Friday, September 29, 2017


I go to town about once a week or so to get groceries for the little people and me. If I know far enough in advance that somebody wants to do a longer kayak ride I'll try and time my once a week to when they are staying here and then put them in the river at Kings Bottom, Mile Marker 60. It's about 15 miles to Base Camp, Mike Marker 45 and takes most about four hours. However, not naming names, some guests like kayaking in the rain and sometimes it takes them seven hours.

Not His Way

Yes, Kobae could have gone around the bushes.

Another Epic

On Monday Kobae made another epic hike almost to the Wind Caves when we thumbed a ride back.

Kobae: The Mother of all Hogans

Yes, Kobae could have gone through the gate but it's not his way. We hike up on top to see that Doug is building the Mother of all Hogans.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Something Ain't Right

Many months ago I didn't feed gray foxes hot dogs. They could eat Kit & Kaboodle like everyone else. My fear was they'd hang around all night waiting for a hot dog and not allow my ring tails and skunks to travel back and forth from the river without being at peril. Then one night, a single gray fox sat in the parking lot not far from the side walk and just kept staring at me. It was eerie. It wasn't just that he was polite about it, waiting, squatted as a dog waiting for something to fall off the table, he's also the only fox who's eyes don't reflect when you bathe it in light. Maybe it's blind, or it has a different kind of eyes than the others. He sat there night after night, in the same place.

One night it was raining and raining hard. Surely he wouldn't be out there tonight. I walked outside and he was. Sitting in the rain waiting. I threw him a hot dog. He bent down, picked it up, then momentarily gazed at me as if showing his appreciation before trotting off with the hot dog. The process repeated itself every night for a week.

One night I walked outside and there were two foxes sitting there all polite staring at me just a few feet from the side walk. He brought a friend. I gave them both a hot dog. The other fox grabbed it's hot dog and ran off but my friend picked his up and gave me the brief acknowledgement as always before trotting off.

A week or so later I walked outside to see my friend, and his friend, both sitting patiently. I threw them each a hot dog and they were attacked by three other foxes trying to steal their hot dogs. I quickly threw three more hot dogs out there and they all left. My friend walked away, stopped, turned around, and gave me his customary thank you look.

The next night I walked outside and there were five foxes all sitting nice and polite. I said "Who's my friend?" One fox stepped forward and sat on the side walk. I threw him a hot dog and I expected the others to attack him but they all waited patiently. I gave them all a hot dog.

The following night I walked outside and there were eight foxes sitting patiently. I said "Who's my friend?" and they all walked forward and sat on the side walk. In time I saw as many as 11 gray foxes at one time, all waiting patiently, but my friend stands out, his eyes don't reflect, and when he receives his hot dog, he doesn't run, he picks it up, then looks at me as if he appreciates the gift before trotting off.

Since that night, an average fox night can be between 20 and 40 hot dogs. Added to the ring tails and skunks I've had some plus 50 hot dog nights. I don't feed them to the raccoons or I'd be broke. However it turns out the raccoons can all count pretty well so if there are seven foxes waiting patiently and I throw eight hot dogs out there two or three of the raccoons will go out and retrieve the unclaimed one.

On Tuesday night I heard that horrible scream of a rabbit having been caught and knowing it's life was about to end. I walked down the driveway and saw two sets of eyes together. The fox dropped the rabbit when the light hit him and I saw it run off. The fox then walked around the lodge barking and growling. I didn't think it was at me but he was pissed. All night I could hear him out in the canyons through my open bedroom window with a sharp staccato bark, not the usual clearing their throat bark. No foxes returned to the lodge Tuesday night for hot dogs.

On Wednesday night I walked outside fifteen times to feed the foxes and it was dark each time. No eyes reflected, not even in the far distance. That only happens when the mountain lion is around but the skunks, ring tails, and raccoons were all here telling me there isn't a mountain lion, it's something else.

On Thursday night I walked outside twenty more times to feed the foxes and I got this every time. Nothing. Not near, not far, no distant barks, no, nothing. The gray foxes, all 11 of them, have vanished.

Friday morning. I can't sleep. Eleven friends have disappeared. I walk outside and sit on the bench on the front porch. If there's a mountain lion then why are all the other critters acting normally? When the mountain lion comes down from the Anti-Cline nobody comes to the porch. No critter, no little people, of any kind.

The light is coming. It is the dawn. When I hiked every morning I loved the dawn. I could visit the canyons and see eight hours of everything that happened in the disappearing darkness by reading the tracks of night. The twenty or so minutes before everything is unveiled. These two toed tracks tell me it was big horn or mule deer. The scat tells me as it's more squared off then the Hersheys Kisses nipple that clues the big horn. The leaves eaten off the bush next to the tracks a little higher than the big horn can reach. It was an adult mule deer that ate here and left these tracks. So the hike goes. All the history that can't be seen in the darkness is here to be read and summarized for those that are looking and have the knowing.

I'm being watched. I look up to see my friend in the parking lot just twenty feet or so from me. He has made no sound while approaching which is why they walk the way they do. Outside of the foot down first then rolled to the inside. Back foot steps in the front foot track. Straight line walk, no sound. I tried to duplicate it one entire day and my thighs were so sore I could hardly walk. My friend just stares at me, with the eyes that don't reflect.

I walk inside and get a pack of hot dogs. I come back out throwing one in front of my friend. He doesn't move, he stares. The hot dog lays untouched. The eyes that don't reflect don't blink. He's talking, he's telling, through the stare. Then I knew. It hit me. I screwed up. I interfered. It was not my place. With the night the porch is mine, they are my guests. In the darkness everywhere else is not mine, it's theirs, and I am the guest. They play by my rules on the porch. Off the porch I should play by theirs. I finally got it.

I nodded. My friend broke his stare, walked over, picked up the hot dog, acknowledged my gift with bowed head, then trotted off.

On Friday night all the foxes returned.

The Babies

They're a problem almost every night. Knocking over a trash can, eating a trash can lid, climbing up on the roof to see if the ring tails left a hot dog somewhere, sleeping in the rain runoff spouts from the roof, breaking all the small branches off the trees when they climb up to sleep in safety, tipping over the bird baths to get a drink, and sticking a hand down the skunk hole to try and steal a hot dog and getting sprayed. After they eat their first two bowls of Kit & Kaboodle they go under the porch to sleep where they constantly whine, snarl, and fight with each other, right outside my window. Since they're parents no longer join them or apparently wish to hang around with them, I've decided it's time for some discipline. Every time snarling begins under the porch I go out and dump two pitchers of water down the cracks between the boards and soak them. When two of them are fighting and I walk out on the porch I can hear all the others scrambling to get away from them so they don't get wet. They do not like getting wet. I've read putting ammonia in the water will keep them away for extended periods. I'm not ready for that but they do push my buttons every night. The average life span of a raccoon in the wild is one to three years and a large percentage of their deaths are from starvation. Not an issue here.

Little Shy

The raccoons, when they don't want to face something uncomfortable, they just look the other way and pretend like it's not there.

Monday, September 11, 2017

I'm a Dad Again, Sort Of

I'm not sure what happen. Maybe I was drinking. I've been thinking about it, drinking more. Things got out of control. Ok, that's not it.

In the spring the east side of the front porch was over run with raccoons. Eight adults and fifteen babies. Somewhere, after four or five months, usually the boys all move out of the house and go with dad and the girls move out and go with mom. Then they learn to be dads and moms. It started a couple weeks ago. Instead of going through almost one Kit & Kaboodle bag a night, sometimes I can go two or three nights now. There are still roving bands of three to five showing up off and on all hours of the night to eat out of the bowls but one night there were nine of them, the next night just two. They each had a bowl to themselves and nobody else showed up. When they're done they usually climb up in the rafters to sleep but on this night they were both so bloated they just fell over and slept next to the empty bowls on the front porch.

Each night when the latest roving band shows up, usually with one adult, there is one young raccoon that comes out from under the porch but when the roving bands depart and he tries to go with them, he/she is not welcome. Now it's just living under the porch full time. Orphaned.

Even in day time it will come over to the door and stare at me. I'll take it some food and occasionally it sleeps on the porch but usually underneath. It knows somebody is providing it food and shelter and it's starting to follow me around occasionally.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

The Tortoise and the Chair

Language Barrier? No, Just Crazy

I'm driving up Hurrah and see two mostly street bikes coming down. I stop them and ask if they are doing Lockhart Basin. Yes, they say. No, I say. I tell them when they get to the first obstacle that might be a problem to then walk another three or four hundred feet past that.

Then I see three guys riding their bicycles up Hurrah. I ask if they are doing the Jackson Hole Loop. They don't know where they are going for sure. I suggest the Wind Caves to cool off or I'll be back in a couple hours if they want to meet at the lodge and hang out at the beach.

Two hours later when I get back there are two side by sides of people using the restroom, another side by side in the parking lot to play disc golf, and the three guys on the bicycles are just dismounting. I get everybody squared away and then ask them where they are from and they say Poland.

I tell them they can follow me to the beach. They all start putting their helmets back on. I say "You don't need a helmet to go to the beach." One guy says they are riding their bikes to the beach. I tell them it's only a one minute walk. Another guy says "We go everywhere with our bikes." I ask if they have girlfriends or just bicycles. Two guys say "Bicycle". One guy says "Girlfriend". I say "Does she talk?" He says "Yes, do you want to see a picture?" I don't think I do.

Dear Snow Flake

Over the years I've really respected the guests that have visited. They make the drive, not always easy, sometimes with great challenges, especially weather occasionally, and they know this place is in the boonies so no one is expecting a mint on their pillow. Advertising on travel sites not everyone seems to read past the first paragraph. My listings all say this or similar......"you don't normally need four wheel drive to get here but you should have some ground clearance. Without it your vehicle and Mother Earth may have inappropriate relationships occasionally. If height is an issue for you there will be lots of issues driving up and down Hurrah Pass......."

Yes there have been excesses. The VW beetle that showed up with one bumper strapped to the top and the other one sticking out both side windows. The Ford Pinto that shed it's oil pan on top of Hurrah Pass but they carried their four foot long cooler all the way down the pass at 1am. They said, together, "Can't go all weekend without beer." Then smiled at each other. Or the Honda Fit that missed the turn and shed her oil and transmission fluid out by Chicken Corner. 

So this picture, taken in my parking lot yesterday, is for the people who called me last week in their Jeep Cherokee telling me I lied to them when I told them they shouldn't have any trouble in a Jeep and they were going back to town because it was impossible to get here in anything but a tricked up four by four with extended ground clearance. See the one on the left, mom and her two kids.

Full Moon

A full moon coming up dead center over the Anti-Cline.

Things Are Changing

Over the last few years I've run Base Camp sort of part time. If I want to go hiking with Kobae I just don't take any guests. I did that for three weeks, three times last year. Then in January with the acquisition of Last Hurrah next door my expenses have skyrocketed. I had a reputable guest that was going to take next door at $1,000 a night for 37 nights so I didn't worry much about it as that makes quite a few payments. However, it didn't happen. I've had some extremely high negative cash flows since then with June reaching a negative $28,000. I'm not good for a lot of those kinds of months so....

In the middle of July I began advertising Base Camp and Last Hurrah in the online travel sites. Today I booked my 100th night with one of the travel sites. The impact has been huge and the demand for both places incredible. The little secret is out. So while the negative cash flow is disappearing quickly it also means that.........wait for it.........I have a job again. I have to work. I thought I was done, retired. I thought my job was tortoise herder. It turns out I'm the booking agent, tour guide, maid, gardener, finance guy, and maintenance guy. I have a bunch of jobs and mostly, it's just me.

Now that I'm buried in people everything is breaking of course. Every time something breaks I go online and run a search of how to fix it. There's a tutorial on almost everything. I'm actually getting decent at it. But other things, the blog for example, are suffering. Just not enough time for everything.

Here's my view from fixing the water line that leaked, in three places, on the roof to the west cooler.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Hiking with the Man

With only a couple months left before Kobae returns to San Diego for the winter he's finally leaving the yard to go hiking.

Now That's a Beach (grand kids)

Gray Fox

When the moon rises, and if it's bright, all the gray fox disappear. They'll come back in ones and twos but not like the dark nights where I walk outside and see six to eight of them politely sitting in the parking lot waiting for their hot dog. So, when the moon is bright, like now, a few of them come back in the day time to get their hot dog.