Tripping off to Mexico Mañana

Me on Bob's fiddle
Me on Bob’s fiddle. Mom always said to clean behind your ears. I see why now.

Today is Laura and Barry’s wedding day. We’ve been hanging around Portal waiting for this day since the bridge was finished. An event well worth waiting for but, my, there’s not much going on when we’re not working or super hiking. I practiced some of my new Irish tunes this week. I read a book. Burt and I visited centenarian Bob again. A bear attacked the gNash. I saw a couple more tarantulas. We took a hike. A mouse landed on my shoulder.

Yesterday Mimi was dropped off at Dodie’s for her extended kitty B&B stay. I left Dodie with Mimi’s bed, food, snacks, bowls, litter box, litter, blankie, and more food. Mimi’s luggage weighs more than mine. We also left Dodie with our minds at ease because we know she won’t mind having an elderly stink ball as a companion. Mimi isn’t so sure what to do with all the floor space. When I left she was completing her 53rd circumnavigation of the living area. The gNash is soulless without our feline companion.

Two nights ago was the incident of the bear under the gNash. Just after 11:00 I was woken by two quick Olive barks. Olive has a sophisticated system of barks. These two barks were ‘I hear something’ and ‘GoAwayBear!’ I woke up and, with Ollie ears in tune new we were under assault. Olive was quiet and there was a dragging/grating sound emanating from just outside the window on Burt’s side of the bed. I leaned over and peered out blindly but thought I saw a very large and dark hump moving. I said, “There’s a bear” as I shook Burt. Like all husbands roused from sleep he yelled, “There is NO bear.” Insert murderer, robber, thief, rapist for bear and you have all men waking up to wife saying: There’s a …. Is this in their DNA or are they taught by their fathers or is it learned after millions of false alarms?

Clearly Burt hadn’t fully assessed the situation. Nor was he awake. Still I thought, maybe he’s right. It’s probably a mouse. Suddenly more dragging noises and I hit Burt again and I said, “There’s a bear.” This time he bolted straight up and yelled, “There’s A bear.” This was the first time in history that I feel Burt actually met or exceeded my level of concern for our physical safety. Wide awake he knew instantly what I did not. Burt knew the bear had found a stash of food under our trailer (Hellooo, Hell, no…) and now the bear knew our trailer was a flimsy tin can of filled with delightful food. Burt closed his window and the window over the dinette. I left mine open. Menopause, bear or no bear. Our noise making scared the bear enough so that noises stopped and we couldn’t see it. Not much sleep was had as we both envisioned the bear ripping off our grey water tank or stretching a paw in to find the dog food. The next morning the bear was still on the pile of dry beans (my zombie apocalypse supply) when Burt went out to check the damages. He chased bruno away. Our storage cooler had sustained minor bite damages and the rice and beans were spread all around. I presume that bear got a mean tummy ache from eating dry beans. Burt cleaned up the mess as best he could. We seal up the windows whenever we leave now but if a bear wants into a trailer it can make it happen. Today we are moving to a new location. Hopefully the bear doesn’t follow.

Also this week we played music for Bob. It was a kind of practice session. Whiel visiting Burt asked Bob if he had any of his instruments still. Bob still had his fiddle which he had inherited from his father. He showed it to us. I got it in tune and played some tunes on it that Bob’s dad might have played. Bob practically seized the thing from me and gave it a go himself. Despite his torn rotator cuff, deafness, long finger nails, and lack of practice the phrase of a tune came out. Bob commented that he liked my bow. You can see the video on Facebook. This private session was further rewarded when Bob left his house and came to our concert the next day. He doesn’t get around like he used to. He and his gal friend Gloria were all the audience we needed to make our day special. We made plans to have another jam session between our Mexico and Galapagos trips.

Another recent wildlife encounter happened when I decided to clean out a bird nesting box on the old adobe stage building where we are parked. I lifted the front of the box and it was packed full of bedding. Fearing biting bugs and the mites I’ve found in other nests I grabbed a stick to clean the place out. As I dug in a very alarmed mouse jumped out and landed on my shoulder. I screamed. She screamed. Then she ran down my chest, jumped to my knee, and then the ground. I stopped cleaning for fear of finding babies. The birds will have to battle it out come spring.

Bob on Bob's fiddle. Originally his father's fiddle.
Bob on Bob’s fiddle. Originally his father’s fiddle.
Barfoot view
Barfoot view
View of Barfoot lookout.
View of Barfoot lookout.
Bear destroys but does not eat dried beans.
Bear destroys but does not eat dried beans.
We had almost an inch of rain in under an hour. Bear tracks in the mud.
We had almost an inch of rain in under an hour. Bear tracks in the mud.
Bob and Gloria made it to our show among many notable Portal residents.
Bob and Gloria (front, far left) made it to our show among many notable Portal residents.
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Galapagos Training

Annual Selfie. These filters hide all the decay.
Annual Selfie. These filters hide most of the decay.

Floods and fire everywhere we know. The Gypsy Carpenters world is burning down or underwater. Today we are at the edge of the continent looking westward and still the smoke blocks the view. Ocean winds are no match for the 140,000 acre blaze nearby. Last week we left the Willamette valley a day ahead of the over 100 degree heat. It was the second monstrous heat wave of the summer for an area that is normally very temperate. The same news in Montana, California, New Mexico, Washington. The west is on fire. It brings back the early 2000s when I first sunk into clinical depression during Helena’s summer of smoke. Friends there aer suffering again this year. I’m lucky to be mobile. We have found less intense smoke and lower temperatures. That’s enough. And friends.

Meanwhile there’s Houston but you all know about Houston. The news for us was our part of Baja was hit by Tropical storm Lidia. Lidia left nearly 30″ of rain in a day. That hasn’t happened in over 100 years. Cabo San Lucas looks like two feet of mud covered everything. Bridges are gone, landslides over roads, a friend’s house washed away. Only 4 people are known dead but 13 are missing. News from our town of Pescadero is that everyone is okay but roads are a mess. A nice reality check that this place we’ve chosen will always be interesting. Maybe development will take a breather.

As mother nature was reminding everyone who’s in charge we have been dallying on the Oregon coast. Our next job in in Templeton, Ca. It was 110 there yesterday. Hence the foot dragging. Rosemary and Ed hosted us for three night at Washburn State park and then we headed south to Bandon to our Mexican Bridge director’s home for a few more days. The living is good. Food, friends, animated discourse. While in Washburn we were able to visit Kate and Pat. Pat and Burt met keeping bees in the 70s. Kate’s just written a novel about the post-apocalypse. I hope it’s published soon. We may need the guidebook.

Daily activities during this stretch include what I call Galapagos training. Here’s a summary:

Squats while brushing teeth. To help with leg strength for embarking and disembarking of boats and climbing volcanoes.

Cold water swimming to hopefully cut down on the lengthy time it usually takes me to get in cold water. I’m hoping to develop an ability to suck it up and plunge. So far there’s improvement but still a lot of wasted mental effort and time.

Beach walking. Sand legs take a while to develop mentally and physically. Short steps.

Bird watching. Duh. Birds here are different but spotting and getting the binoculars in focus improves with practice.

No snacks. Food (snacks) are not allowed on excursions to unpopulated islands. This news has taken me by complete surprise. I must, again, prepare mentally and physically to be without snacks. Burt and I are building up slowly. I took an hour walk yesterday with only water.

Many thanks to Ed, Rosemary, Pat, Kate, Lorna and Meryl for providing companionship and places to park. Today we have bridge. Tomorrow California.

Feet on beach
Feet on beach. Preparing.
RR and Ed and pups
RR and Ed and pups. Where are the snacks?
Slug
Slug
Pretty purple flowers
Pretty purple flowers
Raft with legs
Raft with legs
The mini-me on the mighty Beaver River.
The mini-me on the mighty Beaver River.
worked rock
worked rock
The log at Lorna's place.
The log at Lorna’s place.
Burt really likes the log.
Burt really likes the log.
Bridge guru gets guitar lesson.
Bridge guru gets guitar lesson.
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Burt and his salmon.
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Random art at Sisters Rocks on the Oregon Coast
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Starfish at Sisters Rocks.
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Sea Cave at Sisters Rocks.
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Sunset on the New River. The red dot is a smoke shrouded sun.
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Post-eclipse withdrawl

Olinve, Bowman, and Elvis hang out.
Olive, Bowman, and Elvis hang out.

Helena friends, Rosemary and Ed, took a day off from their campground hosting duties and Carl Washburn State Park to visit us on the sunny side of the mountains. Ed alternately blames us and credits us for inspiring their semi-nomadic lifestyle. He and Rosemary spend a few months spring and fall back in Helena, Montana and the rest of the time they are volunteering in Death Valley of other parks or they are simply wandering the world. They visited Baja this past winter and are joining us in the Galapagos soon. Take it from them, it’s fun to travel with the GCs. Food is plentiful and tasty and the dogs play. Sometimes there’s songs to sing. If you’re really lucky Rosemary will dance. Our visit was a good treatment for the eclipse hangover I’m suffering.

Everybody has vacated our current site and we are (or Burt is) back at work.  It’s very quiet around here. We played some Bridge and some music and have done on-line shopping to prepare for our next season of wandering. Both of us need new footwear for the Galapagos.  Yesterday another wandering duo, Rolf and Bonnie of Portal, AZ, stopped by. Rolf and Bonnie had just visited the Galapagos so they had useful ideas on what to think about as we try to get ready. They even offered us the use of a rolling duffle bag that can be carried backpack style. Our trip to Europe showed us we have left duffle bag days behind and yet the gNash has no room for real luggage. We hardly ever have to pack and this year we are taking three international trips. One person in our party, and I know you’re thinking it was me but it wasn’t, over packed and over shopped for Europe. Some items purchased remain unused. But he is ready for a nice night out. I am pleased he has some stylish pants and shoes for the next time somebody invites us someplace stylish. The islands on the equator are not that place.

Still room to join us.

Recycled wood wood shed
Recycled wood wood shed
Rotten subfloor
Rotten subfloor
New floor
New floor
Glue
Glue. You can see the jack and the lifted post here. Lifting the post was important to get the rotten flooring out.
Vinyl patch
Vinyl patch
Eclipse art. Perfect cure for the eclipse hangover.
Eclipse art. Perfect cure for the eclipse hangover.
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Birdies flocking together

Cara-caras in Elias Calles
Cara-caras in Elias Calles

We drove down here with a 5 pound bag of bird food. Burt was feeling tolerant of my whims. Usually he says, “Too much. Buy it there.” I only bought it because I was afraid I would forget to buy some here. As soon as we were situated I put out some seed. It was a cheap bag of food and nobody came. I tried a couple of locations. Nothing. All the other bird features were busy but sugar water only attracts a subset of feeder birds and I wanted to see more varieties. I despaired. Maybe my food was spoiled or just not to their tastes?

Last week our friend Bobbi asked us to come to her place and help her identify her birds. It was on our way to her house that we spotted the pair of cara-caras sitting in the dead palm. As we sat there on her porch and watched a veritable flock of birds dining ten feet away I realized my mistake. It wasn’t the food. It was the location and type of feeder. The bowls were too exposed and the table was too close to our trailer. I made one small change. I placed the food in a piece of driftwood and hung the driftwood on the fence. The feeding station is two feet further away from our trailer and higher off the ground. The next day there was a seed eater on it. A very shy cardinal flitted in and out taking a seed at a time. The day after that four new species of birds were in the yard: Black headed grosbeak, house finch, phainopepla, pyrrhuloxia.  Yippee skippy!

Moral of this story, same as all the rest: Don’t give up.

Cara-caras in Elias Calles
Female Cardinal
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Cardinal at take-off
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Cardinal and black headed grosbeak
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House finch and orange crowned warbler taking a bath together. I wonder what the missus will say?
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House finch, hooded oriole, and orange crowned warbler. The bath is very popular.
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Pyrrhuloxia
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Northern mockingbird and a hooded oriole squabble over who’s turn.
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Scott’s oriole, hooded oriole, house finch in line.
New feeder with cardinal
New feeder with cardinal

 

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Gobble, Gobble, Gobbled

Pavos
Pavos or turkeys

Yesterday our friend and guide Esteban took us up to his sister’s ranch. The rustic farm is about an hour from El Pescadero and located on the edge of an arroyo. This trip materialized the way so many things happen here. Esteban stopped by to say hi. Burt said let’s take a trip to the mountains. We think Esteban said, “Do you want to see my sister’s ranch?” I think we said yes. We are not entirely sure if he asked or if we asked or how we wound up agreeing. Turkeys were mentioned. We made a date for an excursion.

Yesterday we arrived at Esteban’s house a few minutes late. He was surprised. We were very punctual according to him. This was after we called to say we would arrive an hour late and we arrived an hour and ten minutes later than originally agreed. Oops. We try so hard not to be prompt and we always fail. We are continuously arriving before our hosts expect us all over the world. This fashionably late thing is beyond our skill set. We couldn’t even start our show fifteen minutes late as all musicians are expected to do.

The journey to the rancho was full of words for trees and birds we happened to pass. Esteban used to be the forest ranger in the Sierra de la Laguna Biosphere Reserve. He knows all the local beings. What we could not understand was where we were going. Eventually we wound up at a very nice, brand new country getaway. There were two workers watering the plants. The yard was nicely landscaped. I pondered how a walk in the woods brought us to some rich person’s cabin in the mountains. I have no idea what transpired but the conclusion was that we were free to visit this spot and camp anytime we liked. I conclude Esteban was introducing us to the locals. I could be wrong. It was a very nice spot. Elvis peed on everything. When I said is Spanish that he had to mark everywhere we go the men all laughed. We piled back into the Exploder and headed back out to the highway. WTF. Are we going home already? Was that our trip? During all our visits Esteban and Burt and I have a three way dialogue that meanders and is very amorphous. I am never certain if we are going or coming, leaving or staying. His manner of guiding is similar. He takes us to a trail and says, “I’ll see you later.” We walk away wondering where we are going. We always get there, turn around and walk back. Esteban is where he left us. Everybody is happy.

At the highway we headed away from town and took another ranch road towards the mountains. At the end of this road we arrived at a ranch filled with animals. Cows, sheep, goats, chickens, turkeys…The local lady of the house was working her butt of making cheese and doing laundry. The men were sitting and talking. I headed to the kitchen and chatted with another visiting female while we watched Lupita do her chores. Burt hung with us. There were wild birds in cages singing in the kitchen. I could hardly stand to look at the starling, grosbeak, sparrow and orioles but they are well loved by this quiet woman with few visitors. The woman was Esteban’s sister. She is also very comfortable in the wilderness and trapped all the birds herself. Now I know the whole family shares our love of birds.

Eventually Esteban takes us to a trail and say, “I’ll see you later. There’s water up there.” Burt and I and the Olvis walked until we found water. It was 4:00 PM. I could have spent the night there on the sandy bank with palm trees swaying and water trickling by. There were heaps of birds but we forgot our binoculars. Both of us. We returned to the ranch. There was Esteban waiting. I asked if we could buy a turkey. How much? $400 pesos. Muy caro, I thought but worth it to reward Lupita for all her hard work, so we agreed. They asked if we want it alive or dead. I envisioned carrying a live turkey back to town with Elvis and Olive and decided dead is best. One of the men caught the turkey while Esteban filled an enormous pot with water to boil. The unlucky dinner is caught, its feet bound, and it is hung upside down. Burt cut its throat. The bird was then plunged into boiling water and plucked and gutted. Both Burt and I have done this many times but it made us nervous doing it with a cross cultural audience but some things are the same no matter what language you use. Lupita gave me some much less expensive eggs. Finally we headed home.

Zalate or fig tree
Zalate or fig tree
Presa or dam
Presa or dam
Borregos or sheep
Borregos or sheep
Wild birds in cages. Que triste.
Wild birds in cages. Que triste.
Haciendo queso. Lupita is making cow's milk cheese.
Haciendo queso. Lupita is making cow’s milk cheese.
Pavo sin suerte. The unlucky turkey.
Pavo sin suerte. The unlucky turkey.
Insertion into boiling water loosens the feathers.
Insertion into boiling water loosens the feathers.
Hanging fowl upside down calms them.
Hanging fowl upside down calms them.
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Thanksgiving 2016

 

I cleaned these piñones for 20 minutes. My hand cramped.
I cleaned these piñones for 20 minutes. My hand cramped because I was using my middle finger instead of my index finger.

I’ve been neglecting my duties as bloggess of Gypsycarpenters.com. Last week I snagged my index finger on the cut edge of a can of cat food. It was a darn painful and jagged injury.  The cut was just on the part that hits the keyboard keys. The same part I use to run the phone. It was pretty inconvenient and required frequent bandage changes.  There are two new boxes of band-aids in our truck and trailer. Since the accident I haven’t played music or done dishes. Well, I rarely do dishes but it’s nice to have an excuse. I did cook and continue working. Shopping at Home Depot is an index free chore.

Thanksgiving turned out to be just a grand day. First off Burt and I visited a patch of wilderness ten minutes from here. Huntley Meadows Park is a swamp bordered by hardwood trees. I’d seen the park on my mapping app and it looked like a very large patch of green worth exploring so I looked it up and decided to visit. The park features an excellent boardwalk used by both human visitors and the animal residents. Everyone appreciates a good walking path. So Burt and I left the dogs in the car (no dogs on the boardwalk) and did some birding. We saw the rusty blackbird, apparently a rarity, thanks to other birders we met on the walk. We also spotted some lovely blue-winged teals and the red-bellied woodpecker.

From the calm, grounding bird walk we headed to brother Christian’s home for the day. Christian and Kernan and my nephew Parker and niece Izzy were no where to be found when we arrived despite a text 5 minutes earlier saying they were ready for us. Welcome to the Zazzalis! Turned out Christian was out back using an industrial leaf blower and Kernan and Izzy were dressing. Parker, as is usual for teenagers, was sleeping and would not be seen for hours. Eventually we all gathered around the cheeseboard and gorged. Ahhh it’s good to be amongst the family and have no dietary restrictions on the scene. Boy do we love cheese. To prepare space for the non-traditional feast we were planning we headed out for another walk.

Bacon Ridge is a new section of trails squeezed onto an undeveloped plot of land between a defunct madhouse and an interstate. Back in the colonial era this land was cleared and farmed. Remnants of the farm’s fencing and tools and vehicles could be found among the serpentine paths through second growth forest. There was also distinct erosion gulleys formed when the land was originally cleared. There’s a certain common feature of small spaces where we try to maximize trail length: The trails are convoluted and full of figure-8s. This particular area had no defining landmarks. Leafless trees and leaf filled gulleys all looked the same to us. We got lost. Not lost as in where are we, but lost as in how do we ever get out of here? Kernan took charge and used her iPhone to find the car and we headed cross country using our keen wilderness skills. All we had to do was keep the roar of the interstate to our left and we would eventually find the car. And this worked but not without me stepping into quick sand and all of us losing sight of each other in the deep gullies. The leaves were twice as high as Olive’s head and she had a time of it in the bottom of the trenches, too. So dinner was a little late.

Back at the house Parker had not gotten dinner started but did rouse from his bed. We arrived back home and set in to make risotto, chicken cutlets, and brussel sprouts. Nobody wanted turkey so we did the family favorite. It was madcap. The house is large but the kitchen work area is cramped. Everybody played a revolving roll at the stove. Dishes were washed as soon as they were dirtied by Lalaura a family friend. Nobody got hurt. The patriarch of the family was called and we took turns touring him around by Facetime. Christian shucked oysters and Parker ate them. I forgot to mention that Parker had an ear ache. I hope oyster eating cures ear aches.

Over dinner Christian and I shared the different details we remembered from watching our grandmother and/or uncle cook the same meal in an even tighter space. It was a lovely family time remembering that those people long gone gave us the desire to still eat this food.

I made this but we ate it before Thanksgiving.
I made this but we ate it before Thanksgiving.
Beaver tracks?
Beaver tracks?
Beaver tail track
Beaver tail track
Huntley Meadows Park
Huntley Meadows Park
Thanksgiving leftovers
Thanksgiving leftovers at Huntley Meadow
Cheese board
Cheese board
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Working all night long

Looks like he's reading but he is sound asleep.
Looks like he’s reading but he is sound asleep.

With the gNash parked mere feet from the front door of our current project Burt takes full advantage of his early mornings and the accessibility. Recently he’s been going in as early as 3:00 AM. Now back on the west coast that’s midnight. I’ve been pondering what this means for Burt’s internal clock and our lark/owl interpersonal relations for weeks and then this morning happened. Burt woke up and misread the 11:00 PM as 1:00 AM. Our clock is two hours behind. He thought oh, it’s 3:00 I might as well go to work instead of trying to sleep. But it wasn’t 3:00, it was 1:00. Got that? So Burt showed up for breakfast at 8 AM after putting in nearly a day’s worth of work. In the meantime I was sleeping soundly in the spacious bed. We were both awake for breakfast of pea soup. Now it is 11:55 AM and Burt is sound asleep. I’m doing computer updates and backing up writing and photographs.

I made a pumpkin pie but I can’t bake it until Burt wakes up and lights the oven. As of yesterday we have been living in this 22′ box for seven years and I still can’t light the oven. Co-dependency is what they call it. We’re off to my brother and sister-in-law’s place for the holiday. We haven’t settled on a meal plan. I was supposed to bring my pie but Christian won some pies in a raffle and so I get to keep this one. There’s no such thing as too much pumpkin pie in this trailer.

Yellow room will be white soon. I find this shade of yellow hostile and jarring in a bed room.
Yellow room will be white soon. I find this shade of yellow hostile and jarring in a bedroom.

 

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More family fun

Olive and me. She thinks I'm going to drag her into the ocean.
Olive and me. She thinks I’m going to drag her into the ocean.

Lest you think it was all sad last week in Murrell’s Inlet, it wasn’t. We walked the beach and ate, fished and ate, sang a few songs and ate, watched TV and ate, played tennis and ate. My Carhartts are nearly unwearable today. Bobby and Cara came down from Bryson City and helped out a bunch. And, of course, they’re just plain old great to hang out with. I’m hoping we can swing into Bryson City when we head south for the winter. It’s all weather dependent. Say no to snow.

Bobby unhooks my brim.
Bobby unhooks my brim.
Me and dad. I kinda look like him.
Me and dad. I kinda look like him.
Me and dad.
Me and dad.
Check out this mama wolf spider. Those are babies on her back.
Check out this mama wolf spider. Those are babies on her back.
Me and Cara
Me and Cara
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Burr Removal

This was weeks ago
This was weeks ago. Imagine scores of burrs. So many her ears couldn’t flop and her eyes were closed.

It’s fall in Montana. Leaves are turning. Trout are hungry. Stickers and burrs abound. Olive is caught in a Catch-22 of freeze or collect stickers. To take her outside with us with long hair is to invite a coat full of needles. To shave her is to guarantee hypothermia. Since we have no plans to head south soon we are debating a shave and a new coat or do we spend more hours cleaning her fur. Burr removal is a thankless chore. Olive hates it and resents every minute of our work. Yesterday we went fishing at the confluence of the Dearborn and Missouri rivers. There was an abundance of those football shaped burrs and some hound’s tongue for variety. After 2 hours of fishing we spent 40 minutes of de-burring. The fun to work ratio is pretty low. Anybody have advice? Should we shave? Should we keep up the removal? Mall walk? Leave Olive home?

Below is a raspberry tort I made for a dinner we had with Sue and Jay. Pea soup, salad and tort. The tort was from a recipe for Italian plum cake. The NY Times says it’s the most requested recipe in the history of the newspaper. I find that hard to believe since prior to this summer I have only known my grandmother to regularly make plum cake. I made one once a decade or so ago but I found the recipe on-line. I loved my grandmother’s plum cake but it was a rare seasonal treat. We probably got one piece a year. Burt’s daughter made one last week and like learning a new word the recipe was everywhere I looked. Facebook and the NY Times were filled with it. The benefit of the flood of commentary and news articles is I found the suggested variations. This cake is ready for anything you can throw at it. Since we had a bunch of Sue and Jay’s raspberries in our freezer we went that route. Soon I’m going to try the canned Portal pears. It’s simple and tasty. Give it a go. I used a casserole dish. The gNash is too small for a springform pan.

Also below is a helpful Public Service Announcement. Clean out the grooves on your log splitter before they fill with a rock hard debris. This log splitter had filled to the point that the splitter could no longer split. It took heavy application of hammer and chisel to remove the pressure hardened splinters from the groove. Team Gypsy Carpenter and Sue got the job done but we all agreed preventative cleaning would have been easier.

Raspberry tort
Raspberry tort
Plum tort recipe
Plum tort recipe. I used 3/4 cup sugar.
Cleaning the log splitter
Cleaning the log splitter
Sue can do amazing things with her broom.
Sue can do amazing things with her broom.
Door repair
Door repair
I love hollyhocks.
I love hollyhocks.
A lusty trout from the Dearborn River.
A lusty trout from the Dearborn River.
Burrs we removed from Olive.
Burrs we removed from Olive.
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Prepping to take our leave

A car ride with the pooches.
A car ride with the pooches.

Today Burt and Jen are finishing up the bedroom wall texture at the Kila cabin. I was going to go but I didn’t have any work to do so I decided to stay here and catch up, read, shower, and veg out. Everyone has caught the last summer cold of the season or the first winter cold. I can’t be sure which. The cold caused work delays so here we are still parked in Whitefish working on a cabin on a hill in Kila. Tomorrow we depart towards but not to Helena. We will stop first in Seeley Lake and go grouse hunting with Pete. Friday we will resume what is the start of our southward migration to Portal Irish Music Week. Music camp is pretty much full this year. There’s been some last minute cancellations but they were fully paid and we (as do all viable travel businesses) have a no refund policy within 60 days of the event. I promised to refund the money if replacements were found but so far no luck. I kind of feel bad and I kind of realize this is a feeling I must deal with if the camp and my finances are to survive.

In between snotty heads and ceiling work we made a trip out to Glacier Park. We’d heard the remote Polebridge entrance is frequently unstaffed so we thought we’d take a peek at Bowman Lake. Unlucky us. The gate had a toll collector. Since it was $30 just to drive in and see an alpine lake we decided to walk around the free Forest Service side of the North Fork of the Flathead River. Burt is just 9 months away from his $10 lifetime parks pass so we’re going to try and hold out until then on paying anymore park fees. Next week will be the last one. $30 to get into Yellowstone and Grand Teton. That will be a worthy one. Now that I write this I realize we will be surrounded by National Parks in Alexandria. Maybe we will buy one more annual parks pass. Writing as thinking.

Anyhoo. Burt fished and I stumbled along the log laden shore. The North Fork of the Flathead is a famously log chocked stream. Every year it seems somebody is caught in a ‘widow maker’ trap of logs blocking the channel. In fall the water is low and the logs are on shore. Burt caught a huge fish. He was pretty sure it was a Lake Trout but I had just read the warnings about the endangered Bull Trout looking a lot like a Lake trout, also called a mackinaw. When in Doubt Throw it Back. We discussed and we could not come up with the identifying features for one or the other fish. We were outside cell range so the internet was no use. Burt threw it back. That stung. No trout for dinner. Then Burt caught another. I informed him it was statistically improbable to catch two endangered species in 5 minutes. Not impossible but highly unlikely. That fish shook the hook as soon as we decided to keep it. Further research proved Burt right. It was a Lake Trout. The two are very similar looking but can be distinguished if you know what to look for. Now we do.

The Polebridge Mercantile is famous as an eccentric general store in the remote north woods of Montana. For 25 years I have heard rumors of its extraordinary bakery. I have been by on many occasions through the years but mostly in a rush to get somewhere else or in winter when services are reduced. Burt had never stopped. He hadn’t even heard the rumors of the bakery. Now I take good bakery rumors with a grain of salt. Good is relative. In general, the farther you are from civilization and the closer you are to a major tourist attraction the lower the quality of food. There’s a handicapping system. People will say food is good when it isn’t when they are far from home. Also, many people say that the Wheat Montana Bakery has good stuff and I think they are mediocre. The packed parking lot defies my understanding. Yesterday was the first time I ever had the chance to stop in and sample the wares but I was not expecting much. I have a healthy suspicion of all baked good recommendations. I was wrong. Again. I am glad I do not live near this bakery. I’d be a blimp and broke.

Burt and I, showing massive restraint, shared a Flathead cherry and chocolate turnover. What a delight!  Buttery, flaky puff pastry filled with a thick slab of not too sweet cherry filling drizzled with real dark chocolate. “That’s the best turnover I have ever had!” exclaimed Burt. It was true for me too. It boggled the brain because it wasn’t just a one hit wonder. The bakery was filled with tempting delights. Savory scones, macaroons, huckleberry turnovers, chocolate croissants, warm sandwiches…We had to leave so I could still buckle my pants. We will never fail to stop in here for a snack again. Best bakery in the universe.

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Red dragon fly dying on my board.
Red dragon fly dying on my board.
Polebridge, MT
Polebridge, MT. Bakery OPEN.
Looking into Glacier National Park from the North Fork of the Flathead River.
Looking into Glacier National Park from the North Fork of the Flathead River.
Worried this might be an endangered Bull Trout we let it go but it was the invasive Lake Trout, Rats! We should of and could of eaten it.
Worried this might be an endangered Bull Trout we let it go but it was the invasive Lake Trout, Rats! We should of and could of eaten it.
River selfie
River selfie
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