McCall

I had the cool opportunity to visit McCall, Idaho, this week. One of my former bosses is now the Forest Supervisor of the Payette NF, headquartered in McCall, and I spent the week shadowing various people (supervisor, district rangers, program leaders, staff officers) in their work. I was also the recipient of excellent and gracious hospitality from my former boss and his wife, who was also my co-worker 10 years ago.

Payette Lake Pano 2

On the BeachMcCall is at the southern edge of Payette Lake and is very touristy — one of those towns that doubles in size during the summer. They have long, snowy winters, but man, the summer sure seems nice. We had a cold front flow through while I was there that brought the temps down to a high between 65 and 70 (low of 41). Seemed a bit cold to be swimming in the lake, but I saw plenty of people braving the temperatures. They also have this chalkboard on the beach where people can share their thoughts about their own bucket lists, I guess.

Sawtooth Peak BeargrassKeith and I took a drive up the Lick Creek drainage and were rewarded with some great vistas. This area burned in 1994, which created some great open views of the mountains. The white whispy plants are beargrass.

World Cup WorthyElbow Agony of Defeat Keith and Karen have a 7-year-old son Bryce, who plays on a summer soccer league. Apparently, Keith has taught him the most important thing: elbow your opponents in the face when things aren’t going well. I guess that’s better than teaching him to bite his opponent, ala Luis Suarez. Unfortunately, the agony of defeat was just about all Bryce could handle.

Smokejumper Plane Chute InspectionI spent two hours touring and meeting employees in the McCall Smokejumper Base. That was a cool experience. The work these people do is pretty awesome. They get called out to the very early stages of some fires, get on a plane, and then parachute down to the mountain — with their gear (chainsaws, pulaskis, shovels, food, water, etc.) — and provide the early initial attack efforts on wildfires. Talk about a rush. After each jump, the chutes are hung in this tower and inspected very carefully. If they find defects, they mend the chutes themselves to make them airworthy again.

New Shed

It isn’t exactly the perfect “before and after” shot, but here are two photos that represent some of the improvements we’ve made in the yard.

BeforeThe yard was pretty overgrown — except for the grass. They hadn’t pruned a bush in ages and hadn’t been watering the lawn, either. I doubt they ever used their backyard.

Garden and ShedThis picture was taken while standing on the cement pad shown in the first photo and to the right a bit. Except for paint, we just finished assembling this 8’x12′ shed next to our garden boxes. The shed came in a kit from Home Depot and I had to just follow the instructions. For the most part, the instructions were spot on and the cases where they differed, it was easy to adjust. I had to separately purchase the plywood floor, the drip edge, roofing felt, and shingles, and I’ll have to caulk and paint. Everything else came with the kit.

Glad to be making some progress in the yard.

Working in Utah

I’ve traveled for work over 50 times in the 12 years I’ve been a “professional.” Some of the trips were to far-off exotic places (Rome, Alaska, Brazil), some were to some pretty awesome US places (Boundary Waters, Washington, D.C.), and many have been somewhat benign (Albuquerque, Sioux Falls, etc.). About a third of those trips were “field” trips, where the objective was to actually work in the field gathering data, either for map validation or for training data for future modeling efforts. It’s not very often I get to work in the state in which I actually live: Utah! This week I took the opportunity to do just that.

I’m working on an idea where we’d use remote sensing (satellite imagery) to model/predict the amount of vegetative cover present on a burn scar within a year or two or three of a fire occurring. The impetus of this project was a call from a hydrologist in Washington asking if I had any data to help them decide whether it was safe to open a campground at the base of a burned hillslope. The local forest gets pressure to open public land for public use, but the public rarely seems to consider the imminent danger posed by western thunderstorms and the repercussions of the sudden burst of water on a burned slope.

I’ve now visited 8 burn scars, took photos of the recovering land, and am working on building a model that will use satellite imagery to accurately predict the amount of cover present, therefore giving land managers actual data to help with their decision making.

This trip entailed a visit to the Clay Springs fire (between Oak City and Scipio), Lost Lake fire (on Boulder Mountain south of Teasdale), and the Wood Hollow fire (east of Fountain Green).

Thousand Lake MountainThis was the view we had all day on Thursday … working on Boulder Mountain while looking across the valley at the red rock and trees of Thousand Lake Mountain. There are worse places to be, that’s for sure.

IndianolaThis was on the Wood Hollow Fire. They didn’t really burn much “timber” in the sense of large Ponderosa Pine or Doug Firs … mostly just juniper and cedar.

BlowdownWe came across entire hillslopes that previously held lots of juniper trees. They burned in the fire and must have experienced a good wind storm, because they were all knocked over. It was just weird enough that I kept on trying to figure out if they were mechanically knocked over, but there was no evidence of that.

No CoverWe put a camera on a telescoping monopod and put it up in the air 25 feet looking down at us. These photos will be interpreted and we’ll have a % cover present number for each photo. This plot, even two years later, had little activity present.

Lots of CoverThis plot had a very active Aspen regeneration. None of these green trees existed in this form two years ago. Aspen frequently comes in after a fire and takes over the site for a number of years (like 20) until the conifers have time and opportunity to regenerate. This doesn’t always happen, of course, but is frequent.

Living it up in Mackay

We made the 4-hour drive to Mackay, ID this week. It was a short trip, but it was packed with fun, entertainment, and excitement. It’s also been three years since we were there, so the kids were anxious to get back in the saddle — literally. My cousin Seth Teichert runs a large ranch (~450 cows) outside Mackay and he and his wife are excellent hosts. They’ve also got 4 kids and match up well with our kids. Below are some pictures telling the story.

Western SunsetWe were treated to a great sunset. Seth has a canal running through his backyard, which offered some nice contrast in this picture.

Lost River RangeThis is the back of their new (<3 years) home. Their front porch looks directly at the Lost River Range, home to the tallest mountains in Idaho.

Buckin' WoodThe kids made a fire pit so we could make smores. Part of the job was to haul these large logs over for seats. Lauren, summoning strength that doesn’t seem to exist when she’s home, carried over many by herself.

Back of the Pick-upWe went on a drive up the mountain to visit their awesome “Swinging Tree” and most of us rode in the back of the pick-up. Lots of kids!

Euphoric Sarah Horseback Natural CecilyLike any visit to a ranch, we got a chance to ride horses. The kids loved it.

Put on your boots!Before riding horses, though, they all had to put on boots. The amazing thing is that of the 10 pairs of boots you see in this picture, only one didn’t come from Seth and Natalie.

Winner I got it!Mackay has a bare-handed fishing contest on the 4th of July. They build a temporary pool, fill it with hydrant water, and then dump a bunch of trout in the pool from the local fish hatchery. Then they group kids by age and have them hop in and catch a fish with their hands. My niece Sarah actually won her age division and was awarded with a gift certificate to a local restaurant, which she promptly re-gifted to Seth and Natalie.

Gabe caught a fish and was somewhat surprised he actually got one!

Stephen and JulieFinally, when we visit Seth and Natalie, we see his parents, too. Stephen Teichert (far right) is my mom’s brother. He married way above him (Julie, far left) and it was fun to see them again. They live a few miles south of Mackay while Seth lives 10 miles north of Mackay. It’s nice to see both families. My sister Lindsey is in this picture as well and we’re all sitting in front of a large original Minerva Teichert painting, Come’n Get It. Minerva is my mother’s grandmother. None of her artistic genes made it to me.

It’s Summer

I can’t say the word “summertime” without thinking of that dang singing snowman from Disney’s Frozen. I used to automatically think of Janis Joplin, but she’s been replaced. Dang movies.

Summertime has begun in earnest here. We’ve nearly had a month of no school, warming days, long days, and lots of activities. One of the most exciting things was that both Abby and Leah played softball this year (first time ever for both of them) and they did very well. Both girls ended up playing 2nd base for their team. Leah had some great coaches and Abby, well, she had me and Tom Elegante, a friend from our West Jordan neighborhood who lives in Kaysville. The coolest part? Both girls’ teams won their league tournament!! They are both legit champions, not this fake “everybody wins” stuff of modern children. It was fun to watch and participate in as a parent, but I’m glad the 7 weeks of 4-nights-a-week at the park are over.

The champions holding Abby's trophy

The champions holding Abby’s trophy

Leah is the third girl from the right

Leah is the third girl from the right

Abby is on the far left, ignoring the camera

Abby is on the far left, ignoring the camera

We’ve held three outdoor movies in our backyard now. They’ve been a hit with our kids and a number of the neighbor kids.

SAMSUNGI got Jen this picture for Christmas. It’s the same picture that adorns the top of this blog and is a stitch of 10 or 11 photos I took of her grandpa’s ranch. Full-resolution of this photo would allow a 70″x16″ print, but I took it easy and only printed a 50″x16″ version of the photo. It took me 6 months to get off my butt, make a custom frame, and hang it, but hey, this has been a good week. It’s now on the wall. Apologies for the poor quality photos in this post, but all were taken with a cell phone in poor lighting. I didn’t expect much and was rewarded accordingly.

SAMSUNG

Today I came in to the home office, looked at the computer screen, and saw this on the desktop. My girls know what I’m interested in and took notes … literally. I love them.

Sports listing

Sports listing

Updated Family Pics

There’s a stretch of road not very far from my house that I really like. It’s the road that connects Mountain Green (Morgan Valley) with Huntsville (Ogden Valley). It’s only nine miles long but climbs up and provides some great views of the backside of the local mountains and also of the valleys to the east of where we live. Most of the land is just grazed at this point, and I don’t know who owns it (i.e., is if federal? private? state?). I would love to have some property up here.

We went up there last Sunday and snapped a few family photos. Jen got me a tripod for Christmas and I already had a remote trigger, so this was a good chance to get out and enjoy the scenery and update some photos. Here are a few with varying post-processing techniques applied.

The ones in charge of this clan -- picture taken by Abby

The ones in charge of this clan — picture taken by Abby

The Kids The Kids

Ewwwww...

Ewwwww…

The entire family

The entire family