Archive for July, 2015

Camping on the Big Lost

July 25, 2015

Last weekend we stole away for our yearly two-night camping trip to our favorite spot – Garden Creek campground – off Trail Creek Road – a few miles beyond Mackay, Idaho. We camped at the same campsite last year and I blogged about it (the last entry under my ‘camping’ category). I’m using that same ‘you are here’ Google map visual to show you where we camped – at the pink dot:


because it’s so reassuring to know exactly where you are on planet Earth. Trail Creek Road eventually takes you over the mountains into Ketchum, Idaho.

We headed out of Idaho Falls about 5 PM on Friday, July 17, for the two-hour drive. Stopped for prime rib dinner at Ken’s club in Mackay (population 517 – plus or minus 2) on the way.

We’re approaching Mackay now, and the Lost River Range has come into view:

Lost River Range

Lost River Range

About an hour later, stomachs sated, we’re sailing down Trail Creek road – right at sunset …


Our campsite is available! In fact, the whole campground is available. Amazing. Of course, not the place to go if you’re looking for hook-ups. We pull in – us with our 1973 16′ bare-bones camper and Eric in his van, equipped with his new ‘deluxe’ cot tent (an upgrade from last year). Eric’s friend ‘Scott’ tagged along too, bedding down in the back of Eric’s van. Sheer luxury! I snapped a photo of our campsite in the light of day:

"Come on. You can't afford a better camper?"

“Come on. You can’t afford a better camper?”

On Saturday we struck out on a hike. Struck out, that is, finding the lake Eric was leading us to. We rumbled over about 20 miles of dirt road to get to the trailhead. Three young women with 45 pound packs pulled up at the same time, planning to camp on the same lake. After waiting out a hail storm we all charged up the trail. Except we couldn’t tell, even from Eric’s nifty but grossly outdated National Forest Service map, how to find the lake. No problem, we just circled around, exchanged yells with the women, met up with them again, as we all hiked in circles. All told, our efforts added up to about 6 miles of hiking, so we called the mission accomplished. The young women eventually bailed and drove out to find another place to camp.

I took a picture of David on the ridge:

“Maybe the lake is between those two distant peaks?”

David and I posed for a photo in a patch of lupine:


I remained prepared in case the sky opened up again…

Dinner back at the campsite, surprised by visitors. I had told my sister Lisa where we were camping and she and her husband Tom hopped in their truck and drove to our campground area on Saturday. They got some hiking and fishing in themselves and we all enjoyed dinner together. They drove back home Saturday evening.

Sunday was fishing day on the Big Lost River, just a few steps away from our campsite. The men fished. I cheered them on and took photos. Scott demonstrated how he literally threads the worm on his line and plants the hook at the end. (Yes, the worm is screaming the whole time, and thank goodness we can’t hear it.) So the worm hangs in the water looking very real and delicious to fish. Scott caught three fish right off the bat.


Eric and David had their lines in too.

Eric fishing

Eric fishing

Except their hooks kept snagging on the rocks. They spent a lot of time rebaiting their lines.

David fishing

David fishing

I cautiously stood back as fishhooks, heaved up out of the river in quick jerks to avert snags, came flying through the air, sometimes sailing 10 feet behind where we were standing. This is how Eric snarled a knarly land octopus.

Eric’s early catch of the day

David and I bailed on the fishing early and decided to hike around the campsite. I snapped a few photos:




We’re back at our luxury campsite now, ready to pack up.

"Guess the party's over"

“Guess the party’s over”

Eric and Scott reappear with their fishing poles – of course, David and I missed the moment Eric hauled in his big fish. No worry – Scott got a picture.

Eric's prize catch of the day

Eric’s prize catch of the day

Threw it back, of course.

We’re loaded up and ready to hit the road toward home.


Now driving back toward the highway on Trail Creek Road with the Lost River Range sprawled out in front of us. You can see Mount Borah, the highest peak in Idaho, in the far left distance. Mount Borah is one of the five peaks in Idaho that are over 10,000 feet.


Lost River Range

Lost River Range

The view itself is worth the trip.


No matter if you snag your line, get hailed on, miss your hiking destination or hike in circles.

‘Pigweedy walk’ / ‘Monsanto is the Devil’

July 13, 2015

Two responses to my latest (‘pigweed’) blog were just too precious not to share in a separate blog. So here goes…

This first one arrived as a ‘comment’ to my previous blog – from my brother-in-law, singer-songwriter Dennis Caraher:

That husband of mine don’t like to talk
He says “I don’t have time, I got windows to caulk.”
But I don’t mind that he loves to balk
I can clear my mind out on pigweedy walk.

Pigweedy walk. It’s calling me home.
Out on Pigweedy walk I am never alone

It’s there that I found my heart’s answer
Right in the ground and it don’t cause cancer
I don’t need much to make my life so great
No way I will touch that damned glyphosate

I go to work and my soul starts to sing
I clutch and jerk and claw and fling
It’s better than therapy, better than confession
Take it from me and start decompressin’

Pigweedy walk. It’s calling me home.
Out on Pigweedy walk I am never alone
Pigweedy walk. It’s calling me home.
Out on Pigweedy walk I am never alone

(fade out)

I’d like to hear the guitar riff that goes along with it. Dennis could perform this orignal hit on YouTube and get the whole population decompressin’ – doin’ the ‘pigweedy walk.’

Speaking of YouTube hits, my sister Stephanie sent me this link in response to my pigweed blog – Kind of a fun video about the evils of Monsanto, as in, “Monsanto is the Devil.” It’ll get you dancin’ and a-jivin’ like a fightin’ for survivin’ bumble bee.

Well, all I can say is, if you never have believed in the Devil, you might oughtta believe in the Devil now.

No Roundup on my prostrate pigweed!

July 12, 2015

Pulling weeds is a great activity to help you decompress from your anxieties, worries, obsessions, list making, etc. Pulling pigweed is especially rewarding. It sprouts and spreads like wildfire in the gardens, but even mature prostrate pigweed pulls out easily by the roots after a good watering. On days where you’re particularly angry, you can plant yourself in the middle of a neglected flower bed, clutch the base of a large prostrate pigweed, jerk it out, and fling it with gusto into a pile; clutch, jerk, and fling; clutch jerk, and fling. Great therapy. You can just claw at the little plants.

prostrate pigweed

prostrate pigweed

I’ve been persistently clawing at the pigweed sprouting around the bricks in our back walk. And I’ve kept the walk looking pretty good:


Except for the last few feet, where the roots are really embedded.

pigweedy walk

pigweedy walk

What to do? I’m absolutely not using Roundup on the weeds, period, which (as everyone knows by now) causes cancer, contains that horrible chemical glyphosate, which disrupts your gut bacteria (gut issues, anyone?) and, it turns out, is toxic to humans even in minute amounts. And, by the way, Monsanto has known since 1981 that glyphosate causes tumoric growth and carcinomas in multiple organs and tissues. (!)

So this morning I mixed up a natural herbicide from stuff I had in my kitchen. My sister Lisa sent me the recipe – from Consumer Reports:

1 gallon vinegar,
2 cups Epsom salts,
1/4 cup Dawn dishsoap (or similar pure dishsoap)

Pour in sprayer, spray on weeds.


I mixed up 1/4 the recipe and drizzled it on the pigweed in the walkway this morning.

just applied the homemeade herbicide

just applied the homemeade herbicide

I Googled ‘pigweed’ just out of curiosity. Some species of pigweed can grow 3 inches a day and reach 7 feet or more, choking out crops- creating huge problems for farmers. But the American farmers’ near-ubiquitous use of Roundup has led to the rapid growth of tenacious new superweeds. A pigweed that grows in the southeast, amaranthus palmeri, is resistant to Roundup. Other ‘superweeds’ are horseweed and giant ragweed. Nutsedge, which takes over lawns, is also resistant to Roundup. You saturate the Nutsedge with Roundup, the Nutsedge thrives, and the grass around it dies. Just ask my son, Aaron, who lives in Georgia. (Hey Aaron, did you try getting a flame weeder and burning it out?)

So who’s smarter? Humans or weeds?

You just as well try this natural herbicide to get rid of your weeds. Well, unless, of course, you’re compelled to plant yourself in your garden or lawn and maniacally clutch, jerk, and fling, claw at, or dig out your weeds. Or get a flame weeder and burn them out.

You know, to decompress …

What’s eating you, uh, your garden?

July 5, 2015

Just a reminder, dear reader, before you go any further … my blog is not specifically a ‘gardening’ blog, it is a ‘decompression’ blog. As in, me, decompressing…

Lately I’ve been decompressing over the infestation of aphids, fungi and other pests in our back yard. I’m determined not to use chemicals and to implement a more organic approach to controlling pests. So far I trapped three beetles in our earwig traps – but have since ditched the traps because (1) beetles are adorable and (2) earwigs are probably not the culprit eating our salvia in the first place (3) I should stop hating earwigs so much even if I can’t get the thought out of my head that earwigs crawl inside sleeping people’s ears, eat their brains and cause infinite torture. Ewwww!

Moving right along to the aphid infestation (per topic of my last blog) I have received invaluable feedback from my readers. One of them grew up on a farm. Her dad’s crop was infested with aphids. He let loose bags and bags of ladybugs and they got rid of the aphids. Voila!

Another reader mentioned insects that herd aphids and milk them. Whew. Yes. Farmer ants feed on the ‘honeydew’ or sugary secretions (yuck) from the aphids. It’s a ‘mutualisic relationship’ in which the ants nurture the aphids and vice versa. Interesting. But not particularly helpful in getting rid of aphids.

One more reader suggested I have a ladybug wing-clipping cookout party on my deck – you know, clip the wings on the lady bugs so they don’t fly off to your neighbors’ … which, the fact that lady bugs fly off is a big problem. You would invite family members to such an event. My sister was proactive on the subject, commenting that, given the side effects of her asthma meds, she would for certain cut the ladybugs in half.

I tried last week to purchase a ladybug brigade to eat the aphids on our huge old crab apple tree. Called all the greenhouses in town – none of them have ladybugs for sale now. “It’s too hot and they aren’t shipping them because they’ll fry in transit.” I’m starting to feel really bad for ladybugs now – with all the horrible things humans can do to them. At this juncture, may I suggest: “Pray for ladybugs.” (Maybe set aside a national “Pray for ladybugs” day – first thing in the spring?)

So, back to our 3/4 dead aphid infested crab apple tree: We did not (A) use chemicals (B) cut the tree down or (C) implement a lady bug brigade. Out of default (and the fact that we haven’t heard from the arborist hired to cut tree down in over a month) we have implemented Plan D: Do nothing. Which, how surprising to see such positive results with absolutely no human intervention whatsoever:

June 30, 2015

June 30, 2015

Up close you see a healthy crop of crab apples!

"Keep the tarps handy, honey"

“Keep the tarps handy, honey”

I didn’t see any signs of aphids on the few leaves I didn’t look too closely at. (Hey, I’m just not in the mood today for close encounters with aphids, okay?) I’m thinking maybe nature took care of the problem with the heat wave we’ve been under the past 10 days? I did do a Google search on ways to get rid of aphids. One way is to pick them off the leaves yourself (are you kidding?). Another way is to ‘displace them’ by shooting them with the hose (and then you stomp all over them once they hit the ground?). You should be very pleased with this link I found – for horticultural soap spray – an “environmentally friendly application used to eliminate small soft bodied insects such as aphids, whiteflies, spider mites and mealybugs.” Great. (Subjects for three more blogs?..)

To make insecticidal soap:

•Combine one cup of oil, any variety, such as vegetable, peanut, corn, soybean, etc. with one tablespoon of dishwashing liquid or other “pure” soap (Dawn, Ivory and Lemon Joy are mentioned on many internet sites). Be sure to avoid any dish washing liquids which contain degreaser, bleach, or those that are for an automatic dishwasher.
•Mix two teaspoons of this “soap” mixture to every cup of warm water and put into a spray bottle. Mix only what is needed for a one-day application.

“Horticultural soaps disrupt the cell membranes of the insect, resulting in suffocation.” Hmmm. Tough way to go.

Meanwhile, something somewhat alarming and uncomely has been happening in our neighbor’s lawn:

Don't ask, don't tell?

Don’t ask, don’t tell?

which abutts our driveway.

What do you bet, when you pull that dead grass out you’ll find it’s missing its roots. I’m not going to do it, though.

I’m just not in the mood today for a close encounter with grubs. You know, those critters (I made reference to in my last blog) with six front legs with claws for digging and the machine-like jaws for chewing? Should I, dear reader, post a link providing magnified close-up images of grubs and grub infestations for you? No?