Airstream Time

Exploring North America in an Airstream

Bike the Heritage Trail and Kayak the Platte River

Saturday, September 29, 2018

With temperatures struggling to reach 50, we drove north to take the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive. On parts of it, I felt like I was on the Skyline Drive in Virginia. Then it opened out to immense sand dunes, one being 1000 feet tall. 

Then we took the bikes to the northern end of the park and biked the Heritage Trail that goes 27 miles through the park. Part of it is paved and part crushed gravel. It was Saturday, so lots of serious bikers were on the road biking in teams. You can bike Rt. 22 around the top of Michigan. It was 49 degrees with a little wind, but it was fine once you got going. We just needed better gloves.

We got back about 3:30, and put my kayak on the Platte River. They said it was a 2-hour float, but paddling steadily, I made it to Lake Michigan in an hour. It’s a great way to see how the fishing is. Weaving my way around and behind fishermen, some were catching, some not. One guy was fishing at the bottom of Loon Lake with the place all to himself. He said it was the best day ever, catching pike, bass and salmon, all on a TDK (?) wet fly. 

Martha fixed a great fish stew in the slow cooker using Walleye.

Scouting Betsie and Platte Rivers

Thursday, September 27, 2018

It was a chilly, blustery morning with dark, fast-moving clouds. The Platte River is a perfect river for us to kayak, so we went to check it out. It is a beautiful, free-flowing, clear stream that travels 26 miles into Lake Michigan in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Seashore. The trouble is the salmon are running and the river is lined with fishermen. We met a nice young couple locking their bicycles to a tree so they could ride back to their truck after kayaking. He said he grew up here and the fishermen are used to kayakers, and you just try to stay out of their way. We talked with two fishermen who had been roommates in college. Now in their late 50’s maybe, they had been here three days and were heading home. Seeing my camera, they suggested going to the weir where we would see Coho salmon jumping up the rapids and weir. 

I love to watch the salmon run, so we drove to Benzonia, took a left at the McDonalds and followed signs for the Betsie River Dam. Above and below the dam, fishermen lined the stream. Somehow hundreds of salmon ran the gauntlet, rested holes and then jumped the steps up the dam. Not always successful, they would just miss the top and get washed back down. Some jumped sideways and some backwards.

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At check-in, the ranger said it might be better to float the Betsie River, so we drove some crazy roads to check it out. It is a much longer river, and also beautiful. Put-ins and take-outs are a little more remote. Since we don’t have two cars, we were hesitant to float it. I’m sure there are people who will take you and pick you up, or even guide you. This is a beautiful river winding through varied terrains flowing with a pretty good pace (3-4mph).

Off to Michigan

Monday, September 24

We managed to get loaded before the rains came.  Driving was a bit tense all day, partly due to the rain, and we were in it all day. We finally arrived at Deer Creek State Park southwest of Columbus. It is a nice, modern park on a pretty lake. The paved campsite was so level, we didn’t have to unhook the trailer – perfect!

We took a walk around the campground in the drizzling rain to get the blood flowing a bit. We took showers in the morning and got on the road about 8:30. West on I70, north on I75 to 469 to 40 through Sturgis, and checking into Holland State Park by 4:00. 

We hiked up and around Mt. Pisgah once we got settled. There were nice views of sailboats on Lake Macatawa as the sun set. A big storm was heading across Lake Michigan with tornado warnings for Holland. Fortunately they never came, and the rains passed quickly. It did bring a cold front, so it was chilly in the morning and only got up to 60° during the day.

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Holland is a nice town on Lake Macatawa. First stop was the very nice and large farmer’s Market where we found some nice quiches and meat pies, some bread, a quash, some apples and of course a blueberry donut. We enjoyed driving through neighborhoods, then parked downtown to poke around the shops. After a few nice stores, we carried quite a few bags. In the cooking store the sales lady recommended lunch at Cranes, just up the street. We split a chicken salad sandwich and a piece of apple crisp. 

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After wandering around downtown a bit more, we heading back to the Airstream and a little relaxation before dinner. At 7:00 we went to Tunnel Park beach to watch the sun set. Winds blew off Lake Michigan making it quite chilly, but it was a good one.

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Tomorrow we will head north to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park.

Installing Dimmers on Reading Lights

The LED reading lights in the Airstream are too bright for me, so I end up turning them to the side or taping a paper cup over them. On the Airstream Forums site, http://www.airforums.com, there are others with similar complaints. Some have found filters that tone the light down and give it a warmer, yellow color. Since it has bugged me for a long time, I decided to place dimmers on them. Of course I know nothing about electricity or wiring, but hey, you can learn these things can’t you? I am writing this up here because the videos come up on the page, I can put more pictures up and the links will work. If you don’t need dimmers, you can quit here.

I found two good videos and one diagram page on this subject:

http://www.rv-project.com/gear/dimmers2.php has diagrams of all the possible wiring scenarios. Without these three sites, I could not have done the job.

First I looked at the dining area light where I found two wires from the light to four wires from the house. This little corner has a lot of wiring for a radio and a DVD player. I decided to let that one hang for a while and went to the front bedroom.

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It makes no sense to me that the negative wire (with a minus tage on it) is white and the positive wire is black. From other videos, I learned to put the Fluke multimeter probe in the negative screw connector and the the other on the positive connection. Putting the positive probe on the black connector here, there was a 13.3 reading. Reversing the connections does no harm, but gives a -13.3.

I hooked everything up “on the bench” to make sure it worked. This in NOT connected correctly as I would learn later, but I think it’s a good to connect everything on the bench. It’s just easier to see everything. Then tag everything. Once I put the light back in and the dimmer in, all the wires are coming through a hole where I removed an audio speaker. I was working upside down and made several mistakes before finally getting it right.

I also learned a lot about connectors, going to Lowe’s and Martin Hardware a bunch of times. Twist connectors are great to test everything, but then I found it more secure to use crimp connectors or push-in connectors.

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I ordered mine from Amazon, but it came from https://www.leisurervparts.com: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B079TJZ6DF/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o05_s01?ie=UTF8&psc=1

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I bought a Black and Decker jigsaw at Lowes that is rated well. Two big things swayed me: it costs $30 and it’s very light. Since I had to work upside down, I wanted something light. Don’t buy cheap safety glasses though. Get the sealed rim ones, because all that dust is coming into your face and hair. The dining area light was easier because it was the second one I cut and there is no cabinet rail in the way. I made a cardboard template to mark the hole. Below is the dining area hole. I drilled holes in the corners and a slot for the wires to go through. Then made them bigger. In the dining area there were so many wires in the way, I put a roll of tape above the cutout area to support the wires out of the way. In the bedroom, I could just push the wires out of the way. I taped the speaker wire out of the way.

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With the wires labeled, the light and dimmer in place, working through the speaker hole, I first connected with twist connectors to test everything. Once I was sure, I made more secure connections. Two pictures show highest and lowest dim. It doesn’t show well, but it dims just like the ceiling lights that have the same dimmer.

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The whole story: The first time I wired it wrong. I had the red wire going to light positive instead of the house positive. It turned on and dimmed and I was quite happy with myself. Then I went to work on the dining area light. In the course of working, turning on and off the electric kill switch, I noticed the bedroom ceiling lights were dim. I turned the wall dimmer all the way up, but still dim. I turned the reading light dimmer up and down and they just got more dim. Measuring the power to the light now, I only had 7.6v on the multimeter!

Idiot! Now I have to take it to a dealer and tell them my story. I’ve spent all this money on  parts and tools and now I am going to spend a bunch more. Searching the internet, I looked for a reason for half power. No, it’s not the battery, still at 13.3, and everything else works fine. There were no blown fuses. Could I have cut or pulled a wire loose? How in the heck could I trace it through the walls? Not finding anything on the internet, I didn’t sleep well. Going back to the trailer in the morning, I stood there for a while, trying to calmly figure what it could be. OK, retrace the steps. The battery tested 13.3 and the current through the light still tested 7.3. Checking the fuse box, there was one lit up, meaning it was bad. Replacing the fuse made the ceiling lights fine, but not the reading light. Retracing the wiring steps, I found I wired it wrong, cut the power off, cut the wires and rewired successfully. If I could just follow directions!

The dining area light was easier and more difficult. Easier because it was a nice flat area to cut the hole. Harder because there were a lot of wires up there. It’s actually the same as the bedroom light, except there are two house positive and two house negative wires. I added wire to the light and the dimmer so I didn’t have to work inside the speaker hole loaded with wires. I tagged all the wires. it would have been nicer to have different color tags for wires from the house, the light and the dimmer, but it worked. It did make me appreciate connectors. Four wires came loose as I pushed and pulled things around. I had recently replaced the radio, so I was somewhat familiar with its wiring. Actually it worked out better because I found the wire to the house mike that I couldn’t find before. I show below removing the radio and reconnecting those wires with better connectors.

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Showing the roll of tape I used to hold the wires out of the way. A box would have worked as well, but the weight of the tape kept it in place

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Red and white connections dropping through the hole are radio speaker wires

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Tools for removing the radio. There are two of these that came with the radio. Slim butter knives will work, but these are easier.

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Tools pushed into slots on the side of the radio until they click. Then pull on the tools to pull the radio out

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I found a loose red wire

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Wiring diagram from the radio manual

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The red wire connects to positive as described in the manual. Fortunately the yellow wire also goes to positive too, so I could follow it to find house positive.

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Then I found a loose orange wire. It also went to positive. I reconnected these to positive with a 4-hole push-in connector that should hold better.

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Success! The radio works; the lights work and the dimmer works : }

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Big Meadows, Shenandoah National Park

August 7,8, 2018

Martha was having 12 ladies over for bridge. We have a small house, so I decided to retreat to the mountains in the Airstream. I am embarrassed to admit I have never been to Big Meadows, and why pack up all that stuff and only go for one night, so I signed up for two. It was 91 degrees, and I worked up a good sweat by the time I got everything packed up. It’s a beautiful drive from Stanardsville on 33, then north on the Skyline Drive. We have had great rains, and everything was so green and lush, with flowers blooming everywhere.

A very nice lady, Elizabeth, checked me into the campground. I chose a site that was a foot too short. They don’t like you to have a tire on the grass, so it took me a while to wiggle the truck into a reasonable spot. I was backed up to the forest with some tent sites, but no one was in them. This is a big campground and it was busy, especially for a Tuesday, but it was a good 10 degrees cooler at 3600 ft. I explored the campground and went to the Visitor’s Center. There is a good walk-through history of the making of Shenandoah National Park. On the other side is a huge picture window looking over the meadows across the parkway. I wandered out on the porch looking for what animals might be out there. I poked through the adjacent camp store, which was big and well-stocked.

I was tired by the time I got back to camp, so I built a fire in my new Solo Stove. It worked great, as advertised. All the holes around the top and bottom allow the fire to burn efficiently and hot. Sitting around a campfire is great on a perfect night. Looking into the fire is mesmerizing. However, the smoke is another thing altogether. It seems to chase me around the fire. Move my chair and it follows me. Often I have to close the Airstream windows so the smoke doesn’t go in.  Try to cook over or in it is a unique, smoke-filled challenge. The Solo Stove, as it is advertised, burns more efficiently, so there is less smoke, and it goes straight up. On this night, I am happy to report, it burned as advertised. By the time I finished dinner and the sun went down, the temperature dropped quickly. Somewhere in the night, I pulled the blanket up……in August……in Virginia!

By 6:00 in the morning, I was parking the truck next to the meadows and loaded my camera gear. I was late! There were already five people walking up the road, and two serious photographers setting out ahead of me. One was a lady with a nice Cannon camera and lens, the other a man with a tripod, big telephoto lens, long pants and rubber boots. I tried to follow him, but he was gone before I could get ready. A path led left into the field, and I followed it. There were deer everywhere. On the other side of the road, people were taking pictures of them. Soon there were 15 bucks grazing ahead of me. I approached slowly, but it was soon evident they were used to people, and hunting is not allowed in the park. I eased my way until I was within 50 feet of them and started shooting pictures. It seemed they were all 8-point bucks with fuzzy antlers, and they were all fat and healthy-looking. Trouble was they were so engrossed in eating, they rarely lifted their heads. I could see they were watching me out of the corner of their eye as they grazed along. Soon the two photographers joined me, then went ahead. The lady said she had been following them for an hour. She inched her way ahead of them until she was within 15 feet. They couldn’t care less.

In between shots, I looked down and around me. There was so much food, it was amazing – blackberries, blueberries, other berries, and a wide variety of flowers. Butterflies twitted around, sometimes zooming past for long distances. With all this food, I wondered why they were traveling so far. It was partly cloudy, which kept the light perfect for a long time. After several hundred deer shots, I continued up the trail until I saw the gentleman with his tripod set, obviously looking at something. As I approached, he pointed and whispered, “Bear.” I just caught a glimpse of his butt as he walked around a corner. The photographer and I talked for a while. He loves to come here. Living in DC, he got up at 4:00 to get here by 6:00. He said the young bear had walked around for a while, then stood up in front of him, probably checking him out. He spoke to the bear to let him know he was there, and the bear went on eating. As we were talking, the bear walked around a big bush and down the hill. The gentleman said he was going to look for birds along the trees. I followed the bear.

For about an hour and a half, I followed the bear. Same problem though – he was eating so much, he rarely lifted his head. Every couple of minutes, he would briefly check out the surroundings before resuming the buffet. He kept his eye on me, and I on him, but gaining courage, I crept closer. Then he went into some tall stuff, and I couldn’t see him. This made me a little nervous, but it must have made him nervous too because he soon stood up to look around. I clicked off 8 shots before he went back down. A doe walked down the hill before spotting the bear. She turned toward me, walking along the side of the hill, always checking the bear. I was standing still watching both. She walked within 5 feet of me as I clicked off shots. She had a big tag in her ear.

I picked up another trail heading toward the parking lot. Not concerned with wildlife now, I was amazed by the amount of berries and flowers. Then I was walking in water. The middle of the field was a wetland, obviously the headwaters of a stream, probably the Rose River. I went back to the trailer, fixed a cup of tea and downloaded pictures, too many pictures. Thinking I had downloaded all the pictures, I closed the program and reformatted the cards. An hour later I realized there was no standing bear! I had stopped the program too soon! Grrr!

That night while packing the truck, I saw a young bear right behind the trailer. I grabbed the camera and got off a few shots before a ranger came up with an air horn, quickly chasing him off. He said they had to cite two campsites for leaving food out. Brian was his name, and we chatted a bit. He told me the best places to look for bears.

I went to McLean, Virginia on Thursday to visit Sue and Jim Keith. I couldn’t help but stopping at the meadows for a brief walk. It was late in wildlife terms, 8:00. It was sunny, warm, and there were no deer, but butterflies were everywhere. I took a brief walk in the opposite direction of yesterday. I wanted to continue, but it was time to go. I hadn’t driven ½ mile before I saw a young bear cross the road. I stopped and put my emergency lights on. That little rascal scrambled right up a rock cliff and ate berries from a bush half way up. Three bears in two days! That’s pretty good, or were they all the same young bear?

Elizabeth, Brian and another nice gentleman make a great crew at the campground. They are so patient in a busy place with 200 campsites. Lots of Appalachian Trail hikers come to pitch their tents and get a good meal. I want to go back and explore those meadows a bunch more. Wonder when Martha is having bridge again.

Middle Fork Salmon River, Sunday

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Sunday, July 22, 2018

Sipping coffee, I watched these amazing kids carry their heavy bags, sleeping bags, day bags and water bottles to the boats. By now everyone had the routine down. Too bad it’s the last day with two of the biggest rapids. Ron got into the boat with Ty. It was the only day he didn’t fish. Hmmm, how big were these rapids? Apparently they are below the junction of the Main Salmon with the Middle Fork, or what they call the Main and the Middle. Why would it surprise me that Sarah, Llydia and all the girls were in the paddle boat with Bob and Dog. As we came to a gorgeous spot that reminded me of Half Dome in Yosemite, I asked Ty for my Nikon, which I had kept in a Pelican case when we were on the water, only taking it out mornings, evenings and some lunches. I found if I strapped the cast to the bed pad I was sitting on, I could get to it quickly, then put it back in rapids. Geez, it took 6 days to figure that out! By the time I got it sorted out, we were passing the photo opportunity. Next time I will know better. 2020, God willing.

Then Ty said, “There’s the road.” Damn! Civilization! I looked back at the paddle boat behind us as we entered the second worst rapid on the river. Was that Llydia riding on the front of the paddle boat???? “The Bronco Seat”, Ron said. They were too far back to get a good look, but then we came to the second rapid. With the camera strapped down, I got on the floor and grabbed the rope. Ty handled it expertly as all the guides had done the entire week. We eddied out the watch the paddle boat in case something happened. There was a dark-haired girl in the Bronco Seat now, with a GpPro on her head. Sarah! The story goes she asked her parents if she could sit in the Bronco Seat for this rapid. Her father, Chris, said, “We all make decisions Sarah.” Her mother said, “Good luck” as they kept fishing. These girls are my heroes, and they were from the first day! As the boat floats past, Sarah just flashes that beautiful smile.

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There was a great lunch at the landing. Jess was there. I had a great talk with Carla, who helps with driving, loading and whatever else is needed. She told the story of riding a bike across the country from the Oregon coast to Virginia in the 70’s. She talked about the roads, the difficulties, but mostly the people she met, and the generosity of them. As I have seen time and time again, the adventure is one thing, but the people we meet make it special. That is certainly the case on this trip.

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We loaded on a very nice bus for a one-hour drive to where Ron had his car shuttled. I could easily have fallen asleep, but the entire drive followed the Main Salmon River. It was too pretty to sleep, and I shot a few pictures out the window.

Group photoOur group

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Here’s to you, all my new friends. That FireBall is darned good! Thanks for sharing!

Middle Fork Salmon River, Saturday

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Trying to define the way Cartwheel Bob came down the mountain last night, Steve asked Sarah and Llydia to demonstrate handstands and cartwheels. The crowd voted it was more cartwheel.

I got in the boat with Steven with Brian in the front fishing. Many had said their favorite day was the 5th, and now I see why. Early on we stopped at an incredible, ancient cave overlooking the river. A perfect, grassy area was in the front for a perfect camp. Pictographs were all over the cave. Probably used for thousands of years as a major camp, I can only imagine the stories that went around those campfires. Back down the rocky climb, Tristan, Tanner, AJ and Steven were jumping onto a big rock and then doing flips into the river.

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The next stop was a hike up to a brilliant little waterfall tumbling over the wall of a blind canyon. This was the home of a man who died in the 1930’s. He was one of many who enjoyed the beauty and solitary lifestyle. He had a tiny cabin beside the river and a ladder up the cliff wall, which led to an grassy, open area where he built a larger cabin. He had a garden and grazed his animals. Steve had climbed the cliffs to explore in years past. I gazed at the cliffs and imagined climbing it.

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We stopped for lunch next to Big Creek at 11:00. Steve said we could jump off the bridge, which of course the guides and the girls did, and that’s a high bridge. We could hang out, swim or walk up Big Creek. I opted for a walk up Big Creek. I hadn’t gone far before I turned back to get the Nikon camera. What a gorgeous, classic western, clear blue trout stream! Maureen, Cathy and Sharron walked ahead. Steve warned to be careful fishing it, as it is hard to get to sometimes. I found John casting from a rock above the stream. Flowers and berries were everywhere. I kept looking among big rock slides for a rattlesnake, but never saw one. I did find several grouse, and John caught me to point out some sheep. I walked up to a bridge, passing the ladies as they walked back. I later learned that Steve has a 6-day trip to Big Creek. You fly in, then take a horseback ride to a cabin. He said the stream rarely gets fished. Now there’s a trip I would like to take!

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We heard stories about “The Wall”, where Maureen had turned over her kayak last year. That’s why I wasn’t in a kayak and was in the boat with Steven. As we rounded a bend into a long stretch of calm water, I could hear the rapid in the distance. I have learned through the years if there is a big calm area, there is often a big rapid at the other end. As the first boat neared the rapid, Steve yelled, “STAY AWAYYYY FROM THE WALLLL”. Each guide echoed the cry up the river until the paddle boat made some defiant cry I couldn’t understand. The river makes a right-hand turn where the whole force of the river powers its way up against a giant wall. We barely touched it – the only rock we touched the whole trip, with the exception of some shallow rocks we floated over. All the boats eddied out below and beside the rapid. A group was camped across from the rapid, and had obviously been practicing the run through it. Our paddle boat came through like professionals with everyone cheering.

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When we got to camp, we settled into the routine, which entailed finding our tents, rolling out the sleeping bag, finding a headlamp, shaving kit and other essentials. Then to the chairs for cocktail hour…s and so many stories, great stories and lots of laughter. Then Steve began asking “Who was born on the first? The second?” Of course the question came, “What month?” “Doesn’t matter. Who was born on the third?” Then he starts digging a hole in the sand and buries a white bucket and fills it with water. Then the same about 40 feet down the beach. He filled beer and soft drink cans with sand and water and explains the game. It’s like horseshoes, or Cornhole. Nearest to the bucket gets a point, a leaner two points, in the bucket gets three. Two practice throws and off you go. I was paired with Tristan, but let him down. Cathy, it turns out, is a senior horseshoe champion, and they crushed us. Who knew? Before going back, I will have to practice. With everyone playing, including guides, it takes a while, but drinking is not prohibited. Steve forbids electronics of any flavor, and makes you sign a form in agreement. At one point during the game, Sarah was showing the ladies the GoPro movies of going through “The Wall”. “Put that away!”, he said with authority. “You can watch that next week.” With no TV, no cell phones and no computers, there is so much more interaction, so much entertainment and so many great stories! The game resumes, and it was lots of fun. The evening was topped off with Smores brought out by Maureen.

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Middle Fork Salmon River, Friday

Friday, July 20, 2018

What fun it was to paddle kayaks in the morning with Llydia and Sarah. Although most of the rapids weren’t bad, we had a couple of challenging ones. They both hit a rock in one and I think came out of the boats. By the time I got past and looked back, they were in the boats laughing and having fun. We kept hearing about “The Wall”, so none of us paddled after this, although Ron said it was all fine. He has paddled the entire 102 miles in a kayak.

We visited a huge Native American cave with pictographs. Steve quipped, “The Smiths have an overhang honey. Why can’t we?”

That evening there was a cake-eating contest, which Bob won. I didn’t see much cake under the whipped cream, but he did have extra strawberries.

Mountain Challenge #2:

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After we setup camp, I was into my second glass of wine when Steven ran down the side of a raft, dove in the river, swam across the river like an Olympian and ran up the mountain, finally standing on top of a granite rock, arms in the air. I am guessing there was some record-keeping for fastest times because soon enough Steve jumped in and hustled up the mountain and climbed on the rock, arms in the air. I wasn’t keeping time, but I think Steven won. Then Tristan dove in the water and hustled up the mountain, and there were three standing on the rock. When no one else followed, they came back down. I stopped drinking and toyed with the idea. I could swim across the river, though the current is fast. The first part is very steep, but after that it looked like it leveled off for the second third. The last part was steep again. By then everyone was back down, and Steve asked the girls if anyone wanted to go. There were no takers, and the regular conversations went on. Then those two darned girls, Llydia and Sarah, raised their hands and said they would go. “Put on a life jacket and some good shoes”, Steve said, and they ran off. Couldn’t believe it. I picked up the camera and followed them to the river when Bob and Maureen walked past me. “Hell, if they’re going, I’m going” I said, scurrying back to put my camera down. It was a harder swim than I thought. Bob reached out a hand, but I declined. The “trail” up was loose gravel and sand with little to hold onto but grass. Gasping hard, I tried to keep up with Maureen when we got to the top of the first third. It didn’t level off. Steve yelled down from somewhere above to take our time. By now he was ⅔ the way up with the girls right behind him. The last third was very steep and slippery. I was pretty sure we didn’t have a shot at the record! We made it though, still gasping for air as we climbed the rock. Steve was talking and telling stories, knowing we needed time to recuperate. Meanwhile Llydia was climbing around on a ledge on the other side of the rock. I didn’t know if I was going to have a heart attack from breathing so hard or watching Llydia so carelessly climbing around. Finally I couldn’t contain myself. “Llydia, get back over here!”

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OK, going down should be easy. Maybe if you are Steven, who ran the 90-some miles up this canyon, or Steve who has spent a lifetime guiding hunting and fishing in these mountains. Totally unaffected, he climbed this mountain twice today. As we trudged down, Steve and the girls walked over to a vertical cliff overlooking camp. Making our way almost to the bottom, Bob’s knee buckled on him and he went head-over-heels down the trail! He was behind a tree, so Maureen and I couldn’t see it, but those in camp thought he was going to die. Thinking I was safely down, I took a slide on the loose gravel with my arm catching a sharp rock. I hit it hard enough, I thought it might have broken, but it was fine – just some good cuts that Steve would later say looked like a bear bite. We walked along a ledge on the river bottom to get upstream before swimming across. Bob and Maureen are expert swimmers, so I followed Maureen. Unfortunately we were swimming downstream. By the time I looked up, I was at the end of the boats, but got safely to shore still panting hard.

After some rest and water, Steve, who looked like he hadn’t done anything all day, said “Get yourself a drink. It’s margarita night.” Then we heard the others talking about Bob’s fall and how scared they were. Steve asked the girls if they could demonstrate a cartwheel to see if that’s what it looked like, but no, that wasn’t it. Then he asked Bob to do one, and everyone agreed that was it. From then on, he was known as “Cartwheel Bob”. I was hoping for “Bearbite Greg”, but it didn’t happen.

As I got ready for bed, I handed out dental floss. We had been discussing the need to floss and that you only have to floss the ones you want to keep.

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Middle Fork Salmon River, Thursday

Thursday, July 19, 2018

How can you go wrong starting your day with eggs Benedict? It was another perfect day to be on the river. It was Ty’s first day taking the “Sweep Boat” down. This is a huge job. All the gear is in that boat, and it must weigh thousands of pounds. It’s called a sweep boat because of the two paddles front and aft that sweep back and forth. AJ said in some ways it is easier to control, but here’s a man with years of experience on the Salmon, Colorado and recently the Red Nile in Africa. A book could be written on the stories he told me on this day. AJ is the one guy I would trust to take me down the Colorado. I think he has made 22 trips down it and may be on it after this week.

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The sweep boat goes down first and sets up camp. How Steven got that boat down the small river we started with on the first day, I’ll never know. It would be fun to ride it that day. It is bound to get stuck on rocks, but how would you get it off?

Middle Fork Wednesday

Wednesday, July 19, 2018

It’s interesting to see how the landscape changes every day, and how the river gets bigger. It was a treat to buy an ice cream bar at fly-in “Flying B Store”.

Once we made camp that night, we saw the first challenge. I was sipping my wine when I saw Steve making the challenge to swim across the river, climb up the other side and up a BIG hill on the other side. I got up to take a picture, and he asked if I was coming, but I quickly shook my head. David, however, went with his youngest girl. Amazed, I watched them slowly climb to the top of that hill. Steve cut them no slack as he led the way, setting a pretty quick pace. David and his youngest didn’t quite make it. Still it was a lot for that cute little girl, her older sister anxiously waiting on one of the boats. Just swimming back across the river is a challenge, and she was quite proud to have done it. When Steve came back with Josh, Tristan and Sarah, he was talking the whole time, and they were laughing while swimming across the river.

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Meanwhile our guides, AJ, Steven, Tristan, Tanner, Ty and S……………..prepared an incredible dinner. What they can do with those 5 Dutch ovens is amazing.

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