Friday, June 23, 2017

Destination - Western Pleasure Guest Ranch, Sandpoint, ID

Okay, let me squeltch the snickering before I get started. Contrary to what the name may seem, the Western Pleasure Guest Ranch is NOT some adult only, hedonistic place. Instead, it is a family operated dude ranch on over 5,000 acres with over 60 horses.  And that is DUDE not NUDE! 

Ok, now that I have that cleared up, let me describe the place and some of the activities to you.  First of all,  this is a working family ranch. By that I mean they raise beef cattle,  do a large amount of tree farming, and run this  dude ranch. The lodge is 10,000 square feet made of massive log timber and has a large dining area and all of the tables and chairs are hand made from smaller trees and timbers. As one may expect, there are a number of taxidermied animals adorning the walls.

The first day, the owners of the ranch  take you around to the different buildings to show you around and encourage you to just explore on your own  without hesitation.  Then the head wrangler will assign you a horse based on an information sheet  you have filled out  with regards to how experienced you are,  how comfortable you are around horses, and that sort of thing. Then, that horse is yours for the week unless you want a different horse. Every morning the wranglers would bring this thundering herd of horses from the pasture up to the barn to saddle up and get ready to ride for the day.

Here I am on Albert, my assigned horse for the week. In this picture, Albert does not appear all that large but this magnificent beast seemed like he was 7 feet tall. 

We all rode the horses on the trails, including Bonnie's parents, but some of us rode some of the longer trails and also rode when you could have the horse canter. Before you could go on a cantering ride you had to pass a loping test administered by the wrangler. If you did not pass you could not canter. I did not take the test because I knew what the results would be. Below are several pictures taken while on the trail rides.

Bonnie's dad, 87, getting ready to leave on a ride.

Our lunch spot around a lake on the property

For those of you who have been reading my blog for a few years, this picture should not surprise you when it is near our anniversary.

One of the mares just had a colt about 4 weeks ago and this little guy love to hang out with the guests of the ranch.

We took a break from riding horses to go into the Schweitzer Mountain snow ski area. Here is a view from the top in the following few pictures.

Tonight's evening meal was sort of a chuck wagon cookout out in the middle of the forest.

Some of the guests, including Bonnie in the picture below, mounted horses to ride a fast canter out to the chuck wagon site.

Back at the ranch the family entertain the guests with fiddle and guitar music around a campfire.

The dude ranch was an absolutely delightful experience. Personally I think horses are an animal of beauty, but we never had them when I was growing up so I am indifferent about riding them. However, Bonnie showed horses as a teenager, so she was totally in her element here at the ranch, therefore,  I am thrilled we experienced this.

Leaving Montana for Idaho

The four and a half hour drive from Uncle Bob's place in Montana to our destination in Idaho took us past the Kootenai River and falls. Not only was this river very scenic, it was also fast moving and it had a swinging bridge clear across it from bank to bank where they limited the access to five people on the bridge and any one time.

We went on closer to our destination in Idaho and spent the night at the Bonner County Fairgrounds. This was not just a regular gravel parking lot to park an RV for the night. The $25 per night fee included water, electric and a dump station. They had a sign posted that the improved campground at the fairgrounds was funded by a grant from the Idaho RV association. When we checked into the campground, the host asked if we were going to go to the rodeo. We were not aware there was a rodeo there but they had a rodeo right there in front of the grand stands so we decided why not walk over and watch a rodeo. It's not a great picture, but it was getting dark and there was a lot of movement out there with the bull riding

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Left Teton NP and going up through Yellowstone

The drive up through Yellowstone, while it was pretty, was also still filled with snow in the higher elevations. Some of the snow was still more than 8 ft deep and due to the melting, there were many places that were flooded.  The picture below of Old Faithful reminded us of three years ago when we stopped on our way back from Alaska, of all of these thousands of tourists stopping to see Old Faithful erupt.

After leaving Yellowstone National Park we drove on up into Montana and stopped in Helena, the capital of Montana. The capitol building is pretty plain and simple as you can see in the picture below but was decorated quite nicely on the inside.

After leaving Helena and the state capitol building, we headed on up to Uncle Bob's and Aunt Danni's place for the start of our family reunion. Now there's a few things you have to know about Uncle Bob to really appreciate this family reunion. Uncle Bob is a career retired Marine colonel, a smokejumper for forest fires and now he is a Sheriff Deputy that also does search and rescue. He is the county coroner for Missoula County so, as he puts it, you're not dead until he says you are dead. Consequently, Uncle Bob has a lot of interesting stories. His career allows him to introduce several other items for entertainment such as axe throwing small arms target shooting, high powered rifle target shooting and numerous hikes very close to their home.

Axe throwing 

On the trail to Holland Falls

On the trail to Glacier Lake

The trails, the lakes and the falls are all within 10 to 15 minutes of Uncle Bob's house

Thursday, June 8, 2017

On to Grand Teton NP

This is our third visit to Grand Teton National Park. The first two visits when we were here was pouring down rain. This time the weather was good but the experience wasn't all that great. I asked the guy at the entrance gate if we needed to make reservations on the shuttle boat across Jenny Lake to get to the Inspiration Point trailhead. He told me "no you don't need to make reservations because boat goes every 15 minutes starting at about 7:45 so you'll be fine just show up and get your ticket then."  I thanked him and we went on our way to the campground to get our camping site. The next morning we went back down to the Jenny Lake information center and I asked the girl at the desk about getting tickets for the shuttle boat.  She told me the shuttle boat isn't running because they're doing some repair to the trail but you can still get there by following these directions and she had a little map that she gave us. We thanked her and went to the place where we were supposed to get to this trailhead from a different location. When we started out we just crossed the bridge at the head of the trail and there was a ranger there stopping everybody to make sure that they knew the trail was completely closed up to Inspiration Point. So it was not a good experience when nobody seemed to know what was going on.  Lucky for us the weather was good and the scenery was great.

The start of the trail to Inspiration Point around Jenny Lake.

Looking across Jenny Lake 

The marina at Colter Bay

Spring is here. So is allergy season.

String Lake is in between Jenny Lake and Leigh Lake 

Monday, June 5, 2017

On to Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area

We left the Moab, UT area and drove on up to the southern end of Flaming Gorge. The next four pictures that follow are from viewpoints along the highway or visitor center. 

You can see snow capped mountains in the distant background 

We saw these two Rocky Mountain Big Horn Sheep in one of the campgrounds 

This is one of many antelope we saw near our campground. 

This is our campsite in Flaming Gorge NRA right along the Green River that is dammed up to form the lake in Flaming Gorge. 

MISCELLANEOUS: We discovered something accidentally.  We had mixed peanuts,  raisins,  and dark chocolate chips together for a snack but we forgot about them when we went for a hike and left them in the rv.  Well, the chocolate chips melted so Bonnie put the mixture in the refrigerator to solidify and WOW! What a delicious accidental treat.

Arches National Park - 2nd day

The second day we went into Arches National Park we saw several more of the more than 2,000 arches claimed to be in the park. Then we also went on a trail where you had to purchase a special permit to hike the Firey Furnace. A ranger was there to check that each visitor had appropriate footwear and water supply. 

Looking up from under the arch.

One of the many crevice trails.

Part of the Firey Furnace trail

If a person is a bit claustrophobic,  this would not be the best trail for you.

This is our group headed into a narrow crevice. 

We made it through! Pictured from left to right (facing the camera) is our older daughter Kristin, rising second grader grandson Logan, rising fourth grader grandson Hunter, and Bonnie

One thing very deceiving about this hike is the name Firey Furnace suggests it will be very hot but it was very comfortable because most of it was in the shade.