Saturday, December 31, 2011

Stupid Products for Camping that Work......

usbackroads-stupid products for camping that really work!!!

This posting is about those products that when you first saw them you said "That is really stupid"!!  Then after you used them for awhile.....well, maybe that was not so stupid after all!!

The first product is the "chair blind".  Yes, a folding canvas chair complete with cup holder that is surrounded by a pop-up blind.  Yes, I always thought I wanted a "real" blind.  However, they are large to carry and difficult to set-up.  So after thinking about it for a bit it was either going to be the "chair-blind" or nothing at all.  The picture above shows the blind set-up.  The following picture shows the blind tied to my pack on opening day of duck season.  Yes, Bugaboo was jealous of my blind and wanted in, but was disappointed when he did not get his own chair!!  They do come in doubles!

You can use the blind for hunting, photography, fishing, or just getting out of the wind!!  It was so comfortable that several times I brought a book along just for reading.  For just $79.99.

The second product is Remote Control LED Lights.  Now why would anybody want a remote controlled light.  Sounds like the CLAPPER!!  Well I bought a pack since I wanted some LED lights for the tent trailer.  I thought I would never use the remote control feature.  Well, being in my early 60's means sometimes I have to get up in the middle of the night.  All of a sudden a lightbulb went on in my head!!  I can use the remote control to light up my path to the door.  Yes, these work and you will probably find some pretty cool uses if you start thinking "outside the box".

The last item is studded snow treads for your feet. Yeah, that's right. Studded tires for your feet. Well, up at our vacation rental cabin at Camas Meadows it can get icy. On real bad days I even put on my snowshoes just to give that extra safety margin!! Well, I bought a pair of these and let me tell they are a lot more comfortable than a pair of snowshoes!! Yeah, it really looks like a stupid idea, but falling on the ice is no longer the adventure it was at an earlier age. Buy these so they run a little small. I wear a size 8 shoe, but bought a size 4-8 womens pair. The added tightness keeps them from slipping off the shoe. I use them while blowing snow and going up and down the slopes around the cabin. STUPID idea, but it works and like I say much more comfortable than snowshoes on icy ground.

So if your camped in southern California or Arizona, these make a wonderful gift for those friends you left behind in the frozen north. Let them know you are concerned about their well-being!

So those are my stupid ideas that really work. What are yours??

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Rocky Ford Creek, Ephrata, Washington

backroads information--Rocky Ford Creek, Ephrata, Washington

When winter decends on eastern Washington it comes complete with clouds and usually snow.  Fishing is sometimes possible by drilling holes in the ice.  However, one little desert spring creek stays at 52 degrees year round.  So it does get popular for those fisherman that do not want to drill holes.  Rocky Ford Creek is catch and release only for large trout.  You must fly fish.  Fortunately, fly fishing is an easily learned skill.

The only fish species found in the stream is rainbow trout.  They do grow to a fairly large size and are easily visible in the crystal clear water.  The fly of choice for me at Rock Ford is the Hollywood Caddis.   If you fly fish eastern Washington and Oregon or the interior of BC this is the fly pattern book you need!!  Highly recommended and yes it does have the Hollywood Caddis pattern.

Once you hook the fish you do need a method to land the fish.  Since I was without a net, Bugaboo, the "versatile" hunting dog, as he is known did show an interest in "retrieving" the fish for me.  Rainbow trout and pheasants appear to have similar attitudes towards Buggy.

There is a handicapped fishing dock.  It is a perfect spot for a picnic overlooking the pond, but be sure to bring your own chairs for sitting.  If you fish from the dock you need a long handled net to land the fish.  

There is a small "camping area" complete with an SST (Sweet Smelling Toilet) toilet.  You do need a Washington State Discover Pass or a Vehicle Pass that comes with the Washington hunting and fishing license to camp here.  Here is the link to the Discover Pass.

Rocky Ford is a great place for an overnight stay.  There is plenty of bird life to watch if your a birder.  Plenty of nice walking paths along the creek.  Here are the google earth coordinates for the camping area (47.318057 119.443874).  Rocky Ford Creek is an interesting place to visit no matter the season.  With a year round water temperature of 52 degrees it is a trout paradise on earth.   The commercial fish hatchery does detract a little from the setting, but it also provides thousands of fish to stock eastern Washington's lakes.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Astronomical Events.......

Astronomical Events

This is a picture of last weekends lunar eclipse taken from Camas Meadows as the moon set in full eclipse just as dawn was breaking.  We went up to our cabin at Camas due to the possibility of fog in the Wenatchee Valley and the great view of the moon from our deck and only steps from the wood stove.  The 10 degree outside temperature made the stove and a hot cup of coffee an essential part of my astronomy equipment.

This eclipse was rather typical.  Fairly bright.  Nothing like the blood red moon in 1979.  You had to look carefully to find the moon on that eclipse.  This one reminds me of a couple of eclipses when the moon rose in full eclipse.   In 2007, I was on a forest fire and set the alarm to see the middle of the eclipse.  However, before nodding off to sleep I noticed that the rising moon through all that smoke looked exactly like an eclipsed moon!!

Solar eclipses are much more rare.  The only one I "observed" was in 1979.  I had the choice of driving from Coeur d'Alene to either Moscow or Missoula.  For some reason I decided to go with Moscow, even though I had a business meeting the day after the eclipse in Missoula.  You guessed it.  It poured rain during the eclipse in Moscow.  However, when totality hit the streetlights came on for two minutes and then turned off.  So that was the extent of "watching" the eclipse.  Oh yeah, it was clear in Missoula.

We had a great run of comets in the 1990's with Hale-Bopp and others.  Hopefully,  we will get another one soon.  Unlike, eclipses comets are best viewed from a dark sky site. 

Every night something is happening up in the sky.  Here is a web site that will tell you all the activity to the second.  Cal-Sky.  Click on Intro to set your location and time.  Get the location from your GPS unit by clicking on "where am I".  Then click on Calendar and you will get a choice of satellites, comets, and all sorts of other astronomical events to the second. 

Now one of my favorites is the Iridium flares.  Here is the wilki-pedia site for the Iridium satellites:  Iridium Satellites.  When the satellite solar panels tilt just right they brighten very quickly and fade just as fast.  Sometimes they become the brightest objects in the night sky. 

A little info.  In astronomy, brightness is measured by a scale in which NEGATIVE numbers are brighter.  The sun is about -27 magnitude, with the moon at -12 magnitude.  Most stars are from +1 to +6 in magnitude at a good location.  Most Iridium flares are in the range of -1 to -5 in magnitude.

The guide gives azimuth and altitude which if you do not know the constellations will tell you where the flare will occur.  Use a compass for azimuth and just estimate altitude...from horizon to zenith is 90 degrees.

So now you know where the flare will occur.  When is also important.  Get one of those atomic clocks that reset themselves automatically to the correct time.  Remember you need correct time to within about ten seconds.  Try this site if you do not have an atomic clock:  Official US Time Clock.

Now your set.  Pick about a -5 magnitude flare.  Locate the spot in the sky where the flare will take place. 

Make sure you have a little kid, under ten years of age is preferable,  standing next to you.  Keep an eye on the official time.  Announce to the kid that in 30 seconds by simply concentrating real hard your going to make that star explode!!! 

The flare will rapidly brighten in a space of two or three seconds and then fade away in the same amount of time.   After the flare occurs, you might want to talk about good morals, getting an education and all those other things kids do not want to hear.  You will have their attention!!

Well, after the lunar eclipse the morning was also pretty special.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Day KGO Radio 810 Died

Working as a professional Forester in the mountains of the west I got addicted to radio programs.  TV was not an option as this was the days before satellite TV.  During the day, radio stations were far and few on the dial.  Usually, none on the FM dial and maybe one or two on the AM dial.

At night, however, the AM radio dial would come alive with radio stations from Los Angeles, Seattle, Sacramento, Las Vegas, and of course San Francisco.  So in the middle of somewhere, whether high in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, the Bitterroots of northern Idaho and western Montana, or in the Sawtooths of central Idaho.  At night that AM radio became my contact with the outside world.  Yes, listening to traffic reports when you have not seen another human in 10 days does have a surreal quality to it.

Many of those evenings in a tent camp were spent tuned to KGO 810 on the AM dial from San Francisco.  I lived in the Bay Area from twelve years of age leaving for periods of time to work in the west until finally moving out for good in the winter of 1978.  So for me it was a way to keep in contact with home on a daily basis since there were no phones and mail tended to come once a week if at all.

Those days in the 1970's the broadcasting on the clear channel radio stations was all local based.  So you could get a flavor for a town and a community by listening to the programming.   I still have fond memories of tunning into a distant clear channel station and hearing the static induced by a lightning storm as it moved into the mountains.  And usually that station being interrupted by lightning static was KGO.

Now KGO was at that time was a talk radio station at the dawn of the talk radio programming on radio.  There were different points of view rotating on a three hour basis.

Over the years, the local went out of radio.  National syndication of radio shows has led to the ability to listen to the EXACT same program on 20 different stations at night!  The one station that stayed with "original" programming was KGO.  Well, a week ago that ended and they have switched to almost all syndicated programs.  Here is the link to the San Francisco Chronicle article Changes at KGO Radio.  Notice that there were only 1,058 comments on the article.

It  seems to according to the "suits" the money has gone out of radio and to cut costs they are going to syndicated programs therefore insuring that their next step will be bankruptcy as listener's start clicking the off button.  In our area, the local radio station was bought out by the "suits" which changed the programming to nationally syndicated programs.  Now they are back to "live and local" as advertisers and listeners left.  Hopefully, this is the trend and not what is happening at KGO.

There are still great radio programs out there.  Well worth the time invested.  Many of these programs are now on the internet.   Some are still broadcast on radio, but now it is difficult to find them.

So what are the best programs out there?  All interests are fair game.  Good radio programs that when you done listening you always learn something new.

Here are links to previous usbackroads postings on radio:  Long-Distance AM Radio's. and Listening to the Outside World.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Carbon Monoxide and RV's

backroads information-carbon monoxide and rv's

We have previously covered carbon monoxide detectors and the importance of using them while camping in an RV.

This past week while camping on the Snake River I plugged in the digital readout carbon monoxide detector and was curious to see what effect the various gas appliances would have on CO build-up.  This was the prime suspect.

We have used this in the tent trailer.  Which gets plenty of air flow.  Not quite like the 5th wheel which has hard sides everywhere!!  Anyway, we plugged in the propane heater and then plugged in the CO detector.  It did not move for hours.  When we started using this appliance, the CO detector started moving slowly.

That was a surprise.  After a few hours of cooking dinner and heating strictly with the propane heater this is what the CO meter showed.

Well within the safe range.  It was an interesting project.  I now feel better about using the propane heater within the 5th wheel.  However, everytime I use it the digital CO meter will be running.  Somehow I still do not trust gas appliances so will continue to sleep with none of them running and a CO meter for additional safety.  Oh, I also keep the window cracked at night.  Paranoid?  Nah, just safety conscious.

I lined up my digital CO meters in the garage to see if they were reading in the same ballpark.  I started up the Honda Pilot and watched the meters do nothing for several minutes.  I was convinced  that I had several, not just one bad meter.  I then noticed the gas generator and fired it up.  All the CO readouts immediately started rising!!  And in a short while were well above the danger zone.

So NEVER use a generator in a confined space!!

A digital CO detector.  Do not camp in an RV without one!!

Here is the link to our discussion on CO detectors:  Carbon Monoxide and Camping.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Unleashing the Inner Dog.....

Backwoods Destination--Return to the Snake River.

Snowpatch has turned seven months and it was time to take him on his first pheasant hunting trip.  Now without a doubt he is the smallest hunting dog.  However, inside that little body there is still a dog.

We purchased him a reversible hunting orange and camo hunting vest.  Well, that worked more in theory than fact.  Seems four feet of grass and shrub will hide Bugaboo on occasion, but soon he jumps up and those huge ears and flowing tail become visible.  That does not work with Snowpatch.

Hunting with Snowpatch was different.  I was pretty sure that Bichon's were flushers rather than pointing dogs, however, I was not quite sure how he was going to flush a pheasant,  since he and the pheasants are almost the same size.  You just walk through the grass and wait for his barking.  The pheasants did hold well for his barking so we were able to walk in and flush the bird.  Almost like hunting with Bugaboo!!

Well, after we shot the first pheasant another problem appeared.  Try as he might, Snowpatch had a difficult time with the retrieve.  First he grabbed the pheasant tail, but then it just came off in his mouth.  So he grabbed a foot and slowly brought the bird back to us.

It was easy to lose track of Snowpatch in the grass and weeds.  So the solution was to give Buggy the command "Go find Snowpatch".  So there we were Snowpatch pointing the pheasant and Bugaboo pointing Snowpatch. 

Oh, I thought Bugaboo's long hair was a problem with seeds and weeds.  Well, Snowpatch was soon covered with every invasive weed and seed found in the Snake River ecosystem.  So at night it was brush the big dog first and then the little dog.

Well, after a couple of birds Snowpatch did get tired and we switched to hunting over Bugaboo.  Bugaboo was great several times working a bird for more than five minutes in a small area before finally pointing the bird.  The dumb pheasants became dinner during opening week so this time they were quite a bit more wiley.

We camped in the same spot, but this time we were all alone for the entire week.  That 19 lb steelhead is safely in Idaho and for the entire week we never had a bite.

The weather was very windy for three days.  It is very difficult to hunt in a high wind so we traveled to Walla Walla for a day and tried to find sheltered areas for other hunts.  It was great to be camped in the Cameo rather than the tent trailerl since it was much more comfortable in high wind.

Camping in November means colder weather and we hit a low of 24 degrees, but the water system continued to work.  The Honda generator provided light and electricity for the long nights.  We could only get four Idaho PBS stations.  So instead of football, we watched shows on the Idaho Wilderness areas.  Somehow it was appropriate.

The Cameo was staged in Eugene for the trip to the southwest after the first of the year.  I did pay to winterize the trailer and LEARNED a LOT about doing it right.  If your in Eugene, I used  to winterize the trailer.  Manny's phone number is 541-731-9137.  No credit cards: cash or check only.

The Cameo is back at Eugene RV and Boat Storage.  We were happy with both RV services.

Here is another picture of me and Snowpatch showing off the pheasants.  Normally, I am not a fan of pictures of dead birds, but the pride that Snowpatch showed in hunting these birds does deserve some recognition.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Snake River Invasive Avian Species Project

usbackroads--Snake River Invasive Avian Species Project

Late October, means a return to the Snake River and our continuing efforts to remove non-native, invasive species of birds such as pheasants and Hungarian Partridges from the ecosystem.  Chukar partridge are safe due to the steep terrain they occupy.  We left them for all those 20 something bird hunters that still appreciate hiking on steep slopes.

We established camp at Little Goose Dam, but our favorite campspot was taken so we had to move a few hundred feet east to our campsite. 

After establishing camp we threw out our fishing lines hoping to hook at least ONE steelhead heading for Idaho and their ancestrial spawning grounds.  Well, I guess these days most of them were headed back to a fish hatchery.   

You fish for them with a BIG bobber leading to a jig and a marinated shrimp impaled on a barbless hook.  I was fishing with Terry's setup.  Well, actually I was watching his bobber when suddenly it started heading for Little Goose Dam leaving a little wake behind it.  I was reeling line when the steelhead surfaced.  It was at least 15 pounds and I am sure in future tellings it will continue to grow in size.   Just as I was to set the hook the line and the fish parted company.  It took two days to finally figure out that it was not the fishing line or a bad knot, but rather a chip and sharp fishing guide that cut the line.  So one fish hooked after ten years and it parted company after 10 seconds!

The pheasant population was down this year.  We suspect it had more to do with a wet and cold spring that killed the hatch rather than our previous years efforts.  However, we had Bugaboo in his third year and in his prime.

Fewer birds, but Bugaboo was able to find and point them.  The best thing about hunting is the hiking and watching Bugaboo work.  

And way back from roads there are treasures from times in the past.  Maybe one day I will have to drive my 2011 to a spot in the middle of somewhere and park it for the ages.  

By the end of the trip Bugaboo was hunting for both Terry and the Great Orange Pumpkin hunter.  Though he did show a preference for returning bird to the Great Orange Pumpkin hunter.  Here he is on point.  This was the last bird of the day.  There was plenty of time for the Great Orange Pumpkin hunter to move to the front of Bugaboo by 20 feet to get the bird to flush.

Bugaboo still did not want to voluntarily return his birds to me.  I even tried to trade a dog treat for a bird, but it was no sale in his eyes.  However, after I showed his the electronic controller he gave me the birds.  I never had to "make a connection" just showing him the charge controller was enough.

Bugaboo made some spectacular points.  Holding for five minutes while we caught up with him.  He also made some spectacular retrieves.  With a pointer it is always a problem that they point rather than retrieve the down bird.  This year Bugaboo seems to have made the distinction when to point and when to retrieve.

The formal count was 17 pheasants and four Hungarian partridges over a week of hunting.  The informal count was some beautiful points and retrieves by Bugaboo.  The 17 pound steelhead headed for Idaho.  A beautiful multi-point whitetail buck that flushed out a patch of brush.  Great views of the stars at night, but we missed the northern lights that were visible in the rest of the country.  

This year we will take the 5th wheel via the Snake River for its temporary waiting spot in Eugene.  Following Eugene, we will head back to the southwest and those sunny winter skies.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Cast and Blast Trips

usbackroads destination--Cast and Blast Destinations.

Heaven must be stuck in the month of October.  October is the perfect month for outdoor activities.  Days tend to be warm and sunny, while night temperatures always bring frost to the landscape in the morning.  Fish can sense the changing of the seasons and start feeding to lay in fat reserves for the long winter ahead.  Hunting seasons start opening in September and start hitting full swing in October.  Even for astronomy October is the perfect month with the skies of summer still on display and in the early morning the Orion runs high in the sky.

So many things to do so little time in October.  Early October is our time for our cast and blast trip.  We look for locations that offer fishing in the morning and bird hunting in the afternoon.  For Bugaboo this is perfect allowing him to sleep in the morning while we are fishing.  I use to take a telescope along on these trips, but found that going 24 hours a day was just too much fun!!

In past years we have camped at Blue Lake.    However, this year we found a special lake with only one campsite.  So on the long drive from Wenatchee we were on pins and needles hoping that no one else would be camped in our special spot.  The backup plan was Blue Lake.

Fortunately, when we arrived at the lake the camping spot was vacant and we promptly claimed it and started unpacking the tent trailer.  The weather forecast called for rain in eastern Washington.  A highly unusual event for us.  The forecast did not disappoint.  It rained for the better part of a day and night.  Wenatchee even set a record for October with a quarter inch of rain.

The fishing was good for 18 inch trout.  Well, one day the fish were stand-offish, but most times they provided plenty of entertainment.  Just one size of trout in the lake.  We tried to catch larger fish and would have settled for smaller, but it seems everything was 18 inches if it was a trout.  The highlight was several large bluegills which found their way onto the barbeque for dinner.   That might have been enough to convert me to a warm water fly fisherman.

We hunted for quail and chuker.  Bugaboo did find five rooster pheasants that he pointed and they flew right past Terry.  Unfortunately, pheasant season is still three weeks away.  I pulled out the hunting regulations and showed Bugaboo, the hunting dates for pheasants but he refused to read them.  He just gave me a dirty look.  We never did fire the shotguns this trip.  We went on several nice long hikes but we should have left the guns at home and taken the camera instead.  Bugaboo did find one dead hungarian partridge.  Even he seemed disappointed in the hunting.

Well, the fishing was good.  The hiking was great.  And except for that day of rain the weather was fairly decent.  The company was outstanding and the wine and food added to another great cast and blast trip.  Even though blasting was missing.

More October trips coming soon.  Oh, in the fire refresher training the Weather Service jokingly predicted that fire season would start October 25th and end on October 28th.  Well, this rainfall marked the season ending event for fire season.  It looks like a cold and snowy winter is in the cards for eastern Washington.  So we are going to be southwest bound in December.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Recipes for Traveling......

usbackroads information-backcountry cooking
Woman complain that men that cannot cook.  Well, men can cook.  Here are some general rules for finding a man that can cook.

Find a profession or job where the man MUST cook in the course of his work.

For example, firemen are required to stay in a station 24/7 and therefore learn to cook to combat the boredom.  So most firemen I know are middle of the road cooks.  They generally cook decent food that requires some preparation time.  If your waiting for the fire bell to ring preparation time does not matter.  It does help to cook something to that you can easily reheat.

Now foresters and cowboys learn to cook in the great outdoors.  Usually, after a long tiring day in the field.  Time is important.  So they tend to gravitate to simple food cooked quickly and efficiently.  Kill it, cook it, eat it and go to bed.  Barbeque is good, particularly if your cooking over an open fire.   Just don't expect fancy dinners with lots of preparation time.  This group is famous for good food prepared in a simple manner.

Interior designers are fabulous cooks.   Fancy and daring dishes with great presentations.  If your a guy these are great friends to have in order meet women.  Yes, it seems that this particular breed of male is more interested in other males.  So very little competition for females at the dinner party.  San Francisco is heaven on earth for a straight young male.

So men can cook and they have different styles of cooking.  Enough of this talk.  Here are some simple recipes to get you started.

Coffee creamers.  I am addicted to sugar.  I am also addicted to cream in my coffee.  So for years I have been buying completely artificial coffee creamers with NO known food substances.  Recently, I decided to make my own creamer.  Healthier creamer.

French Vanilla Coffee Creamer.

16 oz.  Fat Free Half-and_Half
2 tablespoons Imitation Vanilla
1 cup of granulated Splenda

Mix in a measuring cup and wisk until the Splenda dissolves.  That's it.  You can use regular vanilla, but it comes in a heavy alcohol that adds a aftertaste.  You get rid of  palm oil, corn syrup and other stuff out of your diet.  If you do not have a sweet tooth cut back the Splenda by half.

You can also make other flavored coffee creamers just by looking at the spice rack options next to the Vanilla extract.  But Vanilla is perfect...why bother.

Flavored Ice-Tea Recipes.

I really like flavored ice tea recipes particularly during hunting and fishing season.  I carry them in the vest.  Unfortunately, all commercial ice teas are made with either sugar or aspartame.  Sugar is out for obvious reasons and aspartame does irritate the bladder and the older you get the less you need a irritated bladder!!  So here is a quick and simply recipe.  In blind tastings, this version has match the store brought version.

4 quarts water
3 orange pekoe tea bags
1.5 cups of Splenda
1/2 cup of lemon juice
2 tablespoons sugar free Torani flavored syrup (raspberry)

I use Torani flavored syrup since they are easily available at the restaurant supply store at the bottom of the hill.  I believe they are easily found in other outlets as well.  I use raspberry as it is my favorite, but lemon and peach and many other flavors are also available.

Bring the 4 quarts of water to a boil.
Turn off the heat, and add the three orange pekoe tea bags and let steep for about an hour.
After an hour, pour the Splenda, lemon juice, and the Torani flavored syrup in stir to dissolve the Splenda.
Let cool and pour into a pitcher.

Easy, gets rid of aspartane and much, much cheaper than store bought tea.  Try it.

Cooking Garlic Base.

One huge supply of peeled and cleaned Garlic.
Large or Small tub of Smart Balance Spread to match Garlic.

This is probably my most important recipe.  I love garlic.  Sometimes I eat it raw when I do not want to deal with Susie for a couple of days.  However, cooking with garlic is a challenge.  Too high temperatures and long cooking times makes it bitter.  Also the preparation time for garlic cleaning and smashing is time consuming.  Remember that Forestry degree.  Long preparation times are not part of this mindset.

You can peel and clean the cloves of Garlic.  This is highly recommended if you are a fireman and are waiting for the bell to ring.  However, I just go to Costco and buy a LARGE container of peeled garlic.

The next step is to process the garlic.  This is a critical step.  I started with a garlic press and later went to a food processor.  The press was great but time consuming and I did not have a fireman friend.  The food processor does not result in the same quality of garlic.  So I finally went to the plastic bag and mallet routine.  Put the garlic in a HEAVY plastic bag.  Ziplocks are marginal.  I really like the heavy duty FoodSaver bags that come with the food vacuum appliances.  Here is a picture of this all important cooking step.  Don't forget to peel the garlic first!!

Insert the garlic and pound away with the food mallet.  You are looking for a texture similar to garlic from a press.  I personally prefer larger chunks.  If in doubt, just keep hammering away until bored.

Now find a large non-stick saucepan or frying pan.  Add the garlic and enough Smart Balance for a very thick Garlic spread.  Turn on the heat and watch the Smart Balance melt.  When it comes to a boil turn down to very low and simmer for 10 minutes. Keep constantly stirring.  Do not OVERCOOK!!  That's it.

You might want to cook the garlic OUTSIDE.  In fact, you might want to do the entire process outside.  If I do this in the kitchen Susie leaves for a two weeks and still complains about the odor when she gets back!!

Spoon into small plastic tubs.  Let cool and store in the fridge.  It keeps for months maybe even years.

Use whenever a recipe calls garlic.

Garlic Shrimp.

Remember the garlic is already pre-cooked so you are just warming the garlic up when using it.  For example, one of my favorite dishes is Garlic Shrimp.   Throw the shrimp into the skillet.  As the shrimp cooks pick the right moment to add the pre-cooked garlic.  The garlic needs only to be heated for a minute of so.  Time it so the garlic and shrimp are ready at the same time.

Serve over Basmati rice.  Pretty simple, quick recipe. 

Garlic Salmon.

Wait.  I am repeating myself.  But you get the drift.

Pre-cooked Garlic do NOT let your fridge be without it.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Fish Lake, Wenatchee National Forest, Washington

Fish Lake, Wenatchee National Forest, Washington

Before reading about Fish Lake you might first want to click on this link:  What's in a Name?Well, there is a reason this lake is called Fish Lake.  It has lots of fish.  It has been always a very productive lake and was always good fishing.  Then came along the Endangered Species Act and listed the steelhead and salmon in the rivers of north-central Washington as endangered species.   Well, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department was dumping all these trout into those rivers and with the listing it had to find a new home for all those trout.  You guessed it.  Fish Lake is the new home for all those trout.  So if you cannot catch fish at Fish Lake, well it is time to take up another hobby.

That is the good news.  The bad news is even though Fish Lake is in the middle of a National Forest access is limited.  Somewhere in the past, somebody in the Forest Service issued a special use permit to the Cove Resort.

Here is the link to their website:  Cove Lake Resort.   There are campsites, cabin, fishing boats for rent, boat launch, fishing dock and even a small store.  There is a fee for using any of these services.  If your looking for these services the Forest Service permit for the resort will let you enjoy them for a price.  If you just want access to National Forest public land you probably will not be pleased.  The Fish and Wildlife Department did call to complain about the lack of free public access to Fish Lake.  Well, those decisions made in the distant past sometimes do not look so good in 2011.  Oh well, the Resort does need to post in their web site, brochures, and entrance signs that they are under a special use permit to the Forest Service.  An oversight I am sure that will be corrected in the future.

Here are more pictures of the Cove Lake special use area under permit from the Forest Service.  Campsites do look a little cramp.

Well, if you have a small boat or camper here is my secret spot on Fish Lake.  Head up towards the Chiwawa River.  See the posting for information on the Chiwawa River Area.  As you are passing Fish Lake on the left (west side) there will be a small Forest Service road sign  Road 6402.   In dry weather, take this road and drive to the end.   Here is what you will find at the end of the road about a mile from the pavement.  This is the boat launch area.  Yes, those rocks were placed there by the Forest Service to limit to area to non-motorized boats.  So a canoe or float tube is perfect.

And here is the toilet and parking area.

There are some dispersed camping areas just before you reach to parking and launch area.  Very small sites best suited for truck campers and tents.

If you have a large rig or boat you are probably much better off at the Cove Resort.  Those with tents and canoe's will enjoy the camping on the north side of Fish Lake.  There is more to Fish Lake than just fishing.
There is a very interesting floating bog on the west side of Fish Lake.  If you have a boat head out and check out one of the largest floating bogs in the western United States.

Fish Lake is a great place to fish and camp.  And like any camp reading is one of the best activities.  We have the NookColor for reading.  However, the new Nook battery will run a couple of months and has wi-fi.  The big advantage to this book is that most public libraries have e-books that you can borrow by downloading to the Nook.  No need to return to the library, since the books will be automatically returned when the load period expires.

So if you enjoy reading this blog please show your support by clicking on the Amazon ads and purchasing through this website.  I get a small commission for all purchases at Amazon that were accessed through this blog. 

Thanks, again for your support.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Tumwater Canyon Fire, Leavenworth, Washington

Tumwater Canyon Fire, Leavenworth, Washington.

Well, our Montana summer has totally gone to doctors appointments.  I have had a release from my doctor in August, when my blood sugar and blood pressure reading both went down.  I guess all those cigars while fly fishing were not helping matters.  Wine consumption also had to be restricted, but fortunately not eliminated.

Susie was not as fortunate and is facing a round of physical therapy and a MRI appointment for sciatica nerve problem.  Some of the pills have transformed her into "chatty Kathy".  Do you measure age, by the number of pills you take??

In the midst of all this one little spark along Highway 2 just west of Leavenworth started a small forest fire.  So I went ahead and took the assignment.  The total fire cost was just over a million dollars.  Fortunately, it was a small fire.

The Columbia Type 1 helicopter did show up for a couple of days.  After all these years the Columbia has become a part of my fire "history".  Seems like on every fire, sooner or later she will be flying dumping water on the hot spots.  Maybe when the Columbia retires from fire duty so will I.

This was a Type 3 fire.  Much smaller than most fires I end up spending time working.  But it was along Highway 2 just outside the destination town of Leavenworth.

The fire team was lead by a "different" type of Incident Commander as you can see from the briefing photo.  She always stood on a rock so everybody could see and hear her.  She gave quick, incisive briefings and then the various divisions met to complete plans for that days operations. 

As Incident Commander on a smaller fire she did take the opportunity to cover the fire line every day and she dressed the part.

The interesting part of the fire is that it was along Highway 2.  This is the main travel route between Seattle and the tourist destination town of Leavenworth.  The highway was closed for a couple of days, but the Washington State Department of Transportation insisted on opening the highway.  So for a couple of days the traveling public got a up close and personal look at a forest fire.  Burning trees, firefighters in no-mex carrying tools and fire shelters.  Fortunately, the helicopters were no longer needed by that time so the traveling public did not have the additional distraction of helicopters dipping in the Wenatchee river.

No one on the fire team could remember a previous fire where flame and public were that close to each other.  No accidents.  And on Monday, the Washington Department of Transportation put up flaggers and blocked one lane so they could continue their work on the Highway.

I guess we all perceive risk differently.  That which is new to you probably never seems as dangerous as to someone that knows.

The fire was just east of the Lake Wenatchee area.  You thought I was kidding with my post on  Lake Wenatchee and the comment about biting bugs??  Well, check out this sign from Tumwater Campground on the edge of the Tumwater fire and the gateway to Lake Wenatchee country.  As always, click on photo to  enlarge.

The Montana summer plans have gone into Doctor's appointments.

Fishing and hunting season is just around the corner.  Bugaboo has his hunting haircut.  The fly rod is repaired.  We are now waiting on the final Doctor's visits and the cooler temperatures of September.

If your interested in the effects of the late spring on the plant and animal populations see my posting on the Camas Meadows Blog.  Under the August 29th posting....Summer, this time its different.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Lake Wenatchee, Wenatchee National Forest, Washington

Lake Wenatchee, Wenatchee National Forest, Washington

The Lake Wenatchee area is one of the popular recreation sites in Washington state.  It is very popular during summer months.  It is however, a year round recreation area.   The area is popular for x-country skiing and snowmobiling in the winter, fishing, camping and hiking during summer, and it is a popular hunting area during the fall.  The area is a mix of private and public lands so there are a mix of services available.

We have tended to stay away from the Lake Wenatchee area due to the cloudy weather and mosquitos .  Lake Wenatchee is close to the Cascade crest so many times while the lower Wenatchee Valley is clear and sunny the clouds tend to hang around the Lake Wenatchee area.  Then there is the mosquitos buzz.  Just be prepared and you will be fine.  Several million visitors from Seattle cannot be wrong!

Lake Wenatchee State Park is the hub for the area.  Here is their link:  Lake Wenatchee State Park.  It is a crowded state park during the summer.

Just before you enter the state park is a Forest Service campground named Nason Creek.  This campground is spread over two or three entrances and does have some sites that can accomodate larger vehicles.  No hook-ups.  Nason Creek Information.

The campground is on the banks of Nason Creek.  It is a pretty little creek with no fishing due to listing of fish stocks under the Endangered Species Act.  Yes, that is a fish trap keeping track of all those endangered fish.
There is more than the campgrounds in the area.  The draw of the area is that there is so much to do and explore fairly close to the campgrounds.

From the campgrounds you can walk to the Kahler Glen Resort Area.  There is a golf course, restaurant, and your typical resort environment.  Nice change of pace from camping.  That view down the fairway is not a clearcut, but rather the Round Mountain Fire from 1994. 

There is much to do in the area.  You can boat, kayak, or canoe on Lake Wenatchee.  The White River has some canoeing on it.  There are two great hikes just a short distance up from Lake Wenatchee.

Twin Lakes is a cutthroat trout brood stock lake within the Glacier Peak Wilderness.  There is no fishing, but the walk to the lakes is beautiful.   Twin Lakes Trail Information.

The Washington Cascades mountains hide their treasures behind miles and miles of trail access.  The best spots are all located quite a distance from any road.  However, for a short walk of just five miles you can access Spider Meadows.  If you do only one hike in the Cascades this is one of the best.   Spider Meadows Hike

For the trailheads you will need a parking pass.  They are five dollars at the Ranger Station or you Senior pass will also work.

Lake Wenatchee is one of the most popular spots in the Washington Cascades.  Just be sure to bring your rain gear and mosquito repellant!!   Here is a guide to the Lake Wenatchee Area Visitor Guide.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Glacier View Campground, Lake Wenatchee, Wenatchee National Forest

usbackroads destination-Glacier View Campground, Lake Wenatchee, Wenatchee National Forest

This campground is named for the view of Glacier Peak.  Glacier Peak is Washington's states unknown volcano.  It is one of the five major volcanoes in Washington state.   It is smack dab in the middle of the Glacier Peak Wilderness and is seldom seen outside of the Wilderness Area.  But here at the boat launch you can see it off in the distance.  Oh, that handy snag laying in the lake next to the boat launch is actually a Forest Service breakwater.  Looks nice, in keeping with the boat launch and campground.  Most people do not realize that it was not there naturally!!   Well, the breakwater is my favorite part of this campground...maybe the only part.

When I was working for the Forest Service I walked through this campground several times trying to figure out a way to "fix' it given the topography.  I finally gave up and suggested to the Ranger District that they remove the campground.   Well, I was told that this is a very popular campground and the public would not accept it being closed.

Well, take a look at this picture.  This is the campground road.   No, that is not overflow parking.  That is the parking for the campsites!!   Oh, and a trailer turnaround?  Well, forget that.

These are the campsites from the "parking area".  That is a pretty steep slope down to the tent.  Accessibility?  Well maybe for a mountain goat family.

And for all this here is the fee board.  No that is not a misprint.  It is fourteen dollars a day.

But the people keep coming all summer long for that view shown at the top of the blog.  If you camp here bring your tent and kayak or canoe.  Oh, don't forget the life jackets.  The lake does get very windy and the water is very cold.  Drownings are common on the lake.  Still want to come??  Fishing is poor, except during the sockeye run which happens every two years.  Then the lake is covered with boats.  In fact, there is a rather poor boat launch at the campground.  Good luck during sockeye season.

There are a couple of larger campsites next to the boat launch.  You will have plenty of company all day long as people come and go, but a small trailer can fit in one of the sites.

One other reason to visit Glacier View is the trail to Hidden Lake.  The original trailhead is just west of the boat launch.  However, about 10 years ago the Forest Service put in another trailhead above the campground.  Take a look at that trailhead.  Now that is good design.   I probably should have argued for moving the entire campground up to the trailhead!!   Here is the link to the trail description:  Hidden Lake Trail.

This is a great trail for kids or folks that do not hike.  A great place to walk and have a picnic.  The lake has very small trout in it.  A great "stroll" through the woods.

Next posting more information on Lake Wenatchee area.