Thursday, September 24, 2020

I took these amazing shots of the rising (!) sun when there still was a lot of smoke/smog in the air from the Oregon fires. 
And although those fires are of course devastating, so much nature lost, houses lost, even towns gone, sights like this are pretty awesome nevertheless, I must say!                                                           

Fortunately, since then, we've had some rain and most of the smog has been washed out of the skies. Guess what ... it turns out that he sky is still blue! I was getting worried there for a while ..

And just in time too, because it's Fall! Yeah! Only the (my) happiest time of the year!
I dug up my decorations from under the bed, bought pumpkins at the fiddle creek store and collected some fall-looking flowers, pine-cones and other dried 'stuff'.

Eh, voila .. Fall in the Hess-mobile!

I even picked up my knitting from last winter ... I swear I'm going to finish those socks this year!
Today it's another rainy day and cool enough to turn on my little 'wood-stove', so I'm all cozied up in that chair for as long as it will last.
Which will not be long, because I've seen warm weather predicted for the rest of the forecast with temps in the low 80s .. sigh.
OK. What else? Not much news I'm afraid. 
The guys are still working hard to get the siding done, before Sam and Ronnie arrive this coming Monday, and James is trying to get some of the cabinets painted.
I've even been recruited to work on the window and door frames, which will need two layers of clear varnish. Vino is working ahead of me to sand everything, than I come in to varnish, and behind me James (the other James) and Austin will start to lay the floor down.
The fireplace is pretty much done:

Unfortunately one of the cogs in this 'well-oiled machine', caused for a little hick-up these last 2 days.
James came down sick with an upset stomach (he even lost a dinner), a killer headache and an overall aching body. After starting the guys in the mornings he would go back to bed, only to resurface every now and than to check on them.
It looks like he is much better today though, so let's keep our fingers crossed that that's behind him for now.
The now clear sky makes for nice walks again, and a couple of days ago I finally found out where the small flock of pigeons live, that I occasionally see flying around the neighborhood.                           

While I was on my river-front hike, the flock just came in over the mountain and circled around for a couple of times, before landing at, what I only now noticed, are small cubby-holes of little caves in the rocks fascia.

It appears they call them home, and of course that's not strange at all since these are Rock Doves or Pigeons! We know them as the typical city-pigeons you'll see in any self-respecting city's squares, but these are their 'wild' cousins that live in the country side.

It looks like they found the perfect spot to set up house here, sheltered from the elements as well as predators!

And look who else found a perfect spot as well, for happy hour at least, this last Sunday:

The  temperatures were perfect around 5 pm in the afternoon, and the sun had already set behind the mountains on the other side of the river so we were not in the (still too warm) sun anymore. 

We brought some chairs, wine, beer and munchies to the little rest-area on the river, that sits right in front of the driveway on the other side of the highway.                                      Because the river is so low right now, there's a perfect size 'beach' to sit and enjoy the up close view of the river. A very peaceful end to the day!                                            

And for a peaceful end of the blog, here's a pic of a delicious apple pie I baked with some nice apples from one of the trees along the gulch. Everything is better with apple pie!

So, there it is, once again .. another week of our lives, nothing spectacular, but good 'nough'. I won't get into Covid (numbers rising everywhere during this 2nd wave), and especially not into the elections (less than 6 weeks away!), but I'll just say .. onward and forward!                                                                                                                                      

Keep the faith! Or something like that ..                  

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Lesser Goldfinch, young male
It has been a weird 'looking' week due to the fires in California, Washington and Oregon, which are burning out of control. 
High winds are not helping and huge areas, houses and even whole villages, have been lost to the flames.
We're OK around here, there are still 2 fires around McCall and Grangeville, but they're not coming any closer and are getting more and more contained.

What we still do have is smog, or better, real smoke, from the ones in Oregon.
The sun rises rather spooky-ly ..


And it stays gloomy all day long ..

                                         The inside of the RV has an 'orange-y' glow..

And although these fires are hundreds of miles away, ash is falling down on everything ...

             I must say, it has a little bit of an apocalyptic feel to it ..

But, life goes on, and so do we, as well as nature. On my walks I can see Fall slowly emerging ..


The nights are staying cooler and some leaves are now turning red:


The deer are still around and besides the group of three does, and the single mom with her twin babies, this cute family showed up the other night!

It's the first male we've seen in a long time, and apparently he was allowed to join 'his' family (does stay away from the herd for a while after giving birth):

I guess the grass is OK, but if you can sneak a little bit of warm milk before going to bed you'll grab your chance!

Talking about food, it is still too warm in the evening to eat outside, (85F, go figure), so we had these hamburgers inside .. but I grilled them outside .. does that count? 
I wanted to take a picture of it though, since it looks so nice and colorful .. it tasted great too! 
(I especially liked the spiciness of the arugula, a 'green' a usually overlook, but I'll definitely going to get it more often. It pairs with everything!)


Of course I baked something too .. since James had eaten everything else .. and also because a can of crescent roll dough had exploded in the fridge, and I had to do 'something' with it!


So I googled 'crescent roll dough' and 'plums' (since I have a whole tree of them!) and came up with a delicious little plum pie. 
Very easy to make, and like I said .. very good!


The house is still progressing, but I don't have many more different looking pics, so I leave that for next week when there's (hopefully) more to show.

O, and by the way, Doug's house in Arizona is a go! 
There's also enough to do for James to justify the drive down there, so we'll be going to Arizona for a couple of months after this. 
It looks like we'll be leaving somewhere around the middle or end of next month. 
Like I said, I'm not so happy to go back to warmer temps (I was looking forward to a real cold fall), but there are worse things than having to spend the winter in Arizona I guess ..


Thursday, September 10, 2020

Summer is still hanging in there!
Eleven days to Fall, and the weather is finally showing signs that something is 'a-changing'!
We've had 2 or 3 very nippy mornings this week, with temperatures in the low 40's (6F)! Brrr!


We needed both the sheet and comforter, and even had to add a blanket in the early morning hours!
Too early for flannel sheets but it's coming!
Also, a strong storm-system barreling through the area on Tuesday, finally brought us some rain too!


But, everything is calm once again, and the forecast is somewhere in the high 90's for the next couple of days!
I guess it's a little bit of a roller-coaster right now, another sign of fall approaching ..

There's a little bit of 'color' in the canyon, but it's more because of the drought than anything else I think.

And either I didn't notice them, or something else has changed, but all of a sudden I see a lot of (small) butterflies:

That middle one (and top right) is a Common Ringlet, the yellow one is a Clouded Sulphur, the one-eyed one is a Small Wood-Nymph and the orange one is the smallest, a Field Crescent.

After our weekly golf-game last Saturday, we took a coffee to go and drove the short 2 miles to Tolo Lake, a spot we had not visited yet. We've seen the sign for it since we got here a year ago, and drove by numerous times, always saying we'd check it out one of these days, so I guess this was the day ..


It is is the largest natural water body on the Camas Prairie, and was (re)named to honor a courageous Nez Perce woman, Tolo, who helped the settlers in the Indian wars of 1877, who had become her friends.

It has been a gathering spot for animals for many thousands of years, and it was a traditional gathering area for many bands of the Nez Perce Indians as well.

On September 2, 1994, large bones were discovered buried in the mud of the lake, which had been drained to deepen it for better wildlife habitat.
In all, according to the Mammoth Replica Committee, remains of more than 200 Colombian Mammoths, which became extinct 10,000 to 15,000 years ago, were discovered. 
It is believed these prehistoric mammals may have come to the lake area to die.

One of them, 14 feet height and 17 feet long from tusk to tail, is on display in the park behind the Grangeville Chamber of Commerce Visitors Center.
It was a five-year project to partially recreate the creature, based on bones discovered at the lake.
Of course we drove over to take a look at him. Wow, what a beast!

It being Labor Day last Monday (already? really!), the guys were off, and we got to enjoy a very quiet and peaceful weekend 'at the ranch'.
For a change of view, we installed ourselves on the deck of the new house for our coffee breaks:

And what a view it is! You can just see the river from there (in the middle of the pic, all the way to the right).

Since James can not sit still if his life depends on it, he was 'putzing' the whole weekend, doing stuff that is easier done by himself or is just a job better done by only one person.
I just sat there and read .. hey, somebody's got to do it!

The guys finished the roof on Tuesday, and have been working on the siding since.
Finally the scaffolding in the front could come down! What a difference ..

But now it moved to the side .. sigh ..

Derrick has made a start with the stonework around the fireplace:


And James and his inside crew have almost half of the door and window casings done:


I've been recruited to paint, or 'lacquer', after Austin and Lee are done sanding them.
Should be a fairly easy job .. (famous last words)

I've not done a whole lot else this week (what else is new), just more reading, and blackberry picking (still!), and finishing another puzzle.
Same-o, same-o ..


I baked another cobbler, an unusual banana-bread one this time.
It came out a bit weird looking, more like a crumble bar of sorts, but at least it tasted good. Banana, brown sugar and chocolate .. hard to go wrong with that!


O, I almost forgot, here's a surprise (drum roll please)... after we leave here we might end up going to Arizona for a bit, instead of driving 'straight' to Oregon! (yeah, that would be so boring)
James' brother Doug has sold his house in Oregon, and although they will buy another smaller one there, they also bought one in Arizona!
It's a gorgeous house in Florence, AZ, on a golf course, and it looks perfect to us, but he wants 'some' stuff done to it, so he might send us down there for a work-vacation (paid!)
James is all for it .. Arizona in the winter .. golf! Me, I'm thinking of the long drive down and the (still) high temperatures, but  .. we'll see!

What can I say? Always something, never a dull moment in the Hess-mobile!

Thursday, September 3, 2020

Salmon River

Last Sunday we checked off the last of our 'must-do-outings' from our list. It was about time because Fall is almost upon us, and this trip is only do-able in dry conditions.
The weather had been very hot all week, but Sunday we had a day of reprieve, with a cold front coming through and a forecast of only 78F. Perfect!
We drove to Riggins and than up into the mountains through scenic canyons, following the Salmon River on a narrow (but paved) one-lane road.


The morning sun reflecting on the river made for beautiful views all the way up, until after 28 miles we arrived at the point where French Creek flows into the Salmon  ..

We made our way down to the creek for coffee with (homemade) peach/blackberry-cobbler .. life doesn't get any better than that!                                           
French Creek
From here we turned right and followed French Creek up into the mountains to drive the famous 'finger' switchback grade, so named because from above or on a map they look like fingers ..

It's a one-lane dirt road, rather rocky and full of 'washboard' but otherwise in fairly good shape, and it's where the 'dry' conditions I mentioned before are coming into place, since rain will make this quite a slippery slope ..


After scaling the Secesh summit we continued our way down the other side, where the road was a little better and the scenery more woodsy than the other side, which is a lot more arid.
We passed the hot springs in Burgdorf ... unfortunately, due to the coronavirus, they were closed.

Too bad, it would have been such a wonderful lunch stop, followed by a little soak in those springs ..
Right in front of the springs is this marshy area, it's actually a
wildlife protected area, but no wildlife that day ..


After passing Upper Payette Lake ..

                            A big hairy piece of ground:' Idaho considers land swap on Payette Lake

                                              .. we finally arrived in McCall ..

We'd been here earlier this year, in February, but it looked a little bit different back than!

We were looking for a 'safe' place to have lunch, preferably somewhere outside, and James came up with the idea of going to the golf course, which most likely would have an outside terrace of sorts ..

We called ahead and they were open but unfortunately it was much cooler there with a hard wind, so we ended up eating inside after all.
Fortunately there were very few people in the dining room. It turned out that wearing a mask is mandatory in McCall, so we joggled one on and off in between eating and drinking.


Of course we than came up with a brilliant idea .. why not go for a round of golf while we were there?
We so happened to have the clubs and shoes in the truck (such a coincidence eh, honey?!) since we golfed in Grangeville the previous day, and there was no 'dress-code', so I was OK in my jeans!

There was a T-time open on the Cedar course (they have 3 nine-hole courses here), although we did get paired with another two-some.
They turned out to be a very friendly mother and her daughter who, for a couple of holes only, were accompanied by a friend of them.

It was a fun little course with some water and even some sand-traps (no such things in Grangeville), and we had a good time!

The weather warmed up considerably, and after our round we could even have a drink on the terrace!
It's about an hour drive back to Lucile from there, but it took us a little longer because the highway at Polk, where that rock-slide came down in July, is still closed for traffic.
We had a 30 minute wait for the pilot-car to show up, to escort us on a detour over the bridge to the other side of the river and back again.

But, all in all, another beautiful sight seeing day! And although it was officially the last one on the list, we'll probably re-do some smaller trips when the fall colors will show up in a few weeks. Hopefully ..

OK, what else? Time for another work update! A fun one this time, because the painting of the ceilings and walls is all done, and the guys have brought in the cabinets from the trailer, and installed them all as well.

They've even hung most of the doors! It really starts to look like something now ..

All those doors still need to be varnished and the cabinets will all get painted, but a start has been made, and I think it already looks great!

Walk-wise, I still manage to get them in fairly early, and I have a little more time now that the guys are starting half an hour later (at 7am), and are having coffee and lunch later too ..
Fall is approaching, and the Mountain Sunflowers are turning into seed-magnets for the little Finches now the flowers have died and the seeds are ripening.

They're quite the acrobats trying to get them out ..

We still see a lot of deer, including our resident mama and her babies. 
It's hard to see but those are them as I see them through the window from behind my computer ..


Well, that was all she wrote .. I think ..

Oh, I made a Peach-Blackberry cobbler ... yup, the one we ate there in the picture at French Creek!
With a nice blob of whipped cream (or even without, but why would you), it was delicious!