Sunday, July 28, 2013

Anniversary Extravenganza..... and a Bear

So this post is a week or two delayed due to some technical difficulties in the Niederhauser household, but alas, here we are. This is Tanner writing this particular post because of a couple of stories yet to be told.

Our Anniversary is June 30th, and it has already been 2 years since Carissa had the opportunity to make one of the most questionable decisions of her life. Our Anniversary is at a special time being it's the same week as the 4th of July, so we get to parlay our summer/anniversary/4th of July trip into one. The night before we were to leave Willy-town, the fair was here in town. So being true to white trash form, we decided we needed to go partake of the fatness and spaghetti straps that are so abundant here.

Carissa needed to have her picture taken in front of the rides that are about to fall apart and kill some unsuspecting kid. Now, I'm not being negative there, I'm just being a realist. I used to work in the family fun center/fair/carni crowd, and I can definitely attest, these rides are literally like playing the lottery, except not the good kind of lottery. Enough about that though. Like last year, there were a few vendors and Carissa and I found one who was selling ball markers for golf. Since Carissa has taken up the game of golf this year, we decided we would have fun little personalized ball markers. With the both of us having more unique or I guess not as common names, the guy naturally didn't have ours pre made, so he told us if we filled out a little form, he would be able to make them in the next 10-15 minutes. So I took the pen and started filling out the form. Now as I'm doing this, I'm talking to Carissa about mine and if I want my name on it or my nickname, and I get totally distracted all the while I'm continuing to fill this form out. As I'm doing this, I move onto the next line on the form and start spelling Carissa's name, except I didn't spell it right. Not paying much attention to what I'm personally doing, Carissa is looking over my shoulder and all I hear is an incredulous "Really?!?!?!" Right then I knew I had done something wrong, but couldn't quite place my finger on it, so I'm like "What's the problem?" needless to say, I didn't win any points, but we did have a good laugh about it. Seriously it was an honest mistake and I had to take a few minutes and explain or TRY to explain my way out of that one.

Good news is, one of us had our heads examined that day, so we were able to correct the mistake BEFORE they were engraved. After I secured my place on the couch for the night, we went into the different buildings to see some of the different exhibits and  such. They had a few animals, but not many. They also had some guys that were part of a woodworking club in town. They did some really cool work and were incredibly talented. It was fun to to chat with them and pick their minds about how and what they do. It kind of made me have a tiny morsel of a desire to do what they do, but we don't have room for a shop, saw, or anything, so I guess that hobby will have to wait for later in life.

These trees were incredibly cool. They are actually jewelry boxes. The clumps of leaves slide off the branches and open up to reveal hidden compartments. I thought they just looked like really cool pieces of art.

Me trying to cut my thumbs off.

After we left there we went and wandered around the fair, partook of some healthy fried mystery food and then came across some Bear Whisperer who had obviously taken the life and excitement out of a bears life and used it as a prop to take photos next to.

It was actually pretty sad looking at this bear. He just kind of looked at you with a silent plea to help him. We're animal lovers, so it kind of bummed us out.

Later that night we packed up the doggies and took them to a co-worker of Carissa's. We wanted to take them on our camping trip to Red Lodge Montana, but Samson hasn't been doing too hot and he wouldn't be able to go hiking with us. So after a lot of deliberation, we decided not to take the both of them so that Samson wasn't the odd man out. Looking back, it was also a great decision not to take Rozzi as well because of the heat and the long hikes we went on. I'm pretty sure she would have died due to the heat. I almost did, and I only have half the body hair she does.

After dropping the dogs off, we went home and packed the truck so that we could leave early the next (Friday) morning. We got up about 5 AM and got on the road. We had about a 6 hour drive ahead of us, so we wanted to get after it early so that we weren't setting up camp in the middle of the night.  We also needed to get fishing licenses so that we could use our new fly fishing rods we had given each other for our anniversary. We stopped in Billings MT on our way, went to Cabelas, Cafe Rio (had to have a little taste of Utah), and also stopped at the grocery store to get our food for the week.

Once we got to camp, we set everything up and got settled in. Carissa had gotten me a pretty sweet hammock for camping when we were dating, so they always come on our adventures with us. After we set up camp, I went to get in mine, only to fall straight on my butt. We had a good laugh at it, only because Carissa had fallen out of hers a few years earlier and landed on the sharpest rock square on her tail bone. Luckily for me, history didn't repeat itself, but it did hurt my ego a tad.

Home Sweet Home for the week

Orgainizing our Wholly Buggars and Gnats and May Flies

Relaxing in Greenough Lake

Carissa showing me how to properly use a hammock

The next day, Saturday, we went for a drive on the Beartooth Highway. If you haven't been on this highway or haven't ever even heard of it, we both HIGHLY suggest looking it up, then making the time to go drive it. It was incredibly gorgeous and definitely recommended. The road starts out in a valley and climbs up out of the valley, past the timberline, up into the high mountain tundra. The road switchbacks a number of times until you get to the top of Beartooth Pass. It is ranked in the Top 10 Drives in the U.S. and words just won't do the beauty of the area justice.

The Beartooth Highway climbing up the mountain from across the valley

One of the many glacier fed lakes on top of the Beartooth Highway

Gardner Lake with Tibbs Butte on the left
That day we decided to go on a hike down around Tibbs Butte. The trailhead starts at the top of Beartooth Pass and goes straight down 1 mile to Gardner Lake. The trail then goes SE around Tibbs Butte and once the trail starts to return to the trailhead, it passes by two gorgeous lakes. We stopped by one of these and soaked our feet in the water and had some PB and Honey sandwiches.

I'll try not to bore everyone to death with a slide show of our summer vacation, but this trip just gave us more of an appreciation of the beautiful mountains and area that we both grew up in. On the way down to Gardner Lake I decided to let a Coke soak in the lake so that I had a nice cold, refreshing Coke upon our return, and right before our death march straight up hill for a mile to the truck. Needless to say it kept me going most of the day, unfortunately I drank it before I started staring into the gates of hell. About half way up the hill, I honestly thought I could lay down and die a happy man. Now before you start calling me a pansy and wuss and everything else I can think of, but can't write here, I will remind you that pictures and description won't do it justice, so just trust me in knowing it was a miserable last mile AFTER already going 10-11 miles of nonexistent marked trail. We were both beat, maybe me a little more than my in shape wife, but we were both beat nonetheless.

The next few days were spent hanging around camp, fishing, we both started to get a pretty good hang of actually casting our fly rods and catching some little fishies at Greenough Lake. It was a lot of fun. After a relaxing day on Sunday and driving the entire Beartooth Highway to Cooke City MT, we woke up on Monday and went golfing in the town of Red Lodge.

A day before we left to leave on the trip Carissa had called me at work and asked if I wanted to take our golf clubs and play while we were there. I'm not one to turn down a day on the golf course, and as a further testament to how awesome my wife is, I felt I was obligated to go golfing with her. I just had to take one for the team. Let me tell you, it was ROUGH duty!

We actually had made a tee time for 18 holes, and Carissa was only planning on playing 9 holes. As I mentioned earlier she has only started taking up the game this year, so she is still a little apprehensive about playing with other people and playing a difficult course, so she thought 9 holes was enough for her. After looking at the scorecard and the course layout, we decided she should play the back nine. I played the front nine while Carissa rode in the cart and was my caddie, getting the pin, keeping track of my headcovers and just looking good. It was playing kind of slow and we were waiting on the group in front of us on quite a few shots, but overall it was quite enjoyable. As we finished the first nine holes, we went to the clubhouse, got a drink and ran into the older couple in front of us. They were a nice couple, very friendly and wanted to know if we would like to join them on the back nine holes. Now, I wasn't about to subject my wife to playing with other people or feeling obligated to do so, I left the decision up to her. She decided she would be fine playing with them, and I'm glad she did. Jim and Barb were a recently retired, unmarried couple from Missouri. They were incredibly nice, and very fun to chat with. We both enjoyed their company. As we were finishing up, Jim told me they were playing again in the morning and asked if we would like to join them. We had only planned on playing once while we were there, but Carissa really played well, enjoyed playing with another lady and SHE made the decision to play again the next day. It was very fun. I played well and had the opportunity to shoot under par on the back nine holes, but missed my last five foot putt, and had to settle for even par. I'll take it, but I'd be lying if I said it still didn't bother me I missed that last putt.

Carissa thinks she should be playing on the Ladies Tour right away and get frustrated when she has a rough hole, so this is the result. Made me laugh. She's a great player and has been doing VERY well for her first year playing.

One thing Carissa does struggle with is her aim. She's doing better, but can anyone guess where she hit this ball? YUP, right by the little bend in the water. EXACTLY where she is aiming. I laughed because she gets mad at me when I don't correct her, but she gets a little frustrated if I'm always correcting her. Well this was one of those times she was mad at me for not correcting her. ;-)

Later that day after we golfed, we went and wandered around downtown Red Lodge. It's a cool little town, but doesn't hold a candle to Park City, Jackson Hole or Steamboat Springs, but it's still a cool little mountain town. They definitely did have the worlds coolest and greatest candy store. They had any and every candy you could possibly dream up. A lot of nostalgic candies from the olden days, it was a very cool store.

Later that night we went and just hung out in camp and chilled by the fire. As we were eating dinner the camp host came around and let us know of a bear in the area. It had been going through the campground most of the day until the camp host finally treed it and kept it there for a while. He was just letting us know to keep our food in a safe place.

I've lived in Jackson Hole and been to Yellowstone quite a few times, but I've never had the opportunity to see a bear in the wild. Carissa had known I was hoping to see a bear on this trip, so she asked if I wanted to go wander around and see if we could find it. I had my .357 pistol, and if you've read the news or been half alive in Utah this past year, you know how deadly us Niederhausers can be with a .357, so Carissa felt REALLY safe. We wandered around for a couple hours and didn't see anything. We went back to camp, and started a fire. As we were sitting there roasting Peeps (yes, the Easter candy) a couple of girls pulled up in their truck and asked if we had heard about the bear in camp. They then told us the bear had just wandered right through our camp and they had video of it. They showed us the video, and yup, sure enough, the bear wandered straight through our camp. Murphy's Law I guess, but man I was bummed. We went looking for the bear and he came right through our camp. The irony.

Roasted Christmas Peeps. They are heaven, just a word to the Virgin Peep Roasters, DON'T touch them while they are still hot. Sugary, carmalized goodness is hot and burns.... or so I've heard.

One of the nights around the campfire, Carissa and I were sitting there talking and I had been drinking a Coke (yes, I have a problem if you haven't figured that out yet) and threw the empty coke can in the fire, the coals were so hot, it just completely melted the can instantly. Like didn't take more than 10-15 seconds to melt it to nothing. So, then I got the great idea to throw a full unopened can in the fire to see what would happen. Carissa was against it, and I was asking her what's the worst that can happen, and in no time flat the Coke completely exploded all over Carissa. I guess we had the answer to the worst that could happen. We both started laughing and wiping it off her. It was quite funny.

That night we went to bed and had the gun close at hand, but we never saw or heard about the bear again. I'm beginning to think it won't ever happen except at the zoo. We went up the Beartooth Highway another day and had quite the experience. As we were cruising up the steep road, I look in the rearview mirror and couldn't believe what I saw.

A little back story for you, my dad is pretty awesome and has been restoring old things from his childhood ever since I can remember. When I was 13 my dad took up the hobby of collecting Cushman Motorscooters. These were way before Honda and Yamaha's were around, and they are pretty gutless and undependable. Well my dad restored a 1956 Eagle for us, that I drove to high school. It had a stick shift, yes, on a sccooter, a foot clutch and a foot brake pedal. They were completely gutless and the fastest we ever got it going was 57 mph straight downhill and we had it going so fast it broke the speedometer.

Well long story short, I looked in my rearview mirror and there are two of these Cushmans flying up behind me, going well beyond the speed limit and keeping right on the tail of my truck. I was losing it. I couldn't believe it. I kept telling Carissa how cool they were and what they were and on and on and on. As we got near the summit, there is a little scenic viewing area, and I was REALLY hoping they would pull in. Since I was in front of them, I could only pull in and hoped they'd followed me. They did and I went running over to them and asked them what in the world did they do to their Cushman to get up that hill. These two old farts looked at me completely crazy wondering how in the heck did I know what these were. It was funny. We sat and chatted with them and had a few good laughs. One of the guys was 83 and the other was 79. They had modified these scooters, and the 83 year told me they had them going 110 on their way over from Bozeman earlier that morning. They were a couple of really cool old dudes. Definitely something to hope I'm doing at that age. As we got back on the road, we saw a decent sized heard of Mountain Goats. They were right on the side of the road. It was really cool. They had some little babies and it was so funny to see how playful and funny and awkward they were.

Can you imagine going 100+ mph on this thing???

The last day we were there we decided to go up a dirt road called Hellroaring Road. We had seen a couple of 4 wheelers go up this road, but not any trucks. I had my Toyota Tacoma, so it's a smaller truck and we thought it'd be a fun road to go up. The road ends up on top of a plateau and has access to a bunch of glacier lakes. There aren't any trails up there, just a bunch of pristine lakes. Trouble is getting there. I was completely comfortable going up this rough road, but Carissa wasn't as comfortable. She was fairly tense and had to close her eyes a few time as well traversed up the mountain with a shear drop off on the side. There were some huge boulders to navigate and drive over, but we lived to tell the tale and no damage was done to the truck. Win win in my book. Once we got to the top, we went on a hike looking for any random lake we could find. We came over a hilltop and saw a few lakes strung together and thought they looked promising to fish. We bushwhacked it down this crazy steep hill straight down into the valley and had a great time.  It felt cool and eery being there - with no trace of anyone and seriously out in the middle of nowhere!  The lakes were crystal clear, and it was very fun to see the cat and mouse game of throwing your fly in the water and seeing the fish go for it. We both caught a few fish and had a lot of fun, until the mosquitoes came and ruined the experience. It was a bugger hiking out of there, but it was a lot of fun. All in all the trip was an overall success. We both had a lot of great experiences and a lot of fun. I'm incredibly grateful I was able to convince Carissa to marry me 2 years ago and that she hasn't ran from me yet.

That was about 1/20th of how many we each had after an hour plus of fishing.