Archive for the ‘Articles’ Category

Change Can Be a Good Thing

Monday, April 25th, 2016
There are as many ways to organize fishing gear as there are anglers. The important thing is to find a system that works best for you and use it. Generally, keep everything together, rather than storing gear throughout the house and garage. Use as many boxes and other storage containers as necessary. For fishing trips, where space often is limited, condense everything to one or two tackle boxes. Take only the essentials. Photo by

There are as many ways to organize fishing gear as there are anglers. The important thing is to find a system that works best for you and use it. Generally, keep everything together, rather than storing gear throughout the house and garage. Use as many boxes and other storage containers as necessary. For fishing trips, where space often is limited, condense everything to one or two tackle boxes. Take only the essentials. Photo by

Fishing is like anything else: If you keep doing it the same way, don’t expect a different result.

Let’s face it. We all fall victim to routine: fishing in the same places, using the same lures, doing the same things over and over.
Every once in a while, it’s beneficial to reassess how we do things and change it up when it makes sense.

Here are five tips that may offer a refreshing and rewarding change:

Reorganize your tackle box. Arrange it so you can find everything quickly. Also, remove ineffective and rarely used lures and other tackle.

Lighten up. That goes for rod, reel, line and sinker. Fishing with light gear can be more challenging, and many anglers consider it to be more satisfying as well.

Start anew. If you’re too attached to that banged up old reel or just making due with a rod that has seen its better days, take the plunge and replace it. Don’t skimp on quality. Invest in gear and tackle that will last, do its job and not fail you at a critical moment.

Don’t be afraid to experiment. Have an open mind to new tackle and new techniques, and take the time to thoroughly test them in the field before adopting or rejecting them.

Go for a change of scenery. Fight the habit of driving to the same old, tried-and-true fishing holes. Take a risk and venture into the unknown. Sure, you may get skunked a time or two, but you also might find the next great sweet spot.

Fun Fish Facts

  • Catfish have 27,000 taste buds, nearly four times as many as humans.
  • The oldest fish hook is 16,000 to 23,000 years old. The hook was found in a limestone cave in East Timor in 2011. It was discovered among evidence suggesting humans were catching fish from the open ocean as many as 42,000 years ago.

’Tis the Season for Ticks
Late spring is prime time for ticks. Minimizing contact is the best way to reduce the odds of picking up one or more of these blood-sucking hitchhikers.

Wear long pants when you might come in contact with vegetation that may harbor ticks. Tuck in pant legs to keep ticks out.

For an added measure of protection, use an insect repellent containing DEET. This is effective against ticks as well as other insect pests. Be sure to spray the lower half of pant legs and shoes for maximum effect.

Outdoors 101: A Cool Head is Your No. 1 Emergency Tool
A sense of panic can set in when you suddenly find yourself lost, injured or in some other unpleasant predicament on the water or in the wild. When panic strikes, your ability to think clearly and assess your situation is severely impaired. The most important thing you can do is stay calm. Take time to breathe, clear your thoughts and try to keep panic at bay. Then you can begin to assess your situation rationally and take steps to deal with the situation.

What Holiday is It?
May: National Barbecue Month
May 8-14: National Wildflower Week
May 15-21: National Bike Week

Got a Tip or a Whopper?
Send us your favorite outdoor tip, photo or story. If selected for publication, we will send you $25 for one-time use of the item. When sending a photo, identify people and pets, and tell us the story behind the picture. Email your submission to gro.etilarurnull@ofni.

In Touch With the Wild Side

Monday, April 25th, 2016
Jozee Rooz Indoor Petting Zoo owners Donny Miller and Debbie Dolittle Penwell of Tacoma, Washington, enjoy raising animals, and teaching children and adults about their handling and care.

Jozee Rooz Indoor Petting Zoo owners Donny Miller and Debbie Dolittle Penwell of Tacoma, Washington, enjoy raising animals, and teaching children and adults about their handling and care.

With a collection of animals from many parts of the world, the Jozee Rooz Indoor Petting Zoo in Tacoma, Washington, offers visitors a chance to interact with animals they may otherwise only see on TV.

The brainchild of Debbie Dolittle Penwell and Donny Miller, the petting zoo has been a resounding success in its first year.

“The neighborhood loves us,” says Debbie. “We get a lot of local business as well as from surrounding areas like Seattle, Olympia, Gig Harbor and other cities.”

With more than 50 animals in their menagerie, Debbie and Donny are always on the go. The actual number of animals varies, but the current lineup includes 14 goats and kids, six lambs, seven rabbits, one pig, six piglets, two wallabies, one wallaro, a zebu calf, a yak calf, one jersey calf, a noisy cockatiel, four budgies, three mini/banty chickens and a reindeer.

“We also have a mini donkey, a mini horse and ponies we bring in for rides,” Debbie says. “We chose the name of our first wallaby, Jozee Rooz, as the name of our business.”

She says the petting zoo is a great place to teach children how to respect animals, starting with gentle touching.

“We teach them to pet and brush the animals gently, and to not touch their faces,” she says. “If the animal moves away, don’t chase after them, just find another animal to pet. I also like to teach kids that none of us like strangers touching our faces, and the animals don’t either. Most of us like a good back rub or scratching, though.”

Debbie credits her mother for her love of animals.

“I can’t think of a time when I didn’t have animals in my life,” she says.

For more information about the Jozee Rooz Indoor Petting Zoo, call (253) 539-5011 or (877) 570-3346, or visit

Hooked on Carving Fish

Monday, April 25th, 2016
Franz Dutzler outlines details on a fish at his workshop. He uses black walnut and attention to detail to create natural-looking carvings of trout and other fish, such as those in the background of this photo.

Franz Dutzler outlines details on a fish at his workshop. He uses black walnut and attention to detail to create natural-looking carvings of trout and other fish, such as those in the background of this photo.

The details of the rainbow trout carving give it a lifelike look. The green and red colors of the fish shine, as if it is swimming through a pristine lake or river. The body is curved, as if moving.

The trout—enclosed in glass to protect its clean and natural look—is the creation of wood carver and painter Franz Dutzler. The 75-year-old artist’s work on hundreds of fish during the past few decades has earned him the title “The Trout Master.”

In his words, Franz has been “crazy about fish and fishing” since he was a kid in Austria.

After a short stint working at a railroad job and many years working as a chef, Franz became confident enough in his artwork to make it a full-time profession.

He combines the natural beauty of black walnut and attention to detail to create a natural medium for displaying wild trout, frogs and other aquatic animals in their habitats.

“Since I was a little kid, I’ve watched trout—swimming, chasing each other,” Franz says. “I’ve been fascinated by them. I just love the colors of the rainbow trout. There are some really neat colors—red, green, purple. All the spots on them are colorful. I was just intrigued by trout behavior.”

Franz began honing his carving skills while working as a chef at a resort in the Snowy Mountains in Australia and then at the Milford Hotel at Milford Sound, New Zealand. His first sculpture was made from butter, wire and wood.

In 1966, he and Launa, his wife of 50 years, married and soon immigrated to the U.S., settling in the Yakima, Washington, area. Franz worked as a chef in the Chinook Hotel and continued to carve butter and ice for table displays.

While there, he met a man who carved upland game birds out of wood and painted them. He encouraged Franz to carve, but something other than birds. Franz began carving fish as a hobby.

A skiing accident left him bedridden for a while, which gave him time to carve and to think about how he could improve his artistry. He began to study “Trout and Salmon of North America,” a thesis written by a fish biologist in Colorado.

“I studied that thesis to improve my knowledge of the fish,” Franz says.

And he continued to improve his wood-carving skills.

Once he was back on his feet and fishing, he put trout he caught in a clear plastic tank to study up close the fish’s mouth, fins and coloring. He took photos of the fish. In many cases, he released the fish back into the water where he had caught it.

“He went out and did his own research,” Launa says. “Carving and painting from a photo of a live fish, not a dead one, is why I think his carvings have so much life to them. He was happy with what he had at first, but obviously he has improved over time.”

Franz eventually was confident and proud enough of his work that he submitted his fish carvings to the Favell Museum in Klamath Falls, Oregon, then to an art show in Eugene, Oregon, and steadily to other shows.

When a man bought a whole table of Franz’s carvings at a Spokane show, the artist decided to go full time as a carver and painter.

Franz set up a workshop area at his La Pine, Oregon, home. He created more carvings of fish and took his artwork to more shows around the West.

He traded some of his artwork for trips to Alaska, where he was able to experience salmon fishing. His daughter hooked a 50-pound salmon on one of those trips, and Franz landed the fish. He then carved a replica of the fish. It sold for $7,000.

Another Franz creation—two steelhead in a 5-foot-long display—sold for $12,000.

Launa became her husband’s business manager, doing the bookwork and helping with sales created by the business’ website,

“I support him wholeheartedly,” she says. “I think he has a wonderful talent. A lot of people see his fish and think it’s taxidermy. His fish look so realistic, they think it’s real.”

While Franz has slowed down some in his shop and does not visit art shows anymore, he still takes orders from his website, and has fish carvings on display and for sale at The Wooden Jewell in Sunriver and at a few fishing lodges in Oregon and Idaho.

After living in the La Pine area for the past 25 years, the Dutzlers recently moved to Utah to be closer to their grown children and grandkids. Franz has a workshop at his new residence.

“It’s been a real blessing that Franz has been able to do something he loves and make a living at it,” Launa says. “Not many people get that opportunity. He’ll be carving until he dies.”

Value Added

Monday, April 25th, 2016
The addition of a bird to a static photo of a bridge is just enough spice to give the image some life. Photo by David LaBelle

The addition of a bird to a static photo of a bridge is just enough spice to give the image some life.
Photo by David LaBelle

“And that’s not all,” the excited voice in the advertisement squawks. “Act today and you’ll also receive …”

Hoping to entice buyers by sweetening the deal, the seller “adds value” to the package.

Like the bonus of a comb or carrying case, small details in your photo compositions can be the difference between an average photograph and one that evokes an emotional response, inviting viewers to return again and again.

A dark figure walking in the background, a flag awakening in a breeze, an unexpected shaft of light breaking through a bank of dark clouds, or small gestures like the tilting of a head or positioning of a hand can transform an ordinary picture into something special.

The difference between a good picture and a great picture is often found in the smallest of details.

Like spices seasoning a meal, accents should not overpower your primary subject. They must quietly enhance the visual flavor and add to the overall content of your main photographic dish. Too much seasoning can overwhelm the flavor of a meal, and too much random, unrelated clutter can ruin a photograph.

“See all corners of the frame” is the advice many photography teachers tell students learning composition. Be deliberate. Position every element where you want it before you press the shutter. None of this “I’ll crop it later stuff,” they grouse.

Composition is the stage you build in your viewfinder while waiting for a performance to begin. It is a deliberate act.

Documentary photography is about capturing fleeting moments. A fraction of an inch or a half-second can be the difference between a compelling image and an anemic record of a person, place or event. As photojournalists, we live in those half seconds. It is within these fleeting fragments of time stories are told: a face contorts, a head tilts, a bee unexpectedly lands on a nose.

Anticipating, patiently waiting for and recognizing the supportive accents that enrich a composition, is one of the traits separating craftsmen from “button-pushers.”

Most of us experience happy accidents—those lucky, unplanned things that happen in our viewfinders and make our pictures better. But most seasoned photographers don’t count on luck. They believe good things come to those ready for the unexpected.

Some photographers—those left alone in the woods too long—become prone to humming or chanting like monks, praying for a rainbow to appear or a string of geese to move across the sky of their vacant compositions. I have acted similarly.

Others try to “will” a deer or red fox to step out of a dark forest into golden, late afternoon light so their hairy coats will catch the day’s last rays and add magic to their chosen scene. They hope for karma from the photo-gods.

While we often work hard to clean up backgrounds, positioning our cameras to block or remove distracting elements, the smallest of accents—such as a bird flying through the frame—gives life or adds value to our images.

When we relax, open ourselves to the unexpected and recognize the wonder before us, magic often happens.

Make sure you always have a few frames left on your card, and keep your camera turned on and mounted on your tripod until it is too dark to see.

The ordinary may become extraordinary right before your eyes if you make yourself and your camera available.


David LaBelledaveL_mug_2011 is an internationally known photographer, teacher, author and lecturer. He has worked for newspapers and magazines across the United States and taught at three universities. He grew up on a frog farm in rural California, roaming the creeks and hills with his coon dogs. Many of the lessons he learned during those magical boyhood years have been applied to photography and teaching the essence of this art form. For more information, visit

Wild Plants Appeal as Meals, Medicine

Monday, April 25th, 2016
Gloria Simeon, center, shares her knowledge of wild plants with students during a summer field lab in Quinhagak. Photo courtesy of University of Alaska

Gloria Simeon, center, shares her knowledge of wild plants with students during a summer field lab in Quinhagak.
Photo courtesy of University of Alaska

For generations, Alaska’s native elders have advised drinking a tea brewed from fresh tender spruce tree tips as a springtime tonic.

That advice and other knowledge about the state’s wild edible plants is being passed on through a popular ethnobotany class offered through the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

“Students learn that spruce tea is rich in vitamin C,” says Rose Meier, assistant ethnobotany professor in Fairbanks.

She administers an ethnobotany certificate program offered through the Kuskokwim campus in Bethel.It is the first program of its kind in Alaska and one of a handful in the United States, says Rose, who facilitated its approval in 2009 in response to community interest.

Leah Walsh, a former student and ethnobotany program assistant, says she enrolled because she “sees a time when it will be of growing importance to again intimately know our water, know our food and know our medicine.”
Classes have become popular with non-degree-seeking students in Fairbanks.

“We have quite a few students with college and post-graduate degrees who are taking classes because they want to learn about wild plants and their edible and medicinal properties,” says Rose. “It’s also a way for them to connect with the vast natural world at our doorstep.”

Employees at UAF meet monthly to share experiences making teas, tinctures, cooking with native plants and using them medicinally.

The ethnobotany classes are taught via a telecommunications network, enabling students to learn in their homes from professors and elders.

One of the most popular plants in rural Alaska is the cloudberry or salmonberry, which produces plump orange, mildly tart fruit in July and August. In an online class manual, Katherine Hart, an elder in St. Mary’s, recalls how people stored the berries inside seal guts buried in pits. The berries were mixed with fish livers and seal oil, or with dried salmon eggs and seal oil. A traditional dish, uqumyak, was made with cloudberries mixed with snow.

Another elder, Modesta Myers of Pilot Station, told of suffering from a serious cough. Her mother boiled leaves from Labrador, a woody low shrub that grows on the tundra, and Artemisia in water in a covered pan until the tea was concentrated. She drank half a cup twice a day until she improved.

Rose says Artemisia, a plant in the sunflower family, and roseroot, a low-growing succulent, are two of the state’s most intriguing plants.

“They’re both considered a go-to plant to maintain health,” she says, noting some species of Artemisia have been studied for their anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and antiviral properties.

Rose says the program does not advocate using plants as natural medicines, but provides information.

“We study how plants have been used both historically and today,” she says. “There are many powerful plants that should only be used by those who understand their medicinal properties.”

A highlight of the ethnobotany program includes a two-week summer field lab.

“Magic happens when you’re outdoors learning hands-on about the many ways that local plants have improved and continue to improve our lives,” Rose says.

Making Money Out of Mushrooms

Monday, April 25th, 2016

Connie Green picks mushrooms for use by celebrity chefs. Photo by Sara Remington, courtesy of Viking Studios

Connie Green walks with ease in diverse worlds. As a professional forager, she hunts wild mushrooms in northern California for celebrity chefs and harvests sea beans in estuaries. She is equally at home in a kitchen, where she makes pickled sea beans that have won prestigious awards.

Connie wrote “The Wild Table: Seasonal Foraged Food and Recipes” to share her decades of expertise and love of wild foods. She helped establish a market for the Pacific Northwest’s wild mushrooms nearly 40 years ago.

“I’m probably the earliest and longest surviving mushroom foraging business in the West,” says Connie, 65, who lives in the hills near Napa and has a network of foragers throughout the Northwest and Alaska. “I’ve gathered chanterelles from the exact same trees for more than 30 years.

“Some days you hike for eight hours and come back with nothing, while other days you find a perfect patch.”

Prices vary depending on the type, their rarity and quality.

“A pound of chanterelles at the height of the season may sell for $12 to $15 a pound retail, while porcini may be worth $18 to $24 a pound,” she says, noting the highly prized matsutake—with its distinctive spicy aroma—may sell for up to $45 a pound. “That’s in an extreme year when mushrooms haven’t produced well in China or Korea due to weather, so buyers turn to the U.S. for their supply.”

To share her love of local wild mushrooms, Connie began selling them to chefs in the Bay Area in 1979. By word of mouth, demand grew. She opened Wineforest Wild Foods in 1981, adding black walnut oil, nuts, pickled products, syrups and a rub made from juniper berries to her offerings.

Her pickled sea beans were selected for a Good Food Awards earlier this year and in 2014. Her wild elderberry shrub syrup won in 2012 and 2015.

Sea beans, one of her favorite foods, grow along coastlines.

“Their stems are salty and succulent, a lot like celery, but with a hint of brine,” she says. “They can be sautéed, steamed or stir-fried.”

Connie’s appreciation for foraging was instilled as a child. She says she never tires of gathering what nature has grown.

“I invited some chefs to my home the other day and made a salad for them from dandelion greens, chickweed, oxalis and purslane,” she says. “They loved the flavors, but didn’t recognize the greens and wondered where they came from. They were amazed when I told them right here in my yard. There are so many wonderful plants around us.”

Nature’s Pantry Beckons

Monday, April 25th, 2016
A woman picks berries and mushrooms from the lush vegetation on the forest floor. Photo by Tanhu

A woman picks berries and mushrooms from the lush vegetation on the forest floor.
Photo by Tanhu

Wild plant foragers find plenty of choices, from front yard to the forest

Hannah Hynes-Petty browses around her yard, searching for fresh salad ingredients. She plucks chickweed, purslane and dandelion greens.

“There’s a misconception that foraging takes place out in a forest or far away from home,” says the 24-year-old Eugene, Oregon, resident who teaches ethnobotany and herbalism for Wolf Camp and the Conservation College. “Foraging can happen right in your own backyard.”

Whether the search starts in a backyard or deep in the wilderness, foragers nationwide are gaining hands-on experience from experts who have found a passion for nature’s free edible offerings. From camps to classes to books, seasoned foragers are share expertise and hope to help people return to their gathering roots.

“Many plants considered to be weeds are highly nutritious and delicious,” says Hannah. “It seems counter-intuitive to weed out these plants from yards and gardens when they’re beneficial.”

Hannah’s classes focus on which plants are safe to eat, where to find them, when to pick them and how to fix them. Purslane’s succulent leaves taste similar to a tangy cucumber. Chickweed tastes similar to corn silk or a light grass. Dandelion greens provide vitamins and minerals, and often are boiled to remove a bitter flavor or sautéed in olive oil.

Foraging for wild greens, roots, flowers, mushrooms and berries in yards, along streambanks and in forests is gaining popularity for several reasons.

“It’s an easy way to supplement your diet with free nutrient-rich food,” Hannah says. “On a deeper level, it’s a way to engage with nature. Plants, their properties and botanical patterns are fascinating.”

A growing desire by consumers to learn about wild edibles helped propel rural coastal Oregon author Doug Deur to the New York Times bestseller list of travel books two years ago.

Sales are still steady for “Pacific Northwest Foraging: 120 Wild and Flavorful Edibles from Alaska Blueberries to Wild Hazelnuts.”

“The interest in gathering wild plants is rapidly expanding nationwide, involving a much wider range of people than was the case even a few years ago,” says Doug, an anthropology professor at Portland State University. “Consumers are becoming increasingly concerned with the healthfulness of their food in light of industrialized, chemically based agricultural practices. At the same time, our technological world tends to disconnect people from their natural world.”

Doug believes another reason for his guidebook’s popularity is his inclusion of Native Americans’ eons-old foraging philosophy.

“Tribes I’ve worked with—from the Southwest to the Arctic—believe people should take care of the plants, and they will take care of you,” Doug says. “If you gather, you’re obligated to spread a few seeds and to not overharvest. Their reverence toward harvesting wild plants makes us think about our modern land-use practices.”

Qualified Instructor
Hannah tells novice foragers to take a class from a qualified instructor or to accompany a knowledgeable person, and invest in a quality field guide. Her favorites include “Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast,” by Jim Pojar and Andy MacKinnon, and “Edible Wild Plants: Wild Foods from Dirt to Plate” by Portland-based author John Kallas.

The region provides a vast classroom offering a 24/7 pantry, with plants growing in diverse microclimates, from lush forests to dry grasslands. More than 2,000 mushroom varieties thrive in the region, with many growing only in the Northwest.

“We have thousands of plants to pick from,” says John, who estimates he has taught wild edible plant classes to 10,000 students regionally and nationally in rural and urban settings during the past 35 years. “There are more than 60 types of sea weeds alone.”

In addition to workshops, he shares advice at

As if scanning a grocery list, John names a few of his favorite wild spring edibles.

“There are cattail shoots, oxeye daisies, mustards, sweet pea, carrots and burdock,” he says. “Coastal sea vegetables are out year-long, although there are seasons and permits required for gathering them.”

John advises students to get permission to forage on public as well as private lands. He emphasizes to avoid picking near roads, where plants absorb vehicular exhaust fumes, or along railroad tracks, where toxic chemicals have spilled and heavy metals may contaminate the soil.

“Always be positive of a plant’s identification,” he says. “A pleasant taste is not an indicator of edibility.”

Timeless Tradition
Identification of edible plants has been passed down for generations among Native Americans, who have foraged for thousands of years.

“They still gather food in a specific, respectful way to perpetuate the life of the plants,” says Thomas Backman of Kamiah, Idaho, who teaches science at the Nez Perce campus of Northwest Indian College.

During a spring lab, students use a traditional long, sharp, digging stick to carefully extract edible roots.

“The idea is to dig a specific root without disturbing surrounding plants,” he says. “The plants’ seeds are then sprinkled in the hole, so new plants will grow and continue the life cycle.”

“Our saying is to tread softly when digging the roots,” adds Nez Perce language teacher Bessie Walker. “Each family has a traditional spot to dig.”

Like the roots, berries are picked carefully.

“It’s frustrating that some non-native pickers damage a huckleberry bush by cutting off an entire branch to pull off the berries later at home or at a campsite,” Thomas says. “Others have dug up bushes and planted them at home, which eventually kills the plant. We still can’t replicate the symbiotic relationship a huckleberry plant has with fungi in the soil where it grows. They’re best left in place.”

Mushroom Mania
The Pacific Northwest’s wild mushrooms have become world renowned. They are especially coveted in Japan, where mushroom habitat has disappeared due to land-use practices.

No one can predict how a season will unfold.

“There are so many factors with snowpack, summer rain and humidity, it’s impossible to forecast,” says Kim Traverse, president of the Puget Sound Mycological Society and a mushroom hunter for 40 years. “Every season has its surprises.”

The value of the Northwest’s wild mushroom crop has been estimated at $23 million to $40 million annually, with thousands of pickers obtaining permits from the U.S. Forest Service.

“It’s amazing how little is actually known about the commercial wild mushroom trade,” says Langdon Cook, a Seattle-based author.

“It’s a fascinating, invisible economy and has been referred to as the largest legal cash business in the U.S.,” says Langdon, who worked in remote Northwestern forests alongside commercial pickers to write his book, “The Mushroom Hunters: On the Trail of an Underground America.”

Lori Froehlich of Goldendale, Washington, has no desire to pick commercially. For her, finding morels in spring and golden chanterelles in fall is a priceless tradition shared with family and friends.

As a child, her dad taught her where to look. She learned to carefully slice mushrooms at the base of their stems to not damage the mycelium—the root-like network from which they grow.

“It was worthwhile whether we came home empty-handed or with our bags full,” Lori says. “Those experiences instilled in me a lifelong love of the woods.”

She describes autumn chanterelles as meaty and aromatic—“a bright golden spot in a forest of green, like finding a pot of gold or forest candy.”

Lori says to check with a U.S. Forest Service office to know where to hunt and how many you can gather.

Leaving Enough
While many wild mushrooms, plants and berries appear to be abundant, foraging advocates advise frugal harvesting so the plants continue to thrive.

Whenever Hope Stanton picks red huckleberries, thimble berries and blackberries near her home in Nehalem, Oregon, to make pies, jams and berry vinegar, she leaves enough for birds and other wildlife and seeds for a new generation of plants.

“It’s great that folks are relearning the value of our native plants,” says Hope, a member of the Native Plant Society of Oregon. “Let’s not trample and destroy them in the process.”

Hannah reminds her students to harvest honorably.

“Have a purpose in mind, and gather only as much as you will use and process,” she says. “Allow the biggest and best plants to remain so they can continue to propagate the healthiest population. Harvest about one-third or less of a plant and leave some root. Make clean slices, so the plant will heal.”

She looks forward to future outings.

“Spring is a wonderful time to harvest because plants are producing new buds and shoots,” Hannah says. “There are so many wonderful choices.”

Luthier Makes Music Pay

Friday, March 25th, 2016
Josh Humphrey’s handmade instruments are borne out of a love for quality woodworking and music.

Josh Humphrey’s handmade instruments are borne out of a love for quality woodworking and music.

Josh Humphrey has worked with his hands from an early age. His experience with craftsmanship and a love for music led him to start his own business, JBH Guitars.

“I feel lucky to be building guitars here in Ellensburg,” Josh says.

He welcomes the small-town vibe, the proximity to Seattle and “the incredible weather,” he says.

“I started my luthiery career in Eugene, where there were several other world-class mentors,” Josh says. “They were very friendly, and it felt like a nice place to get started.”

He sold his first handmade instrument in 2006. He now sells eight to 10 a year. They average about $4,000 each.

Josh learned the traditional art of instrument making using hand tools. He proudly points out there is no power equipment in the shop.

He prefers to create instruments with his own hands, sometimes in-laying various types of woods in a variety of patterns and designs.

His small shop is well organized. The walls and shelves are filled with a variety of tools and woods.

“It is important to have the right tool for whatever job you are working on,” Josh says. “Things work out better that way.”

The wood he uses ranges from apple tree slabs from his yard to different woods friends have given him.

Josh enjoys repairing and building custom instruments, teaching the traditional art of handcrafted instrument construction and giving music lessons in a variety of genres.

JBH Guitars may be a one-man operation, but its products are anything but small time.

“My orders come from all around the country and internationally as well,” Josh says.

For more information, visit Josh’s website at

Take a Load Off

Friday, March 25th, 2016

Canoe camping allows for larger payloads than backpacking on foot, but space is still limited. Pick and choose carefully what to take along—or be prepared to live without it. Be sure to put heavier items in the bottom of the canoe or kayak, and lighter items on top. Balance the load from side to side to avoid listing. Photo by David Lewis

Something that separates outdoor enthusiasts from most tourists is the desire to get off the beaten path. Backpacking is one way to do that. However, hiking with a heavy pack is hot and strenuous work, even on those rare occasions when heat and humidity are at bay.

A relaxing alternative is “backpacking” by boat. Let a canoe or sea kayak do the heavy lifting while you savor the experience with less effort.

There are many advantages to this method of trekking. In addition to being a low-impact mode of transportation, it allows you to bring along a few more comforts of home. It also affords more freedom to explore nooks and crannies that otherwise would be inaccessible.

The Northwest is perfectly suited to exploring and camping by boat, since the region is blessed with lots of water features.

For more information and destination ideas, visit

Five Tips for a Glorious Group Hike Experience

  • Select a distance and level of difficulty suitable for everyone in the group.
  • Allow the slowest hiker to set the pace.
  • Share the load. Distribute group gear and supplies according to what individuals are capable of carrying.
  • Take regular breaks.
  • Designate someone to take up the rear as a sweeper to account for everyone.

Outdoor 101: Don’t Leave Home Without It
Every outdoor enthusiast knows the wonders of duct tape, but it’s a pain to carry around a big roll of it on outings. Create a small, packable stash by winding a few feet of duct tape around a short pencil, a hiking stick or a water bottle. Also, gray is not the only color choice. Duct tape is now available in many colors, including camo patterns for quick repair of camouflage jackets and pants.

What Holiday is It?
April: Keep America Beautiful Month
April 17: Bat Appreciation Day

Got a Tip or a Whopper?
Send us your favorite outdoor tip, photo or story. If selected for publication, we will pay you $25 for one-time use of the item. When sending a photo, identify place, people and pets, and tell us the story behind the picture. Email your submission to gro.etilarurnull@ofni.

Entrepreneur Drawn by Necessity

Friday, March 25th, 2016
Brian Keast works on a three-dimensional computer-aided product design. Photo by Joanie Keast

Brian Keast works on a three-dimensional computer-aided product design.
Photo by Joanie Keast

Four knee surgeries and other career-threatening injuries led Brian Keast of Sisters, Oregon, to draft a new stage in his career.

“I spent 30 years as a martial arts instructor, which I combined with two high-risk-for-injury careers,” says Brian, who also worked as a mechanic and contractor. “I knew that if I was putting on a tool belt when I was 60 years old, I’d have some serious problems.”

Brian reinvented himself, turning his physically demanding work into a virtual career. In 2013, he started his online 3-D computer-aided design business, I Draw Dreams for Inventors.

“I knew I had to retrain myself in something where I could apply my skillsets that I already had,” says Brian. “CAD was a natural decision since I’d used 3-D modeling to draw building plans for years. I adore mechanics and I’ve always wanted to build things since I was a kid.”

Brian helps inventors with patent and technical drawings, virtual prototypes, video presentations and CAD manufacturing files. The virtual documents he creates can be output on a 3-D printer, computer numerical control and laser cutter, or a mold. He also creates marketing materials that help inventors present their products to investors, partners and manufacturers.

He gets inquiries from inventors around the world.

“Sometimes people have a great idea, but it’s not something that’s possible,” Brian says, noting the modeling process helps identify design inconsistencies that make the product unusable. “You have to stay within the parameters of reality.”

Brian advises aspiring inventors to find a niche market, meet with a patent agency or attorney to see if the product idea already exists, and then reach out to him—not just as a CAD designer, but a support system through every step of the process.

“I want them to succeed,” Brian says.

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