Tuesday, June 30, 2009


After supper last night here at the farm, we cleaned up and put on our pajamas, then tried to read for a while. "I'm tired," said Mike. "I could sleep for twelve hours; it just doesn't seem to happen." We treated ourselves to small portions of strawberry pretzel salad, brushed Nellie's teeth and put her to bed, then climbed the stairs ourselves. It was 8:55 when I tuned into an episode of "The Great Gildersleeve." We watched a beautiful sunset to the northwest, glad that we enlarged the bedroom window – one of our few concessions to exterior modification of the house. I think we heard "Gildersleeve" but were not awake for any other program.

We went back to town last Friday. Mike cleaned the car inside and out that afternoon and also changed the oil. I got my hair cut, and while I was out I bought a AAA membership in preparation for our Mississippi trip coming up in a couple of weeks. Saturday I drove to Richland (150 miles) for a meeting (topic: The Sermon on the Mount), taking two friends with me. It was a long day – I left the house at 5:45 a.m. and was back at 7:45 p.m. – but the inspiration was worth it. While I was gone, Mike split and stacked wood, did some weeding, picked up some supplies, loaded the old trailer with some dirt for the horseshoe pits – and I'm sure he rode his new motorcycle someplace. He also set up the Nikon camera which was finally repaired and returned after much tribulation, and he also reviewed the Nikon manual. Sunday he rode 68 miles with the cyclists – a supported ride – and was gone most of the day, while I shopped for groceries. I know – it's shopping for groceries, hardly worth mentioning, but it becomes a big deal when we're going to the farm. Even with a list, I have to anticipate needs. Produce is where I generally come up short.

Yesterday (Monday) morning we got up early, packed our provisions into the pick-up for return to the farm, and were on the road before 8:00. We decided to take the river road (Hwy 12) but had to wait 20 minutes this side of the bridge at Orofino. Since we were sitting at the cemetery, I reviewed some old family stories for Mike's benefit. Coming into the farm with a good view of the "north 40," we once again spied a brown animal moving in the field, but by the time we were close enough to really see it, it was gone. Perhaps it's a badger.

Upon arrival we discovered the trailer had a flat tire. Mike worked hard for more than an hour to repair it. Then he shoveled the dirt we brought into the horseshoe pits.

It's really no wonder we were ready for some rest. Once again we were awake before 6:00 a.m., but at least we had the benefit of going to bed early.

[The photo is of Nellie where I found her this morning -- sleeping on the chaise on the front porch. She prefers this now to her house in the woodshed.] KW

Sunday, June 28, 2009


Here's another set of wedding photos, and again I have no written information about the day. But if a picture is worth a thousand words, surely we can deduce something about that day. And, of course, I do have general knowledge of the people and the place.

The bride is my dad's younger sister, Shirley Dobson. The groom is Henry Shockley. I know from my grandmother's letters that Henry began to "come around" in 1932 at the suggestion of a neighbor. Shirley was already 25, so perhaps the neighbor saw a pleasant young woman living at home with her mother and father – a young woman who truly would sink into spinsterhood unless someone tried to help. No harm done, as they say. In fact, when Grandma Ina wrote to my dad about Henry's calls, that's exactly what she said – "no harm done."

Shirley and Henry courted for the next five years. He accompanied her to such activities as the young adults had in the Gilbert community – mostly a "literary society" that met at the school under the leadership of the teacher. They developed programs and plays. And they also met in one another's homes of an evening to listen to the radio and play games like anagrams. There were probably not ten such "young unmarrieds" in the area.

On June 24, 1937, the bride and groom met at the home of the bride's parents for a quiet wedding. The bride is wearing a lovely new suit in the style of the day – an outfit that will serve her well in the future. In my mind's eye the suit is gray or light blue. Perhaps the groom has a new suit as well. Undoubtedly they spent money they themselves had saved. Times on the farm are now lean for the old couple, but Grandma Ina and Grandpa Jack are wearing their best "church" clothes.

Shirley's only attendant was her older sister, Myrtle, the family's second child. Myrtle, a single woman of 40, lived and worked in Portland, so she arranged to come for the wedding. I think she bought a new dress for the wedding – something she could wear again. Note the sleeves – very stylish! You can tell they feel very "with it." And it appears that the bride's brother, Earle Dobson, served as best man. Earle was a school teacher in Idaho Falls but returned to the farm during the summer months to help with the harvest.

Of course, I have many questions about that day. Who officiated the ceremony? Was the ceremony in the house before the fireplace or in the yard? Were the neighbors invited? Was there a reception? Did they have a cake? Maybe there was a wedding supper. There's no one to ask. Everyone who might know is gone.

Within a few years, Shirley and Henry would move to Seattle where he worked for Boeing until his retirement. They raised two daughters, Roberta and Marilyn, with whom I have lost contact.

Sometimes I wonder to myself why Shirley and Henry waited so long to marry. Perhaps they couldn't afford to establish their own home sooner. When I worked at the museum, one of my very good volunteer board members related that she and her beau waited many years before marrying, maintaining a long-distance romance through correspondence. It seemed to me that such waiting constituted a waste of youth, so I asked my friend why they had waited so long. With a sniff and a toss of her head, she said, "There were things to be done." Perhaps Henry and Shirley also had "things to be done" before they could marry.

Thursday, June 25, 2009


Our time here at the Gilbert homestead has been quiet but productive. When we came on Tuesday we checked Duke out of the boarding facility and brought him with us, as we had agreed to do. (His family is traveling.) He seems quite content just to be here. Nellie, of course, treats him with some disdain.

Mike has finished his horseshoe pits with the exception of hauling in some sand – perhaps some of the sandy soil from the Clarkston house. It's been hard work to hew the pits out of the clay. When I went down yesterday he was muttering to himself and the air looked sorta blue, so I didn't ask him to repeat himself.

The hummingbirds are now here in larger numbers and we have enjoyed watching them argue over the feeders. I was telling Mike when I was growing up we considered it a treat to see a hummingbird. It hardly ever happened. I remember one occasion when I was a teen-ager, we had gone huckleberrying and a hummingbird lit on Mother's shoulder and stayed quite a while – an unexpected delight. If that happened today, I think we would see it as less spectacular because the hummingbirds are really quite tame. I wonder if the popularity of feeding them has served to support and increase their population. We see mainly the black-chinned variety and some calliope. Yesterday we had the opportunity to observe one up close and personal when she flew into the dining room window with a thud three times her size and knocked herself out. We put her on a glove at the edge of the porch out of the wind. Apparently she eventually recovered enough to take off.

The corn in the raised bed is sprouting to my great joy! This afternoon I will cover it with netting. If I don't protect it, it's not if but when the deer will advance to the yard to eat it all gone. As the corn gains size, we will have to put up fencing because the plants won't pollinate under the netting.

I should have a great crop of raspberries this year, but unfortunately I fear that will happen while we're traveling next month. We'll see how we work that out. But I'm so pleased that the plants are now established and propagating their own new canes. I'm negotiating with Mike to clear out more sod and increase the size of the patch. He's willing for it to happen because he can't mow the bank, but it's sure a lot of work for a guy with back and neck pain.

I had hoped to have a nice strawberry patch one day, but -- "so far not so good." I was laboring under the delusion that strawberry plants can be allowed to propagate by runner, but I learned through research that this is not advised. A runner is a clone of the parent plant and as such will result in a weakened strain and poor producer. So you have to keep renewing your plants -- tearing out the old and putting in new grower certified plants in a biennial rotation. No wonder "U pick" strawberry patches have all but disappeared! It's too late this year for me to set out new plants, but I'll give it a try next year.

One thing we have here in abundance is well-mulched pine straw -- so good for so many of the acid-loving berry plants and bushes.

The currant bush has produced a few berries this year. The gooseberry bush is still growing but didn't bloom. The rhubarb plant struggles along, obviously not too happy in its locale on the bank. Maybe I could move it. Mike says the elderberry bushes look good this year – apparently didn't get hit by the spray.

Mike saw a rattler at the barn this morning, but we haven't seen the brown animal in the field.

We do get snail mail in this place but our mailbox is out at the corner of Curfman and Dobson Roads a mile away from our house. Last week I ordered a book, The Sewing Machine Attachment Handbook, by Charlene Phillips, and had it delivered here. It came yesterday and felt like a wonderfully vintage pleasure on account of receiving mail and also the subject matter. It's exactly what I hoped it would be, explaining in detail how to use the attachments with Grandma Ina's treadle machine and providing some history of their development.

Mike's taking it a little easy today since he finished the horseshoe pits and also established his new shooting range. He's just going to ride his bike out to Nezperce, maybe do Lawyer's Canyon, and if he still feels good, he might ride out Craigmont way to Moehler Road or something.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


I've been saving this post for a long time. Knowing that the subject matter is not of general interest, I've waited for an active time to slip it in.

As a child, I enjoyed paper dolls. The set shown here was special to me and somehow survived the years so that I still have it. It helps that the set came in a folder that subsequently protected the cut-outs. Note that it was copyrighted in 1955 and cost $.29 -- hours of affordable fun. In the end, though, paper dolls are expendable, and maybe not so much fun once the cutting is complete.

As you can see, the theme was a wedding party. You can also see by the sample sheet of what remains to be cut out that it was the pageantry of pretty dresses I enjoyed. Most of the guys' clothes and much of the bride's trousseau remain to be cut out. And I think if you knew me in the 1950s -- like if you were my best friend or something -- you can probably see how I could identify with the flower girl -- brown hair and eyes, straight bangs.

Clint was in town from Hagerman this past weekend and Mike rode with him to Boise on Sunday -- Father's Day -- so that he could ride his new motorcycle home on Monday. (That happened.) So being at liberty to watch "chick flicks" on Sunday, I tuned into "Father of the Bride," the 1950 Spencer Tracy / Elizabeth Taylor version. Since we're planning a wedding this year, I especially enjoyed comparing the experience as presented 60 years ago with today. I think today's young couple is more apt to be involved in the process -- in putting together their own special event, while in the '50's timeframe, the bride's parents made the major decisions -- and the movie bore that out. In the 1950's event, the mother-of-the-bride was really the central player, juggling grumbling father on one side and starry-eyed daughter on the other. But in a sense, nothing much has changed in 60 years. The event is still a wedding --a ceremony and a reception -- and that requires an industry of support. KW

Saturday, June 20, 2009


I was so tired from the previous day that I was about an hour late getting up. I got down to the motel breakfast and this time it was so crowded there was standing room only. There were a lot of foreigners which seems common these days. I was hoping the wind had abated during the night but no such luck.

I headed west on Highway 33 toward the Interstate but I had another Madison County cache that I wanted to get. It was at Beaver Dick Park and the log said it was under a pine tree. The cache owner didn’t know his trees because it was a fir but I found it anyway. After I departed from the beautiful little Beaver Dick Park I had the biggest scare of my trip. I soon came upon a sign telling me I was entering Jefferson County. I thought, “Oh no, another Mickey Warnock gaff. I don’t remember anything about any Jefferson County caches on my schedule today”. I later recalled that Jefferson County has a little panhandle that sticks out to the east that takes in Rigby which I had cached the day before. Whew! Just before getting on the Interstate I stopped at some sort of State facility to use the bathroom and check the map (about Jefferson County). I asked one of the employees if the wind always blew like this and the man replied, “Wind, what wind? When the wind blows you can’t see those mountains over there.”

Now I got on Interstate 15 and headed north toward Dubois, county seat of Clark County. How sweet it was with that tailwind. Dubois is a really neat little town in the middle of nowhere. The first cache was at the Heritage Hall which is listed on the National Historic Register. The next one was at an old abandoned jailhouse. The third one in Dubois was called “Nut and Bolt” -- a big bolt about eight inches long and two inches in diameter with a nut on it. When you unscrew the nut the bolt comes apart and the cache is in the hollow bolt. It was across the road from the County Maintenance Dept., and an employee had placed the cache. (Sorry my camera is not working).

With Clark County out of the way I headed southwest on Highway 22 to the intersection with Highway 28 that heads northwest toward Leadore and Salmon. If you ever have a hankering to blow the carbon out of your car, this is the place. Highway 22 is smooth as glass, straight as an arrow, flat as a pancake with nothing but desert and sagebrush on each side of the road. I didn’t see another vehicle on it. And the wind had finally quit.

My next cache was at Kaufman Creek on Highway 28. Initially I thought it was in Lemhi County but now I don’t know. It may be in Clark. At any rate, I had to hike a ways up the creek and even though it was an ammo box I had a little trouble finding it.

I was getting low on gas and this really is definitely not where you want to run out. The next place (that’s all I know to call it because village would be a vast overstatement) was Lone Pine. The only place there is an old store with an old fashioned gas pump. When I saw the price of gas was $5.28 a gallon I decided to try to make it on to Leadore. I knew I had been getting good mileage thanks in part to that tailwind on the Interstate.

I made Leadore alright, got gas, had a pop and a welcome break. I now took a little side trip northeast on Highway 29 to a neat little campground called Nez Perce Rest Area. This cache had been logged very few times and not recently but I didn’t have any problem finding it. It was late morning and a beautiful day as I headed back to Highway 28 to turn north toward Salmon. I passed on through Salmon and didn’t stop until north of Gibbonsville for two caches. I had my lunch at the second one which was at a Lewis & Clark campsite right on the highway.

That took care of my required Idaho caches for this journey. I did stop for one near Sula, MT, just for a break. I stopped at Lolo to get gas and take a break before heading west over Lolo Pass. Of course, there are few motorcycle roads more fun than this section of Highway 12. I stopped at a campground to get one more cache at Whitehouse Pond, then unfortunately, I ran into road construction a ways down the road which made the second half of this stretch not nearly as much fun. It was a lot of stop and go and staying in line.

I arrived at Chukar Lane late afternoon with a worn out rear tire and having traveled almost 1,900 miles. I averaged over 50 mpg on the trip and my total expense including gas, lodging and food was less that $285. It was a fantastic trip!

Friday, June 19, 2009


I took these pictures of Nellie yesterday while we were on our walk. Usually she doesn't hold still for the process and the picture is a miss. But she discovered a bird's nest in this old fence post and was mesmerized by it.

Our overnight rest didn't go so well. Sometimes it doesn't you know, for whatever reason. I woke up at 4:10 with a vague memory of Mike having left the room, but I couldn't say if two minutes or two hours had passed. And then I realized I was hearing something – a rustling sound like when you unfold one of those flimsy plastic drop cloths. I came to the conclusion that something (remember last week's brown animal in the field?) was rustling around in the tall grass bordering the field to the north of the house. And it crossed my mind that Nellie was on the front porch instead of in her house as we retired for the night. And suddenly I was wide awake and worried. As I descended the stairs, I met Mike coming back to bed after an hour at the computer, and together we went outside. Nellie came out of the woodshed to greet us, and she, too, became aware of the something in the grass.

"Bark!" said Nellie. And she purposely crossed the yard and disappeared into the tall grass. But Mike and I began to think of porcupines and skunks (though we've never smelled a skunk here), and Mike called her back. Whatever it was, apparently Nellie's interference caused it to move on – at least temporarily.

Needless to say, we were up and around fairly early. We had intended to stay the morning at the farm but it commenced to rain, so we loaded up and headed back to the valley.

Thursday, June 18, 2009


After a good night’s rest I was in the lobby of the Super 8 at 5:30 am hoping I might get a jump on the scheduled 6:00 am breakfast. Sure enough, I did, and had a good breakfast all by myself. After loading up I headed northwest to Soda Springs. The first Caribou County cache was called “KITT CACHE”. KITT are the call letters of the local radio station and a couple of the DJ’s are geocachers. I found the cache which was a small cylinder located on a fence right next to the studio. The write-up invited cachers in to say hello but I was too early.

Next on the list was one just out of town at the Y of what used to be the main highway. It was supposedly located out in the sage brush but I searched for quite a while with no success. Next I took a side trip south to Black Canyon at Grace. Again a half hour search in the rocks yielded no results. Two misses in a row! But this site did have an outhouse which I appreciated. This was the only county on the five day journey where I found only one cache.

I retraced my tracks north to get back on the main route to the north-south Interstate going through Blackfoot. Soon I was in Bannock County which was much more scenic than the western and northern parts of the county familiar to me. There were three caches along this stretch of highway leading up to Fish Creek Summit. One was called “Freshen Up” and was filled with air fresheners. You could almost find it by smell and believe me, you didn’t want to keep the container open any longer than necessary. This was beautiful open country with mountains in the background.

After descending from the summit I hit the Interstate heading north toward Pocatello. I also hit the wind which did not abandon me for the next day and a half. I had my only brush with John Law during this stretch. The speed limit was continually changing partly due to road construction I think. At one point I thought I was in a 65 mph stretch when it was really 55 mph. A State Patrolman pulled me over and set me straight but just gave me a warning.

Blackfoot was windy and not too impressive. It was larger than I thought but it had been many years since I was there. This is Bingham County and the first cache was on the west side of town in a tree stump located at a Y where two highways meet - not very scenic. The next one was kind of neat. It was at a recreational vehicle dealer’s business stashed in the back of a flagpole accessed by putting your hand through a hole in the back. (And I no longer had my geogloves used for this purpose)

So much for Bingham County. Now I’m heading northwest in the desert toward Butte County leaning about 20 degrees into the strong wind hitting me from the south. Just over the county line Highway 26 makes a Y with Highway 20 and that’s where I found the first cache out in the sage brush (where else could it be?). Now I reverse my direction on highway 20 heading back east toward Rigby. I shortly picked up one more Butte County cache located in a culvert. As I head east I’m practicing my lean in the other direction.

I arrived at Rigby, a clean Mormon community between Idaho Falls and Rexburg, about midday. I found two caches there, both placed by kids. One was in a bush in the family’s front yard and the other was behind a sort of tombstone-like marker for a sub-division. I found a pavilion in a park that gave me a little shelter from the wind and had my usual smoked salmon and milk lunch.

I got to Rexburg around 2:00 pm and checked into the motel. Now I was able to leave my gear and proceed somewhat unencumbered. The wind was really blowing. I’m sure it was gusting at least 40 mph. There’s no way I’d be out doing this for fun at this point. The first Madison County cache was on a side road off the highway hidden in an old farm machine of some kind. The coordinates were really off but I found it anyway.

Now I was heading for Teton County where there are few caches. I went all the way south to Driggs to find one in a shopping center that turned out to be a micro. My next attempt was for one located down a gravel road but the road was so bad that I didn’t get far before turning back to the highway. That left only one cache on my list for Teton County and some had had trouble finding it. As it turned out this was one of my favorites. It was called “Barrelin’ Down Bitch Creek”. It was in the northern most part of the county just before crossing (you guessed it) Bitch Creek. There was a 2” hole drilled in a boulder with a pvc pipe of that diameter with a reflector attached to it down in that hole. I had no trouble finding it. The bad news is that now my camera has developed a lens problem and is no longer operable except on rare occasions.

I now turn west into Fremont County where I will circle back south to Rexburg. I can’t help repeating – the wind is terrible! I found three near Ashton, the only one of much interest was called “Bridge Out” where there had once been a bridge and it was in a scenic location. As I get back to Rexburg I score another “no find” on one that is supposed to be in a bush in front of a bowling alley.

After a short dip in the hot tub I found a Subway for supper and tried their Tuscan wrap. It was delicious. After posting my caches on the motel computer I hit the sack. I was dead tired.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


It's been a slow process. At one point I was ready to forget it, given that we have plans this summer that will keep us from the farm for weeks at a time. But Mike said, "Anything we do this summer is all clear profit for next summer even if we don't have a great garden." So we moved along with our project to construct a raised bed for a vegetable garden.

First Mike got some old – really old -- used railroad ties that Ken's neighbor was discarding. Weeks went by -- then we cut them so that we had a bed 8 ½ feet by 3 feet. Next we bought wire fencing to line the bottom, hopefully deterring rodents that would burrow up through the ground. Then we lined the sides with black plastic. It ain't pretty, but in this environment – with the deer, the rodents, the lack of rain – well, it just isn't worth a large cash expenditure, especially when we're experimenting. (Secretly, though, I'm dreaming of some of those pretty snap-together affairs with sides that are also benches and overhead framework.)

Yesterday was the day of hard work. We decided to fill the frame with dirt from an uprooted tree at the back of the grove. Mike moved ten wheelbarrow loads from there to the frame on the south side of the house. I suggested he could stop at nine, but he said his personal goal was for ten and he refused to be deterred. Meanwhile, when the bed was about half full, I lifted the barrel off my compost pile and moved many gallons of my special blend to the bed. Then Mike took the little electric tiller and worked over the top to crush up what dirt clods he could and mix the compost with the dirt. Finally I poured gallons of water over it, raking and smoothing. Overnight we had a welcome heavy rain shower.

So, we had a productive day. Not only did we finish the raised bed but we whittled down the unsightly root ball and prepared the composter for a new batch of "special blend."

Today I planted corn in the raised bed. I thought about it long and hard, researched, and in the end decided that should the corn mature, that would likely happen at a time when we would be available to eat it. It's all one grand experiment – every bit of it. And after all, this place just means corn, doesn't it? KW

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


It's a long story and perhaps you wouldn't like reading it. Our 37-inch LG HDTV which we loved for the clarity of its picture has developed a problem. We had it fixed under warranty, only it wasn't fixed, and now neither Sears (where we purchased the set) or LG will talk to us. The repairman tells us our best option is to write it off and get a new set. Son Milo has researched the issue and is sure he can fix it, and we have nothing to lose to let him try. Meanwhile, he's in Boise and we're here at the farm and somehow making the two come together is just not happening in a timely manner.

I like to think I'm not addicted to TV, but the fact is I love to watch something before I go to bed – an old movie, a documentary, a sitcom. I can tolerate just so much reading in the evening, then I like a diversion before sleep. Sometimes we can get the LG to work a few hours, especially when it has been unplugged while we're away, but it was not to be last night. It didn't last half an hour, and that was while I was taking my shower. It was not yet 9:00 when I announced to Mike that I had read all I could and was going to bed to fall asleep while listening to old radio programs on my iPod. Like television programming, some radio programs are good, some fair or poor, while others are excellent. Listening to them is appropriate in this old place.

Why not use the computer, you ask. Well, our satellite connection is so slow as to be useless for audio/video downloads. They come in in five-second increments. I update the podcasts while in town because the connection "times out" before downloads take place here at the farm. Nevertheless, we are so grateful for this connection by which we can talk to you.

Then there's the Nikon camera which Mike sent for repair three weeks ago. Talk about a nightmare! First they wouldn't repair under warranty, even though we had registered the camera, unless we provided the original receipt. Once Mike found that and faxed it to them, they said they couldn't find the fax. Then they said they did have it and would repair and ship "by Friday." When it didn't arrive, Mike called again and they said they never received the fax and were waiting for it. The camera was not repaired. So Mike faxed paperwork again yesterday and called this morning, demanding to speak with a supervisor. He now has email confirmation that they received the paperwork. "Good news!" the email reads in broken English. "We have receive your fax and will fix the camera under warranty. But remember – it will take 7-10 business days to repair it." Somehow we aren't reassured.

I'm developing rules of procedure for the purchase of electronics:

  1. Never assume there won't be problems.
  2. If you research a product online, use problem forums, not retail sites.
  3. Because there will be problems, save all receipts. (Tough to convince husband.)
  4. Buy the extended warranty – or consider buying from retailers offering extended warranty bonuses. KW

Monday, June 15, 2009


6:00 am found me slowly and cautiously climbing the steep gravel road out of the little valley where Clint lives. Because I knew it was going to be a long day, when I hit the highway I took my mapping software’s advice and started out in the opposite direction of my destination in order to get on the Interstate at Bliss. Once on the Interstate I headed east at an 80 mph clip.

At 7:15 I found my first cache in the town of Paul in Minidoka County. In a shabby section of town sat a big ammo box under a tree in someone’s fenced front yard. It was not concealed at all and even had bird droppings on it. Well, at least it was easy to find. I did not care for Paul which was a small but sprawling agricultural community that had the all too familiar stench of dairy operations that in my opinion has ruined the lower Snake River plain. I skipped the other two caches I had scheduled there and traveled a short ways east to Rupert which wasn’t any better than Paul. I did find a cache there which was a micro (labeled as a small) along a walking path in a sort of park. I will have to say Minidoka was my least favorite county and I was glad to be on my way.

I then turned south into Cassia County, which was only a cut above Minidoka, and located a cache near the small community of Declo. I had to travel about a half mile on a gravel road along an irrigation ditch to a little dam where the cache was hidden. I then traveled northeast back up to the Interstate and found a couple just off opposite sides of the Interstate off ramps. One was just a little ways off the road under a fence and the other required a climb up a fairly steep bank and was a decon container attached to a barbwire fence.

It was now 9:30 and I headed south to Power County. I quickly got into more open and scenic country as I approached the isolated little town of Rockland. Again I had to put my motorcycle down a gravel road about a mile before dismounting and climbing a steep bank for the next cache. I found two more caches at the Rockland Cemetery. One was an ammo box under a bush and the other was a really cool birdhouse.

It was 11:00, getting warm, my gas tank empty and I was a long ways from the next town. I found one self serve gas station at the edge of town but I couldn’t get it to work. I went back into town and confirmed that was the only gas there. A lady told me to try the other side of the pump and if that didn’t work come back and she would call the owner. I followed her advice but still couldn’t get it to work. Luckily, while I was there a young fellow pulled in to get gas and got the pump to work for me.

Now off to Oneida County on highways 37 and 38. I had traveled these roads a few years back on a motorcycle trip to Denver. They are a motorcyclist’s dream – narrow, winding, no traffic and scenery that is absolute eye candy. The road twists and turns through mountains and valleys and you are all by yourself. The next two caches in Malad City were just alike and only a quarter mile apart. On each side of the rural road for about a mile every fence post had a boot on top of it. Each of these caches was in a boot. The last Malad cache was on a frontage road that gave a great view of the whole valley. It was in a buried 5 gallon bucket. It was now 1:00 so I found a tree down the road from the cache and enjoyed my usual lunch of smoked salmon, milk and crackers.

As I continued east now in Franklin County the country just got even more beautiful if possible. At 2:00 I found a cache called “Standing Rock” which had been placed by a Scout Troop. As you can see from the picture it was a beautiful area. Next I stopped in the little town of Weston for a cemetery cache. My next town was Preston but I didn’t have time to find Napoleon Dynamite’s house. I did find a cache there just off a road that took you up a big hill heading out of town. I got one more cache under a big cottonwood tree at the intersection of highways 34 and 36 just north of Preston.

Now I’m taking highway 36 heading east toward Montpelier in Bear Lake County. This is another very scenic twisty, hilly motorcycle loving road.

I checked into the Super 8 in Montpelier some time after 4:00. After unloading my gear I left the motel and found the three caches in Montpelier. This was probably my favorite town on the trip. It was just big enough to have most everything except traffic problems and it was clean and neat with nice people and beautiful mountains in the distance. After a swim in the motel pool and a short dip in the hot tub I went to a Taco Bell for supper. After supper I used the motel computer in the lobby to get my caches posted. It had been another great day.

Saturday, June 13, 2009


My mother hit her stride as a wedding coordinator when her eldest daughters married in the 1950s. It was clear that she expected to hold for her daughters the church weddings that hadn't been hers. Even when I suggested my wedding (1975) might take place in the backyard, Mother insisted on a church wedding.

When Joni married in 1956, Mother made the bride's gown as well as those of the attendants. She wrote to an eastern fabric house requesting swatches of satins and sheers in shades of pink ranging from baby pink (the flower girl -- my dress) to deep peach (Harriet's dress – the matron of honor). They complied and Mother ordered the fabric accordingly. She was proud of the fact that she had reached beyond her rural Idaho world clear to New York City to achieve her vision for the wedding.

At 5'2", the bride weighed 96 pounds and thus was stylishly tiny. (Think Audrey Hepburn.) Her gown was a beautiful embroidered crystalline over satin in the "wasp-waist" style of that day. The gown was so small that 25 years later when the dress was worn at a vintage wedding gown style show, they had to find a tiny high school student to model it. At some point after that Joni had the dress cleaned and the crystalline went to pieces. The veil also went to shreds. As beautiful as it was, it was not a dress for the ages.

Congratulations to Joni and Pat – June 11, 1956 -- 53 years.

[The photo is of my mother, Dorothy Dobson, carrying the bride's clothes to the car. Someone called out, "Here comes the bride!" Rice was thrown. To my six-year-old mind, it was funny that someone thought she was the bride. "It was a joke," Mother explained to me later. "No one thought I was the bride." That's me standing at the lower right-hand corner of the photo.

Oh -- and Mother's dress: She bought that dress -- a lovely off-white linen with a shawl collar embellished with pink beading. It was really a beautiful dress. We let it go when we cleaned out her house in 1991. What were we thinking!] KW

Friday, June 12, 2009


Let me tell you about Wednesday (June 10) at the farm. We were up early like country folk. A representative of our fire insurance company would arrive at 10:00. I washed dishes while Mike swept the floor. When I opened the drawer under the oven, there was a stash of Nellie's kibble – a sure sign that mice are at work. I'm pretty sure it happened overnight. She had left a little chow in her dish and we debated about putting it away or using it as bait. We chose the latter but the mice avoided the trap.

As I was working at the sink, I happened to look out the window to the north field and saw a distinctive brown something bobbing up and down in the field. The grain is up only about a foot. I called Mike, and he saw it, too, just before it bobbed out of sight. He thought it was Nellie's brown head, but when he called her she came immediately from her resting spot by the woodshed. Mike and Nellie walked down the road to investigate but came up with nothing, of course.

The hummingbirds are few this year, a fact corroborated by our visiting insurance agent who lives in this vicinity. She said the season opened with many but suddenly and inexplicably their numbers dwindled. Last year I had to make fresh nectar every day. This year they never empty the feeder and I have to watch that the nectar doesn't spoil.

After lunch Mike loaded his road bike onto the 4-wheeler and headed out. He leaves the 4-wheeler at a spot on Old Highway 7 just where the gravel road becomes pavement. From there he rides his bike on to Nezperce. His reputation precedes him. Farmers from here to Nezperce and beyond talk about him and know that he lives at the Old Dobson Place. (It's a generality but probably true that the majority of farmers are not much interested in the benefits of exercise.) While Mike was gone, I took Nellie on a hike. Midway the lane (our driveway) I came onto a rattlesnake lying on the gravel. I was sure it was alive, so I took pictures, then tried to make it move by tossing gravel at it. It never flinched and never moved. Odd, I thought, but I wasn't going to spend the day pondering it. Nellie and I proceeded to our destination -- the old Senters place -- probably 2.5 miles from the farm by road – and came back cross country, which is much closer but rugged going across fields. On this leg of the hike I was surprised by the loud buzzing of bees – rather ominous. I never saw them; they must be in the ground.

I think it's an awesome sight to come up over the rise of the field and see our place in the distance. [See photo left.] I wonder if Grandma Ina ever saw this view of her house. Looking behind me the Senters place is still clearly visible. [Photo right.] Looking at my house, I think, "So near but yet so far." That was certainly true today. I struggled to find a good way to get to the road – frustrating since I could see where I wanted to be. Thick, tall grass made the route I took last fall impossible, so I had to retrace my steps to the old Plank place and trudge out that way. In the process, Nellie and I disturbed three white tail deer.

Now walking back up the lane, I was wary and especially concerned for Nellie, who wanted to walk in the grass. The snake I had pestered was no longer in the road, but as we moved closer to the house, I saw that brown animal moving around where I had spotted it this morning. Even from this proximity I couldn't see it well enough to identify it. I would guess it to be a badger or something of that ilk. I marked the spot with a reed I was carrying, but just then Nellie disturbed a rattler beside the road. I looked closely but never saw it. I took firm control of Nellie and we went to the house.

I enjoy the cross country hikes because they afford different views of the countryside, but I won't be doing it again for awhile. Nellie was plagued by ticks, and I captured one on my leg.

We came back to town yesterday (Thursday). We had to wait 20 minutes where Gilbert Grade enters the highway for construction at Orofino. Once they let us westbound vehicles go, the eastbound was backed up clear to Stoddard's Electric with more coming, of course – lots of RVs, too. We will probably take the prairie route for a while. KW

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


This was to be my short day but after a good night’s rest on Milo’s couch I got an early start anyway. I had several caches lined up in Mountain Home for Elmore County. It was cool as it is every morning but at least 20 degrees warmer than the previous morning crossing the Camas. After about a 45 minute blast on the Interstate I arrived at the first cache called “Honesty” that was placed by a law enforcement officer to honor another officer. The write-up recommended entering by Wally’s parking lot. Not knowing Mountain Home I had no idea where Wally’s parking lot was. Turns out he was referring to Walmart’s parking lot. At any rate, I took a more direct approach (can you imagine that?) and unknowingly was trespassing on police property. I was shortly accosted by a police officer wanting to know what I was doing there. Apparently he knew nothing about the geocache. Anyway, I didn’t get arrested even though I went through a hole in Walmart’s fence to find the cache in a hedge.

I won’t forget the next cache. It was in a crummy section of town requiring you to find a bridge to cross an aqueduct which butted up against backyard fences. I found the bridge and crossed to find the cache location was against the chain link fence kennel of a fierce Pit Bull that was going crazy to get at me. On top of that I had a hard time finding the cache which was in a piece of 4” pipe. I finally found it and was very happy to get away from that loud stinking dog.

I found two more caches on the northern edge of town. One was very ordinary but the other one required about a ¼ mile hike out through the sagebrush in an area that bordered a lake. I appreciated the quiet and solitude after the dog encounter. I completed this cache at 8:45 and was ready to hit the road for Camas County.

Camas County is the least populated county in the state with less 1,000 people living there. We live half the year on the Camas Prairie but not this one. I didn’t know there was another one in the state. From Mountain Home to Fairfield is a beautiful drive taking you up to mile high elevation through beautiful mountains overlooking lush valleys with streams meandering through them. My first stop was at a wide spot in the road called Hill City which was about where the prairie begins. The cache was supposed to be out by some silos but I couldn’t find it. An old van was parked right where the coordinates took me. Others had had trouble with this one too. Just down the road which had now turned east I found one called “Idaho Soldiers” which was attached to a reflector in the middle of a wagon wheel mounted on a billboard type sign. I was fortunate to find it quickly. I reached Fairfield, the county seat with no paved roads except the intersecting highways, about 10:30. This cache, which to my surprise turned out to be a micro, was in the back of an old steam tractor located in a little park. It took me a long time to find it because I was looking for something bigger. That finished Camas County so I headed east across the sage brush desert with the highway paralleling the Camas creek to the south.

At the intersection of hiways 20 and 75 I turned south for Shoshone and the Lincoln county caches. This is still the high sage brush type county with some ranches scattered about. North of Shoshone I noticed a cache on my GPSr for which I didn’t have a print out. I vaguely remembered it in my planning but must have lost the sheet. At any rate, it turned out to be a regular sized cache located under a bridge that I was able to find. I arrived at Shoshone about midday and turned east along a road bordering an irrigation canal and found two caches by the same owner that were micros listed as smalls. I returned to Shoshone, gassed up the motorcycle and had lunch at a picnic table on the shady courthouse lawn. After a pleasant lunch I continued south out of Shoshone and into Jerome County for a desert cache called “Coyote, Come to Me”. It was placed by a man who had had some successful coyote hunts there in past years. This cache required about a mile and a half desert hike which ordinarily I would welcome but time was a factor and it was hot. Nevertheless, after a short ride on a gravel road I set out across the sage brush and soon arrived at the cache site. I must have spent at least a half hour searching and was just about to give up when I found the cache under a rock. The coordinates were accurate. I guess there were just too many rocks. I later discovered that I had left my deerskin gloves (which I always carry for rock caches and grouping around in holes) at this cache. However, it was a beautiful remote area and I felt good to have finally found the cache. The next cache was also in Jerome County and was also located out in the sage brush. It was at a Wildlife Management Area. Although it was just under a sage bush I had a little trouble finding it because the coordinates were not accurate.

It was 2:50 and this finished my caches for the day so I headed for Clint’s. Unfortunately my weather window coincided with the weekend Clint had a camping trip planned so I had his place to myself. Clint lives in an Idaho Power house located in a beautiful little valley where the Malad River dumps into the Snake. On my way there I met scores of Harley riders in groups out cruising with their fat chicks on board with not a helmet or any protective gear to be seen. I guess those guys “don’t need no stinkin helmet”.

I must have arrived at Clint’s about 3:30 with plenty of daylight left so I borrowed his mountain bike and rode up the Malad River to the end of the road then out to the Idaho Power shop and then into Hagerman and back. I must have gotten in about 15 miles and I was really thirsty because I hadn’t been able to find a water bottle to take with me. After getting cleaned up I went into Hagerman to the Snake River Grill and had a delicious Malibu chicken sandwich. Then back to Clint’s where I used his computer to post all the caches I had done the previous two days. Time to hit the sack after a beautiful and full day.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


Here's a case in point -- the reason we bought the interim cheapy camera.

Our neighbor warned me. She said they had seen the first rattler of the season. When I stepped onto the kitchen porch about 5:00 this evening I heard the unmistakable rattle. I could see the snake in the grass -- beyond the cistern and to the right of the raspberry patch. I don't have a picture of its position, but let me assure you it was in the yard and close to the house, coiled and on guard. Most folks in these parts do not let rattlers live, but Mike has decided they play their part in the Great Rodent War. Still, they must be carefully removed from the yard. But first, I took pictures.

When we went for our walk this evening, I heard rattles in the very rustling of the grass and Nellie did a double-take on a section of exposed phone line. KW


A convention, a birthday party, a "quick" road trip, a graduation, a wedding, short visits with three of our children – it doesn't even make a good movie title. I feel as though I have been away from this journal for a very long time. I knew it would be that way. The past ten days have been so busy for me (us). But, you know, a chronology of the past just isn't very interesting. So – let's move on.

I was shopping for groceries at Albertson's on Bridge Street in Clarkston yesterday when the "big storm" hit. Lights flickered, went out, came on, went out again and stayed out. You know how stores are – any natural light comes only through windows at the front. Without the lights, the store is dark. The emergency back-up system gave the store an eerie feel. Initially store personnel made no announcements, but I caught a glimpse of wind and rain as I stood in line at the check-out. After about ten minutes, I gave up the wait, shelved my potential purchases, and left the store. Notice I said – "shelved my potential purchases." That's because Hallie had a brief career in retail and told me how they hate folks who just walk away from their carts or put stuff down and walk out. Before I was finished an announcement was made that electricity might not be restored for several hours but that they "would do their best to get us out." Thanks but no thanks, I said to myself. Turned out the trouble was caused by a brief but unpredicted storm that blew a tree down onto a power line. The electricity was off at that location for more than an hour.

So, here we are at the farm, doing without those extra groceries. We'll be fine – we're staying only a couple of days. It's cool here (63) and wet.

Our Nikon CoolPix camera developed some sluggishness about the automatic lens cover that could no longer be ignored, so we shipped it for repair. Naturally, that didn't go easily. Even though we had registered the warranty when the camera was new, Nikon would not repair under warranty unless we provided the receipt. Keeping receipts seems problematic for us – we just don't get it. So, we had to make more phone calls to get the necessary paperwork in order to save $107 – half the original price of the camera. All paperwork is now in place and we hope to have the camera back soon. Meanwhile, I'm using a $20.00 interim camera we bought at Wal-Mart. The sales associate didn't even want to sell it to us. "Does that thing work?" asked a brother-in-law. For the kinds of pictures we like to take, we should think of upgrading rather than downgrading, I suppose. Thing is – I tend to get excited about the potential of things but frustrated in the reading of manuals and learning to use.

[The photos were taken at the farm with the "cheapy" camera. Photo 1: poppies before the backdrop of Grandma's spirea bush. Photo 2: iris transplanted from an old homestead being demolished. Photo 3: strawberry plants nibbled by the deer -- or the rodents. Photo 4: Grandma's lilac bush making a comeback.] KW

Sunday, June 7, 2009


Cache Across Idaho is part of the National DeLorme Challenge caches. You must log a cache in each of the 44 counties of the state. I had wanted to do this by motorcycle before I found about the Challenge and related cache. When I found out about the cache and that no one had completed it, that really put the spurs to me.

I mistakenly thought that the geocaches could not be micros (35mm film canister size) which caused a lot more travel because I had to revisit counties where I had logged only micros. I didn’t find out until I had finished that this was not correct. My first step was to make a list of the counties where I had already logged caches. I believe I had already done about 18 counties, mainly in the north and ones on the way to Boise. Next I tried to line up at least three caches that weren’t micros in the counties that I needed. I figured if I lined up three I should be able to at least find one. This preparation took a couple of weeks. I used an Excel spreadsheet, Mapsource software and, of course, the Geocaching site along with my GPSr. With the Mapsource I laid out the routes and it gave me the mileage and time. I added 15 minutes for each cache to get an approximate time for each day. One page of the spreadsheet was five day weather forecasts for the places I would be traveling on this first leg which would take five days and four nights. I got forecasts each day until I found the right window for the trip.

That window opened May 16th and I was on the road at 6:00 am. It was cold crossing the high rolling hills of the Camas Prairie and I had to stop about three times to warm my hands and gloves on the engine. My first cache was at Slate Creek in Idaho county which was not one that I needed but I had figured it would be a good time for a break (two hours out). It was called “Dinner and a Movie” which is a series of caches with movie themes and a recipe. This one was on the Salmon river and based on the movie “River of No Return”. It was a good break and now much warmer since I had descended from the Prairie down the White Bird hill and was traveling along the beautiful Salmon river canyon.

I now had about three hours of traveling south through beautiful but familiar country down the Little Salmon, across the flats north of New Meadows and down through the Payette National Forest to Council and into the more open country toward Weiser. My first real cache was all the way down to New Plymouth in Payette county. This is agricultural county and fairly open with mountains to the north and east. This cache was called “Passenger” with the idea that someone in the passenger seat of a car could pick it up if they could bend down far enough. I had a hard time finding it. It was at a rural intersection under a guard rail and consisted of a small tin container covered with gravel. It was now just past noon as I had passed into Mountain time. The next cache was just down the road at a canal water wheel which was really neat. About 12:40 I picked up another cache at a rural intersection called Hamilton Corner on the way to Emmett in Gem county.

The next stop was Gem Island Park and for the first and only time on the trip my GPS software had me going in circles. Gem Island Park is not easy to find but after a bit of wandering I finally found it. It was a big athletic complex with a beautiful shady park inside where I eventually found the cache and had my lunch of smoked salmon courtesy of Ken McKim. It was 1:20 by this time and I was hungry. It was also getting really warm. After lunch I was unsuccessful in finding another cache in the park.

Next I headed east along the Payette river toward Horseshoe Bend. I found another Gem county cache on the river called “Can I hear Niagra?”. It was a picturesque little falls extending all the way across the river.

Shortly I passed into Boise county and got another cache on the river bank under some Cottonwoods. I had two more caches lined up in Horseshoe Bend (also Boise county) but it was 1:50 by now and I knew this would be the longest day of my journey so I just passed on through Horseshoe Bend and headed south toward Boise.

After climbing over and down the mountains south of Horseshoe Bend I descended into the Boise valley. As I already had caches in Ada county, I turned west toward Star and Middleton (Canyon county) which is fairly open and flat agricultural terrain. I found an interesting cache in Star which was in a piece of concrete that looked like a tent with a rock as the door that had to be moved to access the cache. The cache in Middleton was on a rural road under some Cottonwoods beside a creek. By now it was 4:25 and really hot. I shed my chaps and opened all the vents on my jacket. Still heading west I stopped in Greenleaf but was unsuccessful in finding a cache in a residential neighborhood.

Now for the big desert of Owhyee county. For the past several years we have made chukar hunting trips down to this huge sparsely populated county. I knew I would not have the time or equipment to explore the caches in the heart of the county. At 5:45 I found a cache just over the county line but it turned out to be a micro which I thought were not allowed. I had also stopped in Marsing and had a “no find” on one in town. I now headed southeast out across the desert toward the county seat of Murphy. In the middle of nowhere I found one of my favorite caches at Wilson Cemetery, an old pioneer cemetery that is still in use. The last one for the day was “Murphy outskirts” which was a small can stuck to the inside of a guard rail with the most powerful magnet for its size I have ever seen. It was now 6:45 and time to head for Milo’s in Boise.

I had to retrace part of my route to get to Boise and it was about 8:00 when I arrived. Milo had some hamburger patties all ready for the grill when I got there and I don’t know when I’ve had a tastier burger. A great end to a tiring (446 miles and 13 geocaches) but adventure filled day.