Sunday, November 9, 2014

Arizona--we are home!!

The scenery is just a little different.  The entire atmosphere is much more pleasant and the sunshine, the dry air and the beautiful blooming plants and cacti are remarkable.  It has turned into a drawn out affair, but we have finally arrived at our final destination....we are loving Arizona.

Leaving a rental house in Florida proved to not be so simple.  When the movers packed us up, they even packed the weed whacker.  Not something needed here in the SW since grass is not a necessity here.  We have plenty of green though.  As we drive through our new city, I am sometimes amazed at all the vibrant green colors seen.  Yes, the homes are the Santa Barbara/Tuscan style which are brown, tan and Arizona white in colors, but the vegetation surrounding the homes is quite lovely. 

 Several big changes in this part of our country as we adjust.  Most noticeable first of all, there is not a monopoly on the grocery stores.  We have quite a few varieties to choose from within a short distance of our home.  Prices vary and we can pick and choose as we wish.  This is making shopping the ads much more of a part-time occupation, but a fun change.

We also found an Italian deli, a huge Oriental market and several meat markets that have expensive prices for those having no budgets. 

I love to see the produce sections of the stores with all the numerous chilies available.  Will really need to research recipes a little more to make use of what is available here.

The art fairs we have attended have left me speechless.  There is so much talent in this part of the world.  Top class artistic talent.  I am so amazed.  It has been difficult restraining our buying of this individual art.  We need to adjust to our home first and know what we really, really need.  I even bought a beautiful tablecloth from Provence from a French speaking woman.  Did not have to travel far for this.  Amazing!!

I can't end this posting without mentioning the great friends we have here in Arizona.  I know many of you  know that my dear friend from Kindergarten through high school graduation lives near us.  Reconnecting with David has been an absolute thrill and every time we see each other, after a big hug, one of us will say "I can't believe we/you are here!"  It is like family....he knows exactly how I grew up, who I grew up with and why I am who I am. 

I want to end on a pleasant note.  So many of you commented earlier in the year when I told you that my 9 year old granddaughter, Rachel, had been diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis.  I thank you all for your kind words and prayers.  Even my blogger friend, Mary, from One Perfect Bite had her son's church pray for Rachel.  The news is good.  After 6 months of twice a month injections, Rachel has gone into remission.  She will still be carefully watched for 18 months, continue the twice a month injections and then be reevaluated at that time for slow withdrawal from the drug.  She is feeling well and we are so grateful for her progress.  She turned 10 in July and this is starting out to be a very good year for her.  Thank you for all your concerns and prayers. 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Pretty Good Fishing This Summer

Fishing has been pretty good this summer.  Plenty of water for the streams and consistent nice weather.  The last few years, including this one, have not measured up to the earlier seasons, but I stopped counting and tried to enjoy the whole concept of the fishing environment.  Getting old I guess!!!

Georgetown Lake showed a marked improvement in the hatches and nice fish this year.  The Damsel hatch is the most important to get the big "bows" cruising and smashing naturals and my tied imitation enough to have a good time.  The size of the rainbows was up as well.  16-18" was the norm and very fat!! 

My 6 weight outfit and a damsel fly.
Three nice bows of different shades.


My smaller streams can hold some very nice brown trout.  This 16" had migrated up my favorite cutthroat stream for some reason.  I hate to see too many of them as they can reduce the "cut" population rather quickly.
Of course the lure of beautiful cutthroat trout has always been a big draw to me.  They live in mostly small streams, are eager to hit a fly and put on a pretty good fight till released.  You can see the colorful slash on these beauties and pretty spotted bodies.


Another hazard to cuts and other trout is a stream with plenty of "Bull Trout" mixed in.  These cannibals grow to 10#'s plus and they don't get to this size on minnows.  I once caught a 10# on the Blackfoot.  They are endangered and they must be released.  Bull trout and wolves are pretty unwelcome to most fisherman and hunters but all species have a place in God's animal kingdom.  This little guy is not a threat yet, but give a few years!

The Big Hole river is my top choice right now to wrap up my season here.  "Blue bird" days and plenty of hatching bugs will get some of the toughest to catch 16"++ rainbows up and sipping.  This is about as "western" as a stream can get to my mind and one of the most challenging due to small flies and delicate casting needed to present the fly.  You can see the clouds of "Trico" spinners ready to fall to the stream which gets the trout up and slurping this tiny food morsel.

So in another week or so, we will wrap up our Montana summer and head to our new digs in Goodyear, AZ.  I think this is my 33rd year of Montana summers of a week to 3 months.  It has been a great time out here doing what I find is a most enjoyable pursuit of God's great gifts.  I often wonder how enjoyable my life would have been without Montana, its scenery and wonderful people.  Oh, maybe I would have taken up croquet and other more sociable hobbies, but I am glad I didn't have to!!    TROUT




Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Fur, Flowers and Feathers


It's been a pretty good year for wildlife photo opportunities.    They have to come along unexpectantly as I do not sit and wait for what might come along while going fishing or while on the trout stream.  You never know what might show up going and coming each day to a new adventure.

I was fishing a side channel of Rock Creek when I came across a clearing full of big horn sheep down from their mountain lair for a drink.  I have never seen such a bunch gathered in one spot.  This was early July and they were still shedding their winter coats.  They were pretty shaggy and they could have used some time in the sheep dip tank to help rid them of pretty strong body odors.




The herd was heading back to a pretty steep cliff to head home over the top.  I couldn't believe how sure-footed they had to be to climb to the top without a spill that would be disastrous if high enough.

Two yearlings broke away from the herd to try to master this cliff on their own.  Up they tentatively  went, from ledge to ledge before scurrying over to the top.  Can you spot the leader almost to the top?



One morning Schnitzel and I came across three beautiful mule deer bucks crossing the highway to the creek for a drink and some munching.  All three were sporting very nice racks still in velvet.  The bucks seem to stay together for most of the summer until visions of romance strike them and then they break away to try to gather a harem all their own.  They are not buddies any more in their quest for a nice harem to call their own.


 We had spotted a blue grouse in the yard with her 5 chicks.  Luckily we scared them away before the cats discovered them - easy pickings.  I later came across Mom and her brood along the creek while fishing one day.  The field is full of grasshoppers now which is a very nice tasty meal for grouse.

We enjoyed the coming and goings of Gambel Quail while in our Arizona neighborhood.  Pretty cocky looking with the plumage.  While in our house one morning, I heard pecking at our back slider.  There was a bunch of them thinking they saw other quail in the glass, I guess, as they were trying to get their attention.





 If you want to see deer, drive the roads along hay fields.  There will be some large bunches out together for the evening repast.  These were three of this year's fawns who had pretty well shed their spots.


A couple of mule deer does quickly left when I stopped for a picture.  My zoom got right close and you can see why they are called "mule deer" with those ears.  They also do more hopping than running compared to whitetails.


I love the wildflowers around here.  The best are higher up in the mountains, but I found a favorite called "Butter and Eggs" by the lake.  These seem to be spreading a lot in the low lands. 

And even the lowly thistle can be lovely when in bloom.  


I should spend more time looking for photo opportunities while in Big Sky country.  But every once in awhile, a subject just does not want to be photographed and they let you know it in a not so nice way!


That leaves the fish pictures next to wrap up my blogging for this summer.  Has been fun!!  TROUT

Monday, September 1, 2014

Montana Pals and Places

September is here and we are into our last weeks in beautiful Montana.  It has been a pretty delightful summer for us here in Maxville, Montana, with our old friends, Harold and Sherry and Tom.  The weather has been pretty good with plenty of rain to hold down the fire danger and keep the hills green.  We have some delightful mountain ranges to enjoy.

We enjoyed a wedding at Garry's ranch for his partner, Debbie's daughter.  You may recall that it is Garry's fault for me finding Montana as he invited my brother and myself to go elk hunting way back in 1981.  I haven't missed a summer yet to return to Montana to enjoy great people, scenery and recreational opportunities.

Garry is known for his black stetsons all his ranching career.  But a wedding calls for a  more formal white stetson and boots.  Pretty sharp!!
The family dogs, Tara and Chaser, have been good companions and they seem to know to come on over to our picnic table for dinner morsels like a nice t-bone!!

There are several sculptures in Dillon, Montana. This is the latest featuring a cowboy watering his horse by using  his stetson for a pail for the horse to drink from.
 Near Drummond, are three remaining old houses from the days when "New Chicago" was the busy town in the area for ranchers and cattle shipping.  There are several old ghost towns in the area from better ranching and mining days.

 We had snow late August which only helped the beauty of the old "Mule Ranch" down the  highway from Anaconda to Wisdom that I travel often to get to the Big Hole River.  This spread was used for mining mules to recuperate from working in the terrible mine air pollution  when copper mining was king in Butte and Anaconda early in the 1920's.  Much pollution was caused to the streams and soil by bad mining practices.
 We had a beautiful sunset the other evening.  "Red skies at night, fisherman's delight" I hope!  Goat Mountain to our east also lights up nicely in the setting sun.



 I hope winter doesn't come until October when we are out of here.  Storms have been blowing up pretty frequently of late with snow over 6600' and rain in the valleys.

It has also been a good year for wildlife viewing this summer which I will share with you next as well as my trout successes after that.  TROUT



Sunday, August 10, 2014

My Huckleberry Friend......

It is huckleberry season in the northwest.  Huckleberries are in the family of blueberries and even cranberries, but they are only grown wild.  It is almost impossible to cultivate them yourself.  We were gifted with some, so huckleberry pancakes were on the menu this morning.





They range in color from very red to very blue, similar to a blueberry.  They have quite a strong smell.  To me, it reminds me of black walnuts that we had growing in our backyards. 

You can see they are much smaller than blueberries.

Just your favorite pancake recipe, be it homemade or store-bought.  These tasted so good.  Actually, blueberry pancakes taste very bland and dull compared to huckleberry pancakes.