Schools Out VanSlam

Palouse Falls

Palouse Falls

Holy cow, where do I even start.  As many of you will know, heading out for an extended camping trip on the last day of school has become a bit of a family tradition.  This year that tradition continued, although with a little less advanced planning than in past years.

After grabbing the Dudes from school we rolled out eastbound towards a beautiful little lake in the Columbia National Wildlife Refuge.  Soda Lake has been a favorite camp site of mine for many years… Imagine my disappointment when we arrived to new rules.  No camping signs slapped me in the face and forced us to call an audible play.  Potholes State Park provided us with an alternative, albeit  dusty, home for the night.

The next morning found us bouncing though the NWR to view the Drumheller Channel Scablands and continuing down into the Palouse country.  I was a bit overwhelmed by the crowds at Palouse Falls… Apparently rolling in on my motorbike, for a visit mid-week in April is different then a sunny, summer Saturday.  (Thanks Susan for pointing this out to me).

Touchet River

Touchet River

That evening found us camping at Lewis & Clark Trail State Park near the town of Dayton.  The Touchet River provided the afternoon entertainment for the Dudes and we began to fall into a peaceful routine – drive, camp, play, eat, sleep, repeat.

The next day was the beginning of the coolest bit of VanSlam adventuring that any one of us can remember.

KLR on the prairie - June 2010

KLR on the prairie – June 2010

I first explored the Zumwalt Prairie on my motorbike back in June of 2010.  Ever since that trip I knew I needed to return with the VanSlam crew for some further exploration.

The Zumwalt Prairie is a 330,000 acre native grassland ranging between 3,000 to 5,ooo feet elevation. It is located in NE Oregon at the edge of Hell’s Canyon.

We followed a dusty gravel road for over 33 miles, up to a dot on the map called Buckhorn Camp.  Along the way we enjoyed some of the most amazing views of the grasslands, and we topped it all off with an evening hike to Buckhorn Lookout, where we had spectacular views of Hell’s Canyon.

Buckhorn Camp

Buckhorn Camp

Archery Lessons

Archery Lessons

Still hanging in there... Time will eventually get this old barn

Still hanging in there… Time will eventually get this old barn

Hell's Canyon

Hell’s Canyon

We camped at about 5,000 and had a few sprinkles of rain, but it was a marvelous night in the wilderness.

The NRS store

The NRS store

The next day we headed north into Idaho. Since we were passing through the town of Moscow, I thought it would be interesting to visit the Northwest River Supply store.  NRS had been supplying my family’s sea kayaking gear for decades.  I think I’m on my 3rd or 4th NRS wetsuit, and they all just keep getting better and better.

It was kind of a pilgrimage really.

The days rolled in together at some point.  Hepburn State Park near Plummer ID, Steamboat State Park, near Coulee City, WA …

Steamboat State Park

Steamboat State Park

The Dudes playing Story Discs

The Dudes playing Story Discs

We had an aborted hike up into Northup Canyon.  The mosquitoes were ravenous, and sent us scampering for the relieve of the triple digit temperatures of the vans.

With the wind blowing at Steamboat State Park the mosquitoes didn’t interrupt our session of story discs.

I just love to listen to the Dudes’s imaginations as they concoct a tale of danger and adventure based on the random selection of wooden discs with symbols and words drawn in them.

Speaking of concocting stories, this might be a good place for me to insert my video highlight reel:

Photo by Kingston

Photo by Kingston

I’ll tell you what, it won’t be too long before all the Dudes, and especially Kingston take over the photo and video tasks for many of our Adventure Journal stories.

I’ll be left to just dressing like an unmade bed and waving to the camera.

I guess before I go I’ll share one more image from the fabulous Zumwalt Prairie.  And for my motorbike pals reading this, I know you’ll see the similarity between my photo and an iconic image that first sparked my interest in motorcycles many decades ago.

The Zumwalt Prairie

The Zumwalt Prairie

Iconic Steve McQueen image from the Great Escape - 1963

Iconic Steve McQueen image from the Great Escape – 1963

Thanks for following along on our adventures.  Come join us next time.

Kat

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Booker and Remy’s Beds

Way back last December my daughter-in-law, Teresa, sent me a photo of a kids twin bed from some place like Pottery Barn, and asked, “Can you make two of these for Booker and Remy”?

IMG_0651

The Catalog Image

The Blueprint Photo

The Blueprint Photo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of course I said yes after nothing more than a casual glance.  Then I studied the photo for a while and kind of “built it in my head”.  Next I came up with a materials list and a rough estimate of the cost.

Teresa said she would buy the materials and added, “if you have to buy any special tools, add that into the cost”.  What a sweetheart!  I instantly thought of a dozen things that I “needed”.  (Just kidding).

I was definitely gonna need a proper jig saw… for years I’d been getting by with a $10.00 Harbor Freight piece of junk, that pretty much cut where ever it felt like drifting.  It was impossible to control, and those curved headboards were going to demand some precision.

I came up with a rough estimate of the cost for two beds, including a jig saw, and it was still far less that the price of the store bought ones.  Which come to find out were no longer available, even if one did want to buy them.

Hauling home the material

Hauling home the material

So fast forward 6 months and as soon as Teresa sent me a text saying she had the money for the beds, Susan and I headed for the lumber store.  I got the exact measurements for the twin mattresses Teresa had selected as a starting point, but other than that all the dimensions and approximate measurements for the beds came from me just making calculated guesses based on the photo.

The new jig saw

The new jig saw

Gluing up the legs

Gluing up the legs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Remarkably, everything just kind of fell into place perfectly.  Not to say there wasn’t a few “Goldilocks” moments requiring multiple trips to the store… “These bolts are too long… These bolts are too short… These bolts are just right”.

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Initially the plan was to apply some wooden veneer edge banding along the “unfinished” edge of the birch plywood headboards.  But the combination of really nice plywood and a super smooth cut from the new jig saw left me re-thinking that plan.  I fixed the one small flaw in the edge with a mixture of wood glue and sawdust and then sanded the headboards smooth.  The edges were just too nice to cover up with veneer.

Staining and varnish

Staining and varnish

So after some dark walnut stain and several coats of varnish it looked like the beds were ready.

The finished bed... waiting for a mattress

The finished bed… waiting for a mattress

We had a little bit of a puzzle figuring out how to transport the beds in one trip, but we managed thanks to our kayak racks.

The image to the left is Booker’s bed, just waiting for a mattress.

Kat

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Crescent Beach

Duke - styling

Duke – styling

Here he is.  Duke (#danger) is five years old.

We just got back from another VanSlam camping trip.  This time to Crescent Beach along the Straight of Juan de Fuca, in Washington State.  Our adventure was filled with riding waves, hiking the beach, exploring tide pools, flying kites, and a little ukulele music.

Remarkably, we spent 4 days on the coast and didn’t encounter any real rain.  The wind was our constant companion, but NO rain!

Have a look at the highlight reel:

Fun on the beach

Fun on the beach

Fun in the kayaks

Fun in the kayaks

Beautiful Sunsets

Beautiful Sunsets

Every evening we were treated to another beautiful sunset.

#danger

#danger

One picture that is worth 1000 words.

Rock it baby

Rock it baby

A photo that words can’t describe

Sharing the sunsets

Sharing the sunsets

… and finally, a photo of the person I love to share the beautiful sunsets with.

Kat

Posted in Camping, Dudes, Hiking, Kayak, Music, Ukulele | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments

Jack’s Pass

San Juan Camp

San Juan Camp

Here is a quick little video I made heading up to Jack’s Pass and the North Fork of the Skykomish River.

Mostly it was just a test to try out a GoPro mounting system I made for the WR250R.

But as it turned out, I also got a chance to examine several potential motorbike campsites.

So what do you think about the mount?  Not too much vibration, and I can start and stop it with the wireless remote.

Ram Mount

Ram Mount

Geekin' Out

Geekin’ Out

Here is a little something so you will all know what a geek I am… As if!

That’s it for now, thanks for following along.

Kat

The north fork of the Sky

The north fork of the Sky

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Motorbike Camping

Mt. Pilchuck

Mt. Pilchuck

Looking up into the Cascade mountains from my back porch the night before I left for a motorbike camping trip, it still looked a little “wintery” up there… But the next couple of days promised to be sunny and warmer, so I was heading off on an S24O.

One of my goals for 2015 is to go camping at least once a month.  So far, we’re right on track.  Even if it is just a Sub -24 hour- Overnight, or S24O, it’s nice to just get outside and enjoy the night sky away from the city lights.

Turlo Camp - in the dark

Turlo Camp – in the dark

Campfire

Campfire

Spending the night by a crackling campfire is a great way to keep the rest of the world in perspective.

Another aspect for this trip was to do a gear check for a much longer motorbike camping trip I’m taking later this summer with my pal Dan.  We’re going to continue our Washington Backcountry Discovery Route, north from Cashmere WA (where we were turned away by forest fires last year) to the Canadian border.

But more about that in a later episode of the Adventure Journal.

Here is a little movie I made of my trip:

Home Sweet Home

Home Sweet Home

That’s it for now.  Thanks for following along.

Kat

Posted in Camping, Motorbike, Photography, Video | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Fat Wood

Spring is almost upon us

Spring is almost upon us

I spent some time today tromping around in the forest, watching red-tailed hawks and searching for some fat wood.

Have a look at my little video:

 

 

 

This stuff burns like napalm

This stuff burns like napalm

For an upcoming project

For an upcoming project

That’s it for now.  Hope you liked the video.  I was actually surprised by how easily it took a spark.

Till next time.  Kat

Posted in Birds, Photography, Video | Tagged , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Deadwater Slough

A muddy launch

A muddy launch

The launch, if you could call it that, was so muddy that I had to poodle-scooch down the bow of the kayak to keep from squishing into the knee deep mud.

And that is how my kayaking trip on Deadwater Slough began.  A beautiful crisp winter day and light wind made for a very relaxing and enjoyable paddle.  Unlike the beautiful waters of Puget Sound, this was real “brown water navy” stuff.  Tight and twisting, each bend in the slough flushed a new raft of ducks.

Headed into the sun

Headed into the sun

There was no real destination, I just paddled to the end of the slough and then backtracked to a place where I could scramble out and climb up the bank.  Then I found a comfy place to sit and brew up some cowboy coffee and munch on my chocolate chip cookies.

Cowboy Coffee

Cowboy Coffee

Swirling the grounds to the bottom of the cup

Swirling the grounds to the bottom of the cup

Living Large

Living Large

That’s it, job done.

See you next time.  Kat

Posted in Kayak | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments