A River runs through it

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The Big Wood River is a 137 miles/220 km long river that originates in the Sawtooth Mountains close to Galena Pass. The valley named after the river stretches south-west and includes the lovely communities of Sun Valley, Ketchum and Hailey. The Big Wood River is a tributary of the Malad River, which is a tributary to the Snake River and the Snake River subsequently feeds into the Columbia River.

If I would ever stay for a longer period of time in this area, I would like to learn how to fly-fish. The Big Wood River has a very calming, almost meditative quality.

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Our two-week stay in Ketchum, ID has sadly come to an end. Sure, we could have extended by a week or two if we wanted to, but then we would not be able to do other things we planned to do. Such is life. Every time you say yes to something, you also say no to something else. We left on 19 Sep 2017 and rolled west again towards Bend, OR for a one-week stay. In order to manage the 480 miles/770 km trip from Ketchum to Bend we boondocked for one night in a lovely BLM area near Juntura on the Central Oregon Highway (Highway 20). While Highway 20 provides a narrow band of cell phone connectivity, just one or two miles off the highway there is no service. To be more exact, there is not only no cell phone service, there is nothing but wide-open space.

Oregon is a pretty big state and the center of the state is surprisingly remote. Most people know Oregon as a lush and green state with big forests and plenty of volcanoes stretching south to north along the pacific coast. Well, in the rain-shadow east of the Cascade Mountains Oregon is high and dry and the population density is extremely low.

It is interesting to experience the absence of the world-wide-web on once activities. How did we ever live without all these devices? It is clear to me that we are all hopelessly addicted to our cell-phones, tablets and computers.

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Being in Ketchum was great. We hiked everyday on different trails in the Big Wood River Valley. To name a few there was the Fox Creek Trail, the Adam Gulch Trail, the Oregon Gulch Trail, the Chocolate Gulch Trail, the Stanley Lake Trail, Proctor Mountain Trail and last but not least the Titus Lake Trail.

We re-evaluated the Sawtooth Brewery and successfully sampled their “False Summit Amber Ale” and their “Mustache Black Rye IPA”.

On the trails we met a number of elk/deer bow & arrow hunters. Hunting these big animals with such a weapon is an activity that is not only strenuous but also requires a great amount of skills. These folks carry a lot of equipment into high mountain regions and have to get really close to an animal before they can attempt a kill. After the kill, they have to dress the animal down and carry it out on their backs. Once an elk or deer is on the ground, there is a lot of competition for the easy food source, including wolves and bears.

The nighttime temperatures in Ketchum prior to our departure dropped as low as 22F/-6C and the higher elevations of the Big Wood River Valley had received a first dusting of snow. Let me remind you, these are the last days of summer.

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While in Ketchum we also spent time and money taking advantage of the excellent veterinary services provided by the Ketchum Animal Clinic. The clinic is known for it’s expertise in animal joint diseases and we asked them to diagnose Coopers limping (which manifested itself the last time in June 2017). The problem was determined to be CED (Canine Elbow Dysplasia). We were ready to submit Cooper to joint surgery, however, the clinic does not offer surgical solutions for CED. The disease, when active, must be managed with medication. The rest of the pets received vaccinations as needed.

After the visit to Bend we will move to the left coast. We have not seen our friend the Pacific ocean for almost one year.

Stay tuned.

Middle of Nowhere – Center of the Universe

Happy September y’all. It’s about time we enter fall and enjoy some cooler temperatures. With the official vacation season being over and kids are back in school the country belongs to the non-working people again.

housemouseIt is ironic that on one hand we are living with two cats and on the other hand we had mice living amongst us. Since the cats were unable to catch the intruders we declared total war on the little rodents and we were not taking any prisoners. Just kidding, we are sissies and bought a no-kill mouse trap. As of today we have caught and released four of these little buggers. At the moment there are no signs of additional rodents.

_BDS0963We observed the 21 Aug. 2017 solar eclipse right outside of the motorhome in Wallowa, OR on a meadow under a cloud-free sky. Using a very strong neutral density filter on a 400 mm lens we observed the moon as a black disk moving over the disk of the sun until there was only a slight slice of the sun’s disk uncovered. 97% of totality. The small amount of the sun’s disk peaking out provided enough light to illuminate the landscape, it was not entirely dark. The light was very dim, the temperature dropped instantly. The landscape appeared in bizarrely false and eerie colors.

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The Wallowa Mountains provide a beautiful playground in a very remote location. The dogs and I hiked the Eagle Cap Wilderness entering from several trailheads. We hiked the Bear Creek Trail and the Huckleberry Trail near Wallowa. After those trails we explored the Lostine Corridor and starting at the Two Pan Trailhead we explored the East & West Fork of the Lostine River Trails. Finally we hiked the West Fork of the Wallowa River Trail starting at the Wallowa Lake Trailhead. All of these trails are long distance trails that require in/out hiking. They all can be characterized by rather steep approaches to the higher regions of the Wallowa Mountains.

Unfortunately, during our stay there were no opportunities for landscape photography due to the persistent smoke from burns in Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Montana. The western USA is on fire.

The Mutiny Brewery in Joseph has been closed permanently. However, not all was lost since the Terminal Gravity Brewery in Enterprise is still operational. They have a really nice and dog-friendly beer-garden attached to the brewery building that offers decent food and good beer. I liked their Apolitical Stout and the Eagle Cap IPA. The tastiest beer in my opinion however was the Tap-out, a American Strong Ale that carries a punch at 10% ABV.

In the meantime we moved back east a few hundred miles to Ketchum, ID into the Sawtooth National Forest. The constant change of time zones is getting annoying.

Stay tuned.