Thursday, July 31, 2014

Brenda and Dave's Wedding Reception

If your an Escapee, (Skp), and you have attended an Escapade, you have probably been blessed to meet Brenda and Dave. They are whats good about being a part of the  Escapee organization, two kind and friendly people who welcome you with a smile and a hug.
So when Brenda knocked on our door we were being blessed as she had an invitation for us to her and Dave's wedding and reception. Now they have already been married thirty seven years ago but this was an invitation to celebrate their special day as they were going to renew their vows. Unfortunately it was the same day as our show in Etna but at least we could attend their reception in the Barn,(the community center in our rv resort).
The reception had been planned for outside but threatening clouds changed the plans and everything had been moved inside. As we walked in we were of course warmly greeted by the bride and groom and soon were meeting their other Star Valley friends.
Of course my eyes soon went to the food table and I feasted my eyes on the shrimp gumbo and the two wedding cakes, one an almond cake that Brenda had made herself. She had also made crab cakes and any time you get some real Louisiana food, one should never hesitate to dig in!
Food and fun and friends, all celebrating a special day for two special people! Who could ask for more?Congratulations Dave and Brenda, and of course clear skies!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Etna Artists Show

Ever since we started doing shows we have discovered that there are shows every weekend. We only do about five shows a year so when we decide to do a show we have to look at several factors before we make a commitment. First of course, is how much it costs. Next, we have to look at the distance we have to travel. Finally, we have to make a guess on the intangibles of whether or not the people that show up are serious collectors and are willing to spend on our lapidary and wire art.
Last year we heard of the Etna Wyoming Artists Show and while we thought about exhibiting we simply did not have enough time to get ready for it. This year we applied early and so yesterday, along with other crafters and artists, we set up in the Etna Community Center.
The show opened to a trickle of people and we all waited for the rush. Instead the trickle continued and we talked with the other vendors about all the other shows going on that weekend. Still it gave us an opportunity to show off our pieces and cabochons and so we relaxed. The show was only four miles away from our rv park and it was relatively low in cost.
Lunchtime came and went and the trickle almost stopped. For a while we wondered if we would have any sales. A gentleman showed up who, it turned out was a descendant of one of the original settlers of the town and he talked of his days as a surveyor in the Star Valley area.
With an hour to go another trickle started and we had another sale. It was a small sale of a couple of Montana Sapphires, and they were the first we had ever sold for our friend Dick. Nearing the end of the show a person showed up and asked if we had any Wyoming jade. When people ask for specific stones like jade,  its usually good as we have a bunch of Wyoming jade. The customer bought a set and told us it was a present for a person in another country!
The show closed and we tore down and loaded the truck. We ended up ahead on the show and we had met quite a few new people. Contacts are always good and showing our work allows us to show the quality of the stones and wire jewelry we make. So in the long run its like everything else in life, you have to pay your dues if you expect things to work out. Oh and most importantly we did have fun. Clear skies

Friday, July 18, 2014

Kayaking the Lower Salt River

We were both nervous as we pushed off from the gravel bar. The Salt was running high but clear and it was really fast! Renita was especially concerned and the current quickly carried us around the bend. At one point it caught her and she spun one hundred and eighty degrees floating  backwards in the fastest water of the meander.
Meanwhile our friends Bo and Lizzie were themselves being spun downstream on their inner tubes. The water was not only fast but cold and they were both glad we had insisted on them wearing life jackets, (it is the law), along with their wet suits.
A day earlier, while playing pickle ball, we had talked with Jetty, one of the club members and instructors. She told us she had just floated the lower Salt River, from the Creamery to Mcloud. Excited at the prospect of our first float we drove the area and located the take out places, (they are about every mile), As Lizzie and Bo were going to float on inner tubes and I planned on fishing, we shortened the float by planning to take out at a place called the Swimming Pool.

I quickly found out that I was going way to fast to fish and so I stopped at several places to try my nymphs. Fish were hitting small insects on top of the water and they didn't even give my flies a glance as I cast again and again. As our friends disappeared around the next bend I decided to just concentrate on learning the river and stowed my rod.
Meanwhile Renita had mastered her control issues and now was taking images whenever she found a safe piece of slack water . Lizzie was steering by paddling backwards with her hands and Bo seemed to have found the balance point on his inner tube.
The current was so fast that we reached the first take out point in half an hour, ( we had been told it would take one hour). Checking with everyone we decided to continue on. The river was pretty snag free and so we enjoyed the next stretch of the river. Again no fish bothered my flies as I watched them feast on the tiny terrestrial bugs.
Changing to a dry Adams fly, they would swim up and take a look before declining my offering. Stopping for lunch at the next takeout point I talked with a wading fisherman who said he had caught four fish using a fly I didn't have, Lizzie was really cold and so she and Bo decided to takeout at that place and warm up as Renita and I finished the float to the truck.
It had taken about two and a half hours to float to that point so we again pushed off in a slower stretch. Forty five minutes later we pushed ashore at the place called the Swimming Pool. Others were waiting and we discussed the joy of floating the Salt and how while the fishing was great the catching was terrible, (everyone else we talked to had caught lots of fish, oh well).
Now we can't wait till we float the next stretch of river. Our friends George and Val are going to be here and Val is bringing here kayak. After picking up Bo and Lizzie we talked about our day and they said that the next they wanted to use kayaks! Clear skies

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

An East Wind, Experiencing a Canyon Blast

Yesterday started as a relaxing day. We had participated in  our resorts arts and craft show on Saturday, and after taking a brief rest to golf in men's league finished up the special orders, (custom work makes up a fair percentage of our sales).
A storm was brewing in the west and as we watched the incredible display of lighting bolts over the Carribou Mountains, (west of us), as the wind shifted to blow from the east. Now in eastern Wyoming an east wind usually means a really bad storm as its one of the few times where Gulf Coast moisture reaches Wyoming. That's the time where we would experience massive spring storms with feet of snow and drifts.
Here the wind didn't threaten any snow but instead grew in force until the gale force winds threatened to tear our neighbors pergola apart. Hurrying outside to help John, we finally got the covering off which reduced the stress on the metal structure, (it was threatening to blow the whole thing down and we saw this happen last year).
Everyting seem stabilized and so John and I hurried back inside to get our cameras and I wished I had a weather station, or at least an anemometer. The wind was so strong that I could barely stand up and occasional gusts made me step backwards
Luckily our fifth wheel was taking the winds from the rear and so it was taking it all in stride, (unlike the wind shear blast we experienced several years ago where we thought our rig was going over). Everything else was secure and so I took image after image of the cumulus mammaltus shapes hanging from the underside of the clouds,(extremely unstable winds often associated with tornado producing storms, they get their names because they resemble parts of a women's anatomy).
The skies have now partially cleared this morning and so Molly and I will walk around the park and look for any wind damage. Its the first Canyon wind, (some in eastern Colorado have been clocked at over one hundred miles per hour), we have ever experienced. I am glad we are far enough away from the canyons mouth, so that the winds here weren't stronger. Clear skies

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Pickelball at Star Valley/Meeting People 101, Get Involved

One of our concerns, when we started full timing, was wondering if we would meet people and make new friends. It turned out that it was really easy. The answer was to get involved with what ever is going on, volunteer, and share your expertise,( heck you can even meet people by just walking around a campground and asking them about their rig.
So last year we were really busy building our shed/studio and were kind of recluses. Yeah we did some craft shows and had a great time at the Escapade, but we didn't really meet a lot of people at our place in Star Valley. This year we again got into our rut of making cabochons, wire wrapping them, braiding kumihimo necklaces, and preparing for the summer shows. However we decided to make time to get involved and again we have been rewarded by meeting so many nice people.
One way to get involved, was for me was to join the Men Golf League. There I could combine exercise with meeting people and having fun. Another activity we thought would be fun was to learn to play pickelball as the Star Valley Rv Resort has a really active and large pickelball club.
Now we had met a pickelball player last year and one day I ran into him while walking Molly. Jim, (he helped us put up the trusses last year), told me that all we had to do was show up at eleven am. on Thursday as the club provided free lessons. Thursday arrived and we rode our bikes to the court. There the courts were packed and everyone was slamming the ball back and forth. It was obvious that a good time was being had by all.
So at eleven we met Priscilla, one of the clubs instructors, who welcomed us and handled out paddles and balls. She told us about the club and before long we were all standing on a court dinking the ball back and forth. One hour later we were were playing our first game and right away we knew we had to get our own equipment and join in the fun.
Thanks to the magic of the Internet Renita ordered a set of paddles and balls and they arrived three days later.Showing up the next Thursday we met other beginners/new club members, Jon and Marsha, Bo and Lizzie, and John and Renee, to name a few, and by the end of the morning we were firmly hooked. It was a lucky day to join as the club was having a barbecue/social that evening and everyone loves a bring your own dish/ buffet barbecue.
Suffice it to say we had a great time at the barbecue and today we played for almost three straight hours Tired and sweaty we returned home, glad we had taken the time from our busy schedule,(we have a show tomorrow). We have been richly rewarded with a new sport, lots of new friends, and a great way to meet people, exercise, and have fun without tearing up our bodies! Clear skies

Monday, July 7, 2014

The Loop, A Road Less Traveled, From The Salt Pass to Alpine

Large Engelmann spruce lay twisted and broken on both sides of the road. We drove over smaller pieces that hadn't yet been cleared and the smell of fresh cut pine was almost overwhelming. Renita realized what we were passing through, avalanche debris, and we stopped to look up the avalanche chute, imaging the force of the moving snow.
A few miles further we headed down the steep and narrow mountain road only to find that snow still buried half of the way. Stopping we measured the width of the road to make sure we could drive past the drift without falling over the steep side of the mountain. It was not a place for anyone acrophobic! Holding our breath we made it past the snow brushing hard against the packed and dirty neve.
We had wanted to drive the, "Loop", for the past two years. It's a ninety mile stretch of connected forest service roads starting at the Smith Fork Road, before connecting with the Greys River road which ends up at Alpine, Wyoming.
The Smith Fork section parallels the Lander Cutoff of the Oregon Trail and we passed miles of fields filled with mountain flowers. Arrowhead was in full bloom, along with lupine, paintbrush, phlox, death cammis, and wild rose. We enjoyed the field of flowers as we passed through the sunny glades and it made  us forget the rough road.
We reached the Tri Divide, and then turned down the Greys River Road. It was a narrow road that paralleled the start of the Greys river and I hoped that we would be able to stop and fish a bit, although the main purpose of the trip was to travel the entire loop.
We started to meet a few trucks and cars and by pulling to the side we were able to pass one another. Many places were to narrow for even that and I hoped the other drivers knew that the vehicle heading down the mountain has the right of way. Most of the traffic was off road vehicles and these passed by easily.
Stopping for lunch we walked along the swollen river and the force of the water was too much for me to try my fly rod nymph technique.
Renita took over driving and, as the road had widened, we were about forty five miles from Alpine. She wisely drove slow as the washboard gravel road tended to bounce the back wheels of the truck, causing it to lose control..
Deer grazed alongside the road and beaver dams were everywhere. The lodges seemed to be old and abandoned. We never saw any sheep, moose or bear but we certainly could have as browsed willows were everywhere. It didn't matter as we stopped and glassed the high mountain ridges, many still striped with remnants of snow cornices.
Tired, we drove past the fork where the Little Grey joins the Greys River and while we wanted to explore that stream today was not the day. Traffic increased as it seemed like everyone was enjoying the Greys road and the dust was almost too much. The road became paved as we entered Alpine and now it was a short drive home. We had driven the, "Loop"! Clear skies.

If you decide to drive the Loop be sure it has been dry for a while as the first part alternates from rock ridges to stretches of dirt that would quickly turn into deep mud. As it was dry we never had to use four wheel drive. Our truck is a single rear wheel and we never would have made it past the snow if we had a dually, at least without shoveling a wider path. Our trip was on the fourth of July weekend and there were plenty of people so help was there. Of course there was no cell service and we turned on the gps for laughs as it tried to tell us to turn around and go back. Never trust your gps in this part of the world., There is no gas or food or anything along the road, only forest and flowers and beautiful wild places, isn't that enough reason to drive the loop!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

A quiet Fourth at Star Valley

Our usual Fourth of July now means that we avoid the crowds as much as possible. We have a show next weekend and still have cabochons, pendants, and bracelets to make/replace from the Alpine show. So as we were sitting inside  Renita suddenly yelled out, " Look its a parade!" Sure enough the Rv Park was having a Fourth of July parade and the decorated golf carts and bikes were lining up in front of our lot.
So we waved and cheered as the floats went by and many even threw candy and beads at us, (we still have plenty of beads from Louisiana). Everyone seemed to be having fun and that's really what it is all about.
Later we were told that the one with the hats won first place. So things settled down for the rest of the day until a weather warning was issued for high winds and lighting as a front was soon to pass through. I warned several neighbors and of course the storm never happened as it dissipated when it ran into the mountains.
That evening we waited for the skies to dark and we both remembered the fireworks we didn't see when we were in Alaska. It was just to light. Here the options were to sit here or to drive to Jackson and fight the crowds, so we stayed put.
Surprisingly there were actually some fireworks visible as we could see them exploding above Thayne and Freedom. Renita, of course tried to take some images and they turned out good for such a small camera.
We ended the evening watching more fireworks on the tv and it was a good and quiet Fourth. Hope you had a good day also! Clear skies

Thursday, July 3, 2014

In the Zone

Rarely, very rarely do I ever get into the zone. When it did happen it usually involved fishing or more often rock climbing. The zone to me is a time where the adrenalin rush makes me concentrate on the here and now and it was always the best high I have ever had. I always likened it to being in a zen like state that shuts out ever thing that's not important,.
Today I actually achieved it while golfing and that has never happened before. Usually I have one or sometimes two good holes and then lose concentration and an eight jumps out of the bag and messes up my score. No matter really as the real reason I golf is to meet people, to get some exercise as I walk the course, and mainly to just have a fun nice day.
So when I teed up on the first hole I was pleasantly surprised when the ball sailed down the fairway. The next shot was on the green and I made a nice putt for a birdie. Good thing I did't get in the Men's League Birdie pot.
The next hole was a par three and I drove the ball within about five feet from the hole. Again I birdied and for me two birdies in a round is as good as it gets. On the third hole and I missed a hole in one by a foot. Of course I two putted for a par.
I followed that with another birdie and then had my first bogey of the day. By this time I realized something special was happening and on the seventh hole I got another birdie. Now I am a nineteen handicap and the others in my foursome were smiling and accusing me of sandbagging.
Another bogey and then a par on the par five ninth. I made five birdies on the front nine and my gross score was a twenty nine. Then just like that I awoke from the state and the wheels came off. I started to play like I usually do and it is what it is.
I ended up with a forty one on the back nine and a seventy one for the round. Still it was my best round ever. It was a nice day, with new friends, cool weather, and a pleasant round of golf surrounded by our mountains.
Oh and I almost forgot, clear skies.