Thursday, July 31, 2008


Last night at bedtime, when I thought Nellie was barking at the deer, Mike said whatever it was had scared her. She was running out of the north field back to the house. Then I thought I heard the crunching of gravel, but we decided not to go out again. About 11:30 I was awakened by the same footsteps-in-the-gravel sound, but when I looked out, I didn’t see anything.

After lunch today, Mike started setting up the horseshoe set Hallie gave him for Christmas a few years back, and as we were working in front of the house, our attention was drawn to movement at the pond. Five horses and a mule headed out from the path at the pond into the south field, heading west toward Little Canyon, where they live. They belong to the hunting lodge there.
“Bark,” said Nellie. “Woof!” Then she plastered her snout to my knee and stayed there.

Mike made phone calls to our farmer and to the owner of the horses. It’s about all we can do.
There’s just one positive. It’s good to have some of the stuff they leave behind in the composter, so with my trusty companion, Nellie, I searched the grounds for some of those piles and toted it to the composter.

Yes, the horses probably did eat the strawberries, judging by evidence unnoticed before. “So – that exonerates the deer?” you ask. Only a little – only a little.


Last night while I was washing the supper dishes, a medium-sized mule deer doe entered our yard through the north field. Behind her came three small bucks. I called for Mike, who came running from the den to stand beside me at the window. Nellie picked up on the excitement and ran circles behind us, finally realizing she could view the scene at “her” window in the dining room. She planted herself there and barked sharply, contemplating whether or not she wanted to go out.

Mike and I had never seen such small bucks – antlered small males. The smaller deer decided to move back to the field, but the doe seemed confused. She made like she would head off to the raspberry patch, then circled in place and also went into the field. In mule deer fashion – springing jumps – the party cut through the north field and across our lane into June’s field – probably on their way to the garbanzos. When they were a good way off, we let Nellie out. You aren’t supposed to let your dog chase the deer, but I’m all for letting the deer know I have a dog. It’s my yard and they do a lot of damage.

I felt the deer were still moving around the yard at bedtime. Nellie put up a ruckus in the north field, and once we quieted her, I thought I could hear movement in the gravel driveway. Mike says he doesn’t know why they would bother our plants when they have the garbanzos. I say there’s no telling what they think.

We didn’t see much hummingbird activity when we arrived yesterday, but I made the nectar anyway and once the feeders were filled the hummers gradually returned. It’s easy pickings for hummingbirds at Kathy and Mike’s – at least when we’re here. KW

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


We came back to the farm this morning after a few days in town. It seems like we’re getting a little smarter about these trips to town – we take less and there’s less to bring back. Still, I always think it’s a day’s work to pack and unpack – chores worth the reward of the rest of the day off. Do I sound like a teen-ager?

On the way out of town we stopped by the farmers’ market which is held Wednesday mornings behind the Community Center. Patronizing the local farmers’ market is one of the “cut your grocery expenses” suggestions. We haven’t shopped the market before, so we thought we’d give it a try. We bought a little produce but on the whole we agreed it wasn’t really impressive. The tomatoes looked like they needed more time on the vine; the green peppers were small. The beets were plentiful and looked good. I saw lots of summer squash, but I’m happy to report my own town vines are producing this year, and I picked three large zucchini suitable for grating and one “eater.” One table was full of packaged cookies, but Mike reminded me that they would be loaded with “sat fat.” And one gentleman was displaying fresh homemade jams and jellies. One lady had her table loaded with potholders for which she was asking $1.10 each. I bought three. (Now you know what I’ll give everyone for Christmas!) I didn’t count the vendors but Mike and I agree there were less than ten. I would stop again but I wouldn’t re-arrange my schedule to do so. To be fair, though, it’s been a cold year, and perhaps gardens are late in producing.

What about you? Do you visit the farmers’ market in your community? I remember Murray and Douglas talking about a farmers’ market in Philadelphia, and I’ve heard that the farmers’ market in Moscow is good.
My raspberries have really come on this year. You might remember that it looked like we might have a good crop of berries so we put some fencing around the bushes. The crop began to ripen last week. So far I’ve picked about ¾ cup of berries altogether. (Stop laughing – last year I picked three berries!) Last week it looked like the birds were picking them off while they were still under ripe, so I put netting over the bushes. While we were at Wal-Mart I bought 10 yards of additional netting at $.77 per yard and it was a good thing, too! While we were away the past two days, the strawberry border on the south side of the house was thoroughly munched. I suspect the deer because the work seemed more methodical than I would expect from rodents or grasshoppers. The developed leaves were eaten and the core of the plant left to sprout again if it can muster the strength. So I covered those plants with netting, too. It’s disappointing because the plants were really doing quite well and though I didn’t expect them to bear this year, this will constitute a setback.
[We ordered a new camera, a Nikon CoolPix P60. Maybe it will be here by the weekend so that I can start illustrating the blog again. We returned the little Fugi purse model.] KW

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


August 7 (Saturday)
At Mammoth. Are going to back track on loop today. Will see Tower Falls, etc. Will try to make it out of north entrance this evening and hurry home. Think it will take three days to home. Love, Momma

August 8 (Sunday) 9:20 a.m. at Livingston, Montana
Dear Girls: We checked out at the north entrance at Gardiner last p.m.5:00 o’clock. Drove 23 miles, camped on creek with fine big cottonwood trees. Driving along Yellowstone River on Yellowstone Trail Road – rough. Can’t say what day we arrive. May phone or telegraph from Spokane. Weather cloudy and quite cool. We are very anxious to get home. Planned to be home sooner. Please have plenty of vegetables cooked for our first meal and a big cake, canned or fresh fruit. If handy, chicken. Love, Momma

August 9, 1926, at Anaconda, MT, 9:35 a.m.
Dear Girls: We made about 190 miles yesterday from 36 miles beyond Livingston to Bozeman 25 miles, Three Forks 34 miles, Butte 69, Anaconda 25. We were in two hard showers. At Bozeman we were one day late for their round-up. The town was finely decorated with bunting and flags. Lynn has a flat tire and has to have a tire vulcanized, so we are delayed again. I’m getting frantic on account of Cora and Graham and how you are getting along. Love, Momma (travels are writing diaries)
[Much like life when one has a blog -- but I love every minute and so did she.]

August 10, 1926 (Tuesday), Missoula, a.m.
We didn’t leave Anaconda till 12:30. Ate our lunch there and drove 117 miles. It was windy and cold and we were in one hard shower. It has been cold ever since we left the Park. We wear our coats and sweaters and put the curtains on. We are trying to make it as far as Coeur d’Alene today. Spokane is over 200 miles away. We won’t get home till Thursday. I’m just wild when I stop to think of it. Hope we don’t have any more car trouble. In haste. Love, Momma
["No, no -- that can't be," said Mike when I told them the Yellowstone travelers camped at Spangle on the way home. But that's what happened. They traveled back through Montana to Missoula, then over to Spokane, before returning to the farm. Well, there was no Lolo Pass -- at least, not an improved road, so it seems to me they would have been better off to go back the way they came, especially since Ina is obviously nervous. According to identification on the backs of the photos, the one of Shirley on the left was taken at Spangle, WA, on Wednesay, August 11, 1926. The photo of Vance with the little Boston terrier was taken at Three Toots Camp at Kellogg, Idaho, on August 10, 1926.]

Monday, July 28, 2008


August 4, 1926 (postmark)
We’re at Old Faithful Camp and are just packing to leave. The geysers are wonderful and we’ll see a few more today. The bears didn’t eat dad – contrary to all expectations. We expect to camp at West Thumb of Yellowstone Lake and go on to the Tetons tomorrow. I hope the fences are standing up. Vance

August 5 (Thursday)
At Fishing Bridge Camp on Yellowstone Lake. Left Jackson Lake Camp after lunch yesterday and made this camp among the trees. Saw a bear in camp standing up being fed. Mother bear and cub in camp this a.m. The next move is to back track 5 miles to see Natural Bridge and knotted pines. Then on to Grand Canyon [of the Yellowstone], I think. We are getting awful dirty. Bernice says the nighties will get up and walk off with a blanket on each arm and your first sight of us will be Irl’s pajamas coming in with a blanket on each arm. Getting hungry for home cooking. Love to all. Kiss Shirley Jean for me. Momma

August 6 (Friday)
Dear Girls:
We are camped on the Yellowstone about 9 miles above the falls and Grand Canyon. The men have gone fishing crazy, but we’ll have to begin to hurry home. Each has caught a fine trout except Vance. They went off about 5:00 this a.m. in Lynn’s car to fish. Yesterday they tried it in Yellowstone Lake and River at Fishing Bridge Camp but no luck so we went on to Grand Canyon. We use only superlatives here – Upper and Lower Falls – Upper Falls 109 feet and Lower Falls 308. Then we drove back about 9 miles so they could fish. Lovely camp – only two other parties here. A bear came into camp this a.m. about 4:30 and got the men up. He was turning over pots and pans. Did I tell you that a mother bear and cub were in the big camp yesterday a.m.? The girls were still sleeping but I find it hard to do in more ways than one so got up and built a fire. The bears left. [!????] Love, Momma [who lived to tell the tale]

[Remember the official 1926 Yellowstone rules? "DO NOT FEED THE BEARS."
Left -- Two Momma Bears.
Center -- "I'm not afraid of you. See? I'm not afraid."
Right -- "Aw shucks, Miss! I just can't take your candy."]

Sunday, July 27, 2008


I was down at the pond doing a little algae clean-up with the pond rake while Nellie was participating in her usual pastime of trying to catch frogs. Now Nellie is well practiced at this sport but I’ve never known her to actually catch one. She will usually point before lunging and when she finally lunges the frog leaps. So I was really surprised to see Nellie swimming out of the pond with a frog dangling from her mouth. She had been splashing around in the little slip that connects the two ponds. Naturally I had to closer investigate this event. Nellie actually had a bird in her mouth and the frog had the bird’s head in his mouth and would not or could not let go. Now I’m talking about what appeared to be a full grown robin! That was one ambitious and hungry frog because the robin was every bit as big as he was. I really apologize for forgetting the camera because you’re probably not going to believe this story. M/W

Saturday, July 26, 2008


Mixing a batch of cookies in my mother’s kitchen one day years ago, I found a moth larvae sitting on top of the soda box. “Hmmph!” said Mother; “he must have been desperate!” (Of course, she was alluding to the fact that you usually find moth larvae in flour, not soda.)

I thought of that again when I started working on the “Challis” coverlet, so called because I started it in 1985 when we spent a summer in Challis, Idaho, while Mike worked at the bank there. I wanted a simple project – something just to keep my hands busy – so I settled on a scrap afghan made of small granny squares. I took my own yarn scraps as well as begging some from Mother. I used a hodgepodge of yarn varieties, the only criteria being that the yarn had to be scraps. Only the black edging yarn could be purchased new. In the end I didn’t have enough for even a small coverlet, so it’s been a long-term project and not one I’m especially proud of. Now and then I get it out, make more squares, sew some together, and put it away again. But with this last time out, I discovered some squares had been nibbled – moth eaten. And thinking of that moth on the soda box, I wondered if it was desperate enough to eat synthetic fiber or – more likely – was there wool in some of those scraps?

So, yes, I identified the yarn in question – two shades of rosy pink – and pulled all loose squares in those colors from the pile. Then I removed any squares of that yarn from the coverlet in progress. That was a little difficult but not impossible and I did it successfully.

I’ll finish that coverlet some day. I think it would be quite nice draped over a chaise on the porch. KW

Friday, July 25, 2008


This is a sequel to the HITTING THE WALL blog posted July 3rd when it was 92 degrees up here. I had decided I would try that ride again under better conditions to see if old Father Time really is grabbing me by the tail and slowing me down.

Although I didn’t get started this morning till 9:30 it was much cooler. I drank half of a Dr. Pepper with an oat bran muffin and hit the road. From just where the downhill begins to highway 12 is 8 miles. It took 20 minutes to coast down. After a brief stop in the park watching some kids practice baseball I ate half a Big Hunk and started back up. I kept my cadence up concentrating on lift rather than push and I knew I was making good time. My goal has always been to make the 8 miles in an hour. I made it this morning in a little over 56 minutes which may be a PR – certainly my fastest time in recent years. Who needs Powerbars when you have Big Hunks?

Thursday, July 24, 2008


Mike seemed satisfied with placement of the wind gauge on the roof peak. “It’s too bad,” I observed, “that you will have to climb back up there again.”

“Oh no,” he said. “Why would I have to get back up there?”

“Oh – something will happen. It will blow off or need maintenance or something,” I said aloud. To myself I said, “But more than likely you’ll decide you don’t like it there.”

So I truly wasn't surprised when a few days later he said, “The trees in the grove shelter the house too much and I just don’t think the wind measurement is accurate. I’m going to put the gauge on the barn.” (Do I know this man – or what?)

So today he made the switch. I hardly watched. He managed to get the gauge off the house in much the same manner as he placed it. Using the same method – rope over barn and tied to 4-wheeler – he pulled himself up to the peak of the barn roof and sitting astride he affixed the gauge. But alas! The piece of lathing he stuck through the woodpecker hole near the apex fell back through the hole and onto the barn floor. From inside the barn, I had to climb to the second story, pick up the lathing, then climb high enough against the inside wall to poke the lathing back through the hole so that he could catch it and tie the cable onto it. Then I carefully pulled the cable, attached to the lathing, back through the hole. I forgot the camera, remember, so there are no pictures of this momentous event. You’ll just have to use your imagination.

Speaking of the camera, we’re thinking of returning the little Fugi we bought. I think it’s rather feminine in appearance and action, and I just don’t think it works as the family camera. And neither one of us can see the viewer -- or whatever they call that screen -- when outdoors. If you have any words of wisdom on digital cameras, now is the time to share.

P.S. Hallie has placed a link to our “sister blog,” Mile High Warnocks, on the right side of this page. I feel confident in inviting anyone who visits this blog to check theirs also. They post occasional pictures and updates on Emerson and a recent post by Jack tells of his trip to Idaho. KW

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


Today as Mike and I cleaned the farmhouse, I couldn’t help but think of Mother and Daddy. They followed me around all day as I dusted, washed windows, did some baking.

Always about this time in July, Mother, Daddy, and I would come to the farm and spend the day cleaning in preparation for a reunion / picnic in honor of Papa Portfors’ birthday, which was July 31. Regardless of the temperature outside, Daddy would start a fire in the old wood cook stove and draw water from the cistern to be heated. Since there was no electricity here, cleaning was a matter of dusting, sweeping, mopping, cleaning windows, perhaps washing some knick-knacks. We would make the beds look comfortable and hang clean curtains. I followed Mother around doing what she told me to do. Daddy mopped the kitchen floor, handled changes of water, and cleaned the porches. We carried drinking water and lunch from home and sat at the old table in the kitchen to eat it.

I say we “always” did that. It seemed like a regular thing every year – and it was -- but it just couldn’t have gone on for as many years as it seems like it did. I suppose it started in the late ‘50s and continued through the ‘60s, even though the excuse – Papa’s birthday – went away with his declining health.

If only we could vacuum,” Mother would say, and finally she insisted on having a gas generator. That proved to be handy, though the noise was a bit overbearing.

Sometimes it still thrills me to walk over to the sink and turn on the water – or to turn on a light as twilight approaches. We take so much for granted.

We arrived here at the farm about 8:30 this morning. The day is cool for July – about 72. A great day to make zucchini bread with the zucchini I picked at the town house. A sad thing – in the process of pack, unpack, re-pack, I left the camera in town. But – I have the cell phone.
[Since I forgot the camera, I illustrated this blog with some country photos not yet shown. The top photo is of a toad resting under a strawberry plant. As you can see, I finished painting the gnome. And the last photo is of a robin's nest just outside the sunroom door, basically above the clothesline. The photo was taken in June, but the family was still there last week.] KW


Geocaches are everywhere but to me the ones that are most rewarding are those that present a challenge, preferably with a high terrain rating. These are usually back country or wilderness caches that require considerable planning in advance. It is essential to have a good mapping program. I have Mapsource which is specifically for Garmin units and I also have National Geographic’s TOPO with a detailed version for Idaho. The Mapsource is actually two packages, one for streets and roads and one for topography. The TOPO is basically a topo map but it also has back country roads. All this software has the capability to allow you to place waypoints anywhere on the map and then download them into your GPS unit. My Garmin GPS Map 60 CSx unit also accepts memory cards with these maps. You can download the actual Mapsource maps into the GPS. There is no way that Jackson and I could have found the 10 geocaches on our recent trip without this aid.

I have been working on about a dozen similar caches on Craig mountain in the Waha area south of Lewiston. With only 3 remaining to find I made a trip up Monday with the 4 wheeler on the trailer and my mountain bike strapped on the 4 wheeler. My first search was for Mule Deer Barn which is fairly new and had never been found. The main reason it hadn’t is because it requires 6 miles of non-motorized travel on a road that is closed except for snowmobiles in the winter. There are many little roads in this area, some private and some not. On the third attempt I found the right one and biked in on a hilly and rough road. I found the cache and scored a FTF (first to find, which is a coup in geocaching). About half way back out I discovered I had left my sunglasses so back I went. By the time I had finished that cache I had logged 10 miles on the bicycle.

I had a route mapped out for What a Great Splash which is the site of Elk Creek Falls. Unfortunately, unbeknownst to me, these roads were closed to motorized traffic as well. I had already expended too much effort to quit at this point. By the time I reached the cache I had traveled 7 miles on rough steep roads, crossed 8 fences and 5 streams. Then I had to hike down a steep brushy mountain in shorts to find the cache. By the time I got back to the 4 wheeler my bike odometer indicated 24 miles. The falls were spectacular and I thought I had taken lots of pictures but, unfortunately I didn’t (I won't relate that fiasco).

I still didn’t get the third and remaining one due to more closed roads. Now that I know that those roads are closed I will have to do some more map work before going after the last one. Can you believe Hallie thinks I’m crazy having all this fun? M/W

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


I have missed you all so much! I’m so glad to be back.

Arriving at the town house on Friday, the first thing we did was start up the computers, noting immediately that we had no internet service. We were advised by CableOne, our town internet provider, that someone had hacked into our email account and had set up two accounts from which they were sending junk mail. We were further advised that this could be the result of a virus or a security issue with our new router and that until we took our machines to a “dealer” for a complete check – both the PC and the laptop -- our internet service would remain disabled. It felt like the end of the world – and CableOne didn’t care.

Mike ascertained that the router was secure, but since it was the weekend, we waited until Monday to take the computers to a “dealer.” After discussing computer viruses at a family gathering Sunday night, I just about decided to opt out on computers – just about. But – making a long story short – the computers were both cleaned and the tech said not only were they clean, they were some of the cleanest he had ever seen. So, we picked them up this afternoon – but that’s not the end of the story. We still could not access email or our CableOne account, so Mike and I spent an hour on the phone with CableOne techs getting our account and our computers up and running. The whole thing felt like a nightmare. CableOne did agree to reimburse the $25.00 service fee on the computers, but that hardly seems to compensate for what we’ve been through.

We expected to go back to the farm this afternoon, but we decided to postpone until tomorrow.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Reader Notice: Blog Delay

There may be a short delay in blog updates due to some technical difficulties at the Clarkston home. Kathy and Mike have not disappeared and will resurface soon with many stories, I'm sure.

Enjoy the weekend!

Thursday, July 17, 2008


"There’s plenty more trash on the road,” said Mike after his bike ride one day. “I think we should do another pick-up. We’ll hook the trailer to the 4-wheeler and use it as a base of operation.”

Today was the day. After breakfast, the two of us set out to pick up trash along Curfman and Miller Roads. You may recall that the last time we picked up 65 cans. This time we were prepared with plenty of sacks and two 5-gallon paint buckets. We decided it would be okay for the dogs to run along with us. It’s five miles from our place to the end of Miller Road, but there are at least two ponds where they could -- and did -- refresh themselves.

After some initial confusion on my part, our pick-up system began in earnest. We played leapfrog with the 4-wheeler, emptying the aluminum cans and other trash we picked up into sacks in the trailer. The dogs stayed with Mike.

While we were working on Miller Road, one of Kyle Meacham’s farm helpers passed us in his big John Deere tractor. Later, Mike met him again as he [the farmer] was working a field. The farmer stopped his tractor, got down, and came over to shake Mike’s hand and thank him for what we were doing. He said he thought the roadside trash was terrible -- that he he didn’t throw trash on the road himself but allowed that not everyone will pick it up. He said we were awesome.

I guess that was the affirmation we needed. We finished Miller Road, then accommodated our speed to the dogs and brought them back to our place. After a brief respite, we chained Duke, told Nellie to stay, and set out again. If you know the area, we took Curfman Road past Beldings to Cemetery Road and Cemetery Road to the highway, the highway back to Curfman Road at the grain bins. We did that mile stretch of Curfman Road on foot, playing leapfrog with the 4-wheeler again. By the time we finished it was 1:00 and we were hot, thirsty, hungry, and tired. [Two deer stopped briefly to gaze at us, making it possible for me to catch this shot.]

We gathered one big garbage sack of aluminum cans and two big garbage sacks of trash. I found three bottle caps (all Coors) but only kept two. There were many more bottles than caps. All in all, we put 16 miles on the 4-wheeler. And I am filthy!!!!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


For a long time I’ve wanted a weather station on the farm that would give wind and rain data in addition to temperature and humidity. Just before the end of the year I saw a Lacrosse Technology unit on sale in Cabela’s at a deep discount so I ordered it. We’ve had a Lacrosse for years in town that gives temperature (indoors & outdoors), humidity and minimums and maximums and it has been a really good unit. Of course, I didn’t get to install this new unit until the first part of June. I had all kinds of problems – rain gauge didn’t work at all, wind speed appeared inaccurate, manual was terrible and even incorrect and the unit was complex and not user-friendly at all. After talking and corresponding with Lacrosse several times I eventually returned it to Cabela’s and exchanged it for a more expensive model. It just arrived and I got it installed today – no easy feat.

This model is much less sophisticated than the other one even though it cost more. It runs on batteries only whereas the other one could run with an adapter and would also upload data to a computer. I didn’t need something that fancy. Just tell me how hard the wind is blowing. This one will do that. Of course, it’s in beauforts. Don’t tell me you don’t know what a beaufort is. Well, in case you’re that ignorant you can get the details at (as I did). Actually the Beaufort scale makes pretty good sense. It also gives the wind speed as well as gusts in mph.

Naturally, the toughest part of the installation is mounting the wind gauge. It needs to be high, unobstructed and within 32 feet of the thermo/hydro sensor because it must be connected with a wire. The rain gauge on this one transmits a signal whereas it had to be hard wired on the other one. We finally concluded that our only option for the wind gauge was the apex of the roof on the north end of the house. This house has about the most inaccessible roof as any place I’ve seen. Finally got it done with sweat, blood and ropes. Fortunately it was a fairly calm day – no more than 1 beaufort. I can tell you, I did hit the Easy button when the project was finished. M/W

Monday, July 14, 2008


Mike and I had appointments in town this morning and returned to the farm after lunch. “Will you be going on a bike ride this afternoon?” I asked casually as we approached the lane.

“NO!” was the emphatic answer. “I’m planning some serious hammock time!” Mike hardly ever says that. I think he barely slept while Jack was here -- everyday was filled with some exciting adventure.
Unfortunately, the photo I took of Mike enjoying his rest in the hammock wouldn't upload to the blog -- I'm thinking because I cropped it several times. I took it at a distance so I wouldn't disturb him and then tried to doctor it. It evidently didn't work. So, you'll just have to use your imagination this time -- Mike stretched out on the hammock, book resting on his shoulder, Nellie under the hammock at his feet, Duke to his right.

The hollyhocks are in bloom on the south side of the house. They started coming up in the yard about the third year we were working on the house. We didn’t know what they were at first but they bloomed and were pretty and we just let them do their thing. Gradually the plants moved back toward the house. Now they re-bloom every year. They aren’t trouble-free. They’re subject to a rust as well as some insect damage. They also die back and make a bit of a mess, but we still enjoy. I think we treasure them because they just sort of appeared at a time when the landscape was bleak here.

The hollyhock, of course, is an old flower. A friend told me that in the days of the outhouse, people planted hollyhocks around the outhouse to camouflage it. Then, when you wanted to use the outhouse, you would ask, “May I see your hollyhocks?”

I have wondered how the hollyhocks came to appear here so suddenly. Were the seeds in the ground and disturbed in the remodel process? Or, did the birds deliver a few seeds to our yard? KW

Sunday, July 13, 2008


I had been saving some remote geocaches located in the Umatilla National Forest for a long time. In preparation for Jackson’s visit a couple of weeks ago I spent quite a bit of time placing strategic waypoints on a map along with the geocaches to help and find the caches and not get lost. There is a labyrinth of forest roads in the Blue Mountains where the caches are located.

Saturday morning bright and early we embarked with the 4 wheeler loaded on the trailer. A short distance west of Anatone we parked the truck and hopped on the 4 wheeler. I had built a seat and grab handles for Jackson and we both had our crash helmets (not that we’d be likely to need them except for wind protection).

Our first cache was Big Butte Lookout and although we could get close we tried 3 or 4 roads before hitting the right one. The coords were off which we knew from previous comments but it wasn’t too long before Jack snagged it.

Next was Rattlesnake Overlook. We found the site easily enough but finding the cache was another matter. After almost an hour of searching we gave up and started to leave. On the way out we reread the hints and thought we’d try some more. After another 15 minutes of fruitless searching (all on a cliff of sorts) we gave up again when suddenly Jack found it. It was in a hole under a rock where I had previously looked but missed it because it was so dark in the little cave and so bright out.

By the time our day ended 10 geocaches were logged and over 60 miles were on the 4 wheeler. We also saw lots of wildlife including one big bull elk up close and personal. We didn’t get back to the house until after 7:00 pm. It was one fantastic day of geocaching and adventure.

Friday, July 11, 2008


Jack and Grandpa Mike discuss upcoming 4-wheeler trip which will include geo-caching.

Jack rides the "tote-goat."

Jack was allowed to ride the 4-wheeler in the yard.

Below are photos of Jack's first experience shooting clay pidgeons with a shotgun. He broke his first target, then had some misses until Grandpa's instructions came together for him and he broke three in a row. The session ended on a high note -- a good hit!

Thursday, July 10, 2008


Here are some photos taken today with our new Fugi FinePix Z20. What d’ya think?

Jack rides 4-wheeler in yard.

Duke relaxes in yard while Jack reads in hammock.

On right, Nellie looks uncomfortable because she is. She doesn't like it when Mike mows the lawn.

Here's a photo looking over the grain as it gradually turns to amber in the summer heat. (Little Canyon in distance.)

Wednesday, July 9, 2008


The long awaited time had come. Grandson, Jackson, arrived Monday afternoon and we set out on our backpacking trip early Tuesday morning. I woke Jack at 5 am and we were on the road within the hour for Pittsburgh Landing. I had made a bed in the back of the truck so Jack could get some more shuteye and he and Nellie snoozed among the gear.

The County was applying dust abatement chemical to the road in to the landing so we had a twenty minute wait coupled with a very slow journey following a pilot truck. It probably cost us at least a half hour.

By the time we found the trailhead it was about 9:10 am and already getting hot for the six mile hike to Kirkwood ranch. Jack had a slight accident on our first creek crossing at Corral creek and twisted his ankle a little but fortunately, nothing serious. As we trudged up and down the hills I could tell Jack was really feeling the heat but there was never a complaint. Nellie too was getting overheated so we had to take a timeout while I took her about 200 yards down to the river. We were wearing shorts, big mistake, and the cheat grass would cover our socks and get in our boots.

We made it into Kirkwood a little after 1:00 pm, had some delicious left-over pizza and then hit the river for a long refreshing swim and relief from the heat. I got camp set up and we were in and out of the river several times during the afternoon. We toured the museum at the ranch and logged the geocache at Hanna Cabin.

We had a delicious supper of alfredo pasta with vegetables and salmon. It was really tasty. Kathy had made us a batch of peanut butter golden graham treats which hit the spot too.

As we were really tired we turned in before 9:00 pm. It was so hot we slept on top of our sleeping bags in our underwear. It didn’t get cool enough to crawl into the bags until one or two o’clock.

In order to beat the heat we were on the trail by 6:20 the next morning. Jack was on a Hell’s Canyon high and was dogging my heels all the way. Next year I may not be able to keep up with him.

We made very good time but had one very unfortunate incident. Nellie is a seasoned pack dog but this was her first trip in “bird” country. We were having trouble keeping her on the trail (with her 10 pound pack) because of all the chukars. She would get a scent and leave the trail and when she went on point the only alternative was for me to also leave the trail to flush the birds. I took a picture of one of these nice points with pack about ¼ mile before we reached our starting point. Not until we were back at the truck did I discover the camera was missing. Apparently instead of slipping it into my pack pocket I just slipped it under a strap and it fell to the ground. We hiked back to the point site in an area with two feet high cheat grass and searched for 30 or 40 minutes with no luck. I hated losing the pictures more than the loss of the camera.

We had a great time logging 6 geocaches on the way home. And, of course, after supper we went camera shopping. We got what should be a nice one but now we must learn to use it. M/W


August 3, 1926 (Tuesday)
At Yellowstone Lake Camp. A bear came into camp last night and ate off tables, etc. We had lots of fun. [?!!!!] This a.m. a mother and cubs came into camp and we got pictures. Weather fine. Love, Momma
[The pictures mentioned must not have turned out. Just wait, though!]

August 3, 1926 (Tuesday)
Jackson Lake Camp
Dear Girls:
I’m going to start right off by asking one of you to phone to Aunt Ida and ask her to buy that green hat for me. We’re camped near Jackson Lake and have a splendid view of all or nealy all of the Tetons. Words can’t express their wild, rugged beauty. The boys went out fishing in a row boat. They didn’t get any fish but although Dad went with them he has gone out shore fishing now. We’re having a sagebrush fire tonight. We’ll start back around the Grand Loop in the Park tomorrow. Bernice and I are going out boating if the lake is not too bad and all goes well. Shirley

From Ina’s diary letter – last entry
August 4, 1926 (Wednesday)
At Jackson Lake Camp, called Leek, we plan to go back through the southeast gate to Yellowstone Camp and on to Lake Camp still on Yellowstone Lake, tonight. It is now near noon. Bernice is just telling how well she feels and is so glad of it.

With love to all. Hope you are getting along all right. This is such a wonderful trip! Tell Ernest we remembered him yesterday. [Note that Ina says, "This is such a wonderful trip!" It makes it all the funnier later.]
[The photo above is of Bernice and Shirley at the Lake Camp Curio Store. And Milo -- you were interested to know if Bernice's birthday was November 3. No, it wasn't -- but my dad's oldest sister, Pearl, was born November 3, 1892. Coincidently, she passed away November 4, 1952, when she was just 60.]

Tuesday, July 8, 2008


Jack is here now. Mike and I drove to the Spokane airport yesterday to get him. At the Frontier counter we were advised that just one of us could check through security and meet Jack at the gate. Mike went. “Airports aren’t as much fun as they used to be,” I thought to myself.

So, of course, on the ride back to the Valley, I picked Jack’s brain about stuff. It’s a grandmother’s prerogative – you know – to get the inside scoop, as it were. “When will Kelly and the baby be home?” I asked. “Wednesday,” said Jack.

“How long will Kelly be off work?” “Three months, I think,” replied Jack. “Of course,” he went on, “she’s working now. She has a laptop and she’s working from her hospital bed.”

Silently my thinker was running rampant: Wow! What a woman! And knowing Kelly, who appears to be a bundle of energy anyway, I could just see her showing up at the hospital, in labor, carrying her little bag of personal things – and her laptop. “I’m Kelly Warnock and I’m in labor,” she announces at the desk. “Just a minute, please. There’s a problem I have to solve at the office. . . . Okay – Now! Where were we? Oh, yes – thank you for waiting.” And there she is, after having had a C-section, propping her laptop on her stomach to work from her hospital bed. That must hurt! What dedication! Aloud I said, “Really?!” – “No!” said Jack. “I’m kidding you.” He had me going!

I have worried about Jack’s visiting at this particular time. I was afraid the baby would be born while he was here and he would be disappointed. He doesn’t seem to mind, though. The baby was in the warmer when he saw her at the hospital. His room at his dad’s house is right next to the baby’s. He thinks she might wake him up with her crying. “Waaaaah,” he mimics. “I bet you’ll get used to that,” I told him. Besides, it won’t go on forever.

Big sister Annie is also away from home this week attending a softball tournament in Utah. Apparently she was able to stay home through Sunday so that she, too, could see the baby before she left. Annie is due home about the same time as Jack – next Sunday.

Jack is going into the fifth grade. He is currently reading the last book in the Harry Potter series. He arrived with enough electronic gizmos to keep him entertained if need be. “So,” he asks me as he looks over my laptop, “where does your MP3 player go?” My MP3 player?

We bought a pizza on our way through Clarkston for a “carbo-load” feast. Of course, I carbo-loaded, too. Then Jack and I read over the blog while Nellie sat on his lap with her head on his shoulder. “She’s hugging me!” observed Jack. Yes, Nellie likes to hug. “Don’t you need a comma there?” he asked. Then he moved over to sit by Grandpa Mike and watch a few episodes of The Office. We were getting ready for bed by 9:00.

Jack was cheerful and excited when Grandpa awakened him at 5:00 this morning. The three of them – Mike, Jack, and Nellie – were off by 5:30. They plan a 6-mile hike from Pittsburgh Landing to Kirkwood Ranch where they will camp. From there they will make a 1.5-mile hike to Suicide Point.

Monday, July 7, 2008


Gramma Kathy & Grandpa Mike proudly announce the birth of Emerson Lynn Warnock to Yancey and Kelly on Sunday, July 6, 2008. She weighted 7 lbs. 6 oz.

Friday, July 4, 2008


Kyle Meacham, our farmer (Hallie’s age), knocked on our living room door about 8:15 last night. Kyle knows from experience he might just find us ready for bed in the evening. Mike was still dressed but I was in my nightgown and robe. Oh well.

Mike mentioned the crops look good and Kyle agreed. He said it’s rather surprising because closer to Nezperce the fields have turned white with the heat. Mike also mentioned that Praest’s garbanzo field doesn’t look so good, and Kyle said that the crop dusting he ordered on our fields drifted onto the garbanzos and killed them. He said he didn’t know what was going to happen about that. [You can see in the photo how brown and bare the field above the pond looks. That’s the garbanzo field.]

And here are photos of our neighbor, Pete Curfman, baling hay. I guess I got excited when he waved to me and didn’t hold the camera steady enough. Disappointing -- but a nice moment nevertheless. Maybe he'll wave to me again someday.

Thursday, July 3, 2008


I had decided that this morning I would ride the 4 wheeler down in the canyon on an old road/trail I had found last year. It begins near the corner on Cemetery Road. I had gone less than a mile when I came to a pair of fresh "No Trespassing" signs just when it was getting steep and interesting. Disappointed, I obeyed (no, really, I did) and returned to the farm.

Feeling at loose ends with my morning plans defeated I decided I'd ride down the grade for the first time this year. For those not familiar with it the Gilbert Grade is a twisting gravel road beginning just east of the Orofino bridge that rises 2,000 feet in eight miles terminating just before Curfman road on highway 7 to Nezperce. Never again will I attempt this ride in the hot summer in the middle of the day. Other times when I've made the ride it has been earlier or later in the day with lots of shade on the hill. Of course, the ride down is always exhilerating. I stopped in the park a few minutes and it was already hot in Orofino. It was about midday when I started back up. This time there was precious little shade on the hill and I was really feeling exhausted before I was even half way up. I usually try to average 8 mph which makes about an hour on the grade. I gave that ambitious plan up before the halfway point. I was doing good to keep at 6 mph before I reached the top and by the time I pulled up the top of the lane into the farm I was so weak I could hardly stand. That felt like the longest 22 miles I'd ever ridden. It's been over two hours since I returned and I'm still weak.

It's 92 degrees now and that's really hot for up here. I wouldn't be surprised to see a storm this evening. Well, I'm going to make some ice cream this afternoon and that will be like spinach to Popeye. The old man shall live to ride again. M/W


Yesterday I planted the two whole frittalaria bulbs, but I still had some little ones and pieces I wanted to get into the ground. I went out to plant them while it was still relatively cool. I put some on each side of the front porch and took the rest to a scab patch beside the raspberry compound [see photo left]. I then went to place my shovel and the milk box I had used for the bulbs on the kitchen porch beside the blue cooler. That’s when I heard the soft rattle to my right. That’s when I started calling for Mike.

Mike grappled with the snake for quite some time, unable to get a firm grasp on him. “We need those tongs of your dad’s,” said Mike. Yeah, what happened to those, anyway? The shovel wasn’t going to work and neither would the hoe. We had to keep our distance because the snake was striking. “Maybe we should just kill this one,” I said to Mike. “We might have to,” he agreed.

Then I suggested the empty milk box and Mike was able to scoop him (or her) into it. I took Nellie into the house while Mike carried the snake to a spot in a field some distance from the house.

My dad used to say that snakes came in pairs. He would be especially careful for awhile and even look for the second snake. Mike says he has heard that, too, but has never found it to be true.
-- Another snake story added to the annals of Kathy Dobson Warnock.

(I baked an apricot pie in the cool of the morning. Mike is riding the Gilbert Grade on his bicycle.)

Wednesday, July 2, 2008


“I’ll bet we can pick up three dozen cans on Miller Road,” I said to Mike yesterday, “with plenty more on Curfman Road.” So, after the four-mile practice hike, we set off on the 4-wheeler to pick up cans. I should have had a garbage bag – maybe two – one for trash and one for cans. As it was I had a grocery sack. We filled it full to overflowing with cans and when we got back to the house we counted 65 – everything from Country Time Lemonade, Shasta pop, and Pepsi to beer with the majority being beer. We didn’t get near all of them. And we gave up trying to pick up trash.

Then – when we got to the site of Hazel Wright’s old house, Mike dug out some bulbs I wanted called Crown Imperial Frittalaria. Pete Curfman, who tore the house down last summer, told me that I could take any of the bulbs and plants I wanted. At that time I took some iris. I knew the frittalaria had been there but with the burning of the house and the excavation, I could no longer see where they were and thought they might not have survived. But, lo and behold, this spring they bloomed again, and while we could still see where they are (because their leaves are dying back now), Mike consented to help me dig them up today. It was tough going – and we massacred the first one trying to get it out of the ground. We were successful in taking up two others. I don’t know if the pieces would develop or not. The frittalaria have a pungent aroma that is supposed to repel rodents. I’m all for repelling rodents. I planted the two big bulbs already.

Yesterday afternoon I took my first bike ride of the season – 7.5 miles. It went reasonably well and was basically uneventful.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008


Yesterday afternoon Mike saw two snakes – a bull snake and a rattler – down by the barn and advised me to watch my step, reminding me that by the first of July rattlesnake season is in full swing. He really doesn’t have to remind me. My dad read me the rattlesnake rules every year – very simple but important rules: Watch your step and stay out of tall grass – and always be careful in the woodshed.

My dad was passionate on the subject of rattlesnakes. He saw them as a lurking danger and was probably afraid of them -- maybe with good reason. He never let a rattlesnake live if he could help it. “You stay here and keep an eye on it,” he would say as he rushed off to get a hoe. In Daddy’s eyes it was important to kill them. Many people kill them.

Over the years my library of snake stories has become quite voluminous. One day when Milo and Clinton were probably four and two, we were visiting at the house in Orofino. In the course of the day, Daddy ran an errand to the farm in his little white Ford Courier. When he returned to the house, he called the boys to the pick-up and lifted a rattlesnake with a pair of huge tongs. (What do they call those things anyway?) He spoke to the boys earnestly, his voice quivering, about the danger of rattlesnakes and the need to take care whenever on the farm. I wondered what the two little boys were thinking. Their eyes were big as saucers. Milo might have been impressed enough to remember. Clint would have been too young to remember.

When we first began to come here, we also killed any rattler we found. Then one day Mike asked, “Why do we kill them? They eat rodents.” So, we let them slither off and certain conservationists applaud us. We certainly see plenty of them. It doesn't seem to be an endangered population.

As we walked down the lane on our practice hike yesterday, I spied a rattler in the road ahead of us. Sensing our approaching presence the rattler slithered off into the grass while warning us. Walking on down the lane, an unmistakable rattle caught my ear. I stepped back and checked; sure enough another rattler – a small one – was coiled in the grass beside the road. Then on the return to the house, Nellie disturbed a rattler in the grass. I heard it and she responded obediently to my urgent call. Nellie had an unfortunate encounter with a rattler when an adolescent and has a notched tongue as a result, but we still have to remind her to leave snakes alone. KW