Sunday, May 31, 2015


But first, a stop in Minnesota to visit friends and family, get some work done on the 4 wheeler and pick up the canoe. We “mooch-docked” in the cul-de-sac in front of my brother Bob’s house again. It is a great place to spend a few days as there is no one else within ½ mile of his house.

Our mooch-docking site
Although, there never seems to be enough time to see everyone you want to see or do everything you want to do, we gave it our best shot! We saw lots of friends and was able to get together with a couple of my brothers and sisters. We had dinner at two of our favorite places; ribs at The Thirsty Otter in Balsam Lake and pizza at JJs’ outside of Milltown. On our way to JJ’s we stopped at a bar Milltown (surprise surprise) in to see our favorite bartender at Wise Guys. Julie has been a friend of ours for several years and we always try to stop in and see her on our way through.
Julie, a good friend and great bartender!

We were also able to get together with the Anderson clan for a cookout, it is always great to see them. They were nice enough to store our canoe and a few other things for the past couple of months and we left them with their promise to visit us in Arizona this winter! We are going to hold you guys to it!

On our last day in the area my brother Bob and I got out fishing on Green Lake. It has been many a year since I have been out on this lake but thanks to Bob’s awesome guiding we were able to pick up quite a few bass and crappies!

Beetle Spins were the lure of the day!
Bob reeled this one in all by himself!
Later that day we picked up the 4 wheeler and headed north! Ah, it is great to be in Canada….the moment we went through the border crossing I felt a sense of joy just being here. Arriving, we got get up and started getting our fishing gear ready. Our friends, the Masers, were here again and we were anxious to get out fishing with them. We had some of the best fishing of our lives with them on a remote walk-in lake last year and we were anxious to see if they were there again this year. There are two boats on this lake and they had reserved one of them, with luck we could get the other one and we would be good to go! Good news, bad news, the other boat was available but someone had plugged up the motor so I would have to carry a new one in.

It is about ½ mile walk into the lake with ½ of that being in boggy terrain. I managed to get in with the motor without getting too wet but Barb on the other hand……well she hit a couple of holes and went in up to her thighs on more than one occasion!
OMG, it's a swamp creature!


The fishing was good, not as fast and furious as it was last year but we did catch quite a few fish. You know you are spoiled when you are complaining about not catching a fish every minute and are ONLY catching one every 5 minutes or so. At one point Barb landed a nice 19” walleye that was totally torn up from being attacked by a larger fish. I would LOVE to see the fish that can even try to take down a 19” walleye!

The past couple days have been cold, rainy and SNOWING!!!!! So we have just been hanging low getting things organized. We are here all summer, no need to go out and freeze our @sses off, warmer days are ahead!
May 31st and snow, that is just wrong!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Never Poke a Hungry Bear!

I should have known better. After all, I have more experience with bears than most people but here I found myself in a very dangerous situation having just poked a hungry she-bear. It all started out innocently enough. Barb and I had made it to Ditch Creek, our favorite campground in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Our plan was to spend several days here exploring the country. As I have mentioned in the past, one of the goals of our RV adventure is to find the area where we would like to settle down when we are ready. We don’t know if it will be 3 years from now, 5 years or even 10 but we want to find the perfect spot for us when the time is right. In the past 14 months we have traveled pretty much from coast to coast and as of right now Wisconsin and the Black Hills area are at the top of our list.
Our plan was to pick a different area each of the 4 days we were there and drive around to see which area appealed to us the most. A day in the Hill City area, a day in the Custer area, a day in the Hot Springs area and a day up north in the Spearfish/Deadwood area. Although all within the Black Hills, they can be vastly different.  We aren’t asking for too much……our picture perfect location is 5-20 acres off a quite road in a meadow with a trout stream flowing through it. The backside (and maybe one or two other sides) would abut National Forest property meaning no one else could build there and we would have all the hiking and hunting opportunity we would ever want. Evidently we are not alone in this quest as we drove for 4 days and never found the ideal spot that was for sale. We saw a lot of beautiful country, several ideal locations but it either already had a house on it or was not for sale.

We loved the area around Spearfish/Deadwood but it seemed to be the most expensive with property going for $10,000-$20,000/acre, a little rich for our blood. The Hill City/Custer area is equally as beautiful and a little more reasonable. The Hot Springs area was quite different from the others. Although it still has a lot of pines, it is more arid and desert-like with rocks and cactus being abundant. It was on the Hot Springs day that I got myself in trouble. It started out innocently enough. Barb and I had breakfast, studied the listings in the area, made our game plan for the day, loaded Daisy and our maps into the Jeep and headed south to Hot Springs about an hour south of where we were camped. I drove while Barb navigated. The directions on the listings can be challenging and quite vague and I could tell that we were both becoming a little more agitated as the morning wore on. When Barb starts to get frustrated with me she will often say “Don’t poke the bear” which her nice way of saying “watch it”.  Around noon we passed a Dairy Queen. Now, Dairy Queen is one of our favorites and I usually ask if we should stop when I see one. So, I asked her if she wanted to stop. “I’m fine” she replied. So we went on our way and looked at the last few listing struggling to find them and they did not pan out....

Frustrated and tired we started our way back north. Passing through town again I drove past Dairy Queen and kept going. Thinking just a little bit ago (well, maybe two hours) she said she did not want to stop so I did not ask her……big mistake! Next thing I knew I looked over to the passenger seat and I was face to face with a frustrated, hungry, angry she-bear! Being an experienced woodsman I have had some experience in handing these situations but for those of you unfamiliar here are a few tips…..Never and I mean never look an angry bear in the eye. Instead keep your head down and slowly retreat to a safe distance until the threat has passed. Believe me, this is not easy to day when the bear is in the car with you!

Other than this encounter, our trip from the Oregon coast, back to SLC and off to the east has been very good. While in Salt Lake we were able to spend Mother’s Day with the kids, something we have not done in a long time! Kendall is really walking around now and sometimes falling.

I also received the drone I ordered a few weeks ago! It is really cool and a lot easier to fly than I thought. I did have one scary moment when we were camping in Flaming Gorge. We had arrived at our favorite boondocking spot in the area and I wanted to get an aerial view of the rig. It was a little windy but nothing the drone could not handle so I went launched in to get some footage. The drone has GPS satellites to help keep its location and not fly off on its own. Well, as I was flying over the rig, it lost satellite reception and the wind took it off over the lake! Before I got control of it again it was a good ¼ of a mile over the lake and I could barely see it. I thought it was a goner for sure! Luckily I got it back to dry ground. After that I put it away for a while to let my nerves calm down. I did create a really short video below which shows our last two campsites. Bear with me as I learn how to use it.......
Our site at Flaming Gorge
From Flaming Gorge we headed east spending a night in Casper before we arrived in the Black Hills. All in all is has been a good week but I have two more items to add to our “Never List”

Never fly the drone when it is too windy and never poke a hungry bear!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Back "Home"

It is said that “Home is where the heart is” and having been born and raised in Northern California and Southern Oregon Barb is definitely at home in this area. Over the past week and a half we have traveled from Salt Lake City to Northern California, Southern Oregon and back again. 
Arriving in Redding, California we set up at Redding RV Park and headed into town to have dinner with her step mother Paula and step-sister Julie. We had not seen Paula in just over a year and it had been quite a bit longer since we had seen Julie. On the way there we drove past Barb’s Jr. High School and the fire department she worked at as a teenager. We met Paula at her work (which happens to be the same Farmers office Barb’s dad and Paula) used to work at some 20 years ago. We had a great dinner visiting and catching up.
The site at Redding RV Park was nice but a little tight
The following morning we packed up and headed north into Oregon to Bridgeview RV Park in Grants Pass where we visited Barb’s aunt Diana and uncle Ron at their home along the Rogue River. They have a beautifully maintained home built in the 1930’s which is right on the river.
Our site at Bridgeview RV Park in Grants Pass
Our site was right on the Rogue River
Our next visit was to Barb’s grandmother in Cave Junction. At 94 she is a truly amazing woman who lives by herself. A truly amazing woman who has led an amazing life. She gave birth to 4 children, has 8 grandchildren, 20 great grandchildren and 12 great great grandchildren. But what I find truly amazing about this woman is her sharp mind and her ability to remember the smallest of details. While we were visiting she recited the birthdates of all her grandchildren and as well as many of her great and great great grandchildren. She drove a pickup truck until about 6 months ago when she parked it for the last time. “There are enough crazy people on the road, they don’t need one more” she explained.
She told us stories of growing up in mining camps where her mother was a cook and how she used to come off the mountains in a buckboard and see all the buttercups blooming in the valley. Barb’s mother Carol died in 1977 at the age of 39 and grandma was amazed at how our daughter Jessica looked like Carol. We spent several hours with her and really enjoyed our time.
We fail in the picture taking category for each of these visits but here is a picture of grandma from last year next to her pick up truck.
The following day we were off to Bastendorff Beach County Park along the Oregon coast in the town of Charleston.  Barb and I had spent some time here last year and absolutely loved it! The park and campground are located on a bluff overlooking the coast. When we pulled in the campground host pulled up in his golf cart and said “That’s a big rig, what site do you have?” I told him and he said “Why don’t you go up to the group area, there is no one up there and you will have the place to yourself” So up we went and we had the entire place to ourselves all week!

The entire place to ourselves!
Barb chill'in by the fire
Once you have been here there are several things you will never forget; the waves themselves sound like a distant passing freight train, constant subtle rumble in the distance, the beautiful hill country of the coast and the distant sounds of the fog horns of the coastline are actually quite comforting. Both will lull you to sleep at night if you leave your windows open.

While we were here we planned at least one activity each day. Our first adventure was crabbing! It is a great and inexpensive way to spend a day on the docks. Barb told me stories of how she, along with her mom, dad and brother used to come to these very same docks and catch crab by the gunny sack full. (Which is probably why there are not any left!). We set out 4 crab rings which consists of a smaller ring on the bottom and a much larger ring on the top, they are connected by fishnet. After securing your bait (chicken/fish) to the bottom ring you drop the ring off the pier into the water. When the trap settles on the bottom the entire trap lies flat and the crabs crawl on it to eat the bait. After about 20 minutes you pull it up which extends the net trapping the crabs! If you were lucky you would have 20+ crabs in the pot, if you are unlucky a harbor seal or sea lion will dive down, steal your bait and scatter your crab.

We started off well with lots of Dungeness Crab in each pull which included a couple of keepers (males over 5 ¾ “ across the back) along with some eater size Red Crabs. Unfortunately the seals and sea lions soon saw all the activity on the dock and came over to investigate and started stealing all our bait. They were relentless and just would not leave us alone! We caught a few more after they showed up but nothing like earlier. In the end we had about 15 crabs in the cooler, enough for a nice meal. We went crabbing again a few days later but the mammals of the bay had our number from the first minute and we got tired of feeding them in about an hour and left the docks crab-less. 
We created a short 3 minute video of the crabbing and the sea lions......

The next morning it was clamming time! Clamming has to be done at low tide so you can get out to the sand flats and dig for them. The first thing you do is walk out in the flats and look for nickel sized holes in the sand and stick your finger in it! If you feel something touch your finger and move there is a clam there! Well not right there but 12-18” below there. You see they have really long necks that they extend to the surface when feeding. It is a very messy endeavor as you are down on your hands and knees digging a fairly deep hole in search of these rascals. We did manage to catch our limit and have a several meals of deep fried clam strips and a nice batch of clam chowder!
I know there is one down there!
Got it!
Adventure #3 was a walk along a rocky shoreline during low tide to see what creatures live in the tide pools. This was a new one to me but Barb had done it many a time with her family when she was younger. I was absolutely amazed by what lives in these small pools of water when the tide was out! Sea Urchins which were a beautiful purple and bright green……. Were everywhere. We took a ton of pictures trying to capture the beauty and color of what we were seeing but just could not do it justice. Walked for about a mile looking in the pools, taking pictures of waves crashing into the rock and searching the rocks for sea glass……something I had never heard of before. Sea glass is glass that has been discarded and broken up while at sea, washed ashore and polished, smoothed and rounded by the sand. We actually found some pretty cool and unique pieces! As we were taking a break sitting on a huge piece of driftwood, I was looking out to sea and kept seeing a plume of water shooting up in the distance. I kept staring at it and it was moving….whales! I got out the binoculars and sure enough there were at least 2 what I think were humpback whales swimming and surfacing out there. They were too far to even attempt a picture but Barb and I got a good look at them through the binoculars. Very cool, another first.

A Starfish and several Giant Green Anemones
Lots of Sea Urchins!
A closer look

Tidal pools.... those are mussels in the foreground and a lighthouse in the background

A closer shot of the lighthouse
Our final adventure in the area had us travel to nearby Coos Bay where there were a couple of “Tall Ships” visiting the area. They are open every day from 4-5pm for the public for walk on tours. Every day EXCEPT the day we went! We did however, get to view them from the docks. They were really cool ships, as you sat there looking at them you could not help but wonder what it would have been like to sail on one of these ships back in the day. If fact, that is really one of the cool things about this area….. the world is constantly changing and moving so fast but you look at these ships, you look at the coastline, you look at the rocks and reefs out in the sea and nothing has changed in hundreds of years. It makes you realize how small and insignificant we all are in the big scheme of things.
There are 3 guys working on the rigging.....see them?



We had a great time on the coast, I never tire of hearing Barb’s tales of her family vacations here. She has lost her mother, her brother and just over two years ago, her father. You could tell she was melancholy walking down the beaches and remembering times past. But that is what our adventure is all about, recalling memories of past adventures and creating new ones to remember in the future.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

The Perfect Picture

One of my goals over the past year was to become a better photographer. I have loved photography most of my life but I would never consider myself very good. It is so hard to capture something that looks so good with the naked eye to an actual photo! As I said in a previous post, even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while so I decided to do a post on what I think are my 10 best pictures since we started our adventure.

Barb and I follow a lot of blogs from fellow full-timers and have been inspired by many of the great photographs posted by other amateur photographers. One that stands out to me is the photographs posted by Ingrid whose blog is Live, Laugh, RV. She takes great pictures and has an eye for bringing the beauty out of a scene as well as the detail in stunning close ups.

Tracey from Camper Chronicles recently did a post on whether a Photoshopped picture is one that is taken or created. Tracey believes the excitement of photography is in the hunt for the perfect picture without the need to Photoshop it while her husband Lee sees nothing wrong with editing to enhance the picture. I tend to lean towards Lee’s philosophy in trying to make each picture the best it can be. As I was going through the pictures something very interesting struck me, each of the pictures I selected were ones that had little (cropping) or no Photoshopping. Maybe Tracey is onto something and truly great photographs stand on their own.

So, without further ado, here are what I consider my 10 favorite pictures…..
This picture was taken in the Lake Mead area while visiting our friends Steve and Joan. I love the colors and contrast of this photo, how the sunlight is hitting the mountains in the background and how you are able to see the depth and contrast of the mountains. One of the hardest things for me to do it to actually show the contours of the landscape.
Although I know the coloring on this one could have been better, I love the overall content of this picture. The buffalo themselves set the stage but in my mind, the dried grasses, sand, the water from Salt Lake and the mountains in the background all add to it. This one was taken on Antelope Island State Park north of Salt Lake City.

 Again in Lake Mead, this one is special to me as it captures a rare moment in Bighorn Sheep mating ritual. The ram is in a "fleming pose" where he is checking to see if the ewe is ready for mating.

Taken outside of Yuba State Park in Utah, I captured this picture on an early morning drive with my son Forrest. There is something peaceful about grazing horses, the varying colors of each of these horses make it even more unique. If you look closely, you can see the legs of a baby under the mare farthest out.

Barb had all her ducks in a row when she captured this picture on Northwind Lake in Ontario last summer. Barb and I were boating up a river to the lake when we rounded a corner and there they were. It pays to have the camera handy at all times as you never know when an opportunity will present itself!

Although most of my favorite pictures I like this one as it was a moment in Louisiana where Barb and I were driving down the road. I actually recognized this one on the drive by and backed up to take it, placing the morning sun behind the tree helped accentuate the Spanish Moss.

Have you noticed how most of my favorites contain some kind of wildlife? I love the detail of this picture, you can see the detail of the feathers, the beak and the eyes. Barb and I were walking on a pier in Gulf Shores Alabama when this guy was cooperative enough to let me get close enough to capture this one.

Continuing with the "wildlife" theme, this is the only one  that had a person in it and is a favorite for several reasons. Not only for the beauty of both of the subjects, it also capture the deep golden brown colors of the walleye and reminds me of the great time we had this day fishing a remote lake in Ontario last summer.

This picture of the Blood Moon during the recent solar eclipse is by far the most technical picture I have taken. I did some research on speeds and f-stops the night before the eclipse and took almost 300 pictures over the course of an hour resulting in about a half a dozen that I could consider good.

Last but not least...... I can't really pinpoint it but I really like this picture of a female cardinal taken in Saguaro National Park is my favorite so far.  The detail of the bird and her perch along with the saguaro in the background make it my favorite so far!

I wished I could say that I was thoughtful and deliberate in taking each of these pictures but truth be told most of them were quite by accident and only a few were thoughtful and deliberate. When the pendulum goes the other way and only a few are by accident and the majority capture exactly what I was picturing in my mind I will know I have turned the corner and went to the next level in photography. In the meantime I will take every lucky shot I can get!

I would love to hear which one of the 10 were your favorite as well as any tips or thoughts you have on taking the "perfect" picture.........