Monday, August 27, 2001

Close encounters

I got there early. Sunday, in the most remote part of the park, I did not have a close encounter with a bison. I fished the Lamar River for a couple hours in the afternoon. I found a nice bend in the river with an undercut bank on the other side. I never saw the bison. At dusk, I walked back to the motorhome and drove off to find a place to turn around and head back to the camp. As I drove back past the fishing spot, there was a lone bull bison standing on the bank, directly above the spot where I had been fishing.

On Monday morning, two hikers did have a close encounter with a grizzly, two miles down river from where I was fishing. The bison carcass was three weeks old, so the hikers thought it was safe to go down and take a look. The grizzly popped up out of a gully to defend his prize aggressively. It ended peacefully. The grizzly got to keep his carcass. Two hikers have the story of a lifetime about how they got to run all the way back to the car in wet shorts. Now there are fresh bear warning signs up at the trailhead. I fished the Soda Butte Creek.

We floated the Madison on Tuesday and Thursday with Rick the guide, and got close to a whole bunch of fish. Actually, Bill got closer to more fish, and bigger fish than I did.

On Wednesday, Bill and I wade fished the Madison by ourselves. The river, and the fish that were presumably there, pretty much kicked our ass.

Friday, we loaded up and took the scenic loop over the Divide, around to the lake, along the river, through Hayden Valley, over Dunraven Pass, down through Tower, the Roosevelt Lodge, past Slough Creek, through the Lamar Valley, and finally to Pebble Creek Campground. Back to the remote top-right corner of the Park.

I took Bill back to show him where I caught all the Yellowstone cut-throat trout on Sunday and Monday. I could show him where they were, but I couldn't show him any fish. We went to the Lamar River. It was dead quiet. We worked and worked and worked the water. Nothing happened. We went to different water. We went to Soda Butte Creek. It too was dead quiet. Just like there were no fish there at all. We started at the Butte. We walked and fished our way down-stream. Nothing happened until down by the Bison. Then the fish started rising. But we still couldn't catch them. They were clearly eating now, but we couldn't see anything on the water. All we knew was that they didn't want to eat what we were offering. Finally, by putting my reading glasses on and putting my face right down next to the water, I could see the tiny bugs. There was a hatch on. It was a hatch of very very tiny little brown indistinct bugs. And they were the only thing our trout wanted.

By now the trout were lined up right on the bubble-line, one each ten feet or so, each rising for a gulp, and dropping back down, then rising again. We went through our fly boxes and found the two tiniest, cruddiest little brown bugs we could to tie on and offer. It worked. We caught lots of fish the last hour or so. We fished until it was too dark to see the flies.

I didn't get to my run until late that night. Just as the moon set, I went out for a run in the starlight. At the turn-around, far-point of my run, I stood alone in the dark and listened to the wolves howling all around me. It made me shiver. The wolves are clearly back. And they belong.

Bill and I both left on Saturday morning. Bill went back across the top of the park through Mammoth Hot Springs, then north-west up into Montana. I went out the Bear Tooth Highway, the Chief Joseph Scenic Highway, by the Big Horn River, through Thermopolis, the Wind River Canyon, and past Hell's-Half-Acre. Ten minutes after I left camp at 7:30 in the morning, I got a full, unobstructed view of a bull moose. He crossed the road and worked his way up the hill to my right. I just pulled up and stopped to watch. I got to be a moose-jam of one.

Thirteen more hours and I was home.

Judy was glad to see me. The puppy pretty much wiggled herself inside out. The Broncos won. The cat pretended he didn't care I was back, but I'm sure he did.

What I did this summer.


Thursday, August 16, 2001


I had a difficult bicycle ride yesterday.

It was an off-day for racquetball. My ankle is a little sore, so I can't run any distance right now. So I decided to take a bicycle ride for my exercise.

I headed out to ride around Harper lake, up on Davidson Mesa, in the northwest part of town. (Yes, all the way to another part of Louisville). But on the way I decided to go down the street that has the house with the yard train in the back yard. I haven't been by there in a couple years and thought I should see how he's doing. He's doing very well! The layout is complete now. It includes mountains and tunnels and trestles and towns. It covers the entire back yard. It required lots of observation and admiration.

After about twenty minutes I managed to pull myself away and continue on to the bike path around Harper Lake. But just as I got to the other side, I encountered the sailboat regatta! Nine boats in all. Each one about two feet long. A radio-control regatta.

After the additional observation and admiration, I got back on track for the bicycle ride, but from here it was all downhill back to the house.

Sometimes it's just really hard to get in a good exercise.


Tuesday, August 14, 2001


We rearranged the front kitchen and installed a "cat hammock" in the window.

It seems to be working just fine.

Saturday, August 11, 2001


Have I mentioned the potato bin?

In theory, you plant the potatoes in the bottom of the bin, fill it with straw and compost and leaves and stuff as the potatoes grow, and you end up with a bin full of potatoes when all is done.

The product literature described the delight of "opening the bin and watching all the potatoes tumble out."

Last year, I used the potato bin. Some of the plants died, but some survived. When I opened the bin, nothing tumbled out. It was a giant solid heavy block. I had to pick it apart to see what was inside. It made great compost. It made great earthworms. It did not make potatoes.

When I called the manufacturer of the potato bin for advice, they asked me what I did and what I got. After I told them, they said, "That's a lot better than we did in our test garden. We don't sell this as a potato bin anymore. Now we sell it as a strawberry garden."

Well, they may concede defeat easily, but I think I can do better. This year I planted a row of potatoes. One end of the row is enclosed in the potato bin, the remainder is out in the open. The potatoes are doing great. Much more growth than last year.

In the attached picture, you can't really see the potato bin. That's zucchini (and a dog) in the foreground (and yellow sunflowers in the middle). I'm standing directly behind the potato bin. I've never had armpit-high potato plants before. You can't even see the rest of the row of potatoes outside the bin. They're hidden behind the zucchini between the bin and the corn.

So there you have it. The best potato plants ever. And a bin full of potatoes to boot, just waiting for me to open the bin and delight as the potatoes fall out at my feet.

Just wait till the quitters at the potato bin factory hear about this.


Thursday, August 9, 2001



Let me try to attach the corn pictures again.

Vegetable gardens

The corn is growing well. The first block planted is now a lot taller than I am. It is a lot taller than I can reach. We are not growing it for ourselves, however. We are having a banner raccoon year, and they are having a record best time in the corn. There aren't even ears of corn yet, and they come marauding every night and tear down stalks and rip it up.

There doesn't seem to be any legal way to protect the corn from the raccoons without trapping and relocating them. That is an expensive and temporary solution.

The good news is that they don't seem to fancy any of the other vegetables growing. They get the corn, we get everything else.


Sunday, August 5, 2001


We had a fine hooky day on Wednesday. We're having our great ninety-degree, blue sky summer weather. Took the day off, loaded the van, and drove to Lake Union, outside of Longmont. We spent the morning paddling the circumference of the lake. Away from the swim beach, we got to glide along the bushes and reeds and listen to the birds. Even got to listen to the fish. They splash when they jump, of course. But the carp also swirl and gulp back in the reeds, while the coots cluck and groan and complain. When it started getting pretty sweaty, we returned to the shore and had a picnic lunch in the shade.

We drove home, swapped our stuff from the van to the motorhome, and drove up into the high country. At Lilly Lake, just outside of Rocky Mountain National Park, we rigged up for flyfishing, launched the float tubes, and were in the water by 4:30 and fished until dark. It rained on us a little, and was about fifty degrees by the time we came in, so it was pretty nice to have a warm house and hot soup waiting for us. Caught lots of little trout, and one big one each.

We were a little late getting home to bed, but it was a great surprise day off.