Wednesday, September 22, 2010

While The Cat is Away.....The Mice will Play

Kelly is the BEST dad!!!! Which in turn, makes me not the COOLEST mom.
When I leave to go out of town Kelly makes the time with his boys
They do everything from going out to eat, wrestling, staying up late, ice skating, ice cream, playing video games, watching TV most of the day, etc....
The boys don't even really miss me while I'm gone because they are having a blast with a Dad who doesn't have to go to work, or do anything for that matter!!
So, in an effort to be a "cool" mom, I had a few tricks up my sleeve while Kelly was away on his hunting trip.
I sat down with the boys and made a list of what they wanted to do with me. It looked something like this:
Go to McDonald's
Rent movies from Blockbuster
Have a sleepover
Stay up late
Pizza night
Play at the park
Get ice cream from Hot Licks
Play baseball and Swords
Read LOTS of books
We accomplished ALL of these things, and had lots of fun!
But, rest assured that I am still not as much fun as their Dad!
Well, here are some pictures of our movie night.
We started off the night with a Papa Murphy's pizza, celery /carrot sticks, and some soda while we watched our Blockbuster movie. (We use Netflix so it is a novelty to go inside a building and rent a movie).
After the first movie,I took the boys twin mattresses off of thier beds and made a GIANT bed in the middle of the living room. The boys each got to choose one candy from Wal-Mart that they would like to have for the movie night.
(I chose two)
So we got jammied up and started up the next movie while we pigged out on candy and popcorn.
It was LOTS of fun! I love hanging out with just me and my guys.
We stayed up until 1:30 watching movies, it was great and we were all exhausted the next day!

We also did a little bit of creating and painting. This is the boys spaceship and Chance is disguised as an alien.

As I am typing this post, I asked Hunter if that was fun just to hang out with Mom and do soooo many fun things and he said, "Not Really!"
Oh well, I tried.

This is just an addition of a little art project that Chance and I did for Fall.

I painted a tree and then let him sponge stamp some leaves.
It turned out beautifully, and he was proud of it.
Happy Fall!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

What to wear???.....What to wear???

Hunter started preschool this year, and has been very excited about the first day.
One day, before school started, he came out to the living room wearing this outfit:

and said, "This is what I am wearing for my first day of school!"
I am pretty sure he was serious.
I laughed and told him that it was a really fun outfit, but he'd need to dress a little warmer.
Then Chance came out and said, "This is what I am wearing for MY first day of school."
I guess it is better than the "one eyed Batman" outfit.
This is what they actually ended up wearing for their first day of school.

Hunter thinks camo is the coolest, due to the fact that Dad wears a lot of it.

And Chance ultimately decided on the Alaska tourist shirt based on the fact that he thought his friends would think the bears and moose were so cool.

Hunter tried to wear his camo pants both Wednesday and Friday and I told him he had to rotate, or people would think he was gross!

Lesson learned!

Saturday, September 4, 2010


This has been my long awaited fly-out caribou hunt. It has been planned three times now, but due to partners dropping out and a sick/dying Dad it had been put off for too long. I was actually set to go do this with my cousins on the Tibbitts side.....something that I would still like to do. I called the outfit that I was wanting to go with. I am pretty picky with who I let fly me to the remote places of the world, and I found out they were completely booked. Extremely disappointed, I informed my cousins that we would have to wait til next year. The gal asked me if I would like to be placed on a waiting list....of course I would. A couple of months later, I received a phone call from the outfitter about a cancellation. They had an opening again. I was back in business. At this point my cousins, Wyatt and Rhett couldn't get the time off. Rhett's wife was having a baby too. Probably better to choose to stay home with her (good call Rhett). I started going down the list of guys that are always hounding me to go hunting up here. I am finding out that when it comes time to get the time off and pony up the dough, there are a lot of big talkers but no one willing to step up to the plate. I finally got on the horn and called up one of my best friends, Dustin Henderson. Dustin is a mission buddy and roommate from BYU. We have had a ton of laughs over the years and have hunted Idaho and Alaska together before. He is someone I trust being alone in Grizzly country with and so I put out another invite. After clearing it with the wife (THANKS EMILY!!!!), we started planning. The outfit we were flying out with uses cubs. Cubs, for those of you that don't know, are two seaters, single prop planes that could arguably be called single seaters. The nice thing about a cub is that if you have one lunatic flying it and another crazy man riding aboard, you can actually land on a ridgetop. I kid you not. A nice 60-70 foot drop on one side, and a 50 foot drop on the other. This type of landing is great for adrenaline junkies, not so great for 2nd chances. Well, lets get some pictures going.

Now I would like to explain something to my critics (of this picture), I may look a little out of shape in this picture. I will grant that I am not at my fighting weight, but these guys put a 50 lb weight restriction on your gear. When you consider a tent, ammo, sleeping bag, food for 6 days, and other hunting gear, 50 lbs goes really quick. They did say that whatever you could fit on your person, they wouldn't count against your weight restriction. In their own words, "we don't care if you have a chunk of cheese in your %$#&*!" I didn't smuggle any cheese for the record, but I filled pockets and loaded my belt up! I have ammo, knives, bone saw, lighters, and etc in my pockets and on my belt. I even managed to hide 4 cokes in my coat and cargo pockets. My ankles look big? That is because I have about 3 layers of clothes on, and an underarmor baselayer wrapped around each ankle. Wow. I felt like the stay-puffed marshmallow man. We had to lose a couple of mountainhouse meals to make weight officially. Hope we kill something or our food situation is going to be slim.

This picture is a shot of the cub I flew in on the landing strip. What you can't see is the drop off about 10 feet past the cub. There is a valley on the other side of the airplane that you can't see. It is actually the valley where we spent a lot of time over the next several days

Down in the middle of the trees you can see our tent (green/gray). The forecast called for only about 20% chance of precipitation for each day that we were there. We learned very quickly that the weatherman should have said 99.9% chance instead. I purchased that tent the week before I went on this hunt cause of it's light weight (6 lbs) and it's water rating. We got rained on the entire 6 days we were out there. It probably didn't rain for about 12-15 hours of that entire week. That tent is a mountain hardware skyledge 3 and it was worth every penny! Not one drop of moisture entered that tent. It sure is nice to have a dry place to retire to when all of your gear and yourself is wet. We picked this spot for our camp because it was fairly open and it was close to some water. My pilot and I flew over a pretty big grizz on the way in. It was pretty cool. He stood up on his hind legs as we flew over and chomped at us. I was thinking he was a pretty big boy and the pilot laughed and said he was just a little guy. We landed less than about 2 miles from where we flew over that bear. We wanted to be able to see a little ways away from our tent. The unit we were in required no tag for grizz for residents and you could shoot two of them per calendar year. This translates typically to a bear we were literally loaded for bear. One of us was adamant that we bring a bunch of jingle bells to rig up all over camp on wire or fishing line viet-cong style as an early detection signal in the event a bear came into camp. Let's just say Dustin now sometimes goes by kris kringle. :) It was a good thing we didn't put them up, between the wind and the rain we experienced, it would have sounded like santa was landing on our tent all night long.

These are some pictures of the mountaintops we called home for a week in mid august 2010.

It was just gorgeous up there. It was a good thing that we took some pictures of the views on day one, cause at about noon of day two the clouds rolled in and we didn't really see a ton of them after that. In Alaska when you fly in hunt, it is illegal to shoot the same day that you fly. Murphy's law is always in effect. That night we had a huge caribou bull walk right through our camp. It's antlers were tall and the fingers on the palms were very non-characteristic. They started to point straight back down at his head. Very cool rack to say the least. I was tempted severely to shoot that animal that day. If it hadn't been for Dustin telling me to hold off til tomorrow, I may have shot him. We went to bed right about then and hoped that big boy would be waiting for us in the morning. We weren't that lucky though. When we woke up, he was long gone and there was actually no sign of any caribou. We were having flashbacks to our moose hunt back in 08 when we saw 4 bulls the day we flew in and then didn't see much the rest of the time. We did get one bull moose then but that hunt was definitely in the back of our mind. We sat on a ridge in a pretty stiff wind for about 2 hours and then due to lack of movement and animals we decided to move our position to a spot that would allow us to overlook a different valley. I was a little ahead of Dustin and as I came up and looked over a rock outcropping, lo and behold there were about 50 caribou on the other side. They were all cows and calves. We watched these quietly for a little bit. I decided to climb up this little peak about 50 yards away to get a better vantage point. I left my pack there and took my rifle and my binoculars up. When I got to the top, I got my glasses out and started looking all over. About a mile away I could see one bull on a ridgeside feeding. I couldn't tell exactly how big he was, but I could tell by his silouette that he was decent. I got back to Dustin and told him there was a bull and that we should go down and check him out. Dustin was organizing his gear and said to go check it out and he would follow. I took off. The way the bull was feeding, he was dropping down out of site down in a little valley. Unfortunately, that valley would go left or right and a fairly good distance in between. I knew I was going to have to make a choice which way to go and go fast. I dropped my pack in an open area and went to get my binos out to try and see if I could tell where he was headed. About this time, a smaller bull popped up right in front of me about 50 yards away and was just checking me out. I didn't want to scare him so I just held really still til he headed back down in the valley. This is when I saw a group of cows heading up out of the left handed side of the valley. I figured if this bull was worth shooting he would be right behind those cows. I was right. There he was. I pulled my scope up on him and took a look at his antlers. Before I went, I decided that I wanted to shoot a bull with really nice palmation/fingers on his top beams. This guy was exactly that. He was now trotting further and further away. Memories of seeing animals the first couple of days and then seeing nothing for 8-9 more days on my moose hunt encouraged me to make a decision to put this nice bull to rest. I ran down to a little tundra ledge and got prone. Took aim and BOOM. He went down. It wasn't the cleanest kill that I have ever had, but it did the job. I went down through some alders/willows and got to about 8 yds away and he saw me and tried to stand up. I hit him again in the neck. He dropped permanently.

This is a picture of a pretty happy kid. This bull wasn't the biggest ever but he was what I was looking for. I, truthfully, hadn't even looked at this guys brow tines. He had great upper beams and a couple of fingers that were 16 inches long on the back. That was good enough for me.

Here are a couple more shots at the kill site

This next shot shows a little of the nice "fingers" on his upper beams.

Now you see where the coke came into play......CHEERS! We spent the next several hours cutting this guy up and gutting him. It is much easier to do this job on a hillside so you can let gravity help you out. I had no such luck with this guy. He died in the flats. About the time we were finishing gutting this guy, it started pouring rain. By the time we got back to camp I was soaked and covered with blood. Not something you want to be taking into your tent in bear country. We covered my bull with a poncho to keep him dry and vowed to come back and finish the job. It was about low to mid forties, pouring rain, and the fog was rolling in. Dustin and I were soaked and I was covered with blood from the morning activities. Dustin got into some dry gear and got in the sanctuary of the tent. I had the pleasant chore of stripping down "Bear Grylis" style and washing all the blood/fat off of myself in this freezing cold rain with a bar of dial soap. BRRRRRRRRR. I was glad I had brought a towel as part of my 50 lbs of gear. I got dried off and in dry clothes and got warm in my sleeping bag.

It took us a couple of days to finish the job of cutting him up. You aren't allowed to take the antlers back to camp until all of the meat has been removed from the field. This is the last trip back to camp. These are some cool packing pics.

We actually had to cut my bull up in two different segments, because while we were eating some granola/blueberries (getting ready to go finish cutting my bull up), we saw a herd all the way across a valley. We had seen a group of caribou in this same place the day before and knew where those animals had ended up. I asked Dustin if he wanted to run over there and see if there were any bulls with that group. He said he was pretty sure there were no bulls in the group. We headed up to the ridge that overlooked the valley where I had killed my bull to see if any bear had found the kill site during the night. There weren't any. I asked Dustin again if he wanted to go cut that herd off, he reluctantly agreed. It was the best decision we made on the hunt. Dustin found that the herd actually had 3 bulls in it and one was very nice. When we landed one of the pilots had told us that he wouldn't shoot a caribou this far from camp if he were us. We looked at each other, looked at the bulls horns again. I said, "Dust.....we have my bull down and 4 more days till they pick us up man.....we could get it done if we needed to." That was all the convincing Dustin needed. I stayed up on the ridge while Dustin dropped down into a valley to cut them off. I was secretly hoping that Dustin wouldn't like the biggest bull in the group and we would go off to find more. As I was realizing that we were about 4 miles away from camp and that most of that hiking was water/bog/hill climbing.........I heard BOOM. Oh *^%$^&^#! The hunting trip was relabeled in that instant, "One Crazy Guy, and a Really Good Friend!" Dustin may argue that I was the crazy guy, but I am not the one who shot my animal 4 miles from camp! :) Pain is temporary though (that is what we kept telling ourselves). I don't think I sucked so much wind in several years of soccer, football, wrestling as I did in that final 4 days hauling the meat and antlers from the second kill site back to camp. I lost 7 pounds on that hunt!! I earned every last one of them too. Dustin ended up with a really nice bull. The rack was nice and wide, had nice upper beams and had awesome brow tines. The only thing wider than his rack was his smile.

Nice job Dustin! He even liked my coke picture so much he decided to do one of his own with a little twist.....He calls this shot, "DEW THE BOU!"

It seriously took us the rest of the trip to get all of the meat and horns back to camp. When we got it all back to camp, and I did a little shawshank redemption twirl. It felt so good knowing I didn't have to load 50-60 lbs of bloody caribou to my back and hike up and down hilly bog country again. The last night around the fire, we worked on our horns and I cooked up some of the tenderloin from my bull. I asked Dustin if he thought I needed to cook more caribou meat than I was. He thought that would be plenty. He was wrong. I ate the whole thing, minus one piece. After you have eaten rehydrated freeze dried backpacker meals for a week, fresh cooked caribou is DELICIOUS!!!!

Here is a packing shot of Dustin and his antlers. Classic!

In Alaska, the law requires that you get ALL the meat off the carcass. If you fail to do so, they issue citation for "wanton waste", this includes fines and jail time. No thanks. I was pretty thorough. You may wonder how the fish and game would ever know whether you did or not. I had a buddy that was a fish and game cop out in Bethel and that is what he would do is fly his cub out to these remote hunting sites and make sure hunters were abiding by the rules.

Not much left but bones, hide and guts when we were done with him.

It had been cloudy all week and we were actually getting a little nervous as to whether we were going to be spending a few extra days in the boonies. We had one backpacker meal left and a lot of caribou meat thank goodness. The clouds parted and our pilots brought three planes in. One for the meat, and two for Dustin and I and our gear. It was a beautiful trip out. Big puffy clouds and rock/dall sheep covered crags.

This is a pretty cool shot of how they get your antlers out of there. Hope they hold on!

There is a line from the movie YOUNG GUNS, where I believe they are talking about good friends and they leave a sign or something that just reads...................PALS. Dustin is a pal for sure. We have had some adventures together over the years. Thanks for coming and making the trip so memorable. The pain from hiking meat is gone and all that is left is smiles and memories. I grew up hunting in Idaho and have some great memories of those times, but it isn't and won't ever compare to hunting the land that I call home now. Alaska is an amazing place that demands your respect and preparation at all times. Hopefully, this is only the start of many such adventures for me and my boys. Hunter and Chance are already begging me to take them on my next adventure. I told hunter that he could probably come with me when he is 9-10 years old. He asked if that meant that maybe he could go when he was 6. :)


The Big 3....6!!!

We got to celebrate Kelly's 36th birthday this year!
We think he is getting wiser as he is growing old :)
The boys helped me make this poster for him as a surprise in the morning when he woke up.
We pasted a few of his favorite things on the poster.
Kelly requested cheesecake with fresh blueberry topping.
It was YUMMY!!

We needed a candle or two, so I just opted for the giant candle to cover all 36 years.
The boys thought it was great!
One of Kelly's gifts was the Star Wars set of movies (all 6), so we've been getting our fill of Star Wars.
Happy Birthday Kel, we love you!