Thursday, May 20, 2010

Road Trip Six - Driveway Layout Begins

  Spring is here... that means it's time for Tom to stake out the driveway up to the South Meadow building site. Aw shucks, another Road Trip is called for.  :)  I was going to stay home with Greer to look after the other pets while Tom took Eoin, but the desire to be in Republic and on the land again was too overwhelming... I could fight it off no more! Plus, we finally found just the right 4-wheel drive diesel pick-up to suit us and our ever-changing/growing/diverse needs, so this would actually be the first trip eastward in our very own, good running vehicle - what a novelty!

(a.k.a. "Tatanka")

Thursday, May 13, 2010 -
  The day dawns sunny and warm. The truck gets loaded, dogs given a dose of Rescue Remedy to calm nerves, crated securely in the covered bed. Four errands later and running late (a pattern for us, really!) and we're on the road.

  At first Eoin was barking a lot, not being too keen on crate life, but he soon settled; only very minor drooling from either dog - the Rescue Remedy truly was a lifesaver! The truck was surprisingly comfy and handled/ran great. We got excellent fuel mileage, too. We are exceedingly pleased with our new addition!

  Eight hours later we pull up to Matt and Ann's house, friends who so generously opened their home to us for our stay. We were all glad to get out and stretch our legs, work out the stiffness. The dogs ran, sniffed the air and munched on juicy green grass! Unload, unwind and visit with good friends. Sleep came sweet and sound.

Friday, May 14th -
  A glorious morning - mountain and valley views, blue sky, puffy white clouds, fresh air, dogs running, roosters crowing! Eggs, toast and coffee, then Tom and Eoin leave for a days work.

  Not five minutes later I realize Tom forgot the gate key. He didn't realize until he reached the gate! Fortunately, our property is only about 15 minutes from Matt and Ann's. When he came back, Eoin decided he wanted to stay with Greer and I. Poor Tommy, deserted by his buddy. Later I think Eoin regretted it as staying at the house wasn't nearly as fun as being with dad on the Ranch!

  But, we took a couple short walks on which I saw some beautiful wildflowers and relished the natural beauty and quiet surrounding us. The area is much more green and lush than last year at the same time. Everything was in full spring bloom. For most of the day I rest and recuperate, enjoying the stillness.

  As for Tom's day at the Ranch: He looked the property over, but most of his time was spent talking with the neighbors; one couple to our NE we hadn't met as of yet.

 Shooting star

Saturday, May 15th -
  Today is an anniversary of sorts - 1 year ago on this date we arrived in Republic for the first time! Didn't know then how our hearts would be captured. It promises to be another lovely spring day. We begin with breakfast at the Pine Grove Junction cafe. With appetites satisfied and caffeine kicking in, straight to our land we go!

  Oh yes, everything is definitely in the flush of new spring growth - beautiful! We drive in as far as we can before old wind-fallen trees block the way. We all get out to walk, spraying ourselves and the dogs with tick repellent. Yes, this is tick country and tick time of year. I use a homemade mix of distilled water, rose geranium and peppermint pure essential oils. Works great!

  While Tom surveys the land and slopes, calculating and figuring in his head for the driveway, I, as usual, have camera in hand shooting pics of flora and fauna. Though I am unashamedly a lover and admirer of creation, identifying and documenting plants helps us know what is growing and where in order to understand soil, light, and moisture, basics of land management. There is also the need to identify the non-native and invasive plants for land protection. Several of the native species we see, we already know, but just as many others we either aren't certain of or have no idea at all. I'll need to do research using these pics once we get back to the city.

  My eyes are especially searching for the color splash of blooms. Just before turning back for the truck, a little flash of pink near the ground catches my eye. Thinking it's a shooting star or similar I approach, but quickly realize it is a single flower, not a cluster like in the photo above. Bending over to examine it, I recognize a familiar shape, that of an old love of mine, the orchid - the upper petals, the spotted throat, long bare stem, single ovate leaf at the base. Yes, I think it's a native orchid! My heart beats faster! I ask Tom to put a stick in the ground to mark the spot so as not to disturb it in the future. I snap several pics in hopes of getting one clear shot, and capture this...

  Isn't she lovely?!! We begin walking back. All of the sudden, two more orchids appear, we'd walked right past them! Another stick put in the ground. A few more steps and a group of four more! I am both surprised and horrified, we all could have trampled them, but somehow managed not to. Whew! Research: it is indeed a native orchid, called the Eastern Fairy Slipper (calypso bulbosa var. americano, rosea). In Washington state it is found in only three counties- Okanogan, Ferry (ours) and Pend Oreille.

  Now, in search of the "hidden spring" that Mrs. Minor's parents always said was in the Draw. A couple weeks ago our neighbor said he found one. We walk to the location. Lo and behold, there's the spring! And hidden it is under a thicket of red osier dogwood, black hawthorn, nettles, and other plants, bubbling out of rock at a pretty nice rate.

The Draw

  Onward! Having a 4-wheel drive vehicle means I am able to visit the north property line for the first time, no hiking required.  :)   Oh my, what gorgeous views!

Looking Southeast

Looking South

Looking West

  We continue our trek on a steep, narrow old pack trail to visit our neighbors to the NE; very nice folks; and the views from their place on the ridge are incredible! After a friendly chat about their solar power, rain water collection, and other systems we are planning to implement also, it's back to Matt and Ann's for a late lunch and to talk over all we'd seen. A restful evening in.

Sunday, May 16th -
  Somewhat of a restless nights sleep for both of us, we awake early with the roosters crowing. Boy, do we ever miss our chickens... the dogs do, too! Tom leaves at 6 a.m. to get in a full days work. I am lulled back to sleep to the sound of rain on the metal roof. A quiet morning in my jammies sipping hot coffee, perusing seed catalogs, and watching the birds flit about at the many feeders; including my first-ever sighting of the glorious Mountain Bluebird!

  Meanwhile at the Ranch: Tom stakes a 175' section of the driveway, checks vertical elevation up to the area the drive will come out onto the South Meadow, and stakes 10' x 10' corners of the building site. With the elevation figures in hand, he will project the percentage of slope for the driveway. His next trip out will be to finish staking. He examines the native bunchgrass growth and observes that on the west side there is a heavy infestation of the invasive weed, sulphur cinquefoil; it will need to be controlled as it is choking out the bunchgrass.

  Mid-afternoon, Tom comes for me and we drive up to Hamilton Farm in Curlew for a supply of their natural grass-fed beef. it's good to see Nancy doing well; sadly, she recently lost her dear husband Pat to cancer. He was a good 'ol boy and will be missed.

  That evening we share a relaxing last meal with Matt and Ann; then, to bed early.

Monday, May 17th -
  The roosters rouse us early to pack. Who needs an alarm clock with them around! The day of departure always brings feelings of melancholy; the dogs feel it, too. In fact, Eoin did not want to get in the truck. I almost believe he would have stayed there without us! We say our farewell's and hit the road. It's a cool, wet day, matching our low energy and emotions. The dogs don't utter a sound all day; whereas on the trip out Eoin barks every time we even slow down, much more so when we come to a stop. 

  No one is particularly excited to return to the city. At the same time, Tom and I both have a sense that this is our last major road trip east together. The next time will be for keeps.


Sue said...

We'll be happy to meet up with you when you get over here for keeps... Any suspected time frame?

The Beers said...

Hi Sue,
It's anyone's guess. ;) I only wish we knew! We do so look forward to meeting!

Amber said...

OK, OK! I've read it! ALMOST makes me want to join you. But...NAH! I'm a city girl. I do look forward to visiting you when all is said & done. Thanks for keeping us all up to's an adventure for us, too!
luv you hennie!

Amber said...

PS: Hector is so cute!

robert said...

Hi. New here and just wanted to say that were almost niehbors. My wife and I have a place we have been working on overlooking midway Canada northwest of curlew. We just dug out for a root celler and I'm on the third and last stage of our home. We are off grid. We set about 3500 feet up on white mountain.We have eaten at the juction many times. Hopefully we can get together someday.
Bob &Carol

The Beers said...

Howdy Neighbor!
That is so cool! Sounds like you have a nice set-up there. I can tell you we'll need tips on building a root cellar. Now we know who the local go-to person will be! LOL
I have to admit we are a bit jealous... you over there, us over here. LOL I'm sure we'll meet up some day! Thanks for stopping by our Blog! Come back again! ;)