  Not even one night is available for any of those sites.  And get this, it's completely booked full all the way into early September.  And it's been full all summer long!  So, if we hadn't booked out site six months ago, there would be no room at the inn, so to speak.

We felt lucky to be able to find a site at Saint Mary with at least some partial shade.  The vast majority of the sites there have nary a speck of shade.  Little did we know six months ago how valuable shade would be during the first week in August!

Here's the Sunday morning webcam view from Saint Mary Visitor Center looking west.  Note that the early AM temp is already 74 degrees.  Yep, it's gonna be a cooker for sure but we will make The Best of it.

Saturday, July 29, 2017


Sweetie Susun is practicing for The Great American Eclipse!

Sweetie Susun's Flowers

Wouldn't you know we're leaving The City just as Sweetie Susun's flowers began to bloom today.  The hollyhocks bloomed around July 4th.  They just keep on blooming.  The zinnias just started popping blooms today.  Ditto the pseudo sunflowers.

We never even unhitched

We came back from Alpine, Wyoming, locked and loaded.  We never even bothered to unhitch.  All we did was hook up electricity to the fridge  so we would not have to empty stuff out of it during the two day transition.  We will be pulling out of here tomorrow morning roughly 48 hours from when we parked it Friday.  We didn't even refuel coming into the city Friday.  We're planning to refuel on the way out of town tomorrow.

It's a lot of work

We take special delight in crossing stuff off The List!
What might seem like a lot of "fun & games" belies the substantial amount of work behind the scenes.  Getting ready for a trip of the distance and duration we are about to embark upon tomorrow is a lot of work.  It's pretty much non-stop from when I get up until late in the day, often into the early evening.  Yesterday, today and tomorrow are no exceptions to that regimen.

Today was fun because we actually crossed everything off The List that we made while camped at Alpine, Wyoming, Wednesday and Thursday nights. There isn't all that much left to do before our departure tomorrow.  What's left to do can fit on two index cards and they have been taped to our main door (facing inward) so that we can't possibly forget those tasks.

It's always a little daunting for me before everyone of these types of trips.  Have I remember everything?  Have I taken care of the critical stuff?  What might I have missed?  These sorts of things always wake me up in the middle of the night before departure.  Luckily, the things I've forgotten in all our past trips have been very minor.  We pray that it is "so" for this trip, too.

I think we're in really good shape as far as Road Trips go.  The Alpine two-nighter was the perfect shake down cruise.  It really helped us focus on some kinks in our travel system.  And we quickly ironed out those kinks.  We also saw some opportunities to make certain things a lot better and quickly jumped those tasks these last two days.

It's ALL about efficiency and having everything right at your fingertips when you need it.  It's all about knowing you are as fully prepared as possible in every aspect.  When you get to that point, you achieve a peace of mind that is hard to describe but very, very comforting.  That's pretty much where we are as Saturday evening begins to evolve.

Dear Friend Karen is coming over for cocktails and Special Bean Burritos.  We're having both a salad and coleslaw on the side.  Although it's been another uncomfortably warm day here (high of 88), the shade of our tall trees is delicious.  We expect to be sitting in the courtyard this evening as the light begins to fade.

Tomorrow begins bright and early as we have to give our self a haircut and then give the lawn a haircut (AKA: mowing the grass).  Then it's off to smite the last items on our departure list.  We're hoping to pull out of here about 10-ish, plus or minus.

Sunday's a medium long day's drive to Three Forks, Montana.  Our goal there is the Missouri Headwaters State Park.  Believe it or not, "if" and when we camp there, we will be camped right smack dab on the VERY SAME SPOT that Lewis & Clark & Crew camped waaay back in the day.

Sometimes you have to wonder

What are we doing?  Why are we going to Glacier?  There are a lot of signs that this might not be a good time to go there.  Should we stay or should we go?  The graphic above is from the Saturday morning GNP Twitter feed.  YIKES!  Logan Pass full at 8:37.  Meanwhile, record breaking heat is forecast.  Meanwhile, they've staged a DC-10 tanker in Helena because of the escalating fire danger in Montana.  Meanwhile, there are already quite a few fires burning in Montana and upwind in British Columbia.  One wonders...what are we doing?  Why are we doing it?  Too many questions, too few answers.

What a way to start a Saturday

My ancient LG305C.  At least it still works.
I sure can think of better ways to start a Saturday than how it went today.  Maybe I am a glutton for punishment.  Anyway, to get to the point, I spent over one full hour between roughly 6:15 AM and 7:30 AM trying to activate a dormant cell phone via the Tracfone system.  If you've ever worked with Tracfone you know how inscrutable and arcane they can be.  Trust me, this one was Classic Tracfone.  Anyway, we got 'er dun and we now have a backup cell phone for when our so-called smart phone doesn't have a signal, which is more often than not.

I've lost count of how many cell phones we've owned.   I'm guessing it's at least 20 between the two of us.  Naturally, they had to assign me yet another "new" number.  Those numbers really aren't "new".  They are actually used numbers.  We all know that to be true, especially when we get calls from creditors of the person who used to own that number.  Every single "new" cell number I've ever had was once owned by some dead beat who ran up a bunch of debts and then disconnected their cell phone.

Well, it's pretty annoying to be out someplace and not be able to make a phone call.  With this backup phone, I won't be having that problem anymore.  Whatever else you say about Tracfone, at least you can say their service is reliable and you can make calls from anywhere.  Since I reactivated a pre-existing phone, my total cost this morning was a mere $10.72 for 90 minutes of airtime and 30 service days.  That will get us through our  Glacier/Waterton trip  no problem.

Yesterday was a classic grunt day.  We left camp at Alpine, Wyoming a little before 9 AM and got home about 10:30 AM.  I was on the go all day until well after 5 PM.  Whenever we go camping, we always make The List of "improvements" for the next trip.  Even though we were only gone two nights, The List completely filled an 8.5 x 11 piece of graph paper with many notes in the margins and between the lines.  Just looking at The List was daunting.

So, as soon  as we arrived home, I began tackling The List.  Made pretty good progress, actually, and hav about half of the items checked off.  One of The List items was "reactivate old Tracfone."  So, now you know how I got started this Saturday morning.  Just dutifully trying to cross things off of The List.  Lots more to do today before all of The List items are crossed off.

This new "return to my blog roots" is working out great.  I think it will be a real nice way to find a "happy medium" with Facebook.  I will still share other people's stuff on my Facebook, still click "Like" and maybe comment once in awhile.  And I will still use the Private Message function.  But I am definitely NOT going to be  writing about stuff we do.  All that stuff we do will be here on this blog.  That way I can write to my heart's content and not think or give a diddly about whether it's too long or too boring or too esoteric.  After all, I am writing here primarily for myself.  It certainly is a refreshing change and one I will embrace ever more with each passing day.

Now, finally time to drink some coffee and smell the roses.

The List from this last trip is typical.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Olathe Corn

Down in The Verde Valley, the onset of Hauser Farms sweet corn is a ritual marked by much celebration.  Up here in South East Idaho, it's Olathe Corn that gets us all excited  Olathe is to us what Hauser is to The Verde.

We actually got to see the Olathe Fields in 2003. Yes, they were a sight to see.  The growers there ship north because we up here are "corn deprived" while the south latitudes are "corn rich".  Heat is Corn's Dear Friend. Olathe is in a "heat island" that also has special soil and favorable water to grow incredible ears by mid to late July.  And that's when the far northern latitudes are "corn starved."

Olathe Corn is selling here in Idaho Falls this week for 4/$1 at Albertson's and 3/$1 at WinCo.  Those price points tell us that Olathe is having a bumper crop this season.

LSCM Alive Again

This long dormant Live Simple Came Much blog is Alive Again.  It was reborn at 5:45 PM, July 28, 2017, when we realized we were suffering from Facebook Overload & TOFABO.  This is pronounced TOO-FAH-BOO.  TOFABO = "Total Facebook Burnout".

Once you get TOFABO, you can actually check out of Facebook Hotel.  EZPZ, the valet opens the door for you and you are free to go.

I feel a HUGE weight lifted off my shoulders and spirit.  I will no longer be posting about "My Life & Times" on Facebook.  I will return those types of things back to where they began--HERE, on this blog.

Yes, I will still share stuff on Facebook.  I simply won't be writing about me,myself and I on Facebook.  I am returning to my roots here.

So, what was the tipping point?  Well, it was a new bucket.  Strangely.  And, yes, I found the perfect lid for that new bucket.  And, yes, we will be writing an Ode To The Bucket soon.