Friday, December 25, 2015

usbackroads destination--Snake River Invasive Bird Project 2015

usbackroads destination--Snake River Invasive Bird Project 2015

Trip dates: October 22, 2015- November 2, 2015

Another year, another Snake River Invasive Bird Project. We had high hopes that the pheasant population would be dramatically higher given the dry spring.

Changes were afoot this year. The 5th wheel was safely parked in Benson, Arizona. The Casita would be the RV of choice this year. The 17 foot Casita fits two in love, but one is the preferable capacity.  In fact, it is so small that Bugaboo was sleeping in the Dodge Ram. So since I was NOT that in love with Terry and since he sold his 5th wheel that meant he would be sleeping in a tent.

Notice the water containers to hold up the tent.  We were hoping that the infamous Snake River windstorms would not make an appearance this year. Alas, that was not the case.  The good news is that the egg shape of the Casita made it warm, quiet and cozy to sleep. Well, for Terry it was a little more interesting.  This is the tent after the windstorm.

So we parked the trucks around the tent. Anchored it to a log and put coolers inside and out to keep the tent from moving. Next year any tent company that wants us to test their designs we are willing to put them to the test.

The Casita was perfect for a windstorm!

I did notice that the Casita comes with its own night lights. A couple of LED lights on the fridge.  Light's up the entire trailer at night. I just covered with a towel at night. 

Once we settled we started hunting. For Bugaboo he was a "professional" this year. Slow and efficient, never got excited. Just pointed the birds and brought them back IF I hit them. I ended up with 15 birds for this trip. It was, however, a rocky start to the season> I finally shot my first bird on day four. Things did improve after that.

For Paul and Terry there were some steep, long walks on the hillsides above the lake.

This year, after a few hunts the boys decided to sleep in during the afternoon hunt. Bugaboo and I joined them for a nap.

One frosty morning the entire crew got ready for the hunt. I think it must have been Halloween. I believe they have the 400 square inches of hunter orange covered.

The campsite was again the perfect spot for catching those elusive steelheads heading to Idaho. I think I am going to work on having Bugaboo bark when the bobber goes down. It seems the bell on the rod is not doing its job! 

This is Buggy wondering if he really was up for the job of fishing dog. Might be a good retirement gig for when the nose and the legs go south. 

We fished after returning from hunting. I did finally hook a smallmouth bass. Even landed it. However, the steelhead are still swimming free in Idaho.

The sun finally set on our campsite after the 14 day limit. Next year, same time, same place.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

usbackroads destination--Palisades Campground, Montana to Lochsa River, Idaho

usbackroads destination--Palisades Campground, Montana to Lochsa River, Idaho

travel dates-- Oct 14-17th 2015

The overnight stops in Pinedale and Grand Teton National Park in October were  slightly chilly affairs. Which is fortunate, since most years it is downright cold and snowy.  The temperatures hit 25 degrees and the Casita was in the early stages of freezing up. Temperatures below 20 degrees are getting into three dog night territory.  We only had two.

We pulled into West Yellowstone looking for a campsite and groceries. Bugaboo, however, got all excited when he realized the first street in West Yellowstone borders the National Park. For us it was the perfect place to park the truck and trailer and walk to the grocery store. For Bugaboo, it was time to get even. He started whining and wanting out NOW. As soon as I opened the truck door he ran over to the National Park boundary and expressed his opinion regarding National Park Service policy on dogs. I think he was actually smiling.

We stopped at the Forest Service Ranger Station on the way of out town looking for a campsite. Plenty of COLD Forest Service campsites around town, but when I said "relatively warm" the Forest Service said BLM, and the Madison River just north of Ennis will get you into lower elevations.

Nice campground right on the banks of the river. One other camper showed up at dark. It does appear to be busy during the summer fishing months.

We got up the next morning and headed to Ennis for breakfast. Great breakfast place in town and then we hit the road for Missoula where we hoped to meet some friends for lunch and then the nights camp at Packer Meadows.

It seems that whenever you need to make time on the road you will always find a traffic jam to slow you up. The traffic jams in Montana are always more interesting than elsewhere since they are so different. I saw a person slowly driving down the road waving a flag to slow traffic. My question was sheep or cattle?  It was cattle.

Montana is not only different it is a pretty special place. Most people drive to Montana for the scenery. There is more to the state than that pretty special scenery. 

The towns and people of Montana are pretty special in their own right. I was working two weeks on the Montana-Idaho divide laying out a timber sale in 1972. After two weeks I was heading for the bright lights of Missoula as quickly as possible.  I stopped at a gas station and asked if I could clean up in the restroom. The owner said, there is only cold water in the restroom.....wait a minute while I heat some for you. 

We vacationing on the Beaverhead National Forest when we got word that Susie's mom was dying in Illinois. The help we got from Montanans to get us their as quickly as possible will always be remembered in our family.

I turned down a couple of inquiries asking if I wanted to work in Montana. I figured sooner or later I would get there and I would save the best for last.  Never, did get to live in Montana and that I do regret. So go to Montana. Experience the mountains and the plains. But don't forget her people. They are the best.

We finally got to Packer Meadow at dusk and just pulled over by the side of the road to spend the night.

Packer Meadow is a spot that Lewis and Clark liked some much that they made a point of camping there coming and going. The Forest Service has a nice visitor center right off the highway which is worth the stop.

For us it was a return to Packer Meadows after being gone for almost 25 years. You can read the story of our stay there 25 years ago. 

Here is the link to that posting: Yes, there is a story of a helpful hand from a couple of Montana residents.

It was elk season in Idaho so our little campsite from 25 years ago was taken.  However, it still looked good.

From Packer Meadows we made a quick stop for breakfast at Lochsa Lodge. The original lodge burned down a few years ago in an unfortunate fire.  The new lodge is great. As we headed for our table a voice called out "Hi, Vladimir". In the middle of somewhere a fellow employee from the Wenatchee National Forest. If Forest Service employees from hundreds of miles away head for here, you know it is a good place:

After a long, slow breakfast with plenty of coffee we said our good byes and headed down the Lochsa River, well headed down Highway 12 along the banks of the Lochsa River.

A quick night at the Snake River Bird Camp spot and then home after seven days or more on the road. More on the bird camp in the next posting.

Wenatchee was much warmer than the Rockies. Looks like a one (small) dog night.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

usbackroads destination--Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming.

usbackroads destination--Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming.

trip date: October 14, 2015

We left Grand Teton National Park on the John D. Rockefeller Jr. Parkway headed for Yellowstone National Park.  Bugaboo and I were in a foul mood as we approached the entrance station to the park.  Bugaboo as soon as he saw the NPS sign, knew it was going to be a ZERO day.  No running, exploring, sniffing or other good things to do.  In my case, waiting for over a half-hour on October 14 to enter a National Park is a bit much!

Yellowstone is a  very special spot on the planet.  The only other places that come close are Iceland and Kamchatka.  We almost bought Kamchatka from the Russians, but thank god the sale did not go through.  Otherwise, the National Park Service would be managing both world wonders!!  If you can go to Kamchatka.....GO!  It is a special place:  Kamchatka's Plants.

However, Yellowstone is much closer and just as special.  IF you have ONLY one day in Yellowstone National Park do the thermal features in the southeast corner along the Firehole River.  Do take any kid you can to this special place on earth.  It is a delight.  Even the worse, jaded, computer game and social networking junky will appreciate it.  Yep, those are selfies they are taking in the picture above.  Click on the image to see it full size.

The Firehole River is famous for fly fishing.  This is the typical picture you see in the magazines of fishing the Firehole River.

Well, the truth is more like this.  But still a special place.  It is just that you are sharing it with many people even in the middle of October.

But hey, fly fishing is cool. The attraction is the fishing for those "magically impaired".

Of course, it would NOT be a National Park without those signs.  Here the Park Service put one on the left side of the trail and another on the right side of the trail. Remember it is a National Park....walk between the lines, speak softly, and do not use flash. It is just like that fine art museum where you also pay to get in.

Don't let the signs stop you.

The scenery away from the hot springs is worth noting. The wildlife is there and the hot springs are always just visible as their steam rises.

There are several stops on the Hot Springs Tour of Yellowstone National Park.  A couple are closed to folks towing trailers.  So you might want to camp and day trip this portion of the National Park.

It is one of the most spectacular sights on this planet.  It belongs to you.  See it.

Monday, November 9, 2015

usbackroad destination--Signal Mountain Campground and Grand Teton National Park

usbackroad destination--Signal Mountain Campground and Grand Teton National Park.

trip date: October 13, 2015

As we were leaving the Warren Recreation Area managed by the BLM where the nightly fee was ZERO we started looking for a campground to spend the night inside of Grand Teton National Park.  The National Park Service was founded by and is managed for the elites in this country.  One of the advantages of being a Senior citizen is that you get free admission to the National Parks and a small discount on camping fees.  So for the first time in years many folks are finally able to visit THEIR National Parks.

For more on the history of the National Park Service click on this link:

Our quick search of the internet found ONLY one campground open in Grand Teton National Park.  We were losing our internet connection and managed to get this one review:  Well, there was construction going on, but surely they would be done by mid-October!!  Wrong.  Five stars rating so the view at least must be impressive.  Wrong. The place is a poster child for everything that is wrong with the Park Service and their concessionaire program.

Here is the campsite and notice the fee for a night in October.  No hook-ups except for electricity.  Did I mention that this was the ONLY campground open in Grand Teton National Park?

Really, I do think private companies should be able to make money even if they are under contract to the Federal Government to provide a public service.  But not to offer the public a low cost option in the National Park shows a disrespect for the American public.

Of course, for the National Park Service this is their favorite guy.  And if you are a relative of his I am sure the Park Service will welcome you with open arms.

However, if you are part of the unwashed masses.  Good luck.  It is even worse if your are disabled.  It is only 2015.  The American with Disabilities Act passed in the early 1990's.  This is what the concessionaire built AND the National Park Service approved for a campground in 2015!!

Go ahead try getting there with a wheel chair, baby buggy, or even a cane.  And when you get there this is how you fill your water container.  Don't forget now you get to carry that full water container at 8.3 pounds per gallon.

From this angle you can actually see how steep the access trail is to the restroom.  2015.  The law has been on the books for 25 years!  AND the National Park Service is a FEDERAL agency.  There is no excuse for this.

The campground roads are also an adventure.  Yeah, they really are that narrow.

WHY would anybody rebuild or permit the rebuilding of this campground??

However, it is Grand Teton National Park and if you are lucky enough to be rich enough or physically fit enough to camp in the campground the Park is worth a visit.

There is ANOTHER five dollar fees for launching kayaks and canoes on the lakes inside the National Park.  Boy, that Rockelfeller guy gave some really good lessons to the National Park Service on "ripping off"....excuse me charging fair prices for services!!!  Isn't that boat ramp at the right hand side of the photo worth five bucks??

Enough ranting and raving about the National Park Service.

Explore the backroads of the National Park. The good news is that you can even access some National Forest land via the National Park.

Grand Teton National Park is about the views.

We only had time for one day at the park.  We will be back and hopefully find a nice Forest Service campground at reasonable prices.

My recommendation for Grand Teton is take a bicycle.  There is a great bike trail from Jackson up into the National Park. Remember the fee for entering the park by car is $30.  It is only $15 for a bicycle.  However, if your a family you should put the bikes on the bike rack on your car and save some money.  Damn, there is that Rockelfeller guy again.  Grand Teton National Park Bike brochure.

The other trip is to canoe or kayak the Snake River through the park.  Yeah, you will have to pay the Park Service again for that boat permit, but do it anyway.

At the end of the day we took the drive up Signal Mountain overlook.  Take a telescope or high power binoculars and a tripod with you.  From here you look down on the flatlands of Grand Teton National Park.  We saw lots of elk, beer and antelope on our trip.  For best results, go at sunrise or sunset.

After one day in Grand Teton National Park I was just a cranky at the Park Service as Bugaboo.  Tomorrow.  Yellowstone and then the freedom of BLM and Forest Service managed land.