Sunday, July 9, 2017

Visiting Season Is Here

We spend the first few months back in Idaho taking care of the forest, orchard and garden. After months of planting, weed control, brush clearing, tree thinning, road work, and playing in the dirt, it was nice to take a break and show our first visitors of the year around the area.

One of the things we like best about our big view is the ability to see big weather patterns move through. Being in the rain shadow of the tallest peak in Selkirks generally keeps us fairly dry while the rest of the Valley is getting wet. We had a really rare sunset/lightning storm/rain/rainbow event the day before our friends arrived where we were surrounded by four different types of weather and views.

In the West, the sun was setting through a rain storm

In the South, it was trying it's best to clear up.

In the East the storm was still working and we caught a little lightning in the colored reflection of the sunset.

 In the North it was just pretty.

It was 10 days of fine dining (mostly prepared by the four of us since you can't beat the local meats/fish and our garden), rare wines, visits with neighbors, hikes to remote areas, playing in and on the water, international travel to Canada, ferry rides and hot springs, lounging in hammocks, dog antics, and general all around good fun.

A hike to Hidden Lake. A jewel of the Selkirks.

One of the oldest cedar groves in the country is deep in a remote spot in the Selkirks. Only a few locals know about it.

Near the cedars are six old Western White Pines, the Idaho state tree. They're only a few hundred years old, but are extremely rare. Almost all the white pine died in the early 1900's after the introduction of European blister rust in the U.S. (an accident of international trade). There are a lot of young blister rust resistant white pine in Idaho, but no legacy trees the size of the six in this grove.

A roughed grouse with her chicks. They're cute, but as dumb as the rock the little one is standing by.

Thanks to a wet Winter/Fall, Smith Creek Falls was pumping like few have ever seen it in the past. The spawning red Kokanee will fill it in the Fall.

There's always a lot of bear grass in this part of Idaho. It's certainly not rare, but this year's bloom is unusually prolific. It's literally everywhere within the elevation band. The scent of this many blossoms is incredible.

Looking South down the Kootenay Valley over our family forest homestead.

 Another day, another hike. This time looking North through the Kootenay Valley into British Columbia.

Lake Pend Oreille and Lady Liberty on July 4th weekend.

An old fashioned pot luck lunch on July 4th at our volunteer fire department.

At four months old, Wesson was ready to learn how to swim. She may figure it out yet.

Enjoying one of the local lakes on a kayak built for two.

Wesson seems as if she likes being on top of the water better than being in it.

After all of our travels, we unexpectedly found the best place in the country for us four years ago. But we haven't given up the hope that there may always be an even better place out there somewhere. Everyone who visits here has standing orders to go out, find someplace better, and let us know. So far, no one has found anything that checks off all the boxes like Far North Idaho. Neither have we.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

First Grizzly of the Season

We like to put out a small food block, a salt lick, and a water trough for the deer and elk to enjoy. In the mornings and evenings we enjoy watching them browsing through.

This evening we were taking the dogs out for a quick bathroom break, and saw this little guy down by the deer station demolishing the food block.

This is about 150 feet from our RV. The flags are marking the site of a future pond.

We got him to interrupt his meal and look at us by shouting "Hey Bear!" a few times.

A healthy belch and it's time to be on my way.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Tail from the Back Seat: Days of Walks and Greenies

The days of walks and Greenies
Smile and run away like a child at play
Through a meadow land toward a closing door
A door marked 'Nevermore' that wasn't there before

The lonely night discloses
Just a passing breeze filled with memories

Of the golden smile that introduced me to 

The days of walks and Greenies...and you
                           (Adapted from "Days of Wine and Roses" by Johnny Mercer)

Let me start by stating the obvious--in case you didn't notice--there is only one tail from the backseat...for now.
Karly--beautiful, bold, brave (and yes, sometimes bitchy)--my best buddy, backseat and otherwise, has died.

One day we were walking together...
The next day she was hobbling around, dragging her back foot...
The next day she "stayed home" all day relaxing in the warm sunshine...
And then there were no more days with Karly...
Now it's Just Jake.

    She died peacefully and on her terms.                                During her final days she ate only Greenies and barely drank water...her terms, of course.

Karly had a fun-filled glorious life of  nearly 13 years, quite a lifespan for a gal of her breed, size, and temperament--a bit "always on edge" compared to me.

Instagram's "thedogist" summarized us the best:


                                                                                         She was smart and sassy and enjoyed a bi-coastal life--from sea to shining sea--and for all of my 10 years I joined her on this adventure....

...and what a trip it was!

Fittingly (for a dog), Karly's life ended in the Chihuahuan Desert.
It makes me smile to think of her everlasting spirit--holding court over and chasing those little mutts around in Chihuahuan Desert Heaven--and those who knew and loved her best, know exactly what I mean!

P.S.  The backseat is just not the same anymore....

But don't worry, I'm just keeping a spot warm....

....for Wesson
(Born March 6, become part of the Vowell family on May 1, 2017)

EPILOGUE (by Susan)
One of my favorite authors is Edward Abbey. Traveling as much as we do in the Southwest, I feel as if I am "living" Abbey's writings.  My most favorite book is Desert Solitaire, given to me by a very dear friend/fellow traveler  who introduced me to Abbey's work and which I incorporated into the last "Tails from the Backseat" post, which ironically was the last to include Karly.  I foolishly loaned out my copy a couple years ago and it was never returned. I've been searching for a replacement, preferably a used paperback copy reminiscent of my friend's, but Abbey's books are rarely found for sale, they are keepers for personal libraries.

Karly died on our way to Big Bend National Park, in the heart of the Chihuahuan Desert of Texas. We had several towels, sheets, and blankets from her final days of basking in the sunshine that were ready to be washed, as much for an emotional cleanse as a laundering requirement.  There was a small "laundromat" (one washer, two dryers) at Big Bend National Park--surprising since visitor services at the Park were very limited--and since it was also one of two places to get internet access, we decided to take a break from hiking and do our laundry.

As I was transferring laundry from the washer to the dryer, a tour bus pulled up to the adjacent snack bar/gift shop, and the "Roads Scholars", an educational tour group, disembarked for a restroom and snack break...they also enjoyed petting Jake...and Jake enjoyed being petted!!  Upon their departure, I went to gather my dried laundry and noticed a pile of paperback books and magazines on the folding table that were not there before.  I assume they had been left behind by the tour group since I have discovered  that laundromats have an admirable policy of "leave a book, take a book".  

But "what to my wondering eyes did appear" dizzying disbelief??  
A pristine, paperback copy of Edward Abbey's Desert Solitaire!!!
With all the giddiness of winning the Publisher's Clearinghouse Jackpot Sweepstakes, I grabbed the book and ran out to show John.
The universe works in mysterious ways, especially if you are open to it... Karly, I know this one's on you!!!