Wednesday, September 28, 2011


Monday (Sept. 26) was a good day for our annual wilderness geocaching excursion. Saturday was the culmination of a few days of unseasonably high, even record-breaking, temperatures. It was 96 at Gilbert Saturday afternoon. Sunday was much cooler with rain overnight. Initially Monday appeared foggy and moist and I wondered if we should even go, but by the time we reached the valley, the sun was shining brightly.

“How long do you think we’ll be out?” I asked Mike. “Will we be back before nightfall?”

“It won’t take all day,” he said. But I remember that in the past it has taken all day, and I can’t think that it won’t.

To continue (see previous post – Indian Post Office), feeling quite contrite – having broken the camera, moved from my assigned spot, and caused Mike some worry – we then traveled to Horseshoe Lookout on these same terrible back roads. (The lookout is a natural one on the rocky top of a mountain and not a tower.) I couldn’t help but think how my dad would have enjoyed this trip. He loved to read about the wilderness, then see for himself.
Mike has been to all of these sites before. Last time at Horseshoe Lookout with grandson Jack, they had been unable to find a geocache. Armed with new clues from the cache owner, Mike was determined to find it on this visit, especially since we were in the vicinity.

The back country is spectacular. Nothing to see but the wonder of natural beauty – layers and layers of trees and mountains. No farms, no cows, no shopping, no gas – yet, we’re just a few miles from Highway 12. That’s why they call it the Wilderness Gateway. Even so, problems are to be avoided as help is not readily available. Don’t take your car there and certainly not your motor home.

As we approached Horseshoe Lookout, Mike pointed out a number of rock outcroppings and I took pictures with our crippled camera.

As we stopped at the lookout, I remembered that I hadn’t seen Nellie since she accompanied Mike to Indian Post Office Lake. I wondered if she had been worried, too. Once Mike let her out, she came right to me and made eye contact. “You broke the law of the pack, Kathy,” she seemed to say, then nuzzled my knee. “We’ll forgive you this time, but just remember, you aren’t the alpha dog.” Intuitively she had gleaned something of this upsetting event.

Mike readily found the cache, and while he did the bookwork (which seems to take some time), I took pictures. We might have stayed longer, but it was nearly 4:00 p.m. (late in the day at this time of year) and time for us to move on. It took half an hour or so for us to reach Highway 12. Once there, we headed west – toward home – but we stopped at Fish Creek. “Caution: frequent helicopter landings” read the sign. And that was right – the helicopters were flying in and out constantly. There must have been a fire someplace and they were carrying water from the river.

“Are you up for this?” Mike asked, as he prepared to hike the Fish Creek Trail. “No,” I screamed, but not a sound came out. “Sure,” I heard myself say. “By the way, how far is it?”

“A round trip of 1.8 miles,” was the answer.

“Then we’d better get moving,” I said. “It’s 4:50 now and it’s dark at 7:00.”

So off we went. The trail was narrow but well-maintained and initially the going was easy. However, it became steeper and a bit challenging. I told Mike to go ahead of me and find the cache. He and Nellie hurried off, but I was sure I would get there before he finished the bookwork, which proved to be the case. The trip back down the trail was easier.

It was 6:10 when we arrived at the Dakota. Mike thought to find one more cache as we traveled Highway 12, but by the time we arrived at that locale, it was dark. “You can’t,” I said; “it’s too dark.” He reluctantly agreed.

Between Kamiah and Orofino, we began to contemplate a supper of leftovers. “Or, we could stop at the Mexican restaurant in Orofino,” said Mike. So, that’s what we did – grubby clothes and all.

It was 8:40 when we drove into our farm home, and as we descended Plank’s Pitch we were greeted by a sight straight from a movie about aliens from outer space. We were at the house before we fully realized it was Farmer Kyle planting at night on the Miller place. He worked until 10:00.

That’s it – the close of the annual wilderness geocaching excursion. Once we put our stuff away it was time for bed. KW

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


Boy! Did we have an adventure yesterday! One of those things where I became embroiled in the “Mickey Warnock Experience.” In fact, I caused it and it got worse before it got better.

We went to Indian Post Office located on the Lolo Motorway. “Motorway” is a term out of the ‘30s when the road was built with the assistance of the Civilian Conservation Corp along a trail used by the Nez Perce. Don’t let the term “motorway” fool you. It’s a clearly-defined but single lane road, very rocky, and not for the faint of heart. The Lolo Motorway makes the Gilbert Grade look like an improved highway. We traversed it in our Dakota, frequently in 4-wheel drive. Realistically, the best option is a 4-wheeler.
Leaving Highway 12, also called the Lewis-Clark Trail or Scenic Byway, we turned onto Doe Creek and proceeded to Indian Post Office, a pile of rocks where the Nez Perce left messages and also came for healing. Mike found a place to turn around so that we could park. After lunch, he set off on his grand adventure – to place a geocache at Indian Post Office Lake. Seeing his walking stick, Nellie waxed excited. “Oh boy, oh boy!” she seemed to say. “I’m up for it, Mike. I’m with ya.” Mike advised me to take reading material.
We walked along the crest of the ridge until we could see the lake far below. Mike said I could go if I wanted to but suggested that I sit on a log and wait. Mike is part mountain goat, and I –well, I am not. I knew that I would really slow him down and that realistically, I might not even make it out again before nightfall. I’m not kidding. So, I sat down on the log. Mike left at 1:10. At about 1:30 I saw him crossing the flat to the lake.
I was looking at a recent issue of “The Quilter” and dreaming over some of the quilt patterns when a wind came up and the sun went behind a cloud. Suddenly, I was chilly. Looking behind me, I could see the road. “Why did I agree to sit here,” I thought to myself, “when I could be walking and taking pictures?” So, I gathered my magazine and the camera and hiked overland to where the Dakota was parked to get my jacket.

As I approached Indian Post Office, an expanded cab, long bed, 2-wheel drive pick-up in Forest Service green pulled in. I figured they would speak to me just to ascertain that all was well with me and my party, but no. The two passengers appeared not to be Forest Service personnel – at least, they weren’t dressed in uniform. The driver attempted to turn around in the same spot we had used, except that he got stuck. The back wheels kept spinning in the dirt until there was quite a rut. One of the passengers waved to me and shrugged his shoulders. I was about to ask if they needed this grandmother to push when the driver gunned the engine and the earth let loose of the vehicle. With another wave from the passenger, they were off. Odd behavior for the Forest Service, I thought.

It was then, as I stood in the middle of the road, that I dropped the camera, and yes, it’s not quite the same. I felt terrible about it, but I grabbed my jacket from the pick-up, left my reading material, and walked down the road – perhaps three-quarters of a mile or so. I really thought it was going to take Mike a while to climb back up to the ridge – but no. Looking toward the spot where he left me, I could see him nearing the top. I quickly headed back to the Dakota – now too warm in my jacket – but when I got there, he still wasn’t there.
Now I was upset about the camera, too warm in my jacket, and worried that Mike would wait for me at the log. Did I think to leave a note at the Dakota? Yes, but I didn’t do it because I was certain I would meet him hiking across the ridge. So, I set off once again to the spot where I knew he would expect to see me, but he wasn’t there. I didn’t see him on the road. I didn’t see him on the cross-country route. And so I knew that he took another route out – but I was standing a good half mile from the Dakota and I knew it would take me ten minutes to walk back.

I started kicking myself for every erring instinct from the time I left the log in the first place. I knew I couldn’t get back to the Dakota fast enough but the overland route was rough and I felt clumsy in my hiking boots. As I approached Indian Post Office I saw Mike moving the Dakota and tried to run. Luckily he saw me. He had worried, he said, and why hadn’t I left a note? He saw the prints of my hiking boots going both ways in the road and couldn’t imagine what I was doing. He had loaded the Dakota, left a note for me under a rock, and was headed down the road to look for me when he saw me coming. All in all, the whole experience reminded me of the time we lost Mike in the Northtown Mall in Spokane.

As for the camera – probably time to replace it, said Mike. And when I told him about the ruts made by the Forest Service, he said, “Thank God! I thought maybe I had done that and didn’t realize it.” Finally it occurred to me that the vehicle was likely a private vehicle -- one previously owned by the Forest Service.

Mike says it took him 22 minutes to descend the embankment and 23 minutes to ascend again. What did I tell you? He’s part mountain goat. I can guarantee that with all my back-and-forthing, it did not cause as much delay as if I had gone to the lake with him.

Tomorrow: Horseshoe Lookout and Fish Creek -- KW

Sunday, September 25, 2011


About a week ago I got a notice from my bicycle club of an upcoming ride that really sounded attractive. I had done a variation of this ride about 3 years ago. The ride would originate in Kamiah, go east on Highway 12 to Kooskia and turn south on Highway 13 to Harpster. We would ascend the Harpster grade and go into Grangeville and then take the Mount Idaho road for the descent back down to the river and return through Harpster and Kooskia to Kamiah – 76 miles.

I have recently acquired a new bicycling friend whom I invited to go along with me. He is about Kathy’s age and is the Significant Other of one of our friends who moved to Ohio but is back in the valley for an indefinite period helping out with a new grandchild. We had made a few rides together and I found him to be a very experienced cyclist of about my ability and good company. At any rate, as we are on the farm the plan was for him to drive up from Clarkston and meet me in the Orofino Park where we would both ride up to Kamiah together in my truck.

However, I erred in telling him how long it would take to drive to the park. (I based it on how long it would take me.) As it turns out, he was about a half hour late which put us 20 minutes late getting to Kamiah and the bike club departs on time.

So we take off up Highway 12 in hot pursuit averaging about 19 mph to Kooskia. Our pace slowed to about 17 mph up Highway 13 toward Harpster. I knew their first rest stop would be about 21 miles out at Harpster and, sure enough, that’s where we caught them.

The only significant climb on the ride is the Harpster Grade which must be about a 5 mile climb of a couple thousand feet. At about 2/3’s up the grade I was just behind the two lead riders when I felt a regular puff of air on my left calf. I knew what that meant – a flat. Shortly the puff quit but I knew it was still leaking but with not as much pressure. It was a very hot day and as this grade is open to the south I kept going until I found a rare shady spot to stop and change the tube. When a couple of riders behind caught up they stopped to help. I removed and replaced the tube only to find that the replacement had a leak too (and it had only one patch). One of my friends who had stopped gave me a new tube which got me going.

No sooner had I resumed my climb up the hill that I discovered I could not shift. Then I noticed that the cable housing for my rear derailleur cable had ruptured. In all my years of cycling I have never seen that happen nor had anyone else in the group. The chain was in about the middle of my cassette which was not nearly a low enough gear for that hill. I found that I could pull the cable with my hand at the down tube and shift to a lower gear but I had to hold it the whole time with one hand on the handlebars and straining up the hill. When we got to the top of the grade we still had about 5 miles of rolling hills into Grangeville so the situation was marginally better but very tiring.

My first stop in Grangeville was at a hardware store where the clerk gave me a piece of Gorilla tape. I took the tension off the shifter cable and wound the ruptured cable housing tightly with the tape. Problem solved – not perfect as up shifts were a little delayed and some were not precise, but all in all, it worked pretty well.

We stopped for lunch at the Subway where I got a well needed rest. The second half of the trip was the fun part – mostly downhill. There were a few rolling hills out of Grangeville before we hit the four mile descent down to the South Fork of the Clearwater. That was some hill! You can hit speeds in 40 mph range with beautiful views all the way. We all agreed that we would never enjoy going up that hill.

It was a very hot but pleasant ride along the river into Kooskia. The road had just been resurfaced (Grandson Jack and I had experienced delays on it this summer when they were working on it) and it was smooth as glass and mostly downhill. We stopped for a few minutes in Stites and I had leaned by bike against a newsstand in the shade of a store. Suddenly there was a bang and shssss from my rear tire. Another flat, same tire, new tube. At least I was in the shade again. I was offered a new tube again but this time I elected to patch the one I had already been given. I believe those are the only flats I’ve had this year on the 1,200 miles I’ve put on that bike.

Happily, my bad luck for the day had run out. We made a fast trip back down Highway 12 into Kooskia arriving about 4:30 after a beautiful day of riding. (Sorry, no pictures) M/W

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


Autumn is in the air and my thoughts turn to spicy breads, cakes and pies made with apples, pears, pumpkin and zucchini. I’ve grated lots of zucchini for the freezer. I’ve dried my first batch of pears. Any pumpkin I use will have to come in cans. And I’m experimenting with the country apples at Gilbert.

Looking southward
The apple trees look dry and brown with sparse leaves, though they were beautiful when they bloomed last spring. Of course, the trees are all old and I have no idea what varieties Johnny Appleseed planted here. Sunday (Sept. 18), while Mike rode his bike to Craigmont (just for the exercise), Nellie and I hiked over to “Uncle Ben’s” to look over the apples there. I love that particular hike because of the views it affords of the homestead and surrounding countryside, and I paused to take a few pictures. Anyway, I carried a gallon pail. The grass under the tree is well trampled by the deer. I had to be inventive in order to pick a few apples from the lowest branches. I think maybe it’s too soon to pick. I’ll wait a week or so and then invite Mike to help me.

As we walked back to the farmhouse, I stopped again at the “awesome” tree. The deer are in evidence in this place as well. A cute little bird with a clean white breast, a red patch on the back of his head, and black eye slats was quite willing to share this tree with me. I’m thinking he was a sparrow of some sort. Maybe someone knows.

Then – in our lane – small red and green apples against a backdrop of pine boughs caught my eye. The apples are mostly worm-free, and – best of all – reachable. I topped off my pail with them.

Back at the house, I washed the little apples and cut them into pieces for the pot. When they were good and mushy, I ran them through a sieve, then re-heated with sugar. Delicious!

My favorite apple cake recipe appears in The New Pillsbury Family Cookbook, published in 1975. This cookbook was a wedding gift – in 1975 – and has been one of my overall favorite cookbooks all these years. Now in a worn state, it still proudly proclaims itself to be “new.”

¼ cup butter or margarine
¾ cup sugar (white or brown)
1 egg
1 cup flour
1 tsp soda
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp salt
½ tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups chopped apples
½ cup chopped nuts
½ cup raisins or chopped dates

Preheat oven to 350. In saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Remove from heat. Blend in sugar and egg. Add remaining ingredients; mix until blended. Turn into greased and floured 8-inch square or round pan. Bake 40 to 45 minutes nor until top springs back when slightly touched. Serve warm or cool, topped with whipped cream or ice cream if desired.

I made apple cake and a little applesauce with apples from the “awesome” tree, and I have to say both products were – well, awesome! KW

Saturday, September 17, 2011


Saturday last week we were with the Mile High Warnocks at the “Cave of the Winds” near Colorado Springs. After touring the cave, we bought sandwiches for lunch and picnicked at the “Garden of the Gods.” But that was last week.

Add caption
Today, Mike suggested it would be fun to take in the fair parade in Orofino. The Clearwater County Fair and Lumberjack Days celebration is in full swing, with the parade starting at 10:00 a.m. The theme this year: “100 Years of Clearwater County” – or “Happy 100th Birthday, Clearwater County,” or some such.

“Do you think you’ll see anyone you know?” asked Mike.
“Doubtful,” I said, thinking that unless I just happened to see Harry and Mary Lou on the street, I wouldn’t know anyone. The community has changed so much since I graduated from high school. Normal change is gradual and subtle, but the cumulative effect over time becomes noticeable, and I think that’s true of everything.

I used to like to take in the fair when my parents lived in the heart of town. It was easy to go early and park in their driveway, just a block off the parade route. “Can’t we park at your folks’ house?” asked Mike. The answer was a resounding no. We parked on Kalaspo (between the Fagan’s and the Haney’s, for those of you who know the houses), and we walked down “D” Street toward Brown Avenue, slowly looking over the old family home.

As we left Clarkston the other day, Mike checked out a novel by Nelson DeMille, only to discover he had read it. The libraries in our region are all part of the same library system, Valnet, which allows us to check out and return books to any library within the system, and it works great for us. The library in Orofino sits right on the parade route, so with a few minutes to spare, Mike returned the one book and checked out another, this time a John Grisham novel. (I selected Country Decorating by Country Living. I figure it will either spur me to action or discourage me.) We then found a spot on the curb near the library and directly across the street from the “Orofino School,” now a condemned building. We were soon flanked by two families with about four little kids each, a fact that would become significant. Taking advantage of a little waiting time to read, Mike discovered he had also read that novel, but at least he was able to immediately return it. He came back with a book from the “new release” shelf.

As the parade began, the candy began to flow – out of log trucks, out of fire trucks, off of flatbed trucks, out of new vehicles. I’d say 75% of the parade participants threw candy for the kids. I felt kinda sorry for Mike at first because they threw to the kids on either side of us but mostly ignored him, and he likes Tootsie Rolls and Tootsie Pops, which were abundant. We felt sorta obligated to hand any candy that landed in front of us to the kids, but as the parade wore on and the candy continued to flow, I felt the kids had enough and we began to quietly keep what came our way – really not all that much. One business threw bright orange whistles with the candy, and I unabashedly ran out and picked up one of those. Nellie’s has seen better days. We also came home with two pop can sleeves, one of the mothers graciously handing me hers. I’m sorry I was not successful in garnering a Frisbee, but I asked for and received a seedling tree, a Douglas fir, from the University of Idaho. We planted it in the grove when we got home.

“What’s this? Halloween isn’t until next month!” an onlooker observed. As the parade ended and Mike and I moved up the street, I saw that some families came prepared with sacks for the candy.

We had thought we might take in the exhibits. We had thought we would buy a little gasoline for the 4-wheeler. In the end, once we were in the flow of traffic, it was easiest just to head on over the bridge and back up the Gilbert Grade, so that’s what we did. It’s tough to be a guest in your own home town. 

[The first picture is of Yancey at "Cave of the Wind." The second is of me on the left with the Mile High Warnocks at "Garden of the Gods." The rest were taken at the parade in Orofino today, the most notable being the vintage tractors from the collection of our neighbor, Pete Curfman.] KW

Friday, September 16, 2011


Here it is: my first creation from a handkerchief, a dress for Barbie. Less than perfect, perhaps even inadequate for child’s play, it is nevertheless the prototype by which I learned lessons. My experiment with the hankie is based on the work of Marsha Greenberg as shared in her book, Hankie Couture. Ms. Greenberg has created hundreds of doll dresses and outfits from hankies, and her work captured my imagination.

These are some of my conclusions:

First of all, as near as I could find, Ms. Greenberg does not state the size of the doll for which she sews. She resembles Barbie, but she isn’t. In describing the evolution of her hankie couture, Ms. Greenberg mentions that she found a Chinese company willing to develop a doll to her specifications, and this doll is evidently available for purchase. I’m not interested in buying that doll – at least not now – so that makes the patterns in the book of questionable value. The test dress I quickly stitched together using a bodice pattern from the book did not fit my Barbie, a doll I rescued at a rummage sale. For this hankie dress, I used a standard Barbie pattern and followed Ms. Greenberg’s tips for cutting the skirt.

Secondly, Ms. Greenberg recommends lining the hankie dresses with white cotton fabric. She observes the white under the hankie makes the colors “pop,” and I’m sure it also strengthens the delicate hankie fabric. While I can appreciate these points, I found that lining the dress made it heavy and difficult to work with. Part of the problem might be Barbie’s small waist. Or it could be that the cotton I used was too heavy. Ms. Greenberg specifies cotton and recommends against fabrics that might ravel. For my next hankie project, I’m considering using a man’s white handkerchief (I believe we don’t refer to those as hankies) as the lining. But – I also wouldn’t be opposed to using softer, lighter fabric blends for the lining.

Finally, it occurred to me that Barbie is not an ideal subject for hankie outfits, and perhaps Ms. Greenberg came to the same conclusion. I do think it’s rather too bad that the patterns in the book are not of use for the general doll public. But to be fair, Ms. Greenberg is showing her creative skills and encouraging the rest of us to be imaginative in the use of hankies and other vintage textiles.

Where do I go from here? I’m thinking my next hankie creation will be for one of the Vogue family of diminutive dolls. But – I have committed to other projects, and now that the holiday season is officially open, I have work to do. Some frivolity will have to be put on hold for other frivolity.

Here’s a photo of a sleeve I made for my new laptop. As originally made, it was a little too small. Crafting, designing, and altering are not my strong suits. I prefer to sit down with a pattern that guarantees me a good outcome and the experimental process frustrates me. So, I was disappointed when initially the sleeve was unusable, but a friend suggested an insert between front and back would likely solve the problem. Since the fabric was rather expensive, I decided it was worth a try. Inching my way along, I salvaged the project with a one-inch insert. Now I can slip my laptop into the sleeve and pack it with my sewing machine when consolidation is desirable. KW

Thursday, September 15, 2011


In the relatively remote area in which we live, goods and services are certainly available but somewhat limited. Our nearest “big” city is Spokane, which my son describes as “just a big Lewiston” when it comes to shopping. He means it’s just the same stuff but more of it. He has a point.

So, getting out to a real population center like Denver is a treat in itself. Ask me what sights I want to see in the big city and I’ll tell you that visits to the local marketplaces will do it for me – even the grocery store. I admit, though, that the festive “get ready for the holidays” feeling that I enjoyed with our Halloween visits was mostly lacking with this late summer trip. It was just a little too early for holiday teas.

We left the Mile High Warnocks’ near Denver early Monday morning (Sept. 12) and arrived at Clint’s in Gooding for supper. The drive is long between Denver and Gooding – about 11 hours – but it’s doable. We left Clint’s about 5:30 a.m. MDT on Tuesday (Sept. 13) and were home by 1:00 p.m. PDT. We spent the afternoon unpacking, putting away, re-packing for the farm, and Mike washed the car.

In the end maybe it’s just best to shop at home. In fact, Mike and I have always believed in supporting home-town services. Even as Kelly was showing me the autumn-based products at Bath and Body Works (Yancey’s employer), I resolved to buy at the Lewiston store, located in our dilapidated shopping center. That store can surely use my business. (But I will say that Kelly did an excellent job of showing me the stock and explaining what’s available.)

So Wednesday morning, Mike and I agreed that I would shop for groceries while he hid a geocache at Pomeroy on behalf of the Boy Scouts, which constituted a refreshing motorcycle trip, of course. And for my refreshment I stopped at Jo-Ann Fabrics where I took advantage of senior discount day and bought the fabric for the assigned embroidery club project, a table runner. I planned a Halloween theme and already had fabric in mind, so my selections came together quickly. As the associate cut my pieces, she commented that I must be making a table runner. (How did she know?) She added that it was going to be delightful, and I felt affirmed. (Never mind that she felt she had to placate me because she skipped my number in the cutting queue.)

As I stood in line to check out with three other “guests,” the cashier called out, “Just in case any of you happen to qualify, today is senior discount day.”

“That’s why I’m here,” I sang out. “Are you going to card me? I mean – perhaps I don’t look like I’m over 60.” The other two guests didn’t smile.

“And you don’t,” she said diplomatically, “but no, I’m not going to card you, even though the company says I’m supposed to. I just hate asking people if they qualify,” she went on. “I think it’s an insult.” And I can see her point. It’s impolite to ask someone’s age, especially those of us who qualify.

With the shopping done, Mike and I loaded the Dakota and came to the farm. Temps were in the 90s while we were gone and the garden suffered. At this time of year when the growing season is winding down, I just have to say – “Oh well.” I picked a couple of zucchini and I see one lemon cucumber on the vine.

And there’s lots of work to be done – pears to pick (the most beautiful fruit I’ve seen on our tree) and continued apple experiments, raspberries to thin and prune, and various other pruning and yard improvements. Yesterday evening I made applesauce with those little green apples from the newly pruned tree at the pond, an adequate batch and good with the barbecued pork chops.

Days are noticeably shorter. And this morning it’s overcast and cool with a few showers -- a change in the weather, as we say. I looked up from my laptop to see a doe running across the north field. Life is good. KW

[The first photo was taken on the Salmon River below Riggins, Idaho, as we returned to our town home. The other two were taken on the farm this morning.]