Friday, December 7, 2012

Sophie's Flat Trailhead, Wickenburg, Arizona

usbackroads destination--Sophie's Flat Trailhead, Wickenburg, Arizona

The reason for today's trip to Wickenburg was to fix the KEY FOB from hell.  The truck is at 35820 miles so I called up Dodge to make they knew I still had a problem with KEY FOB.   They told me to head for the Dodge dealer in Wickenburg and make sure he enters it into Chrysler's national computer system.

I am a great fan of Arizona weather in winter.  There is nothing like sitting outside typing this blog in 75 degree weather in early December.  I guess I am not a desert rat.

At first, I thought it was just that I did not understand the desert.  Having a degree in Forestry means that you can pretty much figure out how landscapes function be they forested or grass.  However, desert landscapes have always been difficult for me to decipher.  Seems parts of the landscapes respond to elevation and others to soils.   So I have bought some books on desert ecology and hopefully will be getting a better understanding of the various deserts in the southwest and their vegetation.

For right now, the weather is the draw.  Susie likes the desert sunsets.  I must admit that they do put the mountain sunsets to shame.   Every once in awhile you get a spectacular mountain sunset, but it seems to be a daily event in the desert.

Just east of Wickenburg, just a few miles out of town is a trailhead on BLM that allows overnight camping.  The name is Sophie's Flat.  The trails in the area are interesting.  There is a very large area for camping that will fit just about any size RV.  The access road is paved except for the last mile or so.

It looks the area is popular with various trail users including horseback riders.  You might have some company on weekends.

The area also hosts a small astronomy group on the new moon weekends.  They set up in the day use area by the SST (Sweet Smelling Toilet) provided by BLM.

Nice area well worth spending some time exploring and very close to the town of Wickenburg.

Just outside of town at the rodeo grounds there is dry camping available for $5/night with a seven day limit.  There is no charge for camping on Sophie's Flat Trailhead and I assume the 14 day  national BLM limit applies.

Here are some pictures of the camping area at the rodeo grounds.

As always, click on the picture to enlarge.  You might even be able to read the regulations on the sign!

Book Read:  Joe DiMaggio by Richard Ben Cramer.  A book about Joe Dimaggio's life.  Much more than a baseball book.  The baseball portions are here because baseball was so much a part of his life.  So it is worth reading if your not a baseball fan.  The most interesting parts to me were the early years in San Francisco and the chapters that covered his relationship with Marilyn Monroe.  Not the type of book that you cannot put down once you start, but interesting enough that you will finish it.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Davis Camp Park, Bullhead City, Arizona

Davis Camp Park, Bullhead City, Arizona

UPDATE March 16, 2013

We stopped here again for a two night stay before heading farther north.  Same campground, a little more crowded and showing a bit more sign of wear.

I did make it to the bicycle trail on the other side of the river.  Take the sidewalk back into town.  At the first stoplight....cross and then head into Laughlin on the south side of the bridge.   There is no sidewalk or path on the north side of the bridge.  In Laughlin, go down the main drag and you will see a parking area and restroom on the west side of the road.  That blue colored overpass is the bike trail to Davis Dam overlook.  The trail is about 2.5 miles and worth the easy bike ride.

Keeping with the 4 hour and 200 mile rule we left Newberry Springs and headed for Katherine's Landing inside of Lake Mead National Recreation Area.  There is a campground up from Lake Mohave.   I worked for the National Park Service on Lake Mohave the summer of 1977 and winter of 1978 before transferring to the Forest Service.  If we are around southern Nevada I always try and stop in to see how the area has changed.

We took Highway 95 and headed toward Searchlight, Nevada my work station in 1977 and home of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.  Please read the previous post on the weird residents of the Mohave Desert.  It hasn't changed.

Highway 95 in California has the railroad crossing from hell.  The road sign merely announces BUMP ahead.   It is more like a bucking bronco than a bump.  Here is what the rear of the 5th wheel looked after the "bump".  Like the table top sitting on the battery?

Damage except to the table was minor.  Got lucky on that one.  Happiness is seeing the California state line in your rear view mirror.    I remember when California was the rich state and Nevada the poor relative.  Not any soon as you cross the roads into Nevada you feel like your crossing from the third to first world.

The idea to camp at a National Park Service campground was subject to change.  The whole rig is 47 feet long and it is hard to find a NPS spur that long.  So we made the trip around the campground and headed back to Davis Camp Park which is run by Mohave County.

Here we did get a pull-through site with complete hook-ups for $25.  The park was a pleasant surprise the only downside being the traffic noise from the adjacent highway.  There is a LOT of traffic in Bullhead City.

Davis Camp Park is a old town housing the government workers that built Davis Dam.  And you can ride you bicycle right up to the base of Davis Dam.

It seems Mohave County has been having an adventure cleaning up the campground from year round residents.   Things are looking better, but a few RV's are "interesting".   Here is the link for their website:  Davis Camp Park.

It is a great place for riding a bicycle.  Here are some of the views around the RV portion.

Portions are a little rough, but the good design of the original town site still comes through.  You can even rent some of the original government housing as a vacation home.  For Susie, the concept of government housing being a vacation home was hard to understand.  Check out the web site and see if you want to pretend to be a government engineer!!  Monthly rates start at $800.

We did ride our electric bicycles into Bullhead City for a quick dinner at Panda Express and learned that Sam's Club will let you buy alcohol, pharmacy products, and eat at the cafe without membership.  So we made an "emergency" wine purchase.  But be warned...Sam's Club does not take VISA.  They were more than happy to take an Andrew Jackson and Lincoln for the wine.

There is a bike path on the Nevada side of the border, but we did not have the time to ride from Davis Dam south.   Its there, but there does not seem to be much information on the web.

We would stay here again.  If you do not need sewer hook-ups RV-A is the quietest and would be our first choice.  For full hook-ups RV-D is a nice area as are the riverfront sites in RV-B.

We stayed in RV-C and would NOT do that again.

Would we come back?  Absolutely.  Check out the picture on the top of the blog.  Crystal clear water, warm temperatures and great places to ride a bicycle plus your next to Lake Mead National Recreation Area.

Book read:  Scorpions for Breakfast by Jan Brewer, Governor of Arizona.  This her book on 
SB 1070 passed in Arizona.   Well written book and as a result easy to read.  If your interested in SB 1070 from Arizona's perspective well recommended.  If your not interested in SB 1070 give this one a pass.  Guess its appropriate to read now that we are in Arizona.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Newberry Mountain RV Park, Newberry Springs, California

usbackroads destination--Newberry Mountain RV Park, Newberry Springs, California

One of the disadvantages to going to the University of California at Berkeley is that people seem to think that all the weird people in world live there.  Well, that is not true.  All the really weird people in the world live in the Mohave Desert.   More on this later.

Holding fast to our 4 hour and 200 mile rule means a stop somewhere along I-40.  We looked into finding a location just off the freeway, but decided to help the local economy in Newberry Springs by stopping for the night at the local RV park.

So the towns claim to fame is a German movie set in Newberry Springs.  Susie even remembers watching it on NetFlix.  So here are the important details:  Bagdad Cafe.  The cafe is open from 7:00am to 7:00pm so hardly the party place in town.  My ride down Route 66 which is the road through town featured barking dogs and a couple that gave chase.  The dogs were surprised to see this old man outrun them on his mountain bike.  I suspect they did not notice the battery hanging off the back.

The RV park is trying real hard to make your stay pleasant and comfortable.  For that, they deserve a nights lodging.  The spurs are rather short, but have all the hookups.  Cable TV reception was rather spotty.  You would probably do better raising the antenna.

We did not try the wi-fi, but Susie's IPHONE provided great 3G service as a hot spot. So far this trip it has worked much better than last year.  Must be all those folks switching to 4g and free up bandwidth on the 3g network.

The one drawback to the park is I-40.  You do get to hear the traffic noise.  The town and neighboring areas are decorated in typical desert landscaping and accessories.

Here is a picture of the campground.  Lots of room, we had only one other RV pull in during the night.

We did get the site with the only picnic table.

The RV park does have a very small pool.

And a caboose!!  Well, worth looking inside.  Now there was a boring job.

The real attraction at the park are the two ponds.  The water is pumped from the Mohave aquifer into the two ponds.  The local ducks appreciate it and the story is that the ponds are stocked with catfish.

Now getting to the weird people in the Mohave Desert.  I lived in the Mohave Desert for just less than six months.  Ah, the people living in Berkeley were quite normal in comparison.

So that pond in the first picture.  The picture does not do the water justice.  It was taken late in the day, so the brilliant glacier blue bordering on aqua does not show well.  It put all the glacier fed lakes I have seen in my day to shame.

So I had to ask "Is there copper in the water or some other chemical that causes that aqua blue color". No, the answer was much simpler than that.  Seems the owner found a large supply of non-toxic blue coloring.  So he decided to color his ponds.

Berkeley is normal compared to the Mohave Desert and its residents.

Book Read:  Wild...from lost to found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed.  I am a sucker for hiking books.  This one is about a hike on the Pacific Crest Trail by a novice hiker.  Really more a story about her relationship with her mother who died suddenly at age 50.   Decent read, more about a relationship than hiking.  Probably more of "chick" book, but the hiking stuff kept me going!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Orange Grove RV Park, Bakersfield, California

usbackroads destination--Orange Grove RV Park, Bakersfield California

The rule of thumb is tow for no more than 4 hours a day or 200 miles.  From the last stop at Kit Fox it is just over two hundred miles and four hours to the next stop at Orange Grove RV Park.  One tip is from I-5 taking the Stockdale Highway just south of the Highway 58 interchange.  This will allow you to bypass most of Bakersfield.

The other advantage to the Orange Grove RV Park is that it is on the east side of Bakersfield.  Therefore, when you leave in the morning to go over Tehachapi Pass you do not have to fight the traffic to get through town.  In winter, when the fog is an issue only a few miles up the road will put you above it and headed for desert clines.

Orange Grove is a well managed, well laid out RV park.  More RV parks should be as well run as this one.  However, it is expensive at $37/ night.  At these prices we might want to spend a day relaxing rather than hitting the road early next morning.

The Buck Owens Crystal Palace calls to us, but we have not yet made this a layover day so we could visit.   I did get to spend a few days in Bakersfield coming and going from a forest fire.  An all right town on my list.  A working town, not a tourist town so don't expect find Paris Hilton walking her mini-pooch.

There is a pool, general store and other amenities to justify the price.  However, we appreciate the easy pull through sites, great traffic layout, good cable TV, and of course good wi-fi reception.  For a nighttime stop those are the important priorities.  

Here is the link to their web site:  Orange Grove RV Park.

Almost forgot.  Since you are camped in an orange grove they let you pick the oranges off the tree when ripe.  We passed through in late November and they were not quite ready.  The previous time in January they looked to be over ripe, but people were picking and so did we.  They were well worth the camping fee.  The best tasting oranges I have ever had.  Well, worth the stop if your coming through in January.  Then that $37 camping fee does not seem quite as steep.

I think Snowpatch liked the park better than Bugaboo.  Lots more small white dogs for him that large brown dogs for Bugaboo.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

usbackroadsinformation--Camping Equipment on the Snake River.

usbackroads information--Camping Equipment on the Snake River.

Hunting camp was different on the Snake River this year.  The 5th wheel was already pre-positioned in Eugene.  But Terry had purchased a truck and 5th wheel combination from his Australian friend that was touring the western US the past two years.  Terry got a great deal on the combination and his Australian friend got to sell the entire lot in one fell swoop.

Terry’s 5th wheel is a 27 footer.  So I thought long and hard about sleeping on the coach and decided instead to tow the tent trailer for sleeping.  That did not work as well as expected the first couple of nights and the wind howled and the flapping tent fabric did keep me awake.  Bugaboo also showed a distinct preference for Terry’s 5th wheel by making a bee line after hunting.

We did a few things differently camping this year.  The first is that we used a water filter to filter the Snake River water and put it into Terry’s fresh water tank.  The filter worked fine, but it was a little slow for filling the tank.  The filter would run through 1 liter per minute.  That works out to a gallon every five minutes.  Being a gravity filter it had to be higher than the fresh water fill.  So we tied it to the 5th wheels roof rack.  That made it difficult to fill the bag. 

Inside the tent trailer I had a portable shower that had a 12 volt pump.  We grabbed a bucket and filled it with lake water and then using the 12 volt pump filled the water filter. This worked great since we did not have to lift buckets of water above our heads.

We still filled water containers in Starbuck whenever we went through town, but now did not have to fill or stop as often.  We also used the 12 volt pump to fill from the water containers to the water fill.  That pump is now a part of the kit that travels with the 5th wheel.  Well worth the $20 cost of the pump.

We brought along my generator and ran an extension cord to Terry’s trailer, one to the tent trailer, and then another line to Paul’s camper when they showed.  That worked great.  We just had to be careful that two of us did not try running the microwave at the same time.

I did bring my solar panel and used that to keep the tent trailer fully charged.  So for best results you need a solar panel and a generator!

To heat Terry’s 5th wheel without running the big furnace Terry brought a small propane heater and with the bedroom door closed it kept the 5th wheel very warm.  I suspect this was one reason Bugaboo preferred the 5th wheel.  It was much warmer than the tent trailer.

Getting everything to the Snake River also required some changes.  I took some rubbermaid storage containers and placed them right behind the toolbox in the bed of the truck.  That worked great for keeping stuff dry.

Those little changes made hunting camp much more comfortable this year in spite of the weather.  We could even watch our fishing bobbers from the dining room table!  Now we were told by expert fisherman “Johnny” that we were not really fishing, but socializing instead.  Actually, we were pheasant hunting.  The fishing and watching the bobbers was just entertainment since we could not get any TV reception. 

It would have been worth it to see the Giants win the World Series.   One of the great things about becoming a naturalized citizen is that you no longer have to watch soccer!!   Baseball the perfect game.

We got to watch the moon rise over the Snake River. And on those early morning strolls outside I got to see two fireballs of the Orionid meteor shower.  Most nights were cloudy, show it was a treat just to see those two meteors.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Traditions--Same Trip, Same Stops, Same Time more or less....

Traditions—Same trip, same stops, same time more or less.....

Our annual trip to warmer clines has a sameness to it year after year. 

Pre-position the 5th wheel in Eugene in October.   Drive the truck to Eugene after it snows in Wenatchee stopping at the LaQuinta Inn in Woodburn.  Pick-up the 5th wheel in Eugene and resupply while camping at Armitage County Park.  Then down to Valley of the Rogue State Park outside Medford.  If the weather is good we continue to Black Butte Lake outside Orland, California.

That was the plan this year and it worked pretty well.   We left a good month early to miss the snow and rain.  It snowed in Wenatchee just prior to leaving.  Then it poured all the way to Eugene.

We stored the “must be dry” stuff in the Rubbermaid tubs.  They fit perfectly and by drilling four holes in the cover.  The covers can be secured with cable ties.  The system worked great. 
Everything else was double wrapped in large black garbage bags.  Only one of those bags allowed rain water to meet clothes!
The bicycle seats and electronics were wrapped into small garbage bags and then taped to be water proof.  It worked. 

Rain and lots of it forced us to travel at 40-50mph to Medford.  However, the net day it was clear sailing all the way to Black Butte Lake.

We had the same campsite at Armitage County Park.  Then the same campsite at Valley of the Rogue State Park.  However, we got a surprise when we got to Black Butte Lake. There were campers and lots of them for Thanksgiving weekend.  Our lonely campground was packed.

Bugaboo, once again is enjoying Black Butte Lake.  He gets his morning two mile walk along the trails.  This morning he went on point for mice twice and flushed a jack rabbit  that rather quickly ran down the trail.  A few quail, moments later and I am sure for him it was the perfect start to a perfect day.

Trails are drying out rapidly from rainstorms last week.   We took the bicycles up the trails and had a great time winding through the oak and grass covered slopes.  There was a dead baby rattlesnake on the road heading north from the campground.  It does not look real “snaky”, but it is probably a good thing that Bugaboo has his rattlesnake vaccination. 

Temperatures have been perfect at Black Butte Lake, but our four night stay is coming to a close.  Rain is predicted for Wednesday and hopefully we will be in the Mohave Desert and dry by then.

Monday…we head to Kit Fox continuing the “traditions” .  Then a stop at Orange Grove RV Park outside Bakersfield and the third day we hope to settle down for a few days at Katherine’s Landing on Lake Mohave, Lake Mead National Recreation Area.

Monday, November 19, 2012

usbackroads destination--Woodburn Oregon Outlet Mall??

This is NOT your typical usbackroads destination.  But let me explain.  We previously parked the 5th wheel in Eugene once again.  Since we are leaving earlier this year, by a month and a half we could avoid the snow and rain.  Right.  Before we left Wenatchee it snowed.  Then on the trip to Eugene it poured rain.  Everything was wrapped in Rubbermaid containers and plastic garbage bags, including the electric bicycles and only ONE package got partially wet.

Well, back to the outlet mall as a usbackroads destination.

When I was at Forestry school at the University of California at Berkeley there were TWO accepted dress codes for Foresters.  Things were changing rapidly in the Forestry profession, but your choices were limited to two accepted dress codes.   NW logger style with CAN"T BUST EM pants, Filson jackets, and White's Boots from Spokane.    The other style was Rocky Mountain Cowboy Logger complete with Levi's and cowboy boots until you left the truck.  There was a third with three piece suit and dress shoes, but that only happened it you REALLY screwed up your career and ended up in NEW YORK CITY or WASHINGTON, DC.

It being Berkeley, there were many in the Forestry School that were rejecting all dress codes.  Our field clothes were starting to come from the mountainering and backpacking companies that were opening all over Berkeley.  Ski Hut was the establishment.   There was North Face and Sierra Designs as manufacturers.  So many of us "budding" Foresters went there for our field clothes and boots.  White's are exceptional boots, but I never owned a pair.  My field boots were LOWA mountainering boots.  And so it went for the remaining field clothes, except for the mandatory FILSON cruising vest.

So what does this all have to do with an outlet mall in Oregon??

Simple, it has the largest concentration of  outdoor manufacturers in any outlet mall.  However, when you pick the brochure they are all listed under "Designer Fashions, Sportswear".  That explains a lot.  Back in the early 70's the mountaineering clothes worked great in the woods, better than the traditional stuff.  In the 21st century, lots of those clothes are more suited for hiking in the mall than the outdoors so be careful.

I am still partial to Columbia Sportsware.  Their clothes seem much better designed and I have become a fan of OMNI-HEAT line of outdoor clothes and footwear.  Columbia has also had the foresight to name a line of their outdoor clothes after Bugaboo!!  So look for Bugaboo clothes from Columbia, named after a great hunting dog!!

So here in alphabetical order are the stores:  Columbia Sportswear, Helly Hansen, Levi's??, Merrell, The North Face, GoLight and Under Armour.  Shop carefully, it might look like it belongs on a mountain, but just maybe might be more suitable for the mall.  There is also a Shutterbug store.  All that is missing is a good outlet bookstore.

Here is the web link:  Woodburn Mall.

There is an RV Park next to the mall:  Woodburn I-5 RV Park.

We did NOT stay here.  We did stay at the LaQuinta motel across the street and can recommend them.  Picking up the 5th wheel in Eugene and hopefully we will not be "Oh Lord, Stuck in Eugene, again.

However, it is pouring rain and blowing.  Still warm, so snow does not appear to be on the agenda.

This storm did make the national news BEFORE it showed up.  We will be moving on after it moves on.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Grateful Dead Mule Deer, Green Pheasants, and other hunting tales from the Snake River

usbackroads destination--Grateful Dead Mule Deer, Green Pheasants, and other hunting tales from the Snake River.

The annual trip to reduce the number of invasive upland bird species in the Snake River region of Washington State was definitely different this year.  Rain and lots of it for eastern Washington was the order of the day for the two week period.  Fortunately, it rained mostly at night and we did not have to wear rain gear during our hunting outings.  We did end up spending one afternoon in camp rather than hunt in the rain.

Now those familiar with the Grateful Dead know that the band "mascot" is a happy smiling skelton.  Well, while hunting up a draw we found a Grateful Dead mule deer.  Yes, a happy go-lucky mule deer with a great smiling skull.   Here is the photo.  Bugaboo is appearing to be asking "Jerry is that you??".

We were driving across eastern Washington in 1995 when the radio announced with the teaser than an aging rock star had died of a drug overdose.  Susie looked at the radio saying "Oh, please let it be David Crosby".  Well, Jerry's time on earth was limited due to his choices.  He left a legacy in rock music, country, folk, blues, bluegrass and everything in between.   Yes, there was the Grateful Dead.  But there was also the Jerry Garcia Band, Old and in the Way for bluegrass, the Legions of Mary, and his music with Merle Saunders and the New Riders of the Purple Sage.

He left plenty of music for people to continue to enjoy for years to come.  Unfortunately, all the new stuff stopped in 1995.

Meanwhile David Crosby is still around and has passed on his genetic material.  Scientists are convinced that if David Crosby lived a normal lifestyle his life expectancy  would by 150 years.

The other hunting tale was at the wildlife mitigation sites managed by the Corp. The first flush of pheasants revealed a very dark bird with a red head.  Hunting pheasants is a sexiest pastime.  The males are shot and the hens are given a pass.  So a dark green bird with a red head can cause instant confusion, but only male birds cackle as they fly.  AND only dead stupid green pheasants cackle when they fly.

Bugaboo had no doubt.  The birds were a pleasant surprise and look like a great color for fly patterns. So I caped a couple of birds and hopefully, will be tying some great fishing flies for next spring.

Bugaboo hunted well this fall, but he was a little disappointed at the lack of birds.  Or maybe he was just concerned that there was not enough room in mouth for his tongue.

Paul brought along his kids and dogs.   His kids are just approaching hunting age so they tagged along for several days.  They were put to good use as "beaters".  Not quite an English or mid-west pheasant hunt, but moving in that direction.

Hunting all day long is hard work.  It does not matter if your 12 or 62.  However, it is much easier to find a place to rest when you are 12.

Paul also brought his three German Shorthair Pointers.  These small dogs (well, small compared to Bugaboo) have lots of energy.  I call them the German vacumn cleaning company for how well they cover the ground.  There might be a pheasant in there, but I doubt it.

We continued to fish for the elusive steelhead.  I think we hooked a couple but none came close enough to confirm that they were steelhead.   We did catch a couple of longnose suckers that are also native to eastern Siberia.  More significantly we caught a couple of catfish.  You need TWO sets of good pliers to skin catfish.

Other fishermen took pity on our dismal record for catching steelhead and donated a couple of steelhead for dinner.  Those and the catfish furnished a great dinner for one night and the pheasants for another night.

The best part about bird hunting is watching the dogs work and the walking.  It is much more enjoyable strolling with a shotgun than a golf club.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Fire and Smoke in the Wenatchee Valley

usbackroads information--Fire and Smoke in the Wenatchee Valley

Fire on the landscape is no stranger to the Wenatchee Valley.  The east slopes of the Cascades are a high desert down along the Columbia River.  In Wenatchee the average annual rainfall is just eight inches and most of that comes in the form of snow during the winter months.

 In the late 1980's and early 1990's the droughts made rain a rare event in the valley.  I did not recognize how rare until we were flying to Hawaii with our daughter Alexandra.  She was two years old and we were standing under the awning at the motel in Seattle waiting for the airport shuttle.  It was pouring rain and Alex pointed in the air and asked "Daddy, what's that falling from the sky"?  I quickly explained that God made rain for people without irrigation systems.  So rain is always a rare event in Wenatchee, and in some years it just goes missing.

This spring started wet and stayed wet well into summer.  It was around late August that I noticed it was very dry around Camas.  However, with summer at an apparent end and the threat from lightning diminishing daily I thought we might be out of the woods.

It was on a fire assignment that I remember a weatherman saying that the last day for widespread lighting in eastern Washington is usually September 8th.  After that the sun angle is too low for widespread lightning.  And really the concern is for a widespread lighting storm that results in multiple starts throughout the forest.

On the morning of September 8th the National Weather Service predicted a 20% chance of lightning.  So we went up to Camas to prepare the house for winter by primarily putting our firewood up against the house so it would be easy to access in the snow.

That night one of the most impressive lightning storms to hit the Wenatchee Valley started at dusk.  There were over 1,000 gound strikes resulting in over 100 fires from that storm.  Some of those fires grew very large fairly quickly.  You can see the pictures from the fires in previous postings in this blog.

So technically, the National Weather Service was correct.

Large fires are no uncommon in the Wenatchee Valley.  So many fires that the years just blend them together and only outstanding years like 1994 remain separate in the memory banks.

The 2012 fires were exceptional not for the acreage burned, but for the smoke produced.  Many of the fires burned close to town and a large number of homes including Camas were under evacuation alerts.  Even that was not exceptional, in 1994 EVERY community in Chelan County was under an evacuation alert.  But that smoke now that was exceptional.  This is the view from our house early this May.

This is the view for most of September and October of 2012.

The smoke did have its positive side.  For example, I could use the sun to put a "Christmas"ornament on the top of tree!!

This smoke was nasty and there is nothing pleasant about breathing it for a month.  After a month of wood smoke smell it is enough to make you give up campfires for life.

However, there was a good side to the smoke.  The smoke is caused by weather inversions were the temperatures at high elevations are warmer than on the ground.  This causes the fires to produce lots of smoke, but they burn more slowly giving firefighters a chance to control the fire.

Smoke is good.  Well, for controlling forest fires.  There were no homes lost during the fire outbreak.  One reason for that is that on most days the inversion kept the fires from growing rapidly.  I am sure that we would have lost our home at Camas Meadows if it was not for those long strings of inversions that kept the Poison Fire from growing rapidly.

So smoke is good, sometimes.  But our lungs were not really designed for breathing it.  Forecast for this weekend is a 60% chance of rain by Sunday night.  Rain, I never thought I would see the day that I would be looking forward to foul weather!!

For those following our issues with the electric bikes here is an update: