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Friday, July 24, 2015

The Cluck Truck Continue-ith

More pictures here!

Sitting in Evergreen, Colorado preparing for our second trip to Orcas Island with the chickens, we were priding ourselves on how easy it all seemed the second time around:  We had the travel cages, the free-roaming tent, and chickens who are clearly prepared for anything.  We thought we couldn’t be surprised by anything chickens might do the road, but The Ladies proved us wrong.

Due to the time of year (July) and fear of how hot The Ladies may become in the back of the truck (Shaker), we set out on the most northern route possible; making our first stop almost due north at Sinks Canyon State Park in Wyoming.  It was scheduled to be our longest drive day of the trip—it is good to get the long one out of the way first—but long drive day took on a new meaning come Day 4, more on that later.

None-the-less, it was a long first day and driving up Sinks Canyon the temperature reached 85 degrees.  The Ladies always have plenty of air flow in the back of Shaker’s new canopy (verified by me riding back there one hot Colorado day while Alan drove around in the comfort of the cab) but plenty of air flow only matters when it is cool air.  This was hot, blasting, humid air.  So on Day 1 we engaged Rule 4: When the temperature gets over 82, we drop the rear window on Shaker’s cab, turn up the A/C and let the cold air flow all the way back to the hens. 

This makes for a very loud drive, but not as loud as my howling should we arrive with five dead hens.

We quickly chose a spot at the Popo Agie Campground right next to the middle fork of the Popo Agie River.  Whew!  We thought the drive was hot and loud!  The weather became even hotter (Alert!  There is no A/C outside!) and the beautiful, large rocks that run up and down the river made a cacophonous roar of an otherwise peaceful site.

Dripping in sweat, we quickly set up the chicken roaming  tent and placed them inside.  The poor things were holding out their wings and actually panting it was so hot.  Then Thelma just sank to the ground.  She wasn’t moving and JJ and Louise were making sure by pecking her tail feathers until they bled.  Thelma was still alive, just unwilling to move.  We cannot stand seeing a chicken being pecked when she is down so I went in, picked her up and we took turns holding her on our laps for hours.   When we put them to bed that night she was walking only to get a drink; much like the humans.  We made plans to drive on Day 2 with her in the back seat area with The Noses.

Thankfully we did not have to test a terrier’s reaction to sharing the backseat with a chicken; Day 2 dawned with Thelma moving around, eating, drinking and chattering with the others about her hours of being held on human laps.

Day 2 brought us through what is now my favorite part of the drive, Grand Teton National Park.  Oh how I wished we had time to stop for an extra night!  What a gorgeous area; we are sure to stop there on our way back and enjoy it more.   But our goal for the night was west of West Yellowstone at Rainbow Point Campground on Hebgen Lake.  Being already tired, hot, dusty and deaf from having the windows down, we didn’t think there was anything Rainbow Campground could throw at us that could make it worse.  With that, the gauntlet was thrown.

First of all, the campground was at the end of a three-mile dirt road.  Then we realized none of the (many, many, full) campsites were actually on the lake.  But we were tired so we found a nice spot at the back and were pleased to find it level and deep enough that we didn’t have to unhook Shaker.  We jumped out and set up the chicken tent all the while being bitten by mosquitos.  Oh it just kept getting better.

Needing some time away from the menagerie, I jumped on my bike for a ride to the registration box and then the lake.  While fishing, I heard River barking maniacally and over and over again.  I figured something must be wrong with Alan so I jumped back on my bike and rode to the campsite.  

Turns out River was barking at the camp host who was there telling us we had to move sites; the one we were in was booked for the next few nights.  Alan pointed out that the reservation card on the pole stated that the reservation ended today, at which time the host reached down and pulled it off revealing another registration card for the next few nights.  If you are not an RV’er let me tell you, there is nothing worse than having to RE-pack and move after unpacking from a long days’ drive.

But re-pack we must:  Still hot, still dusty and still being eaten alive by bugs, we packed everything up and prepared to move to the site next door.  It was only 30 yards or so away so we thought, “Heck, why don’t we just walk the chickens over?”  Did I mention we were tired, hot and dusty?  Apparently those combine to make you crazy as well.  Yes, let’s just walk the chickens through the campground to the new site.  I can hear Basil from Faulty Towers saying, “Yes!  Grand!  Marvelous idea Sybil!  Let’s just walk the chickens through a campsite!”

Alan moved the chicken tent over while I kept The Ladies occupied in the original site.  Then I started in on my “chicken chicken” and walking toward the new site.  They would only come part of the way then they would run back underneath the Shaker.  Eventually, with Alan shooing from the back and me cooing from the front, we corralled them into the new spot. 

For a few minutes anyway.

Then we set to moving Salt & The Shaker, talking on our walkie-talkies, me in my usual outside position attempting to direct Alan’s driving.   Usually this goes without a hitch (oh yes I did) but this time I was having trouble as Louise kept escaping from the chicken tent and running toward me.  She was behaving very oddly and seemed only comfortable when she jumped on my back.  So, hunched over so she didn’t scratch her way to the top of my shoulders, I continued on the walkie-talkie directing Alan into the spot.

Once parked, Alan helped me get Louise back into the tent.  But she and Thelma were still in a panic trying everything to get out.  Eventually, I sat inside the tent for a few minutes and that did the trick; they both went into a travel cage to lay some eggs (both ladies in one cage—those two are like that.) 

Believe it or not, this is not the most intimate chicken/human interaction of the trip.

Goodbye Day 2!!!

Day 3 took us to an old friend, a boon-docking  site along Fish Creek Road in Montana.   With the dogs off leash, the chickens free-ranging and the humans with refreshments in their hands, we were nine happy hearts.  Alan went off fishing, bringing back a nice sized trout and a large sized tale about the one that got away.  I went fishing for 45 minutes, had a few bites but no catches (actually, this suits me fine since without Alan next to me, I would have had to kill my catch myself—not  my favorite thing.)  It was lovely just being by the river.  I returned to camp for cocktail hour and to another tale I found difficult to believe:  Dom decided she needed to lay her egg in the camp chair next to Alan.  See?  An even more intimate human/chicken interaction.  Good thing we got a picture.  

Alan went back out fishing and guess what?  He caught his large tale:  A 16 inch beautiful rainbow trout.  Apparently all the animals wanted to be near him that night.

We decided that on Day 4 we would scrap all original plans and take back roads through northern Idaho and Washington hoping for cooler weather.  The drive was lovely (mostly Highway 20) but it certainly wasn’t cooler.  We dropped into Okanogan around 5:00 PM, stopping for gas in the 95 degree heat.  I opened the back window for The Ladies who promptly wanted to know why the A/C was turned off.  Poor things were panting and holding out their wings again.  I would have cried for them but I was busy trying not to cry for myself:   I do not enjoy the heat, nor the loud noise, and most of all I do not enjoy being on the road after five without knowing where we were going to stop.

But as luck would have it, we stumbled upon a lovely spot just off Highway 20, Sweat Creek Campground.  Once the temporarily stationed firemen left (they were on fire-watch duty), we were all alone with the Noses and Ladies roaming free and wild.  (So much happened on Day 3 I forgot to mention that we let the chickens loose without tying up The Noses and it was a huge non-event.  A couple of sniffs and a few half-hearted chases and that was the end of it.  Now they all ignore each other unless the chickens try to drink out of the dog bowl at which point River, let's just say, encourages them to move along.) 

We had such a quiet, peaceful evening we could hardly believe it when the logging (!!) began at 4:00 AM, yes that is true, with diesel engines roaring, trees falling and dust clouds billowing right through Salt's open windows.  Good morning Day 5!

Never have we packed up so quickly.  But it was a short, beautiful 180 miles to the Anacortes ferry and, since we were up so early, we had plenty of time to take a hike up to Rainy Lake in the North Cascade National Park.  From now on we will plan on leaving time for much longer hikes in that wonderful area.

We knew traveling this time of year would be a challenge with the heat and it was.  But we all made it and now The Ladies and The Noses are all running around our lovely Orcas Island RV spot together.


PS:  For those of you wondering what Rules 1-3 are: 

Rule 1:  Carpe Campem - If it reaches 4:00 pm and you are still on the road you take the first camping opportunity that turns up (we obviously broke this one Day 4);

Rule 2:  Carpe Marriagem - Remind each other that you love one another before attempting to direct the parking of Salt;

Rule 3:  Carpe Ginem - Pour a refreshing drink immediately upon parking Salt, take a nice, 10-20 minute break before continuing the set chores.