Thursday, August 29, 2013

Life Elevated – Days 5 & 6



Joanne had a hearty breakfast for us early Tuesday morning prior to our hitting the road.  For me this was the worst start of the journey because the very bright sun was right in my eyes for miles.  I had caches in Washington County from a previous visit but we wanted a couple for Yancey.  I usually do the navigation because I use a GPSr which gives turn by turn directions whereas Yancey uses a phone which doesn’t.  However, the phone does have a map and works fairly well if the cache is not too far off your path.  So when Yancey passed me and turned off to the right I assumed he had decided to take the lead.  As it turns out he had no idea where the cache was but had just stopped to don his sunglasses.  As it so happened the cache was just across the street and this is after we had traveled 7 or 8 miles.  What are the chances of that happening?

These next two days presented us with the most fantastic views imaginable.  Much of it was like being on another planet.  After leaving the St. George area we entered Zion National Park on Highway 9.  Kathy and I had been through Zion and Bryce a few years back but it was just amazing as then.  After passing through Zion we hit Highway 89 and proceeded north to Highway 12 which took us east to Bryce Canyon National Park which truly is like noting you would expect to see on this planet.  We had lunch there and hiked around a bit.  Kathy and I had hiked down into the canyon on our trip there but we didn’t have time to spare for that on this trip.

After leaving Bryce, Highway 12 turned north taking us by Escalante State Park and through Anasazai Indian State Park on the way to Torrey where Highway 12 intersects Highway 24.  We needed to get a cache in Torrey for Wayne County but we could see a big thunderstorm fast approaching from the west.  We hurriedly found a cache in Torrey and blasted out of there toward our evening destination of Hanksville.   

Between Torrey and Hanksville lies the Capital Reef National Park which was totally unknown to me.  It was fantastic (I may overuse this word).  We went through a canyon that reminded me of the old Roadrunner cartoons where Wiley Coyote goes over the cliff.  It was a narrow canyon with towering sheer cliffs on each side and a stream at the very bottom.  We picked up a couple more caches in Hanksville to add to Wayne County.

Hanksville should be called Dukesville because Duke owned almost every business.  Hanksville’s population is listed as less than 200 but Duke has a nice motel, a couple of restaurants (actually one belongs to his son) a service station and convenience store that I know of.  The motel had once been pretty small but he had added a series of what looked like large storage sheds made into motel units.  It had free WiFi and a guest computer in the office that I used to upload my accumulated caches.  I was very interested in this display of entrepreneurship so I questioned one of his employees.  She claimed that Duke was only 42, employed 51 people and was always researching the latest and greatest to incorporate into his businesses.  There was a sign in the employees’ section of the restaurant and said “Work hard and be nice”.  Hanksville is isolated in the middle of the desert but it’s located at the intersection of Highways 24 and 95.  There is also a lake or reservoir just north of there that receives a lot of traffic.  Apparently Duke recognized this business potential and made the most of it.  All his businesses seemed clean, well maintained and thriving.

The next morning Duke furnished our breakfast at his (son’s) restaurant next door.  Soon afterward we headed south toward San Juan County and some fantastic motorcycle riding through Glen Canyon Recreation Area.  There was virtually no traffic.  After picking up a couple of caches we entered Natural Bridges National Monument where we practically had the place to ourselves.  There was one older couple who seemed to accompany us at all the stops and the old gentleman was very friendly and jovial.

After leaving Natural Bridges we turned east and then north before making a side trip into Canyonlands National Park.  More fantastic scenery and a lot of it was before we even reached the park.  However, it was really hot.  We took a break at the cool visitors center and then rode around the park a bit.  Then we backtracked to Highway 191 and headed toward Moab.  I had another opportunity to don my rain gear but the shower didn’t last long.

We arrived at Moab during the afternoon rush traffic and in the midst of a lot of road construction which was especially unpleasant in the heat.  We checked into the Riverside Inn and after I lubed the bike chains we took a welcome dip in the pool.  Not being ones to miss anything, after dinner we took a moonlight tour of Arches National Park.  Actually it was still light when we entered but dark when we left.  There was lots of traffic here even at night.  After an extremely full day with sensory overload from all we’d seen we had a good night’s sleep.  (To be continued)  M/W







Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Life Elevated – Day 4



Since the Iron Horse offered no breakfast we stopped at McDonalds before continuing south into Sanpete and Sevier Counties.  The most memorial cache for me in these counties was Chief Blackhawk which was one of two caches we got commemorating the Blackhawk war.  My comment for this one that it looked like the Chief was a body builder.

In order to pick up Piute County we were going to have to do an out and back route down to Marysvale.  In planning the route I was disappointed to have to make this sort of detour but it turned out to be well worth it.  Highway 89 down to Marysvale was a beautiful ride and we got a cache right across from the Big Rock Candy Mountain (one of my favorite childhood songs sung by Burl Ives). 

We enjoyed our ride back out of Piute County and got on the Interstate

heading west and then south toward Beaver.  We hurriedly picked up a couple of caches in Beaver as we could see a thunderstorm approaching.  Just as the storm hit we pulled off into a gas station/restaurant with a roof over the gas pumps.  Yancey was really in luck because not only did he not have rain gear but it was noon and the restaurant was a Mexican one.  It was a real downpour and it was nice to have a leisurely lunch in a dry spot.  By the time we finished the storm had pretty much abated but I donned my rain gear anyway.  I was glad I had because we hit another fairly fierce burst of rain after getting back on the Interstate.  Fortunately it was brief and the sun soon returned before we stopped for the next cache.  Yancey’s larger windshield had kept him from getting too wet.

We picked up a couple of
caches in Iron County before reaching Parawan where we got “Parowan's Most Muggle Proof Geocache”.  It was a metal box attached to a building locked with a horizontal alphabetical combination lock.  The hint was “Found” and that was the combination to the lock.  From there we began the ascent into Cedar Breaks National Monument.  It was a beautiful ride but I got cold before stopping near the summit and putting on my windbreaker.  We entered the viewing area and we both agreed that it reminded us of an unheralded place out in a Wyoming desert that we had seen the previous year where a science fiction movie had been filmed.  At any rate, it was quite spectacular.  This was just a sample of what was to come the next couple of days.

After leaving the Breaks we turned west and headed down the mountain toward Cedar City.  This should have been a great motorcycle ride but we had the only close calls of the trip.  All the cracks in the road (and there were so many that in places they literally covered the road) had been patched with fresh tar.  Motorcyclists call these “tar snakes” and they can really bite you.  When I first got into these I pulled over to check my tires because my bike was not feeling stable.  Even after determining the problem we both almost went down when hitting these “tar snakes” leaned over in a curve.  I had to put a foot down at one point to keep upright.  I was freaked out for a day or so every time I saw a “tar snake” but I eventually discovered that it was only the fresh ones that tended to melt in the heat and these were the only ones we encountered.

At this point we were headed toward Chuck’s and Joanne’s home in Ivins just northwest of St. George.  Chuck is Kathy’s brother and he and Joanne have made Ivins their home for a number of years.  They have a beautiful home in this fantastic desert country.  It was hot though.  It was Chuck’s birthday so we celebrated by going to a buffet and Yancey treated us.  There was supposed to be a meteor shower that night so I stayed up till midnight with Chuck but I saw only 3 or 4.

Joanne washed all my dirty clothes and I had a nice comfortable bedroom with no snoring in earshot and a computer to upload all my caches.  Pretty sweet.  (To be continued)  M/W

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

QUEEN BESS OF THE M-BAR-W

That’s her official AKC name – “Queen Bess of the M-bar-W.” Never mind if it strikes you a little strange. Most official dog names are strange – some of the horses, too.

We call her Bess – or Bessie. Some have called her Bessie Boo – I like that one myself. Then there’s Bossy Bessie, and that fits, too.
 
Now she's four months old and she’s still seems no bigger than a minute, though she’s slimmed up and leggier. She likely won’t be a big dog, and that’s fine with us.

In her first weeks with us, she seemed to remain aloof, hence the “queen” in “Queen Bess.” I would say it took her a good six weeks to decide she belonged to us. She will now curl up at my feet or press her chin to my knees – but only when it’s her idea. No way does she want to sit on my lap.

Her eyes sparkle with mischief. She loves to gnaw the inserts in Mike’s loafers and can obliterate a shoe – or a sprinkler system – or a computer cord -- in 30 seconds flat.

My Swiffer is still my best friend, though we have fewer of those accidents now. Still, Mike and I aren’t sure if that’s because we’re trained or she’s trained. It takes a while for a pup to get the picture.

When she first came, she declined to walk with us or went home on her own. She thought a walk was cruel and unusual punishment. Now you should see her romping all over the countryside – and pointing the birds. There are very few embankments she can’t conquer, but she still trips and tumbles head over heels as puppies do.

It’s amazing what she knows. How does she know that apples can be found under apple trees, that hawthorn berries are good to eat, and that it’s cooler in the shade?

She seems stronger and more venturesome every day. Today was the first day she followed Nellie to the neighbor’s pond as we took our country walk, and now she knows where to get a drink. Nellie gets right in to cool off, but Bess doesn’t care to get wet.
 
Nellie is her heroine, her idol. She loves to be a big girl and move side-by-side with Nellie. Even so, she thinks it’s just the best fun ever to torment Nellie by nipping her ears or her chin. “Poor Nellie,” we say, but then we see that Nellie is wagging her tail. KW

Monday, August 26, 2013

THE GENTLE ART OF TO AND FRO



We drove back to the farm this morning. On our way out of town we stopped for a geocache near the bottom of the Lewiston Hill. The name of the cache was “a better mousetrap.”
 



It’s lovely here at the farm – about 80 and breezy this afternoon. It rained some over the weekend so the garden is in good shape. I picked two cups of strawberries, with which I made a pie for supper.
 
When I retired six years ago we began to travel between the Lewis-Clark Valley and our farmhouse more frequently –and to stay longer at the farm. Keeping two places is a challenge, you know, and so is going back and forth.

I have to consciously adjust to leaving one place for the other. I have to think about what I want to accomplish while I’m at the farm and pack whatever I need from town – patterns, fabric, yarn, supplies, etc -- whatever. Then I think about what books I want to take with me and pack them. But those things are the frosting on the cake – the fun part.

Next is the food. Usually I have a list to help me with that. It’s just time-consuming to pack it and I always overlook something. Oh well, I say – it’s make-do time because even though there’s a grocery store about ten miles from the farmhouse, it’s a tedious drive to get there, and we adjust our recipes and menus – and our attitudes -- rather than make that trip.

Of critical importance are the electronics – the phones, iPad, iPod, laptop, camera – plus cords. Most of the devices are mine, so I am personally responsible for ALL of them whether or not they are mine. Add to that list Mike’s glasses, his medicinal oat bran muffins, and his reading material.

In order to simplify all this, I have begun to think in terms of not carrying so much back and forth. I plan meals so that we’re eating up the food regardless of where we are. Leaving produce and dairy products at the farm unless they will spoil has also worked to advantage. And this year we actually had garden produce.

Last year I bought another sewing machine so that I have one in town and one at the farm. Mike and I agree that that was a good move – really simplified things.

But, having a double supply of sewing notions wasn’t practical, nor has it worked to have separate projects at each house. I decided that a certain amount of carrying back and forth really does need to happen, but my existing sewing box, received as a Christmas gift in 1973 (a long time ago), had seen better days even before Bess chewed the corner. It needed to be replaced.
 
And so, as one of my “staycation” rewards, I bought the “Creative Options” unit.  It’s not perfect. I’ve been amazed at how little is out there when it comes to portable units for sewing supplies. But – this will do for now – maybe forever. KW

Friday, August 23, 2013

Life Elevated – Day 3



We enjoyed a delicious continental breakfast served by the Guest House and welcomed pleasant 70 degree temperature to begin our journey a little before 7:00 am.  We actually retraced our tracks to begin as we went past Linda’s and Bob’s house heading up Emigration Canyon road.  We saw lots of bicyclists on the road as we had the evening before.  The road makes a gradual (probably not so gradual on a bicycle) climb up the canyon with lots of curves.  The surface is not particularly great but still a fun ride.  After a few miles of climbing we came to a tee and took Highway 65 toward Morgan.  This is somewhat open mountainous terrain with lots of sagebrush. 

As Geocaching goes, this was not a particularly good day.  We began with two DNF’s and as I had only four lined up for Morgan County I was a little concerned.  The first DNF was along the old Pony Express and Mormon trail.  After this failure we backtracked a short ways to take Highway 66 to Morgan through Porterville.  The next DNF was at a rock “Welcome to Porterville” sign.  I succeeded in accidentally pulling a piece of loose concrete cap off the sign as I was trying to climb up to look on top.  I tried to replace it as best I could but we thought it was a good time to give this one up.  After arriving in Morgan Yancey quickly snagged a couple so we were safe. 

From Morgan we took Interstate 84 a short distance before exiting to find a cache hidden on an old railroad bridge in Summit County.  We continued on this same winding old rural highway to find another one on a graveled trail next to a reservoir. 

We had even more trouble with Wasatch County.  We turned south on Interstate 80 and then Highway 40 exiting to Highway 32 where we made a short ride up to Jordanelle Reservoir and State Park.  We did get off to a good start in this county because we found the first one overlooking the beautiful reservoir.  We turned back down the hill and got back on Highway 40 heading south taking the southwest fork on Highway 189 which borders the eastern edge on Deer Creek Reservoir and State Park.  In retrospect we spent way too much time stopping and looking unsuccessfully for three caches along this stretch.  I’m pretty sure they were missing.  Realizing the time we had wasted we decided we had better cut our losses and settle for just one cache in Wasatch County.  

After leaving Deer Creek Reservoir and State Park we began a beautiful curvy hilly ride continuing west on 189.  It’s too bad we didn’t have a helmet cam on this trip because we just didn’t have time to stop to take pictures of all the fantastic country we saw.  In the bottom of a canyon we turned off onto another twisty uphill road to get our first Utah County cache.  It was a difficult place to park our bikes because there was no shoulder and it was gravel and not level just off the road.  Nevertheless, we managed to park and found the cache after a short hike through high weeds. We shortly picked up another cache and called it good for that county. 

We skirted the north end of Utah Lake on the Interstate and Highway 145 before continuing west on Highway 73.  Now we were in desert country and it was hot.  At our next cache I told Yancey it was almost in the middle.  He didn’t bite so I guess he knew I meant the middle of nowhere.  We stopped at another cache just west of the middle and in spite of having no shade we sat on someone’s 4-wheeler trailer and had a bite to eat.  These caches were in Tooele County and reminded me a lot of Nevada.  Juab County just south was much of the same.  We stopped at a Rest Stop with no shade but two caches.  As I was bending over to get one located on a bush next to a barb wire fence I heard a rip and it was the skin on the top of my bald head. Luckily I had some band aids along.  This motocaching is a dangerous game.
 
We soon passed into Millard County which was much the same and tried to find a micro sized cache with no hint and scored another DNF.  The next cache was classified as a “small” but the description said it was a “micro” but with no hint.  We had to hike a ways across high dead grass and some railroad tracks and I was about to give up when Yancey found it in a sage bush.

We were on Highway 6 and at Lynndyl we turned east on Highway 132 toward Nephi.  We stopped at Leamington and found a cache at a tiny post office.  We stopped for gas at Nephi and noticed a thunderstorm approaching. [Speaking of gas – my Triumph Street Triple R (675cc) got better than 51 mpg for the trip and Yancey’s Suzuki SV650S (650 cc) got 2 or 3 mpg better than that.  The elevated and thinned Utah air improved my mileage 2 or 3 mpg.]  At Nephi we continued south toward Ephraim and Yancey grabbed a quick one in a sprinkler pipe almost before I got off my bike.  I think we may have gotten a drop or two of rain but that was all. 

We stayed at the Iron Horse Motel in Ephraim which appeared to be the only one in town although Yancey thought he saw another one.  I soon because fast friends with Leonard, the 89 year old gentleman who helped us get settled.  He was tuning an old Ford truck and we established an instant rapport.  Leonard located a fridge for us and we were set.  The Iron Horse didn’t look like much but I thought it was nice enough.

There was a Super Walmart across the road from the motel and after dinner we strolled over and got a few supplies.  No one seemed to know the population of Ephraim but research shows 6,000 which seems hardly believable.  However, Snow College with an enrollment of 3,000 is located there.  We also walked a short distance down the road and picked up our last cache of the day.  (To be continued)  M/W





Thursday, August 22, 2013

VISITORS



August is the time of year when the gap between the days’ high and low temperatures begins to widen. At the farm yesterday morning it was 54 at 6:00. The afternoon high in town was 100 at our house. (Of course, it was probably only 90 at the farm.)

Mike and I drove to the farm Monday, August 19, for a brief stay. On our way, we picked up a geocache in north Lewiston to comply with the August challenge.

Wildfires seem to abound – some small, some large – and some fires are field burns. At any rate, the smoke sits in the canyons and valleys and even rests on the hilltops. Mike stopped briefly on Gilbert Grade to check the dogs, and I hopped out to quickly take these pictures above Orofino.

I zoomed in on Orofino and snapped this picture. I discovered later that I had captured the image of our old family home (a white house with dormer windows) in the center of the shot. I cropped the picture to bring the house out even more.  The picture below shows smoke in Little Canyon.

Many people vacation in August, and the traffic on Highway 12 bears this out. Brother Chuck and wife Joanne from Utah are a case in point. They are here this week and spent the two days with us on the farm. I've always thought that having company is such fun, just another kind of "staycation." We kept our activities low-key, except for one or two chores. Mike and Chuck helped me cut back the spent hollyhocks. “Many hands make light work,” Mother used to say, and I was pleased to have the job finished so quickly. 

Chuck and Joanne hope that when they return to Utah the worst of the summer heat will have passed. Poor Chuck's voice got pretty gruff and we wondered if he was having a reaction to the smoke.

Chuck and Joanne brought squash and eggplant from their Utah garden, and I had peas, beets, carrots, lettuce, and a cucumber. I pulled out the peas – and now we’ll just have to wait and see what happens in the garden. Maybe the beans will bear – maybe not. Maybe we’ll have a new crop of leaf lettuce. I still have carrots and beets to harvest.

We had a great second yield with our day neutral strawberries. I picked more berries every day, fighting the yellow jackets for them. With what I picked and froze last week, we had strawberry shortcake for dessert Monday night and Tuesday I thickened the sweetened berries and poured them over cream cheese filling in a graham cracker crust.
 
With each trip to the farm I expect the hummingbirds to be gone, but we still have three or four visiting the feeders. Unusual.

So, we came back to town on Wednesday. This is the weekend for Lewiston’s “Hot August Nights” celebration. We no longer take in the concerts as neither the music nor the party format interests us, but Mike likes the car shows.

Someone told Mike that The Butler was a good movie, so tonight we ate early and headed out to the cinema. There were two other couples watching with us. KW

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Life Elevated – Days 1 & 2



Utah’s tourism slogan is “Life Elevated”.  I’ve just completed my mission to log at least one geocache in each of its 29 counties by motorcycle.  It was a fantastic journey seeing unbelievable and unworldly like terrain traveling many first class motorcycling miles with the tremendous bonus of having my son, Yancey, riding along with me.

I began my journey Friday, August 9th, leaving the town house a little after 6:00 am.  I headed south toward Boise and decided to take Highway 55 through McCall rather than Highway 95 through Weiser and Payette.  I stopped for a couple of geocaches before stopping in the park at Riggins for a longer break.  By this time it had begun to get very hot.  Anticipating the hot weather I was wearing a mesh jacked and mesh pants.  Each morning I would begin the journey with a sweatshirt and bicycling windbreaker under my jacket.  As the day heated up I would first remove the sweatshirt and then the windbreaker.  This system worked pretty well.  However, this first day I was wearing some light nylon cargo pants under my mesh motorcycling pants.  That did not work well.  I soon felt like I was wearing screen wire underwear.  For the rest of the trip I omitted the cargo pants and the situation was much improved.  There was a lot of traffic from McCall south but most of it was on coming so it wasn’t too bad.

My destination this first day was Gooding, Idaho, where I would spend the night with son, Clint.  I arrived at his house around 4:00 pm having logged 376 miles, tired and hot from the Interstate ride from Boise.  It was great to get a shower and clean up a bit.  As usual, Clint showed me great hospitality and had a chicken ready to grill.  After a delicious dinner and good night’s sleep I was on the road the next morning before 7:00 am (I was now in Mountain time and would be for the duration).

The first part of this day wasn’t much fun because it was all Interstate and a lot of it right into the rising sun.  After a little over an hour I took a break with a cache just after my turn southeast toward Salt Lake City.  Further down the road I stopped at a very nice Rest Stop where two caches were located.  These were my last Idaho caches heading south.

My first Utah cache was in Snowville which is a fuel stop as well.  This was my only cache in Box Elder County because I had logged other caches in this county on other trips.  I got a couple of neat caches in Cache County and had lunch where one was located at a park with a fishing pond in Wellsville.  This was a little side trip from my Salt Lake destination so I had to retrace some miles back to the Interstate.

Yancey’s wife, son, one daughter and my oldest son, Murray, visiting from Philadelphia were accompanying him to Salt Lake for a visit with his mother and step father.  Yancey had planned to trailer his bike to Salt Lake but it was too tall for the trailer so he ended up riding from Denver.  His trip wasn’t too pleasant as he encountered a lot of high winds in Wyoming.  My ex-wife, Linda, graciously arranged lodging for Yancey and me at the University of Utah (where her husband teaches) Guest House and gave us a nice dinner at their house in Emigration Canyon.  The family visit was a great send-off for our adventure.  Yancey and I got a couple of caches after dinner on the way to the Guest House so he would have Salt Lake County out of the way.  I had traveled 329 miles that day.   Pictures 1-Clint and his new lawn, 2-lunch in the park, 3-the Hobbit cache, 4-dinner with family, 5-Yancey at the Guest House (To be continued)  M/W