Oh, The Places We’ve Been

Pariah River Area
Pariah River Area

Five of us, two humans and three dogs, fled Montana ahead of a record breaking blizzard 10 days ago. Montana got a lot of snow, we hit a lot of places. Portal Irish Music Week attendees gather on Wednesday night. It’s Monday night and as much as we’d like to see people in Portal and catch up before camp we’re hanging out in the high country. There’s no fence at our campsite and Portal temperatures have been a little too high to use the truck as a kennel so we’ve spent the week on public lands where people are few and the weather is balmy. The weather is predicted to cool off by Saturday so that will make canine management slightly easier but with fifty people and my dad and his girlfriend all descending on Portal at the same time the dogs are going to be a pain in the tookus no matter how you look at it.

Here’s where we’ve been: Camas National Wildlife Refuge, Curlew National Wildlife Refuge, the Golden Spike National Historic Site, the Hawk Watch Site in the Goshutes, Cathedral Gorge State Park, Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge, Zion National Park, the Pariah River BLM area, Wupatki National Cultural Area, Sunset Crater, Meteor Crater National Landmark, and San Francisco Hot Springs.

Curlew NWR isn’t worth a visit but the road it’s on is worth driving. Cathedral Gorge State Park is a lovely site with a few fun and easy trails, plus hot water. Pahranagat NWR is worth a visit and a few days, especially if you have a canoe and some time. Boating season is restricted so check ahead. Zion we just drove through. That was really a fun thing. More below. Wupatki was hot so I stayed with the dogs. Felonies are best avoided unless you are a siting president. If you’re president I guess you can do whatever the fuck you want. Leave your dog in a hot car Mr. Trump and we’ll see how long you last. Oh, you don’t have a dog. Oops, I lost my train of thought. Sunset Crater is a forested area with interesting volcanic formations but you can’t walk the crater. Meh. Meteor Crater is mind blowing because it stands as a monument to one guy’s scientific discovery. More below.

So Zion. Zion National Park is a postage stamp sized park compared to Yellowstone. It straddles two sides of a highway. To gain access to the heart of the park you must park (English, so fun) and take a shuttle. There was no parking in the park on that day but the drive through is gape worthy. Our gNash trailer is a mere 2″oversized for a highway tunnel on the route through the park but for $15 the National Park Service Stops traffic and lets you drive the tunnel down the middle of the road.  Not wanting to be a nuisance we wondered if we should just drive around but we’d burn way more than $15 in fuel to skip the tight tunnel. Here’s the simple system to prevent head-ons in the tunnel. An oversized vehicle (us) arrives at a kiosk at one end of the tunnel. The attendent calls ahead to the other side and says, “Stop the traffic” or “wide load” or “road hog”. The attendant on the other end gives a white baton to the last car through from his direction and halts traffic. The baton holder travels the tunnel and as they exit they give the baton to the attendant on our side. The road hog is given the all clear to enter the tunnel. With lights on they straddle the yellow line for a mile and a half. There are view windows along the route. This was fun and worth every cent.

Meteor Crater National Monument has been on my do list since circa 1986 when we passed by on a western US rock climbing trip.  I’ve always been intrigued by photos of the enormous blast crater. The meteor conveniently struck on I-40 just east of Flagstaff.  Well, it was before I-40 but what a nice coincidence. I’ve probably driven in the vicinity 20 times. I think it’s either been too expensive or inconvenient on previous outings. The monument is privately owned so it’s not eligible for a free pass under our Senior Access Permit but I made Burt take me. A few years back we visited a meteor crater in Texas and it was such a let down I just had to see this one. If you’re passing through I say 5 stars. This site was discovered a long time back but interestingly at the time scientists believed it was just another volcanic crater. One guy, A. Foote, in 1891 said it was a meteor crater. Nobody believed him, but he was correct. Then another guy, Daniel Barringer, came to the same conclusion. He was so confident he bought the site. Still nobody believed him. All that volcanic stuff was obfuscating the situation. It wasn’t until 1960 that the scientific community caught up. Finally. Red meat anyone? The area has been protected and marketed by the Barringer family for several generations. They have built a fun and interesting interpretation center. It was too hot to leave the dogs for long so I didn’t get to play with as many of the toys as I wanted but I was satisfied with our visit. Thumbs up. Read more HERE or HERE. And they have a dog kennel for hot days. Our dogs would have filled the place if we’d opted to use it.

 

Mountain Lion
Mountain Lion
Wavey slot canyon
Wavey slot canyon
MacGillivray's Warbler. Grey face, broken eye ring.
MacGillivray’s Warbler. Grey face, broken eye ring.
San Francisco River Canyon
San Francisco River Canyon
Trees
Trees
Fall flowers
Fall flowers
Teetery Tree
Teetery Tree
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On the Move

Bison bathing in dust.
Bison bathing in dust.

The kennel our three dogs let us share with them is on the move. We are out of work while the electrician and insulators get down to business. If those subs finish before we head south fo rthe winter we’ll move back to Jardine to advance the project but we will not finish. Our clients had a case of mission creep and the job was too big for us to do in one season so they’ll be on their own to get it done over the winter. Day one a couple months back Burt said, “I can’t do it all. I’ll get you started or we can leave.” They opted for us to get them started. So it’s framed and we are on the road.

First up was three days on the Beartooth Plateau. We are all suitably worn out by our high elevation hiking, fishing, and bird seeking. Olive and her puny heart did very well. Elvis managed a 5 mile day. Chava was a poop finding, dead animal eating machine. Free on the range and all he did was eat whatever he found. It came out as fast as it went in. One day we observed 8 defecations. I have to wonder how many we missed. He also seems to have grown a few more inches over night. His teen rage is subsiding. He recalled on command and is dropping food is we catch him in time. Yesterday I got him to expel a maggot filled rodent the size of a NYC rat. Chava is even considering heeling. He thinks about it but after about ten steps he rejects the idea. Soon, Chava, soon.

Today we’ve landed in Columbus for the fiddler’s weekend. We’ll head over to Town Pump for showers soon and then settle in for five days of tunes. We’re on the banks of the Yellowstone, under the cottonwoods. Swing on in and join us if you’re in the area.

Trying out the fish eye on the camera.
Trying out the fish eye on the camera.
Beartooth Plateau
Beartooth Plateau
White crowned sparrow.
White crowned sparrow.
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Three dogs are easier when we are stationary.

Every nice roll in the grass is interrupted.
Every nice roll in the grass is interrupted.

Despite the fact that the TeamCholvis just ate a dozen eggs and gooshed the extra into the seat cushions this morning I will admit that three dogs aren’t too trying now that we are stationary. Feeding, peeing, pooping, and exiting a vehicle multiple times a day drained TeamHuman. Leash 1, leash 2, leash 3…where’s leash 3…come back here…wait…wait…oh, there it is…clip…OKAY…12 paws hit the ground attached to three strings and a human. The human ducks and twirls and, to date, has not gone down. Occasionally a dog is loose. Maybe the hand didn’t quite have a hold or maybe the dog was never attached. Cue the gutteral command to STAY. Cars are almost always whizzing by when we get in and out. Adrenaline floods my body. The dogs always, so far, stop. I capture the loose mutt and we proceed to walk. Usually we split them between us. Burt takes Elvis and maybe another. I almost always deal with Olive. She’s fussy.  When one human must do the job alone it’s ergonomically uncomfortable to walk all three. Elvis must be dragged, the others pull. I try to channel my inner neutral balance between the sixty pound in each hand. The key is to transfer the pullers to the dog that needs pulling without throwing out your own back.

Happily the life threatening dog comfort walk is less frequent now that we are in our summer work spot. There is ample property for some free ranging. There is a yard. There are leashed walks that do not involved a vehicle. Cars are few and far between. Now if we take a leash walk I get Olive and Burt takes Elvis and Chava. Burt is the master trainer for heeling. After the pups have released some energy they might get free time in the woods. Chava and Olive are getting better at their off-leash heeling. Recall is only a problem for Elvis. He is deaf, stubborn, demented. I am always amazed at how much our older dogs teach the younger dogs. Elvis taught Olive, Olive is teaching Chava. But it cuts both good and bad. Chava has noticed Elvis getting away with all kinds of transgressions and has tried to follow the Elvis mentoring plan. Elvis won’t come, sit or wait for food so why should I? As my mom used to say: Because I said so. After a week of it Chava seems back on track with following us not Elvis.

So after a rough couple of weeks where we learned this Chava was stuck with us, that he might have ringworm, that he was growing so fast and eating so much and needed to be walked six times a day and once at night we’ve finally reached the spot where it’s only a little more energy to manage him. And he’s a good dog. And he doesn’t have ringworm.

Remember Seinfeld? Here comes Newman.
Remember Seinfeld? Here comes Newman.
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