Walter and Sara Let the good times roll
Sunday July 19th was a lovely quiet day. We had the campground mostly to ourselves and the time to enjoy the birds and the lake. I even had time to download my photos from my camera and I discovered a lovely sunset photo from our first night here—a panorama shot looking southwest.

Sunset panorama Sugarloaf Campground Lake Cascade

On Friday July 17th, we’d spotted a pair of Sandhill cranes down in the east back bay in amongst the great blue herons. While we’ve seen lots of herons since, we’ve not seen the Sandhills again.

Herons and sandhill cranes Lake Cascade

On Sunday afternoon, I had the time to take my camera with me when we did rounds and take photos as I went. Here’s the view from our dining room windows looking west across the lake.

Sugarloaf host site panorama

Here’s the view looking east across the back bay. There are campsites all along the ridge here that have this view—needless to say they are popular sites.  

Sugarloaf Campground eastward panorama

The water was still enough that I got this fun photo of a white pelican reflected in the lake.

Pelican reflected in Lake Cascade

The sky to the northwest was just starting to get a pink tint. The campground is on a little point with the back bay wrapping around to the southeast so there is water visible in pretty much all directions. Here’s a view to the north with water visible past the nearby hill. There are lots of pelicans, osprey and tons of tree swallows over in that bay.

Sugarloaf Campground northward panorama

After our rounds, I went down to the beach across from campground entrance and caught this great blue heron sitting on a rock. The rock looks a bit like the back of a whale but it’s really just a rock.

Heron on a rock Lake Cascade

Something spooked him and he took off and I managed to even get a photo of him in flight.

Great Blue Heron in flight

While I was at it I took a shot of the view looking south from along the beach.

Sugarloaf southward panorama

I walked back up to the road and then down to the boat launch. This used to be a single lane boat ramp. They re-did it this spring and made it two narrow lanes with the boarding dock down the middle. The wind on the lake here is a real challenge for boat ramp designers. They opened this one a little over 3 weeks ago and they’re still working on it to work the kinks out. Mid-week they took the farthest section off and redid the connections. This outer lane can be a challenge to use to launch when the wind is blowing towards the dock.

Boat Ramp Sugarloaf campground Lake Cascade

When conditions are calm folks tie their boats up along the sand spit which is at the east end of the boat ramp parking lot. But boy do they have to hustle to get them out if the wind comes up! Tuesday evening, it was glassy and beautiful like this after dinner and then at 11 pm the wind kicked up (15 mph) and they all ran out and brought their boats in—all except a pontoon boat that ended up beached really badly on the sand. The next morning they had to use a power boat to drag it off the sand bar.

Boats moored in inlet Sugarloaf Campground

On my way back up the path to our site I caught a good photo of one of our neighborhood ground squirrels. These guys have burrows all over the grassy areas in the park. We’ve counted 5 of them out in the grass in front of our dining area.

Ground Squirrel Sugarloaf campground Lake Cascade

That evening we had a lovely sunset looking northwest from the sites that have the small water view.

Sunset Sugarloaf campground Lake Cascade

The next morning I heard the sprinklers come on at 7 am and rolled over and went back to sleep. When we got up they were running all over the park—hurray. However there was one set of sprinklers right outside our dining room windows that seemed to be running a bit too long.

Sprinkler running Host Site Sugarloaf

By 10:30 when it hadn’t shut off yet we called the office. The ranger in charge of the irrigation was off on Monday (and no one else seems to know much) and so he couldn’t come out to check it. The advice we were given was to let it run for a while longer to see if it would shut off. So we did and it didn’t. No help at 12:30 when we reported it still running. But at 1:30 we got a call and instructions on how to shut off the whole system. Nothing happened at first but sure enough after about 5 minutes it turned off. Whew. Meanwhile, I had gotten to wipe off all the reservations signs and put up the new reservations (42 of them). The host before us had left a microfiber cloth with the bottle of eraser fluid and boy howdy did that work well. Of course it’s slowly taking the painted lines off the signs too but who cares? I don’t have to scrub like I did when I used a paper towel.

Oh and I almost forgot! We spied about 5 head of cattle who had managed to get past the fence and into the state park land, so we got to report that too—never dull, never dull.

After lunch we pumped up my kayak again and loaded it up into the pickup and drove it down to the boat launch so we could test it out.

Walter Cooke kayak Sugarloaf boat ramp

I hopped in and Walter took this photo before he gave me the camera back.

Sara Schurr kayak Sugarloaf boat ramp

I’d forgotten to put on my life vest so I stayed in the shallows in the back bay. Here’s a view of the boat launch from the water.

Boat ramp Sugarloaf Campground Lake Cascade

The water was glassy and the temps were in the low 80’s. I got my nose sunburned even with sun screen and a hat but I did have a lot of fun. There were pelicans out in the shallows with six herons (plus one in the air) behind him.

Pelican and herons Lake Cascade

I had fun taking reflection photos with the white puffy clouds both above and below.

Reflection panorama Lake Cascade SP

And the pelicans let me get fairly close.

Pelican Lake Cascade SP

Some folks had put up umbrellas on the sand spit and it sure made a great picture.

Umbrellas on sand spit Lake Cascade SP

I won’t tell you how many reflection photos I took while I was paddling around.    

Reflection photo Lake Cascade SP

We took the boat out at the sand spit and carried it up the path to the truck and loaded it in.

That evening when we stopped during our rounds (to check the progress of the cattle as they steadily moved into the park—we had 8 that night) I took this photo of a group of herons.

Great Blue Herons Lake Cascade SP

When I took the photo I was just shooting for one heron reflected in the water. When I looked at it later I realized I’d gotten 5 of them and that in another photo there were 6 of them. Clearly we’ve got a heron rookery here somewhere.

The next morning we did our rounds and made a picnic lunch and headed up to McCall to Ponderosa State Park. It was partially sunny and a bit breezy with temps in the low 70’s. Just perfect. We drove south along the main park road down to the short trail to the Narrows Overlook.

The Narrows Overlook Ponderosa SP ID

Ponderosa in on a peninsula that juts southward into Payette Lake. The peninsula and it’s basalt cliffs are part of a huge Columbia lava flow from some 15,000 years ago. Glaciers formed the valleys and carved out the depression for Payette Lake. The glacial moraine left when the glaciers receded created a dam to hold back the Payette River and form the lake.

I found some Elegant Asters (Eucephalus perelegans) in bloom along the trail. They were more scraggly than elegant but hey, they were a new flower for the day.

Elegant Asters (Eucephalus perelegans)

We followed the trail northward a ways to Osprey Cliffs which have quite a steep drop off and great views of the lake.

Osprey Cliffs Panorama Ponderosa SP

There were folks out in ski boats craving circles in the lake so that the kids on the tubes they were pulling could bump over the waves and scream in delight.

The view straight north is pretty spectacular all the way up to McCall.

Osprey Cliffs Panorama Ponderosa SP

I spied some buckwheat in bloom. I’m not sure which one it is. It turns out there are a TON of different buckwheats that bloom in Idaho and my nifty Idaho wildflower book doesn’t bother to try to distinguish between them all.

Buckwheat Ponderosa State Park

We drove on back northward towards McCall and stopped for a little stroll down to Duck Bay.

Duck Bay Ponderosa SP

There weren’t any ducks but it was quiet and pretty and the water was wonderfully clear. Walter sat on a rock while I picked my way along the shore.

Walter Cooke Duck Bay Ponderosa SP

I spied this little wildflower which doesn’t show up in any of my books. It’s probably a weed but hey, it’s still a nice little flower. So we’ll just call it pretty, okay?

Unknown wildflower Ponderosa State Park

For lunch we drove back to the picnic shelter near Duck Bay. After lunch we picked our way down along the shore from one little beach to the next.

Payette Lake from Ponderosa SP

On the way back I spied this pale pink spirea (Spiraea splendens).
pink spirea ( Spiraea splendens)

We got home in time to talk to the ranger in charge of our irrigation. He’d changed the programing for our cranky set of sprinklers so they wouldn’t come on (supposedly) and took the time to show us a little bit about the system including how to turn off the valves for a zone if we needed to. He set the sprinklers to run for the evening and said that they should come on as usual the next morning.

We took a ride around the campground to see how the cattle were doing and I shot this panorama shot looking east—with cattle and LOTS of pelicans.

The cattle were still roaming around past the fence (now up to 10 of them) and when we called it in they promised to call Charlie, the owner, one more time.Stray cattle at Sugarloaf Campground Lake Cascade

A few days ago there were no pelicans in the back bay but now we had a whole bunch.

Pelicans Lake Cascade SP

Eventually they set sail across the lake in a line with these three in the lead.

Pelicans Lake Cascade SP

At 8:00 the back bay was like glass.

Back Bay Sugarloaf Lake Cascade

And when we went down to check the boat ramp we discovered they’d taken the dock apart and half of it was blocking one side of the ramp. The good news is they put it all back in place by late Wednesday since we had a Bass Tournament scheduled for Saturday (at least 16 boats with two people each setting out at 5 am to catch 4 bass each) and lots of folks use the ramp on the weekends.
Disabled Sugarloaf Boat Ramp Lake Cascade

The sunset on Tuesday night was gorgeous so I walked down across the road to catch a shot of the water as it colored up with the sky.

Sunset Sugarloaf Lake Cascade

Wednesday morning the sprinklers came on as promised but so did the one that insists on running for hours. I called in for permission to turn off the valve and then braved the sprinklers to pry up the led of the utility box and turn the valve off. There were little rodent-like creatures running around in the box which didn’t add to the fun of the task but sure enough I got the water to turn off.

As we were getting ready for rounds, Walter called to me to bring the camera. He’d found a bat who was deep asleep hanging from the under-skirting of the trailer.  

Bat hanging from undercarriage of Airstream

I got down on the ground and shot a series of photos of him while lying on my back. The good news is he didn’t open his eyes and stare at me while I was doing it.

Bat hanging from underside of Airstream

We did our rounds and complained about the cattle that now appeared to be heading towards the boat ramp parking area and headed up to McCall to do our grocery shopping and laundry.

We took a turn through the McCall Farmers Market and didn’t find anything we needed or wanted. It was late in their day (they close at 2 pm) and mostly they had lots of yellow squash, zucchini and cucumbers left. I was looking for home grown tomatoes but to no avail. For lunch we tootled back over to Ponderosa State Park and had lunch on a bench overlooking the main Day Use Area beach. It was cool and breezy in the shade so when a bench in the sun freed up, we moved.

There were lots of folks out on the water. A sail boat skimmed by.  

Sailboat on Lake Payette ID

Then a couple on SUPs (Stand Up boards) paddled by.

SUPs on Lake Payette

And then we had a couple of jet skis roar by—this one carrying quite a load.

Fully loaded jet ski Lake Payette

The cattle were gone when we got back to the trailer. Hurray. But our power was out. The 110 at the pedestal was still on but we only had battery power. It had rained really hard along the lake while we were gone (but only sprinkled up in McCall) and we thought something might have happened. Walter got out his meter and began to check things out while I put the laundry and the groceries away. It took quite a while but in the end we discovered that our GFI had tripped (it doesn’t take much to trip those babies) and shut off the power to the entire rear 2/3’s of the trailer (including the refrigerator) leaving only the 2 sockets in the bedroom working. We pushed the little GFI button in (it’s in the bathroom) and presto we had 110 again. Magic.

Thursday July 23rd the campground began to fill up. We had a steady stream of people stopping by to ask questions and look for camp spots for the weekend. We were full except for one spot on Saturday night so I had to turn away a lot of unhappy people. There was a big 4 Summit Challenge bike ride just north of Cascade on Saturday morning (hundreds of participants) and we had the Bass Tournament here at Sugarloaf so there were very few openings anywhere in the park for the weekend.

We had lots of chatty people who arrived on Thursday. It took me well over an hour to do rounds in the evening because they all wanted to ask questions and visit—that’s the fun part of camp hosting!

By the time I was finished with my rounds Mother Nature had started painting the sky pink both to the southeast   

Sunset southeastward Lake Cascade SP

And to the west.

Sunset to the west Lake Cascade

Friday morning July 24th, our reservation sheet arrived confirming that we were full for Friday and Saturday nights. We put out the Campground Full signs and quick did our rounds. When we got back, the office called to say we had a cancellation. I rode my bike over to the site’s reservation sign and cleaned it off. As I was coming back to the rig, someone stopped to ask about openings. They just wanted Friday night and quick snapped up our one opening. So we quick changed the signs back to Full. As I walked back from talking to them, someone else stopped me and asked about the open spot. The office had sent him to us but once again someone driving around looking for a spot had beaten them to the punch since the opening had lasted about 3 minutes. This guy was really philosophical about it and just shrugged and said that was the way it went. I was relieved since the last time we had this happen the lady who was beaten out was NOT happy.

I’d hoped to get out in the kayak that afternoon but once again the wind came up like gang busters with surf in our little cove again. Friday is always a long day. I have to write down the license plate numbers of all of the new folks (and usually that means 20 to 30 sites) and their extra cars. I end up making a couple of extra trips around the campground to get it done. In amongst all the folks coming by to ask questions, the fellow who moored his sailboat at Buttercup dropped by. He’d moved it into our back bay and asked us to call him if it came loose from it’s anchor.  

Sailboat moored at Sugarloaf inlet

In addition, this weekend the boat ramp parking lot was getting full because of the bass tournament so we made a couple of extra trips down there too so I was a little tired. When quiet hours arrived at 10 pm we had several LOUD parties going on (and no ranger nearby). So for the first time, I put my vest on, got a flashlight, and went to tell them that they needed to turn their stereos off and tone it down. It went pretty well. I only got a little slightly drunken backtalk about when quiet hours really started. The good news is that nobody got mad; I kept my cool and stayed pleasant; and by 11 pm it was pretty darned quiet in the park. Ahhhh. Usually, I’ve been able to wait them out and let the ranger quiet them down. But Friday night I knew that the ranger was really busy and might not make it back up to us at all so I knew I had to bite the bullet and do it.

Saturday we were once again full—our one open spot having been snapped up via on-line reservation. There were boat trailers parked out on the road when we got up so we knew that the boat ramp parking lot was probably full (or at least had been earlier) so we went down to check. There were two slots available so we waited to put out the ‘boat ramp full’ sign. Once we were done with our rounds we decided to pump up the boats and go kayaking. My boat had been upside down in the grass next to the trailer. When we went to move it, at least 5 of those lovely rodent-like critters (that I’d found in the irrigation shut off box) came scurrying out. That elicited a yelp from me. Once we got the boat moved we took a look and they had gathered grass to make a nest right under the opening in the boat. We won’t do that again.

We got both of the boats into the back of the pickup and drove down to get the last single-car parking spot in the boat ramp parking lot—busy busy day! Both the boats did well and it was fun to be out on the water. We figured out that we could carry both the boats at once if we each took a handle in each hand. Pretty spiffy. No way to do a selfie of that though.

When we got back we put out the boat ramp full sign and settled in to find a good place to keep the boats. We decided that our spare picnic table fit the bill. We slightly deflated the boats (you’re not supposed to leave them in the sun fully inflated), cleaned them up and then stacked them upside down on the table.

Inflatable kayaks stacked on picnic table

My petunias have begun to recover from being pruned by the ground squirrels too.

Purple Petunias

Life continues to be interesting, stimulating and fun. We’re enjoying our time at Sugarloaf with our gorgeous view.