Archive for July, 2016

So You Want To Build Your Own Cabin?

Saturday, July 30th, 2016

IMG_5769IMG_5743IMG_4311Almost a year ago there was talk of putting up another cabin on my 10 acres in Luzerne.  I already have the original cabin and another Amish built cabin we call the bunkhouse.  We put that up to help with the overflow when all 24 family members show up!  We are now at the point were even the “bunkhouse” is not nearly enough especially when grandkids show up with friends! So we went back to our Amish builder (North Star Storage Barns of Mio) and came up with a plan that should “fill the bill!”

We had to get on a waiting list of several months as Laverne  is swamped with work.  We decided to go with a barn style building that is 16×30 with a full upstairs loft.  three weeks ago Dave and I had to clear out the woods for a cabin and septic system.  About 25 trees were involved in making room for our building.  Cutting, de-limbing, and cutting them in 2 foot pieces was backbreaking and time consuming.

We had an excavator come in and pull stumps, grade, and lay down 8 inches of crushed stone!  Within a few days my Amish builder is on site and in 2 days I have a 16×30 cabin shell.  Now the real work begins!

Last weekend I went north to start the plumbing so my excavator can know where to run my sewer line.  I also am tapping into my 5 horse power well pump to bring water to the place.  That means a 225 foot trench dug 5 foot deep then run the line run inside the cabin.  I built a 2 x 6 inch wall for the bathroom and installed a toilet and shower base along with insulating behind the green board I had to put up for the shower walls.  I also drilled holes through the wall 2 x 4’s and started my hot and cold water lines.  whew!  That kicked this old mans butt!

Furnace, water heater, insulation, electricity, propane tank and lines, staining the outside, flooring, and kitchen installation are still on the menu.  I’m sure I’m forgetting something, but i’m hear to tell you this is not an undertaking for the faint of heart. You better have deep pockets and pay someone else to do it all, or have a lot of time and energy on your hands.

Mike

 

 

 

 

Only One True North American Wolf Species?

Thursday, July 28th, 2016
 

Yellowstone’s Mesmerizing Beauty

Monday, July 25th, 2016

IMG_5089IMG_5107IMG_5126IMG_5207IMG_5246IMG_5443Our week in Yellowstone National Park was nothing short of fantastic.  My wife and I are so glad we went!  Our grandson Quinn russo has worked IT there for almost two (2) years, and has first hand knowledge of places, sights, and grandeur that the typical tourist never sees. He was an extraordinary guide sharing his secret places with his family, as we were in complete awe and wonder of the majesty of this place.  From moonscapes, to mountains, to secret hidden lakes, to back country trails that led to mind boggling sights, to the serenity of a pristine mountain pasture with a lone bison bull grazing in the shadow of the mountain peaks!  Wow does it get any better than that?

Along the way we saw lots of elk, bison, antelope, bears, eagles, mule deer, moose, marmots, and many of Yellowstone’s smaller critters. We treked into waterfalls, stepped in elk and bison “dung” (not intentionally) and feed the “whistle pigs” by hand. We conquered the mighty Yellowstone River with our inflatable raft, and rode horses at 8000 feet along an old game trial.  We roasted marshmallows by a roaring fire after a cowboy dinner served by ranchers and wranglers.  We enjoyed the vista of this natural wonder all around us.

You have to ask yourself “Why would anyone ever want to leave this place?”  Probably most do not want to leave, but reality is we have to leave.  It’s only the most hardy, hardened, calloused, tough, adventurous, pioneer that can “hack” this place during the winter months!  You better know how to ski, shod horses, fix and repair everything yourself, shoot a rifle like a sniper, be a recluse, and love the snow (tons of snow!)  so our little 7 day journey into one of the most beautiful places on earth will no doubt always be remembered best in our scrapbook of Yellowstone memories. We will forever cherish the time we spent with our grandson Quinn and the place he calls home in the mountains of Yellowstone National Park.

Mike

 

Another Bear Attack!

Thursday, July 21st, 2016

VERNON TOWNSHIP, N.J. — A black bear attacked a woman walking her dog outside her home about 40 miles northwest of New York City, authorities said Thursday.

The woman, whose name was not released, lives in the Pleasant Valley Lake area near a country club and a national wildlife refuge, Administrative Lt. Keith Kimkowski of the Vernon Township Police Department said in a statement. The township has about 25,000 residents.

She had just left her house at about 10 a.m. ET Monday and saw a bear with three cubs nearby, he said.

The adult bear charged the woman, causing her to fall backward. A neighbor saw the incident and chased the bear into the woods, Kimkowski said.

The woman was transported to a local hospital to be treated for injuries from the fall. The extent of her injuries was not known Thursday nor whether she remained hospitalized.

The New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife, which has been studying and managing the state’s black bear population since 2001, was advised of the incident, police said.

Bear attacks in the state are rare, but because this bear pushed the woman down, potentially swatting her with its claws, it would be considered a threat to human safety, according to the state wildlife division’s website. Generally, those bears are killed as quickly as possible.

Startled black bears generally run, often up a tree, if they think they have an escape route, according to the North American Bear Center in Ely, Minn. Females aren’t likely to become aggressive when they are out with their cubs, but they are on the alert for danger and will react to a person who is very close.WGI_0003

Fishing Yellowstone

Tuesday, July 19th, 2016

IMG_5413IMG_5436IMG_5459IMG_5466IMG_5687 (1)IMG_5699IMG_5578IMG_5680The adventure continues in Yellowstone national park.  The Flying Pig rafting adventures also has a fly fishing guide service and a mountain horseback ride and cowboy dinner that are part of their services.  Tony and I went to the fly fishing shop to buy some lures for those Yellowstone trout we had heard so much about.  The young man in the shop “forgave” us for using spin casting gear, and was kind enough to show us some “hot” trout lures and flies!

Early the next morning Tony and I headed for the small hidden lake Quinn had shown us earlier. There was a family with a fly fishing guide already there, but they stayed on the east side of the lake while we settled in on the west side.  We could see trout swimming in the crystal clear water and wondered if our lures would soon be attacked!  It didn’t take long to find out as Tony and I landed fish after fish.  They were more than eager to hit our offering, and everyone was a native cutthroat!  Catch and release only on these fine fighting rare fish.  Native cutthroat are becoming rare and that is why all native species are catch and release only.  To catch one is a thrill, but to catch 25 is nothing but awesome!  Our fish ranged in size from 10-13 inches. Absolutely a gorgeous little jewel from these high mountain lakes and streams. I did catch one brook trout which I was not only allowed to keep, but regulations say you must keep them or kill them.  They are considered an invasive species that competes with the native fish, and the Park Service wants them gone.  There is no limit to the amount of brook, rainbow, brown, or lake trout you catch in Yellowstone.

We returned to the Flying Pig fly fishing store and looked up the young man that sold us our fishing lures.  He was happy about our success, but we wanted some insights as to where we could catch fish we could keep and make a nice dinner.  He got out his pamphlet of regulations and said there was a couple small lakes that just opened to fishing 3 days ago.  He said they had some monster brookies, but the lake was hard to fish.  Seems it was surrounded by a bog and walking was treacherous.  He said what you lack in quantity you’ll make up for in quality!

Next morning we were of to Blacktail Lake bright and early.  We parked the car and started our downhill trek to the 3 small ponds that make up the lake.  The bog was scary to walk on as it moved up and down with each step. Our first half hour left us wondering if we got some bad information.  I moved on toward the larger end of the lake and “bam” I had a “taker!”  Felt like a whale to me, and when he broke the water and tried to shake my lure I was dumbstruck.  I kept a tight line with my little backpack Shakespeare spincasting rod and reel and soon lifted him onto the grass at my feet.  Sure enough it was a “brookie!” And what a “brookie it was!  I had no idea they grew to such proportions.  This fish was 19 inches and weighed about 3-1/2 pounds.  We were now very excited!  Tony moved down a little further and landed three fish in a row.  He waved at me to come down by him, and called me over to help identify his last fish.  It was a huge mature male brookie with the hook jaw and beautiful markings of a big fish.  After another hour we had caught 8 fish between us, and had lost 4 others.  Park regulations do not allow barbed hooks, so every now and then you lose a fish.  We had way more than enough for a meal, and didn’t want to be greedy so we put them in my backpack and headed for the rental unit.

We had a fish fry that evening and it was heavenly fare.  Baked potatoes, grilled trout, and a salad hit the spot after a long day of taking in the many wonders of Yellowstone.  What a bonus on this trip of a lifetime.  I showed our pictures to the young man at the Flying Pig fishing shop and he wanted me to txt them to him.  He said they were some of the biggest brookies he had ever seen!  Me too!

Note:  First photo is one of the many cutthroat trout we caught, second is the 12 inch brookie I landed that day, and the rest are the Monster Brookies we caught and ate that evening!

Mike

Rafting the Yellowstone River

Monday, July 18th, 2016

IMG_3193IMG_3191 (1)IMG_3215IMG_5345IMG_5357IMG_5366IMG_5402IMG_5365IMG_5353IMG_5372IMG_5364During our Yellowstone vacation my daughter Meghan had booked a rafting trip through “Flying Pig” Adventures.  My wife is a non swimmer and had to be coaxed into going with the stipulation that she wasn’t going to paddle.  Our trip was scheduled for July 5th. at 11 a.m. and we were there plenty early to receive our instructions and guide assignment.  We lucked out and got a young lady by the name of Karna who fit in well with our group of “misfits!”  She knew her river well, and was a wealth of information concerning the area surrounding us.

As we leaded our 12 person raft Mark and Quinn were put in front (young studs.)  Then Myself and Meghan across from me, with Alena beside me and Nina across from her. Next was Tony beside Nina and my wife Lorna across from Tony!  That’s right “no paddle” Lorna!  Turns out we had the three boys (Brady, Jacob, and Logan) hunkered down in the middle of the raft, which left no room for Lorna.  Reluctantly she took her paddle and her seat on the side of the big yellow “beluga!”

The trip lasted about 2 hours of leisurely sightseeing coupled with number 2-3 rapids, with a number 4 thrown in there just to keep your heart pumping. Both Jacob and Brady “rode the bull” as they saddled the front of the raft with a rope between their legs.  They had a blast as the “white water” splashed over them onto everyone else behind them.  It was quite exhilarating!  As I glanced at my wife I could see that the fear was gone and she was, in fact, enjoying the ride.  I was quite proud of her as she dug her oar into each wave that came after us!

The scenery was awesome, the river just wild enough to “make your day,” and the family bonding was priceless!  Mark, Quinn and Jacob even dove into the Yellowstone at one point and drifted away from the raft.  Karna paddled close to them where I had to pull them back into the raft.  Good thing I listened to the instructor as we were told how to do that!

We were more than happy that we booked with “Flying Pig” and were also going on a mountain horseback ride and cowboy cookout booked through them, but that’s another story in our book of Yellowstone Adventures! Hope you enjoy the pictures, but you really need to be there to experience the adrenaline rush for yourself!

Mike

Yellowstone July 4th.

Wednesday, July 13th, 2016

IMG_5246IMG_5249IMG_5252IMG_5305Today we venture to the parks most famous site; Old Faithful!  Its a winding two hour trip from our place, and can make a queasy person carsick, just like it did me.  On our way we stopped at the Norris Geyser.  The landscape was like something out of a science fiction movie, and is close to where a young college graduate fell in and his remains were never recovered.  He ventured off the boardwalk past danger signs and paid the ultimate price for ignoring the warnings! “Sad!”  We spent about an hour there and then moved onto the “hot springs” area.  With the steam rising from the ground, and craters everywhere it looked like the moons surface, or at least what I visualize the moon looking like!

Next stop “Old Faithful!” The geyser faithfully shoots a blast of super heated water (warmed by the hot volcanic activity in the area) 0ne hundred feet into the air every hour to hour and a half.  Quinn was able to show us a parking area unknown to most, so we didn’t have to walk very far.  We were able to get in the second row of seating in the semi-circle surrounding “Old Faithful” which made for some great viewing.  The geyser was true to her name and put on a show for everyone to fondly remember.  We stopped into the huge Yellowstone Lodge and got an ice cream and bought some souvenirs.

On the way back we stopped at the Grand Prismatic Spring.  Yellowstone’s largest hot spring, at 370 feet in diameter can be accessed by taking the boardwalk through the geyser basin.  The pool color is deep blue and is surrounded by yellow and orange colors which give it a prism effect.

Saw many elk and one huge male bison about 250 yards off the road.  Got some great pictures, but accidently erased everything on my camera.  Can’t believe I did that!  Saw more elk around Yellowstone’s headquarters and then went back to our place and grilled some very tasty steaks.

Mike

 

 

 

The Yellowstone Adventure Continues July 3rd

Tuesday, July 12th, 2016

IMG_5181IMG_5194IMG_5205IMG_5208Tony, Alena, Nina, Jacob, and Brady along with Mark, Megan, and Logan arrived today.  We helped unpack them in a mountain downpour!  After everyone was situated we went to the Iron Horse Grill situated right on the Yellowstone river in downtown Gardiner.  Quinn had recommended this place and it did have a real Western atmosphere, but most were not happy with their meal.  Everything was charcoal cooked and some of the burgers (beef and elk) along with the chicken were very “well done!” We did not go back, and were leary of anymore of Quinn’s recommendations, although he did redeem himself later!

After the meal Quinn took us on a guided tour of three of the waterfalls around our area.  Undine Falls was along the roadway and no walking was involved.  It was a beautiful falls and we took several pictures before moving on to our next stop which was Wrath Falls.  We had a mile walk to get to this little gem in the mountains, but it was worth the hike.  Quinn has actually climbed to the top of the mountain where he discovered a “wolf den” fill of elk and bison bones.  We met our first “whistle pigs” here (small squirrel like rodent) and Quinn was able to get one to eat from his hand!

Next stop would be Tower Falls which was our final destination about 25 miles from Yellowstone’s headquarters. While driving there Quinn decided to take us “off roading” on a 6 mile detour on Blacktail Drive.  He has seen many big game animals on this side trip, but not today,  We did see one black bear and a female moose which was quite a delight.  Moose are not real common to see. Onward to Tower Falls where there is a huge gift shop and refreshments.  The falls were quite spectacular and everyone spent way to much at the gift shop.  They had a few Native American item but I refrained from buying, but I did take pictures of the handiwork thinking “I can do that!”

We returned and Quinn showed us around his living/work area. We saw a pronghorn antelope and several elk going back to our rental in Gardiner. Note:  The first 2 pictures are Undine, then Wrath, then Tower Falls.

Mike

 

 

 

Return From Yellowstone

Sunday, July 10th, 2016

FullSizeRender Sulfur 3IMG_5110IMG_5253I was reluctant to take a flight to Montana to visit Yellowstone on July 2nd.  I’m not a seasoned traveler, and just the fact that airports seem to be a favorite target of our enemies, made my reluctance worse!  The 4th of July holidays just seemed like a good time to stay away from airplane travel. Well I “manned” up and took the flight to Bozeman Montana where my grandson Quinn picked up my wife and I.  Quinn has worked as an I.T. specialist at Yellowstone for two years, and was to be our personal guide.  We booked a place in Gardiner just 1 mile from Yellowstone’s northwest entry.

Joining us on July 3rd. would be daughters Alena, and Meghan, and their families, who were driving from Chicago and Monroe Michigan. But before they arrived Quinn took us on his own personal tour.  He knew of a sulfur springs area where very few tourist ever ventured.  First he showed us his housing and work area.  We had to dodge huge piles of elk “poop” as they were everywhere.  they literally had the run of the park, and you had to keep your distance so as not to interfere with them in any way.  Rangers were stationed to make sure people kept there distance, but people that think Yellowstone is a “petting zoo” get themselves in trouble constantly!  That was one of the biggest lessons I learned from being there for 7 days (people do just plan stupid things, and pay the consequences!)

Any way took us to his private sulfur springs viewing and low and behold there was noone there!  This was super cool!  We were able to take some great photo’s, and were really impressed by this geological phenomena taking place before us.  We were viewing a sight that has it’s origins hundreds of thousands of years ago.

Later he took me to a small lake that the public has no clue about, even though it’s within a mile of downtown Yellowstone headquarters.  This information would come in very handy when my three grandsons were all wanting to catch a Yellowstone trout.  Not to mention me and my son-in-law Tony.  We were dying to wet a line and put some trout in the frying pan.  But that’s another story from our Yellowstone book of adventures that I will share on a continuing basis.  Stayed tuned as there is a lot more to come.

Mike

 

 

 

Yellowstone Here We Come

Friday, July 1st, 2016

IMG_0965 (1)FullSizeRender.jpg  quinn black bear #2IMG_0325001My grandson Quinn works for Yellowstone Park and has for the last two summers. Two of my daughters and their families along with my wife and I decided to pay him a visit this year.  He has been there long enough to know all the nice little (non-tourist) places, and will make a great guide.  We’ll be staying in a huge private home with a beautiful view of the Rocy Mountains.

Our itinerary so far consist of some “white water rafting” and a horseback ride with a chuckwagon meal at the end. Hiking and maybe a little fishing along with lots of photos should  be to everybody’s liking.

Quinn has had some very “cool” experiences while at Yellowstone, and has seen every animal that calls this park home.  There has also been some chilling reminders that the animals that roam this rugged landscape are wild, and not cartoon characters.  Several people have died since his arrival due to ignorance and not respecting the animals or the terrain!  Bison can gore you, and cliff jumping into unknown waters can ruin your day.  We have been warned and plan on respecting Yellowstone for what it is; pure and wild!

I may not post again till we get back, but will try and a least post some photo’s.  We have a friend staying at the house and he’s going to take care of my turkeys who are starting to fly already.  Hope none of them fly away.

Mike