Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Year end at Colville and Eagle trip to Lake Pend Oreille.

Colville is about to welcome in 2014, along with our 36th anniversary at midnight. I am one lucky guy!

Colville doesn't lack in Christmas spirit...with lights across Main Street and this beautiful display at one of the churches in town. As I have mentioned before, Colville has a very large lit cross on a hill overlooking the town and its 21 churches, so you know it's a special place.

These guys love hanging around my driveway begging for apples, to which is usually successful as long as the fruit last.

When we moved here I had no idea that one of our neighbors was related to Ansel Adams. That might be a slight exaggeration on my part but Angie across the road from us emailed me this photo of our house. It may of been when we were in Spokane or out running around shopping...but I missed it!
Good for Angie or Paul to take such a beautiful shot and send it to us, we love it.

It was a grey and overcast day but we wanted to take our granddaughter to see some of the bald eagles that feast on a Kokanee salmon run that ends about January 1st. Lake Coeur d' Alene has in the past been the most popular spot for wintering eagles but the run on Lake Pend Oreille has increased so much  it is now the favorite of the eagles.

Donna spotted the first 5 in about ten minutes time. Ashley and I are having a hard time catching up.

First, I have to apologize for focus problems. I could never seem to focus just on the birds. I miss my SX 40 and wish I had it back even though it does not allow for lens changes, it still did a better job. Well then, there it could be a case of operator error too.

We had lost count at 50 eagles, some may of been counted twice but based on all the birds and our limited viewing area, there must of been hundreds. We watched them through our spotting scope diving, flying, playing and skimming the surface for fish.

 I get a little nervous when I see Ashley staring at me with those beautiful hazel eyes because I know her wheels turning, Opa will be doing whatever this angel wants...:-)

Near the middle of this bay was some kind of military barge or float for the Navy.

In Bayview, Idaho the eagles were not the only attraction. Seems the U.S. Navy uses the lake to test scale model submarines. The depth of the lake is more than 1000 feet with a flat bottom and constant temperatures below 300 feet, ideal for testing. The Navy has three or four large hangers on the water in the middle of the picture.

Here is the "which-ama-call-it" in the middle of the bay...it has Navy written all over it.

We drove around on the east side of the lake to find more eagles and saw through the trees above the Navy base, this  small submarine floating next to one of the large floating sheds.

Ok...back to eagle watching and as usual Donna is spotting them for Ashley and I.

Across from the Navy base is the Bayview Marina. Bayview is an older town that was explained as a place filled with retires. 

We drove down to the marina area because Ashley was getting hungry and a hamburger overlooking the lake sounds good to me too. $10 for a child's hamburger on the water? FAHGETTABOUDIT!
We did get to see some Canadian geese near the shore but if they are in Idaho...wouldn't they now be American geese?

This could be our fixer upper on the lake, right? Well, we had a great day on the lake and looking forward to this summer to see it under a different light. 
Happy New Years to all...........

Sunday, December 22, 2013

4X4'ering up the mountain behind our home

Bill and Becky, who live across the street from us, have an assortment of toys that are quite useful up here in the mountains. Bill had mentioned to me that he was going to go check his game camera about one mile up the hill and I all but begged to accompany him, safer to go in two's right?

I can't really start a blog without a photo of birds? Caught this couple of Bald Eagles (they mate for life...unlike some of us) near their nest earlier in the day when I went into town. It is too early for any eggs otherwise there would be one sitting on the nest at all times.

Bill picked me up at my front door with his 4x4 quad. We headed past my house to the access road, just 100 yards past our property.

Doesn't take long before we are calf deep in virgin snow. 

Oh damn! We are blocked one mile from the top of Paradis Peak (correct spelling, I checked!) and I really wanted to see the view from the top.

Well... it helps to have friends in high places, who also have keys, ha ha

Bill works for the local power company and needs access to the relay system on top of the mountain, so he has the POWER to go the distance!

We got to the top of the mountain just as the sun was setting to the west. This tower relays phone and Internet to a mountain just east of Colville.

It's so cold and the snow was very deep but the view was "drop dead" beautiful on top.

Bill was pointing out all the areas that we were looking at from Paradis Peak. I can see my next purchase being a snowmobile suit...Bill looked warm. (maybe I'll get the limited edition "Duck Dynasty" snowmobile outfit...ha ha, na)

Pert' near dark as we head down to the house. I have a good jacket, gloves, Sorel's and snow pants...but my cheeks were painfully cold. Next time ( I'm hoping) I will wear my motorcycle mask which should solve my frozen cheek problems.

How do you not love a scene like this? Snow, outdoors, quads and a friendly neighbor giving me the tour, I'm only slightly sad that it took 65 years before we belonged to such a great community.

The reason we started this adventure is now realized, the taking down of the game camera. Bill said he will forward any unusual photos he captured with the camera. Bill also pointed out many of the fresh prints in the snow of the mountain inhabitants on our outing but the one I was most interested in were the recent moose prints we found.

I will end this blog with a photo from our neighbor Gene. We had visited the Myers yesterday and toured their beautiful home that has an even better view of the valley than ours. Gene also feeds the deer and at times says they will come right up to his window...begging, guess he wasn't kidding.

Friday, December 6, 2013

I told Donna that winter was still two weeks away....."Reeeally" she replied?

We took a short trip (30 miles) to Sullivan Lake to see some Kokanee spawn on Harvey Creek, but first a couple of  unrelated photos.

This cheesy photo is because while watching the news on TV the other night (ABC as you can see) there was the lighting of our nations Christmas Tree near the capital building. My wife told me to take a picture, of the picture, because this is the same tree taken from our local forest and one that I blogged about one month ago. Personally I think they over do the lights a bit.

Since moving here I have told Donna that I needed a photo of the "Colville" sign, a block walk down the railroad track, for my collection. As far as I can tell there is no railroad station but maybe they did at one time and the sign let travelers know where they were.

On the way to the Kokanee, right outside Colville, is White Lake which has a few houses around it. I don't believe these docks will be in use for a few months.

Crystal Falls on Hwy 20 to Tiger is more like "Ice Cube Falls" at this time of the year. I would of really like have light shine on the falls but because of the suns path that won't happen for a few more months.

Frater Lake trail head is a nice stop near the top of the pass on our way to Sullivan Lake. Two months ago I was thinking about using a float tube and a fly pole, now ice fishing or ice skating would be more appropriate.

I'll just assume this beaver and his family are snug as a bug in their winter home. 

As we were driving along there was a bet as to if the cars thermometer was programed to show minus degrees. Well, we watched it go from plus 4, and then 3, down to 2 degrees, 1 was next and then the big 0. One block further it read "-1F" which is minus 1 farhinhit. Well I guess that settles the question whether the car will register below zero. 

We are going across the Sullivan Lake Road bridge looking down on the Pend Oreille River and to the north, following the Colville National Forest to Canada.

I think the Sullivan Lake Road bridge is just plain beautiful and so colorful on a day like this. Sort of like Washington's miniture version of the Golden Gate.

Cold is a relative term especially if you're in a pair of shorts and a tee shirt.

Harvey Creek may not look like much but it is a major tributary to Sullivan Lake which is quite large. Mostly frozen over at this time of the year and we did not see any evidence of the Kokanee  here a mile or so from the lake.

We stopped at a bridge where Harvey Creek flows into the lake. We did see a couple hundred Kokanee but we were surprised at how small they are. All that we saw were 5 to 8 inches. Donna is watching a couple of bald eagles flying over the fish.

One was sitting in the trees about 300 hundred yards from us which made photography difficult. 

While one of the pair sat in the tree looking around, the other eagle took off looking for a happy meal.

At least the flight brought her a little closer to us.

Coming in for a landing!

But of course the spot the eagle decides to land on was in a swale so we couldn't see what the bird was eating but assumed it very well might be a Kokanee.

I find it hard to believe we are still ten miles from Canada, I feel like this must be the "banana belt" of Washington. :-)

On the way home Donna thought one of the trees up near the top of this hill would make a great xmas tree..."really honey"? Let me pull over while you hump it up and get any tree of your choice...ha ha.

Happy Holiday to all.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Why Colville?

We have been asked numerous times since we bought a house  in Colville, why Colville... by locals no less,? Not sure there would be one definitive answer to the question but people here are among the nicest we have encountered while traveling the western states. Does Colville have an abundance of wealthy people or million dollar houses? Not at all.

I read that one in four people are on food stamps in our county, which to me sounds like a lot. One example is Rosalyn here with her two pets, Abigail and Buttercup in front of Safeway. I only saw the ducks at first and a lady standing over them...seems she volunteered to watch Abigail and Buttercup while Rosalyn was in the store buying corn for her babies. 
When Rosalyn came out she was questioned by the sitter about her status. Rosalyn stated she was homeless because of an abusive relationship and left with her two babies whom she has raised from eggs. Rosalyn never asked or bummed anything and so she ended up being one of my charitable favorites of the season. I have a soft spot in my heart for anyone who cares for our feathered or four legged friends.

Hey...we are meat eaters, but meat eaters with a heart. I have nothing against hunting (just don't call it a sport, a sport indicates both parties know the rules) for food...no trophy hunting people please, but people can and should be humane in their thinking, respect and actions to Gods other creatures.

Our son Jason came up for the holiday weekend (Thanksgiving) so I had to take him up behind the house on a dirt road near the summit of Monumental Mountain for a view of our "fabulous town of Colville" in the background!

We had both our boys, their spouses and grand kids up for a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner. 

Denny, Ashley and Laura had a great time until Ashley came down with a bug and had to go home to Spokane Valley. So sorry she missed the sledding the following day.

Jason, Lisa and Riley ended up spending a weekend of food and playing in the snow. 

Our grandson Riley loves Granny's and Opa's Colville house!

Our house was built on a hill so Riley had so much fun on his sled with dad at the bottom to stop him from going into a tree and thus avoiding some serious medical bills.:-)

Opa, not worried about medical bills since he has medicare, took a shot at the hill. One and done he said, sledding at 65 years old is dancing with the devil...and Opa doesn't dance all that well!

Back to small towns and "why Colville'? We loved that the downtown district as it seemed vibrant with owner/operator businesses. Sure, there is a Safeway, Save 1 and even a Wal-mart but those aren't the ones keeping this town open...it's the people. Here we are welcoming Santa and lighting of the official Colville Christmas Tree. 

Santa and Riley...Santa was all original, no paste on beard or belly here! :-)

The general opinion of the family (Riley) is that our tree out front was much better looking than the "official" town tree...but that makes no difference. The town tree celebration attracted hundreds of people, while mine only 5...and that is why I like this town...people get involved, people help one another...hell, people stop for you when crossing Main St. (yes, the main street is called Main Street, go figure) 

How many candy stores actually look like candy stores of old and not just a "mini mart/gas station"? Here in Colville there is an actual candy counter to buy one or more pieces of what thrills a five year old.

Jason left Sunday morning, the night before we got our most snow yet...3 inches.

After the last family member left I got to work clearing the driveway...have I mentioned that I love our house? I probably have at one time or another..but is it a perfect house? Hell no, there are issues that a normal person would shy away from...not us. With all its idiosyncrasies I am still in love with the house, area and town.

Some may see a cold dreary photo, I see a season we were meant to experience. 

With the cold, snow and the deer just out of camera range begging for an apple or two, this is not for everyone which is what makes this such a wonderful place for us.

Donna and I are on our first trip to a town bar for a beer and snack. The Acorn Saloon in the middle of town, on Main St., was a history lesson in the making with it's rich wood, naked paintings and pool tables. Can't complain about good beer and bar food, we will be back.