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Who you gonna call?  I recommend calling Brent over me, as he is a much better ghostbuster than I am, at least when it comes to the gray ghost.

This past weekend, we headed up to Gerlach in northern Nevada for opening weekend hunting of chukar, also known as the gray ghost.  It was a fun, but exhausting weekend.  Chukar are an extremely frustrating bird.  I thought I was in decent shape and then I went chukar hunting-it is amazing how quickly your fitness level is called into question.

We drove out to Kris’ (Brent’s aunt) ranch on Friday night and cooked a delicious dinner of steak and potatoes in the Bunk House.  Ok, fine you got me there.  I just chopped the potatoes and onions and Brent was the master chef.  My onions were perfectly cut though.  Anyway, this is a real bunk house, one that cowboys used to stay in while moving herds of cattle…just like in the movies.  There is no electricity, no running water, and no heat, but there is an outhouse with one of the most spectacular views.  If you aren’t going to have a flush toilet, then you might as well have some scenery to look at.

The Bunk House

The Bunk House

We got a late start on Saturday morning, but that was fine since we weren’t in a real hurry.  We were actually feeling a bit lazy and tired, which how you are supposed to feel after you hunt chukar.  This year we finally started using our heads and brought the dirt bike to assist with the first mile or two of dirt road.  As we were pulling into the canyon, we immediately spotted several chukar and jumped off the bike to chase them up the hillside.  I had some difficulty with the safety on my gun and neither of us got a bird (I’m not sure what Brent’s excuse was, but I’m blaming my miss on the safety).  Nothing like getting the heart racing straight away.  Since I had already climbed halfway to the ridge, I decided to continue on the hillside while Brent dropped down below.  I had spent far too much energy running up there and I wasn’t coming down for a while.  Besides, knowing chukar, the second I came down the hill they would run back up.  Chukar hunting feels a bit like shotgun carrying boot camp.

Searching for the Gray Ghost

Searching for the Gray Ghost

During the hike up the canyon, we encountered several clusters of chukar.  Brent was shooting extremely well and got his limit before we hit the water trough, our typical lunch break spot.  I managed to get a double right before the trough-it could have been a triple if I hadn’t put my safety on after shooting the first bird.   Yes, once again I’m blaming my safety; it couldn’t actually be my lack of skill.  After fiddling with my safety, I got one more and Brent, who was further down the hill, got his sixth and final bird for the day.  We met up with Don at the trough, had a tasty tuna packet lunch, and then the “hunting” started again.  Despite climbing several hills and working our tails off, we never found another chukar.  I guess that still constitutes hunting, but I call it hiking with a shotgun.

After a long day of hunting/hiking/cursing/sweating/you get the point, we headed to Brunos in Gerlach for a hearty dinner with Don and Jerie. With stuffed bellies and sore legs, we went back to the ranch for a few games of texas hold ‘em with matchsticks as our wager.  I have to admit, I was beat that night and it was tough to stay awake.  Moose and Cora decided to just put themselves to bed and snored happily as we played at the table next to their kennel.

The next morning, Brent made us a hearty breakfast and we headed back out to hunt.  The birds spooked a lot more easily on Sunday, we hiked a lot slower, and the dogs tongues hung a bit lower.  All and all we managed to hit 4 more birds on Sunday for a weekend total of 13.  We finally rolled home around 9 on Sunday night, ate some ice cream and called it a weekend.  Maybe next year I’ll be a better ghost hunter.  Until then, I’ll have some tasty chukar courtesy of Brent.

To view photos, visit the slideshow.  Once again, Brent took all the photos so I don’t have any of him.  I was too busy not finding the birds.

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A weekend of camping on the beach, a scenic ride, some paella, and of course wine tasting-who could say no!  Mike, Viki, Brent and I all headed to Santa Rosa in California to do an organized bike ride through redwoods and vineyards.  We camped at a beautiful, but very windy spot in Bodega Bay.  Brent and I got a late start on Friday (for those of you who know us, this comes as no surprise).  We met Mike and Viki for a stellar dinner of seafood along the coast at the Wharf restaurant.  After a rough night of sleep due to the noisy, drunken, and from their conversations, dumb group camped next to us, we headed off for our ride in Santa Rosa.

Chilling at the Rest Stop

Chilling at the Rest Stop

The ride went well and we all finished at a comfortable pace-even Viki and her 7 month bump!  What a trooper.

Mike, Viki, and the Bump

Mike, Viki, and the Bump

We hung around the park after, bought a few items, and ate some tasty paella.  By the time we returned to camp, I was spent.  Of course I wasn’t too tired for s’mores….I mean its not camping without some melted marshmallow and chocolate all mushed between two graham crackers.

The next morning we rode down to the beach and then packed up camp.  We headed to Sonoma to do a bit of wine tasting, had dinner in Placerville at Tortilla Flats (the best creamed corn ever), then drove home through the snow to a giant tree on our house.

Sad Sight

Sad Sight

That was an unexpected ending to the weekend!  Luckily no one was hurt and it didn’t end up damaging anything.  I was secretly hoping it had crashed through our bathroom that desperately needs a remodel.

To see photos, visit the slideshow.

Friday afternoon rolled around and we were feeling rather beat down by this thing called work.  We hadn’t been able to decide what to do for the weekend-waterski in Sacramento, backpack somewhere in the mountains, or join our friends, Mike and Viki, in Yosemite National Park.  4 o’clock arrived and it was time to make the call.  Brent had a voicemail from Mike describing their campsite location…a sure sign we were to go to Yosemite.  We managed to pack up the truck, find a dog sitter, get some groceries and gas, and drive to Tuolumne Meadows by 10 Friday night.  Mike and Viki had a great campfire awaiting us and we sat around relaxing before bed time.

After some debate the next morning and several cups of coffee, we decided to hike to a beautiful alpine lake called Budd Light Lake.  The prospect of an entire lake filled with cheap beer did not really appeal to my taste buds, but I had to check it out more for curiosity sake.  Later, I learned it was just Budd Lake and no naturally occurring beer could be found there.  Instead, we discovered lots of marmots, which are extremely lazy animals, though you will want to avoid their fangs.

Map of Bud Lake and Tuolomne Meadows

Map of Budd Lake and Tuolomne Meadows

Mike, Viki, Brent, and I all headed out for a beautiful day of hiking and eventually swimming, if you can call it that.  The hike up was amazingly beautiful, and we followed a lovely stream most of the way up.  The views were fantastic, and the miles were quickly ticked off.

Along a beautiful stream

Along a beautiful stream

After a brief stop to watch the climbers on a local peak, we continued along to Budd Lake.  We encountered several ferocious critters along the way.  Ok, in all reality, these furry little marmots were beyond lazy and could care less that we were walking through their turf.  I’m fairly certain we could have walked right over to them and pet them.  All in all, I think it was a good idea we just took photos.

Our furry little friends

Our furry little friends

We continued on past the marmot community, over some amazing granite slabs, and discovered the lake.  We had the entire alpine lake all to ourselves and we loved every minute of it.  The water was brisk, and the swimming would have to wait until after Mike, Brent, and I scurried up to a ridge above.

Viki, Mike, Brent, and Libby at Budd Lake

Viki, Mike, Brent, and Libby at Budd Lake

The ridge we climbed to is right above our heads in the picture above.  It was a fun little scramble up, but we knew getting back down would be a bit tricky.  The rock was nice and sticky which really helped, considering we didn’t have any ropes or harnesses.  The view from the top was spectacular and enabled us to see several other ridges and even another lake.  I decided to name the little lake heart lake; you can see why from the photo below.  I’m not a real sappy person, but we had hearts popping up all around us on the hike.  Even some of the holes in the rock resembled hearts.

Heart Lake

Heart Lake

We spent a fair amount of time exploring the ridge before heading back down and going for a brief swim.  The only real swimming that occurred was trying to get back to the shore as fast as possible.  The water was frigid, though once we were out of it, we felt a thousand times better.  We dripped off in the sun, thankful the wind hadn’t picked back up again.  The walk back to the trail head was just as beautiful as the hike in.  We returned to camp for a much deserved beer (don’t worry, Viki stuck with water) and some tasty tortilla chips.  We then huffed our chairs the 100 meters to the river running through the campground and lounged on the rocks drinking wine until the sun went down.

Wine at the river

Wine at the river

A tasty camp dinner of pasta and chicken followed the river wine, and then some s’mores and drinks around the campfire.  Yosemite is famed for its disruptive bears and thankfully we didn’t have any visit us during the evening.  No matter how many whiskey and cokes were consumed, all food and tasty bits were carefully stored in the bear bin.  I even remembered to put the toothpaste and soap in there (there is a long story behind that one I’ll have to write up another time).  We all managed to sleep well despite the frigid air temperatures and constant threat of bears.

Campsite at Dusk

Campsite at Dusk

In the morning, we set off to Tuolumne meadows for a nice hike through the meadows and along the river.  We walked past Soda Springs, where naturally carbonated water bubbles out of the ground, and then meandered along the river.  The weather was significantly warmer than Saturday.  After the beautiful hike, we put on our swim suits and dipped into the frigid river water.  I had to ask Brent for help out of the water at one point because I could no longer feel my feet.

Soda Springs Bubble

Soda Springs Bubble

Tuolumne River

Tuolumne River

After a refreshing shower of sorts, we packed into the vehicles and started our gastronomic journey home.  I am surprised I could eat after driving down Tioga Pass, which is one of the most intense roads I’ve been on since Thailand.  I honestly don’t understand why a few more guard rails couldn’t have been added, even if it just superficially made us feel safe.  Despite the slightly nauseating drop on the side of the road, we still managed to work up an appetite.  I’m guessing it had something to do with the near freezing water in which we swam.  We stopped at the Mobil gas station in Lee Vining.  Yes, I can hear it now….a gas station for good grub?  This is no ordinary gas station.  It is hard to say whether I liked the oyster poboy better or the sashimi or the view.  I can now say I have eaten sushi from a gas station and it was fantastic.  After lunch I took a wonderful nap while my wonderful husband drove.  When I awoke, we were at Walker Burger, home of the amazing milkshake.  A few milkshakes and 40 minutes later, we were home and happily greeted by our lonely dogs.  Now I suppose it is time to stop writing and start unpacking.

To view a fantastic slideshow, go to our kodak site.

As many or you know, my sister, Kendra, started school at the UNR.  We decided to head up and stay with her one Friday night and then check out the Reno Balloon Races the following Saturday morning.

We had a fun evening consuming large quantities of food and equally large quantities of beer at the Waldorf.  For the record, the caesar salad pizza is the best I’ve had since moving out west.  We managed to get to bed around 1:30 that night, or morning rather.  The alarm clock at 4 am was a bit more abrupt than normal, though quite frankly 4 am is early no matter what time you go to bed.

Kendra, Brent, and I headed over to San Rafael park to see the glow show.  Her apartment perfectly located next to the park and it was a pleasant 15 minute walk.  I had been warned by a coworker that it is always freezing at the races and that I should bundle up.  Next time, I’ll check the weather forecast–at one point I thought I might pass out I was so bundled up.  While I was walking around in thermals and a wool sweater, we passed several people in shorts and flip flops.  For the record, I think those people were still drunk from the night before…I mean it was warm, but not that warm.

Smiley Balloon

Smiley Balloon

We got a nice spot along the fence and watched the glow show.  Basically, three different balloons take turns lighting their torches to music.  It was pretty impressive and definitely helped to wake us up.  Brent snagged some coffee and donuts and we found a perfect spot in the field to sit down and await dawn patrol.  Every time we got comfortable, Kendra would remind us we were laying in the middle of a dog park.Balloon 1

Dawn patrol was pretty spectacular.  4 balloons take off around 5:30 am which makes for an amazing contrast between the glowing balloons and the pitch black darkness.  There were supposed to be 5 balloons, but one balloon rapidly deflated about 15 minutes prior to take off.  We were surprised how finicky the balloons seemed to be.  The pilots of these balloons would have to wait until after sunrise so they could see to land.  However, it looked like two of them accidentally landed on the road next to the park.

Balloon 2

Balloon 2

There was about a 1.5 hour lull between dawn patrol and the start of the balloon races.  During that time, we saw roughly 60 balloons set up and take off.  There were your normal balloons shapes, and then your not so normal shapes (Tony the Tiger, Energizer Bunny, Bumble Bees, etc).  It was a pretty spectacular sight to see.  We left the park and headed back to Kendra’s to get some much need shut-eye.

Balloon 3

Balloon 3

We awoke around 11, grabbed some bagels at the south end of Reno, and then said good-bye to Kendra and Ryan.  Brent and I stopped at the Sustainable Living Fair in Gardnerville to check out the latest eco-friendly products before we had Mike and Viki over for dinner.  It was a wonderful weekend, though when 10 pm rolled around I was glad to go back to sleep.

After we got back from our honeymoon, I started to reflect on what it means to be married.  I always joked with Brent that there really wouldn’t be a big change in our lives because we were practically married before we got officially married.  I mean we stay in on Friday nights and watch movies, go to bed early, argue about chores….all the stereotypical married life activities.  Prior to being married, we owned dogs together, lived together, worked together, and planned our future together.  I was awaiting the changes that come from being married.  I have to say things have changed, but in a different way than expected.
 
We arrived home from our amazing honeymoon exhausted, but ready to lead a more calm life; all the crazy wedding planning was over.  Kendra picked us up at the airport and drove us home.  I think we were beyond exhausted at that point and we may have just slept in the car if it weren’t for her.  Within an hour of getting home, we discovered a dead skunk in our backyard.  An hour later, we discovered our dogs had fleas.  An hour later, I discovered I had fleas.  No worries, I would take them to the vet and I would take lots of showers.  I guess I wouldn’t be able to cuddle with the dogs for a while, but then again I suppose that is what a husband is for.
 
The next day I called the vet and treated our dogs with Frontline.  The fleas dropped off Moose, yet they seemed to rather like the new flavor on Cora.  We called the vet and we treated Cora again.  Essentially, we just seasoned her a little more.  At this point, I was starting to lose my mind.  So began the amazing world of internet research.  I headed to the local grocery store and purchased 6 large containers of salt.  Now mind you, this did raise some suspicions with the cashier.  She asked how we could use so much salt and still look healthy.  I told her about the article I read online about salt killing fleas and flea larva.  I’m not sure she believed any of it, but at least she didn’t think I was some kind of crazy salt addict.  When I got home, I started salting and steam cleaning all of the downstairs carpets, repeatedly.  This was how I spent my evenings after work.  Before we were married, we would mountain bike, play volleyball, putz around the house.  Now it was clean, salt, clean, salt.  Not the change I had expected.
 
Then we realized that our safe haven, the screened in porch, was actually a flea-ridden circus.  We had friends over for dinner, only to discover we had fleas all over our clothes, and my friend emailed in a panicked state to say she found one in her hair.  Total and utter embarrassment, regret, sadness….another change I hadn’t expected.  No more friends over for dinner.
 
Then we realized we had skunks living under our back porch.  Probably the source of fleas.  But it would take a week before anyone could come whisk them away.  The morning we were calling around about the skunks, I decided to work from home.  Out of the corner of my eye I saw something scurry by the fridge.  I must be crazy I thought.  Oh no, there it goes again.  A mouse had invaded our house.  This is the point where the screaming begins.  I’m not sure it was entirely because of the mouse, it could have just been pent up frustration.  All I know is that it felt really good to scream and I had lots of opportunities to do so.  As long as I kept screaming, the mouse would scurry back to his hole.  This worked well until I had to go to the bathroom.  That’s when the real trouble began.  When I returned downstairs, the mouse had left it’s location and I could hear it scurrying and squeaking all over the house.  After a good long primal scream, I took my laptop bolted out the front door and proceeded to work on the front porch.  That is exactly where Brent found me that evening when he got home from work.  Yes, I know this is a little strange.  I can backpack into the wilderness, pick fleas off my dogs, squash spiders, walk by snakes, but the sound of a squeaking mouse makes me vacate my own home.   I fully agree, I am a sissy when it comes to mice.
 
At this point, I wanted to move.  All these critters were driving me out of my house and my mind.  This is apparently “married” life.  The moral of the story is think twice about getting married….no wait, that isn’t the real moral.  Go ahead and get married to the love of your life.  But when you are driving home from the airport after a wonderful vacation, stop at the store, get some Frontline, mouse traps, salt, a steam cleaner, and a guy who can trap skunks (unless you married one).

Hello world!

Well, I’ve gone and done it. I’ve finally joined the blog bandwagon. We shall see how this goes. I was mostly looking for a forum to post photos and to share our strange travels and day-to-day randomness with our friends and family stretched across the US. So here goes. Don’t hold your breath or anything silly like that. It might take us a bit to get something of true value on the site. I mean, honestly we haven’t even finished with our wedding photos or even thank you notes for that matter. Essentially, we are slackers and I’m not sure the world of blogging will change that. Perhaps by the time we take our next vacation, we might have actually posted the trip summary of our Thailand honeymoon. Then again, that might be a bit ambitious.