Holy hell, what a whirlwind this summer was. From traveling, to trying to dodge triple digit heat, to family visits, to attempting to keep up with the homestead, I’m actually a bit relieved to find myself back at work so I can just sit back, soak up someone else’s AC and relax. I mean, if anyone from work ever reads this, I am, of course, always working extremely hard and definitely not writing this from my desk… Lies and disclaimers aside, I am fortunate enough to have two months off in the summer which allowed for some awesomeness. My job’s perks are not lost on me – I am extremely grateful for the leisure time allotted and tried my best to make the most of it.
A Wallowa Lake camping trip with Bryce and the dogs kicked off our summer. I wasn’t technically off work yet, but had arranged to have a couple days off for this trip, which was a gift from Bryce as a “congrats, you finally fuckin’ graduated college” sort of thing. I love this place. My dad would take me hiking in the Eagle Caps growing up, so this area, the mountain ranges, and the lake feel like home, even after all this time. The Wallowa Lake area, for those who’ve never been, is a real gem not just with amazing views of the Wallowa-Whitman forest, Eagle Cap wilderness areas, and the bitchin’ lake, but has some really interesting Nez Perce legends, lore, and history associated with the location. For those interested in such information, one story about the Wallowa Lake Monster is particularly interesting to read about. The legend was said to involve the Nez Perce and Blackfeet tribes, particularly Wahluna and Tlesca, two young lovers from the opposing tribes who were, despite all odds, allowed to marry after falling for each other, bringing peace between the two tribes. However, their story was marred and short-lived. They took a canoe out onto the lake during the wedding celebration, where a serpent, the Wallowa Lake Monster, rose from the lake, killing them both; their bodies never found again. Legend has it that the Nez Perce, fearing additional punishment, vowed to never go out on Wallowa Lake again. If Native American lore and history interest you, the Wallowa Lake area is an amazing place to research and visit. Nearly every time we visit, we will hike the Iwetemlaykin State Heritage Site area, which is a stone’s throw from Old Chief Joseph’s gravesite. Snow or sun, this area is gorgeous, rich with geological marvels and interesting historical links.
Nerd rambling aside, the Wallowa trip was wonderful. To shamelessly plug my favorite restaurant in the area, grab a table on the dog friendly patio of Embers Brew Pub and order a delicious local beer (or blackberry cider) and the Mountain Climber calzone. It is amazing. I’m drooling just thinking about it.
Not long after that Wallowa trip, we went camping with my dad in the Eagle Caps for Father’s Day and hiked up the Tenderfoot Trail to some awesome alpine lakes. Upper and Lower Bonny Lakes are about 4 miles in and gorgeous. We went a bit early in the year so there was some snow pack which led to a bit of trail-finding and scrambling over logs to avoid getting in the freezing water on multiple creek crossings, but it was fun for everyone, especially considering we decided we’d freeze our asses off staying over night up there by the lakes, so the daypacks were lightweight and the comfort of a warmer basecamp at the trailhead was much appreciated after what turned out to be nearly 12 miles of hiking.
After this trip we had some downtime back in Clarkston. For an introverted homebody like myself, coming home is always fun and a much anticipated, completely necessary way of recharging my batteries. We have an old house, built in 1912, so project lists tend to be never-ending, but I wouldn’t trade our place for anything. As always, I planted way too many things in the garden, including a big squash patch by the driveway, so weeding ends up on my to-do list all the freakin’ time…Not that I’m very good at crossing that task off the list, but hey – I’ll get it right one of these years! We tried a couple new methods for gardening this year, one being a straw bale garden for tomatoes and peppers, which has worked out really well and I plan on repeating it again next spring. We also built some planters out of pallets but didn’t have a lot of success there. First and foremost, the design didn’t quite work, so they sagged, looked pretty shabby, and dried out pretty quickly. While I do plan on doing the straw bale thing again, we have totally demolished the failed pallet project at the end of the growing season and plan on coming up with something different next year. We saved mostly all of the old materials, so it was not a total loss. I’m going to try to remember to take pictures next year for this blog (and posterity) to show what worked, what didn’t, and how we adapted to make the process more functional. In addition to keeping busy with the garden and things around the house, we walked the bridges (which is around 4.5 miles all told), took the kayaks out to Chief Timothy, visited family, camped at the land near Dworshak, drank a lot of beer, and made a lot of pizzas. Time well spent overall, although I did get stupidly, shamelessly addicted to a game called Bingo Pop on my phone, so, you know, I wasn’t always a productive human.
The tail end of summer vacation was really were things seemed to get insanely busy, at least in terms of non-stop recreating. It’s a rough life, you know, but someone has to do it. We spent a week at Priest Lake State Park with, oh, 15 or so of Bryce’s family. Luckily for me, they’re amazingly fun people whom I love dearly, so the “in-law” camping extravaganza was relaxing and you really can’t beat a week of glamping at one of the prettiest lakes ever. Swimming, kayaking, goofing around with Bryce’s nieces, and trying to get our dogs to enjoy water were the highlights of that trip for me. The simple things end up sticking with me just as much as the adventures though. Just being able to find a spot in the shade where I can slow down and enjoy things is my happy place. Be it at Priest Lake or home in the hammock, paradise is where you make it. I often have to remind myself of this and take stock. The trip to Priest was an excellent one. 10/10 would go again. 🙂 We had a solid week there and headed home to recover for a few days before we packed up again to go to Montana.
The last leg of the summer vacation was spent in big sky country. We tent camped at Emery Bay campground a few miles away from Glacier National Park and would head out early in the morning (except for when I got drunk one night and forgot I was charging a device in the car and had left the overhead light on, which was *ahem* not my best moment nor was it for the car battery) but all low points aside, Glacier was pretty cool. There were a TON of people visiting the park, which we had anticipated having gone to Yosemite a couple years prior, but not much in terms of parking, fast shuttle service, or personal space. Through sheer force of will, patience, and positive attitudes, we were able to hitch a ride on the shuttle to see some glaciers, epic waterfalls, tucked away lakes, ancient trees, and all together expansive, bitchin’ views. So, all in all, it was worth it, but plan ahead, catch the express shuttle super early in the morning, and don’t kill your car battery because you want to watch Kung Fu Panda on your tablet in the tent. Consider those free words of wisdom from a complete dumbass.
To be honest, one of my favorite things about that trip was when Bryce and I would get off at a random stop, grab some wine, and find a place to have lunch and relax by a creek. That, to me, is 100% better than trying to keep up with people, or just legitimately feeling like I’m in their way on a super busy trail somewhere. I do appreciate those trails and I absolutely know why they are so popular, it can just be a bit much for my anxiety-ridden self. I prefer a little slower pace and time to soak it all in.
All in all, I’d say that the summer of 2018 was a success in so many ways. Being able to visit family, experience incredible areas in nature, try new homesteading projects, and just getting to be with my fella and the dogs; it was one for the books. Can’t wait for what the fall brings. Spoiler alert, a Washington coast trip to Cape Disappointment is in three days (woah!) as well as a new project of converting a van into a camper. With any luck, I’ll be posting regularly about the Jean-Claude Damn Van project. Forgive us in advance for the name. We’re dumb and can’t help it.
*Please forgive this late posting. It helps to publish a post when you’re done writing it, instead of waiting until mid-November. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯