‘Squeeeeak, squeeeeak, squeeeeak, phoooosh. Squeeeeak, phoooosh.”
One of the sounds that I love while camping is the squeak of the campground hand water pump. It brings back a lot of memories of camping with the kids, and also those days of my youth where we’d have to pump water from the old farm well.
The squeak of the campground hand pump is just as much a part of camping as hearing the squawking of an osprey, rustling of aspen leaves and chatter of a ground squirrel. That’s why it was a surprise to come upon a new-fangled rotary-crank hand pump last weekend at Casino Creek Campground near Stanley.
They’ve been around since the early 2000s, but it’s the first time I’ve seen one.
The rotary-crank hand pump has a crank that offsets weight so it’s easy to operate. When the weight is going down, the pump’s piston is coming up. When the weight is going up, the piston is going down, according to engineers at the U.S. Forest Service.
The pump is easier to operate from a wheelchair or for the elderly.
When I first walked up to the pump, which looks like a box and a crank similar to an old-fashioned World War II air raid siren, I wasn’t sure what it was.
It is odd-looking.
It also doesn’t have that good old squeak like the regular hand pump. With each crank, there’s a sound like empty beer cans being crushed.
Well, you know, when you’re relaxing in camp, you have a lot of time to ponder things like water pumps.
We spent a whole morning watching osprey parents trying to get their offspring to jump out of a nest overlooking the Salmon River and fly. It was very entertaining. Where else and when in this busy world would you take the time to hang out and watch something like that but when camping?
Anyway, you can get enthralled listening to the squeak of a traditional camp water pump and watching kids play around it.
Don’t get me wrong. We have to make campgrounds more accessible to all folks so they can enjoy the outdoors, and the rotary-crank pumps will come in handy. There are a few in Stanley-area campgrounds, as well as in other national forests.
But let’s not get rid of the traditional handpumps, either. They evoke too many fond memories.
We were late getting out of town heading toward Stanley last weekend, and my wife needed a fishing license. Normally, we get our licenses at an Idaho Fish and Game office. This time, however, she stopped and bought one in a grocery store.
The store’s license-vendor computer wasn’t cooperating and wouldn’t read the scan on her old license, so the clerk had to manually punch in the information.
Finally, we got the license and headed to our campsite. We had time to fish the Salmon River that evening, so we launched the raft and my wife rowed while I fished. The next day, I was going to row and she was going to fish.
That morning, as we prepared to get in the raft, my wife was switching her fishing license to a waterproof dry bag and, holy bull trout, it was a HUNTING LICENSE, not a fishing license.
The vendor computer spit out the wrong license. So she lost a day of fishing. She rowed again while I fished.
It’s not cool to lose a day of fishing or get busted for having the wrong license.
I called Fish and Game’s licensing bureau in Boise and found out that getting the wrong type of license isn’t a common problem.
Still, Fish and Game warns that it’s your responsibility to have the right license before you leave the store. Any retailer that issues hunting and fishing licenses has two hours after issuance to cancel it and fix it. We were miles away in camp when we discovered the mistake.
My wife ended up going to the state office of Fish and Game later to get a combo license.
It was a lesson learned for us. Double-check your hunting and fishing licenses or any other tags before you leave the store or even a Fish and Game office. If you get the wrong license or tag, you can lose valuable fishing or hunting time and end up with a citation on top of everything else.
I’ve got a really big addiction. I signed up for real-time river flow alerts. I’ve got to know when the flows change on rivers around the state. It’s a river rat thing.
I can blame the addiction on USGS Water Alerts. I signed up for a whole bunch of alerts on rivers, including the Salmon at White Bird, the Owyhee at Rome and even the Boise River at Glenwood.
Even if I’m not floating the Weiser at Cambridge, I know what the river is flowing. I’ve got alerts coming in from eight to 10 rivers at any given time. I get them for my early season desert rivers, summer rivers and fall steelhead and duck-hunting rivers.
You’ve got to be a river nut to appreciate Water Alerts. Check them out at http://water.usgs.gov/wateralert.
Pete Zimowsky: 377-6445, Twitter: @Zimosoutdoors
Statesman outdoor writers Pete Zimowsky and Roger Phillips alternate columns on Sunday. Look for Roger next week.