Archive for September, 2016

Slender Man, Trump Hair Clouds and Great Big Idaho Potato Truck

September 18, 2016

We had a hot dry summer this year in southeast Idaho, a summer of seemingly endless blue skies. This past Tuesday thunderstorms rolled through. It was cloudy most of the day, but then the skies cleared, and the sun reappeared. We took an evening walk, David Megan and I …

7:03 PM Tuesday 9-13-16

7:03 PM Tuesday, 9-13-16

in our paranormal states. No particular relation to Slender Man, the meme that compelled two 12-yr-old girls in rural Wisconsin to stab a friend 17 times and leave her to die in the forest. (Do you remember that incident on June 2, 2014, when two girls were charged with stabbing a classmate as a sacrifice to the mythical character Slender Man ?? They are now both being tried as adults.) Yuck!

Shira Chess is a scholar of the Slender Man Myth. So, in case you wonder, Chess’ analysis of Slender Man is that he is a metaphor for ‘helplessness, power differential, and anonymous forces’ – an infinitely morphable stand-in for things we can neither understand nor control, universal fears that can drive people to great lengths, even it would appear, very scary, cold-blooded lengths.

What? Hey, we had Rudy with us…

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He only chases cats

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Indian Summer… A palpable diminishing of daylight with each passing week. On June 20 the sun set at 9:13 PM! – tonight, at 7:41, nearly 1 1/2 hours earlier. But hey, if we hurry down this hill we can still catch the sunset!

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We descend the hill, round a corner, heading north now. “Trump hair,” David says.

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The sky is dazzling

Sky to the east

Sky to the east

7:26 PM – Sun is setting in the west

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I capture several more photos of the sunset:

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Back home now, I took what could be one last photo of our impatiens lining our front walk. Extremely frost sensitive. How long before they are nipped and laid limp by the first hard freeze? A week??

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Don’t need any help from Slender Man here …

Idaho is celebrating potato harvest. We grow em’ big here! I have sent this post card out as a joke

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But the Big Idaho Potato Truck actually exists. It was built in 2012 to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Idaho Potato Commission and is now on its fifth cross-country journey. Here’s a link to the Big Idaho Potato Truck. A couple of years ago the Big Idaho Potato Truck tried to get a selfie with the Statue of Liberty. The 12′ wide 72′ long truck was tugged out around Manhattan harbor by The Brooklyn barge company, Hughes Marine. At the barge’s closest pass, Lady Liberty was lost in the background. Here’s a link with a live video of the event.

Yeah, so this 6-ton Idaho Potato made a stop in Idaho Falls, this past Friday. We stopped by to check it out and tried to get a selfie with it. Pretty hard to get a selfie of a 6-ton Idaho potato on a flatbed truck. First I tried to capture a photo of David and Megan with the whole rig:

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One of the drivers on the truck tour jumped in to help us:

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And captured these photos:

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According to the above link the potato on that truck:
Would take over 10,000 years to grow.
Weighs 6 tons (12,130 pounds), equalling 32,346 medium-sized Idaho® potatoes
Is 1,102 times heavier than the largest potato ever grown, which weighed 11 pounds.
Would take 2 years and 9 months to bake.
Would make 30,325 servings of mashed potatoes. Pass the gravy!
Would easily make over 1,500,000 average-sized french fries.

‘Whoopdee-friggin’-do,’ you say?

Well, did you know that the Big Idaho Potato Truck is escorting the Capitol Christmas Tree to Washington D.C. this year? Check out this link! An 80-foot Engelmann spruce chosen to be the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree will travel from the Payette National Forest in Idaho to Washington, D.C. – Each year, the U.S. Forest Service cuts the so-called People’s Tree from a different national forest and displays it on the west lawn of the Capitol. Idaho last received the honor in 2003.

The tree will be cut Nov. 2, and its journey will launch on Dec. 4 with a celebration in McCall.

“Idaho is a national brand, and the potato coming out of Idaho will make the tree more famous than the tree by itself,” said Idaho Potato Commission President and CEO Frank Muir.

Now, isn’t Idaho a tad more famous now? You can follow the truck at potatotracker.com or call 844.bigidaho. I’m sure you’re gonna wanna meet that 80-foot Christmas Tree escorted by the Big Idaho Potato Truck somewhere on its cross-country route and try to get a selfie.

Hell Roaring Hike in the Sawtooths (Part 2)

September 8, 2016

Monday August 22. Up early at Redfish Lake Lodge to check out the mountains. It’s smoky up here due to the Pioneer Fire that’s been burning in the Boise National Forest since July 28.

8/22/16: Mount Heyburn overlooking Redfish Lake

8/22/16: Mount Heyburn overlooking Redfish Lake

The amount of smoke depends on the shifting of the winds. Not too bad today. Breakfast at the lodge, then we’ll hit the trail! Eric has talked the other seven of us into the hike to Hell Roaring Lake. We’re at the trailhead now:

5 miles to Hell Roaring Lake!

5 miles to Hell Roaring Lake!

Yeah, so five miles to the Lake, five miles back … Eric leads the group. The first part of the hike is the most strenuous. The trail climbs more than 300 feet up through a dense lodgepole pine forest.

David and Megan

David and Megan

David, Megan and I bring up the rear and lose the others quickly. You walk along the creek in the beginning,

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but then the trail veers away from the creek.

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The path is well-worn and dusty. Long, but not strenuous. Question is, are you in good enough shape to hike 10 miles? David, Megan and I trudged along for three miles and then decided to find a place to sit for a picnic. Hey this place looks good, some fallen trees to sit on!

Time for a picnic

Time for a picnic

What the heck. We’ve lost the others. It’s still two miles to the lake. How about we call it good and head back?

We take a selfie

Megan, Jody, David

Megan, Jody, David

Then I capture a photo of the area across the path from us:

Pine beetle devastation?

Pine beetle devastation?

Lodgepole pines have been stressed by consistent dry summers, leaving them vulnerable to pine beetles. No wonder wild fires are raging in Idaho.

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Meanwhile, Eric, Paul, Pauline, Adam and Meredith make it to the lake. They shared their photos with me. So now you and I get to experience Hell Roaring Lake vicariously through their photos! Just think, too, it has saved us the stress, time, and wear and tear of getting there.

We’ve arrived at Hell Roaring Lake!

Photo taken by Meredith

Photo taken by Meredith

The lake is pretty, but if you want the good views of the mountains you need to cross the inlet and walk another half mile. Look carefully at the center of the photo and you’ll see: the only way to cross the inlet is to traverse a log. Here I have zoomed the photo so you can see – the log is near the center of the photo:

 you have to cross the log

you have to cross the log

Great. You’re already exhausted, do you really need to put yourself through this?

Of course you do. Eric leads the way across the inlet. Adam and Meredith follow. Pauline and Paul decide not to bother with that last half mile. Me personally, I suspect I would need a bit of coaxing to maneuver my exhausted body across the log and beyond. If you think at this juncture you do want to cross the inlet and walk that last half mile … follow Eric, Adam and Meredith. We’re at the log now. Hmmmmm. Hesitating on this. How to cross it without slipping, scraping your ankle, twisting a knee??? No worry. Meredith will now demonstrate how it’s done:

Ha. Piece of cake – if you’ve had years of gymnastics training. Okay so now we have walked the last half mile along the lake for a close-up view of the Finger of Fate (at 9,775 feet) and other peaks. Here are Eric’s photos

Adam and Meredith

Adam and Meredith

Finger of Fate - still a bit smoky

Finger of Fate – still a bit smoky

We arrive back at the Lodge starving and exhausted. The wind has shifted direction – and it’s smoky again:

Back at the Lodge

Back at the Lodge

We drive to Stanley for dinner

Smoky in Stanley!

Smoky in Stanley!

Sunset view of Sawtooths from Stanley

Sunset view of Sawtooths from Stanley

The smoke clears again on Tuesday. We’re a bit tired so we just hang out at the lodge and on the lake. Meredith and Pauline both rent kayaks:

Meredith kayaking on Redfish Lake

Meredith kayaking on Redfish Lake

The rest of us just hang out. Except for Eric, a.k.a. ‘Mountain goat,’ who was off on another huge hike.

A patio table near the outside bar and concession stand overlooking the lake, serves our purposes just fine

The self-proclaimed Three Wise Men declaring one beer is not enough

The self-proclaimed Three Wise Men declaring one beer is not enough

Megan orders an ice cream. Double scoop, please…

A little top heavy -  what to do with it?

A little top-heavy – what to do with it?

We shop at the General Store:

Yes, they sell apple pie

Yes, they sell apple pie

Matching sweatshirts for Megan and Pauline!

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We spot the perfect miniature poodle girlfriend for Rudy:

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She could teach him a thing or two about healthy eating habits:

in case you wondered, Rudy is also a miniature poodle

In case you wondered, Rudy is also a miniature poodle

Wednesday morning the winds blow in our favor – the air is clear! But we have to check out and drive home. That figures. I snap one last clear photo of Mt. Heyburn before we hit the road:

Redfish Lake, Wednesday August 24, 2016

Redfish Lake, Wednesday August 24, 2016

I don’t snap any decent photos of the Sawtooths on the drive home. But Eric does:

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Well, I take that back. The best views of the Sawtooths are from lower Stanley. Unfortunately, they were behind us as we drove through Stanley.

So I captured a photo of the Sawtooths in our rear view mirror.

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Oh, and that’s Paul driving my blue Avalon, with Adam and Meredith.

Craters of the Moon, Pioneer Fire, and Redfish Lake, Idaho

September 3, 2016

A couple weeks ago (August 21-24, 2016) our family made a trip to Redfish Lake Lodge in the Sawtooth mountains near Stanley, Idaho. Our group of 7 included David, Megan, and me, son Adam and wife Meredith from New York, and David’s siblings – Paul from Kenosha, WI, Pauline from Arizona. My brother, Eric, a.k.a ‘mountain goat’ met us at the lodge.

Redfish Lake is about a 4-hour drive from Idaho Falls. Traveling west on Highway 20 past Arco you come to Craters of the Moon National Monument. Craters of the Moon is one of the best-preserved flood basalt areas in the continental United States. We had to stop. Five of our group climbed to the top of Inferno Cone. A short but steep trail up the cinder cone leads to an overlook of the entire monument. Five of our group hiked to the top. I snapped a photo of them on their way back down.

Family portrait on Inferno Cinder Cone

Family portrait on Inferno Cinder Cone

Bottom left is Paul, then David, Pauline behind, and Adam and Meredith on top.

Next we walked the 1/2-mile trail to Indian Tunnel.

Megan leads the way

Megan leads the way

Craters of the Moon

Craters of the Moon

We all made it to the tunnel but only Adam and Meredith went through it. I met them at the exit and captured photos as they emerged. First Meredith’s head pops through

Meredith is reborn

Meredith is reborn

Then Adam

Adam emerges

Adam emerges

This Indian tunnel link gives you a photo of the tunnel opening just before you find your way back out.

Adam and Meredith scramble up

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and we follow the cairns imbedded in the molten rock surfaces to get us back to the trail.

Heading back

Heading back

An hour later we lunch in Ketchum and then head toward Galena Summit. Beautiful day! We keep an eye on the car in our rear view mirror – it’s Paul driving my blue Avalon with Adam and Meredith

toward Galena Summit

toward Galena Summit

Check out the Galena Summit view! What?

Galena Summit

Galena Summit

The far peaks, by Redfish Lake, are socked in with smoke. Oh well. We had already heard about the Pioneer Fire in the Boise National Forest, northeast of Boise, that had started on July 28 and was working its way toward Stanley. The fire is still burning today (Sept 3, 2016) and will likely keep burning into October. Check out this link to the Pioneer Fire – published two days ago, on Sept. 1. It shows a video of the Pioneer Fire taken from a helicopter four days ago, on August 30. Hot, dry weather this week caused the wildfire to grow much larger. There are more than 1,100 people working to contain the fire, and as of August 31, it was 58 percent contained. It has grown 13 times larger since July 28.

There are multiple fires in Idaho this summer due to a considerably long dry period combined with excessive amounts of old dead timber. This summer has been one of the driest summers on record in Idaho.

Onward to Redfish Lake, those aren’t rain clouds ahead!

smoky ahead!

smoky ahead!

We’ve reached the blanket of smoke now

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Pioneer Fire near Stanley and Redfish

Pioneer Fire near Stanley and Redfish

The Sawtooths are coming into view. Mount Heyburn is the jagged peak on the left.

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5:30 PM. We’ve pulled into Redfish Lodge – time to check in, in what should be broad daylight. Eerie.

Check out the sun, Megan!

Check out the sun, Megan!

(We made a trip to Redfish August of last year as well, during beautiful weather. I took lots of photos of the Sawtooths and blogged about it exactly a year ago. – click on the link here to see clear photos of Redfish Lake Lodge and the magnificent Sawtooths in late August 2015…)

We check in at our cabin. Then gather for dinner at the Lodge. “Hey Paul, Adam, Meredith – pose for a photo!”

Bloggers are annoying

Bloggers are annoying

That’s better :0 :

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Eat, rest, and be merry, all, but mostly, build up strength, because tomorrow we’re doing the 10-mile round trip hike to Hell Roaring Lake. Yeah, I guess we are. My brother Eric met us at Red Fish Lake Lodge for dinner and somehow talked us into it.

Adam, Meredith, Pauline, Eric, Megan at dinner (David, Jody and Paul missing from photo).  Meredith loves to be photographed

Adam, Meredith, Pauline, Eric, Megan at dinner (David, Jody and Paul missing from photo). Meredith loves to be photographed

Sure, Eric. We’ll do it. Does that sound like a potential death march to you?