MEMORIES OF JULY 3
Birthdays are milestones in our lives. Some mean more than others but certain ones maintain their prominence in our minds for a variety of reasons. During the course of the day yesterday I pulled some past birthdays out of my cranial archives and hit the refresh icon on my mental browser. My pop up blocker worked on some but others were vivid and worth sharing.
Growing up it was Mom’s birthday cakes for my three sisters and I that made the day special. Who ever was having their birthday got to choose their favorite type of cake. But, in my case it wasn’t a cake but a pie instead. Anyone who has ever picked huckleberries knows just how valuable a quart of Mother Natures own purple pearls are worth. Some years the berry picking was poor and the quarts of huckleberries down in the basement “fruit room” could be counted on the fingers of one hand with a couple of fingers left over. But…Mom always saved a quart for my birthday pie.
For reasons that will be evident shortly memories of my eighteenth are still a bit hazy but a dessert of sorts played a part in that day as well. Of course we all remember that age and being over to a friend’s house whose parents were gone for the weekend!?! These many years later I can unequivocally say that was the only time I had a “Cherry Vodka Sundae”! The next morning was not the last time my breakfast consisted of aspirin and coffee.
Anyway…memories evoked yesterday in my mind were worth pulling out of the archives and putting down here.
After graduating from college I went to work for a dude ranch in Challis, Idaho. Our first clients were showing up around mid July for a pack trip into some high mountain lakes. So, for my birthday we hauled horses up to Morgan Creek Summit for a day ride into Hat Creek Lakes to check out the trail and possible camp sites. The three of us all tied our slickers on behind our saddles as there were some dark clouds rolling through. About halfway in the heavens opened up and rain began falling that quickly turned to snow. The snow was falling so hard and fast we lost the trail and had to turn around.
Most folks who know me would find it hard to imagine a great birthday for me would be spent in a museum! But, July 3, 1975 I and three co-workers on the Inter-Agency Grizzly Bear Study Team spent the day touring the Wild West Museum in Cody, Wyoming. Already a big fan of Western artist Charlie Russell that day for me was mesmerizing. I knew of his paintings and already had several of his prints. But…I learned that day how prolific a sculptor Charlie was. Through both his paintings and bronze sculptures Charlie Russell captured the “old West” as only a real cowboy could. (For some great reading pick up Charlie’s book, Trails Plowed Under!)
I started rafting down Middle Fork of Salmon River in 1979 after transferring to the Challis Patrol Area for IDFG. Then and now the Fourth of July is the most popular launch date for the summer float season. As such I spent several birthdays between 1979 and 1986 patrolling the 96.6 miles of river between Boundary Creek and the Middle Fork’s confluence with the main Salmon River. One year I remember baking a Dutch oven rhubarb pie at my old patrol cabin at Cougar Creek. The rhubarb I picked from the clump still surviving from when the place was homesteaded way back when. Most trips I made my last camp on the river on a tiny patch of sand about a hundred yards upstream from Otter Bar. If memory serves me correctly I spent my 35th birthday on that patch of sand. It was so hot in the canyon that day another officer and I spent a couple of hours shaded up behind a big rock which was the only shade available drinking beer until the sun dropped below Stoddard Ridge.
It’s always been special having my birthday on the same day that Idaho was admitted to the Union by President Abraham Lincoln. In 1990 Idaho celebrated a hundred years of statehood and I turned the big 4 “O”! My son, Brian, who was then almost seven years old drove out to a rail crossing near Nampa to watch an old Union Pacific steam locomotive pulling a passenger train enroute to Boise. We followed the train into town and participated in the festivities at the Old Depot. As a little girl in the 1930’s my mom had lived just a block away.
Fast forward to July 3, 2000 when I hit the even bigger 5 “O”! After launching just below Hells Canyon dam on Snake River the day before a group of us pulled into Johnson Bar on the Idaho side. While the rest of us fished, lounged, and swam in the big pool in front of camp Chuck Goodenough prepared and treated us to his famous “Texas Ribs in Three Acts” along with a Dutch oven Bubble Gum Dump Cake. No one went hungry that night. Many a story and laughs all the way around made 50 seem well worth it! The only thing that could have made the day better would have been Brian being there. Unfortunately he stayed home and cared for our critters as he healed up from an appendectomy.
A year later though he was there for number 51! Brian had just graduated from high school and Matt, Penny’s youngest son, had just finished his engineering thesis to complete his college degree. So, for their combined graduation present we were taking them to Soldotna, Alaska, for a fishing trip. While I was busy sipping a complimentary micro brew and visiting with Pen on the commuter flight to Seattle, Brian and Matt told the flight attendants it was my birthday. The next thing I knew the whole plane was singing “Happy Birthday” to me. When we deplaned in Seattle the attendants presented me with a ribbon wrapped micro brew as a birthday present.
Needless to say I’ve enjoyed other memorable birthdays over the years but though these are long removed from “Recent Documents” section it’s not yet time to drag and drop them to the “Recycle Bin”!