“Wyrd biõ ful ãræd.”

Friday, August 12, 2016

Ancient Journey to the Oregon High Desert

Fourteen years back, my middle brother took my son and I on a camping trip to the Oregon High Desert.


First we flew into Sacramento,  then we went up to Chico, California where my youngest brother lived at the time. He was a policeman there, and had a nice little ranch at the foot of the mountains. Not big, about 15 acres, but nice.


My youngest brother used this go cart to ride along and check his fences. My son had a good time tootling around in it. You could get up some speed, and since most of my brothers property was just flat dirt, it was safe enough.


Then we went up into the Sierra Nevada mountains, where my middle brother , R, has a "dacha." It was largely modeled on my place, though it's far more luxurious.  This river runs through his property and has huge trout in it.


Compared to the trout in North Georgia, these were pretty big. It seemed a shame to me to keep them, but apparently they are stocked fish.


My son enjoyed fishing in a stream where you actually caught something worth catching. The trout in North Georgia streams are much smaller than this.


We set up a little picnic there on the shore of the river and just hung out there for a day. It gave me a chance to catch up to California time.


My brother went to Oregon State on the same reserve program I did. Then he did his four years and got out.  He worked for a PR company in Sacramento for a few years, opened his own,  did well and sold it to a British PR company. After that, he just did what he wanted.  He was in his early fifties then. He likes to hunt and has traveled as far as New Zealand to do it.


The next day, my youngest brother went back to Chico and the rest of us headed into the Oregon High Desert.  There were big fires burning everywhere , clouds of smoke coming up, but nobody seemed fussed about it. We didn't see many people. Along the way we stopped in this little town. Didn't see many people there, either.


You can see one of those fires burning behind this sign.  If that was happening here, everybody would be in panic mode. But I didn't even see any fire aircraft or vehicles. Maybe they just let the fires burn themselves out?


Behind us there is a huge lake. It was either salty, or poisonous because nobody lived around it and there were no animals around it. Here, every square foot of lake shore would be owned by rich people and would have their lake houses and docks on it, poisonous or not.


See how big that is?  We have lakes here smaller than that , and there is a town around them and boats all over.


We drove on out into the desert, and soon we were way in the middle of nowhere. My brother did the navigating. He had a topo map. I don't know if GPS was around then but I doubt it, as he'd have had one.


Although you really can't see it, my son is standing on the edge of a precipice. There was a huge canyon there. I wouldn't go any closer to the edge and I told him to come back right then. He didn't seem nervous but he should have been. It was really deep and wide.


We got to where we were going, a spot in a gorge on the Snake river. It was like going back in time to some primordial landscape. I swear it reminded me of the old 1966 cave man movie with Raquel Welch, "One Million B.C."




As we had no voluptuous women with us, we were not attacked by pterodactyls. If we had been, we'd have been SOL (surely out of luck) as we had one Beretta 92FS with two magazines,a Remington 870,  and that was it.

  As soon as we got the tent set up, there was a terrific thunderstorm that came out of nowhere. It set the grass on fire near us. We put it out with shovels.  An old guy and his wife were in their camper on the other side of the ridge and they came and helped us.


I don't cut a very splendid figure here, but I was just about to go in the river swimming when this storm came up and started the fire. One minute it was clear, the next lightning everywhere, and then it was clear again. Nothing at all like our thunderstorms here in the Smokies.



My son went on a lot of jaunts by himself. He climbed up on this rock formation. Later he told me it was infested with rattlesnakes. There were rattlesnakes all over that area. I kept the tent flap zipped so I wouldn't wake up with one in my sleeping bag.


This was our campsite. Right on the Snake River.  It had a nice pebbled beach, the water was clean and clear. It was warm too, almost like bath water. There were rushes along the bank and millions of mosquitoes came out of them at night. Not so bad during the day though.



You couldn't have asked for a better swimming spot. 






My son and I climbed up the mountain on the other side of the river and took this picture of our camping site.  It always amazes me how far you can see in the desert. Having lived in the mountains now for 30 years, I am used to always being closed in by the forest. You do get some good views here, but only from ridge tops and mountain tops.  There, you can see forever even on the road.


Their mountains are so much steeper and more rugged than ours.  Almost no vegetation, just rocks. It's a completely alien landscape. I liked it though. Very secluded, and at night you could see thousands of stars. It was a spectacular place, all around.


I know this was one of the best trips my son and I ever took together. I didn't get a lot of time off from work, so we didn't have a lot of opportunity to do long trips. I've always appreciated his uncle doing all this for us.



I'd love to live somewhere like this spot.  Completely isolated. No town twenty miles off, no people living down on the hard surface road. It's perfect.



Then we went on to Reno, going back to his place. Nevada is pretty burnt over and not very attractive, at least out in the flat lands.



We stopped at Lake Tahoe on the way back too. My brother and I gambled in the casinos and my son enjoyed the game rooms they have for kids.  I played nickle slots, my brother enjoyed more challenging games. He was a big hit with the cute little Ukrainian girls who bring you drinks at the tables. He is a big tipper and popular with the ladies anyway.  I drank cokes and stayed on the slots. I am not very adventurous in that regards.

It was a great trip.  Doesn't seem like it was actually so long ago.  But I guess it was, as my son is grown up and gone, and I am definitely older.  When things get stressful, it helps me to look back on all the fun things I've done already. If the world goes to hell in a hand basket, I've still had the good times in the past, come what may.

Thought for the Day:








40 comments:

  1. Great photos. Eastern Oregon and Eastern Washington State are quite nice and nothing like the big cities on the coast of the state. I love that big open space and the desert terrain. Too bad they are ruled by the left wing moonbats from the big cities.

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    1. I like it out there, too. You can get so far out that whatever the morons do in the cities, they could never find you and bother you. I felt so comfortable out there in that desert. Didn't want to leave. I know there would be issues with water and all that, but the old geezer that does that blog about desert living (remember the guy who was on "where the wild men are", I can't remember his name) has managed it. It can be done. That fellow Joel that has his blog about living in the desert is one of those folks who marches to the beat of a different drummer but he's pulled it off too.

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    2. Yea, you mean John Wells at the field lab. He is till out there and doing well. Joel at TUAK is also still at it out there. It is just a mater of setting up a good rain water collection system with lots of big tanks. North Eastern Nevada and North Western Utah are good places as well and property is priced right. Way off the grid so it keeps the moonbats away. I would not mind being this guy's neighbor. He has a sweet set up.
      https://youtu.be/ilPGLj87ybo

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    3. Lots of water in the Eastern Oregon desert. Not like the Mohave or other US deserts. Drill a well, find water.

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    4. Michael, that's right. I can never remember the guys name. I go by his blog every few weeks, just to see if he is still alive and to determine whether he has acquired any new exotic pets like a peccary or long horns. He is an amazing person, his set up is like something out of "The Martian."

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    5. Tewshooz, that surprises me. It makes it very much easier to set up a place out in the outback though, since water would be the number one requirement. A modest electric service could be supported by some solar panels, these days.

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  2. We loved the country in Nevada Utah and Arizona but the water is a huge issue. Great post and the trout...Oh MY!

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    1. Fiona, it's really beautiful out there. Flagstaff, Arizona always attracted me because it's wooded and when I was there last, which was 1979, it still had a rural flavor to it.

      I was surprised by the trout on my brothers place, but at lake Tahoe, there is a river running under a bridge. You can stand on the bridge and throw food to the trout, and they are so big they make the fish my brother caught in the picture look like a minnow. You can't fish there, of course, it is a tourist attraction.

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  3. Thanks for sharing Harry, i felt like i was there with you.

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    1. i'm with my buddy Rob on this one...i felt like i was there with you and i have never been anywhere like the desert...it's quite amazing and i loved seeing the pics of you and your son. still always sending love Harry...and think of you every time we jump in our river or ocean that is NOT like bath water - bahahahah! love these kinds of posts, too!

      your friend,
      kymber

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    2. Rob, sometimes when the present is depressing, and the future looks dismal, I think back to the good things I've done in my life and I feel better. Whatever happens in the future, I had those good times and I have the memories.

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    3. Kymber, I regret that there are big chunks of my life where I don't have any pictures. Back when I was in the service, there were no digital cameras. You saved your pictures in a shoe box or an album, and if they got lost, they were gone . No backups. I made a lot of PCS (permanent change of station) moves and had to drag my household goods along with me , except to Okinawa. When M and I left Italy, the movers lost some of my boxes, and all those pictures are just gone.

      But I have a lot from when I moved up here and there after, and that includes the kids growing up, which is the main thing.

      I still think you are mad to swim out in the ocean. One day, some hideous creature of the deep, maybe a Leopard Seal, will gobble up the Mermaid and we will all be really sad. Or, Jaws will get CC down there off the coast of Texas. ;-)

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  4. Harry, that town with the big cowboy is my town. Right around the time you were there, some little commissioner decided that the old sign with a cowboy holding a six shooter was too...mmmmm...scary. So, we got this wussified guy at the edge of town. Lakeview is the tallest town in Oregon at 4800 feet. It is all down hill from here. Glad you enjoyed the desert....we sure do. We have big fires around here some years, and they have many fire fighters and lots of equipment fighting them. Fire camp is usually set up at the fair ground. You all come back sometime and stop by and visit with us.

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    1. Tewshooz, it's odd I was there so long ago and now we are friends, lo, these many years later!

      I might get out there again, but the odds are against it. My middle brother had a bout with prostate cancer a few years ago, and tends to stay closer to home now. He is selling the place up in the Sierra mountains and going to Oregon, to be nearer his grandchildren. I think for the three brothers, the days of high adventure are probably over.

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  5. Harry those pictures were amazing. Your location on the snake was just a few hundred miles downstream from my place. Did you know there are big sturgeon in there? Ugliest fish there is but fun to catch at night. You need to come back out here soon. --Troy

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    1. Troy, I didn't know there were fish in the river but I certainly didn't expect sturgeon! I wonder how they got in the Snake in the first place?

      The one way I will get to do some traveling, and come out your way and to Tewshooz's area, would be if the kids come back here to live. Then , I could do some traveling. But if that doesn't happen, I am pretty much stuck here because of all my animals, and my concern about coming back and finding that the Mexicans have looted everything and then burned it down.

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  6. What a wonderful trip, Harry! Thank you for sharing the adventure.

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    1. Hey, hobo. I was getting a little on the down side, with the way things are going in the country. When that happens to me, I can always cheer up and put the situation in perspective by looking back. This was a really good trip for me and my son.

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  7. I'm glad you had that trip; we all need a few special memories.

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    1. It's a strange thing, Gorges. I have been all over the world. I literally sailed the seven seas , courtesy of the Navy. But the best trips, and the one's I remember the most, are the one's I made with my family, after we settled up here.

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  8. I have never been to this area, it's pretty even if lacking the tree covered hills that I love around here. I can see where storms would be scary though with fires popping up!

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    1. Kathy,

      There's something about that desert terrain that is inherently soothing and calming. The solitude is wonderful. I have solitude here, but the forest just hems me in, and sometimes it feels oppressive. Out there, every sunrise means the start of a good day, and every sunset means the end of one.

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  9. Hey Harry,

    (captaincrunch)

    The 'Oregon desert' has some harsh winter weather and I'm sure that's why there's not many people living out there on that lake.
    I know there's lots of good people in Oregon but that states been taken over by the idiots on the coast in Portland. Too many crazie's, druggies and Buddha worshipping fruit cakes on the Pacific coast.

    As per deserts, for me. Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. Utah and Nevada have some nice deserts too and those states seem to have some sensible voters for the most part.

    Alpine, Texas and other smaller 'hole in the wall' places in Texas are about as conservative, or more 'libertarian' as you can get for deserts. There are lots of people that 'howl like moonbats' during the summer solstice in those area's but as long as they don't make 'howling like a mooobat' mandatory during the summer solstice. No one really cares.

    Its easy to survive on the desert I think. Waters the big problem. If you got a good well, your set. Get some cattle and graze them. you will have to move them around over a large range and provide water and what not, but it can be done. Cows are good to eat too. 'Better than the eating moonbat worshippers neighbors'

    Speaking about dinner.

    Mermaids. I stay away from mermaids down here. I found out they have 'sea lice' (baby crabs) no bad jokes, really' baby crabs (sea lice) hatch in the Spring and float around in the water and if your in the sea water they are very, very small and will make you ich and scratch and will drive you mad with the iching and scratching.

    We make fun of 'sea lice' often. Lots of jokes as you can imagine.

    'Oh almost forgot. I've pulled a few mermaids out of the water and had them in the boat but I practice 'catch and release' so I just threw them back.

    Bear Claw on 'Jerimah Johnson' said it the best. "I love the women's. I surely do, but a womens breast is the hardest stone in all creation"

    (Same goes for mermaids)

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    1. Captain - if i didn't know you better and already love you - i would think those were fighting words. and Captain...me and you in a fight ain't gonna' be pretty...i'll take you down in about 3 seconds. even wearing the tail - bhahahahaha!

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    2. You know, I think the hardest thing about living in the desert would be an income. If you are retired, and have a steady income that doesn't require having a job and being a wage slave, some proper planning could fix you up with a place that would be safe and comfortable. And then, you could just live there til you die. Like that old guy Michael and I were talking about earlier, John Wells.

      I could be wrong, but I think a place in the desert would be easier to maintain. Here, the damned humidity and heat play havoc with buildings and equipment in summer, then comes winter and sub zero weather with ice and snow.

      I guess the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. Then too, I don't like to think "the old hulk is aground" as the old pirate said in Treasure Island. I don't want to feel like I'm too old and too tired to do a big move if I want to. Denial, I think it's called.

      That's nasty about the crabs. I trust you speak from experience? I'll have to take your word for it, never having had first hand experience with crabs. ;-)

      You better throw those mermaids back, they are on the endangered list. If you do decide to keep one you'll have to keep her in the bathtub or build her a pool.

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    3. Kymber, I remember some show where the beautiful mermaids turned into really scary creatures. I think maybe it was one of those Harry Potter movies my wife dragged me to.

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    4. Hey Harry and 'Kymber the Great' (like Catherine the Great)

      (captaincrunch)


      'Human ingenuity can overcome many obsticles, that and be willing to live with and on very little and one can make a home 'just about anywhere'

      There was this one farmer out in West Texas, near San Angelo I think that was having a hard time with cotton. He owned the mineral rights to his property and had lots and lots of pure, and ancient salt water under his land. He started a shrimp farm operation. All his neighbors laughed at him. Then he started to make money. Lots of money. All he does now is feed and fatten his shrimp up. Harvest them and make money.

      I was fortunate enough to be spared to watch any 'Harry Potter movies' I don't like people under the age of 30. They are noisy, obnoxious animals that are likely to run off end of cliff's in heards because its the cool thing to do. I certainly avoid movies geared for that crowed. I cheer for joy when I find a rerun of 'Grand Torino' on and there's nothing else to watch. I seek out the wisdom of the gray hairs that are older than myself and avoid the youthful baboons that 'fight and hump each other every chance they get'
      I guess that's the best way to describe the masses of youth that can not think for themselves as a 'troupe of baboon's.

      In a culture that upholds the vigor and beauty of youth. Wisdom, knowlege and common sense is lost.

      (I just made that one up myself)

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    5. You'd like my kids. They are very down to earth, practical people.

      I'm no Harry Potter fan. But my wife is. So I had to go to the movies, because I don't let her go anywhere except into town without me. For years she had a carry permit but she got tired of hauling a pistol in her purse, and let it lapse. She says since I always have a cannon she doesn't need one. But I have to be there for that to work. Besides, it would kill me if anything happened to her. Going to the "feel good" movies she likes is just one of the things I do to insure she stays safe. And hell, I want her to be happy, and she likes those crappy movies. On the other hand, she won't go to any movies that "don't end well" or "aren't happy."

      Wisdom, knowledge and common sense won't be lost as long as you and I are alive, never fear. Right? ;-)

      And there's always our Mermaid, keeper of the flame!

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    6. "...and avoid the youthful baboons that 'fight and hump each other every chance they get"

      Careful with that one. I'm approaching 50 and on occasion I can still keep up with the baboons. However these days, i'm more adept at throwing crap at people.

      Captain you should think about writing philosophy, or at least go out on the lecture circuit:) Just my 2 cents --Troy

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    7. CC doesn't mince words. I need to get down there some day and meet him face to face. Back years ago, people had blog fests and you could meet the people you corresponded with. As far as I know, it's a custom that has died out, and now if you meet people it's just by chance.

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  10. These lakes in your picture are alkali and unfit for drinking or recreation. Most of the shore is privately owned by big ranches or the state or feds. Most dry up in the summer and when the winds blow really hard the dust looks like a cloud of smoke. You do not want to live directly on the shore. One of those big lakes is only about 3 feet deep in the middle. This water and dust is very bad for your skin. (stinky, too)

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    1. I knew something had to be wrong with them, as there were no animals around them at all. But you know, if I lived out on one of those hills, and could look out my windows in the morning and watch the dawn over the lake, it would still be really nice. Of course, if the lakes are owned by ranchers or the government, I probably couldn't get a piece of land on the hill top to build on anyway. :-(

      I'm not a big swimmer, all I would really want is the view. But it was surprising and gratifying to see a lake that didn't absolutely swarm with people. There's nothing like that back here.

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    2. Land is for sale on the hills. Also, I have heard that foreign interests are buying up big chunks of ranchland around here. Hay and beef cattle now, used to be sheep and a range war 100 years ago. We don't worry too much about what goes on at the west side of the state where the wackos are. They make the laws, but we are pretty independent and conservative out here. I remember when Oregon had road signs telling Californians to stay out. Boy, times have changed. Most of Oregon's west side is Californicated now. We do have very cold winters....cold and dry. We used to get more snow years ago and when we were younger enjoyed snowmobiling and winter things. Nowadays, I hug the woodstove in the winter with the cat. I am just now reading Deep Winter....hard to put down. Thanks for mentioning it.

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    3. I'd like a hill with a view of the desert. I'd find out which way the prevailing winds blew, and build just below the topographic crest on the other side of the hill. I would LOVE to be able to see off some distance. Here, the damn forest is like a solid green wall. If I walk up through the woods, to a granite outcropping, I can see way off but it's getting harder to do that. I asked my wife this week when we were talking on the phone if she thought we might cut down some of the poplars and maples in front of the house, so we would have a good view from the porch and not just in winter but year round. She likes those trees in the fall though, and she pointed out I'd have to do the work and I'm getting long in the tooth for that kind of thing. Guess she's right. I could hire it out but then somebody would get hurt and sue me. I don't need that.

      Sherry just kind of disappeared in 2014. I don't know what happened to him. I have his email address but I am afraid to email him in case he is dead. Too much of that has happened to me lately and I don't need it right now.

      His books are good and I've read them several times. There are a couple of places where he mentions North Georgia....

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  11. I really enjoyed the story, interesting to see part of the country I have not made it to yet.
    Couple years back I made a three week road trip out west for Christmas and new years with my SIL and her family. Stopped in Texas, and then on to Arizona. Stayed in Scottsdale for a week, then went north to Sedona and explored between there and Flagstaff. I REALLY like it out there.I reckon I could make a living fixing Hippies VWs in Sedona, but if you could buy a place, with water, and paid off, it would not be hard to make enough for groceries. I sell a lot of car parts and books on ebay, and that could be done anywhere..Solar is easier now than it ever was, and there are a lot of 12 volt appliances made for RVs..Plus LED lights use less voltage...I also think you could use car alternators to generate power from a simple windmill, or a water wheel.Lots to think about, but now I will have to look at Oregon...Water is everything. If you have water you are set.

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    1. I'm pretty sure it wouldn't be too hard to set up out there, especially since water is not a problem. Arizona is beautiful but infested with Mexicans. They're going to have real trouble with that some day. The Reconquista and the Aztlan Hispanics are getting stronger. The high desert out where Tewshuz is wasn't crowded or full of illegals when I was there and it doesn't seem to have changed much in the interim.

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  12. Harry,

    I loved your pictures and going back in time with you in your post. I would have to agree, I would love to have a piece of property out west with such a gorgeous calm view where you could see for miles.

    Were heading to NV come October for several days of R&R, our son and his friends will be staying at the house taking care of the animals and property while gone.

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    1. You and BDM don't let the grass go under you. I hope you have a good trip. If I can get my kids back here I will have the freedom to travel with my wife some.

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  13. I just started an epic road trip. Seattle to Orlando and back. High speed convertible Mustang clutch-and-gearshift oh boy. I'm in the Eastern Washington high desert now, and will pass through the Oregon high desert tomorrow. Looks just like your pictures. Quite a difference from the "wet side" of the Cascades where I live. Gorgeous, though. And impressive. You can see for miles out here. You better believe that the people who lived here in past centuries were some tough nuts.

    - Charlie

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  14. It is gorgeous there! I haven't been but it sounds like an amazing place to visit. I like his fence checking rig. I am starting to train Francie to use her for fence checking.
    What a crazy story about the storm setting the grass on fire!
    I just finished a new book on Freud last night, so I was surprised to see your picture. I didn't expect to like the book that much because I'm not a huge fan of some of Freud's ideas, however this book really brought his visions to life and made me appreciate some of his contributions to psychology more, even if I don't agree with them all.

    Do you have plenty of bees around your place? I'm wondering if it could be that your squash blooms never got fertilized. Squash is one of the easiest plants to grow from seed. Some things (like tomatoes) are really difficult to grow from seed but squash you just drop in the soil and they take off. I would be happy to send you some of my favorite heirloom squash seeds to try for next year. I always save seed from the ones I like.

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