Saturday, July 24, 2010

Escapee Friends

A few weeks ago we got an email from Mike and Loretta,(Mike and Loretta are fulltimers who have been on the road for ten years), saying they would be passing through Wyoming and wondering where we were at. So it was really nice when we heard their air horn and saw their mdt and fifth wheel out our side window.
Their original plan was to go to Frontier Days but they had changed them and weren't sure where they were going and so they spent a couple nights parked across from us at Buckbosrd Crossing Campground.
We actually were able to grill fresh caught salmon over a wood pit fire. Loretta made a pasta salad and we also had wood fire baked potatoes and French bread. It was a real challenge as storms roared past us and we were just able to cook the salmon and eat during a lull between the storms.
The plan for the next day was to go for a boat ride up Flaming Gorge, and to maybe catch some smallmouth bass for dinner. The next morning we loaded up and went to the boat ramp. The game and fish inspector actually walked to the campground road head to make sure we got our mussel inspection done and after the usual questions she okayed us and we launched the boat.
It didn't take long before we were heading up the lake, with our destination being Firehole and Chimmney Rock. The trip was nice and we chatted about the gorge, John Wesley Powell and the numerous boondocking sites along the shore.
We stopped at the mouth of the Black River and pointed out the road called Lost Dog. There was a large fifth wheel there, here you are allowed to boondock for sixteen days and so many haul their campers out and simply leave them for the entire time. They then come out on weekends and days off and no one sems to mind although they are supposed to be occupied!
From there we raced up to Firehole and Chimney rock. I wasn't really sure which rock was chimney rock as there are two large towers or pillars of rock that dominate the landscape. Renita pointed out a window on one of the buttes and of course we took more pictures.
We headed further up the canyon and the gorge narrowed with the water becoming muddy. A couple of boats passed by and I kept my eyes on the depth finder as it sh allowed.
We stopped at a point which was the futherest we have ever run up the Green,(the river that fills Flaming Gorge), and Mike suggested we use our gps to find the location on Google Earth, duh!
Heading back down lake we stopped and cast crankbaits and do nothing rigs but no smallmouths volunteered to be part of a fish fry. It didn't matter as we had plenty of cornbread for the nights meal.
As we neared Buckboard Marina we pulled into a sheltered cove foe a bite of lunch. It was a pretty sheltered spot and someone actually had a boat dock parked in one of the arms of the cove,(the rules for a dock permit are that anyone can use your dock). The dock wasn't attached to the shore however so we went past it before beaching the boat.
I looked for fish fossils but didn't find any. Cumulonimbus clouds were forming over the Uintas and so we finished lunch and headed back to the boat ramp. Renita drove the boat on to the trailer and hit it perfectly on the first try. She is really good at it and I know she is secretly pleased as others watch her load the boat as they are meant to be loaded.
It was a fun day and right on schedule the wind rose and began rocking our fifth wheel. The mountain and valley breezes here are almost like clockwork. Loretts said that she could understand why we like it here, not meaning that they were desert fans, but what do you expect from people who lived their lives in a place with trees.
It was a nice and pleasant time with Mike and Loretta and we waved goodbye as they fired up the Freightliner and headed east. They didn't know where they were heading and that's what you can do when you are fulltimers, just mosey on down the road. Clear skies.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Fishing and Catching at Flaming Gorge

The sun had set but it was still light and the campground and surrounding sagebrush desert were filled with a soft yellow-red glow. The mountain breeze had died and it was as still as the desert solitude can be. Far different than the afternoons when we have been buffeted by strong winds or dry thunderstorms that seem to spring out of the Unintas.
I thought about the fishing and quietly shook my head.The fishing has been mixed, one day seven fish including salmon, rainbow, and lake trout and the next day only a small kokeenee.
We tried our hand at fishing smallmouth and also have had mixed success. On days when the wind blows too strong to go out we go down to the nearby bay and cast crankbaits for smallies. One day we actually caught three and I kept one for a fried fish dinner, to go along with a leftover walleye from Boysen.
We heard the salmon were at the pipeline and so we drove down to Anvil Draw. The first day was good, seven salmon but the second day we were stormed off in less then an hour and the third day we only boated a small shaker,(A kokeenee too small to keep and so you shake it off).
Sure enough we talked with our friend Steve from Lander, and he was catching fish at the cliffs, a spot only a few miles from our campground, but it is the weekend and we don't fish on weekends, too many boats and people. You get spoiled in Wyoming, after the crush of fellow fisherman in Texas.
We still have a couple more weeks and we aren't going anyplace till our house is fixed. The campground mower threw a rock into out back window and shattered it. Still time for more fishing and hopefully better catching as we have been releasing most of the salmon. Clear skies.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Horseshoes and Fishing, A Fine Day at Flaming Gorge

Horse shoes is really a simple game, unless you have a German Shepard who insists on playing! Everytime Matt would throw a shoe his female German Shepard, Thunder, would walk over, grab the shoe and bring it back.
We were spending the day at Matt and Pattys, not their house in Rock Springs but their boondocking spot on Flaming Gorge. It was a great spot right on the lake and a spot that we could easily reach with our fifth wheel and truck.
Patty had called us on Friday night to let us know they were going to spend the weekend at Anvil Draw and to invite us out for fishing, horseshoes and barbecue.
So we got up early the next morning, hooked up the boat and took the short drive to lake access road number 1, Anvil Draw. We didn't see them at first, too many hills, and so we launched the boat and decided to look for their spot from the water.
The first bay was full of fifth wheels and motor homes but no Matt and Patty. It even had a race course set up for jet skis.
Heading south we went round the bend from the boat dock and there they were. We pulled up to shore and beeped the horn several times before they came out, still sleeping?
The hugs and hellos were the first order of business and we visited for a bit, but I was getting antsy to go fishing. So we got into the boat and headed to our first spot. There were quite a few boats fishing other places but I wanted to check out the place where we had caught so many fish the past two years.
It didn't take long to reach my secret fishing hole and quickly a pole wiggled and then released. As it was my turn I grabbed the pole and fought the fish too the boat where it fell off the hook before we could net it, hmmmmmm. Almost immediately the other pole released and I lost another fish, this seems like a familiar story.
We reset the poles and dwonriggers and soon had another bite. This time Renita fought the fish to the boat and the waiting net. It was a kokenee, but a small one and so we released it. Trolling out deeper we caught two more fish, both small, and I decided it was time to head to another spot.
There were quite a few boats fishing across from the boat ramp and so we got into the trolling pattern and watched as two of the boats caught fish. One was a really nice salmon and the fisherman hooted and hollered as the netted their catch.
We caught a nice fish ourselves and wanted to fish more but it lightened in the distance and so we headed in. Having had some scares from lightening we are the first boat in when weather threatens.
We loaded the boat and drove over to their camp. It was a great site, huge, with an easy turn around, and a view to die for. What could be better? We sat around the camp fire and talked about rving and life in general. Patty has a great sense of humor and entertained us with her quips.
We tried to play horseshoes but the dogs would always join us and Thunder would pick up the heavy iron shoe in her mouth! Deciding horseshoes would not be a good idea we looked for rocks and of course we found some. Agate was everywhere, along with some petrified wood, it was the usual story of trying to be selective.
Matt and Patty grilled some steaks, corn on the cob, and hobo potatoes. It was as fine a meal as you could ask for and we both dove into our food. After dinner we told the kids about retirement and I tried to keep a straight face as I told them that we would have worked more but that our health had caused us to decide to retire early, Renita of course burst into laughter and I had to join her. We both were meant for the retirement lifestyle! It was also obvious that I couldn't fib the kids and keep a straight face.
Too soon the sun neared the horizon and Molly kept going to the truck, time to go home. We had had soooooo much fun and we thanked Matt and Patty for sharing the day.
Everyone had a great time,(Molly included)! Clear skies.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Red Agate and Banded Flint, The Southeast side of Cedar Mountain

Last year we met David and Nancy, two full timers who camped next to us and who were also rock hounds. They were interested in finding agates and so we showed them our guidebook, Rockhounding Wyoming, and they decided to check out a couple of sites on the southeast face of Cedar Mountain.
That night Nancy came over and showed us the beautiful agate that she had found! She excitedly told us it was the best agate she had ever found and thanked us for heading them in the right direction. Of course we were as jealous as you could be and so all winter we talked about going to the southeast face of Cedar Mountain.
Now the guidebook tells about finding red jasper on Cedar Mountain and also about the banded flint of Mckinnon and as both are on the same road, we packed our lunch and headed out for a day looking for more rocks.
Turning on Sweetwater county road 1 I forgot to check my mileage and so things were already kind of shaky, but luckily there are very few roads off the blacktop and so we found the right gravel road.
It was actually a pretty good road for the Red Desert, thank goodness it was dry, and we soon started seeing nodules of red and black cert everywhere. Stopping we walked the first spot and both had quite a bit of red chert. Being selective we threw most of it away, keeping some for a closer inspection at camp, and continued down the road.
Badlands topography appeared, caused by eroded horizontal rock layers forming a dendritic pattern, and as the book talked of finding fossil turtle shell, we had to stop and look. In the distance we could see a lonely ranch house and we both wondered at the toughness of the people that had homesteaded such a remote spot.
I parked the truck and headed to the badlands while Renita looked near the parking spot. Of course red jasper was everywhere and I lifted a ten pound boulder that showed some promise. The question was, did I really want to carry it all the way back? Deciding it wasn't that impressive I left it and continued on looking for the elusive turtle shell.
I crossed several ridges and walked draws looking for small pieces of shell. See one way to find fossils if to walk the draws and look for small fragments and then to follow their trail, looking for the in situ site,(the place where the main shell was still embedded in the rock).
No fragments and no shells jumped out in front of me and so I made a loop and walked back to the truck. Of course Renita had a pile of rocks on the back bumper, but nothing spectacular and so we released them and headed to the main road.
Our next goal was to find the high line and the banded flint of Mckinnon. It was pretty easy spot to locate and I didn't have to use four wheel drive as we turned off the main road by driving into the steep ditch and down the two track path.
Stopping at the first hillside we parked the truck and found the hillside covered with banded flint. Black chert, with swirls of yellow were everywhere and it became a question of looking for the perfect piece. See we pick first and then only take the best pieces back to Texas and the lapidary shop. Even then we end up hauling a lot of, "Junk", as our friend Dick Cline, kindly descibes it.
Black storm clouds began to threaten and so we left the site heading for Mckinnon and Manila, Utah. A forest service road beckoned but there was no way we were going to travel it with a storm and heavy rains approaching. We have heard too many stories of friends who took such roads and ended uo being ,mired in mud, sometimes even for days!
It was a pretty drive, Mckinnon actually has a school, and we found another road to Spirit Lake. We arrived back at Buckboard crossing and looked at the samples we had collected. It really wasn't an impressive haul for a day and we agreed that the road to Butcherknife Draw had the same rocks and more promise.
Still, just about any day in the field is a good day and so we were glad we had traveled the southeast face of Cedar Mountain. While we wouldn't go back to the sites we picked, the four wheel drive road near Mckinnon is another question. Is it worth the return drive or should we go next to the Blue Forest? Clear skies.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Matt and Patty's Rv, A new Generation

Our son and his wife, Matt and Patty, have been among our biggest supporters of our lifestyle and so it was no surprise when we heard that they had purchased their own rv, a 22 foot toy hauler.
Having three german shepards, two of which are rescue dogs, and having a four wheeler made their selection of a toy hauler easy. Now they can boondock in the Red Desert and the dogs can go up and down the ramp! We hadn't ever looked at many toy haulers before and we really like what they have chosen.
Their pride in their new second home was evident and their stories were so familiar, going out and sitting in the camper and enjoying the peace and quiet. It was obvious that they got a new toy that they really needed.
Matt showed us around while Patsy sat and listened and of course telling us her insights and happiness with the rv. They have a tv but don't use it and its such a nice escape from their busy lifestyle.
We talked about diesel trucks versus gas engines and gave them some pointers from our experience. We gave them some items for their new house, a set of Bal chocks and a clear sleeve for their dumping. Ah yes and of course we talked about dumping and other fun aspects of live on the road.
Now we just have to plan a weekend of camping together,(maybe we can suggest a spot near some petrified wood or a place where we can prospect for gold or diamonds)? Regardless of the spot we are happy for them and like their new home. Clear skies.