Friday, August 9, 2019
Boise, Idaho; River Surfing! Ketchum/Sun Valley, Idaho; Hell Roaring Lake and Creek; A Very Expensive Rainbow Trout
Have I mentioned before that I used to be a surfer? I think my form here is pretty good, considering my age... (My Lovely Bride is laughing hysterically and saying, "In your dreams, Dude!") Okay, so maybe that's not me, but whoever he is, I was impressed! This photo was taken near our campground on the Boise River. A fabuloso bike path runs for about 25 miles along the Boise Greenbelt, with many lovely homes and parks along the way.
Boise is one of our favorite places, and while Suzanne was teaching back east in DC, I was racking up bike miles on the Greenbelt. But what is a hungry and thirsty cyclist to do on a hot day, except stop at Joe's Crab Shack and have some fried catfish, gumbo, garlic bread and a Fat Tire beer?
This is the Boise River in repose... it was actually running faster than I had hoped, because I wanted to do some fly fishing. I went out twice, returning fishless, but the locals said that the 1,500 cfs (cubic feet per second) flow rate was too high. Sigh... the story of my life, "You should come back in a few weeks; the fishing will be great then!"
I passed this sign on a telephone pole that provided some sobering information... it stood about 15 feet above the current river level. The 1,500 cfs that day was piddling compared to the 21,000 cfs on April 20, 1943, and that was before "deplorables" were driving SUVs and pickup trucks... (must have been Russian weather interference...) but I digress.
While in Boise, we met up with Teresa Stella, a friend from Palm Springs, CA, who had just moved here. Teresa and her fur baby Sparky were happy to arrive in their new home - especially Sparky, who now has a big yard to run around.
From Boise, it was a 3 hour drive up to Ketchum, Idaho, adjacent to Sun Valley, one of the premier ski resorts in the US. The country here is beautiful - this was the early morning view from our coach...
Hiking here in the Sawtooth Mountains is fabulous, and we wanted to let Rudy and Gretchen enjoy the scenery, so we took them on a 5 mile hike in our special doggie backpacks. Here is My Lovely Bride with Gretchen, now 13, who is her normal subdued self... keeping an eye around the area for squirrels, but otherwise not commenting on much. Rudy simply sleeps a lot when we're hiking - at 14, he's slowing down a bit, like his Dog Dad. But both our babies would rather be with us than back in the coach.
I took the opportunity while in Sun Valley to drive farther north to backpack in the Sawtooth Wilderness, which is a famous destination for hikers and fly fishermen.
My destination was Hell Roaring Lake; the trail parallels Hell Roaring Creek, and climbs up a glacial moraine, remnants of the massive movement of boulders and rocks that occurred during the last Ice Age, part of the Pleistocene period, from about 2.6 million years until about 11,600 years ago. (Yep, they had climate change back then as well.)
I found a flat spot for my tent in a grove of pines and spruce trees. I was close enough to the creek to enjoy the white noise of the stream tumbling over the rocks, but not loud enough to keep me awake at night. My tent door opened toward the lake, which I could enjoy while in my sleeping bag. Bugs weren't bad, just a few mosquitoes that visited around sunset for an hour or so. I hoisted my food bag into a tree about 100 feet away, just in case an Ursus americanus (black bear) came looking for a midnight snack. (Actually the bigger threat to my food was squirrels and chipmunks, but they are rarely aggressive.)
Sunset and the long shadows gave the lake and surrounding mountains a totally different look... I had expected to encounter at least a half dozen other backpackers here, but I had the entire lake and campsite area to myself for 24 hours... what a blessing.
After a decent night's sleep (that means you see every hour on your watch, but go right back to sleep), and only having to get up once to pump bilges, dawn's early light gently woke me. I fixed a cup of coffee on my tiny gas stove and walked down to the shore to observe one of Nature's greatest light shows... with absolutely zero wind, the reflections of the trees on the lake were flawless.
I enjoy my solitude while backpacking in the wilderness, but I always miss Suzanne, Rudy and Gretchen. On the way back to the trailhead, I stopped to fly fish in Hell Roaring Creek. I did catch a small rainbow trout (Oncorhyncus mykiss) on an olive midge wet fly, but released him (her?) immediately without a photo, because (1) I didn't want to stress the fish by taking the time for a photo, and (2) I was standing in the middle of the creek on some small rocks, and getting my phone out of its plastic bag while holding my rod and a flipping fish (literal meaning, not figurative) makes for a clumsy and potentially wet spectacle. MLB reminded me when I told her of my rainbow that the per capita cost of my fly fishing is now down to about $200 per fish, after instruction, waders, river boots, trout net, rod and reel, leaders, tippets, nippers, hemostat, flies, and miscellaneous accessories are included... sigh...
Posted by Ty and Suzanne Giesemann at 9:43 AM
Tuesday, July 23, 2019
Our summer tour continued with a week long stay in Lake Tahoe. We celebrated our 23rd anniversary with dinner at Edgewood Resort, on the shores of Lake Tahoe. Fabulous food and wine and a lovely setting. And of course, beautiful company! (Am I lucky or what?)
While on a day hike on the Pacific Crest Trail near Tahoe, My Lovely Bride (MLB) was happy to see snow up at higher elevations. We had been warned about snow on the PCT, and turned around just past this snowbank... we didn't have ice axes or crampons like the serious hikers carry up here. (Not much use for them in Florida or South Carolina!)
On another hike, we met two PCT through-hikers from Canada, Mary from Ottawa and Mary from Montreal. They had just started on their 2,650 mile hike that day, deciding because of heavy snowfall to hike south from Tahoe to the border with Mexico, then return north to do the Tahoe to Canada part after the record snowpack has melted. As they turned to continue their hike, MLB said, sotto voce, "Ty, they are headed south... we are headed north..." She is such a comedienne...
That afternoon, we met another through-hiker on the PCT. Alex, who had already hiked from the Mexican border to Tahoe, about 1,200 miles, was meeting his girlfriend here for a few days of R&R. We gave him a lift into town, and learned that his trail name was "Lisa"... since hikers' trail names are usually assigned by other hikers, we asked, "Why 'Lisa'?" Alex laughed and said that for the first few weeks on the trail, he was accompanied by his dog, Mona. Alex/Lisa also showed us a photo of him and his girlfriend just before the start of his hike... He had made a vow to not cut his hair or shave until he finished the hike. Is that the same guy???
Suzanne flew to Virginia to teach a weekend course at The Monroe Institute, so I stayed behind with Rudy and Gretchen, but I also got in more hiking on the PCT and other trails. This magnificent coastal redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) was just off the trail in the Desolation Wilderness. It's hard to describe the majesty of these trees and the humility one feels up in these mountains...
On Independence Day, we packed up our gear and headed northeast to Winnemucca, Nevada, where we spent two nights. A 4th of July festival was being held nearby, so we walked over and looked at the food booths and some local entertainment. An exercise instructor was demonstrating pole dancing, and I suggested to MLB that we could put in a pole for her at the house to work out on. (Husbands: when you get stony silence to a perfectly good suggestion to your bride, move on quickly....)
Our next call was McCall, Idaho, one of our favorite destinations. McCall is a resort town on Payette Lake with lots of hiking, mountain biking and kayaking available. In the past we stayed at Ponderosa State Park, but it was all booked up, so we stayed in an RV resort that was quite comfortable, with lots of places to walk Rudy and Gretchen and bike trails from the campground. And, the beautiful Payette River was just below our campsite!
Posted by Ty and Suzanne Giesemann at 9:12 PM
Monday, July 8, 2019
Why Am I Not Exalted? Jack London; Crawfish, Ducks and the Sarah Reed! Wine Country; Hiking; Serenity; Armstrong Redwoods; Dry Creek General Store; Lost Baggage Art?
We had set up camp in the Elks Campground in Petaluma, and while walking Rudy and Gretchen one day, I noticed the reserved parking sign for the head of this lodge... I told My Lovely Bride that I wanted a sign like this at our new house, and hoped that she would show me the respect and admiration that the Lodge's Exalted Ruler obviously deserved... she replied, a bit sassily, "Yeah, Ty, you see the meter? You'd better have a lot of quarters!" Like Rodney Dangerfield used to say, "I don't get no respect at all!"
This mother duck with her nine little ducklings also caught my eye. I think the one out of formation guy is a dropout from the duck version of the Blue Angels...
The Petaluma River is adjacent to the trails, and I was happy to see this well-kept tugboat one day. Whoever owns and runs her is very attentive to her condition - we would say she is "shipshape and Bristol fashion", a tip of the hat to well-built and kept ships in the 18th and 19th Century built in Bristol, England, on the River Avon.
We stayed in Petaluma in order to have a base for wine tastings in Sonoma Valley and Napa Valley. On our first wine tasting foray, we were accompanied by Holly Berkley, a friend from nearby Healdsburg. Here we are at Amapola Creek Vineyard in Sonoma https://www.amapolacreek.com/about/people/richard-arrowood . This amazing vineyard is owned and operated by a good friend we have only met on-line (to date), but whom we will be meeting in person later this summer. Richard Arrowood (Proprietor and Winemaster) and his wife Alis have been in the wine business for five decades. Their experience and love of winemaking shows in their fabulous wines, all of which have been highly rated by Robert Parker and Wine Advocate magazine. (See the link above for more information on the Arrowoods and Amapola Creek Vineyard.)
We were hosted and given a tour of Amapola Creek by Alyssa Smith, who here is explaining that we cannot buy a complete vat of their outstanding Cabernet Sauvignon for our RV... thanks, Alyssa, it was an unforgettable experience!
We also got to spend some quality time with our friends Jerry Facciani and Karen Barrett from Las Vegas and Baltimore. Jerry is a real oenophile, and has an incredible wine cellar (see this blog of Nov 16, 2016 for more on his collection). We visited and had tastings at Martinelli Vineyards, Peter Michael Winery and Aubert Wines, shown here with the owner, Teresa Aubert. (And yes, the tastings were on three different days, thank goodness!)
We enjoyed three gourmet dinners with the owners of Roberts and Rogers, Bevan Cellars, and Morlet Family Vineyards. Jerry's vast experience in Napa and Sonoma gave us insights that we would never have been able to get on our own, and the experience of vineyard owners and winemasters bringing their own wines that the restaurant served was unique and a real delight! Here at Market in St. Helena with Russell Bevan and Victoria de Crescenzo of Bevan Cellars; their wines are phenomenal!
And here with Luc and Jodie Morlet of Morlet Family Vineyards at Bistro Jeanty in Yountville... fabulous Morlet wines and delicious authentic French cuisine! (Very appropriate since Luc is from France; his family has been making wine in Avenay-Val d'Or for five generations.)
One could get accustomed to wine tastings in beautiful Sonoma and Napa Valleys, but there are other things to see and do in the vicinity. We took a trip into San Francisco to drop Suzanne off at the airport so she could fly to Virginia to teach at The Monroe Institute. The Golden Gate Bridge and the harbor will always be impressive!
I also got to do some hiking - shown here at Shiloh Ranch State Park while MLB was back in Charlottesville.
This trail was quite "rooty"! It wasn't too bad in hiking boots, but would have been challenging on a mountain bike. I usually don't do challenging trails while MLB is on travel because of my responsibility to take care of Rudy and Gretchen and the possibility of injury, since I am a bit of a klutz sometimes. Having gone over the handlebars and crashed twice in the past 6 years, I am getting a little bit more prudent in my old age...
I enjoyed another delightful hike at Jack London Historical State Park in Glen Ellen, which is the site of London's Beauty Ranch, located on the side of Sonoma Mountain. It was named for the natural beauty he found there. When I was young, he was one of my favorite authors. An avid sailor, he was on a circumnavigation aboard his ketch Snark when his health declined and he had to give up the voyage in Australia. He was truly a man's man.
Two of his great quotes run like this...
- "Get up; wake up; kick in; do something; deliver the goods; come across; arise or be forever damned."
- "I would rather be ashes than dust. I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry-rot. I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet. The proper function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time."
29 miles of trails wind through Jack London's Beauty Ranch, and this ancient redwood is just a small, but important part of it. Often referred to as The Grandmother Tree, it is about 1800-2000 years old, 14 feet in diameter, gnarled and not especially lofty, but it is a beautiful reminder of our close connection with the natural world.
Our friend Holly was accepting packages for us, so one day I drove up to Healdsburg to collect mail. Holly took me for a drive around the area to Dry Creek Grocery, a famous and very busy 1880's bar, store and deli. The food was delicious.
Holly had recommended that I not skip one of her favorite hikes - at Armstrong Redwoods State Park. It was one of the most rigorous hikes of our trip so far, 7 miles with 1,300 feet elevation gain. I was really whooped at the end of the hike, but finished in this beautiful grove of coastal redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens). It is truly a sacred place. I am not a great meditator, but when I sit on a stump or a bench and look at these magnificent trees, I know that I am near God.
Well, our time in Petaluma, Sonoma and Napa was drawing to a close. Suzanne returned from The Monroe Institute, and took this photo of the baggage claim sculpture (really) at SFO... I'm guessing that the National Endowment of the Arts paid 2.3 million bucks for these...
Posted by Ty and Suzanne Giesemann at 7:37 PM