Sunday, December 22, 2013

Winter Solstice - The countdown to Spring Begins

Winter Solstice is finally here.... the daylight will become longer each day.
 In March my Trailer will come out of storage..... Let the countdown begin!! 

 In March my Trailer will come out of storage..... Let the countdown begin!!
  Be still my heart, camping season is just around the corner.

I have long had a tradition of baking cookies on the longest day of the year.  My all time favorite cookies are Pepparkakor, a traditional  beloved Swedish Christmas tradition.  They are thin and lightly spicy, similar to Gingerbread (only better!!)

They are the best tea - dunking cookie I can imagine.

Since I am not on the road this winter...I can at least enjoy these wonderful treats.

We had a picture taken at Church today in front of the Christmas tree I decorated at Church.  The ornaments were had made by women of the Church who have now passed on.  What a wonderful way to keep their spirits alive within the Church that they loved.

Auntie Margie, Hailey, Karen

 This picture is not the best.... but it is the best we have.

From our Home to Yours ~ Have the Very Merriest of Christmas !

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Christmas Traditions - Keep the Old or Built New?

Last year, as Christmas neared, I was preparing for life on the road.  I sold or re-homed 95% of my worldly good in preparation for my new life.  It was a tug-a-war between my sentimental longing to hold on to everything that told my heart a story and my need to shake off the things that accumulated in the bowels of my home and ranch consuming my time and energy.

By the end of February, I had a house ready for sale.

The most difficult things to sort through for me were the family pieces, handed down from generation to generation, and all the holiday decorations and dishes, that occupied a room of their own.  I purged and gave many pieces to my children.  What remained was contained in 2 bins.  I saved one small bin for the trailer and one large bin to remain in storage along with the family pieces at my Aunties.

So times and life directions have since changed, and I am now at my Aunties with my Granddaughter.  My remaining things are here in bins, my trailer is in storage for winter, awaiting new adventures and I'm feeling a bit like a fish out of water.

After Thanksgiving I helped decorate the church for Christmas so it seemed natural to come home and decorate the house for the holidays.

Years ago, I made a tree in a sleigh for my Auntie and Uncle.  We redid the decorations with Teddy Bears for this year....With a Teddy Bear Standing Guard. 
I brought up my Aunties decorations and we decorated the living room.  With Aunties blessing, I decorated the family room with the remaining Christmas decorations I had saved.  

 Oh how, the sentimental feelings flowed. 

 Obviously, reducing the amount of things I possess has not my diminished my ability to form sentimental feelings to things.  Although I have observed that having some of my things around me has helped me approach Christmas not as it was, nor as it was planned, but in a new way.

 It certainly is a mix of old and new.

 While I feel somewhat suspended between the life that was and the life I planned, I am busy embracing life each day.  

 Emmit got his 'collar' off today.... and proceeds to check out the decorations.

There wasn't room for all of the ranch village I had saved but it was good to see this bit of the ole ranch.

     The decorations are in place,

                                       The cooking begun,

                                                          Now it's time to.....

Do you preserve old traditions or have you found new ways to celebrate the holidays?

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Dammit Emmit

Currently, Travels have been suspended due to frigid weather.  Just when I think that life has become predictable without travels, Emmett surprises us.  I awoke to discover that Emmett was bleeding from a wound under his mouth.  Off to the Vet for Emmit.

Obviously Emmitt has been catting around. 

He comes home later in the day after surgery sporting a new collar.

(Taken a couple of days post surgery when he was feeling a little better)

He had a bite mark that abscessed under his chin probably from a cat fight......
His mane has been shaved and he is certainly feeling punk.  A drain tube will be removed on Monday... Stitches will come out in about 10 days.

 Spook and Socks have you been up to no good? 

Missy doesn't know what to think but certainly is finding his predicament fascinating. 

What's up with you Emmit?
After one night in the kennel I let him out but he is staggering around.  Guess he will have to relearn how to walk and get around furniture.

Thus far his Vet Bill is $300.
Merry Christmas poor little Emmit.

 Hope you are feeling better by then!

Latest update.... Missy has joined Emmit in the land of coneheads.

Life is just a barrel of monkeys at our house!!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

A Thankful Heart....

For me, gratitude needs to be a state of mind and soul... not just a day in November.  As is often the case I wonder how much of holidays celebrations become a routine without much thought or reflection.

Thanksgiving is one such day. 

A quiet moment while dinner cooks

Last Year my leg was in a cast and I was on crutches, so cooking was out of the question for me.  We went to the local diner and had a free dinner that the owners do for the local community as a thank-you to the local community.

So for beginners, I am grateful to be standing on both lgs.

Thanksgiving finds me living a very different life than I had planned.  There are blessings in all kind of circumstances but sometimes it is necessary for us to really LOOK.   

What a challenge it is to cook a Thanksgiving feast for one vegetarian, another who is lactose intolerant and another who follows a low fat and low sugar diet.  I did lots of searching for receipes to accommodate everyone's needs.


 With three people eating turkey, it seemed a little overkill to place the whole turkey on the platter so I put the sliced turkey on the platter and surrounded it with Sauteed Brussel Sprouts.  It certainly turned out colorful.


I had a great time shopping for Thanksgiving dinner at Trader Joe's.  I love that place.  My latest find is multi-colored carrots and they are a rainbow of yellow, orange and red.  I have named them little jewels.  They are very sweet and colorful.  I have already returned and bought 2 more bags.  One of the pleasures and downsides of shopping at Trader Joe's is the constantly changing inventory.  It is fun to try new additions but at TJ's you never know how long it will be available so you buy multiples of things you like.

Time to dish up and dig in!

Oops, no room for fruit salad!

Yep, I ate it all!!

Cherished Family Times.

The next day while suffering from Carb overload I was laying on the couch and watching a circus of squirrels playing in the tree outside of my window.

The sun had  just come up and provided a wonderful glow on the tree.  Without leaves in the tree their nest is fully visable and they were darting in and jumping out, leaping from limb to limb.

I took pictures from inside, and outside...

 and even had company while taking pictures from my perch on the bench beside the garbage can.
Emmit wondering what all the fuss is about!!
Don't bother looking too hard..... Romeo and Juliet were moving like greased lightening.... every picture showed branches but no frisky squirrels...

Watch out squirrels.... I will catch you yet!!

 Late but Thankful Days!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Hunt for the Trumpeter Swans.....Continued!

We have been having a cold spell with lows at night down in the teens (brrrrrrr) and only into the low 30's during the day.  But with the cold has come sunshine and big bright blue skies.  How can I resist a brisk walk in search of the swans.  This day, the morning begins with fog, with the promise of blue skies later in the day.

Since I now know the location of several ponds that the swans frequent I can go directly to those spots and save my hiking energy for getting to those spots.  The most likely pond is a three mile easy round trip hike so I can make that fairly easily if I don't get side tracked along the way.  (Not sure if that is possible)

At the first main parking lot is a trail that leads to the headquarters pond which is currently refilling with winter rains since the repairs have been made on the pond.  A mere 100 feet from the main parking lot is a viewing station that has spotting scopes that view the ponds and back to Cheever Lake.   Cheever Lake is the bottom lake shown on the Map below.

Cheever Lake is my destination today.

The last time I was here, after my hike of over 5 miles as I returned to this spot I could hear the calling of the swans, the flapping of wings and  when I looked into the scopes and I could see that swans had returned to Cheever Lake.  Unfortunately, it was nearing dark and my hip would no longer allow me to take any further side trips.   I could hear there trumpets taunting me in the distance.

That was then.
Today is another day.
So I set out from the parking lot just before the Park Headquarters.  There is another well marked trail along Pine Lakes on a looped trail.

This first section of the trail is a well marked trail that is paved most of the way.  Additional work on the trail this fall as left a small section packed gravel and final paving will be done next spring.  It is an easy hike for most people who can handle the distance and will once again be wheelchair accessible after the repairs are finished next year.

This section of the trail sees a lot of foot traffic and as a result, there is often not a lot of water foul to be found.  People come and the birds take off.

Along the way, benches  not only allow people a place to rest but also a place to be still and wait for returning birds to land on the ponds.

The one problem I encountered here, was other noisy humans arriving; talking loudly and scaring off the water foul as I patiently waited for the birds to return.  The second half of the hike to Cheever Lake is less marked and utilized by far fewer humans to spoil my patient waiting for the swans to return.

Even though I have been along the trail before, each time I return I see new things that I had not noticed on previous trips.  Here is a fallen tree, that has become home to new birds, completing the natural circle of life.

The end of one cycle (the fallen tree),

                            becomes the home of the continuing life cycle.

A nest in the log snag continues the cycle of life

Evidence of wildlife I haven't seen is every where.

Coyote scat is frequently found on the paved trail around the pond.
Is this accidental or coyote attempting to mark their territory as a protest to the advancement of human presence.
(Move on ahead of the sight of scat is offense to you.)

Sorry for the poopy quality of the picture!

 Is this accidental or coyote attempting to mark their territory as a protest to the advancement of human presence.

It is generally easy to tell the difference between canine scat and coyote scat as the more varied diet of coyote is visible.  

On the far side of the pond the path turns back to circle back towards the parking lot.  Down near the pond is a camo hut. 


 Upon inspection it is a bird blind to watch unnoticed for wildlife near the waters edge.  Unfortunately, this is probably only effective on weekdays when there are fewer visitors to the refuge.

 Chairs provide a resting place for the waiting hikers.

Near the camo hut is a fork in the path.  It clearly looks likes the beginning of the service road but it also begins the unmarked path that proceeds to Cheever Lake.  Without a map you would not realize there is a path/roadway to Cheever Lake.  

A bit farther there is a fork in the road.  The sign was laying on the ground, evidence of some kind of accident... with unearthed rocks and a large hole.   I replace the sign to the hole and piled rocks into the hole for this picture.

The fork to the left (unseen in the picture curve on to another little lake).   But I take the fork to the right.  It is unnamed on the map, but I have nicknamed it Elk Bluff as evidenced by the frequent presence of elk or should I say elk scat.   Clearly they like it here and this is probably a feeding ground for them.  

I quickly get bored with following the trail/road and move out into the meadow to the bluff overlook  find all kinds of interesting sights.

Elk ..... ahhhhmmmmm .... droppings


                                                 'Scat on the Run'

The Turnbull Wildlife Refuge is in an area where volcanic activity was prevalent.  Evidence of lava flows is visible  both in basalt cliffs and flows showing through the grasses.

The bluff provides overlooks to the lakes and ponds that I have been hiking around.  The fog has been burning off and I am now able to get a better view of the lakes and ponds.

I walk along the bluff and enjoy the change in scenery. 

Off in the distance ,I hear the call of the trumpeter swans.....  Excitedly, I realize  how much they do sound like toy trumpets.

Listen to the cal of the trumpeter swans.

Trumpeter Swans at Harrison Park - YouTube  


Doesn't it sound like a toy trumpet?

I move back from the edge of the cliff so that I don't frighten the swans as I am approaching.  I can hear that there are many swans and I hope to see them without them flying off before I can observe them and take pictures.  Carefully I move along the edge of the bluff crouching low among the trees for cover.

Then I see them !!!

They are off in the distance, but I sit down on the cold ground so that I can watch them.

The greyer colored foul are young swans, probably this years babies.

I inch ever more close  to  the swans.  As I move closer they move away.  So I go back to sitting.  They are amazing!!

They stay together in small groups unwilling to leave their family cluster.

In total, I count 25 swans.  While they allow ducks to swims within their mist, I have seen no Canadian Geese that are found frequently in the northwest area in huge flocks.
 Swans are very territorial and will become very aggressive when geese are present.

Then in a moment.... they are in flight..... I am stunned and watch in amazement as they fly in formations until they are gone. 

Then I realize that I have been so busy watching them.... I forgot to take pictures of them in flight.

I feel exhilarated to have seen them, yet saddened that they are gone so quickly.  It was wonderful to be but a fly on their wall and experience them in their environment. It is clear to me they are very intentional in staying at faraway ponds and lakes and have not become accustomed to contact with humans. 

I travel along the bluff while returning back to the main trail...

One last treat is the sighting of a beaver pond.

No sign of the 'homeowner' and with the light beginning to wain I can't wait for his return.

My hip is beginning to protest.  Walking on uneven ground has taken it's toll today,  but I am a happy camper!!  I found my swans and enjoyed a great hike in the nature that I love....

What's not to love ! ? !

Monday, November 18, 2013

Day Trippin...

I woke up to a bright blue sky begging me to get to going.
Alas it is Sunday and Hailey is playing in the band for Sunday morning service, so that means we will be getting a later start than I would like.

I put on some eggs to boil for lunch sandwiches (lunches on the go are always challenging with a vegetarian in our ranks) and then we are off.   A late start....the sun is now hidden behind winter clouds, but we are off for an adventure just the same.

Of course, I needed to get gas so we headed of to Idaho to fill up.

I think I am going to throw a party.

Price today..... $2.99.  I can't remember the last time it was under $3.00 a gallon.  Since I drive a full size truck now, I pay attention to these things.

One of the challenges for Day Trippin during the winter months are the repeat of familiar territory to get to new and interesting destinations.  Though I love the journey, the explorer in me is always seeking the new and different.

Today's journey starts in  Coeur d' Alene, Idaho and follows along Highway 95, a path I have travel before.  It is not a fast road with many bends and curves.  At places it has turn off to travel along the lake.  And of course we must check for wildlife along the lake.  

We were able to see a shy blue heron.  He would not cooperate for pictures however.  I slowed down.... he flew off.  Guess he hates lookie loos.

Except for a few flocks of ducks it was pretty quiet.... No pelicans today, guess they have all moved on.

I do enjoy watching the change of seasons and how it plays out in the landscape.

  Last time I was here, it was alive with fall colors.  Fall has faded except for a few lone leaves and snow is present (yes the Evil White Stuff)

We made a stop along a railroad that collapsed in 2006.  A crane was traveling on a working trail car across the expanse and when the trestle callapsed and crane fell into the Lake Benewah.

 The section in the middle (shown above)  where the color changes from dark to light is the section that collapsed and was later repaired.

picture from the internet

 Fortunately the water was shallow and the workman were unhurt

It took several months for repairs, but it looks as good as new now.
   But I remember.

Every where you turn is another story.

Without leaves to provide cover, the entrance to the St Joe River is visible.

 If you have a boat or kayak you are able to travel far up the St Joe River.

The beginning of the river follows a channel near the end of two lakes Round Lake and Lake Chatcolet until it enters the wilds of the St Joe Forest.

We travel away from the lakes and byways and return to farm land deep in the Palouse farming valleys of Washington State.  One of the problems of day trippin this time of year is the shortening day... the shortened time of light for pictures and just plain seeing.

Though we are traveling in hilly farm land dotted with trees and little farms we are treated with glimps of sunset.

Do you see the horse being chased by fire?

And so are we..... chased by the setting sun into the darkness and home.