Saturday, July 31, 2010

Herding Cows On A Working Ranch In Washington

I would consider myself adventurous.  My friend Kari wanted me to experience a little of what life is like on her family's ranch so I agreed to play along.  I headed out to the ranch located two hours West of Spokane outside of a small town where there aren't any stoplights or grocery stores to be found.  However, I did notice a blacksmith and a post office.

This is her way of life year round.  The cows are out to pasture at the moment, so I decided to tag along while she moved them to another pasture.  Trading horses for ATV's, we headed out to herd the cows from one stretch of land to the next.  It's a good thing she knew where we were driving and what we were doing.  There were bumps, holes, drop offs, etc in the ground that I didn't notice until I was right up against it.  The last time I sat on an ATV I was 16 and it was a three wheeler.  As I was going up a hill, I didn't distribute my weight high enough so I jumped off and the ATV went crashing down the hill.  Of course, I didn't mention this to Kari at the time.

This time, it was a smoother ride.  I learned a lot about ranching on our adventure.  I didn't know that cows will come to you when called.  At one point, we were driving along and she kept yelling, "here...cows!...hereeeeee cows!!!"  I thought that was nice that she was saying hello but in fact, they listened and a few moments later, we were in the line of a stampede.  Just as the cows got to the gate, they stopped when they saw me, unsure of what I was doing there with my camera.  I slowly tip toed out of the way and they continued on their way.

After we did this a few times, we drove around the area to explore empty barns, a cemetery and stopping to chat with a neighbor on his ATV driving by to check on an area he sprayed the day before.  Three ATV's on the same road would be considered a traffic jam in this area.  In fact, after chatting with Kari's dad for a while, he doesn't even know where the key to his house is located.  "What do I need a key for?" he said.

Life is sure different out on the ranch.  I think everyone should experience this once in a lifetime.  I am not a beef eater but I think it's a good education to see where your food comes from and the people behind the work.  I also toured a working ranch in Arizona where they branded cows in front of us.  Wasn't the most pleasant sight but it's what they do to keep Americans fed.

Thank you Kari for the tour! She will be featured in my "Women's Work" project.  To see more photographs of these women, click HERE

Friday, July 30, 2010

Washington State University WSU Airstream Trailer Design Project

My friend Cat told me about the Airstream project that the students at Washington State University were working on as a class project.  I decided to take a visit to see what they were up to and look at the progress the students have made to the project thus far.

As their website describes, "The WSU Airstream Studio is a Summer 2010 design build course for students of architecture and interior design at the Interdisciplinary Design Institute.

The course will focus on the design transformation of an American ICON of manufacturing–the Airstream trailer.  This transformation includes the redesign and build of interior (and perhaps exterior) components of a 1958 26’ Airstream chassis.

Design research for the studio includes a focus on ICONICITY, MOBILITY, and PRODUCT DESIGN."
Read more:

Follow their progress on their Facebook Fan page HERE

I met the professor, Todd at the warehouse on campus where the Airstream is housed.  They just finished buffing the shiny exterior shell and plans for the design were laid out on a bench.  They took to the time to explain what they were doing to make it unique.  To read more about the idea behind the design and their progress, click HERE.

Meeting the students working hard on the project took me back to my college days.  It's so inspiring to see young minds developing new ideas and solutions to things when there aren't any rules.  As adults, we become more custom to why things won't work rather then thinking of new ideas on how things can be accomplished.  I look forward to following their progress in the next few months.  Thank you to Todd and the students for taking the time to meet with me and pose for the camera. 

I even pushed through my fear of heights by climbing on the scaffolding ladder (seen on right) to the top to take the image on the top right of the blog.  They kept saying, "you can get higher...go up higher."  Slowly but surely I climbed up to the top with my flip flops on to take a shot.  Very carefully I might add (as it turns out, you can see my reflection on the Airstream getting the shot).  As long as I didn't look down I was ok.  Unfortunately, I needed to look down to get off.  I don't see being a house painter in my future.  

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Spokane, Washington And A Trip To The Lake

I traveled South from my bear free campsite to visit my friend Cat who lives in Spokane.  Cat and I have known each other for a few years now so each time I see her I know it will be a nice and relaxing time.  On this day, she had a group of friends that were going to the lake for the day so I was lucky enough to be here to participate.

I met another online friend, Kari who supplied the boat for the day of fun.  There was waterskiing, wakeboarding and for me, I ventured out for a ride on the tube.  Well, it's more of an inflatable circle mattress with handles to hold on for dear life, which I did.  Lucky for me, I didn't get bounced off of it.  I yelled out to the group on the boat to take it easy on me since I have, "limited health insurance."  Thinking this would be the ticket for an easy ride, the group yelled back, "you, and millions of other Americans!"

I survived the tube and took a back seat on the boat to capture others having a good time.  The weather was hot, the sun was out and the water was surprisingly not too cold.  To finish the day off, Cat coordinated a shrimp boil with the other women at a beautiful cabin owned by a few of the ladies in the group.  I felt very fortunate to be a part of this fun and special day.

On top of it all, Max had his very first boat ride!  He wasn't too thrilled about it or walking on the moving pier.  I took his kennel on the trip so he could hide away if he wanted.  He's not much of a water dog but I think he did have fun with Cat's dog, Bella.

I will be exploring the area for a few days to see what NorthEast Washington has to offer.  I look forward to sharing it with you.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Camping In Northeast Washington Hoping Bears Won't Show Up

I drove along the 20 freeway in NorthEast Washington and went as far as I could before I was really sick of driving.  It got to that time so I pulled into the first driveway where I saw a tent icon on a sign.  After scouting the area, we found the last spot and pulled in.  Lucky for us, the nightly fee was only six dollars!

I am more afraid of a confrontation with a bear than a person for some reason.  I worried a bit in Yosemite when I was lectured by the bear police to keep all lip balms out of the car and put them in the bear box because bears, "love a good lip balm."  I'm glad he told me that because I found all of the ones that I seemingly "lost" and lined them up in the bear box...all 8 of them.  At least the bear will have a variety if it figured out how to open the bear box at the campsite.

Since then, I have calmed myself down a bit thinking that they wouldn't show up.  I read a few blogs from time to time and just when I had a calming feeling, I read the blog from Rich Luhr about a bear approaching his campsite at night, letting out a huge worst nightmare.

So, here we are again, camping in our tent.  I let it go and decided to relax and enjoy the beauty in the area.  The night was quiet and the next morning was relaxing.  I was having a cup of coffee at the site as the ranger came by.  I didn't think anything of it since I payed my whopping $6 fee.  As he approached, he looked at me and said, "did you see any bears?"

What?  Bears?  Are you kidding me?  I thought I was free from those thoughts and here comes Rick the ranger to put them right back in my brain.  I thought he was joking but he was very serious. You know, that serious ranger face look? Well, Rick had it. We chatted for a bit, he agreed for me to take his photo and later Max and I decided to go for a walk.  Needless to say, the walk didn't last long.  Each crack of a branch or rustle in the bushes made me jump so it wasn't the relaxing morning I had hoped for.  I know, such a big whimp!  I will get over it and not worry.  Good news is, I have plenty of lip balm handy.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A Hike To Bridal Vail Falls And Back To The USA

Since I went through the hassle of getting through the Canadian border, I might as well take a hike and enjoy what the area has to offer.  In the morning, Kim and I decided to take a short walk to visit bridal vail falls in Bridal Falls, BC.

It was a nice, easy walk through the forest and as usual, I stopped to snap pictures along the way.  After I crossed the border, the drive into Bridal Falls was beautiful.  It was a bit overcast when I arrived yesterday but today, it was beautiful.

As I took a few photographs, Kim was behind me snapping away towards me taking pictures (I didn't know it at the time) and this one with me taking a picture of the waterfall is courtesy of her.

After the walk and a nice lunch, Max and I headed on our way.  We drove for hours on route 3 headed East.  The road winds North And South as it makes it way through the country.  I decided it was time to head back to the USA for now.

I was a little anxious to cross the border again since we had so much trouble on our way into Canada.  This time, I was able to say that I met with friends and not some strangers I met on the internet.  For some reason, that made a lot more sense to them.  After just a few questions, I was set on my way!  Yeah, FREEEE.....

I was a bit relieved to be back in the USA.  Even though it was a long day of driving, I felt a sense of pride as I drove on the highway.  As I turned on a smaller road into a forest, I passed a car going 20 MPH in a 50MPH zone on a two lane stretch of road.  As I passed, the nice gentleman decided to put his arm out the window to flip me off.

Ahhh, home sweet home in the USA.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Welcome To Canada! (I think)

Max and I decided to head to the border to Canada to meet some online friends.  The last time I was in this country, I was 10 so I don't really remember what it was like to cross the border. I suppose when you travel to another country, you need to have a specific plan in place.  As you know, I like to wander around and make up the journey as I go and I decided at the last minute to go north to meet some nice folks I found on the internet a while back that travel in their airstream part of the time and work at a motel when they are not traveling.

Sometimes I meet people without talking to them on the phone or even through email.  I don't remember how I came across Kim and Deb's blog, but I enjoyed it and Kim made a few comments on my blog so I decided to see what their life was like in Canada.

When asked why I was coming to Canada by the border police, I said, "I'm meeting some friends I met online."  Then they asked why I was meeting them, how I knew them, where they lived, etc.  Immediately, I was flagged as suspect and sent inside the office.  While in the office, I was asked the same questions.  It's a good thing I wrote down the address moments before crossing.  Even so, that didn't seem to justify my story.  The border police wanted her phone number so I dug in my email and supplied that to her.  Once I did, she looked at me with a very serious face and tone and said, "that phone number isn't from around here."  I said, "I don't know what to tell you, that's the number."  Her suspicions deepened and consequently, I had to go out to the car, take Max out and put him in a kennel so she could search the car.  While I was kenneling Max, she called Kim to see if her story matched mine, which it did.

After she searched the car, she came to me and said, "how come you have so much stuff in there?" Well, I am traveling for months in my car and I need things to camp with but I guess I need to travel lighter.  Who knows?  In the end she let Max and I proceed into the country.

What if I didn't have a destination in mind?  I am not sure that the country wants people wandering around seeing the sights.  I am glad I was able to get through and get on our way, regardless.

Just an hour away, we met Kim and Deb at the motel they run and lucky for us, they offered their 1974 Airstream Overlander to sleep in.  This was my first time sleeping in an Airstream and I know it won't be the last.  It was so nice to meet these two.  They treated us so well with their hospitality and cooked some delicious meals!  The area is pretty incredible.  Click HERE to visit their blog.  I look forward to sharing more of the sights with you soon.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

A Visit To Pike Place Fish Market In Downtown Seattle

You may have seen it on television.  The place where fish is thrown and caught by the workers at the fish market at pike's place market in downtown Seattle.  I've been here before, but I always enjoy going back.  I decided to be a tourist and take pictures of the famous sign and guys throwing the fish, but I also wanted to photograph and get to know some locals in the area.

I stopped and asked a few locals if I could take their photograph while they were relaxing on a break from work.  There were a few working at the farmers market, one was a street performer and one was a local that stood in the same spot, day after day.  I knew this because I went on a different day and there he was.

There are several tourists enjoying the area and it is pretty exciting to see all of the produce laid out perfectly with the smell of flowers in the air.  Even though the open air market is full of fish, it is surprisingly clean for the amount of food that comes in and out of the market each day.
I took my time and walked to the park that's next to the market, lounged around to watch the people and took a second walk through the "food mall."  The first Starbucks is located here and all of the tourists have to wait in line for a drink to say they've been there.  Perhaps they weren't aware that they could walk one block to find another Starbucks without a wait.

I really enjoy Seattle.  It's a big city without the feeling of a big city.  I tried to visit SAM (Seattle Art Museum) but each time I took to trip, they were closed.  Perhaps next time.  There are several things to do in this city and if you come for a visit, I hope you like seafood.

I have a lot more photographs to share from the market, but perhaps in another blog.  For more of my photographs of humans in their habitat, click HERE.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Camp Chung - A Visit With Dear Friends

I don't really know where I will be at any given time so I am thankful for friends who allow me to come at a moments notice and stay at their house for a few days.  I've been friends with Katy and Richard for years and for now, they live in a community outside of Seattle.  I got up pretty early from the campsite and called Katy to say I was near and she said, "sure, come on by!"  I arrived a few hours later and decided to stay for a while.

It is so relaxing here.  Her guest room is like sleeping on a cloud.  After days of camping and sleeping in the dirt, sleeping in a home and being among friends was a welcome treat!  It's been too long since I've been here and I am so glad I was able to stay for a while to catch up.

Richard and Katy are so kind to me, I am lucky to have them as friends.  I love their little girls and Max does too.  Max had a lot of play time with them in the backyard and around the house.  When they weren't watching, Max would steal a toy from their room to play with.  I actually saw him smile for the first time in days.

I enjoy traveling and being alone but there is something about the comfort of being around good friends.  It will be hard to leave, but I am so glad I had this time with them.   Next stop...being a tourist in Seattle and then, who knows?

Thursday, July 22, 2010

No Reservations Along The Oregon and Washington Coast

As with all travels, sometimes there are days where you just want to observe and soak in the moment.  I didn't take many photographs today but I did stop to snap this one of the piles and piles of trees in a lumber yard.  You will notice that the hills are a bit bare in Oregon.  Sometimes you will see a lone tree that was left to live on the bald hill.  These weren't so lucky.

After the excitement of meeting new friends at Horse Camp and witnessing a hit and run at the Tillamook factory, Max and I decided to just drive up the coast and enjoy the rest of the day.  This particular night we didn't know where we were going to sleep.  I usually plan it that way but sometimes when the weather is nice and school is out, there are others out there that want to camp too.  Imagine that!

Side Note: Some days are just not that interesting to blog about.  Those particular days will be a bit like this day.  I have been blogging every day for a while now but I don't know how long I will be able to keep it up.  I don't want to bore you with the small details of each travel day if there isn't anything to talk about. If I miss a day, usually it's because it went something like this...

As it was getting late, I stopped at several campsites along the way that I was familiar with but on this day, each one was full. Even some in which I thought would be remote enough to have availability, didn't.  So, we were in a sense...lost with nowhere to go.

However, I didn't give up hope.  I drove to more state parks and places where I thought we would be able to find a place but each time we pulled up, we had the same outcome.

It was a bit frustrating but I kept driving until we were out of cell phone range and without a town in sight.  I pulled into a small campsite (I will link a site once I remember the name) along the coast in Washington and even though there was a sign saying it was full, I saw about 15 sites that were empty.  I thought to myself, "it's late, It's been over two days without a shower and I've been in the car driving all day" so I decided to take a chance.  I set up camp in the smallest spot, took a shower and went to sleep hoping that the owners of the site wouldn't show up in the middle of the night.

I don't recommend this type of traveling for most.  It's a bit stressful at times but in the end I found a great campsite.  Before it got too late, I snapped a photograph from my phone of our view of the lake.  I thought I would be restless with the "knowing" feeling that someone could come in at any moment to tell me to move but I have to tell you that the best sleeping pill is taking a hot shower after days of camping in the dirt without one.  It's like a miracle spa treatment even though you have to scramble for quarters when the water runs out and shampoo is still in your hair.

The next morning I woke up early and headed out on the road again without a plan.


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