Wednesday, December 22, 2010


A whole month has passes between posts again.  Part of that is due to our computer crashing.  Literally crashing to the ground and ceasing to function.  It's in the shop right now, but probably still not gonna make it. 
We spent the first couple weeks of December in the shell of our old house, the Bearclaw, living out of a couple boxes, sleeping on the floor.  Finally the new tenants wanted to move in, so we moved the rest of our shit into the shed and we set up the yurt that Dylan made in the backyard.  The canvas for the yurt still wasn't finished, so Dylan bought 26 red wool army surplus blankets which we covered the outside of the frame with.  It sounds strange, but it was really quite cozy in there!  We yurt camped for 3 nights.  On the evening of the second day, it started to drizzle.  By about 5 in the morning on that third night, our fire died down and the blankets started to give in.  The rain dripped down in a couple spots and started to seep through around the edges. 
That morning, I had to leave early for my last day of class, and spent all day in class, and as the morning progressed, everything in the yurt proceded to get wet and muddy.  Luckily, the house FINALLY closed that day, so Shaun, Dylan, and the dogs packed up and were at least able to get a roof over their heads while they attempted to dry out, even though there was no gas or water.  We had electricity, thankfully, so a couple space heaters made it feel like we weren't actually squating in an abandoned house that night.

Since then, we have moved everything out of the storage shed and the other house.  ALL of our belongings are in ONE spot.  The fish are out of their tupperware and back in the fishtank. The chickens are in the backyard and the house is actually starting to turn into a home, although there is lots and lots and lots of work to be done, including re-roofing it by the end of the month.    Luckily, my brother Joe flew in Sunday and a few friends left in town are helping us out with some of the projects.  

It is so great to actually have a house again and be doing things! 

I'll get some pictures up as soon as I can.  The big red yurt is definitely something to see!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Officially Winter

Well, We have all given thanks, stuffed our faces, and returned to normal daily life... 
Or not.

I made a quick trip to Montana for my Thanksgiving break, just to run the Huffing for Stuffing fun run.  It was wonderfully cold and snowy and the race went well.  I ran my fastest time yet and definitely earned my thanksgiving feast.  After that one day of fun, brother Dylan and I packed up all his belongings and a ton of tools into a giant moving truck and booked it back down here to the sunny south only to find that we dragged a little bit of winter along with us.  It's not as cold as Montana, but fall has officially ended here in Arizona.  It snowed for the very first time yesterday, however it all melted off within a couple hours of daylight.

Shaun spent Thanksgiving with one of our roommates at a co-worker's house.  They said it was a classic TV holiday complete with a senile old grandma.  How wonderful!

A holiday break from work and school is supposed to be just that... A break.  This break has been nothing but hectic and somewhat intense.  Upon arriving in Prescott, we had one and a half days to unload our truck into a storage shed and load up all the big things in our house before returning the truck.  It was a mad dash to box, move, organize, and un-organize, made even more complicated by the fact of not knowing where we were moving to and having multiple other people staying at our house while one of our housemates was still gone traveling for the holiday.  

Within a period of 24 hours we went from having a house to being homeless to finding a friend's house for all 7 of us to camp at to agreeing to set up a tent in a different yard to possibly moving into the house we're supposed to be moving in to, and back to staying temporarily in the house we're in. 
In the mean time, 4 of us are still trying to finish homework, write papers, and get to class on time.
And not to forget... there are three dogs, two chickens, and a fish tank in the mix of it all.
And a garage that we just tore down and are still disassembling.

Luckily, I think things are going to work out just fine.  It's winter, but we're still in Arizona.  It's not as cold as it could be and there are so many people here determined to not let us live homeless.
The deal on the new house will close soon enough and we'll be able to get a little situated before the new block and semester of school start.

Until then, we'll just all continue our little camp out/sleep over in our now unfurnished house and do the best we can with what we have... good food, friends, and positive attitudes!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Fall in Arizona

I should be working right now, but hanging laundry in the sun on such a beautiful fall day seems so much more rewarding.  11 am Shaun and one of our roommates came home with bloody mary and chocolate chip cookie fixings.  I've swept the leaves from the walk and the back landing and it's the perfect temperature to leave all the doors open.  Our place is so clean and organized since our landlord will be showing the house today, so it feels good to just sit outside and enjoy our alcoholic beverages waiting for the cookies to bake.  About once a week Suka manages to steal a fresh baked loaf of bread off the counter.  Today was one of those days, and a good one too!  A really nice loaf of Challah!
School has been going so well for me.  All my classes are interesting and I finish my school week with a field day every Thursday.  My Maps and Wilderness Navigation class drives out to some remote place outside of town where our instructors drop us off and tell us where to meet at 3:30.  We hike around in pairs with maps, compasses, and whatever knowledge we learned in class that week trying to find our way.  My group has only got lost once, but we were able to use triangulation techniques, taking bearings of a couple of known peaks to find our position along a road where the van was able to pick us up right on time.
My other classes are Writing Workshop and World Religions.  Evaluations for classes are based on a 'contract' you make with the instructor during the first few weeks of class.  If you fulfill your objectives in your contract, you pass the class. (You can also request grades, but I chose not to...just pass or fail.)  In my Writing Workshop, a class to help be become a better writer fully understand the concepts behind acceptable college level writing, my instructor actually suggested that I NOT be evaluated on spelling and grammar, since I seem to pay more attention to that than content.  It seemed funny to me at first, but it turns out that it is actually quite a task for me to intentionally not correct my spelling.  It's fun to twist the traditional view of education.
We're down to 2 chickens in the Bearclaw backyard, but they are very happy together.  The other two were eaten by something or other a few weeks ago, but  I'm designing and building a good chicken coop for the winter, and when that's complete we'll get a few more hens, hopefully to make a flock of 6 or 8.  In conjunction with a new flock and a new hen house, the Bearclaw family will also be moving to a new house.  There's a nice fixer-upper just around the block from our house, so my dad bought it to create an urban garden wonderland on the large property, and to give us poor starving college students a decently cheap place to live for the next 4 years (Shaun starts school this winter, but hopefully will take some summer classes to catch up with me!).  The moving party will be great, a full on barbeque and (around the...) Block Party, where all our friends can come over and walk around the block a few times with all our shit.
It's so strange to me that it's well into November and just now turning into fall.  All my friends (and me and Shaun, too!) can't believe that it's snowing in all our home towns and states, and still so warm and beautiful here!  It's going to be a great winter, if not quite a bit warmer than we're used to.
Harvey's ready for some cool weather, but Suka loves to lay in the sun when it's warm and in our bed when it's not.  The boys have been getting out a lot lately with Shaun and our roommates rock climbing any time they have available.  So much rock climbing around here, so close to town!  Shaun has been working at a little restaurant called El Gato Azul downtown.  He has a lot more free time than his last job, but it will be really nice when he starts school and can work through the Federal Work Study program.
It's really too nice to be staring at the computer screen and the computer's going to die anyway.
I'll go eat some cookies, listen to some drumming in the backyard, and lay in the leaves with the chickens on our giant trampoline.

Saturday, October 16, 2010


School School School!  
First of all... Prescott College ROCKS!  Orientation ROCKED!  There were 9 students in my group with 2 great alumni leaders.  Despite purposely lying on my application form, saying that I can't swim, I was placed on the most water intensive course.  My group hiked two slot canyons about 45 minutes from Prescott.  The first was West Clear Creek, where we started at the mouth of the canyon and hiked 9 days, some through the creek in the canyon, some across the dry hot mesa above the canyon (to avoid overly technical areas).  The 9th day, we swam for the first time through three icy cold pools, then hiked through painfully dense shrubby ground cover (all plants in the desert are sharp!) out of the canyon, then across the mesa to a farm to meet up with two other groups on our course for 're-supply'. 
I'll answer a couple questions you probably have...    No we did not change our shoes to hike through the creek.  We wore our boots.  Some of the creek crossings were ankle deep, some were waist deep.   To swim with a 65 pound backpack on, you simply walk into the water until your feet don't touch the bottom and you just keep 'walking' forward.  It's actually more like riding a bicycle than it is walking.  The backpack floats because it is lined with at least six trash bags which are tied off at the top, so they hold a lot of air.  'Waterproofed' backpacks float so well that by the end of the trip I had mastered the swim so well that my bellybutton didn't even touch the water.

After 're-supply', the three groups split up and our group hiked 13 miles across the mesa to the rim of the Wet Beaver Canyon.  (Don't worry, we heard every joke in the book.)  The second half of the trip, we swam every day, all day.  We hiked, we waded, we crossed the creek, we crossed the creek again, we swam, we crossed, we waded, we swam... then we camped.  And ate.  Both canyons were so stunningly beautiful, it was such a privilege to sleep beneath the stars every night and wake up knowing that the day would, again, be long and hot. 

Between the Orientation 'block' and the fall semester there is a week of 'student directed days'.  It's just a break.  So Shaun and I piled in the old subaru (now named Loretta) with our roommate and some new friends and drove as fast as we could through the desert at night to see the sun rising over the Pacific Ocean.  We took our sweet time driving up the breathtaking Highway 1 to spend 2 days in San Fransisco at the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival.  We had the amazing fortune of staying in the yard of one of our friends houses with 15 or so other Prescott College students literally a stone's throw from the beach, 10 miles north of San Fran.

Ok, enough about how amazing my first month of school was.  October has been the 'real' first month.  I have actually had to sit in a classroom and read books and have discussions with classmates.  Fortunately the classes are awesome and one of my three classes requires me to hike around in the woods or the desert for the entire day.  Last Thursday my class attempted to summit a mountain.  

I can't wait to see what's in store for the winter block and spring semester!  All the classes here look so great I'm dreading having to choose!  As a bonus for the 11 half of the 10-11 school year, Shaun just got accepted and will start his wilderness orientation in January, hiking a section of the Grand Canyon.  Yeah!  I know!  I'm so excited I can hardly even type!

I still can't believe that I live in Arizona.  And am going to school?!   Everything is working out so well here (finally!), we should have moved ages ago.
Now off to do homework (on the desk I built today)... hopefully I can get it finished tonight so tomorrow I can attend the second weekly meeting of Club Sandwich, an exclusive club only for friends of the Bear Claw Household (that's us) that rock climbs in the morning and makes kick ass sandwiches for dinner in the evening.  This weeks sandwich is pulled pork which I plan to eat on our roommate's new trampoline.

In other Bear Claw news, the fish tank actually has fish in it now, 7 of them... The dogs are both doing great, just being dogs as usual.  I've taught them a great new trick called 'Go See the Chickens'.  On the command, Go See the Chickens, both dogs run out the door as fast as they can to the backyard to see the chickens.  This trick was inspired by the awful discovery that an intruder had killed two of our four chickens.  Bad luck for chickens on this property... maybe the fourth time will be a charm.

That's all for now folks.  Another long blog in a month or so?  

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

School has officially started.  Today was the first day of class for returning students and the final day of paperwork and registration for all of us new students.  Today is also the beginning of our orientation course.
Our bus leaves at 2:30 today, so after finishing our registration, Niels and I came back to the house to go through our gear one more time and take it easy for a little bit.  As a last minute going away gift, another one of our chickens decided to start laying!  Finally, one of the americaunas left us a pretty little blue egg.
This is today's egg collection...  
I can't wait to see what's in store for us when we return!
I promise to post again at the end with all the exciting details and freshly acquired college knowledge!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Time Flies (when you're having fun!)

I can't believe I haven't posted a new blog in over a month.  Either I'm lazy, or I'm having too much fun.  I do have to say Shaun and I have both been pretty busy, but we've had a little bit of fun in our time off.

Shaun has been working pretty full days for Bin 239, a wine bar down town, and I have been baking in the hot desert sun on the Prescott College campus, pulling weeds, picking up cigarette butts, and propagating native plant species.  I've been learning a lot about native plants and have started 'adopting' stray baby yucca, agave, and bear grass plants, as well as some unused rocks to make my yard beautiful!  Of course the plants are small, and my landscaping is coming along quite slowly, but it looks a lot better than when we moved in.  You have to start somewhere right?  While clearing some dead sticks and leaves to make room for my agave, I was delighted to discover a little patch of Hen and Chicks, which I have separated out and transplanted all along our walk.  Our landlord's wife told me they used to be planted all along both sides.  It sounded beautiful to me, so that's where I put them! (And it's always worth scoring some points with the 'boss', right?)  As a bonus, while trying to uncover the hose to water my fresh transplants, I found a little green stick of an old chopped off rosebush.  It was attempting to grow one sad little grasshopper-eaten leaf, so I watered that too.

Happenings in our yard have really been pretty exciting.  A week and a half ago Harvey and Suka cornered a skunk in our shed, resulting in the entire block reeking of the smell of burnt rubber, and very quick use of all of our baking soda and peroxide.  Every time we watered the garden for a week, the smell returned.  We've seen skunks on our evening walks multiple times since then, and last night we had another close call with one in our yard! 
I'm sure the skunk (or skunks?) are coming around to check out what we're feeding our chickens.  And the chickens!  What fun!  They love to follow us around the yard, and eat cicadas out of our hands.  The dogs have been treating them very nicely and lay down to wait patiently while they walk all around them and peck at the tips of their tails.  Our white chicken (named Colonel Sanders) has been laying the same perfect little brown egg for two weeks now, every day right around 9:30.  Shaun has been giving the other hens little pep talks and FINALLY today the little hen Jabberwok laid her first!  (It was definitely her, since the fluffy cheeked americaunas will lay blueish-greenish eggs.)  When chickens start laying, their eggs are small.  Eventually, they get larger until they reach whatever size they are going to be, depending on what kind of chicken it is... Well, along with jabberhen's new egg, we had another little surprise.  The Colonel's perfect little brown egg turned out not so little!  I guess she thought she'd make up for lost time and just go ahead and make a huge one!
The expected eggs... the new egg... the unexpected huge egg!
I love it!  For those of you who haven't spent much time with backyard chickens, you should know that they are hilarious!  Incredibly entertaining...


School starts at the end of this week.  The lazy campus I've worked on all summer has turned into a buzzing hive of activity and excitement.  Returning students stroll through the grounds with a bounce in their step, yelling excitedly at the friends and classmates they haven't seen for months.  The new students walk around with bewildered looks on their faces, closely flanked by a parent or two, usually carrying maps... 
I feel a little bit caught in the middle.  I'm a new student, but I've been on campus all summer, so I know a lot of the faculty and senior students.  I'm a first year student, but I'm not fresh out of high school starting college for the first time.  It's awkward right now, but I definitely have an advantage after being here all summer.
I am so nervous and excited for this upcoming adventure.  I've been looking forward to it for over a year now and suddenly the beginning is just days away.  The block officially starts for us Saturday, however I won't start any actual classes until October.  
My roommate and I will spend the first week of September on a ranch with the rest of the incoming class (150 students), then we'll split into groups of 10 and spend the rest of the month backpacking, each group in a different area of Arizona.  Poor Shaun will be all alone in the house.  At least he'll have our pups and comical chickens to keep him company.  As excited as I am, I'm dreading the time away, but it will be good for us.  
I feel like there's still so much to do before I leave.  But for a trip like this, all you can do is pack up and take it as it comes.  If I make it through (don't worry, we've been practicing hiking around our neighborhood) I'll be a full fledged student... WOW! 

To keep ourselves preoccupied and out of trouble (those bartenders at the Drunken Lass are quite fun) we've been gardening, hosting 'couch surfers' (a cross country biker, and a new prescott student waiting for his room mates to arrive), baking bread, raiding fruit trees in the lawns of businesses (apples, peaches, and plums, YUM!), brewing tasty things atop our fridge (honey wine, ginger beer, apple cider, kombucha), and fermenting other tasty things to eat (kimchi, yogurt, cheese!)!   So many good smells and flavors in this house!
With all the fruit and food scraps, the chickens and our box of worms have been very very happy... almost as happy as Niels and our jar of honey wine!

Here are some great adventure photos...

Don't look for another blog for a while!  I'll post again in one more month!
Wish me luck!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

High Country Life

I imagined the desert to be rather desolate.   Prescott is high mountain desert and is full of amazing life!  Bugs, beetles, lizards, frogs, plants, everything is just so cool!  The life here is so vibrant and so unique. 

Shaun has been working two jobs.  Although he's at the tail end of one job and at the beginning of a better job, it's still a ton of work.  I've been working at Prescott College through the federal work study program doing grounds maintenance.  I'm always outside pulling weeds, gardening, and swinging axes at trees.  I really like it and the job will allow me the flexibility I need to go to school.
In our time off, we've been trying to get out and explore the area as much as possible.  I've found great pleasure exploring the rocks around nearby Willow Lake.  I try to make it to the rocks before sunset in order to catch the amazing colors.  The dogs have been so happy swimming, jumping off the rocks, and chasing lizards.
At night, we open up the house to cool it off, and have been often surprised by incredibly large beetles and quite a few dragon flies.  Unfortunately, lots of the insects meet untimely deaths at the jaws of dogs before I can catch them and return them to the outdoor world.
Our chickens our thriving, thankfully!  They've been enjoying the afternoon thunderstorms and the times we let them roam the yard to eat bugs.  They should be popping out some eggs any day now and I have a feeling they will be so so delicious!
Our new roommate, Niels, arrived a few days ago and we have really started to launch into home improvement projects.  Shelves, fence gates, and improved chicken coops are all on the list, as well as many cooking projects and fermentation experiments!  Beer, wine, kombucha, and kimchi are all soon to be bubbling in our kitchen and there has been no shortage of fresh baked bread and fresh cut herbs.  I have cuttings of rosemary soaking to form roots for planting, and my job at the school allows me to take home transplants like mint, and agave.
It's been a month and we are finally starting to make some friends.  Having jobs helps, and almost everyone on our street is a fellow Prescott College student with similar interests.  Even the dogs have made friends.  A couple of pooches from across the street like to come over for visits almost daily, however if they don't stop using the bathroom in our yard, I'm going to have to beef up our fence.
Life here is good.  And it's only getting better.  I can't wait to see what the future will bring us!

A good swim in the lake.

The sun setting over Granite Mountain.

Snails in my yard after a rain.

A long horn beetle on our porch.

Another gorgeous sunset over Granite Mountain.

Can it get any better?!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Things That Go Bump In The Night

Anytime you move or visit somewhere new, a lot of exciting things are bound to happen.  Really, it's just because everything is unfamiliar and there are a lot of new 'norms' to get accustomed to.
In the desert, not a whole lot gets accustomed to the mid-day heat, so all the action happens at night.  Here in Prescott, there have been live music shows, craft fairs, movies, and street dances almost every night in the Courtyard downtown.
And of course, after the lights go down and the crowds disperse, all those other more silent, sneaky things that go 'bump' in the night come out to play.

A couple weeks ago, Shaun and I went on a midnight bike ride to buy ice-cream, just a couple blocks from our house.  Just around a bend, Shaun stopped in the road to tell me he saw a javelina.
Upon hearing the unfamiliar word, I saw an image of a chupacabra in my head, and immediately flipped a U on my bike and was pedaling as fast as I could the other direction.
A Chupacabra is a mysterious dog-like/reptile-like creature of modern myth, mostly in Latin cultures, that kills farm animals and sucks out their blood.

Needless to say, I saw whatever Shaun was talking about out of the corner of my eye, lurking in the dark, and it scared the hell out of me!
Turns out a javelina is actually a Collared Peccary and we had rode through a whole herd of them, babies and all.
When Shaun yelled at me to stop and I actually got a good look at what I thought was surely going to eat me, turn out it was actually pretty cute with it's eyes shinning in my bike light.  I probably scared them more than they scared me.  
So, the javelinas scattered into the rocks and we bought our ice-cream, but my heart didn't stop racing until we returned to the house.

A couple nights ago I saw some huge dark lump crawling across the living room floor.  At first I thought it was a large cockroach, but it was moving rather slowly and clumsily.  The dogs were pretty interested in it, but good thing they didn't try to eat it, as it had some rather powerful mandibles.  I captured the crawly insect to discover that it was 3 inch long Longhorn beetle.  Cool!
(not my photo)

Not so cool... Last night I switched on the light and stepped out the front door to find myself face to face with a giant black widow!  The black beauty was mid-construction of her tangled web, right across our front entry.  I have never seen a black widow so big! 
I took a couple pictures until she shied away from the light and hid in a corner.  I called around town today to find out if there was any naturalist who would want the damned thing, but no luck.  I'm going to let her live in the dark on our porch until she starts making an egg sack, mostly because she is just too cool!, and partly because I am too afraid to get close enough to kill her.  
Normally I suck spiders up in the vacuum, but something tells me that's not gonna work on a spider of this size and caliber.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Two Dogs Free To Anyone Who Wants 'Em

Tragedy struck in the Karlan/Davis household today.
I got out of bed around 8 to find the bathroom door open.  I asked Shaun if he had already taken our little chicks outside to the coop.  
He said 'no'.

Harvey's favorite thing in the world is to pull the stuffing out of squeaky toys until he finds the plastic squeaker.  A whole box of squeaky things locked in the bathroom...  Poor Harvey, I can only imagine his disappointment to find that the fluffy little things had no squeakers.

But no matter how happy, sad, disappointed, or proud of himself he was, I can guarantee it was no match for how upset I was.

Of course, not all the blame can be placed on Harvey.  Suka has been know to magically open doors...

My first urge was to kick them out on the street with 'FREE' signs duct-taped to their faces.  Luckily for the mangy mutts, my rage was lessened by my attendance of a seasonal parade, and the fact that our neighborhood has at least two ice-cream trucks.

I guess I will consider apologies.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

2010 Roadtrip, Završni Dio, Arizona!

Final Part, The Grand Canyon State

My god, we've already been in Arizona three weeks.  So much has happened, I can't keep up.  I'm going to fly through all the details here in chronological order so I can get back on track.  

Here goes...
June 9- Drove across the Grand Canyon.  Wow!  Stopped at Lee's Ferry, where the Canyon raft trips start, and played in the water.  Drove to Flagstaff where we had some drinks with a friend, then camped in the woods and bouldered some until we found poison ivy.  Spent the rest of the evening catching ants to feed to antlions.

June 10-  Played frisbee golf in the park, then climbed for just a little bit in the afternoon.  We made it back to Flag to catch our friend closing up at work.  We proceeded to paint the town red and watched the sunrise from the top of the hospital parking garage.

June 11-  Nothing happened.  Too hung over to move.

June 12-  Shaun and I volunteered to work at the Flagstaff Pride Festival.  We sat in little cage and sold tickets for half the day.  We couldn't even see the festival happenings and the tickets cost too much, so nobody really liked us.

June 13- Left Flag around 8 am.  Made it all the way to Cottonwood, 30 miles from Prescott, and our car broke.  For some reason it wouldn't rev over 3,000 rpms.  All shops closed on Sunday, so we drove very slowly over the mountain, through Jerome, to Prescott.  Very pretty scenery and amazing views from Jerome.  Must have been Corvette day or something... every Corvette in the country was driving the road over the pass.  Probably saw 300 Corvettes!

June 14- Bought a hotel room for the week at Apple Creek Cottages.  Really cute little place by a stream, great courtyard with bbq grills, and very dog friendly!

June 16-  Found a house to rent very close to the college, very cheap rent, very cool landlord, and in the 'Eco-hood'. All college students, hippies, and chickens, with a garden in every yard! The landlord gave us the rest of the month free, so we could clean the needed it! Shaun and I each bought a new bike for commuting around town.

June 19- Shaun found a job and started immediately.  Little restaurant that really fills the niche for old people.

June 22- Got the car into the shop.  Fixed in just a couple hours and thankfully was cheap!

June 27- Climbing!  Too hot out and Shaun got a good burn.

June 28- Rode our bikes to the grocery store around 11pm.  Rode through a herd of javelinas in the road.  Scared the hell outa me!  They look like boars, but they are actually peccaries.

June 29-  New roommate showed up.  Really cool med student only staying for a month.  The room is super cheap and 1/4 mile from the hospital, so it worked out perfect for him, and helped us pay our first month's rent!  Someone gave us a young chicken, food, and feeders for free.  Yay!

June 30-  Bought a car and 5 baby chicks!

Now we're up to date!  So, today-  Young chicken disappeared.  She escaped from the yard somehow, and I don't think she's going to make it back.  Had to have the new car towed back to our house, but it's an easy fix and Shaun has done it before.  The High Sierra Music Festival starts today in Quincey, California.  We're not there, obviously, because we had to sell our tickets to pay our rent, but that's ok.  There is a lot happening in Prescott right now.  The world's oldest rodeo is going on right now, and there are events every day in the park.

Things seem to be working out really well, and I think we've broke the 'we-shouldn't-be-here' streak.  Bozeman feels very far away, but it's not a bad thing.  Prescott feels right.  

Photos of our home in Prescott here.

Monday, June 28, 2010

2010 Road Trip, Dio Cetiri, Utah

Part Three, The Beehive State

June 8.  The morning in Baker, Nevada proved to be much less windy and much less lonely than the evening before.  Pairs of birds sang from a nearby ditch, another pair from the picnic pagodas, and even more from their hunting grounds in the fields.  Suka and Harvey found a tiny horny toad to play with and Suka demonstrated the 'soft jaw' capabilities of Chesapeake Bay Retrievers by picking the little guy up and carrying him around for a while, then spitting him out without a scratch or a squish.  Harvey surely wouldn't have been so gentle.  

Just across the state line, Utah was just more desolate desert.  To really make a point of how harsh desert life can be, a dead cow lay in the sand near the road, not a drop of water in sight, picked completely clean by vultures except for it's skin and grassy stomach matter.  The unfortunate cow, despite being just a shell of it's former shelf, still lay in the position it died in, upright with it's head leaned gently against it's foot.  Maggots had been left to finish up whatever they could, and i'm sure eventually some lone coyote will lope by and drag away the hide or a bone.  It was sad to see, but also I feel very lucky to have had a little window into the 'circle of life'.  So often we find a dead animal or a bone, but rarely do we get to see first hand what happens during the process of decay, especially when scavengers like vultures are involved.  It was a real 'National Geographic moment'!

We stopped in St. George for $2 showers at the rec center, then lathered up with sunscreen and drove on.  We reached Zion National Park at 3.  We weren't sure if our parks card had expired or not since 'June' is a relatively vague expiration date, but the gate man didn't seem to care, or he just didn't notice.  The road through the park didn't open until 4, so we spent the hour walking around in the scorching sun looking at lizards and cacti, and slowly dieing of heat exhaustion.

The drive through the red cliffs and canyons was worth the wait.  The road was narrow and dangerously curved around everything it possibly could, but Shaun and I couldn't keep from cranking our heads sideways to try to get a good look at the rock walls towering above us.  It was amazing and beautiful, but there was absolutely no place to stop along the road, so it was impossibly to get any good pictures.  

We drove through Jacob Lake and spent a gorgeous evening camping in the Kaibob National Forest, with a warm breeze swirling the delicate honey smell of fresh flowers all around us.

And of course... the photos!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

2010 Road Trip, Dio Treci, Nevada

Part Three, The Silver State

Everything in Elko Nevada is closed on a Sunday.  I found out that Elko's cowboy poetry gathering is in January.  For some reason I thought it was in August.  Good to know.  
Since there was nothing we could do in town (laundry, use the internet, buy a climbing guide, get a map at the chamber of commerce...), we attempted to satiate my craving for tacos at a little Mexican restaurant (amazing ceviche!, but still craving tacos), then drove out of town a few miles to Lamoille Canyon.

The canyon was gorgeous and the mountain peaks still snow capped although it was well into the 80s on lower ground.  A small stream cut directly through the canyon, although with the warmer weather, it wasn't so small.  We camped on the hill above it, surrounded by cliffs, and waterfalls.  Cool air rose up from the stream, and a cool breeze brought more fresh air down from the mountain tops, but it was still plenty warm after the sun went down, so we stayed up late playing cribbage, reading, and listening to all the water around us.

As the sounds of the day started to die down and we settled into our nighttime routine, we laid in the tent and listened to sounds like thunder, rumbling the walls of the canyon around us.  It was more of a feeling than a sound.  So low and powerful, like the grinding of teeth.  I was reminded of being a kid, sitting under a bridge on a dirt road when a car drove over.  The rumble was so low and completely surrounded us.  The creek was so full, and moving so much water, that huge boulders were being shifted in the creek bed.  All through the night, I laid awake listening to the rushing water grind the rocks through the canyon.

In the morning we drove the twenty miles back to Elko to buy our climbing guide.  As it turned out, the only store in town that sold it had randomly decided to stay closed that Monday.  We found a limited amount of information online, but enough to allow us to climb at least a couple routes.  So we headed back to the beautiful Lamoille.  

We got our climbing gear together and drove up the canyon to find our cliffs, but something didn't want us to be there, either.  The canyon just a mile up the road from our camp had been closed.  Rangers were suggesting that people start evacuating and moving on to other locations.  Apparently landslides were starting to happen further up the road and were threatening to block the already raging creek.  If a landslide blocked the creek, then blew out, huge flash floods could come racing down the canyon from wall to wall.

There was rain in the forecast for the next couple days, and with the powerful display of the water moving the boulders, a flood warning was all we needed.  There would be no climbing in the Lamoille, then.  We packed up our camp and, greatly discouraged, drew a line straight down our map to Arizona.  

We drove through the desolate, but beautiful heart of Nevada to Eureka, an ancient historical mining town, but were disappointed to find the surrounded hillsides stripped and cratered.  Apparently mining was still happening in Eureka.  

We drove the Loneliest Highway, and found it to be pretty lonely.  We stopped at Illipah Reservoir to soak the dogs, and found it to be equally as lonely.  In Baker, on the border of Utah, we filled up our water and pitched the tent in the wind, in the dark, in the desert.  The wind was blowing so hard that we set up the tent between the car and a fence, tied two lines to the car, two lines to the fence, and another couple lines to some rocks that were near.  We went to sleep and the tent didn't budge.

Hopefully the Southwestern corner of Utah wouldn't be as lonely or as desolate as the Lonliest Highway in Nevada.

Pictures here!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

2010 Road Trip, Drugi Dio, Idaho

Part Two, The Gem State 
(and a little bit of Utah)

The drive out of Wyoming was for the most part uneventful.  The scenery was gorgeous, it was a sunny day, and it was pretty quiet in Southwest Wyoming, aside from some good laughs  and a few groans over making way too much hummus for two people to eat. 

We had to drive through the tippy top corner of Utah, so we stopped at Bear Lake to water the dogs.  A few raindrops spattered on us, but the rain blew over, and the dogs had a great time running on the lake shore, chasing birds, and playing fetch.  They had so much fun that, hours later, after we stopped in Lava Hot Springs, Idaho, soaked in the world famous springs, and took two showers each, the dogs were still sleeping.  Of course, by that time, it was rather late.  Opting not to pay for KOA campsite, we drove on into the night, and eventually pulled into some unmapped, small town to sleep in the car for a few hours.

June 6th we arrived in Almo, Idaho bright and early to get our climb on in City of Rocks.  The landscape was amazing and the rock formations unbelievably rugged and expansive.  We were happy to be following part of the California Trial and it was impressive to see settlers' names written in axle grease still clinging to the rocks.  
We drove around the City, ate breakfast, hiked a bit, and drove around more, but we soon realized that, for the height of the rocks we meant to climb, our guide book was rather incomplete.

As it turns out, there was just so much to climb there, it was impossible to give adequate description of whether the routes were bolted or what kind of gear we needed to take for protection.  Also, almost all of the routes require two ropes to rappel.  Since the guide didn't specify the heights of the routes, Shaun and I didn't feel comfortable climbing with just our one rope.  We decided to camp on BLM land close to the City, and give it another shot in the morning, since a friend from Bozeman, who had experience in City of Rocks, was planning on meeting us to show us around.

Morning came, and the rocks were still as massive and foreboding as they were the day before.  We hiked to a few routes we thought we could climb, but were still just as intimidated as we were the day before.  We read through our guide for the 20th time, but it was still as incomplete and vague as it was the day before.  And our friend with the second rope wasn't coming like he said he was the day before...  
Feeling pretty down, and having completely lost our climbing mo-jo, we decided to pack up our camp.  Even though we had finally hit on good weather, something in Idaho just didn't want us to be there, and we felt that we needed to move on. 
Besides that, I was having a killer craving for tacos, and Almo, Idaho just didn't have a Taco Bell, or for that matter, any restaurant of any sort.

On to Nevada.  Into the desert.

Photos of Utah and Bear Lake in THIS album.
Photos of Idaho in THIS album.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

2010 Road Trip, Prvi dio, Wyoming

Part One, The Equality State

The waters were unpredictable there for a while, but the ship has landed, run aground a mile above sea level in Prescott, Arizona.  I know it's been quite a while since my last post, and quite a lot has happened to fill that time.  Although the road trip was not as epic as planned, due to some unforeseen weather, car trouble, and limited cash flow, we drove through 5 states, had some really great times, and saw some amazing landscapes.
We ended up setting sail out of Bozeman around 8:00, the evening of May 27th.  We made it all the way to our campsite between Hoback Junction and Alpine Junction near Jackson Hole, Wyoming, but we found the gate locked and slept in the car until morning.  We woke up the camp host bright and early to let us in and had a wonderful sunny day to ourselves.  The family and 'crew' started showing up later that afternoon, and throughout the Memorial Day Weekend, there was definitely no shortage of campfires, marshmallows, rain, rafting, and fun!  There was however quite a panic that Friday when we lost Suka.  He went for a nice little swim in the rapid waters of the Snake and we found him a few hours later a couple miles downstream, wet, cold and scared, but just fine once he jumped in Shaun's arms.

The morning of June 1st found us alive and well in the Lander, Wyoming's city park.  We used a good part of the day doing laundry and sneaking into NOLS for showers.  A couple games of cribbage got us in the mood for beer, and a couple pitchers of beer got us in the mood for spending the entire night with the locals at one of our favorites, the Lander Bar.  (We love you Lander locals!)

The next day we attempted to climb world-renowned Wild Iris, but the snow drift was still too high to get to the cliffs.  We drove back through town and set up camp near the climbing in the Sinks Canyon.  The big plastic port-o-potty near the campground was the cleanest, brightest, and nicest bathroom I'd used in at least a week, however an unfortunate splash of Liquid Blue Chemical left me traumatized for the rest of the day, fearing that some of the more delicate parts of my body would be rendered un-usable due to chemical burn.  Luckily, none of my skin was eaten away, and everything is just fine.

We eventually got some climbing in.  Shaun took  to calling me 'Pack Horse', since I insisted on carrying all our gear to prepare for my school pack trip this fall.  We ended up only climbing 5 routes over two days, squeezing in between the top ropes the NOLS group had placed on almost every climbable surface. (no-no.  Bad climbers.  Be good and share!)  The climbing was good and the views were amazing.  We were having fun, but we weren't necessarily having a great time.  We felt a little uneasy and it seemed that something (the poor weather or the NOLS ropes?) was hinting at us to move on.  So we packed up camp, indulged ourselves at the downtown bookstores and outdoor store, consumed a salad and mas cerveza at Lander Bar, broke a bag of rice all over the car, and shared a 'World Famous Chokecherry Shake' on our way out of town. 

Next stop... Good climbing and good weather in IDAHO!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Goodbye Montana!

Wow, this month really flew by fast!  Maybe it was because we were having so much fun.  This year, the April flowers brought lots of May showers.  But in between the cold, wet weather, we got outside to do a fair bit of climbing and a fair bit of camping, including a wet and snowy 'Third Annual Going Away Camping Party'.  We spent the last weekend camping at Revenue Flats and enjoying some time at our favorite Pony Bar.  I'll post pictures soon, but we have been too busy the last few days cleaning the house and packing our car for possibly our most epic roadtrip.
We'll see how dinner treats us tonight, but if everything is well and we're feeling good, we'll drive to Hoback Junction near Jackson Hole, Wyoming tonight or tomorrow morning to enjoy the Memorial Day Weekend rafting and camping with my family on the Snake River.  From there, we'll continue on to other Wyoming destinations, then Idaho, Utah, Nevada, Oregon?, California the first week of July, then to Arizona where the adventure will surely continue!  Stay tuned for updates on our roadtrip adventure and pictures to be posted sometime soon!

Pictures HERE!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

And there it is... the amazing final product.  Whole wheat roasted poblano cheddar quinoa bread.  Yum!  We already ate the whole loaf!

Feliz Seis de Mayo!

I've been pretty lazy about blogging lately, so I'll make this a good one.  
We kinda missed Cinco de Mayo.  Apparently it was yesterday, but with the weather being somewhat gray and stuff, we didn't really feel like getting out of the house.  Today is the second (or third, or fourth, or fifth, or sixth) day of gray, so to fight off the snowy spring blues, we cleaned the house, bought some beer and invited a few folks over for dinner.

This is what it looks like outside right now.  The green grass is really trying to fight off the snow.

But it just started snowing again...

So I turned on the heater and picked up some of my favorite summer beer, Leinenkugel Sunset Wheat, from Wisconsin!

And to get ready for dinner, I whipped up some bread dough (in less than 5 minutes, of course).  It may not look like much now, but that ooey, gooey mess is going to be a delicious whole wheat, roasted poblano chili, cheddar, quinoa bread.  Yum!

Part of my blog slacking is due to the really really great weather we had right before this cold spell.  It was warm and dry, so Shaun and I packed the pooches in the car on top of all our camping and climbing gear and headed out about the Gallatin Valley.

April 15th through the 19th, Shaun's sister and a couple of her friends came all the way from Iowa to visit us.  We had a really great time soaking at Chico Hot Springs, sight seeing in Yellowstone National Park, and adventuring in some of our favorite local places.

The girls posing for a picture with the Livingston end of the Gallatin Range in the back.
For more pictures click here.

After the girls left, we took a few days to recover, then spent a day on the Madison climbing Neat Rock between storm clouds and snow flurries.

Shaun and I taking a break at the top of the first pitch.
For more awesome pictures, click here.

We ended up not camping by the river that night, as we had planned, but we wasted no time indoors and immediately headed back out the very next day to climb The Tower in the Gallatin Canyon. 

This is our friend John, leading the first pitch, but, of course, for more pictures, click here!

And now the weather is not so climb-friendly and our passes at the gym just expired, so it might be a while before you see anymore great climbing photos.

I managed to catch this glimpse of the Bridgers momentarily between storm clouds May 1st.  The clouds parted and the sun shown down... and 5 minutes later they were behind clouds again...
There was some sad news that day, also.  A good friend of ours, and former roommate of Shaun's, passed away while skiing with a friend.  The death was unrelated to skiing, and while the cause is still being looked into, it was most likely a heart attack, at the young age of 28.  It is so sad to lose someone that young, but "In the end, its not the years in your life that count.  It's the life in your years." -Abraham Lincoln
Ben definitely had no shortage of life and spirit.  It radiated infectiously from his smile and sparkling blue eyes, and it was difficult to not feel that fire anytime he was near.  As sad as it is for all of his friends and family, he died doing what he loved with his best friend by his side.  I can only hope that in the end I meet a similar fate.
Rest in peace, good buddy.  We'll see you on the flip side. 

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

We started April off right by making some great headway on our entry way.  It still needs a little bit of trim, but it's looking pretty great!
The dadman laying some tile.

The finished effect.  Dirty, but it's mud season!

A few finishing touches and we can move onto some other ridiculous project.  But first, can't wait for Shaun's sis to vacation with us, starting tomorrow!  And debauchery ensues...!  

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Wrapping up the March

March turned out to be a really great month for us, although it seemed to buzz by like a bat in the dark.  Whoah!  What was that?!  And Summer just doesn't want to follow Winter's example of arriving quickly, all in one day.  Excited about the melt-off and the warm weather, we tried to go camping near Livingston last week, but I pansy-ed out and got cold, so we ate a nice dinner and came home. 

 Me- "Wow, there really is a ton of snow here!"  Shaun- toeing the sparse snow cover-  "Well, there's not really.  There are plenty of dry spots and there will be a lot more snow everywhere else..."  Me-  "Look how muddy this dry spot is..."  Shaun-  "It's pretty well frozen, actually."  Me-  "I forgot to bring my wool sweater..."
It is getting nicer, but winter just seems to be hanging on there by a thread.  So, while the weather's still too cool to spend the entirety of our days outside, we finally got a little work done on our house.  We managed to get the trim painted  and the walls are a lot less overwhelmingly salmon now that the paint has fully dried.  Tuesday we installed our new wood floor, but not quite all the way.  There are just 2 or 3 skinny boards that need to be cut to complete the very very edge near the bathroom and kitchen.  But we are close!  Close to finishing that part, anyway...  There is a lot more work to be done, really.

Last Thursday, a nice grey afternoon cloud cover rolled in and threatened to rain or do something, but before it did, we drove to the Trail Creek exit to do some rock climbing at 'The Pass'.  It was a lovely warm day.  The rock was still a little cool, but with a few hand-warming breaks, it was bearable.  The dogs found the depth and sloppiness of the mud to be acceptable and the amount of loose sticks to be sufficient.  I lead my first outdoor climb (yay me!) and Shaun was quite pleased to finally have some successful climbing out of doors.
It really was a great day, and we can't wait for all the great climbing to be had this summer!

This past weekend, Shaun and I knocked off one of our 'to do before we die' goals.  We drove 4 hours to meet up with some friends in Salmon, Idaho for a few great days of camping at Goldbug Hotsprings.

Suka, the champion of weirdness, hung out in the hot springs with us the entire time, swimming around and blowing bubbles underwater.  No joke.  Harvey, on the other hand, wouldn't even dip a toe in. 

For more awesome pictures of our weekend soak, click here.

If all of that isn't adventure enough, I am about to embark on one of the greatest adventures of my lifetime.  I have been accepted to school and, following our 3 month long summer road trip, will begin studies at Prescott College, in Arizona, the end of August.  I am so excited to be pursuing my education further and can't wait to move to the Southwest!  Time to save save save and apply for scholarships.  If anyone lives in an old house or near a nice field, let me know...I've already gone through the walls in our house and none of my semi-frozen muddy holes are turning up any forgotten stashes of cash or gold.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy St. Patty's Day!

I realize that this post and the last overlap a little, but I have been pretty busy and keep forgetting about things I mean to post about.  The 9th was my little brother's 21st birthday, so my dad bought him two tickets to see the Wailers in concert... yes, the Wailers, sans Bob Marley... So the next night Dylan and I went out on the town to get our reggae on.  Jah Rastafari.  Here's my best picture from the back row.

Yah, man.  Jah rastafari!  See those dreads? 
It was a good show.  Good energy, and fun to hear the Marley songs live, but seriously... How many times can one person say 'Jah Rastafari' in one hour?

After finally getting the song 'One Love' out of my head, I decided to do some sewing to prepare for the Run to the Pub, my first 10K fun run, last Saturday, hosted by Pub 317 (Bozeman's quasi-Irish pub), to celebrate St. Patty's Day.  I know it's just now the green day, but the pub likes to get started early apparently.
Alas, I had to dig the staple of my homemaker supplies (the sewing machine) out of a pile of outdoor equipment that Shaun and I have been stocking up on.  I found this situation to be rather ironic... what do you think?

There it is... My sewing machine and giant box of thread and accessories surrounded by climbing gear and our mountaineering book.  Somehow it just doesn't seem to fit, but I guess that's ok.  It's like going to the library and checking out the books 'Backpacking the World on a Shoestring Budget' and 'How to Build and Maintain a Saltwater Fish Tank'.

Anyway, the sewing project ended up awesome, as did the race.  I expected that it would take me an hour and twenty-ish minutes to run the six miles, but my official time was 1 hr 9 min.  Wonderful!  Since this was my first 10K, I wasn't trying to make a time, I was just trying to finish, but now I have a goal for the next race!

Fun times, but needless to say, I hurt a little bit after that one.  A good incentive to run more, I guess...get my leg muscles built up.

On the homeward side of things, my brother has been helping us get the house ready for the new wood floor.  First, we hung plastic over everything that needed it, and textured the walls.  Yesterday we sprayed primer over all the texture.  Today we painted.  This is what our house looked like yesterday...

And this is what our house looks like today...

Not to worry, though.  After some trimming and woodwork, it won't look nearly so 'salmon'.  (Hopefully)
So...clean, dry, freshly painted walls, and soon enough a wonderful floor.  Then we can start rebuilding everything we tore out of our entry.  And then get ready to move out.  Yeah...

And the bonus for the day, week, lifetime is... 
Sometimes bad days happen.  It sucks.  But sometimes you get to wake up to views like this...

And it just makes everything alright.