Sunday, July 27, 2014

Currently: July

Current mood:  Tired. We had a long, busy weekend

Currently thankful for:  Google Translate. We have had several guests from foreign countries who don't speak good English. How do you say "tipi" in French? 

Currently worried about:  Our future

Currently excited about:  Our future and our new baby niece or nephew to be born any day now! 

Currently regretting:  Can't really think of anything! 

Currently not excited about:  Can't really think of anything! 

Currently proud of:  Getting stellar reviews from RR guests on Trip Advisor 

Currently reading: "Just Passing Through" by Winton Porter 

Current guilty pleasure: Frangelico in my ice cream sodas. A guest who frequents RR ("Local Tim") brought us a bottle of Frangelico (as well as a bottle of scotch and tequila). He knows what it's like to run a small business and thought we could use the liquor to get through the busy season. 

Currently watching on Netflix: still on the mail program, so we watch about 2 movies a week and alternate between a scary movie and some other genre. The other day we watched "The Perks of Being a Wallflower" from 2012. Anyone see it? I don't know what is wrong with me, but I cried from beginning to end. Something about adolescence coming-of-age that gets to me. 

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Backpacking Oregon: Eagle Cap Wilderness - Ice Lake

We ventured back into the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest and Eagle Cap Wilderness again and this time, we weren't stopped by snow. We've had some really warm temps these past few weeks and got a good ranger report, so into the wild we went. 

This time, our destination was Ice Lake. The trailhead starts at 4,600 feet and ends at 7,849 feet 8.1 miles later. The first 3 miles of the trail is heavily used by horses, so there's a lot of poop. Horse poop is not my favorite thing. Come to think of it, I'm not a big fan of any poop, but I digress.

After the horse-pooped part of the trail, the real climbing begins. As J is pointing out in the picture below, we were going to the source of that waterfall.
With all the snowmelt, the wildflowers were so abundant. My wildflower book couldn't quite keep up with the variety. 

Ice Lake is the deepest lake in the Wallowas (190 feet) with plentiful fishing opportunities. We didn't swim (too frigid!) or fish. We just enjoyed the scenery, as the lake is surrounded by Matterhorn and Sacajawea peaks (the tallest in the Wallowas). 

Besides having a "room" with a view, 3 other exciting things happened on this trip.
#1 - A deer was playing hide and go seek with us at camp. Peeking around trees and going nuts. You could tell the deer was very used to people. So much for keeping wildlife wild.

#2 - I beat J twice in a row at the Bean Game.
#3 - We are pretty certain we spotted a wolf and some pups on the trail. No picture, because, well, A WOLF!

We should be able to head out for another overnighter this week as well. Checking the alpine lakes in the Eagle Caps off our list!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Our First Visitors!

Back in the day when gluten was not an allergy and J and I lived in one place for more than 6 months, we would get tons of visitors wherever we were living. People would plan their vacations around us. From July through August, there were few days we were without visitors.

But now, we live in the middle of nowhere. Flying to us cost as much as flying to Jamaica, London or Alaska.

Even still, we have a few brave souls coming to Eastern Oregon this summer. Our first set came last week. They were some cronies from New Hampshire, part of J's volunteer parks and rec committee when he worked there in 2007-2011.

We showed them around as time allowed. But mostly they soaked up the views here at RR, since we do have one of the most beautiful backyards we've ever had! It was really nice to have familiar faces around. Plus, they are natural volunteers. So they helped us out A LOT! I had the ladies chopping for pizza night and they watered our flowers (a task we all loathe) everyday!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Scenes from our life

I've been taking lots and lots of pictures of our time here, but few are shared. Until now. 

First, I thought I'd share the wild in our life:

We have not seen an alive bear. But, a few weeks ago, a motorcyclist hit a bear 1/4 mile away from us. Fortunately, the motorcyclist walked away without a scratch. The bear didn't fare so well. And now J can add to his resume cleaning up a dead bear. 
Knowing there was bear activity in the area, RR's owners felt better putting out a bear trap. We weren't so keen on that, but thankfully, no other bear showed up.

Instead, this guy showed up … 
That's right, a bobcat right on our property and under our stage. J just about pooped his pants when it walked by him … 

Now onto some more tame sightings. We have some A-MAZING hummingbirds here. I've always wanted to hummingbird feeder and now I know why. I haven't been able to capture the greatest pictures, plus, it just doesn't do it justice without their "chatter" from their flapping wings. 

Speaking of the sounds of birds, we have a few night hawks that come just about at dusk. They make this growling noise as they nose dive into the canyon and for awhile, our chef was convinced it was the bear! No video on that yet …

And now we move onto random pictures …

I am happy to report, I stopped being so OCD with our hand towels. 

Our hammock is a good place to grab 10 minutes of solitude and rest.

My garden hath groweth since I planted in May. 

Sometimes home is where you park it. This is our RV home for the season. Notice our "gear room."

A reminder that we are in the middle of nowhere. 

We hosted successfully hosted our first wedding here at RR Independence Day weekend. 


And since we are on the topic of pictures, anyone on Instagram? I am (patricejustin). Send me your "handle." 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Backpacking Oregon: Eagle Cap Wilderness - Mirror Lake

I am not going on a blog hiatus. I promise. Between hosting a wedding at RR and major satellite Internet problemas, I am just going with the plain old excuse of being busy. But I'm back with the latest edition of what we've been up to. Get excited now.

Last week (which feels like forever ago), we were able to sneak away from RR for a FULL 24 hours!! So of course we snuck into the woods to breathe in that delicious mountain air and soak up some UV rays.
The Wallowa-Whitman National Forest covers a huge chunk of this corner of the state (2.4 million acres!). Up until now, we've only explored the lesser known trails within the Wallowas. If anyone from the surrounding big cities are going backpacking in the Wallowas, they are flocking to the Eagle Cap Wilderness section (350,000+ acres of the WWNF), and more specifically, the scenic Lakes Basin. The Eagle Cap Wilderness is aptly nicknamed "Little Switzerland" and "The Alps of Oregon," depending on how Google feels.
Now, we have been salivating after the Eagle Caps since the day we arrived. Everyone told us they would be snowed in until late July. But, getting enough time away from RR to hit the Eagle Caps is difficult. So when we saw an open window to squeeze in an overnighter, we immediately decided we needed to use that window to hit the Lakes Basin before the crowds start pouring in.

Our intentions were a 20-mile loop to Mirror Lake. When we hit the 2-mile mark and saw the snow pack, we knew our plans could change.

We trudged, I repeat trudged, through the snow. It was a lot of freakin work. Important point to make: we were following the Lostine River, which with all the snowmelt, is raging. In places, the snow is covering every bit of land. Where is the river?? Oh, just anywhere you might be stepping. Postholing is not my favorite thing to do, especially when there is frigid water to be found underneath. 

As we've learned, plans in the backcountry change as the wind blows. So we made it as far as the snow would let us in the U-shaped glacial valley among the granite peaks and ridges, just shy of 2 miles from Mirror Lake.

We might have been early enough to beat the crowds, but a little too early for the trails to be cleared, the lakes to be unfrozen and the wildflowers to be in bloom. I'm bummed I didn't get to see any of the lakes in the Eagle Caps yet, but it is not like the other views disappointed. We set up camp ensuring a perfect view of the 9,572-foot Eagle Cap summit.

Being an avid backpacker, I feel like there should come a point in my backpacking career where I just shrug off an area with such hype. I get there and think, "eh, overrated." The esteemed Eagle Cap Wilderness was not that area and we can't wait to go back.