Posts Tagged ‘labrador

01
Mar
19

April Adventure Part Two – Route 66 and the Great River Road

April 13-15, 2018

The threat of an impending ice storm made me load up the dogs shortly after returning to my parents’ house after backpacking. Thankfully, it was clear sailing for the entire 3 hour drive home.

Early next morning, I woke to a dreary, grey, drizzly day. Since I still had two days left of my four day weekend, I decided to chance potentially bad roads and hea out on a “short” adventure. Because of Yukon’s bad leg, we couldn’t hike and I had been hankering for a Capriotti’s sub so Davenport, IA it would be! Since we’d be going past some bits and pieces of Route 66 that I hadn’t been on, I decided to check the ‘Roadside America’ app and see what interesting places we could visit on the 5 hour drive to Iowa.

Me: There’s 106 miles to Chicago, we’ve got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it’s dark out, and we’re wearing sunglasses. Mira:  Hit it!

First stop, Route 66 Food N Fuel to see the Bluesmobile on a Stick after snapping a couple of quick photos, we moved on to Rich & Creamy for some ice cream on the Mother Road. Looking at routes as an alternative to taking I-80 as I have on what seems like a million occasions, I decided to get off the expressway and on to two lanes, crossing the Mississippi River at Clinton, IA.

Bluesmobile on a Stick at Route 66 Food N Fuel

Rich and Creamy in Joliet – the pups loved their little doggie treat

Yukon, you have no thumbs, you can’t pump gas!

A frigid, wet wind whipped at the dogs and me as we walked down toward the mighty river for a photo. Yukon, despite a bum leg, was throwing a tantrum because he was close to a body of water and I wouldn’t let him go swimming and Mira was tired of the wind and made several attempts to escape to the warm Jeep.

The Mighty Mississippi at Clinton, IA – Yukon wanted to swim, Mira was trying to escape to the Jeep

Heading south on 30, I noticed a scenic route sign imprinted with a riverboat wheel. My interest piqued, I looked it up to find we were on a lesser known scenic route known as the Great River Road. At that point, I decided I’d do my best to trace the entire route in sections. As we were in the area, we stopped at American Pickers headquarters (Antique Archaeology) in Le Claire. Mira begrudgingly sat to have her photo taken in front of the iconic car in front (bribed with treats from the nice ladies inside the gift shop of course). It was a short drive to Capriotti’s and my delicious “Bobbie” sub followed by a stop for some of Toppling Goliath Brewing’s Pseudo Sue, a beer I’d been wanting to try for a while simply because they feature a T-Rex on the can.

A quick stop at Antique Archaeology (American Pickers) in Le Claire, IA

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The Bobbie and a 4 pack of a Pseudo Sue – the perfect combination!

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I’ve mentioned before, when on the road with the dogs, I tend to stay at Motel 6. They definitely are spartan but they’re usually pretty decent and dogs stay free. Motel 6 in Davenport was no different, definitely not fancy but clean and comfortable. Unfortunately, they put us in a room on the 2nd floor, not awesome with a 65 pound dog that is struggling to walk. I carried my giant black dog upstairs and placed him on the bed where he instantly made himself at home. Snuggled into bed with the dogs, we fell asleep to the Discovery Channel.

The dogs know how to make themselves at home after a decade of road trips!

After following a short section of the Great River Road from Clinton, IA to Davenport, I was intrigued. A lesser known scenic route similar to the vibe of Route 66 that runs along the Mississippi River from its source at Itasca State Park in Minnesota to the Gulf in Louisiana. After reading up on this road that was previously unknown to me, I decided day two of our road trip would be to follow it from south of Davenport to Alexandria, MO before heading home via back roads connecting to Route 66.

Yukon, my four-legged divining rod was beside himself with excitement as we drove along the shore of the big muddy Mississippi through Buffalo, Montpelier and Muscatine on our way to a quick stop at Port Louisa National Wildlife Refuge.

Navigator Yukon at your service

Sergeant John F. Baker Jr. Bridge – I-280 over the Mississippi River

I pulled into the first parking area for the Wildlife Refuge, the parking lot being excessively muddy, I left the dogs in the car to do some exploring along the shore. I saw hundreds of fish, dead on the bank like there was a massive die off and they washed up. The smell was something special! My boots caked with a couple of inches of mud, I returned to the Jeep, today would be a driving day instead of a hiking day.

Port Louisa National Wildlife Refuge and a few photos of the fish die off

White Pelicans taking flight from Muscatine Slough

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As we made our way south, we sometimes lost sight of the river, but were rewarded with rolling Midwestern farmland in exchange.  It started snowing as we drove a tunnel of trees, two lane back portion of the Great River Road into Keokuk, Iowa which was named after the great Sauk leader Keokuk.  I continued on, crossing the Missouri state line, filled my gas tank in Alexandria and started to head east toward Route 66.

I live for rural two lanes!

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A statue of Sauk leader, Keokuk, the town’s namesake

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Nearby carved eagle statue

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Made it to Missouri!

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Looking for life on two lanes on our way to Atlanta, Illinois

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We made our way east, traveling on more rural back roads in pursuit of another of Illinois’ Muffler Men (Mira and I visited Gemini Giant the previous fall) in Atlanta, Illinois.  I left Yukon in the car, leashed Mira up and started toward the imposing figure of “Tall Paul”, a muffler man formerly resided in front of Cicero’s hot dog stand in the Chicago suburbs.  I sat Mira in front of him with the intent of getting her photo, she was freaked out and dashed toward me for protection from the scary figure.

Mira says, “I’m outta here!”

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Loaded back into the Jeep, we made our way back home.  After 35 hours, 5 states and a little over 1,000 miles we were back in our driveway, a fun little adventure under our belts.  I’ll always cherish this trip as it was Yukon’s last road trip, three weeks later I had to have him put to sleep.  His leg that was a presumed CCL tear was actually a very large tumor in his hip with metastasis to the lungs that there was no recovering from.

RIP Yukon – 7/2006-5/6/2018

 

27
Feb
19

Celebrating a Century of the Wondrous Abyss

My sister was moving to Las Vegas and my aunt, my dogs and I were helping move her from Michigan to her new home. Since none of us had ever been to the Grand Canyon, we made it a point to stop on our last day of travel. This was just the first of a number of times that this Midwestern girl has visited the abyss.

Standing on the edge of a precipice looking down onto layers upon layers of color, it was hard for me to comprehend those that described the Grand Canyon as “Eh, wasn’t impressed, it’s just a big hole in the ground.” or “Not sure why I would go back, I’ve seen it once, don’t need to see it again.” On my first visit to the great canyon in April of 2008, I was 30 years old, I could have sat on that edge until the sun went down and remained there until the sun peeked over the rim. I was in awe.

Mira enjoying the breeze on the South Rim in April of 2008

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Yukon as Bark Ranger on the South Rim in April of 2008

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Upon his first visit to the canyon in 1903, Theodore Roosevelt had similar feelings, stating:

“The Grand Canyon fills me with awe. It is beyond comparison-beyond description; absolutely unparalleled throughout the wide world.  Let this great wonder of nature remain as it now is. Do nothing to mar its grandeur, sublimity and loveliness.”

Shortly after (11/28/1906), the then president established the area he found so beautiful as the Grand Canyon Game Preserve.  Thanks to the Antiquities Act of 1906, Roosevelt was able to redesignate the canyon and the land surrounding it as a national monument on January 11, 1908.  In a further effort to protect this area of unparalleled beauty and splendor, President Woodrow Wilson again changed the canyon’s designation, making it the country’s 17th national park 100 years ago today on February 26, 1919.

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It took 8 years for me to return to the park, this time Mira and I making the trip down from Utah onto the North Rim.  We wound our way up in elevation, the landscape quickly changing from desert to alpine, huge Ponderosa pines towering over us, mule deer and turkeys roaming the road side.  It was a stark contrast from the hustle and bustle of the South Rim, hardly a person in the viewpoint parking lots despite equally majestic views.  The cool quiet enveloped us as Mira and I sat and looked out over the endless colorful towers and buttes.

After walking the quiet Bridle Trail (the only dog friendly trail on the North Rim) down to the North Kaibab trailhead, Mira and I went to find our campsite in the Kaibab National Forest, overlooking Marble Canyon and the Marble Plateau.  It was windy, the temperatures dropped below freezing and I had to zip Mira up into my down jacket, but we woke to a beautiful sunrise with nobody else around which made a little bit of suffering all worthwhile.

Mira and Me at Point Imperial – we had a great conversation with a German couple who then offered to take our photo.

Point Imperial Panorama

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Nice short hike on the Bridle Path

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Campsite on the edge – Kaibab National Forest

Looking out over the Marble Plateau

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Fast forward to spring of 2012, I again found myself staring out over the layered landscape.  Camping at Mather, the site was frequented by mischievous ravens and elk bedded down at the back of the site.  The next morning I woke before dawn to catch a bus to the trailhead of the South Kaibab trail.  I’d be taking my first trip below the rim, hiking down to Ooh Aah Point and back.  It was like a different world as a I traversed the rocky trail.  Standing and looking out from Ooh Aah Point, I knew I needed to return and traverse the canyon from the North to the South Rim.

Mira is always a hit with tourists at the South Rim (which for a national park is exceptionally dog friendly).  Such a little ham!

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Hiking down the South Kaibab Trail, its openness allows for some pretty spectacular views!

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Amazingly, I was able to convince my friend and coworker Amy to tackle a multi day Rim to Rim trip despite the fact that she’d never been backpacking in her life.  We nervously submitted our multiple itineraries in May of 2018 for a trip in September.  A couple of days later I opened my email to find out we’d drawn our first choice itinerary and that we’d be spending a night at Cottonwood Campground and another night at Bright Angel Campground before making the arduous journey out to the Bright Angel Trailhead.

Throughout the summer we trained with our packs, scrutinized our meal plans and got one backpacking trip under Amy’s belt.  We flew out to Las Vegas on September 13th arriving at my sisters late that night.  My sister followed us to the South Rim in a separate car, picking us up at the Backcountry Office parking lot where we dropped off our rental.

After visiting a few viewpoints, we started the long journey to the North Rim where we’d camp for the night before Amy and I started our voyage across the canyon.  We arrived after dark, my sister starting the fire and Amy and I setting up the tent.  We cooked over the fire under those towering pines, drinking in the crisp, high elevation air before we retired to the tent.  Sleep came hard, the excitement of the impending journey akin to what a 5 year old feels on Christmas Eve.

Amy, Me and Melissa (my sister at the South Rim)

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Dusk on 89A, heading toward the turnoff to the North Rim

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Melissa roasting marshmallows  and cooking dinner before bed.

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After a few photos and a goodbye hug from my sister, we started our hike at 6:40 AM, the temperature hovering just above freezing.  Over the next two days we descended into the canyon the temperature and scenery changing with the elevation.  After spending a night at the bottom we arose at 2:45 AM to start the strenuous hike out.  Looking down from the rim, one only sees desert, but the many folds of the canyon hide an oasis.  There hanging gardens on rock walls with beautiful orange flowers, bees buzzing back and forth, puddles in the middle of a muddy trail filled with tadpoles wriggling around in the morning sun and several alcoves with cascading waterfalls.  It took us about 10 hours to complete the 10 mile hike out and to the parking lot, it was physically and mentally grueling for us flatlanders, the last 3 miles feeling like an eternity.  But a few short days after we climbed out of the chasm, we were already talking about which route we’d try next time.

Amy and I at the start of our hike – the North Kaibab Trailhead

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Campsite at Cottonwood campground, our first night in the canyon.

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Amy waving up from the bottom of glorious Ribbon Falls

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Bright Angel Creek and Bright Angel Campground

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Amy looking down at the Devil’s Corkscrew that we just hiked up.

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A little waterfall cascading into a pool in a small alcove along Bright Angel Trail

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Looking back from where we had come, getting close to Jacob’s Ladder, the most difficult part of the day!

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Nearing the top, hiking behind a group of guys we had befriended on the way up.

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We made it, despite shredded feet, sore knees and sunburned lips!

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I feel so fortunate to have visited the canyon as many times as I have in my 41 years.  I dream of more excursions exploring the inner canyon and lingering on the rim, feeling like a raven with the wind blowing on my face.  I’m so thankful that our forefathers had the foresight to protect this wondrous place, that it’s not a private playground for the rich with the entire rim crowded by huge vacation homes.  As Roosevelt said, “The ages have been at work upon it, and man can only mar it.

 

 

13
Feb
19

Back in Time 2018

Well, 2018 was a bit of a rough year. A year of loved ones lost, both two-legged and four-legged. But also a year of new adventures and new experiences. I didn’t keep up with documenting these adventures so I’ll be stepping back in time, via this blog, to recap the excitement (and the pain) of this past year.

04
May
16

Pups Go West 2016 – On to Warmer Climes

A ferocious barking woke me up from a dead sleep, momentarily confused, I got my wits about me and realized it was Yukon.  Now, anyone who has dogs knows they have different barks for different reasons.  Well, this was  Yukon’s serious “I mean business!” bark, Mira joined in, though I’m pretty sure she was just barking to bark (she loves barking).  I had talked to a couple people that mentioned seeing bears around the campground so while I couldn’t see anything outside the Jeep, I’m assuming a wandering bear made its way through the campground.  There was no sleeping after that rude awakening, I tossed and turned until dawn when I decided to head down to see if fishing had improved.

Unfortunately, the slow fishing streak continued on into the morning.  Fish were still rising after some invisible bugs and I did manage a few small rainbows (one of which would become dinner) on the fly rod.  As I was cleaning the sole fish I kept, a couple drove up and started unloading some fishing gear.  They introduced themselves as Keith and Tina from Arizona.  After chatting a bit, I showed them the places I usually caught fish off the dock, and then left them to their fishing.

Small rainbowsimage

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I’ve always driven past the turnoff for Blue Spruce Campground, a rustic campground northeast of Posey Lake a short drive off of Hell’s Backbone Road, this time I made it a point to turn in and check it out.  It’s a small but pretty campground, only a handful of campsites and butted up against Pine Creek.  I let the dogs out to play in the water and considered grabbing a fly rod.  Pine Creek supposedly has small wild trout in it, and what better scenery to catch them in.  After realizing my Jetboil stove, that’s traveled with me since my first long motorcycle trip in 2010, was missing, I got the dogs back in the car and headed back to Posey Lake.  Unfortunately, my stove was nowhere to be found so I headed into town stopped at Utah Canyon Outdoors and picked up a Jetboil Flash so I could eat warm food for the rest of the trip!

Mira enjoying Pine Creekimage

The weather was still quite cold and I was ready to wear shorts, so after a stop at Nemo’s for a burger and fries, I decided I’d head to Stanton Creek Campground on Lake Powell for the night.  Last year we had a pretty miserable, windy, stormy experience there and ended up spending the night holding our tent up with out feet against 6o mph gusts and multiple thunderstorms.  Hopefully my 2016 experience would be more pleasant.

Burger and fries at Nemo’s – Michigan, you need to get on this Fry Sauce, it’s tasty!image

The lovely red rock formations of Capitol Reef National Park, made way for the barren bentonite hills on the park’s eastern end and soon Hanksville.  Southbound on UT-95 toward the lake, the scenery changed and the temperature rose.  I soon reached the Glen Canyon NRA entrance gate and Stanton Creek campground shortly thereafter.  I drove around the lake for a bit, looking for a shallow spot to let the dogs swim (Yukon was whining since the second he set eyes on the water).  They were in heaven, chasing a tennis ball out into the crystal clear water endlessly.  Attempting to herd them back to the car was like trying to drag a 4-year old away from Chuck E. Cheese – grumbling and whining (with a couple dashes back to the water) I finally got them loaded up so we could find the perfect spot to camp.

Happy dogs at Lake Powellimage

Typical photo of my two – Mira being photogenic, Yukon barking “THROW THE BALL!!”image


I eventually found a site right on the water with some decent looking structure for fishing. If you plan on camping down near the lake, it’s mandatory to have a WAG bag or some sort of toilet system, I just keep a box of WAG bags in my Jeep.  There are out houses further up in the campground.  I staked the dogs out, got them fed, donned shorts and sandals and started working the shoreline with fly and gear.

I caught a small sunfish that looked like something had recently chomped on it.  It was fairly slow going after that, with some sort of large fish following my fly or spinner in on each cast, but never committing (I’d later find out they were Striped Bass).  Finally, something bit and while it didn’t fight too well, I was excited, it was my very first walleye (very amusing considering I grew up on Lake Huron-currently a walleye hotspot).  Lake Powell has no limits on either Walleye or Striped Bass due to their predatory effect on bait fish and their rapid proliferation, so I bonked this one on the head and proceeded to less-than-expertly fillet it.  Trout and walleye for dinner!  With the sun going down, I enjoyed a small fire, watching the stars blanketing the darkening sky and the lights in the million dollar houseboats at Bullfrog twinkling in the distance.  Lake Powell had redeemed itself.

Stanton Creek Campsiteimage

Evening’s fishing funimage

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My first walleye – named “Dinner”image

Fresh fish on the shores of Lake Powellimage

Filthy Mira – who wants to sleep with this swamp thing?image

 

03
May
16

Pups Go West 2016 – Posey Lake or Bust

Camping is great, but a good night’s sleep in a real bed, followed by a shower is pretty OK too 🙂  I gassed up the Jeep and grabbed a breakfast sandwich before hitting the road, making my way to UT-12.  The mountains on either side of UT-20, the route that connects I-15 to US-89, were socked in with clouds, quite a surreal drive.

Head in the cloudsimage

Last October, we picked up an America the Beautiful pass prior to a trip out to Yellowstone to fish.  I’ve never stopped at Bryce with the dogs given the fact they can’t go anywhere except the paved parking lots and viewpoints.  With the pass, I didn’t feel guilty about spending the cash to make a quick drive through just to hit a couple of viewpoints.  Bypassing the busier overlooks, I stopped at a handful of the less occupied to take in the sweeping views of other worldly formations.  A light dusting of snow contrasted nicely with the deep red of the hoodoos as we moved up in elevation.

Bryce Canyon Viewpointsimage

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Panoramasimage

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Mira enjoyed the viewimageimage

A fellow park goer kindly offered to take a family photo – like trying to herd cats 🙂image

Exiting the park, we saw some of the park’s resident wildlife – mule deer, pronghorn antelope and prairie dogs all roaming in the meadows along either side of the park road.  Escalante is a scenic 1 hour drive east of the turn off to Bryce, the surrounding hills all had a new dusting of snow from the previous day’s flurries.  Posey Lake Road up to the campground changes drastically as you drive up in elevation.  Juniper and sage make way for tall pines and aspen as the road winds up to the lake.  The ground was covered with patchy 4-6 inches of wet snow.  The campground empty, I selected the site we stayed at the year before.  I quickly unloaded some gear and headed down to the dock to get some evening fishing in.

The past couple of springs fishing this lake had me spoiled – the fish had readily taken flies, spinners, whatever was thrown at them, the truly difficult portion of the fishing being battling the incessant wind.  The wind was still present on this visit and trout were rising after bugs left and right, but I couldn’t pay them to bite a fly.  Cast after cast, multiple fly changes and yet still nothing.  It looked as though I’d be eating a freeze dried meal for dinner this evening.

The collection of birds on this lake, ruddy ducks and coots, bring a soundtrack of mechanical clucks, whistles and whirrs.  If I closed my eyes, I could easily believe I was surrounded by their prehistoric counterparts that roamed the area in the Late Cretaceous.  A loon and its haunting, wavering call sounded out over the lake as returned to the surface after a bit of subsurface fishing (hopefully having more success than I had).  Seeing that a trout dinner wasn’t in my future, I packed my gear into the Jeep and drove back to the campsite.  The dogs happily played in the snow surrounding the site while I heated up water for my dinner.

Rewind to 3 months earlier, early February, I found myself under the knife to repair what the MRI showed as a torn rotator cuff.  I woke up in a sling and instructions for post op care for a biceps tenodesis.  What?  Apparently, once they opened me up, they found that it wasn’t a torn cuff, but rather a frayed biceps tendon and a torn rotator interval.  They clipped my tendon from its original attachment point and used a screw to reattach it to my upper humerus.  When I left for Utah, I was just beginning to work on strengthening the biceps muscle in physical therapy.  I’m sure my ortho doc would have been thrilled to see me chopping and sawing firewood with my freshly repaired arm, but what’s camping without a campfire?  I got enough wood together for the night, my arm held out,  nothing a beer and a handful of Motrin couldn’t make better!

My wood selection was damp and the resulting fire was unimpressive and very smoky.  The temperature dropped, and while it was still light out the dogs and I retired to the Jeep to warm up and read for a bit before drifting off to sleep.

Mira enjoying the campsite, and her new ballimage

Our accommodations for the trip – a bit smaller than the old Jeepimage

Mira cuddled up, watching the campsite as I readimage

02
May
16

Pups Go West 2016 – Snowed Out

Up early, the surface of the water was like glass, I unloaded the fly rod and headed back to the water with the dogs.  Knowing that the prolific Utah Chub was a major food source in the reservoir, I tied a bunch of white and gold streamers in the weeks leading up to departure.  I tied one on and made a couple casts, still targeting stumps and their roots.  Just as the fly neared shore, a cutthroat shot out from under the stump and grabbed my fly.  Unfortunately, it was a short lived fight as the fish shook its head and gained its freedom.

The reservoir’s water was so clear, anything cruising near shore is visible.  I saw a couple cutthroat swimming back and forth and shortly thereafter a musky, about the size of the one I caught the night before, was on the prowl along the shoreline looking for a meal.  Very neat to see!  Another of the reservoir’s resident aquatic life was slowly crawling from the shore looking for deeper water, a large crayfish I named Pinchy.  No wonder the fish get big in this reservoir, the food sources are large and plentiful!

Pinchy, my new crayfish friend.  WARNING:  Doesn’t like hugs!!13151555_10103133460207635_4257204435007531465_n

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With the dogs again wet and muddy, it was time to make our way to the day’s intended final destination, the Escalante area.  Thankfully, since we were sleeping in the Jeep, it didn’t take much time to break down camp and be on our way.  Driving south on UT-72, the winding road and scenery were beautiful, eventually opening to the alfalfa fields and pastures of Loa.

Panorama of the view to the east of UT-72image

Our first stop of the day would be to a panel I had recently read about, the Fish Creek Cove Panel.  While the panel has some visible vandalism, it’s still very nice with large headless elk in a procession, dual color shields, hunters bearing bows.  Nobody was in the parking lot when we arrived, so the dogs and I wandered the area, looking at the amazing images.

The road in to the panelimage

Mira relaxing in the cool sand under the elk procession on the panel13100748_10103133442463195_7935185213939966467_n

Procession of headless elkimage

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Additional images on the panelimage

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There were a couple of geocaches near the panel, so we hiked the surrounding terrain, looking for them.  We found the first, after a bit of searching, I chuckled when I finally noticed it.  As we were heading to where I thought the other cache was, a group of people arrived at the panel.  The dogs were wound up at the surprise appearance of strangers, so I decided to save the second cache for another time and hightailed it back to the Jeep.

Found it!13094249_10103133698959175_8296038805328287261_n

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I’ve hit all kinds of weather traveling over Boulder Mountain:  fog, bright sunshine, hail (on a motorcycle) and this time heavy snow.  I hoped this wasn’t a sign of how the rest of the day would end up.  Part way across the mountain, I drove down into Lower Bowns Reservoir to take a look, the snow stopping as I left UT-12.  Last year, we didn’t have any luck at this reservoir so I didn’t break out the rods, just driving through the campground and heading back up.

The road into Lower Bowns with the Henry Mountains in the distanceimage

Took Lower Bowns road rather than end up in Tartarus eternally chasing fruit I could never eat 🙂image

Back up on UT-12 over Boulder Mountain heading west toward Boulderimage

 Once down off the mountain and into Boulder, the heavy snow turned into rain and continued on and off, all the way to Escalante.  I stopped at Head of the Rocks, as I always do, because I love the different colors of rock layers segmented by the winding road below.  Over the Hogback and past Calf Creek campground we pulled into Escalante.  I hoped to head up to Posey Lake for a couple of days to fish brookies and rainbows and enjoy the solitude of the mountain.  Unfortunately, weather wasn’t our friend and the mountain was shrouded in snow clouds.  After a bit of thinking, I decided I’d make a quick trip over to Beaver for the night and come back the next day for a night at Posey Lake.  I made a quick stop out on the outskirts of Escalante to fish North Creek Reservoir for a few minutes, but after one hookup, heavy rains and stormy clouds again pushed me back into the safety of the Jeep.  The nasty weather would follow be all the way to the night’s motel where a rainbow awaited.

Head of the Rocks panoramaimage

North Creek Reservoir panoramaimage

Bad weather all the way to Beaver, UTimage

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The rainbow at the end of the dayimage

01
May
16

Pups Go West 2016 – Joe’s Valley Reservoir

My furry navigators snoring loudly, I was thankful I didn’t need help finding my way to the reservoir.  I drove the windy scenic road that heads through Straight Canyon to the reservoir.  There were vehicles at nearly every pullout for Cottonwood Creek, either bouldering or fishing, so I decided to forego fishing the creek this time and head right to the campground.

As it was last year, the campground was empty, only a small portion of it is open during the spring with no water available.  After driving the short loop, I decided to pick site 7, the same site we had set up on the previous year’s trip.  A cute little ground squirrel was checking us out from the fire pit as I was getting the dog tie outs, camp chair and dog beds laid out.  I was anxious to wet a line so loaded up the dogs and started driving toward the channel where Seely Creek enters the reservoir.

Our little squirrel buddy – thankfully Yukon didn’t notice it 🙂image 

Last year we neglected to check out any of the small creeks that dumped into the reservoir, so I pulled off near the bridge over Seely Creek to take a look.  The smell of creosote and sulphur were strong as a I walked down to the water.  The creek a milky white-blue color, I tossed some spinners out in a couple of likely looking places but came up empty.  Back to the Jeep, I drove down to the parking lot near the boat launch to start fishing the reservoir.

It was pretty windy, so I grabbed my fly rod and spinning rod, leashed up the dogs and made my way down to the rock breakwall.  With the wind blowing directly in my face, I selected the spinning rod from my arsenal and hooked a size 2 Mepp’s spinner and started working my way down the shoreline.  I found an interesting stump with a root system reaching out into the deeper water so tossed the spinner out, counted to 20, then started to slowly reel in. WHAM!  Something violently hit the spinner, when it surfaced the first time I could tell it was not a small Splake like we had caught a number of last year. After 4 times surfacing and the diving back down, I finally was able to, with difficulty, net the fine fish. A beautiful male Cutthroat Trout, bigger than all three of the big Yellowstone Cutts I’ve caught in the past and those were 20″, 22″ and 23″.  My best guess was a thick 24-25″, unfortunately the photos don’t do its size justice.  If this was the last fish of that I caught on the trip, I’d still be happy!

Gorgeous male cutthroat trout, this photo makes him look tiny, but he was a beast!image

After working the shoreline for a little while longer, it was time to wear out the dogs a little more.  The boat launch was gated off and the water at its base quite shallow, so I tossed out a stick for the dogs to retrieve.  Up until that point, Yukon was losing his mind because I wouldn’t let him swim in the 20 foot deep water.  He would swim forever if I let him, Mira waiting in the shallows so she could try to snipe his stick 🙂

On the walk back up to the car, I was keeping an eye on the ground and saw a round track, 4 toes with no claw marks about the size of my hand.  It appeared as though a big cat had been prowling the area recently!  My mom loves getting photos of tracks with the caption “Here kitty, kitty!”, it really sets her at ease about my solo travels.

Swimming!!image

Here kitty, kitty 🙂image

Worn out again (and wet, and filthy)image

We made it back to the campsite without being eaten by a mountain lion (one of my life goals-don’t get eaten) and after getting two seemingly starving dogs fed, I started making food for myself.  Now, I’m not a horrible cook, just lazy, especially in camping situations.  Compound my laziness with the fact that everything I seem to cook in the desert ends up having an appreciable amount of sand in it, I usually just end up eating sandwiches. I could happily survive on PB&J tortillas (tortillas survive road trips with dogs better than bread).  For this trip however, I’d put my trusty old Jetboil to work.  I found some Mountain House meals on sale and bought enough for a week; just add boiling water and wait sounded about my pace.  The dinner selection for my evening at Joe’s Valley would be beef stroganoff.  Considering that it came from a pouch, it was pretty fantastic!

Dinner Time!!image

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The wind had picked up after I finished my food and I seriously considered scrapping a second round of fishing for the evening.  Thankfully, I fought my urge to sit around the campfire and went back down to the reservoir.  I worked down the same piece of shoreline I had earlier, quickly catching a bright 14″ cutthroat.  Before leaving on this trip, I looked at the contour map of the reservoir and noticed that the depth dropped quickly from 20 feet near shore to 60 just a little bit offshore.  Again, I cast a spinner out (copper this time), let it sink for about 30 seconds. As I started to reel in, it was like a hammer hit. I started fighting whatever was on the other end of the line and was thinking to myself “If this is a trout, it’s huge!”  When I finally got it to the surface I realized it wasn’t a trout but a tiger musky.  A totally unexpected catch that made my night!

Joe’s Valley Reservoir Pano – the stump where this musky was caught is visibleimage

TIGER MUSKY – such a beautiful fish!!image

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Figuring my fishing luck had all been used up for the evening, I loaded up the dogs again and headed back to camp.  A nice campfire and a beer, one dog in my lap and another at my side, the evening finished as wonderfully as it started.

Mira, the 40 pound lap dog (really, she’s just a little scared of popping embers from the fire)image

Fancy beds a few feet away, these two weirdos curl up on on the hard ground 🙂image

Upslope IPA and the first campfire of the tripimage

 




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Found some blue bruising boletes while out mushroom hunting today. These are the coolest! #mushroom #mushroomhunting #forager #foraging #bluebruisingbolete #bolete #michigan #fungus
Rock climber 🧗‍♀️ . . . . #bluemerleaussie #instadog #aussielove #australianshepherd #australianshepherdsofinstagram #bluemerle #aussiesdoingthings #dog #aussielovers #doglover #dogsofinstagram #aussiesofinstagram #australianshepherdworld #aussie #hikingwithdogs #olddogsrule #seniordog #seniordogsofinstagram #upperpeninsula #michigan #adventuredog
Got home from UP at 1:30 Saturday, had my first wood splitting lesson at 2:00, lumberjack by 3:00. We’ve split three more piles this size between Saturday and Sunday and stacked in the woodshed. I’m gonna be ripped by winter!! #woodstove #firewood #woodsplitting #lumberjack #winter #countrygym #workout
With my past few dogs, I’ve taken a road trip with them shortly after bringing them home. With Mira it was moving my sister out to Las Vegas, her and Yukon got to visit the Grand Canyon, the Petrified Forest, drove over Hoover Dam, hung out in Las Vegas, drove across the northern Arizona desert and through Monument Valley at sunset and hiked multiple trails in Moab. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ A week after I brought Cache home, we went on a multi-state road trip following the Great River Road to the source of the Mississippi River at Itasca State Park in Minnesota followed by backpacking onto the escarpment in the Porcupine Mountains. Now with Mesa, we spent 6 days camping, hiking and fishing our way across the UP from east to west and back again. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ As with the other trips with new pups, our bond was solidified on the trail, on the road and by the campfire. I look forward to so many more of these adventures with this dorky dog. As always when I’m in the UP, my favorite memories from this trip were made on this beach at sunrise and sunset. I loved Copper Harbor, I love the Porkies but if I could only visit one spot, it’d be this beach with my dogs, waves crashing, the golden light touching their happy faces. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Some of Yukon’s ashes were scattered here, some of Cache’s will be scattered here and someday (hopefully not any time soon) when Mira goes, some of her ashes will be scattered here. . . #aussielovers #aussiepuppy #aussie #dogs #dogstagram #australianshepherdworld #australianshepherdsofinstagram #dogsofinsta #instadog #dog #aussies #puppylove #australianshepherd #puppy #puppiesofinstagram #dogsofinstagram #aussiesofinstagram #aussielove #cute #doglover #reddog #redmerle #redmerleaussie #adventuredog #adventurepuppy #bluemerle #olddogsrule #seniordog
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