Posts Tagged ‘vacation’

There’s something living in the car!!

May 3, 2012

There’s something living in the car!

As mentioned in my previous post, we decided to take a road trip to Montana.  We rented a vehicle because we knew we’d be driving a lot of miles and we wanted something that would get better gas mileage than our truck and have more room.  Our ultimate destination was a guard station cabin in Montana, and that required that we pack extra things such as bedding, towels, food, solar shower, lights, chairs, etc.  Needless to say, the Ford Explorer that we ended up getting was packed to the hilt!  When we picked the “family truckster” up (if you’ve ever seen National Lampoon’s Vacation—you’ll know why we called it that.), it only had a few hundred miles on it.  We returned it with an additional 5300+ miles on it…..thank goodness we had unlimited mileage with our rental!  The comment made at Avvis by the attendant when we returned it, was; “Wow—you drove….A LOT….it’s due for an oil change already!”

Because we had driven so much, my mechanically inclined hub kept a close eye on the regular maintenance of the vehicle.  He checked the tires, fluids, and general mechanics of the family truckster each morning before we took out.  He’s quite handy like that!  One particular morning, he was in for a surprise when he popped the hood.  He saw something quickly scamper out of sight and, upon further inspection, he started noticing grass around the motor….as if something was trying to nest in the engine.  Surprised and somewhat baffled at what could be trying to make a nest in the vehicle, he looked under the vehicle and all over the engine, trying to catch another glimpse of said critter so he could possibly figure out what it was.  Finally, the critter popped his head up just long enough to see that it had small ears, was brown, and had a long tail.  He thought it looked similar to the Pica we had seen in the Rockies, only bigger and with a long tail.  He came in and got me, told me to bring the camera and said there was something I had to come see this.  I really didn’t know what he was planning to show me but, he seemed pretty excited about it so, I followed.

As we reached the vehicle with the hood up, the hub explained to me that something was trying to nest in the vehicle and it appeared to still be there.  Uh, yeah, OK…..I think you’re seeing things.  We had just checked the vehicle over the day before and there was no sign of anything.  The night was a bit chilly, and I’m sure the motor was warm the night before when we’d returned to the cabin but, we really hadn’t seen any smaller critters around and we typically spent most of the evening outdoors around the cabin/vehicle.  This thing would have to work fast.  When I asked what it was, he told me it looked like a cross between a rabbit, rat, mouse, pica thing…….uh, OK… other words he had no idea, he’d never seen one before.  Imagine, the hub, both of our kids, and me with my camera up, gathered around the family truckster, anticipating the “it” to pop up at any minute.  Well, as soon as it did—there was chaos….screaming, jumping, everyone scrambling and then laughter because we were all startled.  This went on for a bit, while we were all trying to get a glimpse of “it” and better yet, a picture so we could figure out what it was.  Finally, I think it was as scared of us as we were of it, so, it jumped to the ground and then the chase was on!  We all took out after it, chasing it out away from the vehicle.  The hub’s biggest fear was that it would chew through some wires, plug something up, or get stuck in there and cause major damage.  We the “it” on over the hill, and the excitement apparently over, the hub went to work cleaning out the grasses and leaves from the motor, checking things over thoroughly before we loaded up and headed out for the day.

What a crazy start to the day!  Once I had access to WiFi, I did some research and it seems that the consensus was that “it” was a bushy tailed wood rat……yep, it was some sort of a rat….ewwwww…… Always an adventure with the Brown fam on vaca!


Cattle turning into bears!! What???

April 20, 2012

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Cattle turning into bears….Oh My!

Back in 2008, I enrolled in an art workshop in Montana.  We decided to turn it into a family vacation as well.  Road trip!!  We decided to allow a few days to drive to Montana so we could see the sites along.  We rented a vehicle since we knew we were going to be traveling a fair amount of miles (over 5300 in two weeks to be exact!)  We packed up the kids (who were both teenagers at the time), packed up the car and away we went.  We felt like the Griswolds on family vacation!  This little trip proved to be a string of adventures for the Brown family!

Our ultimate destination was to be a guard station cabin in the Tally Lakes/Star Meadows area of Montana.  We found the cabin located off of a rural road, miles from town.  It was such a peaceful scene, surrounded by some level, bottom, ground sprinkled with pine trees and scrub brush with a creek/river running through it.  There were mountains on the backside of the creek and mountains to the front of the cabin……mountains everywhere—perfect!   A rail fence enclosed the “yard” with pine trees towering above the parking area and hiding view of the road from the cab

in.  Upon exploring a bit more, we learned that the field was the temporary home to a herd of cattle.

There was electricity to the cabin but no running water or indoor plumbing.  There was however, a new water hand-pump located outside for potable water and a new vaulted toilet with a concrete floor and a “stall” where a solar shower could be hung.  I’m not sure my children realized what a vaulted toilet was until we got there and they realized they were going to have to go outside and walk about 30 yards to use the facilities.  We kept a flashlight in the stall as well as one in the cabin for just such occasions, however, my daughter resolved that she would not be going out there unless it was daylight!  She proceeded to tell us that knew there was a possibility of seeing bears—she saw the sign and brochure about bear safety in the cabin.  Even during daylight, when she had to walk out there by herself, she hustled!  I tried to reassure her that the cattle in the backyard would more than likely alert her if anything was around.  She still didn’t find that too comforting.  Maybe it was partially because they all kept joking that “bear safety” meant that they just had to outrun the slowest person in the family and then they all laughed and looked at me.  And thanks to all of the teasing I received, I told her I would not be escorting her to the “facilities”.  Chels did luck out however, we were far enough north that the days seemed to be pretty long and there was an abundance of daylight.

It seemed like it was never completely dark until about 11PM and then daylight seemed to hit around 6AM.  Between the light and the very loud serenade sung by the coyote choir every night, and the chill in the cabin, it took a few nights to actually get some quality sleep.  Not that I was complaining—it was beautiful there….just that with the combination of me giving up caffeine before we left and the lack of sleep, I had regular headaches for days.  We did eventually figure out that one of the windows had been left open in the cabin…..causing the chill and our blankets to never be enough!  That seemed to cut down on the volume of the nightly coyote choir as well.  The lack of sleep did finally catch up with me and with the new found warmth and quiet, I slept in one morning.  The hub didn’t—he awoke early to see some cowboys driving the cattle out of our “backyard” and down the road to their next home.  I was a little upset that he didn’t wake me to watch but understood why he didn’t.

Since the cattle were now gone, we decided that evening that we would explore more of the backyard.  We found the remains of a couple of whitetail fawns that had apparently been dinner for some of the “choir” a few nights ago.  We also discovered that what we called a “creek” was rather deep and very cold and that it was a little further from the cabin that we’d thought.  We walked a bit further and found a whitetail doe, dead, in the creek.  We’re not exactly sure what her cause of death was but it was definitely evident that there was predator activity around.  Given that fact, the whole time we explored, I tried to keep an eye out for said predators—I love to explore the wilderness but I’m a bit paranoid about something that could potentially make a meal outta me, catching me by surprise and gnawing a limb off before I knew what hit me.  I know, call me crazy, but my imagination runs wild sometimes and I knew we were in bear and mountain lion country….something we really do not have to worry about back home.  My hub seemed to find my paranoia entertaining and took every chance he got to slip out of my sight and make noises, break sticks and watch me jump.  Not funny, not funny at all!

The next morning, Chels woke up and had to use the facilities but it wasn’t light enough yet, so, she danced around the cabin until there was enough light.  As soon as she felt it was light enough to make a clean break for the toilet, she darted out of the cabin, running fast enough to reach the toilet before anything could possible get her.  As she was coming out she noticed something black, furry, and rather large moving through some of the brush off to the backside of the toilet.  She watched for a bit and then decided to make a run for it.  She came barreling in the cabin, eyes wide, breathing hard, and obviously scared.  We started questioning her and she proceeded to tell us she’d just seen a bear.  With that news, the hub and I walked outside armed with the binoculars to check it out.  After a bit of investigation, we did find Chels’ bear…… happened to be a black angus cow and calf that had apparently missed the earlier roundup and were left behind.  There were coming up to the cabin in an effort to find the rest of the herd.  The owners did come back later and gather the stragglers….turned out there were a few more than just that pair.  In Chels’ defense, it was fogging in the bottom that morning, foggy enough to turn cattle into bears!


“Did you hear that??”

April 13, 2012
mule deer

The culprits....

I’ve decided to start a “trip journal” of sorts.  I’ve not been painting lately since I’ve been working with my horses of an evening.  With work, horses, and housework….not much time for painting.  I have been doing a bit of sketching lately….maybe I’ll share some of those eventually but, for now, I decided to share some of our “adventures”.  I’ve been working on a scrapbook (between doing everything above….and no, I don’t sleep much…LOL.) from our last vacation and I’ve been jotting down stories for that.  I thought maybe everyone else would get a chuckle or at the least a smile out of some of them.  Being creative is sometimes about the journey not necessarily the finished piece that results.  Enjoy 🙂

Did you hear that???

“Seriously, I think I hear something outside….and it’s chewing!”

That’s what I woke up to one early morning while it was still dark outside.  The moon was up so I could see shadows of something on the walls of the tent and I could hear something moving outside the tent and heard chewing noises.  Chewing noises!!??!!  I looked over at the hub and he was still asleep.  I laid there, just waiting for something to hit the tent, rip it open, pull us out of our sleeping bag, maul us… imagination went wild!  I just knew there was a bear in camp!  I waited and listened with my “super” hearing for quite some time and nothing happened.  I couldn’t stand it anymore and finally pulled my head inside of my sleeping bag and tried to doze off again.  I mean, if you can’t see it, it can’t see you, right??  I awoke just as it was getting light enough to see outside and then peaked out the tent window but didn’t see anything.  RJ finally woke up and I started asking him about it.  He said he heard it too but he was tired and figured if it was going to get us… would’ve done it already so, he just rolled over and went back to sleep!  Thanks for making me feel safe, dear hub!!  We both decided to get up, get our boots on and investigate……we saw tracks through camp but didn’t see any critters………until we looked over the little hill that separated us from another campsite…..and there they were……….four mule deer bucks!  Ok, I can rest a little bit easier now……until the herd of elk moves through camp the next night……….