Thursday, August 18, 2011

Coming up...

We're hanging out in Lander, Wyoming, loving the climbing and the company of good friends.  But we're also dreaming of what to do next...  

We just booked a place in San Pancho Mexico for a month.  We're going to learn to surf, speak spanish better, eat real mexican food, meet real mexican people.   Oh yes.

Life is good when you're living the dream!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Star Valley and an Unexpected Pit Stop

(well, we were there.  I'm a little behind!)  
   We spent a week in Star Valley, Cody's hometown, after he injured his finger climbing at Wild Iris.  He was sick of belaying me all the time and never getting to climb himself.   So, off we went, driving up and down lovely mountain passes, through tiny Wyoming towns, and eventually into Jackson and the shadow of the Tetons.  They always manage to take my breath away.  I can't stop watching them when we drive by.  I think it has something to do with my first experience in the Mountain west...  
Just arrived in Jackson with my Dad and we are enroute to Lander for my NOLS course.
I'm eighteen, about to leave home for the first time and embark on a three month trip in the backcountry with a group of people I have never met before.  I'm maybe a little nervous.  Can you tell?
We hiked out to the Intermittent Spring, which is the water source for Star Valley.  It's an incredible geologic feature-  an underground reservoir that feeds the waterfall you can see behind me in the photo.  By some chance, the opening that allows the water to exit is shaped in an s-curve, so once the reservoir is full,  a siphon effect occurs, and all the water is drained from the reservoir.  Then the flow stops, and won't begin again until the reservoir is full.  It's pretty neat.  We waited for a while to see it turn off, but the water levels are so outrageously high this year that I think the in-flow can keep up with the out-flow. Still a lovely hike to a roaring waterfall!  

 Cody, ever unable to sit still, decided to build a model sailboat while we were in Star Valley and had a nice shop to work in.  He designed this boat himself, scaled it down from the original 29 feet, and used a stitch-and-glue method to construct the cute little craft you see here. When Cody had her all ship-shape, he took her out for a spin on the pond. She floats right side up!

 Star Valley, like all valleys are, I suppose, is surrounded by mountains.  We took a steep hike up one called Ferry Peak, climbing through the sage and gnarled pines, though stands of scrub oak and mosquito infestations.  The view from the top was spectacular.  The Palisades Reservoir is full to the brim, adding to the splendor.  We were so distracted that we ended up descending on the wrong ridge line for quite a while.   While we were stopped, pointing at this peak and that, looking down a rough gully, and scratching our heads, Cody found me a little antler- just a two pronged one, but I was so excited.  Sometimes, getting lost pays off!  We popped in into our camelbak and began the long trudge back uphill.  

 I spent the days knitting, cooking, listening to podcasts and an audio book.  We went jogging and spent time outside.  The pastures were overgrown and brimming with daisies, clover, and these massive dandelion-like flowers.   Truly an idyllic setting to rest and relax in for a few days.  

Cody, being the responsible Van-owner that he is, and recognizing the value of having a nice, flat, concrete-floored garage to work in, and nearly every tool we could ever need to fix the van lurking in the barn, decided to do some maintenance.  He fixed a leaky transmission seal, and checked her over for any other problem areas.  Everything checked out.  We recently rolled over to 200,000 miles on this baby, and she's been running great.  I emptied everything out of the back, vacuumed, dusted, re-organized and tidied.  She was ready to hit the road....

  Until we were about 35 miles outside of Pinedale, on our way back to Lander.  She started lugging, and then Cody couldn't accelerate.  We limped to the side of the road.  A few hours, a helpful Sheriff, a gun-toting but friendly tow-truck driver and 35 miles later, we were in Pinedale, camped at the city campground.   The tow-truck driver dropped the van into a campsite while the silver-haired RV-crowd stared at us over their dinner plates. We were a bit of a scene- a pair of kids with an old, broken down van and nowhere to go. Despite our bad luck, fate seemed to be on our side.

The lady running the place said, while waving around her cigarette and getting ash on her pink kitten sweatshirt, "Well, usually it's $20 bucks a night, but you kids are broke down, so I'll only charge you ten."   Sweet.  Thanks, Lady.    Cody took a walk around the block while I set up the van for bed.  He came back and reported that there were not only two auto-parts stores nearby, but two mechanic shops as well.   I don't think any other campsite in the state of Wyoming would have been situated so perfectly for our needs!

The next morning, we bought a fuel filter at the Napa, installed it, and the van ran okay for a bit.  We drove around the block, but had the same problem as before.  Discouraged, we parked outside of Dave's Repair shop and puzzled over what to do next.   Dave was swamped with work for the week, as were all the other shops nearby.  Not wanting to wait around for a week, we decided to tinker around ourselves, at least until we could get into a garage.

 It took a day and a half, several uncharacteristic curse words,  a research mission at the library, multiple visits to the auto-parts stores, a hole in the floor of the van, torn open with a hammer and cold chisel, and a new fuel pump, but Cody was pretty sure he had it fixed.  We held our breath as he turned the key.

The van fired right up!  We cheered and headed to Lander for a day of climbing.  Now, we're in Salt Lake City, shmoozing at the Outdoor Retailer show and hanging out with friends.  We have NO idea what we're up to next.

Any Suggestions?