Monday, May 27, 2013

Roasted Chairs

The kids and I came up with a new way to have fun camping. A tried, tested and true method that you need to know for the next time you camp... Read on for more details...

We discovered this novelty this weekend while camping over the Memorial Day holiday.  We had made our way out to the east side of Priest Lake to go camping for the weekend.  The road ahead of us looked promising, and the skies blue with the sun shining brightly. 

But the closer we got to Priest Lake, the more the cloud mass had piled up.  A massive storm was brewing, and we arrived in time to get our camp site set up.  We walked down to the beach to view Priest Lake, and this was the sight that greeted us.

 A few drops of water spattered on us as we stood gazing out over the lake.  We headed back to our campsite to begin cooking dinner.  We had no sooner reached our campsite, then the heavens just seemed to open just above us.  The rain began to pour down, and we scrambled inside our camper to wait the storm out.  I cooked dinner inside the camper tonight.  Luckily my plans for dinner were perfect for riding out the storm... Cowboy Soup.  I cooked some elk hamburger meat, and then added in a can each of homemade canned tomatoes and corn, cream chicken soup, Rotel, Velveeta, Ranch syle beans and diced potatoes.  Along with some taco spice seasoning, and before long, I had the camper steamed up and smelling deliciously like a Mexican restaurant. We dined on the Cowboy Soup that warmed our stomachs as well as our tongues!  It was a little spicy, but perfect for the cool rainy evening.

Later, after the storm had passed, we walked back down to the beach, and the lake was clear as glass, and the air cool and clear.  The clouds and the sun created an amazing array of colors that refelected onto the lake in hues of purple, blue, and pink.

We walked out on the fishing dock with the dogs.  Annie wasn't too sure about the dock as it swayed in the water as we walked.  She liked it better when we stood still and just gazed out on the beauty spread out before us.

We took a hike after walking down to the beach.  It was a short 1 mile nature trail around the park, alongside the rushing Indian Creek full of mountain run-off.   

You could see stumps where huge trees that probably had stood for hundreds of years that had fallen prey to a violent wind storm that had come through the area a few years ago.  Many of the trees were still lying where they had fallen. In the background of this picture you can see the smoke from all the campfires in the campground, as people were building their camp fires for the night.

Below is a picture of a huge tree stump on its end.  It had been a while since the stomr had hit, as moss was covering the entire tree stump, but it gives you a good idea of how wild this storm must have been to uproot trees this size!

When we got back to the campsite, it was about 9 p.m. or so, and still the sun was shining through the clouds.  Unfortunately as we built a fire, we realized that the chairs we had brought were not waterproof.  They were soaking wet.  So we were just standing around the campfire when the kids had a bright idea.

It was called Roast Your Lawn Chair....

And so, that's what we did.  The heat from the fire dried the chairs in about 20 minutes.  You could see the steam rising from the chairs as the heat turned the water in the chairs to steam.  It wasn't long, and we had chairs that were completely dry from the nice hot fire we had going.  I've never roasted lawn chairs before... but it's a new trick we can add to our book of camping tricks and tips!


The next morning dawned bright and beautiful.  After breakfast, we headed out to hike some trails surrounding the campground. We chose to hike the Lookout Trail first.  There were several other trails we could have taken, but feeling adventurous, we chose the trail labed "moderate" and off we went.  I packed plenty of water for all of us, along with my trusty can of bear spray (having learned my lesson before, that it is better to be safe... than sorry!)

The hike was not a long one, but because of all the spring flooding still going on, we had to take a detour, and so the hike ended up being a little bit longer for us.   The trail led up, up, up.... gradually through the forest, around huge granite outcroppings, but ever and always upwards. 

We finally reached the top of the trail, called Viewpoint Vista, and what a vista it was!  Unfolded before our eyes on such a clear beautiful day, you could see 20 miles away to the other side of Priest Lake. 

Priest Lake is a huge natural lake that was formed by the glaciers that came through during the Ice Age.  The sandy beaches were apparently formed by the glaciers passing through.  There are 80 miles of sandy shoreline with incredible views of the mountains in every direction you look. It was amazing to hike to this view point on such an incredibly beautiful day.

There were wildflowers blooming in every crook and crevice of the rocks. 

We let Annie off her leash while we relazed on the granite outcroppings.  She never ventured farther than a few feet from us, and after she had "secured" the area, she came back and found a place to lie in the shade.

We made our way back down the trail quite a bit more quickly than we had gone up!  It is much easier going down than it is going up!  We headed back to our campsite for a quick lunch.  While we were eating our lunch, a handsome Stellar Jay decided to join us...

He was quite proud of himself, and showed off his fine blue feathers for us several times.  Annie kept a close eye on him, because he was after her dog food, and she wasn't happy about that.  At one point, Mr. Jay Bird swept down to some dog food that had spilled on the ground, and in a side swipe motion, he grabbed a piece of the dog food, and away he went, and there was nothing Annie could do about it.  But she watched him ever so closely.  Mr. Jay Bird finally got tired of the intense surveillance, and flew away cackling loudly as he flew.  I'm sure he was saying "I'll be back... just you wait and see!... "

After lunch we walked around the campsite some more.  We stopped to watch a pair of ground hogs chirp and chatter at us.  I was able to zoom in and get a pretty good picture of this little fellow.  He chirped loudly at me and the dogs.  Every so often, he would run down into his hole, and then pop back out again like a jumping jack, and continue chirping at us... I suppose he might have been saying... "Come and catch me if you can.... for I'm the gingerbread man..."  And then he'd run and hide, and pop back out, and challenge us again.  Annie was up for the chase, but we decided to continue on our hike, and Annie had to bark at him and tell him... she'd be back... if she could!

This is a picture of our pickup and camper.  We have never camped before in a pickup camper. We've always had RVs.  But, since living up here in Idaho, it makes a lot of sense to have your camper right on your pickup, makes getting into tight spots much easier.  This little camper is the perfect size for our family, and even though it is quite close quarters inside, the camper is in excellent condition for a 1991 model. We had just purchased the camper earlier in the week just in time to go camping, and this was our first time camping in it.  Usually when you camp with a used RV there are little bugs, and things that go wrong on the first night. 

And of course, that was true for us.  My husband and I had decided to take the bed above the cab.  Unfortunately though, to let the dogs out in the middle of the night for a potty break, this meant jumping down over the kids to let the dogs out. 

So, the next night, we fixed that little bug by sleeping on the table that made into a bed, and letting the kids sleeping in their sleeping bags above the cab.  This worked out very well, and we all slept like little "bugs in a rug" the second night. 

I'll leave you with one last picture of the beautiful crown jewel of Idaho, Priest Lake.  It is a place that you love to come and visit, and hate to leave.  We enjoyed our stay immensely, and are already planning for the next weekend that we'll be able to come back out here, and camp some more. 

It was a wonderful place to spend Memorial Day weekend, enjoying the freedom and liberty that we have here in America, fought for by the veterans of this country.  We are very blessed indeed to have the blessings that surround us each and every day, and Memorial Day is a great time to reflect, and be thankful for those who have fought to make this country great, and to allow us to have the freedom, and the liberty that we enjoy.  God Bless America!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Backwoods Mountain Road Adventure

I am always up for adventure.  That's why I love living in Idaho so much. 

Here in Idaho, there are adventures waiting everywhere you turn.  You just have to pick one to try.  It is a marvelous place to live if an adventurous life you seek.  Idaho offers it all! 

For us... all it takes is one beautiful day... add in a red Ford pickup, and two crazy-in-love adventurous souls... and you've got an equation for a day of unexpected roads and adventures.

On a day when neither my husband or I had anything better to do than just be together, we jumped into our trusty 4x4 Ford pickup, and off we went to spend the day together.  Most of the time, we just begin driving nowhere in particular, turning down roads we've never been before, and just enjoying being together, and exploring together.  Life doesn't get much better than this! 

So... that being said.. just a few days ago... the sun was shining brilliantly, and the world around us was beckoning us with calls for adventure... we listened... and off we went.

But. One. Problem.  

You would think the two of us would know the routine by now... at least bring a chainsaw in case we get into a problem with trees.  Bring some bear spray, just in case of an encounter with a wild animal not too happy to see you.  Or even better... why not just bring the 'ole pistol for those unexpected adventurous moments... just in case...

But no.  We didn't. 

That's right.  You heard me right. 

We didn't bring any of the above mentioned items, which really... for all adventurous souls here in Idaho... ought to be staples of any trip into the outback. 

I guess there were too many stars in our eyes just thinking of being together for the day... and we didn't even pause to consider that there might be some necessary pieces of equipment that would make our day, much, much easier. 

So... anyway... off we went, rolling down the highway, with nary a care in the world, acting like we were 18 years old, and not a care or a concern, just happy to be together, and to be spending the day together on an unknown adventure. 

You might think that by the time we reached our 40s, we would have lost some of the sparkle, and excitement that folks acquire by this time in their lives, but I am happy to say that my sweetheart and I love each other more today than we did all those years ago when we first began our life together.

So... with stars in our eyes, and nary a thought in our heads to concern us with such necessary things as a chainsaw, or bear spray... we set off on our adventure for the day...

The twists and turns of our journey took us deep into the heart of the mountains.

It was an absolutely gorgeous day.  You couldn't even see a cloud in the sky, and the temperatures were hitting an all time high here for this year, up into the 90s! We went from snow/hail/rain last week to 90-degree temperatures this week.

I am always amazed at how tall the tamarack trees grow here.  This one stood far above and beyond any other tree around it.  The tamaracks are not evergreen.  They lose their leaves in the fall, and regrow them in the spring.  So this tamarack is not dead, it is still alive, but just hasn't put out its new growth yet. 

When you are traversing the mountain roads in this area, the road or trail will usually come to a crossroad, and you have to decide to go up or down, left or right.  It's the luck of the draw.... and all part of the adventure!

If you haven't been this way before... it's a real adventure... and you want to be sure you remember the way you went in, just so you can find your way back out... because these roads don't ever seem to come to an end, they just seem to continue on endlessly!

 Which way to go... we chose to the left, and up...

Uh oh!  Before long, we realized why this road looked less traveled than the one we had been on.  The road turned into a trail, and before long the trail turned into dense, thickly forested trees that had not been cut back in years.  The trail was still visible, but the trees had grown so closely together that you could barely see the trail. The above picture is the view looking out the front window of the truck. Do you see a trail?

There was one there, but not much of one.

I turned around and took a picture out the rear window of the truck, and  you can see how densely wooded the trail had become.

Now you may be asking... why don't you turn around?


A great question.. one I was asking... but there was no answer.

You see.... there was no place to turn around.


At first, as we drove along, and the trail didn't seem too bad, we thought that soon we would find a turnaround spot. 

We didn't. 

So... instead of turning around before it got THAT bad... we kept going, hoping to find a place that would allow us to turn around.

But, of course, that didn't happen.  And at one point, I was worried we might need a chainsaw to get back out, because a tree limb had fallen across the road after we had crossed, and I was worried we might not be able to move it.

But, that tree limb moved fairly easily, with both of us tugging on it, and we were back to the business of getting out of this dead end trail.

It soon became quite apparent that there was no turanaround out here, and that we simply had to back out.

And so... that's what we did.

My husband backed about a half mile or so, and put his trucking skills to good use, while I occasionally grabbed tree limbs and moved them out of the way of our side mirrors.  Finally, we got to the place where we could turn around and drive out of that overgrown trail we had chosen to explore.

We continued on down the mountain, enjoying the beautiful views in every direction, glad that we had gotten out of that dead-end road without any major difficulty.  My husband's skills as a truck driver certainly came into play as we backed out of that road.

I was very glad to see the junction of the next road.  It was quite a relief.  We got out of the truck, and just looked at the view around us.  It was such a gorgeous day, and the panoramic view there was remarkable.

Then we continued down off the mountain, and found ourselves following another dirt road that seemed to lead... somewhere... but it was definitely more traveled than the one we had been on before. We followed that road down to a creek bed.

We got out and walked around the river bed area.  The Forest Service had evidently placed rocks in front of the river bed in order that off-road vehicles could not traverse down here.

There were lots of signs of life down here, from moose poo to bear tracks and fresh bear poo even.  The crickets were singing, along with a loud chorus of frogs.  Nature's music is the best!

Fresh bear tracks in the mud.  There was lots of bear poo too... but I didn't take a picture of it... lol!

A view from down at the river, looking back up the hill.

There were lots of these green lillies with yellow flowers growing everywhere.

To finish off our adventurous day together, we ended up at a well known local restaurant that is situated over the Tourelle waterfall, The Falls Inn.  We stopped here to get a refreshing drink  and a light snack, and to watch the water crash and pound the rocks as it traveled onward south.  The West Branch of the Priest River flows under the Falls Inn creating the amazing Torelle waterfall. 

This is the view that is available from inside the Falls Inn looking out over the frothy water rushing downstream.  We enjoyed the view as we sipped our cool drinks, and snacked on a big order of fries and chicken strips that we shared.  I knew I needed to cook dinner once I got home for our children, so we chose to just share a light snack together.

The Falls Inn is well known in these parts for their "humongous" sandwiches which are piled high with meat, cheese and all the toppings. We didn't splurge on a sandwich today, as dinnertime was fast approaching, and I had two hungry teenagers waiting at home for dinner.  But... if you are ever in the area, and would like an amazing sandwich, the Falls Inn lays claim to the best sandwich in this neck o' the woods!

So.. this was the ending to our adventurous day together... one we enjoyed to the fullest, and hopefully next time we venture out on such a mission... we'll be just slightly more prepared for the unexpected than we were today...