Wandering in Northeast Washington State.

This was written while we were camping a couple of weeks ago,but we did not have access to the internet so am publishing it when we have returned.  Sorry about the delay.100_4644

We have been camping for almost two weeks now and one week near Republic at Curlew Lake. Today we went to Republic to do the laundry and check out the ice cream shop, Virginia’s.  I had a great huckleberry cone and my husband, chocolate.

 

We decided to take a run up to a National Forest campground south of town to scope it out for camping next year.  There are three beautiful lakes about twelve miles south of town, Long Lake, Ferry Lake and Swan Lake.  Long and Swan would probably take our glamping equipment, but Ferry would be a tight squeeze.  The cost for these is $6 and $8 for a night’s stay.  We have a National Parks Senior’s pass, a once in a lifetime purchase of $10 which allows us to stay in the facilities for half price.  Such a deal. Only vault toilets and we didn’t see any fresh, potable water or any water other than the lake, available there.  We will need to carry it with us if we stay next year.

 

After our side trip, it was late enough to stop in Republic at the local aged firestation, now a brewery.  The weather being pretty nice, the big garage doors were open to the street.  It is a fire station that is probably over one hundred years old with a pressed tin ceiling, concrete floors covered with peanut shells and the smell of beer being brewed right there on the premises.  It is a locals hangout, but the natives are friendly and so we went in to try a couple. As I sat in the back of the station and looked at the sun shining through the big door opening, I watched the seed fairies fly by illuminated by the sunlight.  It was like a small snowstorm cruising by parallel with the street.  As folks walked by the opening, folks inside would hail those who passed by, greeting and laughing in recognition.  Hometown friendly.

 

Now we find out that tomorrow afternoon at the brewery there will be Cowboy Poetry!  I have only been to a couple of these events, but love them.  They are soooo nostalgic and being a farm girl myself, having raised cows in my early life, I can relate to this poetry in a way I cannot relate to any other.  I have even purchased books of cowboy poetry.  I am really looking forward to this.

 

One of the interesting things about this area is no cellphone service.  For those who have an unbilical cord attachment to the phone, you would probably go bananas here.  I notice some folks have satellite dishes but we abstain.  A trip to town (Republic) will give us a signal and we can check in at the farm to make sure all is OK, which it is.  Our neighbor is watching over it for us.

 

We are heading home the following day and my big project on the return trip will be to score ten dozen ears of corn that isn’t too old.  I hate the store bought, the frozen and the canned.  It should all be fed to cows.  Hopefully I will find my quest, that of young corn. Here in eastern Washington, corn actually ripens.  At home it is an iffy proposition as my own corn patch proves. I blanch it, cut it off the cob, and freeze it for us to eat the rest of the year.  If I do not find it, we will do without. Pulling a trailer and trying to search farm country for produce can be a problem as we do not have the ability to turn around in tight spaces.

 

Today was the first really sunny day we had, so we really enjoyed it.  We came over the Cascades to find the sun, but hadn’t had much this far into the trip.  Though it hasn’t been cold, it hasn’t been hot like we expected and sought.  We still had a great vacation and will be back again next year, maybe with a couple of days at Swan Lake.

Camping or should I say Glamping

royale

(the photos are not my rig, but they Are beautiful)

In recent times, the term glamping has come into use in the U.S.  This is a combination of glamour and camping.  No more cooking over a fire (good most summers when there are severe fire restrictions, as right now).  No more sleeping with the slugs crawling over you.  No more freezing nights when you have to wear everything you brought with you in order to keep warm. No more going without washing for days on end.

I participated in all of this for years, dirty body, dirty clothes, half washed dishes if washed at all.  The dog can do a better job of washing the dishes than a paper towel any day and what do I do with the dirty paper towel, I have to carry it out.  I have slept on picnic tables to avoid rattlesnakes cuddling up with me for warmth, I have had my sleeping bag soaked and not drying for a week. I have had slugs sucking on my neck. Yuck!

I am now a glamper.  I think at seventy-one years old I have earned this right, paid my dues.  I also think that my age and my physical condition probably would be best camped a little closer to civilization rather in the hinterland somewhere.  I miss those wild, remote, private places, but I can still enjoy the fresh mountain air, the walks in the woods around the campground, and the smell of bacon cooking in the fresh morning air.

Yesterday nine deer walked up to the area where my travel trailer is sitting at Curlew Lake State Park in Eastern Washington State.  One of them even followed one of the other campers back to her rig, probably hoping for a handout. Today they have come down from the desert above to eat all the fallen leaves on the grass.  The park attendant will not have to rake leaves as they ate every one of them.  Cleaned it up beautifully. Perhaps there is a mineral or vitamin they lack in their usual environment.  I did notice that they do not eat the lush green grass around the campground, preferring the dry brush and grasses up the hill.

I have been painting crows recently and am looking to get more reference photos for my work.  Crows visit all campgrounds and there was a murder of crows consisting of fifteen sitting in the shade of one of the deciduous trees just up the hill. I try to entice them with the “old maids” from last night’s popcorn when I can snap a few photos.  They are very camera shy.

This campground seems devoid of chipmunks and squirrels, but the last one in the higher elevations had many gathering last minute foodstuffs for their winter’s sleep.  Fat and furry, they were almost ready as some areas have already had their first frosts.

Bears, rattlesnakes, poison sumac, ivy and oak are some of the hazards of camping, even at this easier form.  Bears are attracted to the goodies left around by careless campers and can ransack a sight while your back is turned, even in broad daylight.  Squirrels and crows can do almost as much damage as the bears.

In this area we have seen black bear and moose, both which you should avoid.  Haven’t seen any snakes as the nights are in the low 50’s and they are probably far outside the bustle of the campground.

Fishing is a big past time here, but we haven’t participated in that in recent years.  I used to be a worm dangler with a good book and my husband a fly fisherman, but our differing styles don’t make for compatible fishing.  Now I just like to watch the turtles sunning themselves on deadheads (floating dead trees in the water) in the lake.  Sometimes they come inland and you might scare them when walking through tall grass and mistake them for a rattler.

Glamping means I can cook in my usual style, which is gourmet extravagant.  With a three burner gas stove, oven, refer, and double sink, I can cook almost anything I can make at home.  I have a shower with hot and cold water.  Some glampers even have clothes washers and dryers, but that is a bit much for me.  I have a soft bed with real sheets.  I also have heat for the cold nights in the mountains.

Glamour camping, glamping, may have its drawbacks, it may seem extravagant, it probably seems silly to the hard core, but at my age I can still enjoy the scene and the wildlife around me without the hazards of needing to be airlifted out if I fall and break something.  I can still enjoy the great outdoors and be comfortable.glamping

Cowboy/girl poetry

I just recently returned from vacation.  While I was wandering around Eastern Washington, I happened on a cowboy poetry event.  I learned of it the night before and I am especially fond of cowboy poetry because it rhymes and has rhythm.  I get flummoxed by  poetry that doesn’t have either.

Well the upshot is, I wrote a poem the next morning and my husband coerced me into reading it at the event. It is my first venture into cowboy/girl poetry. Mine was simple, neither complex nor elaborate.  Some produce epic poems with long tales to tell, but here is mine, such as it is.  I think that much of the subtleties were lost on the audience.  I guess you need to be a farmer or rancher to understand some of them.

The Rancher’s Wife

 

Work from dawn to setting sun,

The rancher’s work is never done.

Milk the cow, geld the bull,

Ranching life is never dull

 

Pick the beans, gather eggs,

Clean the barn, repair the rigs.

Mow the field, bale the hay,

What to do rest of day?

 

To the bank to make a deal.

We need to buy another wheel.

Try to keep the wolves at bay.

And live to fight another day.

 

Little sleep at night from worry.

Get up early and start to hurry.

Line crews up and needs their grub,

Scrub laundry with lots of suds.

 

Now its time to mend the fence.

How can those beeves be so dense

As to lean and pull and ravage them?

We could just lock them in the pen.

 

Calves get skinny and horses founder.

What business plan could be much sounder?

Sheep need dippin’ and chicks are pippin’,

The ranch wife’s life ain’t coffee sippin.

 

Traded satin for Sorrel boots

Long and far from my roots.

College never taught me this

But hard work brings me bliss.

 

In the heat of sun or the chill of snow

We are out at sunrise, on the go.

Rain and sleet, sweat and chill,

To give up ranching, ‘never will.