Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The best book EVER!

Found a fantastic book in the work library, and had to share - but I'll let it speak for itself.

Thrilling thrills!

I guess I'm not well dressed... no tools, no gun...

And that's how a million modern ranger programs were born.

She's a crazy one, that Mom Nature.

Manly men!

My new favorite book!

Sunday, December 8, 2013


It's been a while since we've been in Stehekin, and I've not said much about it.  Too busy, I guess. So here's what's been up since late September:

First off, we hung around home for a little over a week. I guess that's getting normal enough that I don't take pictures.  Sad, because Washington is awfully pretty.

Next, we drove from corner to corner of the continental US. You know, the commute.

We took about a week and a half to do the drive, so we would have time to see some stuff. Brilliantly, the government shut down right during that time, so we didn't get to see the parks we were hoping for, but we still saw a few things, such as a giant cow:

pretty foliage:

good friends:

Colorful, I know.  Get me out of the green and grey, and this is what you get.

and the old homeplace (why the heck didn't we take pictures of the neighbors we visited?! Oh well, here's Jeff collecting hickory bark for syrup):

Settling in took a while, of course, but we have gotten to explore our surroundings some. First impression: it's flat here:

But pretty!

We get out in more than just the car, of course. New place, new toys:

Jeff has been fishing quite a bit:

and has been pretty successful. He only keeps the invasive species, so he's thrown back quite a few bluegill and largemouth bass, but we've been eating a fair amount of tilapia and mayan cichlids, like these guys:

The infamous pythons have yet to be spotted by us. The alligators are all over, but don't care that we exist. The mosquitoes are decreasing supposedly, but I can't imagine being here when they're worse - at least down in Flamingo:

We get out some, as well, and have visited our friends Becky and Nate on Key Largo:

They took us out snorkeling at John Pennekamp State Park, where she works, which was fantastic:

Wish we could have eaten that lobster...

We also headed northwest for a weekend, and visited some Stehekin seasonal friends in Tampa and St. Petes:

Diane's friend has a sailboat with a couple issues, so Jeff offered to go up in the bosun's chair to check the pulleys up there:

All the way up:

But it wasn't all work. We also went to a rib fest (you won't find that in Stehekin!), and had a little wine:

Speaking of work, we do actually work here.  Our job is in Environmental Education here, working mostly with fifth graders, typically from Miami, on field trips to the Everglades. It's great work and we're learning a lot. No photos, though, because of privacy issues (and we really don't have time when riding herd anyway!), but there are other parts to our job. Soon, we'll be starting up camp programs for the kids, and so we needed to help set up camps. The tents are ginormous, and take at least 8 people to set up:

A lot of our time has been training, as well. Some has been shadowing others doing programs, some has been powerpoint presentations, and most recently, it's been exploring the rest of the park (which is huuuuuge) with the rest of the interpretation division's staff, who are just arriving. We've been to each major section of the park: Royal Palm, Shark Valley, Gulf Coast, and Flamingo. Each has its different things to see, so it's been a bit of a firehose effect getting it all in.

First, there was Royal Palm, the area we work in. The most photogenic tour we took there was the Nike Missile Site tour. During the cold war, missiles and soldiers were stationed here to be the first line of defense against the Cubans. This missile site is about a mile from our office.

Remind you of pro-coal and pro-logging campaigns?

The next day was Shark Valley's turn, the area that gets the most visitation because it's right on the main highway between Tampa and Miami. We took the tourist tram with a ranger-training twist:

and visited the tower at the end of the road:

They also led us on a slough slog, which is something we will be doing with the kiddos at camp:

The Gulf Coast was pretty, but pretty flat, so not very photogenic.  So on to Flamingo, where we took a boat ride just like the tourists do:

Many crocodiles and birds hung out for us to gaze upon:

After seeing lots of alligators, crocs sure look funny.

Ospreys are to Flamingo as pigeons are to NYC.

We got out on our own boat as well, for a Jeff-and-Kate paced adventure into Snake Bight:

And finally, we had a picnic and campout at the Flamingo Campground. It's very nice camping spot, except for the mosquitoes at night. Holy cow.

A corn snake decided to visit our picnic spot:

which brought around all the tourists- uh, rangers.  Yes, we still get excited by corn snakes:

Rangers are very good at providing their own entertainment, and seem to be a circus show all by themselves. Glow juggling and hooping finished off the night:

until we couldn't handle the bugs anymore and took refuge in our tents.

Two more days of training, and then we'll be back to that tough, tough job of ours - hangin' with the kiddos.

Man, we're lucky.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Ode to Stehekin

Yet again, Stehekin has left me speechless. I don't know what to say about such a wonderful place, or such a great job.  So I'll let the pictures do most of the talking...

Seriously - this was part of training for work.  We get paid for this?

Throwing coworkers in the lake was also part of training.  Fun!

Geeking out was part of the job.  Note, this was not training, but real work.

She asked for it, but I have to admit to not having taken a sniff...

Nice of the craft store people to keep the salad bar open outside of their regular hours.

Evidence of nighttime visitors to the Visitor Center - we never did catch any of them, so we were never sure what it was.  Poop mystery!

Due to the sheer magnetic pull of our personalities (and the genius of our location choices), we got lots of visitors.  Love spreading the gospel of the North Cascades!

We had a very important set of guests - both mothers - on a very important occasion, MomSig's birthday.
Our roommate and niece Alex made the birthday pie from berries that she and Jeff picked.

The lovely Alex, our summer's cook and entertainment.

Sad day - the day she left.  Awwwww....

Once Alex left, Jeff had to cook for himself - so he made a gigantic pile of pancakes.

Our front yard.  Really.

A little get together at the neighbor's - regular Stehekin evening.

Labor Day in Stehekin.  Lovely!

We did non-home stuff too - Jeff learned some fishing, and we went hiking some.  Still gorgeous up there!

We went high up, too - less fishing, greater views.

Stehekin highs!

There are some lovely campgrounds up there, although you often have to work for them.

Summer's excitement - a fire a few miles downlake.

The real excitement of the summer, though, was the mudslide.  The yard in the Labor Day picture?  It's under there somewhere...

I decided to get crafty with some fabric I've been carrying around for years.  I even got it in the community art show.  I wouldn't call it art, but hey, whatever!

My one time "out" all summer - for a reunion of my mom's side family.  We got a picture of my mom and her whole immediate family - brothers, kids, and grandson, plus one of the kids-in-law.  Ain't we cute?

Tortilla party!  We had to show off our tortilla skills - don't think we passed on the tradition, but fun was had anyway.

I believe the tortillas were enjoyed.  The leaning tower of 52 tortillas was reduced to this lonely little guy by the end of the night.

The summer season definitely ended just as we were packing up to go.  Fresh snow on McGregor = time for Florida!

We had a super sendoff from a dedicated group of rainy day friends!

Another season done in Stehekin, with more super memories, and some decent photos.
We're now in Florida, and have little access to wifi besides when we visit friends.  We'll try to post more, but we'll need to settle in a bit.  I guess you can call us snowbirds now!