Saturday, June 24, 2017

COOL DAYS AND WILD ROSES


Morning at Gilbert, Idaho, looking south over rapeseed fields to Little Canyon


It’s been rather cool here at the homestead this past week. Oh, it’s pleasant enough in the afternoon sun, but the evenings are cool and the mornings are downright chilly! I guess we’re lucky, considering the record-breaking highs in Utah and Arizona, for instance.

From bramble behind house
When I was a child taking morning swim lessons, the first session in June was always chilly. Standing wet at the edge of the pool and waiting for instructions, our teeth would chatter. And in those days – the mid-‘50s – mornings and evenings were always cool here at the farm. Yes, over the last 20-30 years, it has become much warmer here -- and dry. I guess this year is a throwback. And it’s okay. The garden and transplants have had a better start, I think.

Wild rose bramble north of house
Same bramble, north
The spring blooms are mostly past, but I just can’t let the season go without mentioning the wild roses. Wherever they pop up – and every year there are more bushes – they tend to take over. It doesn’t matter much here if wild roses want to grow in those grassy areas between the fields, but road departments everywhere fight them. I concede that the wild rose bramble is certainly a problem in some places, but the roses are lovely. I only know of one spot here where the proclivity to take over troubles me, and that’s at Plank’s driveway where a wild rose has overcome a lilac bush. I’d rather have the lilac, but it’s not our property – and not my problem.
Rose bramble at Plank's

Rose bramble east near June's
The wild roses range in shade from pale pink (nearly white) to deep pink, and I know of an unusual red bush at Neighbor Pete’s. He gave me permission to take a slip, but I have yet to do it. Pete told me that a neighbor lady sent her husband to plant that rose in his mother’s yard because of its unusual color. It wasn’t easy to plant, he said. The wild roses are very “stickery.”
Whitetail buck
A few days ago, as I walked along the road, I heard a rustle in the field below and spied a buck looking at me. I stopped dead in my tracks, wondering what would happen next. Generally, I’m not afraid of the deer, but my impression was that I didn’t have the upper hand. He was not wary of me, and I could tell he thought I was the intruder. I managed to take a picture before he disappeared. I didn’t see where he went.

"King of the Hill"
And here’s a picture of our resident pheasant rooster, an escapee from someplace. He doesn’t have a mate, and Mike was afraid he would die of loneliness, but that didn’t happen. He looks nice and plump and enjoys sitting on the dirt hill in the grove. Mike dubbed him “King of the Hill.” KW

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

A DIFFICULT HIKE



Elderberry bush -- center of photo
“See that elderberry bush on the other side of the north field,” I asked Mike. “Do you think we could skirt the field and get to it? I want to see it.”

He said he thought we could do it, so in the late afternoon the four of us set out. Bess and Nellie both greeted the prospect of exploring with enthusiasm, and I was happy not to be tramping up Plank’s Pitch.

From the north field (rapeseed)
At first all went well. We had walking room along the edge of the field. But by the time we got to the western edge, the rape was growing densely and we were forced to walk in equally dense grass infused with Canada thistle. Invisible under the grass were uneven terrain, downed tree limbs, and holes of various origins. Had I been by myself, I would have been overwhelmed and turned back. In fact, I suggested we should do just that, but Mike said, “After we’ve come this far?” And so, we pressed on – and I do mean “pressed.” Mike was my pathfinder, pressing down the tall grass and thistles so that I could push through. Bess and Nell remained happily oblivious of the difficulties we humans were enduring.

Mike at elderberry bush
And yes, we came to the elderberry bush, now in bloom. It looks healthy and perhaps could be picked this fall. Hopefully at that time it will be easily accessible and laden with plump little elderberries.

Elderberry bush in bloom
It was not comfortable standing there in tall vegetation, so we didn’t linger. We continued on through the grass and thistles, now passing the plum trees. I saw no fruit on those, and it’s possible they were hit by frost. But – maybe it’s just too soon to see it.

We clambered last that bank.
Finally, Mike headed away from the field and down into the north draw following a deer trail. I would love to have taken more pictures, but frankly I was concentrating on staying upright. Finally we came out in familiar territory near the lane.
Yarrow blossom by Mike

“Well, that gave my tendon a workout,” said Mike. And I felt badly because I had forgotten all about his injured tendon. I don’t think he’s any the worse for wear, but I wouldn’t have taken the chance had I thought about it.

The lane -- a welcome sight
Notes -- It's a lovely sunny day but not warm -- only 70. Last night we watched a doe and her tiny fawn down by the pond. The hummingbirds drain two feeders daily. A quail calls for hours on end, and that becomes tedious. And our resident pheasant continues to tramp the farm looking for a companion. We see the bunny frequently, and the lawn is riddled with rodent holes. KW


Monday, June 19, 2017

MOVIN' ON -- COMPANY'S COMIN'



The Mile High Warnocks are coming to visit in July, giving us a whole weekend to play with granddaughter Emmy at the farm. I can hardly say that she will experience life as it was back in the day because we are modernized and “connected” here (sort of), but it’s rural and we just don’t “run to town” for everything we might want or need.

Speaking of memories, as I plan for our summer celebrations, I thought about the extended family camping trip my parents sponsored in late July 1960. The original plan had been to rent cabins at Yellow Pine in the central Idaho wilderness, which Mother reserved well in advance. However, the owner refunded her money with the excuse that a large party had trumped her reservation by renting all of the cabins for several weeks. So much for reserving in advanced.

3-year-old Becky at Yellow Pine
My parents were disappointed but undaunted. They decided we would tent camp at a campground in the same area. This was a big production. Besides my parents, Grandpa Portfors, and myself, the party included my four married siblings and their children (a total of five at that time) – 17 in all. I don’t know how long we stayed – seems like it went on forever! And we never did it again. Mother said that my dad made too big a production out of camping – that he was unwilling to go without his creature comforts. I do remember that he actually considered how he might take a refrigerator.

Anyway, speaking of Daddy’s elaborate efforts, I happened to think of Mother baking for that camping trip. Did she make batches of traditional favorites like chocolate chip and oatmeal raisin cookies? No! She made filled cookies – dozens of them. I couldn’t recall that she had ever made these before, so I asked why she would make them now. She said they were a favorite of my brother Charles. (Hmmm. I wonder if he knows that.)

If you’ve never made filled cookies, let me tell you, they’re trouble! First you cook your filling, and I think Mother made raisin and/or date and also a brown sugar filling. Then you mix sugar cookie dough, which you roll and cut into circles and place on your baking sheet. Place a tablespoon or so of your filling on the bottom and then roll dough for the tops. Mother cut a little star shape out of the center of each top before carefully placing it over a prepared bottom and sealing it. Then you bake it.

Can you imagine that?! And she didn’t make just a few either. There were plenty. But even at the tender age of nearly 11, I thought they were rich for casual eating.

Here’s the recipe for filled cookies that I found in her old recipe box:
1 c sugar
¼ c butter
1 egg
1 t vanilla
Salt
½ c milk
3 ½ c flour
1 t soda
2 t cream of tartar
Cream butter, add sugar, then well-beaten egg. Add milk, then sift in flour which has been sifted with cream of tartar. Roll and cut with cutter. Place filling between two cookies and bake.
Filling: 1 c chopped raisins, ½ c sugar, ½ c water, 1 T flour. Cook ‘til thickened.

 

I also found a recipe for filled cookies in Betty Crocker’s Picture Cook Book, 1950. I didn’t look further. KW

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Big Bend & The Land of Enchantment - 8

Nevada Sky



Pony Express Cache - NV Rest Area

The next morning we gassed up and headed north on Hwy 18 before turning west on Hwy 56 toward Panaca, NV. We picked up a geocache before entering Nevada and then another just after turning north at Panaca on Hwy 93. At Ely I continued north and Sam took Hwy 50 west. His wife was hosting some ladies from the state PEO convention and he preferred to arrive home after it was over. I would have gone with him but my tooth was hurting so bad I did not want to take an extra day getting back. I continued north to Jackpot picking up a few cache along the way. I again stayed at Cactus Pete’s having traveled 425 miles and logging 6 caches for the day.

Hagerman Fosil Museum
Just as a week and a half before there was ice on my saddle in the morning. It was a beautiful sunny day although rain was forecast up north. Preparing for that eventuality, the night before I had fashioned rain gear out of a garbage bag and the remaining sleeves from my backless raincoat to wear under my mesh jacket.

I followed the reverse route I had taken previously stopping for caches at Hollister and just past Buhl before reaching Hagerman. I stopped at the Hagerman Fosil Museum for a cache and took a short tour of the museum. It was really interesting and there was a skeleton of the Hagerman Horse among other things. Son, Clint, had lived in Hagerman and thinking I wouldn’t be interested never mentioned the museum. I wish I had had more time to spend there.
Hagerman Horse

Having seen the weather forecast I thought I might encounter less rain going north from Boise up Hwy 95 through Weiser rather than the way I had come on Hwy 55 through McCall. As I proceeded up Hwy 95 the clouds began building past Weiser. I stopped at the Rest Area on the hilltop north of Weiser and donned my rain gear. The rain held off until I reached the little mill town of Tamarack. I can happily report that my make shift rain gear passed the test. I was in and out of rain until just past the Rest Area at Sheep Creek south of Riggins.
Counties Map


I arrived home around 4:30 having traveled 472 miles and logging just 3 caches with 1 DNF. Totals for the whole eleven day trip were 4,731 miles, an even 100 geocaches along with 15 DNF’’s. I am hoping that son, Yancey will accompany me next year to finish the counties of New Mexico. This trip certainly had its challenges but we rode some great roads and had interesting adventures. I couldn’t have had a better traveling partner than Sam. He was knowledgeable, thoughtful and always upbeat (an important quality on a trip such as this). That’s all folks. M/W  

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Big Bend & The Land of Enchantment - 7

Our preferred plan was to loop southwest from Springer to Taos and than angle north for the Colorado mountains. However, the weather forecast was for 4” of snow in Ouray where we had planned to stay. The alternate route I had selected a little farther west was almost as bad. There was no way to make either route by motorcycle. So we decided to travel as planned as far as Chama, NM, and they head west to Farmington, NM.

The next morning dawned clear and cool with no hint of bad weather. We had a beautiful mountain ride down to Taos where we went into town and found a Walmart with the help of Sam’s new GPS. In spite of the present good weather we knew it would not hold and I needed some rain gear to replace my lost jacket liner. I got a $10 rain suit and we were on our way again.

From where Hwy 64 crossed Hwy 285 about 30 miles northwest of Taos we had some of the most fantastic riding of the whole trip. This was beautiful National Forest with twisting roads going over a high mountain pass. This great stretch extended for almost 50 miles to Tierra Amanilla. We picked up caches along the way for Taos and Rio Arriba counties.

Lonesome Sam
Where's the key?
Probably the funniest incident of the trip occurred near the end of this stretch of road. We were going through a town and I was ahead of Sam with some traffic in between us. After making a left turn on the highway I didn’t see Sam anymore. I didn’t think much of it because I knew I’d be stopping soon for a cache. So I stopped for the cache which was on a fence to a gated field. Afterwords I just waited there as it was usually only a minute or two until Sam would arrive. After about fifteen minutes when I was unable to reach him by phone I was just about to head back to look for him. Then I saw this motorcycle coming across the field on the dirt road. I thought, “Boy, that looks like Sam’s bike”. Well, it seems Sam’s GPS had indeed taken him on the shortest route to the cache. He was gracious enough to laugh along with me. Of course, he had to go all the way back because there was no way to get by the gate and fence.


We got into Farmington earlier than anticipated so after gassing up we decided to go on to Blanding, UT. We chose a bock roads route which was Hwy 41 in NM and Hwy 262 in UT. We soon got into high winds and threatening skys. I put my raincoat on and Sam 
 put on his heated vest as it was getting colder. Not long after we got into Utah we encountered about the most miserable motorcycling weather I’ve ever encountered. The high wind turned to blowing rain and then blowing snow. By the time we approached Blanding it was almost impossible to keep my helmet visor free of ice. We finally made the Quality Inn in Blanding and we were so frozen the motel employees felt sorry for us and helped us carry in our gear. The wind had torn the back completely out of my rain coat. The motel had a hot tub that was extremely welcome. Thus ended a 428 mile day with 7 geocache finds.

Quality Inn - ice on windshield
Back Blown Out

Our way north was still blocked by snow so we decided to swing south into AZ through Monument Valley and then head west over to Ivins, UT, just west of St. George, where my brother-in-law lives. For this trip I had purchased a tablet sized laptop computer so that I could upload my caches to the geocaching website each day. That also allowed me to download new caches to my GPS which came in handy in this situation where we were taking an unplanned route.

About three days before a tooth had begun hurting. I had had this same problem a few weeks before and the dentist had not been able to find the problem. He prescribed an antibiotic and after a few days the problem dissipated. At this point it was absolutely killing me. Sam said one hurt should cancel out the other which I thought as well but that wasn’t the case. At least my tendon only hurt when I walked. I contacted Kathy who in turn arranged for a prescription to be sent to my brother-in-law’s pharmacy of choice in Ivins. Meanwhile it was Motrin to keep the throb somewhat under control.

Sam had described Monument Valley as similar to the ship shaped rock near Shiprock, NM, except there was a whole fleet. It was a good description. Had my tooth not been hurting so much I would have enjoyed it much more. It is quite a sight.

We arrived in Ivins late afternoon having logged 357 miles, 6 caches and 1 DNF. My brother-in-law, Chuck, took us to an Arctic Circle for dinner as his wife, Joann was out. We had a good dinner topped off with ice cream.  To be continued.


Friday, June 16, 2017

Big Bend & The Land of Enchantment - 6

Ye ha!
The clear sunny morning found us heading northwest toward Pecos, TX, which is in Reeves County. If we didn’t find “Home of the World’s First Rodeo” in Pecos which quite a few others had not found we would have to make a detour in order to get a cache in that county. The cache was at a big cutout sign with the cache name (which I see I didn’t quite get in my picture). We looked quite a while before Sam came up with it. That was good news that would save us some time and miles which we soon blew.

Sam wanted to stop at the Walmart to pick up some items so I left him there with plans to meet at the next cache no too far away in Ward County. This was an out and back cache and after I found it and he hadn’t shown up I headed back to town. However, I traveled all the way back to Walmart and never saw Sam. Luckily I was able to reach him on the phone where he was at the cache site. How could I have missed him? Turns out his GPS took him to the Interstate rather than the back road I had taken. After this little fiasco Sam adjusted his GPS for shorter distance rather than quickest time so it would match mine.

Loving County Court House
New we headed north to pick up Loving County. We stopped at the courthouse for a cache and learned that Loving is the least populated county in the continental US with a population of 80. That was a real surprise to me because I would have thought that distinction might go to a Montana county such as Petroleum with a population of less than 500. It wasn’t even close. I can tell you one thing, however, there are many counties with a lot less traffic. I had pictured in my mind little traffic in this area but that certainly wasn’t the case. The highway was extremely busy, mostly big trucks. We guessed it was due to oil activity.

Now we had to jog east to Winkler to pick up our last Texas county by that same name. We found a couple of caches at the library and adjoining little park and enjoyed the shade.

Hwy 18 took us north back into NM and Lea County where our first cache was at the Jal Cemetery. We stopped to get gas in Jal and I joked with one of the ladies there asking her if you pronounced that town as “Why’d jal do that?” She said no it was like “Why’d they put you in jal?”

From Jal we proceeded northwest toward Carlsbad and Eddy County. This is hot desolate country. We stopped for a couple of roadside caches along the way and had our lunch at a Subway in Carlsbad. While there I struck up a conversation with a couple of highway patrolmen asking what folks did for recreation there because I thought it was about the most God forsaken place I’d seen. (I didn’t say that second part to them.) I didn’t really get a good answer which I guess proves my point. At least poverty stricken northeastern AZ has some nice scenery.

The Trail Boss
From the other side
From Carlsbad we traveled north to Artesia where I saw the most outstanding non-natural cache of the whole trip. It was a huge larger than life sculpture of a cowboy pushing through a herd of cattle at full gallop called “The Trail Boss”. It was located at a major intersection in town.

Meanwhile Sam had decided to take another route to Roswell hoping for a less traveled road. While stopped at “The Trail Boss” I asked a backhoe worker about a road I could take. I headed north out of town but I must have misunderstood his directions because I soon realized I was traveling in the wrong direction. At a four way stop I pulled up beside this Mexican lady with several kids in the car and asked her how to get where I wanted. She tried to explain and then said, “Just follow me.” So she turned around to the opposite direction she was headed and led me for at least a mile to the road I wanted. Now that’s what I call a random act of kindness. As it turned out part of my route was the same one taken by Sam.

Roswell was one of the nicest places we stayed. The motel had a pool which was very refreshing. One of the caches I got in Roswell (Chaves County) was very interesting. It was a whole store devoted to alien related items. You may recall in 1947 personnel at the Roswell Air Force Base discovered remains of an unidentified flying object and since then there has been speculation about alien space travel in the area.

While I was motoring around Roswell picking up a couple of caches Sam was walking around and his hat blew off and landed in the middle of a busy street. He said there was no way he was going to risk life and limb to get that hat. He went into a sports bar nearby and shortly this well dressed black man complete with gold chains came in and presented him with his hat – another random act of kindness in the same day. Our totals for the day were 307 miles, 14 caches and 1 DNF.

The next morning found us heading north before angling northeast toward Ft. Sumner. My GPS had been giving me problems with increasing frequency. It would either just turn off or hang up and I would have to stop and sometimes even remove the batteries to get it to function again. I tried my fallback GPS which seemed to stay on okay but the map color was so dark it was hard to see unless the sun was shining directly on it. After discussing the possibilities we thought maybe there was a loose connection where the cord plugged into the GPS unit. So we took a rubber band and looped it around the plug and GPS and problem solved.

Billie the Punk
We were in Billy the Kid country now and one cache was at a Billy the Kid themed museum in Ft. Sumner. That one along with a couple more took care of DeBaca County. We also had a couple of DNF’s. At Ft. Sumner we turned east and I was a little concerned about Roosevelt County because if we couldn’t find the one cache on our route we would have to turn south at Melrose opposite our intended route in order to get one for the county. Fortunately we found this one which was hanging on a fence even though the coordinates were off about 40’. This was mostly grazing country and considerably greener than the southeast corner of the state.

From Melrose we headed north toward Tucumcari to pick up Curry County. From there we turned northeast for Quay County. We stopped for lunch at a well named Rest Area cache called “A Windy Break on Highway 54”. Many Rest Area caches are placed by truck drivers or RVer’s as was this one.

Just before reaching Logan we again changed directions heading northwest toward the little town of Roy for Harding County. One of our more enjoyable caches was another well named one called “A Road Alone”. It was on a meandering back road with absolutely no traffic. It was a bit windy but you can’t have everything. Nearby we had to ride a couple of miles on dirt roads to find one at a cemetery. It was near what had been the thriving community of Roy but it never completely recovered from the Dust Bowl.

We eventually hit Hwy 412 and turned west toward our evening destination of Springer. Along the way we picked up two caches for Union County. Springer is a small town that didn’t even have a restaurant. After we checked in to an old motel I motored around town and got a couple of caches for Colfax County along with one DNF. We had to make an out and back trip down the highway to find a place to eat dinner. It was an interesting place with three main themes – old 50’s GM cars, Elvis and Marilyn Monroe. There were actually a half dozen restored Chevys, Olds and Pontiacs in the place. Our totals for the day were 366 miles, 13 caches and 4 DNF’s.  To be continued.