Our fifty acres of trees and bushes and weeds has sat wild and undisturbed until recently, when we finally put in enough of a road and a clearing to park our RV in our own patch of woods for a few weeks.
Despite being a bit isolated, we managed most of the comforts of home:
We were privileged to be here in the spring and see so many young creatures being raised. But we also saw the cruelty and relentlessness of nature. In our first week, we got to know a particular turkey hen and her four chicks. As she returned over the days, the number of chicks dwindled to three. Later in our visit, that mother hooked up with a second hen who was trailed by a very tiny chick, less than half the size of the three we knew. Only a few days later the same pair of hens returned to our camp to graze, but the tiny chick was nowhere to be seen, probably the victim of a fox or coyote.
A doe visited our camp regularly with her yearling (photos above). On our last week in camp, we began to see the yearling alone. While it's possible the two parted ways, we feared that the more likely truth was that the young one had lost its mother to a car or a poacher.
We spent a few days carving up dead trees into firewood for Mike's parents, who use a wood-burning stove for heat in the winter. Believe it or not, I actually helped Mike wrestle some of those giant rounds onto the trailer. And I had absolutely nothing to do with the flat tire we discovered after he took these pictures.
When not impersonating lumberjacks, we took hikes in some of Mike's favorite places.
At Twin Bridges, we panted our way up a steep slope of barren rock to view Horsetail Falls plummeting down the sheer cliffs above us.
These clear, icy waters originate in high Sierra lakes and recklessly plunge thousands of feet to feed the American River below. While admiring the rushing river, we disturbed a slinky fellow napping in the sun.
On another outing, we drove twenty miles up in the mountains to enjoy the peaceful vista of isolated Wright's Lake. Despite the ramp I'm standing on (picture at left), no motorized boats are allowed here.
Jenkinson Lake, the local water supply for the town of Pollock Pines, was a frequent hiking destination. Its scenery and wildlife were a match for many of our more distant excursions, like our recent trip to Glacier National Park.
For some time, we've been considering purchasing a tandem (2-person) kayak. The main problem is, how to transport it when towing the fifth wheel? One possible solution is a foldable kayak, which when disassembled inhabits a couple of large duffle bags.
To test both my resolve and interest level, we spent several days renting boats on Jenkinson Lake, the local water supply for Pollock Pines. It's a small pleasant recreational lake less than two miles' driving distance from our property.
We rented a tandem boat for a couple of days, but I most enjoyed the days we both went solo. Yes, I like to paddle my own canoe, what's your point? And I'm building up the muscles to do it!!
Mike's mom Ellen and stepfather Cliff live only a few miles from our property. Ellen loves to garden, and springtime is a riot of container color on the decks of her house.
Ellen and Cliff took us to their favorite place -- St. Pauli Inn, a German-American restaurant overlooking the American River. I highly recommend the sauerbraten! And a biiiiig doggie bag!
2007 September: Return to the Woods
After the success of our spring visit to our woodsy retreat, we couldn't wait to return. This time, though, we had some expensive new toys to try out. First, there was Mike's pride and joy, his shiny new Kubota tractor which he decided was ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY to maintain the property. Had to buy it. Had to. Except, of course, he wasn't the one who ended up using it.
The other new acquisition was more to my liking, and a lot less dusty. We had enjoyed our spring kayaking on Jenkinson Lake so much that we decided to pull the trigger and buy kayaks. We opted for two small versions of the Folbot folding kayaks, a kind of boat-in-a-bag that you can take and assemble almost anywhere. This choice eliminated the problem of where, and how, to transport regular hard-sided kayaks on the fifth-wheel. I hope we like 'em, especially considering how much they cost!
As was to be expected, the lake was considerably lower than its high-water mark just after the snow melt. There were still plenty of geese around, and I couldn't help wondering which of them were the grown-up fluffballs we'd seen tailgating their mommas just a few months earlier.
We made sure there was still wildlife around for us to watch by dumping plenty of critter food a few yards outside the trailer's kitchen windows. The squirrels were getting ready for winter, and it was rutting season for the deer. While we didn't see any serious battles, one pair of young bucks did a little tentative antler-testing while we were watching and snapping.
A hoarse whisper barely penetrated my unconsciousness. Must be a dream.
"Carolyn. Wake up."
The whisper became more insistent.
"Carolyn. Wake up."
WTF?!? It's still dark! "Nnhnnnhh", I groaned, foggily cursing in my mind.
My eyes and mouth flew open at the same time. "Shhhhh," Mike shushed from the bedroom doorway. "Come out here."
I tiptoed to the back windows of the trailer just in time to see a fat black bear munching on the big pile of deer food he'd dumped from our plastic dishpan feeder. Mike managed to snap one fuzzy, dark-thirty picture as Mr. Bear looked up and saw us. He took off as if shot out of a cannon -- who knew such a chubby waddler could move so fast!