More Adventures at the Springs

We took the Polaris Ranger for a ride in the Targhee National Forest, following Dan’s cousin Tim and Uncle Mike on their dirt bikes. They know this wilderness like the back of their hands, giving me more of a sense of comfort for this adventure. Uncle Mike made fun of me for wearing my ski/snow gear on this trip in May, but he and the other three were the ones who came back wet and cold. This trip involved crackling thunder and lightning, hail, and rain that stung because we rode through it really fast. There was one point where Tim and Mike waited for us at the bottom of a hill when I realized and freaked out that it was actually a steep 20ft cliff and made Dan drive back to where we came from. If we followed through, it would have been a straight nosedive to the bottom. I’m pretty sure I saved the Ranger from major damage, but the guys claim that it would have been fine….!? Whatever. We crossed many creeks/cricks and squeezed onto a bridge that was so tight on the tires that it bent a rim. We went full speed through mud puddles, one of which happened to drench us completely by surprise which was okay, because I had on my waterproof snow gear. Mike even showed us an awesome waterfall that Dan never knew existed. I also made a video of Mike crossing another creek, and it happened to be the time he would tank it, submerging his whole bike underwater. Tim and Mike got it out and used their tools to take the engine apart and get the water out. A good samaritan came by and gave them a bottle of engine oil with which to replace the current tank that had been mixed with water. We could have driven around much more, but it was time to head back with a now-temperamental motorcycle.

It was fun listening to Mike talk to other people on the trail – he is full of stories, including one about the winter when his snow machine quit on him on the side of the hill and it took him 8 more trips back to bring it back, mainly because it would snow another 6 feet in between each visit. I’m slowly learning to overcome my fear of things (or, really, it’s not fear, it’s just that I’m not DUMB, right?!!) going wrong in nature by understanding that it is the obstacles that make adventures memorable. I think a lot of map studying and general knowledge would help, too. (like, should we take an avalanche class if we snowmobile a lot? Do I need bear spray?)

It was great making it back to the cabin to be greeted by four happy dogs (only three pictured) and having fun new stories to tell the in-laws and Aunt Clyda.

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Quilting

Summer of 2018 was when I decided to make quilts, and it was also the first time I threaded and used a sewing machine. I discovered the money hole that is a quilt/fabric shop but also got in the habit of using coupons and finding great discounts. I’ve always had a fascination with quilts – their beauty, detail, timelessness, and practicality throughout history, but never had a quilt until I moved in with Dan. They are his, but all come with a story and were handmade by his grandma who had already passed several years ago. I am posting the four quilts I made in this first year; all made in a terrible hurry and pushed by a desire to feel finished/accomplished more than anything else. The heart one has a page of stamps quilted to back by accident while FMQing. I covered it up with another piece of backing, but it’s still there. The last one is the most special to me because I made it after Dan’s mother gave me her stash, which included fabric that her mom used when she was alive.

Now that I’m in my second year of quilting, I would say that the process has opened up for me, but I need to improve on my color/pattern choices. (Am I allowed to blame that on my small fabric collection?) Hopefully a bit of improvement will show with the next batch, but I’ll share and get more into what I learned when that time comes. Anyway, my first four quilts, with dogs pictured for size reference.

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Winter Catch-Up

Spring is my favorite season, but it is also the busiest and most stressful time of the school year, so I am going to catch up with a blogpost! Dan and I are both terrible at remembering memories and details of our adventures, so an attempt at retelling our stories will certainly fill me with gratitude and inspiration.

Our 2018-2019 Winter was a cold one. We spent most of vacation at the cabin in Green Canyon, where the highs of the day were in the single digits. Cabin life can be rough! Constant freezing temps can easily drain our energy, even when doing normal tasks. We usually visit when the in-laws are there, but this time around we had the cabin to ourselves for a few days and couldn’t figure out how to get the stove fire warm enough to heat up the house. We had to keep the solar panels brushed free of snow, the panel batteries warm with a propane-fueled ceramic heater, and monitor the wattage and our use of electricity. If the wattage was low, we used the generator and monitored our gas supply. A trip to town to get gas would have been an ordeal in itself. Fortunately, Dan’s parents joined us a few days later and warmed up the house in a few minutes!

Living in the cabin makes me think fondly of all of the conveniences we have in our day-to-day lives. A lot of it is meant to save us time, but I wonder if our smart phones/technology are beginning to do too much for us. Is it genuinely freeing up time for us to live, or to work more? Are people going to miss doing things the ‘long’ way?

We were able to make it to Relay Ridge again after a few failed attempts from prior trips. [see earlier posts] We had visited the ridge when we first started dating, and it was my first time riding a snow machine. As frigid as it was this time, the views were rewarding – I love being up and above the clouds. The snow was powdery-soft, waist-deep, and the machines in that snow made it feel like I was floating.

This was also the trip when we left Bella and gave her to my in-laws. We thought Bella would benefit from all that space to run, and Dan’s mother is available to walk her everyday. Our house is so quiet now because it is just us and Gogo, who doesn’t really bark, run out the door when it’s open, or eat food off of the counter. We miss Bella, but will still get to see her every so often. In fact, she is coming to visit this weekend!

 

Blacks Creek Road

This is a fun, curvy and quiet road that we’ve been on with motorcycles until the pavement runs out and turns to dirt. This time, we brought the truck to haul in our 4-wheelers, because Dan had heard that there were trails to explore in the area. We drove for miles on that dirt road and didn’t find anything, so decided to just park and continue on that road on the 4-wheelers. This always happens to us as soon as we make a decision: A few miles later, there was a gate open for trails that led into the mountains. The sites were gorgeous and the trails were accompanied by free-range cows that stared and ate as we passed by.

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Kayaking

When my friends tell me they’re going camping for the weekend, about half of the time they say they’re heading out to Bruneau Dunes State Park. We decided to check it out with our new kayaks, knowing that the park had a lake surrounded by sand dunes. Got up early on a Sunday morning to beat the unbearable afternoon sun and drove an hour over to the park. We had the whole lake to ourselves. It was so still peaceful and I wanted to take pictures of all of the fish that swam with me, but photos wouldn’t do it justice. Dan parked his kayak about halfway through and climbed a dune to take a photo.

Happy Summer

School’s out, and yes, we’re back at the cabin in East Idaho. Running the Teton Dam 5K to kick off summer vacation was exactly what I needed. I think we’ll have to do this every year! (sorry, Dan!) The weather was cool and brisk, and I love that our shirts labeled us as Dam Runners, which encouraged us to practice our use of puns for the day…

There’s a ton of family history related to the dam, which collapsed in 1976, killing 11 people and ruining all crops that year. It hasn’t been rebuilt since. The Teton Dam Race did not take us to the site of the dam itself (I think the 1/2 or Full marathon would have taken us to the dam), but we ended up with a great tour of Downtown Rexburg, which also has it’s own Greenbelt. I could try for the half next year, but don’t think Dan would want to run that distance with me.

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We also made two more attempts to make it up to the relay towers behind the cabin. Dan and I made it there on snowmobiles (my first time riding) when we first started dating, and we’ve made two other failed attempts to get up there since. This time, we got stuck in snow and ended up digging ourselves out for an hour or two. There was just too much snow up there in June. We were so close. These are the pictures of us just almost being there.

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Visiting the Cabin Again

If I were to use hockey games as a way to gauge how busy we’ve been, then this fall must have been a huge mess of overwhelming tied-up and swamped in overloaded no fun time. By the way, we are big Steelheads fans and go to games whenever we can. So if we’ve only seen one game so far this season, that’s pretty terrible.

Surprisingly, it didn’t feel too bad! December is supposed to be the month of death for music teachers, but I made sure to have fun this time around working with my students, and I felt they were pretty well prepared. I sure hope *knock on wood* it’s a sign that I’m getting the hang of things!

We’ve been back to the cabin whenever we can (Labor Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas) to spend time with Dan’s parents. That place is our piece of idyllic heaven: miles of fields for the dogs to roam and run, nearby trails for the snowmobiles and new Ranger, wild animals passing by, hot springs at the bottom of the hill, and neighbors who are all family relatives. Seriously! Dan’s uncle lives down the hill and runs the hot spring business and lives next to his other uncle, who lives next to Dan’s cousin ….and so forth. The family traditionally uses the hot springs as their Christmas Eve gathering place (and every Sunday dinner); everyone brings a slow-cooker soup or dessert to eat, sing Christmas carols, then swims in the pools. Dan has several relatives, so I’m still having trouble remembering names. Another hot spring tradition is to climb the rafters and jump into the pool, which I only did once so that I can at least say I’ve done it. Well, I’ll probably do it again, but I’m just saying that I felt more air time at that moment than from what could be seen on the video.

Anyway, here are a few pictures from our adventures around the cabin, with the winter scenery.

Our goal was to make it up to the relay towers where we could get a good view of the Tetons. We’ve been trying to make it back up there since my first time ever out on the machines (we had just started dating), but something always happens. I think this was our third try since, and we had to stop this time just at the base of the last hill where the snow was too soft and the trail groomers had quit. I remember that first time thinking that the ride was really long, but this time, we could have made it as though it was a short trip. I must have been going realllllly slow that time, then! Good thing Dan is so patient with me!

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Deadwood Reservoir

We left Rexburg after the wedding to take a road trip out to the midwest. Dan dropped me off at Indiana University, where I took a 2-week course at the Summer Kodaly Institute for music teachers – I strongly believe that every music teacher needs to take this!

I could gush and go on about the Kodaly course and road trip, but I’m going to post about the 4th of July trip we took [in Idaho] just a few days after getting home from all of the festivities, traveling and studying. July 4th fell on a Tuesday this year, so Dan had only one day off for this trip. We’ve always wanted to go to Deadwood Reservoir because people have talked about catching literally buckets full of salmon there – with our fishing record, we were sure and excited about catching one!

Have you ever headed somewhere new and followed your preset directions until you saw a sign pointing to a different way to get there and started following that instead on a whim? Well, we did that Monday night and it turned out to be a scary 25-mile bumpy, one-lane dirt road through mountains with deadly cliff-edges! The views were gorgeous, but my appreciation of the sights was trumped by my fear of getting lost, damaging the car/boat, falling off the side, and running into a car headed the other way. We made it to our campground 2 hours later than expected, right when the sun was setting. Our campsite was right by the lake, and we had a good amount a space/privacy from the campers on either side. My pre-made tinfoil dinners were a yummy success (better than last time because I added cooking oil), and Bella had her first adorable run-in with a frog.

We woke up and packed up camp the next morning to go boating. We had seen a dock on the way in the night before, but did not want to head back in that direction [toward ‘deadly road’] because there’s gotta be a better way out of here when we’re done! We drove the other way around the lake [still dirt road] looking for another dock for what seemed like an hour or two with no success. The gas tank was down to its final quarter. Asked a car passing by for the closest town and best way to get there. Turns out that if we stayed on this dirt road for another 30 miles, we would reach the paved road that would take us another 30 miles to Cascade. Instead of turning around to go back to the first dock [to do what we were there to do!] we decided to fill up on gas at Cascade, then go fishing right there at Lake Cascade. This was the dirt road that we were originally supposed to take getting in – it was flatter and faster, but more round about from Boise.

Filled up the gas tank and launched the boat in Lake Cascade. We’ve been here before, and some of the things I remember are that my phone gets good reception, the grass grows tall in the water [lots of fishing lines getting stuck], and the water is really smooth for wake boarding.

We were ready to go, but…the boat engine would not start! [insert proper emoji here]

Then we went back home.

After this trip, we are going to make sure that we keep our gas tank full, carry a book map in case we get lost without reception, and to bring more than enough water.

Also, a future trip to Deadwood Reservoir will require more days than one to make the dirt driving worth it.

 

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Catch-Up Time

June was a whirlwind of a month! In the next few days, I will work on writing some catch-up entries. I just finished my 5th year of teaching and my second year at my new school. So far, it has been the place I’d like to be for the rest of my career: It’s two miles from home yet far enough away for me to walk anonymously in my own neighborhood, the staff is like family, and my administrator has been so positive and supportive with big-picture ideas and students’ best interests in mind.

The day after school finished with PD meetings and frantic cleaning of the home (seriously, no time to rest!), my parents flew in from New Jersey, then my Aunt and Uncle from Korea the next day, for our wedding. I was a little nervous about getting ready for the event because there is apparently a lot of things one must do to prepare, yet I didn’t feel like I did that much. Actually, most of what I had been planning on was the last-minute decorating of the cabin, which was 5 hours away. So, based on my experience, I have some good news for the low-maintenance bride on a budget, because it all turned out beautifully, and everyone was happy!

Anyway, since this is the Idaho blog, I need to mention our wedding location! Dan’s parents have been building a beautiful cabin at the top of a valley in Newdale, Idaho, which is about 10 minutes outside of Rexburg. His grandpa owned Green Canyon Hot Springs (first opened in 1903) at the bottom of that valley and the farmland around it, which has since been inherited and run by his Uncles. Dan grew up working at the hot springs during the summers. Below are some pictures of the area, with some of that last-minute decorating fun! After the wedding, the family joined weekly Sunday dinner at the Springs (closed on Sundays except for family), then visited Yellowstone, which is just an hour away. Dan and I parted from the group and commenced our road trip, which I will post about later.

 

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Lucky Peak Rooster

Now that we’ve taken our motorcycles out to Lucky Peak, I think I feel ready to commute to work on my Honda Nighthawk on a great weather day. On this trip, my heart wasn’t beating out of my chest, the big traffic light intersections felt okay, and I survived a big left-hand turn out of the park into busy and fast traffic [HWY 21]. We even had rain on the way home. I know it was just one experience, but Dan says that was probably the trickiest it can get for a motorcyclist and all I really want to be able to do is drive the 2 miles to work at 35 mph and save some gas.

Anyway, the reason for the trip was to see the Rooster Tail, which is currently spurting 1500-2500 cubit feet of water per second out of Lucky Peak Dam. It is supposed to relieve the river beds from the massive water pressure that has built up from last winter’s precipitation. The last time the rooster made its appearance was five years ago, so a ton of people were expected to come out and see it. Naturally, Dan wanted to take the bikes with hopes of finding an easy parking spot. Check out the pictures below, and see if you can find the cars in the background for scale!

Half of these photos were from my iPhone but now that we’re more committed to remembering our adventures, I am going to start getting back into photography with my SLR. I’m looking into getting a wide angle lens and finding quicker ways [a first world problem] to transfer to and edit on my computer.

 

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