Friday, October 28, 2022

Working Glass at the Karg Glass Works, Wichita, Kansas

Last April we traveled to Kansas, and while there our friends Bob and Nancy took us to the Karg Glass Works, near Wichita. There we learned that you could take a class on glass blowing and participate in the process of making a glass ornament and a heart shaped paperweight.
We thought it would be fun to investigate a different art medium and so when we returned this fall, we signed up for the class. Nancy and her cousins husband Mark, (a retired custom jewelry designer), also signed up for the classes, and we met at the glass works.
We were all nervous about working near one-thousand-degree molten glass, but we shouldn’t have as our glass master, NIc Dickin, warned us about the different parts of the foundry and wisely did not trust us near the molten glass blobs, (I was nervous about getting burned). Our participation was to pick the colors, watch the process, and blow through a tube to expand the material while it was being shaped.
We had already picked the colors and Nic showed us the cold glass fragments that would be melted into the molten material. Collecting a blob of molten glass, he spun it into a cylindrical shape before rolling it on a steel table with the glass colors. He then reheated the glass, spun it again and inserted it into a mold which gave the preform glass its ridges.
Next, he had us move to a spot where we would blow into the tube, (blow don’t inhale), as he manipulated it into the desired form, (either a heart or an ornament).
Adding a stem, the final step was to place the work into an annealing oven where it would cool to room temperature, about five days of slowly dropping temperatures. These finished pieces were not like the small works you see made at fairs.
The first series of images were taken while making an ornament and the second series were of making the heart shapes paperweight. This first image is of some of our glass master’s work. His work and others from around the country were for sale in the large gallery. The last two images are of my finished pieces, (we also got a glass disc made from excess glass and of course I had to wire wrap it into a piece of jewelry!
Watching the whole process mad us all appreciate the work of glass masters, and our teacher Nic Dickin, did a great job of explaining everything he was doing. Now if we can only get the finished unbroken art glass back to Wyoming!
We all enjoyed the class.
It would be fun to work molten glass but I simply don’t have the time as our time is consumed by our lapidary and jewelry making, (we take the rough rock, cut it, polish it on diamond grinding six wheels, and finally wire wrap it with sterling silver or 14k gold filled wire, being retired we are so busy that we have little time to rest.) Clear skies

Sunday, October 23, 2022

Driving to Kansas

Massive computer problems......It’s always a little sad when we leave our place in Wyoming, but friends and good times await. The timing was perfect this year, as no major snowstorm was approaching and instead, we hit the peak of the golden aspens. It was the perfect fall colors, (the maples have already lost their leaves, but the aspens were at their best. Crossing Salt Pass, Renita took picture after picture of the color. It’s not like the colors of the Midwest, but the gold contrast nicely with the lodgepoles, ponderosas, and other evergreens. Too soon we were crossing the Red Desert and the trees were replaced by sage brush flats. We did not spot any wild horses, but there were lots of antelope.
The next day we drove to North Platte. The days drive was on Interstate 80 and north of Elk Mountain, a spot where you often see winter pictures of snowbound cars and trucks. From there you cross the highest pass of any interstate just east of Laramie.
The next day we passed the World’s largest ball of twine and nearing our friend’s home in Newton, Kansas. We stopped for lunch at Rock City Park. The park is a private park and the rocks are large boulders made of aeoline cross bedded sandstones.
The different layers are typical of ancient sand dunes are quite a bit different from alluvial sand deposits, (river sands form a distinctly different pattern, called a herringbone pattern). The wind was rally gusting, so we quickly ate lunch and left for the short drive to Bob and Nancy’s house. Arriving, with the usual warm greetings, we unwound by taking a walk. Nancy had made reservations for us at the Karg Glass works. Nancy, Mark, and I had decided to take the class and make a couple of objects from the molten glass, but that’s the next post! Clear skies

Wednesday, October 12, 2022

Taggert Lake Loop, with Fred and Becky Fall 2022

This has been our best year for hiking. As usual, we struggled to regain our breath after spending six months at sea level. So, we took quite a few walks and played pickle ball to build up our stamina, and it worked as we hiked the String Lake Trail, Grand View Trail, and finally the Phelps Lake Trail.
Of the four the Grand View trail was the hardest, but we finally succeeded, (twice)! Our friends Fred and Becky were getting ready to leave but we talked them into joining us on a hike of the Taggert Lake Loop. It’s a three-point-eight mile loop, with an elevation gain of about five hundred feet, (about the same as climbing Devils Tower, although the climb of the Tower is a real serious climb). One year we encountered a bear on the Taggert Loop, and it almost ran over Fred. Now Fred was so busy taking pictures that he had no idea that the bear was close, until he lowered the camera and was face to face with a black bear. He stood up and the bear quickly took a detour around Fred. Each fall on this hike we hear the elk bugling in September as they are in the middle of the rut. As I had my hearing aids repaired, I wanted to test them by listening for the elk. Leaving early, the hike is heavily used, we arrived at the trail head and got a parking spot! A good omen! The first section of the trail is easy but once you cross the Taggert creek bridge it becomes steeper.
Fred and Becky passed us, but we did have to stop as much as previous years. In fact our stops were short and infrequent, and our friends did not have to wait as long for us. We realized all of our hiking had paid off and we reached Taggert Lake in our best time ever!
Crossing the bridge at the lake’s mouth we climbed further up, pausing for a quick picture of Renita and I surrounded by fall foliage, (thanks Becky).
At the apex of the hike the others could hear the elk bugling and finally I was able to hear the courtship calls and challenges.
To be able to hear again is an indescribable joy, and I wish some of my other family and friends would get their hearing tested as they are missing so much, (Ok C I will get off the soapbox). We headed down the trial and reached the place where Fred had his close encounter, but no bear. There were not any ripe berries or choke cherries and we did not see any for the rest of the hike.
We ate lunch and Becky discovered a plant called stink wart. It has lots of seed pods that attach to your, clothing and Renita and Becky took a while to pick all of the seeds off her clothing. It always neat to learn a new plant, especially if you are not the victim. The trail flattened out and a number of other hikers passed us, but it didn’t matter as we were not in any competition, (we were all over seventy years old). Tired and sore we reached the parking lot! Our philosophy is that there is a blessing in every day, (sometimes it hard to see), but not this day!
Fred and Becky had to leave but we stayed and went lookin for bears. We didn't find any bears but a steller jay posed after alertng us with his chatter! If you have never seen a steller jay they are larger than a blue jay and even more colorful than my picture. Clear skies.

Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Bears, eagles, and a hawk, another day with Jen in Grand Teton National Park

Jen wanted to see more bears so on her last day here we loaded up and returned to Grand Teton National Park. Arriving at the Moose entrance we drove to the pond armed ourselves with bear spray, and cameras and headed down the trail.
Not passing up any photo opportunity we noticed a caterpillar on the trail. Taking a quick pic we walked further, but no bears. On the way back we did watch a cooper hawk wheeling overhead and I got a few good pictures even though it was a long way away.
Back at the pond a group of people were staring at a tree across the way, and they told us a black bear cub was halfway up it. The sow had been visible, but it had walked into the thick underbrush. We couldn’t see the sow but Jen and Renita both spotted the cub. Meanwhile, I took a couple of pics, but I couldn’t see anything but branches, (a small black bear cub in a dark fir tree is tough to spot).
Resting by the car a bald eagle flew in and landed on a tall tree across the way. I had just put the camera away and so it took me awhile to reattach the 150-600 telephoto lens. Just before I was ready the eagle’s mate flew in and joined it!
They watched the ducks feeding in the pond below, but they never tried for a duck dinner, (at least while we were there, we did see an eagle at the Boundary waters try to take a duck but that one got away). We decided to make another drive down the road and on the return trip a bear management specialist stopped and turned on his lights. A Bear! We were the second of three cars from the bear management worker, and it took a bit before we were waved past. Now the black bear was quite a ways up the hillside and you could only see its head. Neither Jen or Renita saw it, or could see it enough for a picture. We turned around and by then the bear had disappeared into the brush.
Finding a good place to park we were discussing the day’s events, when Jen cried out, “Bear”! Sure enough, the bear had decided to climb the hill to the plateau. It started to run and quickly crested the ridge disappearing from sight.
We never did see the bear again but it had been a good day and so we headed back to the ranch.
Its so nice to have Jen and Eric near us and we are so glad they are out of South Florida. Hurricane Ian was just south of their old condo. We have been able to see them three times this year and we look forward to more adventures! Clear skies

Saturday, October 1, 2022

Teaching Fly Fishing Techniques

After a long day in the Grand Teton National Park, we all needed an easy day so that meant fly fishing. The problem was that hunting season was in full swing and so we did not want to go up the Grays River or to McDougal Gap. Instead, we headed to Salt Creek and then later to the Salt River. Jen is learning to fly fish and so the main goal was to teach her how to fish small streams and how to lay out line, (a description on how a good fly fisherperson can make long casts with their flyfishing rod and reel), and read water. It can best be described as looking for edges, or current breaks. That’s where the fish often lie in wait. Hoping to find a few Bonneville Cutthroat Trout we first went to Salt Creek. The stream was low and clear and while we did see several catchable sized cuts, they were really spooky and impossible to catch. There were quite a few fingerlings and they readily hit our flies, but they couldn’t get the fly in their mouth. Still Jen did a good job of Imitating Renita and was soon making good casts, (she had already learned how to roll cast and now had another tool in her creel. We never did catch any fish, so we loaded up and drove to the Salt River. Both of the streams have populations of Mountain Whitefish. That’s a sign of a high quality western stream.
We fished by a diversion dam, constructed for irrigation, and the water was clear. It was flowing over the dam, which is higher than normal for this time of year. As we watched a guide dropped his clients on shore before rowing through the spillway. He then picked them up and continued downstream. Meanwhile I was tying on different dry flies and nymphs, all to no avail. I did have one large cut make a pass at my dry fly, but it never hooked up. Jen had given up on dries and tied on a strike indicator with a gold beaded black marabou nymph. It was weighted and as it bounced along the bottom a fish picked it up. It was probably a mountain whitefish as it did not jump. A little later she hooked and lost a nice cutthroat, but it also shook off the hook, (trout jump). At least she was getting bites, which was more than I was. We ended the day back at the ranch and talked about the next day’s adventure. It was a good day on the water and Jen is doing a good job! It wont’ be long before she starts landing the fish! Clear skies Mountain whitefish have a very tiny mouth and so the hook often pulls free