Tuesday, June 26, 2012

17-25 June, 2012 - Camping, fishing, horses, kayaks and bicycle rides. (Part two of two.)

Part Two

As I said earlier, some of the photos are not in the order they were taken!

Scott and I did some fishing as soon as the weather cleared a bit.  I thought he was taking a real interest in what was going on but after a few minutes he was sound asleep!  In this photo I'm fishing just above the first dam.  The dam is mostly rocks with some drifted logs and the beaver have plugged a few holes with mud and sticks.  It's spring run-off time and we've had a lot of rain so the creek is running high.

I did manage to catch my first brook trout here.  I used an orange twister tail.  This is one lure (in orange and white) I keep in my survival kits, BOB's etc.  It's worked on perch, trout, and pike which are the three most common species around here.

Our oldest son and his wife came by for a surprise visit on Tuesday.  It had rained constantly for a week or more and everything was soaked.  We finally got a fire started using newspaper for tinder.  Fire starters just didn't have enough heat to get the wood going.  We broke some dead limbs and twigs off trees for kindling but they were so wet that I could literally squeeze water out of them like a sponge.  I cut some larger stuff and split it but it was wet almost to the center.  We worked about 30 minutes and never got a fire hot enough to dry out even the kindling so we finally called it quits.  Birch bark and pine pitch would have been the best option but there were no birch trees nearby and most of the growth was new so there was little pitch to be found either.  We had the wood stove going in the camper so we did have a warm place to go if we got chilled.

The next day I did some searching and found a dead, standing lodgepole pine and cut it down.  Even it was wet for an inch below the bark but it was big enough to split and get some dry wood from the center.  I cut it into firewood length, split it and built a decent fire outside.  I also cut a bunch up in short lengths for use in the wood stove.  My only complaint about using a 20 lb. propane bottle for a wood stove is that the wood needs to be so short.  It isn't a problem with a chain saw but if you're cutting it with a bow saw it's a lot of work!  I'd hate to depend on a bow saw for cutting our winter's supply of wood.  Cutting anything over three inches in diameter is a slow, labor intensive, process.

Two of our kids and thier spouses and thier four kids came to see us on Saturday.  It was a great day for company with good weather and lots to do.  Here, Kevin and Bryan are fishing.  They are both good at it (much better than me) and caught lots of fish.  Most were squawfish with a few brook trout thrown in.

Meanwhile the younger kids played in the kayaks in a shallow lagoon.  Scott's having some problems with his "swim suit."

In the meantime some of the adults are going on a horse expedition.  This is good horse country with lots of old logging roads to explore.  Amy brought one of her horses and Bryan and his wife brought three of theirs.  (Well, two-and-a-half horses anyway.)

Susan used one of Kristina's horses when she went riding.  Kristina (Bryan's wife - We actually have a Kristina and Kystina - Tristan's wife - in our family) is an expert when it comes to horses.  Her horse is one of the best trained I've ever seen.

After the long day of riding she took Bryan's horse into the lagoon to play in the water.  Naturally, when I had the camera ready he wouldn't do much but finally splashed up the water with his feet.  After I left he really got into it and stuck his hed in the water and splashed it everywhere.  It's the only horse I've ever seen that likes to play in the water.

With a toddler around the laundry never ends.  Susan is washing a batch of Scott's clothes in the bucket.  We dump the bucket away from the water when we're finished.

Anna had a blast as did everyone else.  Here she's running to the camper with one of Scott's toys.  The biggest hit though was a little car that she and Andrew must have rode down the camper's ramp about a thousand times during the day.

Jonathan giving his little sister a ride in the kayak.  The water in the lagoon was about knee deep and perfect for the kids to play in.

David in the closest kayak, Andrew in the farthest and Jonathan wading.  Ice (the dog) is in the water and those who took off on the horses are returning to camp.

Sunday morning we rode into Olney to buy some ice at the general store.  It's a pleasant ride about 4 miles each way.  Here Susan stopped to send a text message.  At this spot we had four bars of service.

Susan filled the cooler with ice then put it in the shade with an old bean-bag cushion over it to insulate it further.

We had just barely enough service at camp to send text messages if you held the phone up high eneough. Another daughter brought her Jet Pack (mifii) to camp and we could even hook up to the internet using it.  It may open up some new possibilities for us. 

Our middle daughetr and her husband came on Sunday. Logan is about two months younger than Scott and loves to play in the water.

So does his sister, Hanna.

This is our newest grandchild, Lincoln.

Scott did a nose-dive but caught himself.  In stopping his fall though he also splashed water and mud on his face.  This is kind of his "somebody help" face!  When camping, keeping the laundry current with an active toddler is a full-time job.
Justin and I did a little fishing.  We caught literally, hundreds of fish but most were squawfish.  We kept these six brookies for eating though.

And they were good fried in butter with a little lemon pepper seasoning.

Monday ... We took the bikes out for a ride to the Upper Stillwater lake.  The road parallels the train tracks for a while.  Since this is the only east/west line for a hundred miles it gets lots of traffic.  The wind was blowing and raising whitecaps in the open parts of the lake.  This is a bay towards the south end of the lake.  Note the beaver lodge off the spit of land.

We like to keep our eyes open for wild foods on our excursions.  This mushroom was well hidden in a patch of kinnikinnik with orange leaves.  With all the rain there are thousands of mushrooms growing.  Just prior to taking this photo I saw one of the largest puffball mushrooms I've ever seen in NW Montana.  Unfortunately I ran over it with the bicycle before I saw it.

Anyone want to take a guess on what kind of mushroom is pictured?

These are Thimbleberry bushes. They're like a mild flavored raspberry and are very common in our area.  They won't be ready to pick for another month or so but it's good to see so many blossoms.

The largest brookie out here yet!  I caught him on a Panther Martin spinner.  I went fishing one last time before we left and caught three more brook trout.  I was using ultra-light tackle so this guy was fun to reel in.  I startled a muskrat in one place.  I was next to the beaver lodge and the muskrat walked up out of the water.  When it was all the way out it looked over and saw me in my kayak about three feet away and it jumped back into the water with a big splash.  Muskrats are usually a little more discrete when they enter the water.

It was a great week camping.  We had 15 of our 20 kids and grandkids out there at one time or another during the week.

Monday, June 25, 2012

17-25 June, 2012 - Camping, fishing, horses, kayaks and bicycle rides. (Part one of two.)

Happy Father's Day!
I have dozens of pictures to post so this is going to be a two part blog this week. We left for our camping spot on Sunday, the 17th  after I finished bolting in the wood stove.  The weather was threatening rain and we stilll needed fill water jugs and check the mail on the way out. 

My pictures are not all in order here.  My camera has developed alzheimers and sometimes forgets what time and day a picture was taken.  Usually I'm in a hurry so I just punch in "1" for the day, year, month, etc. just to get things moving (Otherwise, it asks before every picture if I want to set the day, month, etc.).  I believe this was taken on Monday, the 18th.  We needed to go to Whitefish and get on the internet because of some articles of mine that magazines had accepted so that I could answer some of their questions.  On the way back, Scott fell asleep "reading" his book.  (His grandpa sometimes does that too.)

This is the creek where we camped. (Dog Creek)

This is taken from our campsite.  The "lake" is not really a lake.  It's more like a wide spot in the creek.

But it's still home to a few beaver and muskrats as well as turtles and fish.  Here a beaver munches on his breakfast while sitting on a floating log.  The lense is on maximum telephoto shot freehand hence the blurry image.

A beaver house?  I never saw a beaver enter but I did see several muskrats using it.

This is a muskrat scent mound or feeding station.  I'm not sure which.  (Or maybe it's both!)

Another one ...

We stopped for a frozen pizza to have for supper on Sunday evening.  No assembly required but you do have to cook it. 

We had several days of heavy rain both before and after we showed up so one of the first things I did was set up a tarp.  The only one we had was an 8X10 we'd purchased at a Walmart in Nevada.   I used bungee cords and ratchet straps for tie-downs.

Home-Sweet-Home for the next week.  There was broken glass everywhere so Susan spent some time policing the area.

It was cold and damp.  The wood stove in the camper felt really good!

I used our "clothesline" rope setting up the tarp so I furnished some paracord for the clothes line.

We rode bicycles above the camp and took this photo of the dam from a rock outcropping above it.  If you have the full size photo and enlarge it you can see a corner of the truck in the trees in the upper, left corner.

One of the first things Scott did was probe a gopher hole.  It's was probably good for him that Mr. Gopher wasn't home.

Scott was a typical 19 month-old.  Here he lost his balance and sat in the mud while playing in the water with a stick.  Grandma wasn't pleased about the extra laundry!

We went on several bicycle rides during the week.  On this one we ended up above the Stillwater River.

I was standing on a bluff overlooking the river.  This is the view to the south.  The river is high and murky with spring run-off.  It's normally crystal clear.

This is looking north.

This is looking up at Susan and Scott.

This is looking down from where Susan and Scott were in the prevous photo.  I'm probably about 150 feet above the river at the edge of the bluff.  It goes straight down over the edge.  Anyone for some cliff diving?

Some of the wildflowers along the road.

These were down on the bluff where I was standing.

It's hard to tell on the photos but there are four distinct colorations.  The blue ones had different colors at the  base of the petals.  The photos didn't come out well due to the wind blowing the flowers around.  

Odie helping me take more pictures.

... of more flowers
These were my favorites

I picked a few for grandma but Scott took them before I got to Susan.

When we got back from our ride, Scott was aslep in his bike seat so we brought him in, seat and all and put him on the floor for his nap.