Saturday, September 15, 2018

A Late Summer Kayak on The Salt River



Our rv park has emptied but it was nice enough for us to go on another float on the Salt River. This time we used our kayaks and Valarie, Renita, and I unloaded our kayaks before Renita and Val dropped off Val’s truck at the takeout point.
Pushing off, the fast current, caught Renita off guard and so she ended up floating backwards through the first small rapids. I pointed out to her that it’s easier to go bow first and she thanked me for the suggestion, well not quite a thanks really.
Still she turned bow first and kept her kayak pointed the right way for the rest of the float. Val was in her class two yak and I was in my twelve-foot boat. Now the girl’s boats are both ten feet and quite frankly my boat is too long for the small river. Anyone want to buy a used kayak?
I was also trying to fly fish and my kayak just didn’t work very well. Fish were rising all along the float and my boat was so awkward that I had to spend too muck time paddling. I missed some nice bites before pulling over and caching a small fish. As I sat there two large cuts played in front of the boat but wouldn’t take my fly.
I pretty much gave up fishing and decided to stay with the ladies as they were having fun birding and wildlife viewing as they floated along.
An adult bald eagle perched on a post allowing Renita to get close enough for a photo and a little further downstream an immature bald seemed totally unconcerned as we all floated past.
Several muskrats also entertained us and of course the cows had to see what we were doing as we floated past the herd.  Clear skies
A flock of geese flew overhead, all in all it was a great day to float the Salt River!

Ps I saw two familiar faces talking to our new next door neighbors, Robert and Jo. They looked familiar and sure enough they were fellow 2007 classmates( A Classmate is a fellow Escapee who retired in 2007, sold their house, and went fulltime rving), John and Lora. It truly is a small world and that’s why we always tell friends we will see you down the road!

Friday, September 7, 2018

Labor Day Week, A Busy Time


For the past several weeks we have been concentrating on replacing the empty spots in our jewelry cases. Our last show of the year was rapidly approaching and even though it was only a one day show we were also trying to get ready for next winter. Still I did find time to fish and we did have a last dentist appointment in Idaho Falls.
This year I have been trying to finish some Damascas blades I bought with Wyoming Jade scales, (handles), wooly mammoth, leopard skin agate, and dinosaur bone. Not only does it take a lot of time to make the stone handles it also requires that I make leather sheaths. I tired to buy leather sheaths and they all were so poor that I threw them away, (the leather was too thin, and the stitching was so flimsy that one sheath has already started to unravel).
The show arrived, and we set up for Labor Day at our friend Barbara’s local art store, (Raven Lunatics). It was a cold but beautiful day and as always, the show isn’t always about selling as it’s about meeting people. One fellow rock hound stopped buy and Jeff showed us his latest finds, which included the best Wind River Iris Agate I have seen!
The day after we had a last Dentist appointment in Idaho Falls. The only excitement was to see that the leaves had started to change color and I tried to take several pictures out of the moving car, (Our truck is getting some work done and the dealership loaned us a car)
Two days later Renita had an appointment at the beauty salon and so our friend Val invited me to go fishing with her. Arriving at the stream, Val discovered she had forgotten her rod and so she guided me to the spots. It was a new stretch of the Little Grey and it was full of fish. They were all small, but I had fun catching and releasing fifteen native cutthroats, (she is one of the best fly fishers I have ever met and she kindly told me that I would have caught more if I did a better job of stripping the line).
There are very few people fishing now as bow hunting has started and rifle season starts on September fifteenth. This month is so busy, we have four more doctor’s appointments and Jen and Eric are visiting us for seven days! They live in south Florida and Jen called to ask us if they should buy winter coats. I told her that the day time temperatures would be in the seventies and drop into the upper thirties, so I think they will buy them!  Clear skies

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Finally, the skies have cleared!



The smoke from the many forest fires was as bad as it had been all year. People with breathing difficulties had to stay inside. The rain we received had missed many of the fires, but relief was on the way! A new cold front blasted though and brought two days of rain, along with cold temperatures and has knocked down many of the fires, (we have had to protect our plants from frost).
The skies have cleared for the first time and four to eight inches of snow has dusted the mountain tops, (but not on the Salt Range). The leaves are starting to turn, although the colors won’t be as red as usual, because of the effects of the prolonged drought.
The main message if that fall is rapidly approaching and we will soon be hooking up and heading south. Of course, we are finishing our doctors and dentist appointments and it also means we must fix some problems with our truck.
While it would be nice to buy a new truck it’s still cheaper to simply bite the bullet and fix the one we have. We are also preparing for a small show this weekend, in Alpine, Wyoming, and this involves making items to replace the ones we sold this summer.
Renita and I did take a day to have some fun which of course for me meant going fishing with friends while her idea was to spend a day shopping in Jackson. Renita and her friends shopped and ate lunch at her favorite restaurant while I joined George and his nephew Chris and I went fly fishing on the Gros Vente and the Hoback, (George caught and released two cuts, Chris four, and well at least I had one on).
The shopping trip was a success while the fishing, well for me at least was less than stellar. Still a day fishing such beautiful and famous streams is always a joy. Wading a fast stream, while watching for moose and bears always adds excitement, especially when one walks though tall willow patches!
So this morning, Molly and I took our four am walk, her idea not mine, and the stars were simply gorgeous. Orion is now risen above the Salt Range and so it’s only a matter of time. Winter is on her way. Clear skies, and safe travels.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

A Great Day on the Salt and Searching for Berry Patch Bears



Bob wanted to spend another day fishing and so we decided to float the Salt River. I had had good luck last year while floating in my pontoon and so the plan was for Bob to float and fish from the pontoon while I would fish from my kayak. Never mind that Bob had never floated a swift river in a pontoon, everything would be just fine.
Setting up the pontoon, I adjusted the oars for Bobs height, and I did it perfectly wrong! As soon as he took off he discovered that the oars weren’t short enough, and he couldn’t get a full stroke! Spinning like a whirling dervish he bounced along the bank but finally was able to reach shore.
Catching up to him we readjusted he oars and after practicing by floating around two more meanders he became adept at keeping the pontoon pointed in the right direction. We started to fish the river and before long we both had fish on!
They were hitting on the same fly we had used on another river, notice I am not saying what it was, and so we spent the next five hours laying out line as we spotted rising fish. Noon arrived, and the fish seemed to quit feeding. It had become still and so we stopped and drank some water before continuing our float.
The wind started to blow, and the fish started to feed. We took turns and caught and released four fish from one hole.  Bob had a huge fish on, but the fish pulled the hook free. You never forget the fight when you have a large fish on, nothing like a story of how a big one got away!
 It was a very good day on the Salt River and we ended up catching and releasing sixteen fish! The largest fish was fourteen inches, with most of the fish from twelve to eight inches in length. All the fish but one were Snake River Fine Spotted Cutthroats. We arrived at the takeout point and after a short portage we loaded the boats in the back end of the truck.
The next day found the four of us heading to Grand Teton National Park. A grizzly sow had been spotted along a road and the bears were feeding on berries. We had packed a lunch as we neared our road into the park saw a sign that the road had been closed to protect the bears!
Entering the park, the ranger told us that they had closed the road earlier in the morning and told us that we could drive in five miles. We decided to stop at the Granite Canyon trailhead and take a short hike.
Quite a few people had the same idea and so we started the hike with a gradual climb up a rocky hill. At first the trail went through an area of aspen, all broken from a severe storm two years ago. Last year a snow storm had generated winds that had toppled steel power lines and had caused the loss of power and the evacuation of nearby Teton Village.
Reaching the crest of the ridge we paused before heading down another gradual hill finally reaching a bridge crossing a fast-flowing mountain stream. We decide w should head back to the truck as we had not brought our lunch and so retracing our steps we had a nice easy three-mile hike.
Deciding to drive down the road we passed the Death Canyon trailhead and reached a hillside where we had watched bears last all. Stopping at a pull off we got out the chairs and unpacked dour lunch. I walked over to the hillside and it was obvious that it wasn’t a great berry year. The berries were few and far between and most were not yet ripe.
No bears ever appeared but that didn’t matter. It had been a nice easy day in the park and even though there was smoke from the forest fires it hadn’t caused us to cancel our hike. We had a nice picnic and it was time to head back to Star Valley.
It always fun when friends and family show up for a visit and it gives us a chance to share with them the beauty that surrounds us. We never planned on living here, but we said that someday we would find a beautiful part of the world and spend our summers there. Star Valley is the place. Thanks Bob and Nancy for the visit and of course, clear skies, (we do desperately need rain).

Sunday, August 19, 2018

A Visit from Long Time Friends, Part 1

We have been blessed with so many friends in our lives, and so when Bob and Nancy, (I taught Science with Bob for thirty years and he was my fishing partner in eighteen years of walleye tournaments), decided to visit us here in Star Valley we were excited and could hardly wait for their arrival. They arrived here last Sunday after driving the thousand plus miles from eastern Kansas.
Bob had already bought a nonresident fishing license, (Wyoming now has a five day for only fifty bucks), and so we headed out for a day of fly fishing at one of my favorite streams. The stream is hard to get to as it involves some walking but as soon as we reached the stream it only took Bob three casts before he landed his first Snake River Fine Spotted Cutthroat, (he has caught them before).
After the second fish I also started to fish, and we played leap frog from hole to hole. Reaching my favorite hole Bob caught a nice fish and then landed the best fish of the day, a fourteen-inch cut. We safely released all the fish. Our total for the day was twenty-two fish!
The next day we changed the directions and headed to the Greys Lake Refuge. The refuge was established to support the breeding grounds of Sandhill Cranes. The drought had shrunk the lake considerably and many of the areas we visited were dry.
Still we saw lots of cranes! The cranes had left their nests and so family groups were feeding close to the roads. The large flocks haven’t yet formed up for their migration, but it won’t be long as some of the trees are starting to get yellow leaves.
A beautiful red-tailed hawk left its perch before we could take its image, but a Harris hawk perched proudly on a telephone pole and allowed me to get a pretty good image. We did not see many other birds, due to the lake shrinking so far from the road, but we did see an immature yellow headed blackbird, lots of little grey birds we couldn’t identify, and several ducks. Unfortunately attempts to take images were less then stellar and so we not going to post them.
Still it had been a great day with lots of sandhill cranes and we stopped for a picnic at a campground along Tin Cup Creek. It’s a great trout stream just across the Wyoming Idaho border and one we have never fished it as we would have to buy an Idaho license.
Eating lunch, we talked of plans for more fishing and planned a day in Grand Teton National Park The bears there are heading to the berry patches, and the fall is one of the best times to see them. Bob had never fished from a pontoon boat before and also we decided to float the Salt River.
Both of those adventures are for anther blog entry so for now let’s just wish you all, clear skies

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Doctors, Dentists, Getting Organized, and of Course Fishing



August is kind of a weird month. Instead of the usual activities, its time to get caught up with trips to doctors, dentists, getting ready for our last show of the year, and trying to find some time to go fishing. Luckily, we managed to get lots of these things done.
One of the hardest things to do when traveling is to find a good dentist and doctor. Renita and I have finally solved that problem as we have found a great local doctor, (new to this area), and a dentist in Idaho Falls. We have also found a specialist that will help Renita with her diabetes.
In the last blog I showed a few images of the collection we purchased and so I have spent a total of five days, identifying and organizing, thousands of fossils along with a better method of bins to store our rock slabs. The slabs are slices of rocks that are the first step in making a cabochon that we finish into jewelry.
Now I can easily find what I am looking for and not have to waste time and effort moving box after box, all of which are heavy. It also makes putting things away easier as I can just toss the unused slabs into the proper bin.
Our friends returned from Colorado and it didn’t take much to convince George to go fishing. The next morning, we headed to one of our favorite streams. We leap frogged the holes, always fishing upstream and caught and released twenty-four snake river cut throats.
It was no surprise that I was out fished by George as he caught sixteen of the fish while I caught eight. Many of the fish were small but still I managed to catch a nice fourteen-inch fish. Tomorrow we hope to fish another stream, maybe getting the float pontoons out, or maybe just running up the Greys.
Regardless it will be a fun day where ever we go. Both streams we may fish, have heavy fishing pressure and they are streams where quite a few of the native fish are harvested. We release all the cuts, but I do sometimes keep mountain whitefish, (whitefish are a good eating and delicate white meat, that lends itself to any of your favorite fish recipes and most people throw them back, so the limit is twenty-five fish). Clear skies

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Fishing and Fossils


I worked my way along the stream. Reaching a large shallow pool, I cast my fly and hoped that a cutthroat was hiding under the bank. As it drifted downstream five trout suddenly appeared, four small ones and one of the largest cuts I had seen in quite a while.
My first thought was that they had been spooked by my presence, but the small trout took refuge in the undercut bank and the large trout turned upstream and engulfed my fly, (a purple haze colored Adams). Setting the hook, I fought the fish and for a while it was a standoff.
I knew that the five-x leader should hold but only if I took my time to tire the fish. Of course, I remembered that I had caught and released fifteen others that day and had not retied the fly. Slowly the fish tired and I was able to guide the fish to a narrow inlet, where leaving the fish in the water, I was able to measure the fish and release it safely. The fish darted back to its home. It was a nineteen-inch fish, a Bonneville cut and the largest cut I had caught in years.
(The above picture is of Heart Mountain, which was one of the sites where Japanese Americans were interned during World War Two. The haze is from a forest fire.)

Two days later and we were driving to Cody, Wyoming. This time the trip wasn’t about fishing but all about fossils! While at the Cody show several collectors had approached us and told us of their collections. One had said that he was selling much of his grandfather’s collection.
Years ago, his grandfather had owned a rock shop in Greybull, where he sold his personal finds and fossils he had traded for from England and Germany. Included n the items for sale were thunder eggs, petrified wood, and thousands of ammonites.
Of course, I couldn’t wait to see them, and so we drove the three hundred and fifty miles hoping the trip would be worthwhile. Spending the night in Thermopolis,Wyoming we rose early and made the trip to Cody. Meeting the grandson and his wife we looked over the fossils and while enjoying the vast collection we were treated to many beautiful specimens that the couple were keeping.
One was a thunder egg half that contained the largest fire opal I had ever personally seen. It was the best red color, had no flaws and I told them my estimated value of the stunning precious gemstone. It was not for sale and so it was okay to give them an estimate of its value, (It is unethical to appraise a piece and then offer to buy it and is illegal to do so in many states). As a result, we no longer appraise items unless they are not for sale.
So now it was time for the dance. Normally you let the owner set a price and then offer them less. If you take the sellers first price, without dickering, they often think that they have undervalued the collection. I told them they had underpriced the collection, (and they knew it), and offered them more than the stated price.
They looked at each other and agreed to my offer! So now we have several thousand ammonites, some from around the world, but most from Wyoming, Montana, and South Dakota. Now comes the hardest part, identifying the genus and species and then determining the price.
Quite a few are large and are display specimens and so we need to figure out display stands. Some will be formed into our jewelry, but most will be sold as is. One can never have enough rocks and fossils and someday Matt and Jenny will look at the collection and say to each other, “What are we going to do with all of these?” Lol, and of course Clear skies