Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Alpine Mountain Days 2016

We only participate in six shows a years and so when the Alpine Mountain Days Show comes around we try to be extra prepared. It’s the biggest show we sell at and while not juried it does draw a large crowd. This year’s crowd mix of locals and tourists was the largest the show has ever attracted.
The setup was on Thursday and of course it took us several tries to get the side curtains on right. We only use the canopy tent for two shows a year so it’s no surprise we have a little confusion. We were in the same spot as the last two years adjacent to the food venders.
On Friday the show started at noon and not a lot happened as Fridays show is usually a pretty slow day. Still people stopped by and many said they would come back which usually means you will never see them again. We did have a few sales and we did have a good start for the first day.
Saturday morning arrived and it didn’t take long before the crowd grew. Friends stopped by to ask us to identify their rocks and collections, and we always welcome that as it lets us meet local rock hounds and see what local rocks are waiting to be found.
One person brought us a doorstop that his mother had found in Minnesota. It was about a five-pound piece of a reddish amber and we both drooled at its beauty. Another showed us her agate collection. but this time they were all locally collected, and a young lady proudly showed us the river rocks she had painstakingly pried from the local river gravels!
Tourists from China pointed at our labeled jade as I had looked up the Chinese symbols for jade and added it to the case. One Chinese tourist showed me pictures of his rock collection and even though we couldn’t understand a word we both said we both understood each other’s love of agates.
The sales were steady but not record breaking and that’s what happens at our shows. Our pendants, rings, bracelets and fossils were the most expensive items for sale in their categories and you really need the right people to stop by.
We aren’t just selling jewelry we are selling stories and we can tell the story of each stone. I was a geology instructor for thirty years and Renita worked at a coal mine so we have fifty-five years in the rock business. We have also been collecting, working stone and making jewelry for the past eight years and so we have lots of stories to tell, (too often the other venders have no idea of the name of the rock they are selling).
Sunday morning was another perfect day with the temperatures in the seventies and little wind. Not much happened at first but by noon the crowd arrived and we were busy for most of the afternoon. The show finally closed and Renita continued selling as I packed everything up.
It had been a great show and not just in sales. More important to us we had met many new people who also had a love of rock hounding and their passion and stories inspired us. We are collectors first and love what we do. When you retire be sure to find a new passion or continue a life-long one, if you do you will never grow bored and you will find out that the days are two short! Clear skies

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Fishing Salt Creek, Bonneville Cut Throats and Mountain Whitefish

We have been very busy getting ready fro our summer show season. So its been a while since I last wrote an entry. I have been concentrating learning how to work opals, Koroit Boulder Opals and Opalized Canadian Ammolites. Renita has been making her kumihimo braided necklaces and we both will be ready for our biggest show of the year.
So when George and Val returned from their Colorado hay ranch, ( George is 82 and Val 69 and they had both been bucking bails from their first hay cutting), they asked us to join them and go fly fishing. I hesitated a bit but luckily agreed. The rivers had been muddy but the small Salt Creek had cleared a bit and was fishable.
Packing a lunch we headed over the pass stopping at our favorite walk in spot. The land here is private but Wyoming Game and fish has an agreement that allows fisher people access to the stream. As we set up I asked George and Val what they were going to use and of course George was going to opt for nymphs while Val was going to start with her dries. I decided to put on a dry, an orange stimulator with a dropper fly.
With high hopes I hurried to my favorite spot and made repeated casts but all to no avail. I next tried a parachute dry and then a royal wolf but again I didn't have any takers. I looked back and saw George set the hook on a nice fish and so I changed to nymphs.
As I cast along an undercut bank I missed two fish. It usually takes mne a while to set the hook properly and so I started zero fro two. seeing some fish rising to a hatch I changed back to a parachute and missed a nice rise before setting the hook on a small but feisty cut throat.
A little further up stream I had a nice fish take an elk caddis and gently fought the fish in before releasing it back to its home. I didn't have any more takers and so I returned to the truck where Renita was setting out our lunch. She wasn't fishing as she is taking a strong medicine and cant do anything strenuous so she had actually brought her kumihimo.
George and Val had beaten me to the car and George was all smiles as he told me he had caught and released fifteen fish. Val had been blanked on her dries and the trash talking was on as George told us we need to change to wet flies, (wet flies sink and so you have to use a strike indicator to see when you have a bite.
After lunch we headed back to the stream and I watched George catch three fish in a row. I knew of a hole downstream and so I headed there. On my first cast the line reached an eddy and my strike indicator disappeared. Setting the hook I fought in a nice mountain whitefish. Now I don't care what I catch and so after releasing the fish I cast again and had another whitefish. I made eight casts and had eight bites in a row.
Meanwhile George had caught and release his own whitefish! We fished a bit more before deciding it was time to head back to the Ranch. We had caught and safely released eighteen fish. It was a great start to the season and a great break from grinding rocks, (although I enjoy working stones). Thank you George and Val!

In a sad note tourists speeding though Grand Teton National Park killed two bears yesterday. One was a female black bear and the other was a new grizzly cub, the son of one of the most famous bears, grizzly 399. The last anyone saw was the sow dragging her dead cub into the woods. Oh and the tourists didn't even stop.

Slow down idiots!

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Falls Campground, Brooks lake Area, Wind River Range

We procrastinated too long and so we couldn't reserve a campground in Yellowstone. Still we wanted to take a few days and head into the mountains so Renita found a campground in the Wind Rivers called Falls campground. It wads a first come first serve campground but we decided to hope for a campsite and drove to Moran Junction before heading up and over Towgotee Pass.
Arriving at the campground we found plenty of empty spots and as the water had not been hauled, an electric site was only seven dollars and fifty cents a night! The campground has just been rebuilt and we got a great site!
The campground host came over and we talked about next years solar eclipse. He said that the hotels in Riverton were booked as were everything in Jackson, (we later talked to an official who told us that Jackson was expecting over one hundred thousand people for next August's total eclipse of the sun.
He also suggested we take the short hike to the falls and so we grabbed the cameras and a couple of waters and headed down stream on a well maintained path. Reaching the falls we were surprised at how large the falls was and at the depth of the canyon! This falls formed much like the Yellowstone Falls as the stream moved over a hard cap rock before quickly eroding the material underneath, probably ash from an eruption. It then receded back leaving a long and deep valley, much like the Niagara Falls Gorge.
Returning to camp we rested and decided to hike up the Brooks Lake Road. A storm moved in and so we postponed our hike till the next morning. We hoped to hike a couple of miles and as we started off we could really feel the eight thousand feet plus elevation.
Hoping to see a moose we only found tracks, but we did find some bear scat and a really large wolf or coyote scat, note the hair in the scat.
While we didn't see any animals we did have a great view of the Brooks Mountains, a part of the Wind Rivers. We also had a superb view of Lava Mountain and if you look closely you can see layers which represent a separate lava flow.
Returning to our campsite we found a fresh trail of moose scat right next to our spot. A moose had walked along the campground road while we had been hiking to spot a moose, go figure. That seems to be the way it often happens.
In the afternoon we returned to the Falls Trail and Renita spotted movement up high! Sure enough three bighorn sheep were posing atop the mountain.
It was a long way so the images that we have are really small. Still it has been a long time since we have seen any bighorns in Wyoming, so it made our day. Latter we glassed another peak and spotted two more Bighorns.
So the trip was a success. Anytime we spot wildlife, and of course mule deer in the campground count, a trip is a success. We originally had hoped to do some fly fishing but the streams were two high to fish the way we like. Still we found a new place to camp and we hope to return here later in the summer. Clear skies

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Addicted to Bears, More Trips to Grand Teton National Park, Idiot Tourists in Closed Areas

After spotting 610 and her cubs we wanted to see more bears . Reports kept coming in of three large boars, male bears, and new sightings of bear 399 near Bailey Creek. So we packed a picnic lunch and headed back for another day of bear watching.
Pilgrim Creek was one of our reported sighting spots and so we went there hoping to see more bruins.
Walking along a dirt road, not a bear closed area, we spotted trees where a bear had sharpened its claws, along with possible wolf tracks, elk and moose tracks, and lupine flowers in full bloom.
We also spotted cow elk and lots and lots of marmots, another bear food. I took a walk along the forest edge  and found more spring flowers. Its such a pleasure to take a walk in the wild and we felt safe as there were enough of us making noise to warn any bears.
Driving to Willow Flats we saw lots of bear watchers and even saw two idiots who ignored the bear warning signs and hiked into the closed area. We told a park employee of their location but I am sure they have many such idiots to deal with.
Finally we drove up Pacific Creek but the only activity we saw were racing four wheelers raising clouds of dust along the park road. The parks are growing full of people and the heavy tourist season has not even arrived. Already reports are in that Yellowstone visitation is up sixty percent this spring.
We tried to make camping reservations for our annual bear trip but we waited too long!
So we have spent three more days in the park and while we didn't see any more bears we did see lots of springtime beauty, lots of other wildlife, and birds in their breeding plumage. Every day in such a setting is a day of blessings. Clear skies