Monday, August 27, 2012

No moose this far

First of all, as a hunting trip this one sort of sucked. Not one of us ever saw a bull moose. Not even a young one. The regulations for which moose could be hunted were pretty strict this year, as they were last year too. To be legal, a moose had to have antlers that were at least 50 inches OR had four brow tines on each side. Those are big old moose, and usually the old ones are smarter because, well, you don't get to be old in the wilds of Alaska unless you are smart. So everyone expected to see lots of young males running around, since this is the second year when they can't be hunted. But no. Lots of cows and calves (even I got to see a couple), but not a single bull. The only explanation that anyone could come up with for this is that it still hadn't gotten cold enough to force the males out of the high country. The mamas with their babies come out earlier, while the males hang back until it starts to get quite chilly. The guys did try to get up into the high country one night, but it was so rainy and miserable that they just ended up getting stuck in the mud a whole bunch. The actual hunting time that day was about 45 minutes, rather than the several hours they usually spent each evening. (Dawn and dusk are the best times to hunt moose. We were staying up past midnight each night. So...guess which end of that timeline never got hunted?) The guys have decided that they might try to see what the regulations are in our area and perhaps go north a bit the next time Shane is home. We'll see. I'm guessing it won't happen, but it might.
As a vacation, this trip was really fun though. We had rainy, windy weather some days, but other days were lovely and sunny. I took the dog for long rambling walks around the hills when the guys went hunting. She loved all the off-leash time, and she was wonderful. Her instincts said, "Run in the long grass!" but her spaniel loyalty said, "Stick close to Mom." So she'd run into the grass a few feet and then back out onto the trail, tongue hanging out and stub tail wagging. I find it hilarious that my dog thinks she knows the way, and that she'll protect me. Every walk, I think she covered about 3 times the distance I did, so she slept VERY well every night.
There's still a lot of evidence of the fire from five years ago. That was the first summer when Shane and I were dating. The first time I visited his family, I came up from Seattle for about a week. It happened to be the week right after they finally let people back into the hills to check on their property. So my first visit out there, the cabin had scorch marks and the outhouse had a hole burned through the back. The only thing which saved the whole place from going up in flames was that they keep the land immediately around the cabin, outhouse, and generator shed fairly cleared. Good thing, too. But seeing how dramatic the evidence of that fire still is brought back a lot of memories.

Yes, there is a phone booth in the middle of nowhere. It doesn't work, but it does make a nice marker so I didn't get lost!
We saw fresh moose tracks on one of our walks and I thought about following them, but I didn't have a rifle with me nor did I get a hunting license. So even if it had been a legal bull there wasn't anything I could have done about it. Still fun to see, though. I could see just where it had gone through the long grass.

Other than the walks, this trip was all about lots of time together. Watching my in-laws' dog chase moths was the highlight of two evenings. The stupid creature didn't realize that there was glass between him and the light-seeking moths, so after throwing himself at the window a bunch he resorted to licking it. Apparently, moths are quite tasty to him. We played games (Dominoes are always a favorite), read, watched a few movies (the cabin has a generator), and I got some knitting done. Those socks I've been trying to make for a while? One is finished! I just need to sew up the toe part (which means I need to buy a yarn needle, since I can't find the ones I have). But it fits my foot very well (having small feet, that's often a problem for me) and it will be super warm this winter.
I'm pleased. I started the second sock, but I need the needles that are still in the first one so I couldn't get very far. Now that I know I can actually make these socks, it's motivation to get the second one done more quickly. (Like, I'm shooting for less than 8 months this time.) And then I can move on to challenging myself with other things. There's a sweater I really wanted to try making....

Notice the cat? He was trying to swipe at my leg as I put the sock on.

We didn't get showers the whole time we were at the cabin. Blech. I did get fed up and gave myself basically a sponge bath one night, but that's not a good replacement for submersing yourself in hot water. You can imagine how lovely it was to take a shower when we got back to my in-laws' house. Washing my hair (twice) and, oh, that moment when you go from bear legs to bare legs? Lovely.
One other very exciting thing happened. There was much excitement about the new baby in the family. My brother-in-law and his girlfriend got a puppy! They've been wanting to get a dog for a long time, and Megan's had the specific breed she wants picked out for over a year. So they have an as yet unnamed Wheaton terrier. The poor little guy was super nervous around so many strange people, but he was very excited by the presence of the other dogs. Unfortunately, my parents-in-law's dog, who's sort of hit-or-miss around other dogs anyway, didn't like him. He kept almost nipping the puppy and growled at him sometimes.
It was nice that my dog, who is rather ambivalent about other dogs, wagged her tail at the puppy, they went through the whole sniffing thing, and then she mostly ignored him. Shane and I were very careful, too. When one of us was playing with the puppy, the other was paying lots of attention to our girl. So she never got jealous. (It would have been totally misplaced jealousy anyway. As much as I love puppies and kittens, we're not in the market for either and won't be for quite some time.)

As much as I hate being back to work, and having Shane off at work again, it is nice to be home. Our cat was extremely mad at us. He even swiped at me several times last night, which he hasn't done in a long time. Not even when he was injured. But hurt feelings apparently count for more. He wanted to be petted, but he also wanted to show how mad at us he was. So he'd let us pet him for a few minutes, then he'd swipe at us or just get up and stalk away. Shane stayed up just a bit later than I did and he said that as soon as I fell asleep the cat was crawling all over me and snuggling in close.

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