Thursday, May 28, 2015

Mountain High Vistas

Our adventures in the mountains continue!  Friends of ours used some modern technology a.k.a. apps on their smart phones, and discovered a road -- unbeknownst to us -- that climbs and winds into mountains close by us. We had no idea such trails existed that were open to the public in this particular area.  Here in Idaho, much of the land belongs to the state, yet much belongs to private owners as well, and sometimes it is hard to differentiate the two.  There have been a few times we were exploring on what we thought was state land, and then realized that it belonged to private owners who wanted no trespassers.  So we have learned to be very careful about where we are, to respect private owners of property.  It can be tricky at times though!  However, our friends found a website of the county that shows who owns each piece of property, and through this site, you can look and see where the private land, and state land is.  This is how they found the road that leads through state land (which is open to the public), and where we were able to see beautiful views of the area we live in.

As we drove up the mountain trail in our 4x4 truck with our friends J & MH, we were enthralled with the wildflowers were putting on the most beautiful display as well!

Love these beautiful yellow flowers!

Lupins abundantly spreading their glory!

A wild rose about to burst forth in bloom...

The most beautiful sight this time of year - when all the wild roses begin to bloom!

 Their fragrance is absolutely divine!  

We climbed up into the mountains higher and higher...

Each turn and switchback led to more amazing views!

It was a beautiful day to be out on the mountains... the fluffy white clouds filled the sky with character, while the sun shone its warm rays lovingly around us.

Each bend and turn in the road was exciting... you just never know what you will see around the bend!

My zoom lens was able to zoom in and capture a closer view...

Can life get any better than this?  Mountain top views second to none!

Finally we reached the plateau, and this expanse greeted us... wow!  What a vista!

Just beyond the plateau was the tip of the little mountainous area we were on.  Can you see the trail headed straight to the top?

We climbed about halfway up to the top before stopping, and realizing we needed better shoes (namely hiking shoes!).

As  you can see, it was a very, very steep trail, almost straight up, and it would also help to have walking sticks too.  You can be sure we will be back soon to finish our climb to the top when we are better prepared! You can see how far we walked (see how far away our truck is!), and we were still nowhere close to the top...

From the halfway up point, this was the view we were able to see.  With the day being so clear, we could see many many miles away!

Thanks to Ronda who blogs at Island Mother, she told me that the correct name for this beautiful flowering shrub is ninebark!  Thanks Ronda!  These grow everywhere all over the mountains, and it is nice to know what to call them now!

More trails could be seen leading around the mountain, and our adventurous hearts wanted to follow them.  However... we decided to save that adventure for another time.

What a beautiful spot we had found.  I can imagine a lovely picnic spread out here with this vista, can't you?  I promise you, we will be back to explore this area further.  My husband has mentioned wanting to tent camp here overnight... now that sounds like an adventure, don't you think!  

For now, our adventure was drawing to a close as the rain clouds began to hover.  As we made our way back down the mountain, we enjoyed the views from the switchbacks, and were thankful to have enjoyed another beautiful day together with our friends JH and MH, and enjoying the amazing world that we live in.  I'm already planning that picnic with the mountain vista... while my husband is planning the tent adventure... there is no doubt we'll try to do both very soon.  :)   

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Rain Doesn't Stop the Fun

Memorial Day dawned here with clouds, thunder, lightning, and lots of rain.  Our plans  for the day were to go to a local state park with beautiful day area accommodations to grill, fish, hike, and relax. After looking at the weather forecast, we saw that there was a window of about 3-4 hours without rain, and we decided to go for it.

The skies were overcast, and the air was just a bit cool with a hint of dampness to it.  We thought we might find ourselves alone at the park... but everyone else had the same idea we did - enjoy the weather - rain or shine!  The lake docks were full of people fishing, and we were lucky to find a nice day use campsite close to the lake.

This particular lake is part of a state park, and has lots of wonderful amenities that making camping easier.  One of those things is two long fishing docks that extend way out into the lake.  Even with the weather being forbidding, the docks were full of families fishing.

This lake also has a beautiful beach area that is always popular with the children.  Several children - even in this cool weather - came running down the beach and went splashing in the water.  I really think children operate on different internal thermometers than adults!  You sure wouldn't catch me splashing in that cold water, but the kids didn't seem to mind it a bit!

After a family vacated the pavilion next to our camping site, we decided to inhabit the vacant site, after the rain started back up.  We enjoyed listening to the rain pour, as we stood around the indoor pavilion, and roasted marshmallows and ate watermelon.

Soon the rain tapered off, and the lake became quiet and still as glass.

Once the rain seemed to have stopped, we decided to walk through the woods.  We saw this gorgeous Lady's Slipper blooming along the trail.

I never cease to be amazed at the intricate beauty found in wildflowers!

The kids discovered some honeysuckle blooming in the trees.  We all got a handful of the lovely blooms, and sucked the sweetness out of each little bloom... what joy!

The trail was wide, well marked, and the fresh smell of rain was quite fragrant as we walked, sucking on our honeysuckle sugar...

Wild roses were popping their fresh pink faces out and their fragrance filled the air...

Oh how lovely to walk, and enjoy, the beautiful wildflowers blooming happily away in the midst of the forest green.

Not sure what this wildflower is called (need to remember to ask my son), but thought it was pretty, and took a picture to share.

At last we came to the little stream that came pouring out of the lake, headed downstream...

And the rain began again! We all took shelter under a large grand fir for a few minutes, and then decided to cross to the other side of the stream.

We entered a very thick forest of cedar and fir, and the large branches just about blocked out all the rain.  We also saw a little teepee of sorts, that someone had constructed.

We turned to walk back to the camp site, as it looked like the rain wasn't about to quit.  However, about halfway back, the rain stopped, and we found more honeysuckle....

As we drove home from a wonderful day spent at the lake, the clouds were parting, and the cool air was mixing with the warm soil that caused a lovely mist in the air.  We enjoyed the beautiful skies as we drove home, completely relaxed, and thankful to have spent the day outside, in spite of the rain, thanking the Lord for our family, our friends, and this great country we live in that we can enjoy such beautiful freedoms.  We are blessed!

Monday, May 25, 2015

Memorial Day Memories

This year Memorial Day weekend was simply wonderful!  We had the most beautiful weather Saturday and Sunday, and we made the most of it!

The weekend started off with a little show from the toms and hens on our property.

As we pulled into our driveway, we were greeted by two toms who had their feathers all plumed out, courting the ladies...

The ladies weren't acting terribly impressed...

But that wasn't stopping the toms from performing!

We have seen the toms and hens at different times, but not together when they were courting.

You have no idea how big a tom is until you see him in full spread!  They are about twice the size of the hens.  After a while, the hens decided a chase was in order, and all of them took off into the woods... with the toms following of course.  It was a great show while it lasted!

Then my family got busy helping us put up a greenhouse inside my garden area.  We decided after the disaster last year with the very early freeze, that a greenhouse is a necessity in order to have tomatoes in the fall.

We put up a very simple and relatively inexpensive greenhouse using stakes, cattle panels, and large heavy duty plastic sheeting.  We put stakes in the ground, and bent the cattle panels between them. We tied the cattle panels together with cable ties, and then covered with the plastic sheeting, and used heavy duty twine to tie down the plastic.

My husband had tilled up the garden area, and I spread all my compost and bags of leaves out.  At the time this picture was taken, I had not planted yet.

The chicks are growing!  We had to move them into a bigger box, and they are quite happy with their new temporary home.  We used the huge box that our water pressure tank for the well came in, which is about 6 feet long, 2 feet wide, and 3 feet tall.  It is perfect to house these little chicks who are "spreading their wings", and trying to fly.

They are already beginning to put on their adult feathers, and losing their baby down feathers.  It is pretty neat to watch their personalities develop as they grow.  I have found that the three chicks our hens hatched are still the most loving and excited to see me.  The others still run for the corner when we put our hands in, but they are getting more brave about eating out of my hand.

A little town up in the mountains puts on a big celebration for Memorial Day, and we made our way up there just in time for their parade.

Saturday was a beautiful day, with temps up in the 80s, and bright blue skies.

We strolled through the little booths set up, and had lunch at one of the local restaurants, enjoying the beautiful day.

Then we left all the people behind, and headed up to a quiet little lake back in the mountains.  We have visited here before and fished, but today we wanted to do some hiking in the backwoods.

The weather was simply perfect for a day out in the woods.  The sun was warm but not too hot, and the air was warm with a tinge of cool mountain air, just perfect for a day back in the woods.  As we arrived at the little lake, its serene setting was quiet, still, and inviting.

There were lovely little spots for fishing all around the lake, including this log bench that allowed for a perfect view of the lake set in its backdrop against the mountain.

We hiked around to the back of the lake, and then headed up towards the mountains for our hike.

Huge firs and cedars surrounded the lake with their stately trunks.

Fish jumped here and there as we walked.  My husband and son somewhat mourned the fact that we did not bring fishing poles...

As we began to hike up the trail into the woods, we passed several mountain streams with little footbridges built across them.  We walked for about 4-5 miles.  I had brought along a pedometer, but it quit working sometime during our hike, and so by judging how far we can walk in an hour, I guessed that it was about 4-5 miles.  Our son has been in a Forestry class in high school, and showed us his knowledge as we walked, pointing out bushes, shrubs, trees, plants, and using both their Latin names, and traditional or local names.  We stopped midway and enjoyed a snack sitting on a mossy log overlooking the little mountain stream.

After our hike we found a little park store that sold homemade ice cream and waffle cones and enjoyed a sweet treat there.

After we got home, we came back out to the property to check on the garden.  We brought the dogs along with us.  One of the neighbor's cats showed up for a visit, and unfortunately, had to make a quick dash to the closest tree.

Roger was so excited about treeing the cat that he literally tried to climb the tree, while Annie on the other hand, sat still, and patiently watched the cat and never budged.

After several attempts to "climb the tree" Roger finally quit trying.  I have never seen a dog try to climb a tree before!  And the funniest part was this... Roger came over to see me as I called him away from the tree.  When he rushed back to the scene... he began barking, and trying to climb up - the wrong tree! We were laughing so hard as we watched him bark, and run around the wrong tree, and try to climb it. I have never seen the old saying "you're barking up the wrong tree" in action before, and it was pretty funny! We had a great laugh over Roger and his silliness!  We packed up the dogs into the truck so that the poor cat could make its way back down the tree, and drove over to the river.

Just as we arrived, the geese were flying in, so we did not let the dogs out of the truck.  That was a terrible disappointment for the dogs, but it was for the best.  As we walked to the edge of the bank, we saw little goslings running for the water, but this time, as they got closer to the water, they were now able to fly, and it was clear that they were attempting to join their parents out on the river for the night. We enjoyed the beautiful sunset as it cast its rosy blue-tinged colors across the landscape. Again, it was a beautiful ending to a wonderful day.

My husband, who is a veteran, and I shared on the ride back home, how thankful we are to live in such a beautiful land with freedoms that have been fought for us by those who just wanted to be able to live their lives in a land with abundant freedom.  We are so blessed to live in this great country of the United States of America, and I pray that the freedoms that we enjoy today, and that were fought for by brave men and women, will continue on for many generations to come.   I never want to forget the sacrifices made by so many, enjoyed by us all, and to be thankful for the blessings that we enjoy as we live in the Land of the Free!

Happy Memorial Day :)