Welcome To Stories along the way...

Welcome to my online venue for sharing my thoughts, stories, writings, and other various artistic endeavors. I am a Camp Director, an Artist, a Storyteller, a Trout Bum and a Unschooling / Stay-at-Home Dad. This blog is primarily dedicated to our learning experiences and adventures, each day being a new chapter in the many stories along the way… I am always interested in hearing from other homeschooling or unschooling parents, storytellers, fly fisherman, sojourners of any sort. Please visit my main website at thrasherarts.com or Email: scott@thrasherarts.com.

Quick Change Weather and Pink Fishing Rods

Posted By on May 22, 2010

Sometimes Sarah gets frustrated with fly fishing and traipsing around in fast flowing rivers with me searching for trout, and it’s true, sometimes I push too hard.  She’s always asking to use a worm.  (Oh, the horror!)  So, last weekend while we were rendezvousing with Emily in Park City Utah for a visit, we picked up her first spinning rod at Cabelas.   I took Sarah fishing yesterday at a local pond to try out this new PINK spinning rod which LIGHTS UP when its reeled.  (Lord… where did I go wrong?) 

She did pretty well and managed to catch a few nice fish… this bluegill and some beautiful smallmouth bass.  Not bad. Unfortunately, the weather turned and today it’s snowing, so I guess we put the snowshoes away too soon. Snowing about a foot in the mountains…

bluegillsmallmouthmay 22 snowing

Chicken Coop

Posted By on May 13, 2010

New Sarah CageChicken Coop

Chicken PerchNest Box  

 chickengrass

We finally got around to building the coop for our chickens.  It sure beats the cage in the house…

We dug the garden yesterday and plan on planting this week sometime.

In 2010, I resolve to…

Posted By on January 2, 2010

I’m not really one for making New Year’s resolutions but there are a couple of things I am hoping to improve upon this next year and I suppose today is as good as any to get started. 

To begin with… I aim to improve upon my blogging skills.

Perhaps you have noticed that I haven’t posted to this blog in quite some time.  I assure you it has not been from lack of material or adventures to write about because there has been plenty.  My problem begins with living in a 12 x 12 cabin for 5 months and finding it difficult to get quality online time.  One day leads to another and before you know it a few months have pasted. Yes, I realize that there are ways and I can and will do better this next year.  

However, the real problem was that I began feeling I had lost focus on what I had originally set out to accomplish with this blog.  My hope was always that this would be primarily a unschooling, family and storytelling venue.  However, I started finding that I wanted to write more and more about my fly fishing experiences which don’t really fall into that category.  I’ve now stewed a while on this conflict and have decided to try running two separate blogs.  This will contain information about homeschooling, family and other artistic/creative endeavors and my new blog, www.thrashintrout.com will be my fly fishing only space. 

I plan on double posting for a little while while I migrate readers and organize thoughts.  That’s the plan at least.  Please check out www.thrashintrout.com and subscribe if it interests you and feel free to comment.  I am hoping this will inspire me to keep both focused on topic which will in turn organize my thoughts more effectively. 

There are some other things which I will expand upon in the near future like, getting out of Las Vegas, making better connections with other homeschool families, running and finishing my book. 

Until then Happy New Year!

Birthday Fish

Posted By on June 17, 2009

Today was my birthday and while I wasn’t able to go fishing, my camp cook and her baking artistry hooked the whole camp up with our limitbirthday fish

A “Little” Fishing Story

Posted By on June 17, 2009

I haven’t gone fishing in a few weeks now, the rivers are all high and muddy from the spring runoff and I’ve been preparing for summer camp.  However, there’s light at the end of the tunnel as they’re beginning to come back to normal – slowly but surely and if I’m not prepared for camp by now I never will be. 

Camp began this week so Saturday I decided to take a few hours and fish the Lower Madison before the impending stressful week.  Rumor had it that Salmonflies were beginning to hatch and the fishing was getting pretty good.  Sarah and I drove around for awhile trying to find a place which was conducive to my fishing, her exploring and River’s running around like a wild banshee.  Finally we found a satisfactory spot which played to our needs and I began fishing while Sarah waded around near the bank and caught aquatic insects in a seine net. 

It wasn’t long until I began catching fish, all respectful sized rainbows and browns and was having a good ole’ time picking them off on small dry flies.  Right about the time the fishing started to slow I caught a fingerling rainbow about 3 inches long.  Sarah thought this mini-fish was the cutest thing since the Jonahs Brothers and had fun talking to it and letting it swim around in the net for a few minutes before letting it go.  After the “cutest, little, baby fish in the world” she decided that I should catch more and proceeded to coach me in possible flies and locations to catch other “baby fish”.  I of course informed her that the object was not to catch the babies but the daddies.  It was about then when I hooked the largest fish of the night; a very nice rainbow which was probably about 18 inches.  I was happy, while Sarah seemed genuinely annoyed that it wasn’t cute like the other one.

I wrapped things up and we were sitting on the bank talking when a drift boat floated by with a Guide and a couple of clients aboard.  The Guide nodded to me and said something about it being a good night.  I agreed and as they floated by Sarah shouted out “My Dad caught a 3 inch fish!”  I could hear them laugh as they drifted on around the bend and leaving me with a bruised ego.  I looked over and rolled my eyes at Sarah who only shrugged her shoulders and said, “What?  It was cute!”

I think we will need to work on the art of the “fish story”.

june13-09-Rainbow

Wait… did I say warm weather?

Posted By on June 7, 2009

I’m sorry… I forgot where I was for a moment; I meant to say snow.  Hang in there little tomatoes… summer will come someday.

june 7 snow

Sowing Seeds

Posted By on June 6, 2009

I really didn’t come from a gardening family.  Well, I mean… they had a yard, planted some flowers and cut the grass; but you couldn’t really call them gardeners. 

I, on the other hand have been a closet farmer for pretty much as long as I can remember.  I started a vegetable garden when I was around 9 years old and can recall raising roses and experimenting with splicing in some hope of creating an award winning hybrid.  I never did, and soon gave up roses for the greater payoff of tomatoes, zucchini and onions. 

It’s possible that I inherited my hidden “farmer gene” from my great grandfather.  He was a farmer, and while I have no real memory of him, I do remember vividly, walking his farm the day before they auctioned it off and secretly wishing my Dad would place a bid.  I could clearly see myself clad in overalls plowing the fields of the old family farm with a mule team by day and whittling on a big front porch at night. 

I spent the better part of my youth harboring these romantic notions of simple farm life and self reliance.   While other kids played baseball I could be found living out nostalgia on local farms with “old timers” six times my age; listening to their stories and searching every conversation for a nugget of information.  I like to think that it was on these farms, which dotted the fledgling suburb of Northern Kentucky like little time capsules that I got my education.  Farms, that were rusting relics in a growing community that would soon fade away into oblivion, were to me; experiential frontiers, living books from which I could not be pulled.  

The Thirs Farm was one such remnant of yesteryear.  Paul, Walt and Bob Thirs were three brothers, bachelors all, who had grown up and worked on that family dairy farm for as long as anyone else in the community could remember.  The Thirs farm was where we got our milk, along with some homegrown produce when it was season.  We would drive up the long driveway to a small cinderblock building that sat, nestled in a cluster of other sheds, barns and coops, with our empty glass milk bottles and exchange them for full.  There never seemed to be a time when you couldn’t find the “Thirs Boys” (which is how they were referred) sitting in that milk room around a cast-iron potbellied wood burner, chewing tobacco, spitting into the coal scuttle, reminiscing and selling fresh milk.   During the summer and fall they’d sell off vegetables and homemade apple cider, squeezed from the apples in their orchard in a large wooden press.  They were a unique feature of my hometown and one that had an enormous impact on my life.

What began as permission to fish in their pond eventually turned into carte blanche access for hunting, trapping, camping or just curious exploration.  I spent as much time as I could on that farm; helping out, listening to their stories, wandering the fields and “hollers”, or poking through a bone yard of old farm tools.  I had exclusive run of the farm, a virtual panoply of adventure, a unique and secret class room brimming with opportunity which was all mine. 

When I was about 16, the “Boys” gave me a plot of land to grow a garden.  I can’t really remember if I asked or if they offered but either way I found myself the proud owner of my very own piece of farm.  I was heading for the big time now, and this wasn’t a little garden plot like I had been tinkering with before; this was a full acre to do with what I pleased.  I was also given free rein to all the tools of the trade which included the old Massey Ferguson tractor, a plow and disks. 

Donning my overalls, and armed with a red bandanna, farmer’s almanac and a pouch of Red Man; I took to the field early one spring to stake my claim.  I soon learned that while callused, hard worked hands seemed like a romantic idea in my mind they actually hurt pretty damn bad.  However, I was ambitious and filled that acre with tomatoes, beans, onions, peppers, corn, squash and a myriad of other leafy and rooty things. 

As I wiped my brow and pumped some cold water from the well into a tin ladle; Bob, the oldest of the three who rarely spoke, informed me that I had only planted a half acre.  “The full acre is over to that fence.” He mumbled, as he spit a brown stream of tobacco juice onto the ground.

So, it was back to the fields and back to work.  Of course now I was out of seeds and starters so what could I fill a half acre of fertile Kentucky soil with?  Tobacco!  My pal Dewey had an uncle with a tobacco farm which we periodically worked on for extra money.   He gave me a bunch of tobacco sets so that I could try my hand at a real Kentucky cash crop.  I planted them and they took off like wildfire.  I really had no idea what I was going to do with all that tobacco but I had fun picking off tobacco worms, topping it, cutting and hanging it a corner of the Thirs’ barn to dry. 

That first summer I had far more produce than I knew what to do with and can remember hauling it in bushel baskets to Church every Sunday to pawn it off onto whoever would have it.   The tobacco hung, forgotten and alone, drying in that barn until it crumbled into dust and blew away.

In the following years I reduced the size of my ambitions a little but continued to raise a garden until I was almost out of high school.  Once I was in college my farming days were put on hold but I never forgot that little farm and the time spent and adventures had there. 

Today, that farm, those three brothers and my open classroom live only in memory.  

The property was eventually sold to make way for the growing suburb, is now called Thirs Landing and you could live there for about $250,000 if you’d like.  I never drive past there without thinking about Paul, Walt and Bob and the farm I called my own.   It was there on that farm where the seeds were sown for a lifetime of learning.  Not from books, tests and lectures but from connections made and experiences lived. 

There were other farms where I had similar experiences but non which held quite as much charm as the Thirs farm.  Of course… I haven’t told you about Pete’s Garage yet…

“Education is not the filling of a pail but the lighting of a fire.” W.B. Yeats

We’ve had some unusually warm weather this past week.  Quite a departure from the 2 feet of snow and upper teens I was greeted with.  It’s been so nice, that Sarah and Mabby (our camp cook) resurrected the garden I started last summer.  As I watched Sarah digging in the soil I was glad that seeds were being sown and all the world is her classroom. 

garden

Mabby and Sarah preparing the garden plot at Rockhaven.

farmers market

Sarah tending Mabby’s baked good booth at the Bozeman Farmer’s Market.

A thousand boulders, a path and my aching back…

Posted By on June 4, 2009

Three summers ago I was inspired by an untouched meadow along side the Gallatin River and at the base of Sheep Rock. 

This inspiration turned into a little pet project and a mission to construct a space set apart from the distractions of the busy world to promote prayer, meditation, contemplation transformation and creativity.  After nearly three summers of icing my aching  back and lugging over a thousand boulders from the west side of the Gallatin River to the east side by way of a small foot bridge this Classic 7 Circuit Cretan Labyrinth is nearly complete. 

A Labyrinth is an ancient symbol found in many cultures which represents wholeness and simplicity.  There are a few different designs but all have a circular image and a meandering spiral path.  When most people look at a Labyrinth they immediately think maze but a Labyrinth is no maze.  Actually, it’s quite the contrary because a Labyrinth (like life) has no dead ends, there is one way in and one way out.  You can’t get lost in a Labyrinth as long as you stay on the path.  Although, just like life you may often feel lost.  A Labyrinth can be looked at as a metaphor for life’s journey.  It always reminds me that I already have what I need and should just toss away the compass and simply walk the path. 

classic7graphic

“What we call the beginning is often the end, and to make an end is to make a beginning.”    T.S. Eliot

labyrinth4

labyrinth

“Say not, ‘I have found the path of the soul.’  Say rather, ‘I have met the soul upon my path.’  Kahlil Gibran

labyrinth3

Report Card

Posted By on June 1, 2009

Sarah’s been here with me for 2 weeks now and in between my work to get ready for summer camp we’ve been able to keep ourselves busy exploring the world around.  The rivers are all flooded from the spring run off so the other day I took her to a lake where we were able to catch quite a few trout. 

sarah-trout

Sarah found this great Pandora Sphinx moth on the front porch of our cabin the other night.  She built a makeshift shelter for him and he stayed in there all night.  The next morning the two of them played until he decided that it was time to get back to what ever it was he was doing prior to his capture. 

moth 

Sarah said that I needed a hair cut.  I said okay.  Would you trust your 7 yr old to cut your hair with a pair of rusty kitchen shears?  I did. 

hair 

Sarah tying flies at night before bedtime.  It’s great not having a television or video games around.

tying flies

Hidden Folk: Fairies, Gnomes, and Sprites dwell here…

Posted By on June 1, 2009

I recently had the idea to build Fairy Houses as an activity with campers this summer.  It’s a great way to get down and dirty with nature while letting your imagination run wild and on top of that, it cost only time.   Yesterday, Sarah and I decided to get a start on this fragile Fairy Hamlet which we hope will become quite the tiny metropolis after seeing the hands of more than a hundred kids throughout the summer.   

Come on in, but please walk softly and listen carefully for you never know when your mind might be opened to wonders small and unseen.

Welcome.

fairy house 

Sarah building a “secret” rear entrance and a play area with a ladder for “fairies who don’t have wings”.  

 fairy house 4

  Working on the water feature, a small pond for fairy fish and cool swims on hot days. 

fairy house 2

There, the perfect hideaway home for hidden folk, complete with a moss carpet, pine cone chandelier, rock and stick furniture and a fire pit for those cold Montana nights. 

Shhh… fairies dwell here.  

The Serpent and Unreachable Trout

Posted By on May 23, 2009

Taking a slight departure from my standard haunt I’ve been fishing the Lower Madison lately.

The Madison is one of the most famous fly fishing destinations in the world and for good reason. It’s full of character, with more faces than Lon Chaney and stretching from Yellowstone National Park to its confluence with the Gallatin and the Jefferson to form the Missouri River. My lack of experience on the Lower stretch of this river is not for lack of want mind you; but I usually either have my daughter in tow or just side on ease and general laziness. However, recently my usual fare has been muddy and high and being alone I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to venture to parts un-fished in pursuit of bigger fish. That’s where the Madison comes in; a welcome departure and a perfect opportunity to broaden my repertoire.

I’ve fished it before a handful of times with minimal success so I figured it’s high time I familiarize myself better with the “50 mile riffle”.

The “Mother’s Day” Caddis hatch has been in full swing lately, with caddis as many as stars in the sky, so for four straight nights I had been fishing what I thought was a cleaver spot. A hidden away bend with difficult access which I was sure held all the hogs that everyone in their drift boats pass by. I have discovered over the years that what I often view as a cleaver spot is only clever to me and usually the spot there are no fish. Such was the case with my secret out of the way bend.

I probably should have realized this a day or two prior as I stood amongst a blanket of caddis that clung to me like I was a willow with no fish feeding, watching a couple of guys on the far bank land fish upon fish. I am apparently either a glutton for punishment or hopelessly hard headed because I continued my foolish pursuit each night to no avail.

Desperate and defeated I mentioned my dilemma to a local fly shop guy who nodded knowingly and seemed to laugh internally at my misfortune as if he had dealt with this sort of idiot before. “Yeah, that used to be a good spot but a couple of seasons ago the river really changed during the runoff.”

“Really?” I said, nonchalantly poking at a few flies in the case not wanting to seem too stupid or inept.

“Yeah, there used to be a great drop-off there where the fish would stack and feed but the high water cut away the upper bank and leveled it off, so now it’s all changed in below that rock.” He continued as if I knew what he was talking about and I scrambled to catch up, constantly searching for a nugget of useful information.

I figured I should say something intelligent but pretty much all that came out was, “Huh… How ‘bout that?”

Perhaps sensing that I was in need of a successful evening and a little guidance he finally divulged a useful tip. “You know… I like to fish that stretch across from there on the other side.”

Oh yeah, I thought. The stretch where I’ve seen a dozen other guys catch fish? I said nothing and opted to play dumb.

He elaborated. “Yeah just park at that boat access and cross the little creek… there’s a trail that will take you along the cliff face. On down from there you’ll find some great runs and some good rocky areas. It’s beautiful back in there.”

It sure is. I thought. I had a camera full of photos of it taken from the other “fishless” side of the river.

Grateful for the information, I bought something I didn’t need and that I would probably hear about later from my wife once she saw the bank statement. I find that I have a vast collection of useless gizmos purchased as courtesy tips for fishing information. I sometimes wonder if I’m the only one who falls for this ploy.

So, armed with local knowledge I headed off to the “other side”; hopeful that my luck would change.

Luck is a funny thing. It occurs to me now that occasionally luck, the drive to find big fish, and just enough knowledge to be dangerous can sometimes blend together in one glorious casserole of misfortune. However, misfortune never comes at you straight on and from a distance so you can prepare yourself. Instead it coils and strikes from beneath some rock.

I arrived at the boat access, parked, geared up and stood at the river’s edge posing dramatically to survey the biblical like swarm of caddis which appeared like a thick fog just above the surface. You never want to just rush in to fly fishing. You must center yourself properly, analyzing carefully the situation like a painter does his blank canvas. This sets the scene and generally makes you feel at one with the river and the fish that wait within.

Following the fly shop guys advice I eased into the river, crossed the stream and leisurely headed up the trail all the while examining insects and wind direction like some Apache Indian guide. Because of course, that’s part of the process.

The trail was well maintained but narrow and as it rose in elevation above the river it became steeper with one side dropping dramatically 100 feet to the river below and on the other side a crumbly rock face with rose up the mountain side. As I walked up the trail I peered down into the river below only to clearly see feeding trout in a series of pools and shallow runs. Naturally, the only logical thing to do was to find a way to reach those fish because who knows, they could be the only fish in the river. I decided that it wasn’t too steep and that if I dug my boots and wading staff into the crumbling sandstone rubble I might not plummet head over heels to my death. Even if I did… it was a beautiful evening and I would go out it dramatic fly fishing glory. So, down I went in hot pursuit. Luckily it wasn’t as difficult as I had imagined and making it to the bottom in one piece; I carefully placed an Elk Hair Caddis and landed a nice rainbow on the first cast. Satisfied and gloating over my fishing mastery I eased on to the next pool and proceed to pick up two more one after the other.

At this point I had caught three reasonably sized fish in less than a dozen cast and had all but forgot the past three days of frustration and the few times I had contemplated simply lying down in the river and drifting quietly downstream to the sweat release of a watery grave. Yet, now as I looked ahead I could see that my initial plan to remain in the river and work my way upstream was foiled because the cliff jetted sharply into the river and was now a shear face that ended in a deep boiling pool well over my head. With no way past I was forced to turn my attention to the crumbly slope back to the trail. Now skidding down is one thing; but going up is an all together different proposition and with wet wading boots, a bad right arm that I’ve been nursing and my new $1200 rod and reel, was not something I found inviting. But, with a feeding fish just out of reach on the opposite side of that cliff I saw no other choice. Putting my new Winston into my teeth I began to scale the cliff hand over hand until finally was able to drag myself wheezing back onto the trail.

From this new vantage point I could now see that the just out of reach feeding fish I had spotted was the fish I had been hunting. It was a big brown at least 22 inches, lying steady, munching caddis like Pringles in a perfect foam line trailing behind a boulder. Access should be no problem now as once past the cliff I could easily slip back down a gradual slope to make the perfect cast. The sun was setting and it would be the perfect finale to an evening adventure.

I paused on the trail to catch my breath, took a couple of photos from atop the cliff and watched a raft drift by full of scantily clad women; which is common this time of year on the Madison, and then forged on to the task at hand.

Taking only a few steps down the trail I heard a distinct sound that thinking on now, feel unsure I’ve actually ever personally witnessed; but instinctively knew precisely from which it came. Years of ballet training coming back to me as I leaped into the air and executed a Double Rond de jambe en l’air that would make Balanchine proud. I whipped around to see coiled and unhappy a Western Rattlesnake with mouth open wide only inches from where my foot had previously been. Hey, I’ll be honest. I was a little scared because in my haste to retreat I had wacked my rod tip onto the overhanging rocks and had to check to see if I had broken the tip. Luckily I hadn’t and could now turn my attention on the very disturbed and large snake that stood between me and the feeding 23 inch behemoth below.

While surveying the situation and placing a safe distance between me and the Mr. Snake I took a couple of pictures and a video that I’ll share at a later time. I could see that from my current position that there was no way around him and that if I was going to beat the sunset and catch that 24 inch fish he would need to move and that was all there was to it. To one side was a sheer cliff which dropped off into the deep river below and to the other was the steep rock face. I briefly considered that I could somehow hold him off with my wading staff as I passed but became greatly concerned that he might puncture my waders which I can’t afford to replace at this time. That plan seemed impractical and with leaking waders I wouldn’t be able to catch the 25 inch brown that I could still see feeding anyway. After some careful thought and strategy I devised a feasible plan to safely remove the snake; a plan which would not only be safe for me and my waders; but for the snake as well. Because after all I’m a conservation minded angler who cherishes our valuable natural resources. So, with surgical accuracy and the advantage of higher intelligence and an opposable thumb, I pelted him with rocks. Not a particularly graceful solution I admit but I at the time it seemed a plausible approach. The snake was unfazed by my barrage of pebbles. Unfazed, meaning he coiled, hissed and rattled with even more fever than before.

Finally, our 35 minute standoff apparently bored him and he slowly and defiantly slithered across the trail and down into the rocks below. By now of course the sun had almost completely dropped below the horizon and just as I arrived at the river’s edge that 26 inch brown had pushed his chair away, unbutton his trousers, shook his head and gave me only a belch.

Thinking back on it now I wonder if they weren’t in cahoots.

rattler

Springtime in Montana

Posted By on May 2, 2009

Well, I packed up and headed for Montana this past week and as promised, packed light.  I even had room to sleep.  To be fair I don’t have Sarah with me yet which saved space. She will join me in a few weeks and then stay until the end of the summer.  For now it’s just me and River the dog.

packed light

Spring in Montana is a strange thing.  I arrived after dark to a camp buried in almost 2 feet of snow and untouched for months.  I didn’t have a shovel so I improvised with a Rubbermaid tub lid to dig my way into the cabin.  It was snowing and about 24 or so degrees. Why do I do this?

camp April 28

These icicles curved in to the wall of the bathhouse from being blown in the wind.  

ice

The view from my back window.

springtime in Montana

The view looking out my front door and the bunk where Sarah and I sleep that I built last summer.

             front door bunk

This is the front corner of my 12 x 12 cabin or the North Wing as I like to call it.  Here you’ll see my fly tying bench and my kitchen. 

fly tying and kitchen

This is where I’m sitting now.  This is the office or “study”. 

work area

I came a few day earlier than usual this year in part because I have a meeting this week but mainly to spend a little time fishing before the spring run off hits.  Once the run off comes I can’t fish and will be confined to my “study” preparing for camp.  The fishing is really good right now with consistent mayfly hatches in the early afternoon.  This is the first fish of my Montana season.

trout

My fishing buddy “River” who I think is aptly named.

aptly named

It’s been warming up enough during the day to melt a little bit of the snow.  Today I began to see grass, a few Larkspurs popping up and a snow shovel that would have been helpful a few nights ago. 

Stay tuned for updates about my summer and all the adventures that await. 

Keep it Simple Stupid!

Posted By on April 25, 2009

As I prepare to pack and load up my earth destroyer SUV for my summer Montana migration to run Rockhaven Camp I’m reflecting a little on some of the many reasons why I do it and have become so passionate about this ministry.

First, it should go without saying that anyone who knows me knows that I am a fanatical fly fisherman and southwestern Montana is certainly fly fishing Mecca.  So, it stands to reason that I would enjoy that aspect of my summers in Montana.  I’d being lying if I said it’s not a plus but if truth be known… I can fish in a lot of places and do, and no matter where I find myself there can always be fishing.  So, when I took on this ministry, fishing wasn’t initially on the pros and cons list.  No… really. 

magnified

One of the big blessings is of course the opportunity it affords us in priceless experiential learning with Sarah.  I can’t think of too many ways better to unschool a child than by living in a simple cabin without so much of the “stuff” that distracts us from listening and learning naturally and then carry it out  in a place like southern Montana. Every year I leave with a truck load full of the things I think I will need and every summer I wish I had left most of it at home.  Those few months have ended with the overwhelming feeling of freedom and liberation which usually manifests itself in a conversation with my wife that ends in a phrase something like, “just burn it all, we don’t need it and I think the three of us can make it through the winter in this cabin”. 

Rockhaven is an uncomplicated rustic camp whose genesis came from motivated people with a vision to transform lives.  It really offers only the beauty and the hope of those it has inspired.  It is certainly a beautiful and holy place but it is just that, a place. Once we let fall the spectacular river, the towering cliffs, the fresh smell of fir trees from our focus we see that what Rockhaven is truly about is people. It’s about people listening to the Holy Spirit and following Christ’s call, connecting with other people to build greater the Kingdom of God.  Nothing is needed to accomplish this.  No “stuff” is better than what we each carry with us and the story we each can tell.

When considering Rockhaven there seems to be an overall theme I continually come back to and I’m sure will fuel fodder for future post this summer and that is “simplicity”.  As an artist I know first hand how easy it is to become focused on the end result rather than the overall vision.  Many times have I allowed the product to take precedence over the process and as a result, I pretty much lost sight of why I was even doing what I had originally set out to do in the first place.

So many summer camps struggle with ways to stay ahead of our fast paced and changing world.  They try so hard to find new ways toward relevance that they entangle themselves in the “stuff” that they believe they need; because they believe it is what people want.  They are racing so fast to upgrade and update, and to keep up with the latest and greatest programs that they lose focus in their vision.  They want to be relevant and believe that the best way is to provide bigger and better programs.  The same “stuff”, the same “noise” of the outside world that outdoor ministry claims to provide sanctuary from is ultimately what drives them.

I prefer the slow and deliberate path towards a greater vision like the placing of a brick when you are sure that it fits.  I suppose that is why I’m so attracted to the simple blank slate which is Rockhaven.  Keeping it simple and going softly is a lesson I relearn every summer and as I stand amongst my “stuff” and my complicated, cluttered life I hope that I don’t stop learning.  I hope that when I return this Fall I can put it towards broader action, take it further, and just maybe stop paying for cable TV once and for all.  It of course is easier said than done and not hard to become buried in a quagmire of overwhelming clutter both spiritually and physically but as they say a journey of a thousand steps…  

I believe in simplicity.  I believe that we should keep it simple in learning, in ministry and in our very lives.   So, I’m packing light today.  I’m taking only what I need and all else be damned.  Like my good buddy Leonardo Da Vinci said, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”

I wish everyone could be a part of Rockhaven’s growing, simple and inspirational ministry as well as our summer adventures in Montana; maybe if not physically, then in spirit, and through the stories I’ll tell here.

For now, pick up a piece of string and “Keep it Simple Stupid”!String Figure Girls

The law of parsimony – Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem, or “entities must not be multiplied beyond necessity”

Utah Fishing Marathon

Posted By on April 25, 2009

Woody and I took a couple of days this past week for a quick fishing marathon in Utah.  While we didn’t catch too many fish we certainly had an adventure.

First stop was Kingston Canyon on the East Fork of the Sevier River where we were able to catch a few fish and Woody made a grand slam with a Brown, a Rainbow and a Cutthroat all in about an hour.  kingston canyon rainbow

After a couple of hours at the Sevier we headed over to the Fremont River which I haven’t ever fished so was happy to make that notch.  Fishing was tough and even though we saw some very large trout, they just weren’t interested.  Left for the campground just before dark empty handed and running from a storm. 

Fremont River Utah

Tuesday we first fished the headwaters of the Fremont and picked up a few fish but nothing of any size.  We headed on up the mountain towards Fish Lake and found that the road had barely been traveled and the snow drifts on the road were getting worse the higher we went.  Just as we circled Johnson Valley Reservoir we found a family of 6 stranded in the snow.  We stopped to check on them and were shocked to discover they had been stuck in the drift and stranded since the prior day.  They had spent the night in the van with 4 kids, 1 of which had downs syndrome and a 7 yr. old!  We couldn’t believe we were the first people to travel the road since they got stuck the day before.  We set them up with sandwiches, a blanket and plenty of water and turned back for help.  About 40 minutes later we made it to the Ranger Station to make the report and send for help.  It was one of those scary situations that can turn bad very quick especially in unpredictable spring weather.  People wonder why I’m so obsessive about preparedness.  Stranded

After our stranded family excitement we headed south to the town of Hatch, UT to fish Mammoth creek.  I’ve wanted to fish this for a long time.  It was a beautiful little stream and I’ll definitely be heading back in the Fall, unfortunately it was raining and snowing pretty heavy on us making for some wet cold fishing misery.  We caught a few but eventually had to hang it up and head out due to the quickly changing weather.

Mammoth Creek

We finished this fishing marathon in our own hallmark style… freezing, cold, wet, muddy, creeping along, white knuckling it over mountain passes in windy, blizzard, whiteout conditions.  Pretty typical fishing trip.

Storm

Next fish… Montana!

Stories along the way – Bookstore Launched

Posted By on April 5, 2009

You may notice that I’m in the process of adding a few new things to this blog. Please visit my new Bookstore listed above as a page or on the sidebar. You can find books, CD’s, MP3’s and resources which either I have on my shelf or would recommend.

Mask Making Part 3 – Creating the Form and Mask

Posted By on April 2, 2009

My good friend Kirby joined us today from Tempe, AZ for a couple of days of mask making fun.  The next step of the process is to use our plaster positive as a base and create a clay form of what we want the final mask to look like.  Sarah decided to make an alien mask and Kirby and I chose traditional Commedia Dell Arte’ masks. 

After sculpting the clay form we coat the it with Vaseline and use Paper Mache’ to make the final mask.  It will dry overnight and then it’s on to the final stage.

Mask Making Part 2 – MAKING THE MOLD

Posted By on April 2, 2009

We’ve been continuing our mask making project this week and this video is of the second step of that process.  After creating the life mask we use plaster to poor a positive mold which once dry will be used to build a clay image that becomes the new mold for the mask.  Building it on the positive of our face will make a custom fitted mask. 

A VAUDEVILLE ALLEY Retrospective

Posted By on March 29, 2009

Gerry and I met in the Theatre Department at Northern Kentucky University somewhere around 1990 and both being comedy jugglers, soon decided to team up and develop a show.  We soon got a gig and the rest was history.  That first gig was the start of a 10 year partnership which took us to colleges all across the Midwest, theme parks, fairs, festivals and schools; corporate events, casino resorts and a couple of television appearances along the way.   It was a lot of work, often frustrating, but always fun.  We don’t perform together any longer and while I sometimes miss it, my body appreciates the transformation to storyteller, and my work now I find somewhat more meaningful and creative. 

I’ve wanted to document our show for some time but much of the footage I have is either pretty mediocre or on VHS and of course, I procrastinate.  However, the other day I uncovered some footage we took of a show with multiple camera angles and decided now was the time.  Sarah was watching with me and I realized it needed to be done for posterity sake if nothing else.  Below is our publicity write up and some highlights of one of our shows.

VAUDEVILLE ALLEY – Theatre In A Trunk

Scott Thrasher and Gerry Born are Vaudeville Alley, a new fashioned pair of funny-men who create a modern twist to classic comedy. These guys bring vaudeville in vogue. Vaudeville Alley

Bearing a likeness to such unforgettable teams as Abbott and Costello, Martin and Lewis, and Laurel and Hardy, these physical comedians will smash, crash, bounce, and hurtle you into uncontrollable laughter.  

Vaudeville Alley creates unpredictable theatricality with their classic characters. Scott’s endearing childlike buffoonery is tempered by Gerry’s straight-man tolerance as they dance, sing, juggle, and invite the audience to join in with their reckless antics. Whether spinning and flipping hats, slinging razor sharp blades, or eating unbelievably hot fire, this bumbling duo redefines variety entertainment.

Mask Making Part 1 – THE LIFE MASK

Posted By on March 28, 2009

My good friend Kirby is an expert mask maker and clown in Arizona.  He was my roommate at the Ringling Bros. Barnum and Bailey Clown College in 1989.  He’s coming for a visit this week to catch up a little and show me some of his mask making techniques.  I’ve had a lot of experience with prosthetic make- up and masks but I’m looking forward to learning a few new things during his visit.  I’m also looking forward to sharing this process with Sarah.  We got a jump on the process today so we’ll be ready when he arrives.

To create a well fitting mask you first need to create a life mask and then a plaster positive of your face.  This video is of the life mask process using plaster mesh cut into strips. 

This is a great activity to do with kids as long as they trust you and don’t mind staying still and quit for about 30 minutes.  While the mask dries take them on a trust walk!

Another animation experiment

Posted By on March 19, 2009

This is our first attempt at incorporating a voice over track.

 

Unschooling

Posted By on March 17, 2009

I came across this great list of John Holt quotes on another blog which I occasionally read.  I thought it would be good to have it here as a reference and for the benefit of some of my family.  John Holt’s books have been extremely influential to me and the way I view education as he brilliantly put in words what I have always known.  Holt was a teacher for many years until realizing compulsory education wasn’t the answer.

While I survived my childhood compulsory imprisonment (albeit barely), I have essentially unschooled myself and know without a shadow of a doubt, never have learned a single thing in a school. 

“The most important thing any teacher has to learn, not to be learned in any school of education I ever heard of, can be expressed in seven words: Learning is not the product of teaching. Learning is the product of the activity of learners.”

“…the anxiety children feel at constantly being tested, their fear of failure, punishment, and disgrace, severely reduces their ability both to perceive and to remember, and drives them away from the material being studied into strategies for fooling teachers into thinking they know what they really don’t know.”

“It’s not that I feel that school is a good idea gone wrong, but a wrong idea from the word go. It’s a nutty notion that we can have a place where nothing but learning happens, cut off from the rest of life.”

“The true test of intelligence is not how much we know how to do, but how to behave when we don’t know what to do”

“To parents I say, above all else, don’t let your home become some terrible miniature copy of the school. No lesson plans! No quizzes! No tests! No report cards! Even leaving your kids alone would be better; at least they could figure out some things on their own. Live together, as well as you can; enjoy life together, as much as you can.”

“Children do not need to be made to learn to be better, told what to do or shown how. If they are given access to enough of the world, they will see clearly enough what things are truly important to themselves and to others, and they will make for themselves a better path into that world then anyone else could make for them”

“True learning – learning that is permanent and useful, that leads to intelligent action and further learning — can arise only out of the experience, interest, and concerns of the learner”

“It is as true now as it was then that no matter what tests show, very little of what is taught in school is learned, very little of what is learned is remembered, and very little of what is remembered is used. The things we learn, remember, and use are the things we seek out or meet in the daily, serious, nonschool parts of our lives.”

“What children need is not new and better curricula but access to more and more of the real world; plenty of time and space to think over their experiences, and to use fantasy and play to make meaning out of them; and advice, road maps, guidebooks, to make it easier for them to get where they want to go (not where we think they ought to go), and to find out what they want to find out.”

Claymation

Posted By on March 17, 2009

Here is another stop motion animation.  This one, with the exception of a little help making the chrysalis and the adding of a title and music was created entirely by Sarah.

Stop Motion Animation

Posted By on March 16, 2009

Last year Sarah developed an interest in making Podcasts or radio shows.  We did this for a while and hope to make some others this summer while we’re away.  A while back she just started playing with my sound software and seeing what sort of sounds she could record.   She’s made some interesting layered vocal tracks with her doing all the voices which are a lot of fun.  She then decided she wanted to make a web show like iCarly so we spent some time making videos and editing them.  Recently she thinks she’d like to try her hand at animation.  I’ve always wanted to do this as well so we’ve been messing around with this time consuming but endlessly creative art.  This is our first claymation movie which was a whole family project… not perfect but it was a blast to make. 

Here is our little studio set up.  We used a webcam and Stop Motion Animator.

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Homeschooling Sees Dramatic Rise…

Posted By on March 8, 2009

In December, the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics released new estimates on the number of American families homeschooling their children. The new report shows the growing popularity of homeschooling. In view of this trend, it is important that federal and state policymakers safeguard families’ right to educate their children at home.

Growing Homeschooling Movement

The report shows that approximately 1.5 million children (2.9 percent of school-age children) were being homeschooled in the spring of 2007, representing a 36 percent relative increase since 2003 and a 74 percent relative increase since 1999.[1] One private researcher estimates that as many as 2.5 million school-age children were educated at home during the 2007-2008 school year.

Read full article… by Lindsey Burke

Posted from The Heritage Foundation www.heritage.org

Skateboarding

Posted By on March 6, 2009

I haven’t ever had the desire to take up skateboarding. My knowledge is limited to, it’s a board with wheels, people do tricks and my last name makes every teenage Skateboarder drool with envy.   That’s pretty much it.  I suppose that will soon change because Sarah has decided to take up skateboarding.  So I’ve started boning up on my argot. Now, perhaps the next time you “drop in on me”, I won’t get “railed” and there will be no need to “fakie” that I don’t know “flip” about “vert”, “curbing”, or “half pipes”.  Then I won’t be so “Old School”.  Peace out. 

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Leeds Creek, Utah

Posted By on March 5, 2009

I took a little spur of the moment trip to Utah on Monday to fish Leeds creek with Woody.  I’ve wanted to fish this creek for a while since it holds Bonneville cutthroat trout which I’ve never caught.

Bonneville cutthroats are really only found in parts of the Bonneville Basin and a few areas in Nevada and Wyoming.  Not all that long ago it was thought that they were extinct but some pure strains have since been found and maintained.  Good conservation efforts have brought these little beauties back in spite of some habitat damage from livestock and non-native introduction. 

Leeds is a very small trickle of a creek which runs through some beautiful red desert terrain.  It’s a bear to fish with heavy over grown brush and I was glad I brought a 7 foot 3 weight.  The very small pools and shallow runs held a surprising amount of fish which were hungry and willing to take pretty much everything we threw at them.

The fish are of course very small but absolutely beautiful. 

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Bonneville Cutthroat

Provo Fishing Trip – January 2009

Posted By on March 1, 2009

In early January, a couple of buddies and I took a 3 day trip to fish the Provo river in Utah.  It was during one of the snowiest, coldest weekends of the year with temperatures dropping to subzero at times.  It was tough fishing with icy guides and frozen stiff waders; but great fun and we not only learned a lot but actually were able to catch fish.  I’ve been meaning to post a couple of shots of the trip and am just now getting around to doing it.  Here are some photos and a short video… proof that obsession and intelligence sometimes don’t operate at the same time.

Scott and Woody

Scott and Garth

Google Earth

Posted By on February 25, 2009

So, I was looking up some directions from my home to another location and began fooling around with Google Maps and Earth… just poking around my neighborhood and to my amazement found a shot of Sarah and me riding our bikes.  This is actually us caught on Google Earth… sort of like Bigfoot.  We can be tracked for about 1/4 mile with various 360 degree shots.
After a little more research I discovered that these are actually taked by Google Maps street view cars which drive around and shoot 360 degree photos.
Caught on Google Earth

Caught on Google Earth

New painting

Posted By on February 25, 2009

A new piece from the imagination of Sarah.

All I want for Christmas…

Posted By on February 25, 2009

This past summer Sarah lost all 4 of her bottom teeth but her top teeth have been hanging on for dear life.  Today she had a dentist appointment and he suggested removing them.  So, in no time she’s back to being toothless and looking just like the folks back home. :)

Heart Pizza

Posted By on February 25, 2009

Sarah sees hearts everywhere.  Clouds, leaves, stones… potato chips all become hearts in her eyes.  Sunday we made pizzas.

Fly Tying Dad

Posted By on February 25, 2009

I’ve been tying alot lately hoping to fill my boxes with anything I might need through this next season.  A couple of photos Sarah took with my camera.  I think she’s got a pretty good eye.

Painting a box

Posted By on February 23, 2009

After replacing our pool pump I saved the box which it arrived in for Sarah to play with.  After a couple of days playing with it in everyway possible we decided it could be a lot more fun if we were to paint it.  So, out came the paint and in no time we had a beautifully decorated box. 

A couple of pool noodles, some curtains and a little hot glue and we have ourselves a playhouse.  Sarah has spent a lot of time playing in it and has camped the night in it as well. 
Upstairs we have a two story playhouse that I built which she never goes into, but an old painted box sitting in the middle of our floor has been used daily.  Now I feel stupid.

Fly Tying Bench

Posted By on February 23, 2009

Fly Tying Bench:
I have been spending a great deal of time at the bench lately tying flies.  My bench is right behind our couch and quite central in our living room.  It’s crowded and cluttered and I’ve been wanting to improve upon it for a long time.  Last week I finally went out in my shop and remodeled everything and it has made a remarkable difference in my fly tying.  I’m much faster now that I don’t have to go rooting for everything, I’m more comfortable and I enjoy it even more.  Here are a few pictures of my remodeled fly tying bench.

The “Talking Stick” Re-post

Posted By on February 22, 2009

I made a post about our Talking Stick last year but something made me think about it further and I decided to re-post and expand on this idea in greater detail. 

The idea of a “Talking Stick” is something I’ve been using in my team building facilitation for years.  I use the concept to process a situation or activity in a debriefing time after a group event.  I usually don’t use a specific prop for this; I simply grab something handy and appoint it as the “Talking Stick”… or rock… or… rubber chicken.  It’s a great device to allow everyone who wishes to be heard, be heard. 

We made the ”Talking Stick” pictured below and have been using it in our home.  I can be a bit cavalier at times and Sarah is quite sensitive, so I have found myself reaching for the “Talking Stick” which hangs on our banister on several occasions.  Not only does it allow everyone to feel heard but it changes the dynamic of an argument or misunderstanding and defuses the situation a little. 

About the “Talking Stick”

American Indian tribes used “Talking Sticks” for centuries as a tool for active and impartial listening.  The holder of the “Talking Stick” designates the person who has the right to speak and the full attention of the other parties.  The stick is passed to all who wish to be heard and as long as you hold the stick you have the floor until you feel you’ve been completely heard and understood.  A great communication tool from the American Indian that offers a great way for everyone to feel that they’ve been heard. 

This also work really well as a “Story Stick” which I use the same way only have the holder tell a story or a memory.  To separate the uses of these different tools, you can also decorate and designate a wooden spoon as a “Story Spoon”.  Try passing it around the table after dinner and in oral tradition share family stories, memories or dreams. 

All too often in today’s fast passed world we let active listening and good communication slide because we just don’t take the time or energy to stand in someone else’s shoes.  I believe we all need to carry a “Talking Stick” with us.  Maybe a “Talking Twig”.

Here is a quote from an article I found.  We made a couple of alterations to our stick such as replacing the blue stone with a small carved cross to symbolize sacrifice and reconciliation.  Of course we couldn’t get our hands on a eagle feather so a turkey feather had to do.  I suppose to signify that at times we are all “turkeys” and could stand stepping back and listening as well as talking.   

This is taken from an article by Carol Locust, PH.D.  Native American Research and Training Center, Tucson, Arizona

“The talking stick has been used for centuries by many American Indian tribes as means of just and impartial hearing.  the talking stick was commonly used in council circles to designate who had the right to speak.  When matters of great concern came before the council, the leading elder would hold the talking stick and begin the discussion.  When he finished what he had to say he would hold out the talking stick, and whoever wished to speak after him would take it.  In this manner the stick was passed from one individual to another until all who wished to speak had done so…

…Whoever holds the talking stick has within his hands the sacred power of words.  Only he can speak while he holds the stick; the other council members must remain silent.  The eagle feather tied to the talking stick gives him the courage and wisdom to speak truthfully and wisely.  The rabbit fur on the end of the stick reminds him that his words must come from his heart and that they must be soft and warm.  The blue stone will remind him that the Great Spirit hears the message of his heart as well as the words he speaks.  The shell, iridescent and ever changing, reminds him that all creation changes – the days, the seasons, the years – and people and situations change, too. ”  Full Article

Talking Stick Origanal Post

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Sarah with our homemade "Talking Stick"

 

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The Talking Stick

Pickin’ and Grinin’

Posted By on February 21, 2009

So, Sarah recieve a really nice guitar for Christmas this year and while I’m sort of a mediocre musician I have been trying to teach her how to play.  She doesn’t like to practice very much at this stage because it hurts her fingers; but I think as she gets a little better more inspiration might follow. 

So, I asked her if she had been practicing and she said “no”.  I said, “Well… if you’re going to get good enough to play praise songs at camp with me this summer you’d better get practicing.   We’ll be an act… we’ll start a band”.  She just glared at me…  I said, “So what do you think we could call our band?”  She said with perfect deadpan, “The Dork and the Amazing Sarah”. 

See what I get?  No respect. 

Sarah practicing guitar

Sarah practicing guitar

String Figures by Sarah

Posted By on February 19, 2009

More String Figures

Posted By on February 19, 2009

Here are some more string figure videos.

Lightening String Figure

Posted By on February 18, 2009

This is “Lightening” a great Navajo figure!

Heart String Figure

Posted By on February 17, 2009

Here is more on the String Figure pictured in my last post. 

This string figure actually is only one in a series of figures.  The first figure  you’ll see in the sequence is called “Two Eyes” which is represented by the two diamonds.  Next the eyes are separated into “Eyes with bags under them” and then “The Heart” which while making a great heart shape is actually called “The Mouth” in the original Inuit figure.  You can continue on with one of my favorites, “Two Women Fighting” who eventually transform into “Eagles” and fly away which dissolves the figure.

Here is my video of this sequence.

New Blog is finally up and running.

Posted By on February 6, 2009

Welcome to my new blog!  I think I have finally ironed out all the bugs of this thing and can get moving forward again.  As you might have noticed I stalled out trying to migrate it to my website and except for a few feeble attempts at renewal pretty much let it sit idle for far longer than I had wanted.  I think this new format will be more flexible and allow me to post easier while I’m away and or on the road.  We’ll see.  Stay tuned and look for home school updates, photos, podcasts and of course fly fishing information in the near future. 

In the meantime, here is a picture of one of my more recent string figure accomplishments. 

Heart String Figure

Heart String Figure

River the fishing dog…

Posted By on September 15, 2008

Here are some pictures of River, a relatively new family member. River is an English Setter and the dog I always dreamed of having.

Summer Photos from Camp

Posted By on July 21, 2008

Here are some photos from this past summer in Montana.

Montana 2008

Posted By on May 20, 2008

Sarah and I have been at the camp for nearly a month now and I’ve been so busy I haven’t had the gumption to sit down a post entries.  Once again, it’s not from the lack of exciting things to relate… it’s just that I’m pretty much a lousy blogger.  However, to be honest… we’ve been very busy trying to prepare for the camp season with many improvements to the camp, cleaning, organizing, building and such… not to mention finding and hiring a summer staff; which is always a challenge. We’ve also had snow and or cold rain nearly everyday, so it makes it that much harder to work in.  Then of course this very temperamental and slow dial up connection doesn’t make blogging much fun.  So see… I have plenty of excuses. 

For those of you that have no idea what I’m talking about maybe I should briefly fill you in.  Each summer, my daughter (who I homeschool) and I, leave my wife to hold down the fort at home and head off to Montana to run a small Christian camp in the Gallatin National Forest in southwest Montana.  We usually leave a month before the actual camp begins and this is it.  It’s the hardest month because we’re very busy trying to prepare for campers to arrive in June.  It’s cold, wet and lonely during this month but Sarah is a real trooper and finds many interesting things to keep her occupied and continually learning new things. 

This year, she brought most of her animals with her and we added them to our very small 12×12 cabin which is where we will reside until the end of August.  I am including photos of our cabin below. 

Also, in a moment of insanity we bought a new English Setter pup.  This makes 3 English Setters we now own.  Very cute and I’m hoping to make him into a good hunter as well.  Aptly, his name is River and you can see a few photos of him as well. 

Sarah, helps me around the camp a lot… especially with the crafts and activity planning and she loves hiking around the camp and identifying plants, trees, wildflowers and animals.  This year she’s become interested in tracks and scat and has a started collecting and labeling scat samples.  That’s something you don’t see everyday!

This week will be our last week before staff comes and the summer really gets rolling.  We were lucky to have Emily come for an extended weekend to visit and just have some family time.  Sadly, she leave tomorrow but will return a few times over the summer so it’s not so bad.  

Check back periodically to see what happening and how our summer is going and hopefully we’ll get our pod cast back in the mix soon.

Catching up a little…

Posted By on March 28, 2008

It’s been a long time since I last posted and I really have no real excuse.  I’ve been busy preparing for the 2008 camp season with designing a website, brochures, programs and trying to find a staff.  Sarah and I took a couple of weeks and traveled throughout the northwest attending college job fairs looking for staff.  It was a lot of fun and we had the opportunity to spend sometime in the snow and doing a little fishing.  Above are a few photos. 

Also, we’ve added a few pets to our personal zoo and botanical garden.  A couple of Gerbils will hopefully yield a litter in the near future and we’ve also added a bunny.  This summer at camp we’re taking everything with us and I’m creating a little nature center where the kids can play with the snakes, turtles and other critters.  Should be a good addition. 

Sarah and I spent some time building bird and bat habitats in the shop.  We’re installing them at the camp along with cameras to view the inhabitants. 

Above are some recent pictures of our adventures.  I’ll try to spend some time in the near future catching up on homeschooling posts.

Mountain bike from Santa

Posted By on December 30, 2007

Santa brought Sarah a nice mountain bike so we can do some trail riding in Montana this summer.

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Christmas 2007

Posted By on December 30, 2007

We hope everyone had a Merry Christmas and even though it’s sometimes difficult to get in the Christmas spirit living in the desert we had a good one.  At Church this year Sarah got a chance to follow in her mothers footsteps and sing a solo which she did very well. 

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Sarah and Emily made a gingerbread house from scratch!

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Decorating the tree.

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Pet Snakes

Posted By on December 27, 2007

We’ve been raising a Sinaloan Milk-snake for two years now and a couple of weeks ago it somehow managed to escape from the terrarium.  We search the house pretty well a few time but sadly it was gone.  Sarah and I were pretty bummed since we’d watched the hatchling grow to a pretty nice sized adult.  So, after a few days of searching we decided to get another snake as a replacement.  This time we went for a little cheaper snake and got a corn-snake.  Below is a picture of him. 

 So, today I was cleaning out the laundry room and guess who I found, cold and alone between two painting stored next to the dryer.  Yep… our Prodigal Milk-snake.   Not the most remarkable Christmas miracle but hey… we’ll take what we get.  Now we’re up to 2 dogs, 2 snakes, a cat, a tortoise and a bunch of fish.  Next I think we’ll get a partridge in a pear tree. 

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Making ginger bread cookies

Posted By on December 23, 2007

Getting ready for Christmas and into her work with some gingerbread cookies where process is more important than product. 

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Help with writing practice…

Posted By on December 23, 2007

Getting a little a help with writing practice with our pet tortoise.

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