Tuesday, August 23, 2016

As My Summer Turns

Snippets from my summer on a mountain lake.

As stressful as it has been at times, there have also been some memorable and fun times too.

River into town

I've had some long time friends come visit me this summer.  First some friends from Chattanooga came up and camped with me one weekend.  (No, they didn't drive all the way from Chattanooga to see me, I'm not worth THAT long of a trip! - They live in Seattle now).  I hadn't seen them in probably 4 1/2 years?  Their daughter has grown up so much and they all are a blast to hang out with.  Such a fun weekend, I only wish I didn't have to work so I could have spent more time with them catching up.

Another friend I met when I lived in Seattle way back in 1988 also came up to visit.  She stayed at a hotel in town so I got to see what the local accommodations were like.  We had a lovely dinner in town and walked around a little bit, but she really wanted to see the campground where I worked.  So, she followed me all the way out there after dinner and was quite taken (as in taken aback!) with the remoteness and primitiveness of my campground.  Actually it's not THAT primitive or remote, but it does feel like it the first time you visit.  I really enjoyed having her come up to visit & have someone to try out one of the restaurants with!  It was wonderful seeing all of these friends again and I am so grateful that they drove all the way from Seattle to see me (and so I didn't have to drive into Seattle myself!).  I'd love to see the city again, maybe I could drive there at 3 a.m. or take a bus in from the outskirts.  I don't do big city driving.  Scares the crap out of me!

My very first Teardrop Friend made this for me and Zelda!  She built her own amazing teardrop, Celeste, and invited me to stop and meet her and Celeste on my way to meet Zelda 3 years ago!  She is obviously a woman of many, many talents! 

I've also made some new friends here - campers that have come to my campground.  So many interesting people.  I actually met some folks from a town almost next door to the town I grew up in Ohio!  Small world.  As an added bonus to meeting awesome people are the goodies you sometimes score!  One night I was given a piece of someone's birthday cake from one campsite and 2 huge pieces of homemade banana bread from another.  A week later I was given a big bag of Rainier Cherries and more recently some Dungeness Crab legs!  Yes, life is very good, and yummy too!  I have also received some lovely notes and one camper even left me this adorable Cherry dishtowel for my cute teardrop.

Gus, my loyal work buddy, was feeling quite under the weather a while ago.  I was really worried about him - he isn't a spring chicken anymore, pushing 25 years!  Well, let's just say that you could hear us a comin' from far away and he'd cough and hack if I left him idling.  The day I had to drop him off to go to the Car Hospital, I needed ear plugs while riding in him!  I was afraid he wouldn't come back.  Well, 3 days later he came back  - a "new" truck!  He left a decrepit, sickly old truck and returned a tuned up, buff, young hottie of a truck!  Oh Baby!  Let the good times roll!

My Rooftop Garden!  Egon gave me this tomato plant when I stopped back in May.  It was only about 3 inches tall then.  
Now look at it!
I even have some tiny tomatoes!

I had mentioned in a previous post how frustrating it is dealing with some of the campers I get here.  A while ago I came up with an idea to keep those who leave home without their common sense (if they had it to begin with) out of the campground.  If you have seen Monty Python and the Holy Grail (one of my all time favorite movies), you'll remember the scene where they have to answer 3 questions to cross over the Bridge of Death.  Well, I wanted to start the same thing at my campground.  Campers would have to answer 5 questions correctly before being allowed to camp there.  1) What do "Quiet Hours" mean?  2) How big can wood / logs be for a campfire?  3) What is the appropriate way of disposing of your trash?  4) How do you properly extinguish a campfire?  5) Are pets allowed off leash in a public campground?  If they miss even 1 question they are then catapulted to the opposite side of the mountains from where they came (seems easterners and westerners don't think too highly of each other out here).  That ought to teach them they shouldn't be camping without knowing proper camping etiquette.
Snow in July on Steven's Pass

Ice is Damn expensive here!  Not using much gas running around, but I'm making up for that cost in ice for my cooler!  It's $2.75 - $3.00 for a 10 lbs. bag.  I've lost track of how many bags I've had to buy already.  At least 2 per week and that is leaving my food in just cold water for a day or 2 sometimes.

Wildlife is sometimes abundant here.  Lots of "killer ground squirrels" (Golden mantled ground squirrels to be be precise) that will kill your food if you leave it out.

I had a gorgeous pair of Western Tanagers that frequented my campsite when I first moved out along with some hummingbirds.  I know at least one of the hummers was a female Rufous Hummingbird, and quite possibly both were.  I often hear Swainson's Thrushes, which are special to me.  When I lived in Oregon years ago I volunteered at an animal rehab facility and got to raise 3 Swainson's Thrushes (Larry, Curly and Moe), so hearing them again has been a treat.  There is at least 1 Bald Eagle and 1 Osprey that fish off the campground.  A couple of my campers watched the Bald Eagle swoop down and pluck a duck off the lake and take it to a tree to eat.  They said they had feather raining down from the feast.  And just the other night I watched probably the same one catch a fish and take it up into the trees to eat.  One calm, quiet morning a few weeks ago, I got to watch the Osprey fishing and be rewarded with a fish breakfast.  Those are the moments I savor and long for more of.
She was in my campsite & really was this close to me!  

There are also several deer that visit the campground on their way to the lake.  They came very close to people and weren't too skittish, but now they have made themselves scarce due to the campground being overrun with all the fisherpeople there for Sockeye season.  I really miss seeing them.

I met another toad friend on my way to the restroom other night.  I keep meeting giant toads, at night, on my way to the toilet - wonder what that means?  I haven't seen a bear or cougar yet - both are my summer wish, but I did see a T-Rex in one of the campsites.  Yep, I sure did!  I had to do a quadruple take in Gus's mirrors, but there it was in site 19!  You never know what you might encounter in the wild.  Not to worry, as much as I wanted to feed a few campers to Ms. T-Rex, I refrained.  Wishing I hadn't now.

One weekend I actually had neighbor campers steal stuff from my campsite!  I had collected these really cool wood pieces from a tree that had to be cut down.  I had them for 2 reasons - 1) they were really neat looking with crystallized sap running through the ring sections and 2) I didn't want anyone trying to burn them in the firepits because of the sap and their size.  Well, the guy decided he should have them because they were too nice to burn!  Some other neighbors had watched him take them and load them into his truck and after I asked around about them, that neighbor went over and confronted the man.  He returned 1 piece, but not all of them until I told him to the next day - which now consisted of 3 pieces because he broke one.  I was stunned at his arrogant disregard for other people's property.

I was getting frustrated one day with how some people left their campsites and was shaking out my rubber glove to put back on (I just turn them inside out and then put back on as I go from one restroom to the other).  This was the response I got.  Rather appropriate for how I was feeling that day.
The wisdom of the Glove!

One thing I have done better with is hard-boiling eggs.  One of my campers gave me another tip to try for "perfectly cooked eggs" - add them to already boiling water.  Well, I can't say they ALWAYS come out perfectly, but I have had the best luck with this suggestion so far.  The one problem I have is the first egg or two I try to carefully drop in the water inevitably crack.  Usually it isn't a big deal, but I did get the coolest mutant egg ever from one batch!  I couldn't have made this if I tried!  LOVED IT!
Mutant Egg Extraordinaire!

Well, I need to get this posted so I can start working on the next post which I have been wanting to get to for so long!  I am so far behind in these posts, but here is something current.  This summer has been very cold to cool so we have been fortunate to not have so many fires as there were last year.  But there is one about 20 miles north of me right now.  Last week was the first time I saw evidence of it.  On Thursday I noticed some reddish-brownish "clouds", then Friday and Saturday it was very hazy with the smoke.  The winds changed direction on Sunday so it has cleared the air around the lake again which is very nice.  Hopefully it will stay that way and the fire will burn out soon.

Smokey haze from fire north of me.
I know there are so many other things I had wanted to share but have forgotten now.  I only have 2 more weeks left then I'll be free to roam again.  First stop is the Pacific Ocean!!!  I can't begin to tell you how excited I am to see it again.  When I got Zelda I promised her a trip down the Pacific coast and this year for my birthday I promised myself as a birthday present.  I can't afford to do the entire trip I wanted to do with campgrounds so expensive and not many boondocking options along the coast, but I'm going to do the Oregon coast into very northern California.  Have a few places already picked out that I plan to stop as well as hitting some of my old stomping grounds.  I hope this will be not only a fun trip but also a healing one for me.  The ocean is my soul's home.

Some parting shots of tree bark.  Yep, you heard me correctly, tree bark.  But just LOOK at these different kinds of tree bark!  They are amazing!

Yeah, I know - doesn't take much to get me excited does it.

Hey, it's been a looong summer!


  1. I can't believe it is almost the end of the summer for you. Yeah you made it. Enjoy the coast. I look forward to your next post.

  2. Love your posts. Jealous of your travels. Keep on keeping on!
    Katie, dive show princess ; )

    1. Katie, are you DIVING now? Or are you the All-Knowing out of the tank Princess? ;O)

  3. I love the photos of tree bark!! They look pretty amazing, and if you hadn't said that was what it was, I might not have known.

    I'm so sorry that people are so clueless - trust me, I TOTALLY understand that frustration when it comes to folks in a campground. I do think a lot of them leave their common sense at home, or it's an effect of "vacation brain."

    And wow, the arrogance of that guy - that is just shocking! I wish I could say I was completely surprised but I can't, though. The arrogance and entitlement in this world is just my largest pet peeve. You definitely see it at campgrounds, which is pretty shocking.