Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Bull!

For a moment, pretend that you are a big elk. 

A big, bull elk. 

You are "The" elk. 

The elk of all elks.

Who? Me?


You are bigger and badder than any other elk. 

You have spent the summer growing massive antlers

... and lounging in the mountains

... and swapping stories with the other elk.




Imagine that fall has come. 

Hormones begin stirring and hijack your little Elk brain. 

You are more charged up than a Middle Schooler in March.
(I taught Middle School for years....
You'll have to trust me on this one!)

You saunter into town,

just looking for a fight.

Then suddenly....

you see him.

You want him.

You attack....



This bronze caribou statue on the grounds of The Stanley Hotel was attacked by a bull elk a few years ago. The statue, although toppled over, won the fight. The bull Elk lost an antler and sustained injuries that needed to be treated. Since then, the hotel covers the statue in tarps in the late summer to discourage further attacks. Next week, he goes under wraps for his, and crazed elk protection.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Spooky Times at the Stanley Hotel

While we were in Estes Park, CO, we took a tour of the historic Stanley Hotel. The hotel was built by Freelan Oscar Stanley, who had moved to Colorado to overcome Tuberculosis. He and his wife originally lived in a small cabin. Later he built her a fine home. They wanted friends to come visit, so construction of a large guest retreat was begun in 1907. Later the 'guest retreat' became The Stanley Hotel. The hotel was the first building in Estes Park to have electricity. It also boasted running water and telephones.

Historic Image of Hotel

Stanley was quite the business entrepreneur. He was originally a photographer and invented a new means of coating photographic plates that cut the time to take a photo considerably. He eventually sold his process to George Eastman, of Eastman Kodak fame. Later, Stanley and his twin brother began to experiment with steam-driven cars. Their "Stanley Steamers" were among the fastest vehicles of the time.

A Stanley Steamer

The Stanley Hotel has become known for its paranormal activity. Guests often report ghostly activity in several of the rooms. Most of the reports are of non-threatening ghosts seen walking in the halls, playing the piano in the ballroom or visiting a few bedrooms. Children can sometimes be heard laughing and running in the 4th floor hallway. Stephen King spent an evening in the Hotel. His experiences inspired him to write "The Shining". His series of the same name was filmed, in part, at the hotel.

The Dining Room/Ballroom where ghosts are often seen

Visiting the Georgian style hotel is a wonderful way to take a step back in time and enjoy the luxuries of the past. The hotel grounds house a concert hall, which is also used for weddings and other gala events. There are two buildings for guests, the main hotel and the lodge. Originally single men stayed in the lodge as it was unseemly for unmarried men and women to mingle. The hotel originally had two sweeping staircases coming up to a long, covered porch. The paved area in front of the hotel forms a half circle that is the perfect turning radius for the Stanley Steamers that would drop guests off, or pick them up at the stairs. From the porch, guests enter a beautiful lobby with another grand staircase leading up to the guest rooms. Moving left through the lobby, guests enter the ballroom and dining room. This is one area where ghostly activity is often reported. I won't tell you all of the stories, as I'd hate to 'ruin' your own experience if you ever have the opportunity to tour the hotel!

The Hotel as it looks today

Although I am not a huge believer in ghosts... neither am I a disbeliever. The fact that my iPhone would not take a picture of one artifact in the ballroom was a bit odd.

Ghostly interference?
or
just a technical glitch?

The problem cleared up as soon as I stepped out of the room. 

Spooky! 

Monday, July 29, 2013

Home Again.... Again!

We are home. 
We have been gone for 6 weeks. 
It doesn't seem like that long...
sometimes it seems far longer.

How does time do that?


We travelled 2,382 miles.

This summer's trip was mostly about connecting with friends and family.
We began our trip at the FMCA Rally in Gillette, WY,
camping with 2300 other motorhomes.


We traveled from there to McCall, ID to spend
some time with my brother and his wife.

Mr. Dreamy laughing at my SIL

Then, we began our trek back home,
stopping for a small owner's rally in Estes Park, CO,
where we explored the Rocky Mountain National Forest, 
enjoyed meals, took a tour of the Stanley Hotel,
 and played a few games with 8 other motorhome families.
(I lost miserably at Mexican Train dominoes!)
(By the way, the owners aren't small... the group was small!)

A fabulous way to start the day!

Trek to the top at the Alpine Visitor's Center
in the Rocky Mountain National Park.
Oxygen was a bit scarce at just under 12,000 feet!

Our group outside the Stanley Hotel

So, what's next?
I'm not exactly sure.

First I have to unload the motorhome...
Restock the fridge...
Do the laundry...
Clean the motorhome...
Wash the car...
Weed the gardens...
Mow the grass...
.
.
.
.
.
.
But before that, I'll finish this post and enjoy the luxury
of real, high speed Internet!!!





Saturday, July 27, 2013

Saturday Centus: Words of Love


It is Saturday and that means another writing challenge presented to us by Jenny Matlock. This week she has asked us to incorporate “Ground control to Major Tom” along with 102 other words. (The heat must really be getting to Ms. Jenny!) We could have a total of 107 words and our writing could be of any style, must be on the topic of romance and must include the words from David Bowie’s “Space Oddity”. 
I didn’t want to write about space, and ‘star crossed lovers’ even though I had some perfect pictures from our recent trip to the Craters of the Moon National Monument. (Which, because of the very slow, inadequate campground Internet, I can't post!) I wanted to try something a bit different. So, I asked myself, “Self, who could Major Tom be?” I began to think about music... and romance.... “Aha,” I said, “hearts make a thumping sound, like a tom-tom! A heart could be Major Tom!”
So... with the help of a number of song writers I present my their our 107 words, including Jenny’s prompt!



The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face I was head over heels in love. The beating of my heart was the only sound.... 

tu-Tom tu-Tom tu-Tom 

I was Crazy For You. The Closer I get to You, I knew you were My Guy.

tu-Tom tu-Tom 

Maybe I’m Amazed  that You and Me could be so Crazy in Love and so Happy Together! 

tu-Tom tu-Tom

Have I Told You Lately that You Are So Beautiful? I Honestly Love You!

tu-Tom 

You’re the First, My Last, My Everything.
Ground control to Major Tom... be still. 
Enough of Silly Love Songs!


Visit Jenny’s blog at http://jennymatlock.blogspot.com to link to other responses to the prompt.


Friday, July 26, 2013

Let's Go For a Walk


Tucker & Gypsy seem to have a difference of opinion
regarding which way to go!


I compare walking the dogs at various campgrounds and parks to flying kites. They go every which way, and, as you see here, often get tangled up. I have been a bad dog mom in that I don't insist that they walk by my side - which would be so pleasant... for me, maybe not for them! Maybe we'll work on that!

I am linking up with other blogs on Fit Dog Friday. Click on the links below to see other posts about dogs and dog fitness.




Thursday, July 25, 2013

Knit One....

.... need to knit another!


I have played around with knitting since I was 12 years old. My mother taught me how to knit and through the years I have gone on knitting jags. I've made a few scarves, lots of hats, a sweater or two and a pair of mittens... that weren't quite right. I have always wanted to knit socks as I love wool socks in the winter.
While we were in McCall, ID I came across a knitting shop, called Keep Me in Stitches. I wandered around fingering the beautiful yarns and ogling the knit pieces on display and those for sale.

I asked Lynda, the shop owner, about knitting socks. She told me her job was to help folks like me. She went right to work, picking a basic pattern, and then we perused the yarn. I settled for a wild colored merino wool and nylon blend, with a little bling. Lynda insisted on supervising my work, from casting on, to turning the heel and picking up the gusset. I had to leave town before Lynda could oversee my piecing the toe together with the Kitchner stitch, but I was able to follow the instructions and accomplish the task, (even using a toothpick with the yarn taped to it to take the place of the tapestry needle I didn't have with me!) Lynda didn't get to see my finished masterpiece, so I decided to post it here.

Thanks, Lynda! I did it! Sock #2 is on the needles!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Chats on the Farmhouse Porch: Moving On

We are on the move this week. We are slowly making our way back towards home, with some planned stops in between. As we drove through Idaho, Mr. Dreamy thought I was having some sort of fit as I suddenly slung off my seatbelt, whipped out my cell phone and got on my knees, hanging over the dash of the motorhome. He doesn't understand. I had to take this picture for Wendell.


You see, Wendell?
You are so famous there is a town named after you!!

We have landed in a place that has the Internet, so I can actually participate in the chat this week. Looking around you wouldn't think we could connect to anywhere, 'cause it looks like we have landed on the moon! It has its own stark beauty.

Along the road in SW Wyoming




Here are Patrice's questions. You can join in the chat by linking your blog to Patrice's site (follow the link below) or by answering in comments.

  1. Do you use any type of water filter (pitcher or sink mount)?
  2. Do you have any tips for staying hydrated in the warmer weather?
  3. Is your hair naturally curly or straight?
  4. Are you on top of all the chores/work you do, or are you always running behind?
  5. If you could sing a song to Wendell, what would it be?
My Answers:
1. We used a pitcher filter until we caved in and bought a water softener and reverse osmosis system. Our well water was beyond terrible. I didn't even like the small mouthful I had to swallow when taking medication.
2. No tips. I just try to drink water, and fail to drink enough.
3. My hair is curly, unless it is very dry outside. I fought the curls most of my life and finally learned to deal with it!
4. Never. If I were on top of things, what would I have to do?!
5. Since Wendell kinda likes to eat, I'd sing, "Mairzy Doats" (Mares eat oats....)



Friday, July 19, 2013

Gypsy Jabbers: Life at the Fat Farm

Happy Friday. Guess what? I have been hanging around with my forever family for a whole entire year now. Wow! That's about 1/5 of my life. Sometimes it feels like I have been here my whole life, and at other times it seems like I just got here. Time is a funny thing - have ya noticed?


Anyway, when I came to my forever family, I weighed... oh, I am embarrassed to admit this... 47 pounds. On my delicate frame, that was a lot! I was a bit tubby around the middle. (Actually, when I was first picked up by the rescue peoples I weighed 51 pounds!) The rescue peoples starved me. It was some sort of collusion ‘cause they tole my forever family that I was fine with a bit under 1 cup of diet food mixed with green beans, twice a day. They said I liked diet food and green beans. What did they know?! Green beans, schmean beans! 


Here I am, looking hungry.
My forever feeders say I always look hungry! 
My forever owners followed that routine, but they changed things up a bit. They tole me they were adding bulk to my food, so I would feel like I was getting more. Yeah, right! They used what they called an immersible blender to mash the beans into mush, and gave me some of that. Sometimes they gave me some spoonfuls of pumpkin with my diet food. They even added yogurt now and then. 

Then, there was that other dog, that Tucker dog. What a pest! He’s hardly more than a pup and he bugged me. He wanted me to run. He wanted me to play. He nipped at me. He pushed me around. He herded me. I tried to herd him. Sometimes we fought I had to tell him who was boss.



But ya wanna know something? I began to like racing through the yard. I began to like trying to beat him! In the beginning, just ‘bout all I could manage was a little jog, then I’d be outta breath, and pooped - not the really poop thing, the tired thing. Now... I can race the wind! I can beat that Tucker dog... and I do! I can take him down!



Look... I'm faster than fast. I'm faster than the camera!

But, it is all in fun. We love each other.... most of the time!



When I went to see that lady in the white coat in the place that smells awful a few weeks ago, she was really pleased. I weighed 38 pounds - or 41, depending on when the peoples read the scale. I was kinda having a hard time sitting still ‘cause I was kinda nervous ‘cause of all those awful smells. Anyway, that lady is my bestest buddy ‘cause she said I can’t lose any more weight. I am perfect! I always knew that... it just took the humans some time to figer it out! In fact, recently my forever feeders have been giving me a bit extra - I like that! They have stopped buying that diet food, too. Yay! I get some tasty stuff now. 


Guess what? My forever owner is feeling fat now. She oughta take a lesson from what she did to me. Maybe I should limit her food to 1 cup, twice a day, with smooshed vege's, and see how she feels about that! Maybe I should start nipping her heels to make her move more! Ha, this could be fun! Tit for tat!



See what other dogs and their peoples say about staying fit at this blog hop. Click on any of the links below to read other blogs. The blog hop is hosted by slimdoggy.com, Peggy's Pet Place and To Dog With Love.




Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Jump On In

There is a small airport across the street from the campground. We can't see the airport, as we are down a steep embankment, but we can hear it. The early morning flight to wherever-it-goes is sometimes not a welcome wake-up 'call'! However, if we choose to go up the hill, watching small planes take off and land is entertaining, and we can often see the planes on their approach from our camp site. One week there were six of these planes... all in a row, and later, all taking off, landing, taking off and landing again. Believe it or not, these are tankers for fighting forest fires! There was a small forest fire in the next valley, and the tankers were making numerous trips to dump water on it. Within about 5 minutes of pulling up to the fill tank, the plane is on its way again. Amazing!


This plane is the same tanker, retrofitted with pontoons. An $800,000 add-on (with additional equipment, larger engine, etc.) This tanker can land on a lake, scoop water into the tank on the run, and take off again in one fluid motion. Filling the tank in the water takes a whopping 15 seconds! Also amazing!


The planes are contract planes and move from one area to another depending on forest fire activity. Usually at least two are based at the McCall, ID airport. Later in the week only the pontoon tanker and one other tanker remained stationed in McCall. This large helicopter, an air crane, is also part of the fire-fighting fleet. It can fill its tank with the snorkel in 45 seconds.


All of this activity complements that of the smokejumper base. This is one of several smokejumper bases in Idaho, and it is a training facility as well. The training is rigorous. Only highly qualified, experienced wildfire fighters need apply!


We took a tour of the facility. Michael, a Texas Hotshot firefighter, now a veteran smokejumper, showed us around. First he showed us his suit. The kevlar suits are heavy and even in just the few minutes he had it on, Michael was beginning to sweat. Imagine wearing it on a hot day in the heat of a fire. Yuck! The suit has several large pockets. Michael carries his tent in one, as well as a radio. The heavy, padded collar protects the smokejumper's necks. Michael will also wear a helmet. In the 'ready room' all of the jackets, overalls, parachutes, back packs, and helmets are draped on special racks, in layers, ready for the smokejumpers to put their arms in and go. 


The smokejumpers are usually the 'first responders' to wildfires. They parachute into the area with the hopes that they can contain the fire and eliminate the need for more firefighters and equipment. Many of the areas where they are dropped are in the middle of huge forests, far from roads. Therefore, they must bring food, water and equipment with them.


The display above shows what would be packaged in one of the cartons. The contents would support two firefighters. The carton would be parachuted into the area.  Notice that straps are attached to the carton so the smokejumpers can carry it like a backpack. Below,  Michael points to another set of cartons containing chainsaws and fuel. Other cartons containing water for drinking and putting out spot fires, as well as other materials are also parachuted into the area.


Michael seemed to think that the worst part of smokejumper duty is lugging all of the boxes and equipment, parachutes and what-have-you, to the pickup point after the fire is extinguished. Remember, there are often no roads and many of the areas the smokejumpers parachute into are in mountainous areas.


This is the plane that transports the smokejumpers to the fire. It sits, at the ready, just outside the facility.


The smokejumpers sit on the right. The cartons of equipment are on the left. 

When the smokejumpers return to the base the parachutes are hung inside the tower to be inspected and to dry. The blue and yellow parachutes are used by the smokejumpers. The different colors are used to assist the firemen in seeing what direction other smokejumpers are moving. The red parachute is one that was used for equipment. 


Next to the tower is the sewing room. This is where small holes or tears in the parachutes are repaired. There are a number of heavy-duty sewing machines that are used for repairs, as well as for making packs and other bags.


This is the parachute packing area. Each smokejumper must successfully pack 20 parachutes before any are put on the line. After passing this test, the smokejumpers have the option of packing their own parachute, or taking one off the shelf. The parachute packing of each smokejumper is inspected periodically.


As our tour ended, a group of smokejumpers from another base were preparing to return home. They have stripped the racks of all of their gear. The packs on the right are extra parachutes, organized by size. There are three sizes meant for three weight categories. Michael is near the top of the weight range for a medium parachute, so he chooses to use a large, commenting that it makes for a lighter landing.


The smokejumpers donned their gear. Even though they were not anticipating jumping into a fire, they must be prepared just in case their plane is diverted to an emerging wildfire.


Each smokejumper's equipment is inspected by another smokejumper. They begin at the ankles and inspect every zipper, strap and buckle. This smokejumper had a twisted strap that was straightened. The final step is to move the rip cord of the main parachute to the carabiner on the smokejumper's shoulder strap, so it is easy to attach to the line in the plane. 


The smokejumpers head to their plane for the trip back to their base. If they are anything like our tour guide, Michael, they are secretly hoping there will be a fire and they can jump!




Monday, July 15, 2013

Dear Deer

We visited the Black Pine Deer Farm last week. The farm raises European Fallow Deer. They are smaller than our Whitetail Deer.

Most of the deer have spotted coats, yet white and black
are also accepted colors. Although there were plenty of
fawns, half grown, most stayed far away and managed to 
hide behind the does. The black deer in the middle is
one of this year's fawns.

A few does were enticed to come closer with corn.
They were very leery about our being in their pasture.

The young bucks were a bit bolder about checking us out.
But, I think they also knew we were behind the fence.

The farm has three bucks used for breeding. They are cautious,
but are willing to come up and eat corn out of our hands.

I think this fine looking guy is coyly showing us how handsome he is.
(Or, he might just be scratching his shoulder!)

The antlers on the Fallow Deer become shovel-shaped 
beginning the third year. When we visited, the antlers were
still in an active growth phase and were covered in 'velvet'.
And yes, they let us briefly touch them!


This year's fawns are half grown,
but the Farm's FaceBook page had this picture 
of a newborn. Too cute!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Everybody Loves a Parade

This morning I stepped out of the motorhome with Tucker and Gypsy for the first walk of the day. I could hear that the men were still cutting up the trees stacked near the campground (the community cuts hundreds of trees into firewood for the needy)... but it seemed they were having a lot of trouble with their chain saws. They kept starting. Stopping. Starting.
It sounded just like sheep ba-a-a-ing. Wait a minute.... I was hearing sheep! Lots of them. The sound I was hearing wasn't chain saws! The sheep were making their summer migration through McCall. How exciting! I watched hundreds of sheep moving along the road just up the hill from our camp site. A bit later, Mr. Dreamy and I became trackers, following the signs. When 2000 sheep go through, it isn't especially difficult to follow the trail! We determined where they were going, and went around to catch them from the front. For me, it was as exciting as a parade - so, yeah... I may be a bit strange!

Here they come...

They surround our car...
 

... and grab a little snack here and there.

We are in a sea of sheep.


Big ones...

... and not-so-big ones.

Three shepherds controlled the mob;
one who walked ahead to alert cars, 
one near the front to get the sheep moving,
and one bringing up the rear.
Well, actually the guys doing the real work were the dogs;
we saw at least 4 Border Collies and 5 Great Pyrenees.
It was difficult to get an accurate count of the dogs.
One of the shepherds told us how many sheep they had,
minus three we saw in the back of a truck with a 4th shepherd.
The sheep are moved about 90 miles. 
They will be driven back to their winter pasture in the fall.

Several of the horses and mules just followed along. 

It was a wonderful way to start the day!



Almost Home

When we left California it seemed that our trek across country would never end. Now, as we approach our final destination in southern Florid...