28 July 2011

A Look at the New US Dollar?

I couldn't resist posting this image. I think it's very clever and way closer to the truth than I would like it to be.

26 July 2011

Wild Weather - Clementine Comes Home

Monday July 25, 2011

Between my new solar setup and my RV I'm learning a lot about batteries these days.

Last week I took Clementine,  (Clementine and Shadow Photo) , out for her first spin of the season. Usually, I've already been out for a week or two trip by this time but construction projects and weather have skunked me but good. It's was pretty much of a coast down the mountain so I didn't realize something was wrong until I pulled out onto the highway. Clementine has a Mercedes turbo charged diesel and usually goes lickety split but this time she went nowhere with metal to the metal. I stopped at a local mechanics but he didn't have a clue what to do so I ended up having to have her towed to Whitefish. Thanks goodness I have AAA. This one tow saved me way more than the annual fee.

I've always thought if a battery was bad it was dead. I also thought that the battery just started your engine. Apparently, I was wrong on both counts. Clem started but the battery was bad. Because it was bad it was not sending enough power out to operate the engines electronics so Clem just said phooey and quit powering. The battery and diagnostics cost almost $300. Ouch!

One of the nice things about having a tow car, when you are solo, you can send the RV off and then go get it without having to put someone else out hauling you to where you need to pick it up. Shadow is my little Ford Focus that I use.

I spent the morning running errands in Clem and she purred like a kitten. When I returned to the dealership they helped hook up Shadow and I was on my way. Clem was just as happy pulling Shadow as if she wasn't there. This was the first time I had ever been into Don K's in Whitefish. They only recently bought the Dodge dealership and can work of the Sprinter. I was very favorably impressed. Back in 2009, on my way to Holland Lake, I had a very unpleasant experience with the dealership Don K bot the Dodge franchise from Kari Dodge and wasn't ever going back there again.

I had thought I might spend a night in Whitefish and get Clem de-winterized at an RV park. Boy am I glad I didn't. At 8:30 am when I left for the Flathead it was dark and cloudy. By the time I returned, around 5:30 it was pretty warm and partly cloudy. It took me about an hour to unhook Shadow and get Clem buttoned up. Around 7:00 pm it started to darken with thunder rumbling in the distance. By 9:00 the skies simply unloaded. At first I just heard the thunder start building but then I could hear this continuous rumble and couldn't figure out what it was. It was kind of like the sound of a jet. I found out soon enough what it was as hail began pounding down the size of marbles. I guess because it was relatively warm, around 65 degrees, the hail started to melt immediately. As I stood out on the deck watching I noticed the water was shooting nearly a foot out of the drain spout. I've never seen anything like it.

With all the torn up ground from recent construction I feared for my driveway which is gravel. Sure enough the water had come down with such force everything was underwater and running right down the driveway.  I donned by rain gear and pelleted by hail I worked furiously to channel the water off the drive. If I hadn't been here to take immediate corrective action I cringe at the thought of what might have come home to. As it was I was ought until 10:00pm trying to keep things from total wash out. I was able to do a pretty good job and keep the wash out to a minimum. In the middle of the night the rain started up again and all I could do was cross my fingers.

I don't know what's going on with the weather but it sure seems to be extreme all over the planet.

©Kinsey Barnard

24 July 2011

Just Playing Around

Sunday July 24, 2011

Been out chopping wood all morning. Quite the aerobic workout that. And, I'm so very far behind because of the solar project having taken up much time. The other problem is most of my wood is spruce and it is the nastiest wood in the world to split and I do it with a maul. Whack! Whack! Whack! When I get a chance to split some fir or larch it's like heaven.

Right now the solar array is putting out a great amount of power so I'm washing and drying. Dryers take an inordinate amount of watts, around 4,500. When I hooked the system up my local electric co-op didn't have the correct meter necessary for me to switch over to net metering so their getting my watts for free! I'm gonna use all the power Mother Nature can give me until they get that meter on! Buggers!

I'm really beyond pleased with what the system is putting out. But, there is so much to learn and it will take time.

Meanwhile, I BBQ a lovely New York steak and play. Yes, I eat meat. No, I don't like what has happened to the slaughter system.  I do believe it has become mercenary and inhumane. But, I believe we evolved as meat eaters. I crave meat. I eat meat because that's what my body asks for. I only eat it when it is asked for. I always listen to my body. Maybe that's why I have never been in a hospital and have never taken any pharmaceutical drugs?

And, BTW, if you are interested in really good beef, try Costco. Since it's tough to find a butcher anymore they are they best alternative. The trick is to let it age in your refrigerator before cooking or freezing.

Hope your day is as good as mine!

©Kinsey Barnard

19 July 2011

Sophie Lake - Swisher/Gateway Boat Camp Trail

Friday July 15, 2011

Today I decided to head on over to Swisher Lake Trail. On the way over I could reisit taking a photo of this hayrake. I was intrigued by the color and design. Funny how something as mundane as a piece of farm equipment can present you with such pleasant eye candy.


It's amazing to me how all the water has so completely changed the landscape. I drove right by Carpenter Lake and didn't even realize I had. I didn't recognize the turn because everything looked so different with all the vegetation growth.

I sure didin't miss Sophie Lake. The lake is so high it touches the road. Normally, it's about 75 feet to the water.

Sophie Lake, Montana

The water was so high the picnic tables were pretty much underwater.

Sophie Lake Picnic Area
Swisher Lake
Swisher is a fairly nondescript little lake. It is where the Gateway Boat Camp Trail begins. It's about 6.5 miles to the boat camp which is right on the Canadain Border. The boat camp is on the Koocanusa. My walk was fairly uneventful and I never reached the boat camp. I got way about halfway I veered off the trail and was drawn down to the lake shore. Really amazing how high the water is. The local paper says the lake is 18 ft. below full pool. They had better hope it doesn't hit full pool. There is still so much water flowing out of the mountains I would be surprised if we hit it. In addition to all the snow melting we have been having gully washer downpours in the afternoons.

Without further adieu I am just going to throw up some photos of some of the things that I saw.

Lake Koocanusa looking north into British Columbia

Looking west across Lake Koocanusa at the West Kootenai and Robinson Mountain, Monatana

Some of the driftwood that has washed ashore.



Thistle Bud

©Kinsey Barnard

12 July 2011

The Blacktail Trail - Ten Lakes Wilderness

Sunday July 10, 2011

I didn't feel Koty and I got enough exercise yesterday when we went to check out Lake Koocanusa's current water level.

So, we got up bright and early to walk the Blacktail Trail. The hike is pretty much uphill until you get to the draw and then you go down to Blacktail Creek and you can actually take it all the way to Ten Lakes. That's more than a day hike.

We headed out bright and early and made it to the 49th parallel in about and and fifteen minutes. The 49th parallel, as you may know is the line the border with Canada lies. At this point a switchback in the trail falls right on it and the spot has been marked by the Forest Service.

Canadian Border - 49th Parallel

The view of the border from here is really quite beautiful. The line runs through the forest, down the Galtons, onto the Tobacco Plains, across the Koocanusa and up into the mountains again.

Canadian Border-49th Parallel
There still aren't that many wild flowers up here. Mostly Indian Paintbrush and wild Primrose.  My favorites the wood lily are generally out the last of June and first of July. But, I did not see a one this day and already the 10th. Seems they are even later than last year.

The condition of the forest here is pretty sad. Infestations of various beetles assisted by several years of drought conditions have really wreaked havoc. The number of dead standing and dead fall is astounding. Many places along the trail look like a giant game of pick up sticks is going on.

Dead trees along the Blacktail Trail
I was curious to see if we could make it all the way over the pass. The last time we were up here the bush was so thick you'd have to have a machete to get through. I don't much like those spots because they are ideal for startling a bear.  Happily, most of the brush had been cleared but some spots still had quite a bit left.

Blacktail Trail disappearing into the brush. Also Kotys'

I thought we might encounter a bear, we usually do on this trail. And, whilst we didn't actually see one we sure both got a whiff of one. It's amazing how strong a bear's odor can be and it's nasty. Koty went into overdrive wanting to follow the scent. It was all I could do to hold him back. Needless to say I sang off key, the only way I know how, and talked to any bear that might be nearby. I heard a hiker was mauled to death in Yellowstone just in the past week or two when they startled a bear. I don't take any chances with startling a bear. When I get to a bend in the trail I can't see around or the brush gets thick I start singing and hollering. I have noticed that animals find the sound of the human voice quite repugnant and are inclined to move away with great speed.

The Blacktail Trail was actually once and old mining road. I don't think anyone ever made their fortune up here. In fact one of the mountains is called Poorman. Just as you get to the top of the pass is a relic loading dock from those times.

Loading Dock on the Blacktail Trail

I often wonder how it is one seldom ever hears of anyone getting bonked by a falling tree or a boulder coming down the mountain. For all the hiking I do I've never even been close. Thank goodness.

Big boulder having fallen onto the path.
Once through the pass we encountered snow. That was certainly a first for me for this time of year. Koty was really happy to see it too! But, what was so totally awesome was the thunderous sound of water rushing into the valley below. It is beyond belief how much water is still pouring out of these mountains. It gives me goose bumps just recalling it.

Green Mountain ten Lakes Scenic Area Montana

Across the way I could see a still snow covered Green Mountain. Over that ridge and one will be on their way to Ten Lakes. I wanted to get all the way down to Blacktail Creek but I had to meet a carpenter who never bothered to show up.

I never walk in the forest that I don't find some natural design, pattern or still life that catches my eye. The photo below is of small pine cones resting in the trail. I don't know, maybe no one else thinks they're beautiful but I sure do. Nature is so endlessly fascinating to me.

Pine Cone Still Life

©Kinsey Barnard

11 July 2011


Saturday July 9, 2011

Today I thought I'd go down to the Lake and see how the lake was doing. I figured it must by now be back to full pool or maybe more.  Well, I wasn't disappointed. The lake has come a millon miles from it's lows in May. Record Lows at Lake Koocanusa

It utterly amazes me to ponder the amount of water required to fill this lake back up and just how quickly it happened once it got started. I drove down 37 on the east side of the lake and stopped in at Peck Gulch. The spot was loaded with boaters who must be delighted they can finally reach the water to launch their boats.

Lake Koocanusa looking off across the lake towards the west.

Along the shore at Peck Gulch

Koty and I scrambled along the rocky shore as far as we could until we were stopped by huge boulders that had collapsed making further progress impossible. Koty had such a good time snapping at the water and getting his belly wet. Like me, Koty is not a big fan of the heat. Funny thing is he doesn't like water very much either and will only go in up to his belly. I have often wondered if his loathing of water has to do with him falling in a swimming pool when he was only 9 weeks old. Had I not been present when it happened he would have drowned.

Koty at Peck Gulch on Lake Koocanusa

Down where the rock slide was I found what looked like a perfect stone carving. It looked like an Aztec idol. Of course, there have never been any Aztecs in this area and it wasn't a carving at all but just the way the rocks random collapsed. I think a documentarian could use this as proof of ancient alien visitations.

Ancient idol carved in stone. Well, not exactly.

I decided to drive on down 37 looking for a trail that would take me to a high view. The first place I tried was McGuire Creek. That didn't turn out to be a very good choice. I got about a quarter of a mile up and hit road not suitable for Shadow (Ford Focus). There wasn't any place to turn round so I had to back back down. Not fun.

I decided to go another five miles or so and if I didn't find anything I'd call it a day. Right at my limit I saw a stop sign and a road. There was a forest service numbered but my forest sservicce map doesn' show it. Probably because a short way in is a barrier and about a three quarters of a  mile beyond that the road deadends altogether. Well, now, I won't try these again. I did get high enough to take one photo of the lake below. I have to admit it was a beautiful vista of the Koocanua. Hard to believe how full it is now.

Lake Koocanusa looking south toward Libby

After the short hike up the dead end. I decided to call it a day.

©Kinsey Barnard

04 July 2011

Hanging the kayaks - Watching the robins

Sunday July 3, 2011

Today I decided to finally get the cleats screwed into the posts so that I could hang my kayaks. I have rigged up a system whereby I can raise and lower the kayaks by myself. Works pretty slick if I do say so myself.

My kayak hoisting system
The weather has finally warmed up but this morning, from out of the blue, it cooled off and along came a storm. It left in it's wake the biggest, in term of breadth rainbow, I have ever seen!

Summer Rainbow
Later in the afternoon the sun came out and it warmed right up. I took the opportunity to go out and chop some wood. I didn't last very long as the day was too beautiful not to just wander around and drink it all in.

When I returned to the house I thought I should take a few pictures of my resident robins. They are so clever the way they choose their spots to build nests.

Robin's nest with chick built on the head of a hoe. Took that hoe out of commission for awhile. Not complaining though. I'm no fan of hoeing and weeding.

Three robin chicks in their nest built in the rain gutter. Very clever of this mother she built the nest under the eave at the high end so the nest would not get wet from above or from under. Animals are so much smarter than people realize. I am always in wonder of them.

Mother sitting on a fence post opposite the gutter screaming her head off at me. Pardon me momma.

By around seven o'clock it was time to wrap it up for the day. It stays light until past ten these days but I sure don't have what it takes to go until dark.

This last photo is the epitome of the lazy photographer. I was sitting in my recliner looking out the front window when I shot this photo of my tepee down in the meadow. It's a view I just love. Who needs television when you've got this outside your window?

Tepee in the meadow as seen from the recliner. :)
©Kinsey Barnard

03 July 2011

West Kootenai Wildflowers - Mt. Web Lookout - Blue Heron Medicine

Friday July 1, 2011

A very unusual thing happened this morning. I was loading up Shadow to go for a hike and when I went out with a load of equipment a Great Blue Heron rose up in flight from a Spruce. I dropped everything and tried to get a shot of it. I didn't get much but I wanted to have some record of it in any event. I consulted my medicine cards to see what the significance of the heron might be but, as I was afraid, there was no information on the heron. A quick Google Search and I had my answer Blue Heron Medicine. I continuously marvel at the fact that most believers in the significance of animal medicine must draw cards to receive guidance and I am blessed to have the actual animals appear to me.

Great Blue Heron in the Trees
I had need of another good hike so I decided to go over to the West Kootenai and take the Web Mt. Trail. If you go far enough you will reach the Web Mt. Lookout. You can drive to it but there is a trail too and it's really an aerobic workout.

Blue Lupine

The mountains are just now starting to get covered with wildflower color and blue lupine are one of the most prevalent wildflowers in the Kootenai National Forest along with Indian Paintbrush.

Young Indian Paintbrush blooms before they turn vibrant red

I am utterly amazed at what lousy shape I am in. The long winter and cold, wet spring has set me back just like it has everything else in nature. Usually, by this time, I am climbing up mountain trails like a mad woman. Today I was huffing and puffing like a slacker. Before I got to the first crest, about an hour nearly straight up, my thighs were burning like fire.

Indian Paintbrush in bright red bloom

After a small rest I decided not to go further because I was actually concerned my legs would give out on me on the way back down and on that steep trail I could cook my goose pretty damned quick. What a freaking wuss. I am very disappointed with myself. I can't believe I've let myself get in such shitty shape.

Beautiful rock formation with Mullien and some other yellow flower perhaps some kind of Yarrow
Well, I got a workout that's for sure. And, I got a wake up call on my physical fitness level. I think I shall make it my goal to get up to the Lookout before the snow flies. Koty is so maddening. In dog years he's around 80 years old and he flies up the trail like a spring chicken. Boo Hiss!

©Kinsey Barnard