A View from Sierra County

Small town life and politics, lots of knitting, and travels with and without my five burros

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Location: In the Sierra Nevadas, United States

I blog about rural living and social issues, and the creativity that comes from knitting, as well as post random pictures of the Sierras and my burros. "In order to be an artist, one must be deeply rooted in the society" - Simone de Beauvoir


Friday, June 30, 2006

Friday Looks Better

I have been in a general funk the past two days, but woke up more my bright and shiny self this morning. Nothing could get knitted, or read, or tended to... my head hurt and life has been a bit rough around the edges lately. I am going to a job interview later this morning, which has me a tiny bit nervous, as well. I am hoping to convince the regional Headstart agency to hire me on to direct one of their sites, preferably the one closest to me. This would be an outgrowth of directing the program I helped start a few years ago; that job ended back in February and we definitely need to have me working more! How on earth will I be able to buy all the yarn I want? JK, the most difficult thing about being on a reduced income the past few months has been needing to decrease my generosity - I can't say "yes" to as much as is normal for me, and want to see that change.

The three of our five children that I gave birth to are grieving the sudden and surprising death of their step-mom's sister on Thursday; this is the closest "young" (she was 45 and there was no indication that she had health issues, but "heart" is listed as the cause of death) relative or friend any of them have faced going on without, and all three have had telephone conversations with me about how they feel, what to say to their now-motherless cousins, how to help their dad and step-mom, and how to face going forward.

I can't say I had any brilliant advice; I just told each of them in answer to "What do I say?", that it is not about what you say, but that you make the effort to share their grief. There is nothing to say, except "I am sad too", when all is said and done. I have always been one to hate platitudes or cliches. I am awed and proud of each of them for how open they have been able to be about both their own grief and their fears in dealing with death.

That said, I am really looking forward to the holiday weekend! I am almost done with Trekking Sock #1 and will be able to start #2, if not today, than then tomorrow morning while doing my shift at our crafts co-op in Downieville. Once my shift is over, there are multiple options for fun, including visiting our dear friends in Sierra City, where they manage the RV park for the summer, then come and stay with us each winter. There will also be a highly entertaining Fireman's muster in the mid-afternoon, a great BBQ to benefit the local VFD, and a street dance tomorrow night, if I can just stay awake that long!

I hope that everyone enjoys the weekend, and those who have Monday off (you know who you are and I am not one of you!) get a long and restful vacation. Fireworks are illegal where we are, because the forest fire danger is really high (there were over 30 small fires on our Forest alone from Tuesday's storm that I described below), but several communities have great displays over lakes - just none near me, so oooh and aaah for me.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Trekking to Rowland Falls

Yesterday afternoon DH, my Trekking sock and I took a hike into Rowland Falls, just a few miles from our Forest City house. Wednesdays will be our only day off together this summer, so we will be trying to spend most of them relaxing. The weather was cooler and cloudy, but no hailstorms this time! We even got in the water, but it was too cold for more than a quick dip to wash the sweat off.

My sock, basking near the deeper pool. I am close to finishing the first one!

From the second descending pool, just before the falls drop off.

This one's for Neena.

My husband's favorite craft activity is building rock walls. While I knitted on my Trekking sock, he built a small wall that raised the water height in the upper pool by four inches. I only added two inches to the foot....

Glenn relaxes in the shade after all that hard work

I promised a follow-up to the picnic story from yesterday's post. These are the three washcloths I won at the guild picnic. Our names went into a hat, with the number of cloths we had brought to swap, then we were called in the rotating order of the drawing, getting to choose our favorite each time from the dwindling pile. I have made the swirling round one a few times myself, and will have to look around for the pattern!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

More Adventures and a Spinner's Picnic

I used to travel over 9 miles of dirt road each way to work, except for when the deepest snows blocked the road, forcing me to drive an alternate (paved) route of 46 miles, and often could claim that I had more adventures before breakfast than most people had all day, but I thought I was over that phase... till last week.

My great adventures with Margene, Carole, and Anne should have been enough, but my day turned into another adventure when I least expected it. Twice. In the same day.

I am a commissioner for our county's Children and Families Commission (also known as First Five and associated recently in the news with Rob Reiner), and attend a monthly meeting on the other side of the county, which results in good community service because of my child development background, quality mindless-knitting time, and good blog photos as I travel through some awesome and mainly empty country over Yuba Pass and through the Sierra Valley. Today, the Sierra Valley was full of smoke, blown in from a wildland fire in western Nevada, and too thick to offer good photos. I had a meeting at the health dept. first, then our commission meeting at noon. The meeting went well, though longer than usual, and in the late afternoon, I headed on a different route - 90 miles to Nevada City, so that I could join my guild members for the annual picnic.

We have been experiencing a heat wave for almost a week, the weather pattern that pulls cool air in from the ocean and results in thunderstorms when that mix of air backs up against the Sierras on the eastern side of the Central Valley. There have been several days of lightening strikes and smallish wildfires. Just my luck to end up caught in a "wicked" hailstorm, with hail the size of large marbles, or ball-bearings, quickly filling the roadway... when I looked through my rearview mirror and saw that the "rain" was bouncing in the bed of my truck, I thought it prudent to pull over... well at least long enough to shift into 4 wheel drive. Then, when I looked out the window and noticed that the roadside was beginning to turn white, I decided stopping a bit was wise. I was wearing flip-flops, a skirt and a sleeveless shirt - not ideal for sliding off the road. I found a wide spot, filled in with three other vehicles eventually, and spent about 20 minutes waiting for the hail to turn back to rain!

By the time I reached Truckee, I was out from under the storm and it was sunny again, but an alert came on the radio for even more severe hailstorm activity at the south end of Lake Tahoe, warning boaters off the water! I was a bit disappointed that my personal storm hadn't warrented an alert.

All was good till I got to Nevada City and realized that I had wretched directions and was not entirely sure I could find the house where the picnic was to take place. Those who have suffered through using online directions will probably relish devising an appropriately derisive name to label such torture. I had only 45 minutes at work before leaving for Loyalton, and had checked the address on Yahoo the first go-round, since Margene had been so sorely disappointed with Map Quest. At least I knew my county, and could quickly see that the directions leaving Loyalton sent me off on a seasonal dirt road towards the Interstate. Shorter? Maybe. Crazy-making? Definitely. I took another shot with Map Quest, and the start was correct, but I didn't catch that then address had gotten garbled, and I was being sent to another part of the town.

Not until I was trying to follow them, anyway. I passed the same spot twice, just like we did in Estes, but I knew this spot, and I wasn't getting any closer, and I hadn't copied down the hostess's phone onto my hopeless directions like I had planned, in the rush to get out of the office on time. I circled around to the library, hoping to check a map or get on a computer, but all the employees were driving their cars out when I arrived. Sigh, that meant I was already late to the picnic!

The good old spirit of adventure kicked in again though. I WAS NOT going to head home (24 miles away) without trying to locate the place, even if I had little to go on. After all, I still had half a tank of gas. You'd do it too, for food and fiber friends, right?

I knew which exit to take, and headed in the right general direction, hoping that the road name would pop up. It helps that our state assigns house numbers increasing in size as they move away from the city centers. I turned onto the major road I had remembered from the Yahoo directions, and came upon "Hillcrest" (but I had been remembering it as "Hillside", decided to turn and found a man directing traffic. I had to admit to him that I was lost and not even sure I was supposed to be attending his party - was this the spinning party?

I had hit paydirt and almost kissed the poor husband-of-a-weaver (these men that stick with us fibery women are such good souls). My whole trip had been so surreal over the past two and a half hours, but sure enough, there were my guild friends in line for delectable foods and desserts.

A special feature of this year's picnic was two exchanges: woven handtowels and knitted washcloths (someone even participated in both!). I had a few washcloths to contribute and came home with some very nice ones I chose each time it was my turn... I promise a photo tomorrow.

Another sweet moment was the "crowning" of two members, each celebrating their 80th birthdays this year, with paper crowns, as our revered elders (they also no longer have to pay their annual dues). I had a relaxing time and was sure glad I had charged through my adventures to be there.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Gold Rush Days

Our little town of Downieville began re-living its Wild West heritage five years ago, when the Chamber of Commerce initiated Gold Rush Days as a part of California's three-year Sesquicentennial Celebration. The first one featured a genuine Wells Fargo stagecoach, however, they have been tamer ever since. Many people dress in period costume, adding to the flavor of the event, but we are in the middle of a heat wave this weekend, so the heavy clothing was not as prevalent as in the past.

The local storekeeper runs screaming from the building, setting the stage for a mock robbery and gunfight between good and evil, courtesy of Gunslingers, Inc. Posted by Picasa

The "robbers" deposit the loot and attempt to flee. Note, our crafts co-op, Mountain Harvest in the background on the left, and the street sign, harking to earlier mining camp days. Posted by Picasa

My sock and I pose in the shade for a moment during Gold Rush Days. I look a bit wilted and disheveled, but it was already 98 degrees, and now I understand why we don't dress this way every day. Posted by Picasa

Sunday was spent staying inside trying to avoid the heat wave that has hit us... as it does about three times each summer season. The temps have been hovering around 100 degrees, thunderheads each afternoon, and dry lightening (which means fire danger) in the high country to our east. It struck me yesterday that I can be pinned inside as easily by trying to avoid heat stroke in summer as I can trying to stay dry during the deluges of winter. DD is visiting so we went to the "big" town of Grass Valley so I could get supplies to make a bag for my sock kit pal. I have been hit-and-miss with knitting, feeling restless, and doing a few rows of one project and then a few of another, as well as practicing with the spindle. I am looking forward to a cooling trend predicted for the middle of the week.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

M is for Mommy

My greatest accomplishment isn't the complicated lace, nor is it the Masters in Humanities and Leadership, or even the thirteen years living in the backcountry of the Sierras, hiking in all winter long, although all three of these are right at the top. My greatest accomplishment has been being a mother, and ending up happy with the results. Frequent readers know that photos of family often grace my pages, as well as stories of our adventures. I have three children who were all born at home: Jesse, 20, Nikki, 22, and Cody, 27, and a step-son (also born at home, but not to me), Rex, 27. I ordered my life and my choices around actively raising them, and have never regretted the choices I made. I worked at a variety of jobs, and didn't finish my own education until the oldest was already in college, but sure had a lot of fun along the way.

My oldest son and I dancing at our Christmas party. Posted by Picasa

"MY Mommy" is the frequent and humorous cry between siblings, echoing back to when they were little. I am so very lucky to be close to my children, all young adults now. Posted by Picasa

Nikki, me, Jesse, and Cody Posted by Picasa

Sadly, my own mother died in 1995, of emphysema. I was deeply involved in helping her make care decisions for my father, who developed Alzheimers at age 62, and then in meeting with doctors over her care as well, and really got to give back to her when she needed it. I was a single mother at that time, and it was one of the most stressful, but I am grateful to be able to say I could be there for her. I still miss her, but the love I was raised with grew into the love that I raised children with, and hopefully will guide each of them when I am gone.

Friday, June 23, 2006

What I Learned At Estes

First, I want to thank everyone for the love and support to us in losing Louise... we are all doing fair, and it really helps to know you care (didn't really intend to make that rhyme). Poor Rita, who had been with Louise for 12 years, is waking us up braying at night, and as Glenn said this morning "You know what she's doing, don't you? She's trying to find Louise" ... brings me to tears.

My first Estes post covered the road trip and the people - today's addresses the purchases and the great stuff I learned along the way to making them. One of the best things about being a passionate knitter is that I never get bored... there is always something new to learn.

Take socks ... now, I made my first pair of socks ("hunting socks" the pattern said, in knitting worsted) for a boyfriend back in the mid 1970s, when the patterns were very boring and standardized, kind of like the school curriculum currently being foisted on our youth from the "No Child Left Behind" act. They were burly and not particularly hard, and a decade or so later, I made batches of similar ones for my second (and best) husband, some of my children, and even more interesting ones for myself, although this was still a dozen years before self-patterning sock yarns.

I gave it up for a long stretch, as using tiny DPs was hard on hands that also used the computer steadily all day. Still, I figured I know from socks, right? Wrong! My regular readers will recall that just before my travels, I accepted the will of the people who voted for socks as the best travel/vacation project, and went searching for Trekking yarn. Not one to be daunted by its unavailability, I went off the deep end into knitting with two circulars, and started a sock for DH and one for myself, both from yarns in the stash. I also bought pairs of Addi Turbos in four sizes, eventually.....first I had to learn the hard lesson about altering my knitting to suit socks. I am a firm believer about "getting gauge", but had lots of trouble with this, and the Sockotta sock I worked on during the plane trip to SLC and the drive to Estes Park has the right gauge, but the fabric really isn't dense enough for the wear that socks get. It may well be destined to end up in the frog pond.

Driving across the brown of Wyoming, I bravely cast on my new Trekking yarn, dropping down the routine one size, and mulling over the info I had read the day before in Knitting Rules about gauge and its inherent problems. The first effort brought astute comments from Margene "That's not dense enough for socks". I knew she was right before I even pulled out the measuring tape. I dropped down another size and started over; Wyoming takes a long time to cross. When that attempt proved in an hour or so to have the same stitches per inch, I was ready to throw the knitting out the window and let it fly along behind us as a banner, we were going to a wool festival after all.

Lucky for me, I had three other sock knitters in the car problem-solving with me. "Haven't you made socks before?"
"Yes, but I used DPs"
"You'll just have to think about tightening up your knitting".

All this input came up with some enlightment: I knit looser using Continental and began again using the throw style, immediately seeing improvement. My Trekking socks were going to go a lot slower, but at least the fabric was finally looking and measuring up right! About the same time, I learned that Margene is an excellent driver.

My trekking sock on a boulder at Silver Lake.

The first night at Estes, my fellow condo-dwellers and I learned that Stephanie had acquired a most wonderful fleece, with lots of crimp and very long staples. I remembered that at one time I knew a lot about fleece and sheep, and even consented to sit down at her wheel and give spinning a try. Even though I have owned three spinning wheels at various times, and have an Ashford traditional wheel upstairs in my workroom (I admit this now, knowing that the secret's already out with that condo crowd and there is no use trying to hide it any longer), I do not know from spinning. I produced quite a bit of mediocre and uneven yarn back in the day, and used it in natural dyeing experiments, thereby avoiding expensive disasters, but never mastered spinning. Even with Carole's tutoring, I didn't do much better last Friday night, although I could easily blame it on how tired I was. Margene, on the other hand, was not similarly affected and produced a pretty respectable yarn on the first try!

Now, I had a shopping list with me, and getting a spindle was on that list... I have been intending to try, try again. What better source of information than Carole? She claims that she doesn't know that much about spindle spinning, preferring one of her three wheels (yes, she owns hers all at the same time, rather than consecutively). She did give me some shopping tips, though, before we headed to bed with visions of sugarplums of wool dancing in our heads.

We arrived at the vendor building bright and early Saturday morning, only to be told to wait, we couldn't enter yet, only the vendors. "Hey, it's after 9 already!"

When the doors *finally* opened, we rushed to keep up with Margene's long legs as she headed for Grayce's Plain and Fancy yarns... the colors are simply fantastic and I sure hope she takes Kristi up on the offer to make her a website, so that it is easier to get these yarns. I was looking for laceweight, but didn't like the very few colors in one small basket that she had left, so opted for this sportweight for hiking socks:

Plain and Fancy on the right, and Misti Alpaca on the left, a skein that Mim "helped" me buy when she took me to meet her former LYS owners from Smithfield, UT. It is destined to become a gift Mountain Stream scarf. Posted by Picasa

I wandered through Galina's Skaska booth, eyeing the fantastic fibers and the very fine yarns, but this year, nothing struck my fancy. I have her Gossamer Webs book that I got at a fiber fest last year and am constantly in awe of the fabulous Orenberg shawls she makes, so it is always inspiring.

Always wanting to learn more about knitting and try new things, I had to pore over unfamiliar books and patterns on my wanderings up and down the aisles. My best find of the shopping trip was snagging a copy of Spinoff from Spring 2004, the one with the Lily of the Valley pattern in it; of course this meant I had to locate something wonderful to make a shawl with, which led me to Textiles A Mano. These yarns were totally awesome, and I had a very hard time making a selection. I chose a seafoam green cotton/rayon for the shawl and also picked up a big skein of beautiful desert colors for my Monday night knitting hostess, Linda - these are some of her favorite colors:

 Posted by Picasa

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Periodically, I would come across one of my fellow condo-ites, and we had to exchange quick stories of our finds. One of those shoppers was Laurie, the wearer of a most fabulous Wool Peddler's Shawl the night before. I also learned by the end of the day that she was definitely the best bargain finder of our group. When we met up mid-morning, she had discovered some beautiful and soft Cormo wool, available from Elsa Sheep and Wool Company, and only in natural colors. Now I knew what I wanted to make my Peddler's shawl from, and headed over to buy these:

 Posted by Picasa

I also came across an expert circular sock knitting machiner, Cathy from Indiana, who gave me a crash refresher course in making short row heels and toes on the machine, plus lots of encouragement, bless her heart.

We interrupted our shopping to head for the Knitbloggers' Meet-up at 11 AM and I learned that there were more knitbloggers than names I was capable of learning at once! We splintered off into various configurations to find some lunch, and I ate on the deck of a small cafe with Bonnie, Jessamyn, and Karen. Karen is a terrific spindle-yarn spinner and became my guide and mentor in choosing a high whorl spindle after lunch. First, we stopped off at the Interweave Press booth, where Amanda demonstrated how to spin, using drop spindles made with CDs (let me know if you want to try this at home and I will forward Foothill Fiber Guild's instructions, which they pass out at fairs and other public events).

Then, we headed to the Bountiful booth where Karen explained what benefits the various whorl weights had and how they affected the type of yarn it would be possible to spin. She counseled that a heavier whorl producing thicker yarn would be the best for a beginner. One of the Bountiful employees helped me trial a particularly appealing Greensleeves spindle called "Katherine's Cup", made from Honduras Red Heart on Bois de Rose (doesn't it sound tres chic?), and I had learned from Amanda and Karen how to watch to make sure that the spindle tracked smoothly, and didn't wobble. I even managed to spin a respectable thread under the watchful eyes of my tutors, something I haven't done as well since. I signed on for one spindle and free bag of bright turquoise roving. The salesperson advised that I practice five minutes or more every single day, so that my hands would remember how to do this... I am still pretty uneven:

All I can say about this photo is that my spindle looks like its trying to roll away.... sorry for the dizzying effect. Posted by Picasa

Karen uses the spindle so elegantly. Posted by Picasa

I also learned that knitbloggers are the most generous, funny, warm, entertaining people I have ever spent time with, and that most of us felt like we knew each other immediately, even if we had never encountered each others' blogs yet.

As an example, here Amanda gives Taelixev (Dragon Knits) pointers about spinning. Posted by Picasa
We have this common bond of knitting, for one thing, and are more outgoing and willing to "put ourselves out there" for another. Carole suggested during one group conversation that bloggers are natural leaders, being willing to communicate even when unsure who's listening. So many times in the past few years I have seen someone in Blogland come up with a great idea and immediately build a team to help make that idea come to life, whether for a knitalong, a charity project or an experiment such as Dye-O-Rama. I felt so blessed and so proud to be a part of that world.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Louise, the BLM Burro

I have another post about Estes, covering the market and all the great things I learned and bought, but it will have to wait until tomorrow, for today's post is in honor of Louise. Regular followers will recognize that she is one of my five burros ... or was. I came home yesterday evening to learn that she died sometime while we were away at work. Although by a rough calculation, she was somewhere around 30 years old ("ancient for a horse", as my burro-expert buddy Ginny said), I am still deeply saddened. While feeding yesterday morning, she came up to show me that part of her tongue was swollen. Her sight has dimmed a bit in the two years we have had her, and apparently she managed to get stung by a bee on the tongue twice in the past two weeks. The first one, ten days ago was much more severe, and treatment with benedryl had reduced the swelling to near normal in only an hour, so I gave her a dose and watched to see that she was eating with the rest before leaving. However, her age put her at risk as well as the high 90s heat... although my animals have lots of deep shade within their pasture, it is still WAY hot here. We will never really know, but suspect anaphylactic shock.

Louise, grazing in the sun.

Louise came to me in March 2004, when I learned through one of my animal lists about a man who was searching for a home for two jennets because his health was failing and he could no longer care for them. His plight immediately resonated with me, as my day would at some point as well. We only had one burro, Rose, at that point and somehow I persuaded DH to let me take the two girls in... Glenn, Ginny and I hauled them here in her stock trailer and although Rita was 22 and Louise 25 at the time, they were still pretty lively.

According to her records, Louise had been captured off an unidentified BLM range at an estimated 9-10 years old. Mac had gotten her to keep Rita company, and they have lived together for 12 years... it was Rita who came up to Glenn yesterday evening while he was feeding, trying her best to tell him that something was wrong; she led him out to where Louise lay, on the shady point at the farthest east boundary of our place. I have learned that burros have an alert understanding of certain things, much like dogs.

Louise in foreground, with Rita behind her, taken this winter

I went out in the dusk to visit the animals, and then walked to where Glenn and a neighbor had buried Louise... Rita came and joined me. I had promised Mac I would keep them together, and I had succeeded, until now. Louise had the chance to roam in a very large, wooded pasture her last few years. We stared out into the woods together and I had no better idea than Rita where our Louisey had gone.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Road Trip

These words have always been music to my ears. Maybe it's from growing up in the West, where there are big expanses to be covered if you are even going to be able to say you've been to another state. I just love throwing a few necessities in the car and taking off to see what lies ahead. For the past twenty years or so, I have preferred the backcountry to the interstate, but either way, driving into other peoples' towns, getting to peek into their back yards, see different kinds of skies, and watch for rivers and wildlife has given me some of my peak moments. As an environmentalist, I have had a bit of guilt here and there; I have been working on a little piece of writing entitled "The Conundrum of Travel" which will appear later, but for now, let me share my travels to Estes Park and back with you.

My journey started with a two hour drive to the Reno airport and a short flight to Salt Lake City. The elderly gentleman seated next to me was totally fascinated by the two circs knitting socks, and couldn't figure out what I was making. We conversed much of the journey, and it turned out he had been a paratrooper in World War II, making 17 jumps into Germany near the end of the war. He also had lived in Salt Lake City many years and was returning for a family reunion, so proved to be a great tour guide as we descended to the airport.

It was much more hectic there than in Reno, and I phoned Margene, who told me where to meet her and Carole, who had arrived about 45 minutes ahead of me.... I wasn't sure I would be able to find them, but there they were, smiling and waiting at the bottom of the stairs to baggage claim. One of the great things about bloggers is that they can recognize each other and don't need to stand, looking embarassed holding stiff cardboard signs saying "Sundstrom" or some other such nonsense... instead we were all hugging instantly.

Our first stop was The Wool Cabin, where Margene had promised I would be able to get some Trekking yarn, not available near me, so that I and my sock could trek together to Estes Park and back.

I was starved, having missed lunch, and got to have a snack at Margene's, but she had arranged for a dinner with Susan, Margene's husband Smith and friend Camille (a photo is here). Of course, we dressed for the occasion, with me wearing my Mountain Stream for Susan to see, Carole wearing her just-off-the-needles Flower Basket Shawl, and Margene wearing...

We all got up before the crack of dawn (really, it wasn't as hard as it sounds - we were pretty excited), rounded up Anne, then met a carload of the Utah grrls... Mim, who bounded out to hug us all, Laurie, Michaele who was behind the wheel, and Karen (blogless but found at Sleeping Dragon). We were transferring luggage and that was the last we saw of them until evening, as they made much better time and didn't get caught in a huge snarl of bad directions and roadwork adventures in Loveland, where we met Cathy, who stole Anne away, to meet up with us on Saturday.

The other knit bloggers sharing the lodgings that Margene had located for us (right downtown, in spite of the cruddy MapQuest directions) were greatly relieved to see us - more hugs all around and lots of laughing and knitting before walking downtown for dinner.

Margene, Stephanie and Carole trying to decide what to order.

Michaele takes a photo of the Mile High grrls...

It was great fun getting the forty or so bloggers who showed for the meet-up together for photos... kinda like herding cats!

Margene will have to tell you who this knitblogger is... I didn't catch most peoples' names!

One of my highlights from the meet-up was meeting Imbrium, who won the yarn for these socks in a contest I had hosted a few months back... she said that they were still a bit damp from their initial blocking when she donned them to head out Saturday morning. Great job!

Of course you have to see the gorgeous sky at 7500 feet in the Rockies... I never had before and was awed by the beauty of the place.

It's all about the haul, as Stephanie and Carole discuss. Carole fell for this beautiful Corriedale fleece and Steph found more spinning supplies.

A tour of the animal barns let us meet the sources of fiber up close.. I liked this colorful alpaca, but she was wary of us. Did you know that alpacas hum when they are nervous?

Stephanie took a two-day spinning workshop before the rest of us arrived, and so she headed home to Laramie late Saturday afternoon. We were sad to see her go... from left to right, Margene, me, Carole and Stephanie. Do ya think I'm tired?

Chatting and knitting while Jen (Bakerina) prepares a feast for us.

Those in our car called it a night pretty early, as we needed to depart by 6:oo AM for the long drive (Carole kept saying how brown Wyoming is). We were sad to have to say good-bye to everyone, but Kristi (Fiber Fool) got a ride back to Loveland with us, where we traded her back to her husband and took in Anne for the journey to Salt Lake City.

On the way out of Estes we met up with this guy. While not the only elk we saw, he was certainly the grandest. He is employed by the city of Estes Park to provide photo ops to tourists like us, turning his massive, antler-clad head from side to side in response to camera flashes.

Trekking across the Continental Divide - Carole and I pose with our socks.

This post has been all about the people and the journey, and tomorrow's will be about the stash enhancement, learning and projects in store.... stay tuned.