Monday, July 21, 2014

What's in a Day

Sometimes I get it in my head to write a post about my day before it actually happens, then look back and see how close I came to the truth, especially since our life is almost entirely unpredictable.  

July 10:  The Pre-cognizant Edition

It is hot around central Idaho in early July and the thing we want to do today involves more heat, so our best bet is to get an early start.  I read about a thermal waterfall at the end of a steep two-mile hike, and there are few things I like better than a hot shower, so we hitch up and leave well before the sun rises.  It is about a twenty mile drive to the trailhead and we arrive just as the sun comes over the hill.  It is best to let sleepy pugs lie and they are happy to stay put in the Airstream while we do all of that uncomfortable exercise.  

The trek is, indeed, steep and it takes us nearly an hour to reach the waterfall and pool it dumps into. 

After a refreshing soak, we saddle up and descend back to pugs and camper.  We would like to make it to the Bitterroot National Forest south of Missoula well before dark and find a good boondock to launch from in the morning.  

Arriving in the early afternoon, we find an appropriate spot to settle and make dinner preparations while the heat of the day begins to dissipate.  Our new spot is lush and green, although with plenty of mosquitos.  

Evening brings a colorful sunset seen through the filter of our leafed roof, and we settle down for a good sleep with a breeze blowing through the open window.

July 10:  Real Life Edition

We arrive in the parking lot of the trailhead long before the sun reaches over the hills, without the Airstream.  The board posted at the beginning of the trail says nothing about the length of the trail or even the name of it, just that the first 1/4 mile is on private property so please be quiet.  That first quarter mile is also on the side of a very steep hill that requires many switchbacks, causing me to almost despair of the rest of the hike.  Soon the trail flattens out, though, as we trot through scrub brush and tall grasses.  

How kind of the BLM folks!  Separate shrubs for the ladies and the gents!

Comfortable accommodations await just up the trail.

After another long scramble up large rocks, we feel as though we should be there very soon.  The trail is somewhere between 2 - 2.5 miles (according to the internet)and it really feels like we have gone at least 1.75, but we come across a wooden sign with "Half Way" etched crudely into it.  We are one hour into our hike. Panting and dripping with sweat, I want to kick that stupid sign.  We keep going and soon discover the deceitfulness of the sign.  Less than a quarter mile more and we are presented with a series of steaming waterfalls dropping into clear pools.  

We are the only ones here and quickly make for that warm water.  It is still cool and the sun is peaking over the distant hills, but we are well within the shade of the mountain.  

We soak and swim for over an hour until the light just touches the edge of our pool.  Three hikers show up as we are putting our shoes on and we leave the pools to them.  

 The hike out is downhill and I feel refreshed and energetic as we follow a stream out.  Bright blue dragonflies with gossamer wings dance all around us and the burble of the river encourages us onward.  With one last incline left, I suddenly realize just how tired my legs are.  They don't seem to want to go anymore, but I force myself to the top of the last hill.  Below is a house with a fat pug barking at us from his plush green lawn.  Down the switchbacks we go and flop into the car, relieved to have wheels again.  I think I smell worse than I ever have before.  

On the drive back to camp, we debate whether to stay for another night or move farther north.  Our neighbors decide for us when we pull in.  They have been playing 80's music for the last two days (most of it good), but are now blaring country music which can be heard down the road.  That is our limit and we leave.  

Sometimes I wonder at the lack of courtesy of some campers.  These neighbors have two generators which they run constantly, right through the "quiet hours" posted at the campground, and yesterday they took the opportunity to dump their gray water tank on the ground (when there is a dump station right on the other side of the campground), making that unmistakeable stench waft through the the whole camp.  Being right next to them, we actually had to close our windows and take a walk elsewhere with the dogs until it dried.**

Pointing north, we follow the flow of the Salmon River until we reach the Montana border.  

Soon we find ourselves doing more mountain driving through the mountains on the Idaho/Montana border:  up one side and down the other until the road flattens out and we can enjoy the surrounding hills without hanging on for dear life.

Our intended destination is a free forested campground called Blodgett Creek which is right next to a stream and has only 5 sites.  We pull in only to discover that it is full.  Drat.  A helpful camper shows us his National Forest map and points out several campgrounds farther north.  After a few tries, we finally find one with available spots that costs $10/night ($5 with a National Parks Pass).  

We park and make camp at just about six in the evening, putting chicken and potatoes on the grill.

Oh if only this were the last picture of the day!

The heat of the day is waning and it looks like it will be an early night for us under the shade of the evergreens.  We are both dead tired and barely functioning.  Hubs takes Murray and then Otis out for the last potty of the night, but when Otis comes back in I notice he is making little groaning noises and rubbing his face in the rug.  He looks up with one eyelid starting to swell.  

Pre-cog me didn't see that coming.

He has been stung by something and is having an allergic reaction.  I cram 25mg of Benedryl down his throat and consult my two dog first-aid books.  His jowls and tongue are beginning to swell too and hives are appearing on his head and legs.  Hubs looks up vets (which are now all closed for the day) and locates an emergency clinic thirty miles away in Missoula that is open all night.  I put calamine lotion on Otis' eyelid and hold an ice pack on it.  He sits very still and allows my ministrations with patience.  

Murray gets put in the tube, but Otis is very pleased to be riding up front on my lap this once.  He is panting, but doesn't appear to be having trouble breathing.  The trip takes just a few minutes at 70 mph and we soon are in the parking lot of the clinic.  I have seen Otis swell up a few times before and this isn't nearing critical, but I want to be near help just in case.  We sit in the parking lot for half an hour and wait for the Benedryl to bring the swelling down.  Slowly but surely his symptoms recede, beginning with the hives.  

When we are sure that he is on the mend, we drive over to a grocery and I do our shopping for next week's food in a zombie-like state, barely aware of what I am putting in the cart.  Can we survive this week on pickle relish and plumbs?  Probably not…I had better get some coffee ice cream too.

Somehow chicken and other actual nutrition winds up in the cart and I shuffle back out to the car to see how Hubs and pugs are doing.  Otis' symptoms are still receding.  I am so glad that we didn't have to put him through the added stress of going to the vet + antihistamine/steroid shots, not to mention the cost to us when our income is hovering near zero.  

On our way back home, we talk about the stress levels of this lifestyle compared to living a stationary life.  This morning, as we sat in a natural hot tub and looked out over the mountains, stress was nonexistent and life seemed wonderful.  Tonight we are both beyond exhausted and stressed out of our gourds.  

High highs and low lows.

It is nearly eleven by the time we get back, collapse into bed, and fall asleep with Otis and Murray tucked securely in our arms.  

**On the advice of my resident PR man, this paragraph now contains 60% less grumping.

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