Nelson Creek Fire, in Elk WA

We are in the path of the wildfire named “Nelson Creek Fire, in Elk WA”. It started downhill from us about 2 miles away on Friday afternoon burning down our neighbor’s home and garage across from the Inland Grange on Nelson road. Their propane tank blew up and the fire traveled uphill rapidly coming right at us on Casey Lane Evacuation notices type 2, were issued.

On Friday even though the fire department went into immediate action to contain it by using multiple county crews, trucks, water trucks, helicopters, prop planes, and even a jet plane. It got right up to our next door neighbors property perimeter requiring retardant on the west and northwest adjoining neighbors properties. Friday was thick smoke and lots of air traffic directly over our home. Check out how close to the trees those pilots fly WOW!

We got a surprise visit from Jake at State Farm, really, Jim and John I think because we have State Farm house insurance. They drove in working with the fire crews to assess fire preparedness. We evidently passed and they advised us to start sprinkling water around the house to deter embers from igniting. Then, immediately the electricity goes out, so we run generators to put water around.

Saturday some of the smoke was clearing, There are still crews working the fire and hot spots still being put out. The air and ground teams were still hard at it. These pilots carrying water drops and retardent drops are so very gutsy and professional.

The jet, prop plane and multiple helicopters just barely cleared our hilltop coming over the top of our house and on to the neighbors next door.

Sunday less crews trucks planes and helicopters. Pete drove out to get our mail and saw our neighbors had their yards burnt and one even lost a truck that was parked in his yard.

We were all lucky that none of us were hurt and we didn’t loose our homes. We are going to have a lot of cleanup to do.

Dogs & Sprinklers

Max Sprinkler 001Fun with dogs & sprinklers. We have discovered an entertaining sprinkler fascination for one of our dogs. Max goes crazy playing with any sprinkler as he takes off running, jumping, and trying to snatch droplets out of the sky. Here is his serious face as he notices that I have the sprinkler ready to spray in my hand.

Max Sprinkler 002Of our two children in retirement, “Max” is our tri-color guy who is a running child, and the more sedentary redhead is “Hurley” who is more elderly. Hurley likes to sit in pools of water or mud instead of chasing a sprinkler around. Hurley sits in the background watching as Max sprints to catch the water.

Max Sprinkler 008 Max Sprinkler 007Max Sprinkler 005 Max Sprinkler 004 Max Sprinkler 003 Max Sprinkler 002 Max Sprinkler 010 Max Sprinkler 009 Max Sprinkler 006

Max loves to play in the water and we love to be able to enjoy this with him.

Ooops Gobble, Gobble

turkeyOoops

Hearing a, “Gobble, gobble, gobble,” I glance out the window and guess what I saw. A collection of strutting wild turkeys cruising around the burn pile right by the garden. Now, I am going to have to apologize to the dogs for accusing them of getting into our burn pile and making a mess. When I was scolding them yesterday they both looked at me like, “It wasn’t me!” and I didn’t believe them. This is total proof of who the real culprits are in the video.

https://valeriewoelk.com/old/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/turkeys480.mov

As long as they stay outside of the garden, I don’t mind them foraging. But, when they cross that line and eat the centers out of all my tomatoes, they then become “fair game”. Literally! Turkey dinner, fair game.

 

8º Fahrenheit

Hot Dogs and Smores 01 Hot dogs and smores at 8º Fahrenheit. We bundled up and went outside to enjoy hot dogs and smores by the fire. Brrrr!  Grandparents and Grandkids were on a mission to enjoy this country day together even though we may turn into icicles ourselves.

Hot Dogs and Smores 04Notice our handy dandy extendible camping forks. Only Grandparents have stuff like this! First, we brown our hotdogs in the fire, then eat them with ketchup. Grandpa was our ketchup dispenser boss. Yummm. The dogs stood on the side watching. They were certain that we were doing it wrong because they were not getting any. Especially, the hot dogs but honestly they wanted the marshmellows too.

Hot Dogs and Smores 03Next, we switch to the fine art of making smores. Putting perfectly browned marshmallows between graham crackers with chocolate is so yummy. Smores! So, now we have sticky cold fingers, but we continue to make more marshmallows.

Hot Dogs and Smores 02Unfortunately, with the temp so doggone cold our fun time is cut-short. Which, is probably a good thing. It saved us from a terrible sugar overdose, well not really. It is just a fact of life that you gotta stop when your fingertips go totally numb. Right? Or maybe it is when your brain is in a constant state of confusion from an overload of sugar and you can’t find your way back to the house. Dorothy, we are not in Kansas anymore.

Bluebird Ski Day at 49º North

Ski Day

Bluebird ski day at 49º North 2
49º North in Chewelah WA

Today was a bluebird ski day up on the mountain at 49º North Ski Resort in Chewelah Washington USA. The sky was ultra blue and the conditions great, with a new layer of about 10″ of fluff to play on. Any questions?

Bluebird day at 49º North 3
49º North in Chewelah Washington USA the view from on top the mountain on a bluebird day. #ski49N, #bluebirdSkiDay

The world’s best ski buddy, my husband Pete, took this photograph at the top by chairs #1 & #5. In the second photograph, the colors are so vibrant with scenery that almost looks too perfect going off into the distance.

Possible Painting

Pete truly has a great eye for taking pictures. I love the way the shadows in this picture are adding intriguing shapes to the composition.  Also, I am marveling at the amount of color on this winter day. The whole day was just absolutely beautiful, outside, in the Inland Northwest. Honestly, skiing is like experiencing heaven here on earth.

Mystery Big Brown Moth

What Kind of Moth is This?

An unidentified flying object landed on our deck this summer in the form of a giant brown moth.

Do you know what he is?

Does anyone know what kind of Big Brown Moth this is? It landed on the back of our deck chair during the summer and it was almost as big as the hummingbirds flitting around. He was about the size of my palm and half of the fingers on my hand. Really big! He just sat there flexing his wings and it was great to notice all the color on his wings. He is not just brown.

I apologize for the background noises, hummingbirds, chirping birds, and the dog walking across the deck. If you recognize what he is please drop me a comment so the mystery can be solved.

A Basin

A Basin in Colorado
A Basin

Long ago my baby-time ski hill was Arapahoe Basin or A Basin in Dillon, Colorado. Isn’t it beautiful in the Fall? “A Basin” is where I learned to fall and get up, then turn and finally ski like a bandit. Time spent on this hill with my Dad and family created lots of fun memories in my heart. I remember a one-armed lift operator there which I realize is a strange childhood memory.

Arapahoe Basin
Arapahoe Basin in Colorado

I am so utterly grateful that my folks did what it took to allow me to learn this wonderful sport. Because the mountains are still my favorite place during any season. Truthfully, the possibility of skiing makes me look forward to snow arriving every winter.

Relativity?

I recently discovered an added caveat while having some extensive heart and vascular repair surgery. The doctors commented on the unexpected strength and size of my heart muscle. Well, while standing at the base of “A” Basin the sign says 10,000-foot elevation. No wonder my heart muscle grew so big and strong. I spent my winters above 10,000 quite a bit of the time skiing my heart into shape. Wow. Skiing may be what saved my life this year, along with a great team of doctors. Just saying.

Elk’s First Snowflakes

 

Here is a short video of the first snowflakes of the season. The Inland Northwest is so very beautiful here in Elk WA!

Birthday in Colorado

My cousin recently had a birthday in Colorado and we decided to drive down there and spend it with her and her husband. It may seem crazy to drive that far to say happy birthday in-person but,

some people are just worth it!

antelope herd 1
antelope herd 1

On the way down we thought we had the perfect antelope picture as we slowed on the freeway, and just as we slowed they all turned around and headed away. How many antelope backends have you taken pictures of?

aspen 7
aspen 7 Brekenridge CO

We met at the Welk by Ranahan resort in Breckenridge Colorado where we were able to swim, hot tub and have dinner together after the long 2 day drive. The timing could not have been better because the aspen trees were in full flaming color all around us.

In the little town of Fresco right next door, there are all kinds of coffee houses, eating places and lots of bike paths going all over. We rented bikes and went for a beautiful ride around the Dillon reservoir together. It was an absolute blast for a long afternoon of bike riding! The bikes were rented from Rebel Sports, ski-board- & bike shop in Frisco, CO and it was the best $40 spent on the vacation.

Lawrence, Jeannie, Valerie, Peter
Lawrence, Jeannie, Valerie, Peter

If you ever get a chance to rent an electric-assist bike, do it! It makes riding for miles easy, as you are able to click into different levels of assistance modes for hills. It does not take away all the work of riding, but it makes it much more enjoyable.

Magical Aspen Colors

aspens at Breckenridge
aspens near Breckenridge

One of the most solid memories for me as a child are the Fall magical aspen colors on the hillsides. Magnificent! I am 60+ years old and have finally been able to time a family visit trip back there, during this magically colorful event. I was born and lived in Lakewood Colorado and the mountains till I was in 4th grade, which is when we moved to Hawaii. I had the gift of many many weekends in the rocky mountains with my Grandparents (Mom’s side) exploring mines, beautiful rocks, fishing and camping out.

aspen hwy 6
aspen hwy 6

Experiencing these splashes of color across the mountains and valleys had a much larger effect on my emotions that I had expected to experience.

Hwy 6 A Basin
Near Arapahoe Basin Hwy 6

Memories of loved ones gone so long ago came right up into my face. I could see their faces, hear their voices and remember the frying fish over the campfire. It took my breath away.

Hwy 6 aspen CO
Highway 6 aspen CO

I loved the trip and took many pictures that I am sure will become paintings in the near future in the studio.

Hwy 06 aspen
Hwy 6 aspen

As we drove north on our way back home to Washington state tears rolled down my face and my heart must of cracked as I said goodbye to the family I was able to experience again.