“Win standoff with a bison” wasn’t even on my bucket list. Nevertheless: check!

About mmmmm, maybe half a mile into our 7-mile hike at Antelope Island State Park today, we encountered a speed bump. It had four legs, a gigantic shaggy head, and likely weighed in at about 2,000 pounds.

Dude. Are ya kididng me? We're trying to hike here!

Dude. Are ya kidding me? We’re trying to hike here!

Bison!

Hundreds of them roam the island. We know not to approach them, not even for selfies (oops — see below), but this guy clearly hadn’t read the signs. And he was in our way. So we made noise, and waved our arms, and begged, and cajoled, and finally seemed to annoy him enough that he wandered off down the hill toward the females, as I suggested.

But first, and since you insist on standing there, lemme take a selfie anyway.

But first, and since you insist on standing there, lemme take a selfie.

(Disclaimer: I do not recommend this strategy. We emerged unscathed, but also aware that things could have gone sideways quickly. But at least we didn’t put him in our car because he looked cold.)

Anyway, after that the hike was far less exciting, but wickedly strenuous. We gained about 2100 feet of elevation in 3.5 miles, and it took nearly 2.5 hours to reach the 6596-foot summit of Frary Peak. Per park signage, the hiking level is “Difficult.”

The last half mile, however, was what I would call treacherous, in that a fall could cause serious bodily harm — if ya live to limp back down the mountain and into an ER. I talked to myself for that whole last stretch, thanking my feet for taking cautious steps, my legs for holding me up, the rocks for providing footholds, and the breeze for providing oxygen so that I didn’t hyperventilate. I also sang songs. “One Singular Sensation,” “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy,” and “Baby Got Back” all made my mental playlist. Don’t judge. I made it to the top because of them.

Island map. From the summit (see the number 6576 about halfway down?), we could see the entire island!

Antelope Island
From the summit, we could see the entire thing, lots of the Great Salt Lake surrounding, and distant mountain ranges I am too lazy to look up on a map.


Going up -- and thinking this rock outcropping slightly resembles a bison head. Also, I'd been hiking in full sun for an hour, so if you don't see it, it's me, not you.

Going up — and thinking this rock outcropping slightly resembles a bison head.
Also, I’d been hiking in full sun for an hour, so if you don’t see it, it’s me, not you.


My guys, ascending.

My guys, ascending.

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Made it! Man, that was a tough climb. And there's no shade or water, so plan carefully if you decide to give this one a try!

Made it!
Man, that was a tough climb. And there’s no shade or water, so plan carefully if you decide to give this one a try.

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Views from the top...

Views from the top…


... south end of the island...

… south end of the island…


... and the reason we didn't spend much time at the top. If you don't move, the flies infest you. I count eight there on my knees, and the SOB's bite.

… and the reason we didn’t spend much time there.
If you don’t move, the flies infest you. I count seven there on my knees, and the SOB’s bite.

After our hike, we took a quick swing through the park’s historic Fielding Garr Ranch, which dates back to 1848 — and bonus, offers running water in the public restrooms instead of the usual state park pit toilet with empty hand sanitizer dispenser.

After our hike, we took a quick swing through the park's historic Fielding Garr Ranch, which dates back to 1848 -- and bonus, has running water in the public restrooms!

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We couldn't resist taking a peek inside the sheep herder's wagon. RV of the times!

We couldn’t resist taking a peek inside the sheep herder’s wagon: RV of the times, with cookstove, bunk, and storage areas!


Final glimpse of the bison -- this time from a safer distance, and with the engine running!

Final glimpse of the bison — this time from a safer distance, and with the engine running!

Malan’s Peak: Haven’t been to Salt Lake, but we can see it from here!

View from Malan's Peak, elev. 6980 feet That's the Great Salt Lake in the distance.

Panoramic view from Malan’s Peak, elev. 6980 feet, with the Great Salt Lake in the distance.

Three generations of men in this family are preparing to hike the 215-mile John Muir Trail together next month.

Two of them are here; the other (Tim’s dad) drives from WA to meet us in CA in about ten days.

I went with Tim and our son yesterday on their first training hike, which took us on a 5.3 mile in-and-out (or 4.8 mile, or 5.8 mile, or 7.8 mile, depending on which web site or whose Health App tracking you believe) from Taylor Canyon to Malan’s Peak, in Ogden, UT.

Normally, a hike of that length — even one as strenuously uphill as this one — would take us 3-4 hours, including long stops for meals and views. But because both boys were testing new backpacks and various pieces of gear, this one took us six. Yeah, ouch.

Preparing to depart. No, they're not related. Why do you ask?

Preparing to depart.
Apple, meet tree.

Beginning: Everyone's so happy and unsweaty and excited!

Beginning:
Everyone’s so happy and unsweaty and excited!

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Our views along the way…

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Charming alternative to the usual rock cairn

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Next six shots: views along the way

The wildflowers were in bloom, treating us to spectacular colors.

Summit! Clearly, we'd had it with packs and poles, dropped them where we arrived, and kept walking to the edge...

Summit!
Clearly, we’d had it with packs and poles, dropped them where we arrived, and kept walking to the edge…

... for this reward

… for this reward

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Don't let the smile fool you. Everything hurt, and my knees were not at all looking forward to the descent.

Don’t let the smile fool you. Everything hurt, and my knees were not at all looking forward to our descent.

On the way back down the mountain, we took breaks to test water filtration equipment...

On the way back down the mountain, we took breaks to test water filtration equipment…

... and cool tired tootsies (downstream from the filtration experiments, of course!)

… and cool tired tootsies (downstream from the filtration experiments, of course!)

Upon our return home, all three of us took advantage of the hot tub here at Century Park, to soothe our aching muscles before going to bed.


Gear switch (because I don’t know where else to put this): We were featured recently on Heartland RV’s Facebook page. Check out the interview here!

Thanks for the publicity, Heartland!

Thanks for the publicity, Heartland!

A quick reset at historic F.E. Warren AFB, with a bonus passenger!

Summer’s here, and we are plus-1 with the dash-2*!

Things do get a bit crowded in a fifth wheel when you add a third person — especially when that third person is 6′ 2″, weighs about 210 lbs, and brings three bags with him. We. are. full. Just don’t ask me how things are going with our teensy little RV fridge. OMG, the food.

But… an extra pair of hands is a handy thing to have, and we’re making our son work to earn his summer’s worth of travel, adventure, and oh yeah, having mom make his meals and do his laundry again. He’ll be with us until he goes back to school in August for his sophomore year at UT-Austin.

We intercepted him in Chicago after his 32-hour train ride from Texas, and then spent two loooong days on the road before stopping here at the F.E. Warren Fam Camp for two nights to catch up on laundry, cleaning, refueling, and grocery shopping. Have I mentioned the food it takes to keep this boy alive?

Downtown Chicago. Fancy meeting you here, tall and tired child o' mine!

Downtown Chicago.
Fancy meeting you here, tall and tired child o’ mine!


This is our life now. He with the longest legs rides shotgun, which means the non-driver gets half the back seat. Question of the Summer: Will we let him drive?

This is our life now.
He with the longest legs rides shotgun, which means the non-driver gets half the back seat.
Question of the Summer: Will we let him drive?


If he's rolling with us, he's learning to help with all the RV set-up and take-down procedures. Although he helped with many tasks on the morning we left Great Lakes, I had to snap a pic of him bringing in the slides (which is an easy one), because all I heard was my little boys shouting in an elevator. A: It's my turn to push the buttons! D: No, it's *my* turn! Both: Mo-om! Come to think of it, I hear myself and my brother too. Sorry, Mom.

If he’s rolling with us, he’s learning all the RV set-up and take-down procedures.
Although he helped with many tasks on the morning we left Great Lakes, I had to snap a pic of him bringing in the slides (which is an easy one), because all I heard in my head was my little boys shouting in an elevator.
A: It’s my turn to push the buttons!
D: No, it’s my turn!
Both: Mo-om!
Come to think of it, I hear myself and my brother too.
Uhhh, sorry, Mom.

We won’t get to spend time seeing the sights here in Cheyenne, due to a reservation in Utah that starts tomorrow. We did, however, go for a long, leg-stretching walk around one of the oldest parts of the base, which is widely rumored to be haunted. Glad I didn’t read about that before we went for our walk at twilight, and wish I hadn’t read it until after we were done sleeping here — or trying to.

The base dates back to 1867. These barracks, built in the early 1900's, are still in use, but I think we call them dormitories now.

The base dates back to 1867. Read about its history here.
These barracks, built in the early 1900’s, are still in use, but I think we call them dormitories now.


Company grade officer housing

Company grade officer housing

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The buildings pictured in the historic marker

The 1885 barracks pictured in the historic marker above


As we walked by the old chapel (yes, there's a new one), the chaplain rode by on his bicycle and greeted us, almost as if we'd conjured him.

As we walked by the old chapel (not to be confused with the new one), the chaplain rode by on his bicycle and greeted us, almost as if we’d conjured him.


And 11' 6" bridge would act like a can opener on most RVs, but it makes our 6' 2" son look a little shorter.

An 11′ 6″ bridge would act like a can opener on most RVs, but it makes our 6′ 2″ son look a little bit shorter than he does when I’m looking up.


A bunker! Warren AFB houses 150 Minuteman III missiles -- just not in places that are this easily accessible!

We found a bunker! Warren AFB houses 150 Minuteman III missiles — just not in places like this,  which are accessible to a family taking an evening stroll.


Full moon over Cheyenne

Full moon over Cheyenne


The base is home to herds of pronghorn antelope. We saw nearly a dozen grazing between buildings.

The base is home to herds of pronghorn antelope. We saw nearly a dozen grazing between buildings, calm as you please.


It's just a bunny. Bunnies aren't scary. Unless one scampers right at you, and all you can think of is the Killer Rabbit scene from "Monty Python and the Holy Grail." Just sayin'

It’s just a bunny. Bunnies aren’t scary, even on a haunted Air Force base. Unless one scampers right at you, and all you can think about is the Killer Rabbit scene from “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.”

Next stop: Northern Utah for some hiking time!

*For those who don’t speak military: dependents have numerical codes. 30 for spouse, -1, -2, -3 etc. for children by birth order. Dane is our -2.

Befores and Afters: House 2 is ready to sell, and we are ready to roll!

I wasn’t going to put all our home improvement photos on the blog because they don’t have anything to do with RV travel or living. But…

  1. I’m stinkin’ proud of what we did, even though I whined nearly constantly about having to do it, and
  2. It’s all part of Owning Less. Once this house is sold, we will own no property other than what we’re rolling around in, and both the BFT and The Toad are paid for.

(Confused about why we’re selling another house? That story is here, with a little more here, plus some NSFW ranting about it here.)

It took us

  • 7 weeks (out of a planned 4, and a hopeful 2)
  • more than 60 trips to big box and locally-owned home improvement/hardware stores
  • help from nearly a dozen friends who loaned us tools, garage space, sweat equity, and/or their grown sons who were eager to work for some summer cash (all three former Boy Scouts, and friends to our boys when we lived here)
  • around $10,000
  • and I don’t even know how many hours of our own labor. A million, maybe. We didn’t take many days off.

Witness the transformation of our 1912 Craftsman-style bungalow. She’s beautiful, and awaiting new owners to enjoy not just her charms, but also the best neighborhood we’ve ever lived in — and we’re a retired military family, so there’ve been lots.

Befores are on the left; afters on the right.

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She’s bigger than she looks from the street: four large bedrooms, giant eat-in kitchen, high ceilings, three full baths, 2237sf, detached garage

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The cedar shingles on the west side of the house looked like nothing so much as rotting, crooked teeth. We tore them all off, primed and installed new ones (about 2,000 — all by hand, but who’s counting?), then hired a house painter to paint all four sides plus all the ivory trim.

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Now to the back deck, where there were several rotting boards. I didn’t take truly corresponding photos, but these will give you an idea of the work we did. P.S. Prying up deck boards makes for an awesome core and upper body work-out — and I hope I never have to do it again.

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Lots of geometry involved in rebuilding the steps. I’m thankful Tim and our Eagle Scout helper did the math.

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And then a week later, we finally decided that leaving it with such obvious differences between new boards and old was probably not a good idea…

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… so we painted it.

The carriage doors on our garage showed significant wood rot and sagging. Rebuilt them both!

The carriage doors on our garage showed significant wood rot and sagging. Rebuilt them both!

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Inside of the garage: lots of mystery grime So we swept, vacuumed, degreased, scrubbed, primed, and painted.

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And it made a big, big difference!

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Here’s the front porch, which we’d last had refurbished in about 2008. It showed a lot of wear in the main traffic area to the front door…

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… and there were a few rotting boards that needed to be replaced. It was challenging because they’re made wider now, so Tim had to custom mill them using a friend’s table saw in order to get them to fit.

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Next stop: kitchen. The self-adhesive vinyl tiles we’d put down in 2009 didn’t hold up well. Many shrunk and separated at the seams, which then filled up with dirt.

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The new vinyl flooring snaps together and floats over the old surface, so there shouldn’t be as many issues with expanding or contracting. Helps to have a friend in the business! He told us what we needed to purchase for our particular situation, and then sent his team to install it. Bought them lunch, paid them for their labor, done!

So of course after we put in the new floor, we realized how awful the doors and molding look. Project creep: the struggle is real.

So of course after we put in the new floor, we realized how awful the door and molding looked.
Project creep: the struggle is real.

The only worker/contractor who didn't show up was the plaster repair guy. So Tim the tool man did it himself.

The only worker/contractor who didn’t show up was the plaster repair guy. So Tim the Tool Man did it himself.

Here we go again! Second -- and final -- house is now on the market. Come onnnnnn, buyers!

Here we go again! Second — and final — house is now on the market, a mere 3 months after we closed the sale on the first one.
Come onnnnnn, buyers!

Full list of what we did:

  • Replaced cedar shingles on west side of house
  • Had shingles painted on all 4 sides, plus trim, front porch, and front door
  • Refurbished back deck, front porch, and garage doors
  • Replaced rotting framing on 3 windows and above garage doors
  • Repainted garage interior, and several ceilings inside house
  • Had kitchen flooring replaced
  • Repaired HVAC disconnect switch
  • Refreshed mulch beds on 3 sides of house
  • Repaired cracks in plaster walls in living and dining rooms
  • Fixed like a hundred other pesky small things, like busted outlet covers, cabinet door hardware, window screens, etc., etc., etc.

Sacrifices to the cause:

  • 1 canopy
  • 1 pair of sneakers
  • 2 pairs of jeans
  • 1 pair of fitness capris
  • 4 t-shirts
  • 1 hoodie

Also, a bird pooped on me on Mother’s Day, and our dog died.

I could have done with a little. less. character building.

Interested in the house? Of course you are. At the very least, we know you want to see the asking price because everybody wants to know the asking price, so visit our real estate listing here. (The virtual tour wasn’t available as of this posting, so check back again soon if you want to see photos of the interior.)

Tomorrow, we roll. First stop: Northern Virginia for a few days, to visit with Air Force, Marine, and Navy friends from prior duty stations. After that, it’s westward ho, with a stop in Chicago on Friday to pick up our younger son for the remainder of our summer travels!

Other posts on this topic:

  1. How it all started
  2. Getting things started
  3. Bye, Lola.
  4. Coping Inappropriately