Sunday, November 29, 2009

Canyon ferry Lake

Sorry I haven't been posting, but other things have been taking my time. Today, for example, I am enjoying the late onset of winter by taking a lovely drive out to one of our local lakes. Temperatures are around 45 degrees so it is a very nice late November afternoon! I hope everyone had a Great Thanksgiving! See ya when the weather changes!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Fall Snowstorm

Ahhh! Nothing like going to the local super market for a bag of dog food and being greeted to this on the way back out. I was only inside for about ten minutes. . . And when I went in there was no snow or rain falling! It was very localized as Less than a mile away down the road everything was dry. Crazy!

Thursday, October 15, 2009


Not speeding or anything. My front licence plate was crooked! I have been driving the same road with it like this for two years and have been seen by many, many patrol cars and this is the first time they had a problem with it! I just had to laugh. It did make me late for work though.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Why I Love Geocaching

Along highway 2 on the way to Kalispell. A beautiful place that I would never have stopped to see if someone hadn't hid a Geocache near here.

Friday, September 25, 2009

I haven't forgot about you!

Yeah, I know.... I made a personal promise to write at least three times a week. Well, we can all see I have failed miserably on that one! It isn't because I don't have anything to say. Actually, quite the opposite. I just seem to be away from a working computer whenever I have the time to sit and compose a posting. My life goes in stages, and right now it seems to be taking me away from home quite often. When I am at home, there just seems to be so much to do that I haven't had the time to give myself the quiet time I sorely need.
Here are a few of the highlights of these past few weeks:

Every weekend from August 22nd through Sept 20th (5 weekends) Joe and I were cabin sitting for Albert. I have promised, and will fulfill that promise, of a post describing this awesome opportunity. Yes, pictures too!

My tiny garden is still producing, but I think this next week will send it into it's last days. We have been having some record high temperatures and I finally have some ripe tomatoes that the deer haven't eaten! The carrots are still in the ground and seem to be doing great. I do pull a couple out each weekend to eat as a snack, and they have grown from the size of my pinkie to the size of my thumb in two weeks! I may be able to get enough to actually do something with! The parsley will be cut and laid out to dry on Sunday since that will be the beginning of a whole week of nights in the 30's. The lettuce was doing great, but I have eaten as much as I want and have a bit in the fridge, too. I uncovered it and left it to the grasshoppers and rodents who have feasted well on it. I may get a little more from it before it freezes out.

Last Sunday (9/20) Brooke managed to get herself sprayed by a skunk. How? I don't know. She was in the fenced in yard and the skunk was out of the yard but by the gate. I guess the skunk was spooked and got the poor girl right in the face and neck. Brooke is well into her winter coat so the musk soaked through the long outer hair and into the soft downy stuff... and into her collar as well. To make matters worse-- Joe didn't realize what had just happened and let her into the house where she proceeded to rub her just-sprayed muzzle onto my living room carpet! Monday evening after work I gave Brooke a bath (have I ever mentioned she HATES baths?) with a Peroxide / Baking Soda / soap mixture. It worked really well... on the parts I was allowed to get washed really good. The other places? Well, It cut the smell down alot, but she still smelled pretty bad this past week. As for the carpet? Carpet Fabreeze, Oxiclean, and more Fabreeze. When the house is closed up tight it still smells. Looks like another week of the same! On the bright side? The stench is slowly fading from carpet, dog, and yard (where Ms. LaPew sprayed).

On the work front, The Owner of my place of employment has been to town the past two weeks, and has promised another visit next week. He is not coming into town to check up on us, but to supervise a remodel of a hair salon he owns next door to us. In the past two weeks I have now seen the man more than I had in the nearly three years I have been working for him! There was a good side to this, too: since he didn't "have time for us" and really wanted to take us out to dinner he just gave us each $100 to spend "on the town". Not a bad, and totally unexpected, bonus! Did we go out? No, but Joe and I are heading up to Glacier Park on Saturday so the extra cash will come in handy for that. We haven't been up North for quite a long time....

And, tonight I just finished dying Krystle's hair. I don't see much of her anymore since she is pretty much living her own life and with the girls all grown, I am living mine. This gave us a bit of a chance to catch up and chat. SOooo NOW it is going on 2:30 in the morning! One more spray down of the carpet with Fabreeze and it's off to bed! Tomorrow is Glacier, seeing Heather and Lucas, and hopefully our friends Stacey and Trudy either tomorrow or Sunday before heading back home.
Busy, Busy, Busy... but soon winter will be here and life will slow WAY down!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Montana Fire Season, from quiet to busy in one week!

Fire at Holter Lake 9/9/09

Is that tiny bucket of water really going to do much good?! 9/9/09

The big news around here is about fires. We had been enjoying a very quiet fire season this year, but not anymore! Wednesday of last week a large fire broke out near one of our most popular lakes. Holter Lake, formed by a dam on the Missouri River, is a sportsman's paradise. The lake is usually dotted with boats of all types and the surrounding land is dotted with many campgrounds and private cabins. On nice weekends, folks flock to the lake from Great Falls (to the north) and Helena (south of the lake) to fish, hunt, boat, or camp. During the week, especially now that school is in session and summer is unofficially over, there aren't many people playing in the area. That was a good thing last week. The fire broke out in or near a campground in the late morning and burned out quite a few camper-trailers before taking off into the wooded hills. The pine beetle had killed enough of the trees to allow the fire to take a quick jump in size... 2400 acres in only one day! The good news? The fire was on the 'far side' of the lake, where there are fewer cabins. The state had fire crews in place quickly, but the flames were too high and fast for men on the ground. By Wednesday evening the fire was being fought with chemical drops from airplanes and water drops from helicopters. My photos were taken Wednesday evening as I was driving home to Helena. **For you locals out there... my vantage point was the Augusta Exit. Now, five days later, there is hardly any smoke rising from the valley and roads into the area are reopened. I hope it is all under control BECAUSE... only a relatively few miles to the south:

Helena North Hills Fire 9/14/09

....Today, Monday, a fire broke out in the North Hills of the Helena Valley. This is a much more populated area, and the smoke plume could be seen clearly throughout the valley. I figure my house is, as the crow flies, about five or six miles from this fire. I can smell the smoke drifting into my windows as I am typing. I don't know anything about this fire yet... like how it started, or where EXACTLY it is, but looking out the window and seeing the smoke is a bit unsettling. As I watched from my driveway (where the photo was taken) I could see the setting sun reflecting off of two firefighter planes. I am sure this fire will be attacked from all sides and put out quickly. Our wildfire crews are awesome, and with many houses in danger they won't be getting much sleep until the entire thing is contained and totally out.

Unfortunately, Mother Nature is not planning to help out any time soon. The afternoon temperatures are supposed to be in the mid to high 80's, lows in the 50's, and no rain.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Be Careful What You Wish For!

In yesterdays post, I said I wished I would have visitors just drop by.
Only a few hours after I posted that, my dad called me. Now I know he doesn't read this blog so this is where it gets weird--
He wanted to know if he could come over during this upcoming long weekend and repair the door frame to my main front door (it has started to crack and possibly rot at the bottom). Fixing this problem was actually one of my goals to accomplish in the next three years. I just needed the money, for one thing, and the knowledge from a How-To book for another. Dad knows how to do these things, AND he has the wood, tools, and apparently the time to do this repair.
So... what did I say?
Of course he can come over and do the repairs...even though I am going to be up in the mountains cabin sitting.
Now, I don't know about you, but when a parent wants to come over you don't want your home in disarray!! I guess I am heading home, doing a "quick clean" of the visible areas before I head to the cabin.... is proof! Wishes CAN come true. Unfortunately not in the way you expected them to!

Have a great Labor Day, everyone!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

I've been in a bit of a funk lately.

What does that mean?

Well, I don't really know to tell you the truth. All I know is I am totally unmotivated to do anything. I haven't been writing. I haven't been keeping up with my blogging friends. I haven't been reading any of the many "to be read" books laying around my house. I haven't even kept up on housekeeping (the days I am home, anyway). Even my garden is feeling the effects, but I haven't killed it!

I get up and go to work...then leave with no plans to do anything or go anywhere besides home. Once I am home, I plop my butt in front of my home computer and play mindless games, mindless Internet surfing, or mindless chatter on Facebook. I haven't cooked for myself in over a week, choosing to either forage around the kitchen or grab fast food. My laundry has piled up... most of it clean, just heaped in baskets on the bedroom floor. My fridge needs a good cleaning. My floors all need vacuumed and mopped. I have clutter sitting all over the house, and a layer of dust on top of it all!

I recognize all that needs to be done, but I just turn my back to it. It's not that I am being lazy (or maybe I am?). I'm not depressed about anything (or life in general). I just don't feel like doing it. A pouty little voice in my head says "I don't wanna, so I'm not gonna!" I tell myself that I'll do it later, or the next day. No motivation, no desire. Surprise, Surprise! It hasn't gotten done.

Sometimes I wish I lived closer to town and I had drop in visitors! That would give me motivation to kick myself in the ass and clean, at least. Once the house is clean, I am sure all my other simple pleasures would fall into place. I hope so, anyway! Anyone want to come visit so I can give this idea a try? :-)

Maybe I am all off kilter because my weekends have been too busy? I haven't had a Saturday morning to dedicate to housekeeping in a few weeks now. I'm not complaining.... I have been loving the idea of cabin sitting for Albert. The forest is so peaceful, and the cabin cozy. I am ecstatic that I get two more weekends up on the Continental Divide before giving the keys back. The manual labor of cutting, splitting, and stacking firewood feels good to the body and gives me a sense of accomplishment. I will write about this experience in another post. I need time to put all of the feelings into words.... and decide which photos to post out of the many that I have taken!

Maybe the juxtaposition of the two lifestyles is what is causing this strange funk I am in? Only time will tell.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

August has been a strange month!

I just realized August is almost over, then I realized I haven't written very much here this month.
The whole month kinda slipped away unnoticed. It feels like the month just started but kids are now in school and the leaves are turning yellow in the higher elevations. Where, oh where did the month go?!

I'd like to say I was just too busy to notice the last days of summer slipping away, but I really haven't been doing anything out of the ordinary on a day to day basis. I guess I just haven't taken the time to slow down and enjoy the soft summer nights on my porch, or notice the wheat fields turning gold. I was a bit shocked to see a farmer out cutting his field this week and I think it was that sight which slammed home the fact summer is nearing its reign here in Southwestern Montana.

I did not go camping this year (with the exception of Rockin' the Rivers. THAT is not true camping!).
I did not, as of yet, go to Glacier Park and enjoy the sights of the higher alpine elevations that Going To The Sun Highway passes through for only 4 short months.
I have not visited any of the multitude of nearby lakes for an afternoon or evening of commune with nature.
I have not hiked a trail, even a short distance, since June.

SO... what HAVE I done?
Monday through Fridays have been work as usual. I have become the driver of a ride share agreement on Monday (to Great Falls and home), Tuesday (to Great Falls), and Wednesdays (home to Helena). We met through Craig's list. She doesn't like to drive and was looking to save a few dollars on gas. I love to drive and being paid for it is even better! Her name is Michelle. Odd, huh? We are alike on many levels, which is good. Neither of us are very talkative, so we have decided to listen to books on CD during most of the drive, then discussing the story while I drive through Great Falls before I drop her off at her place of employment. It has been working great! On the days I drive her to Great Falls I have to leave two hours earlier than I have been so that took a little getting used to!
The weekends after Rockin' the Rivers have been full, but not busy. I used the weekend of the 15th to catch up on some house cleaning, then headed to Great Falls early Sunday afternoon to attend a Geocaching BBQ. It is always fun to go to Geocaching events. Everyone brings a pot luck dish to share, and there is always a new face or two to welcome into the group. Stories are exchanged, prizes are given, door prizes raffled off.... just an all around good time! Afterward a small group of us decided to find a few of the newer cache hides in Great Falls, then Joe, Greg (caching buddy and good friend), and I ended up talking in a parking lot until long after the sun went down.
Another normal work week followed.
The weekend of the 22nd (last weekend) was a training weekend on how to "operate" Albert's cabin. He is gong on a three week trip out of state and asked Joe and I to cabin sit for him. Of course we agreed! The place is heavenly and we enthusiastically accept any invitation to spend time there.
I don't work on Saturdays, Joe does. It was decided that I would head up into the mountains on Fridays and Joe would join me when he could on Saturdays. Last weekend, I arrived at Albert's cabin home about 9:30pm. It was too late for him to show me much about the workings of the place so we just enjoyed some adult beverages (white wine for me) and caught up with each others lives. Albert, Joe, and I share many of the same interests and views so conversations are always interesting and lively. Before we knew it, it was 2am! We headed to our rooms and I fell asleep quickly. We both slept in until about 10am, then had a lazy morning breakfasting on toast, fresh fruit, and juice. The day was a relaxing one, mostly spent with Albert on his computer and with me reading a book. We would stop and talk a bit, then back to quiet time. I didn't even change from my sweats and tee shirt until 3pm! The late afternoon was filled with Albert showing me photos on his laptop of some of his journeys throughout the U.S. Joe arrived with Papa Murphy's pizzas about 6pm and we sat around talking some more, then watching a couple DVD's before heading off to another awesome nights sleep. There is something about mountain air that makes me sleep very well!
Sunday morning Joe woke up early, as it is his nature to do so. He hiked up a small mountain and took some photos of Albert's cabin from "up high". Albert and I both woke about 8:30, about the time Joe was returning to the cabin. We all had a light breakfast, packed a lunch and some drinks in a cooler and headed down into Marysville to meet up with a couple of Albert's friends. We were planning on exploring some of the old mining claims in the area. One of the men had lived in the area all of his life and knew of a few places the rest of us hadn't been to, but when we met up with them, this particular gentleman had an appointment he had forgotten about and could only chat for a few minutes before he had to be on his way off the mountain and back to civilization. The remaining four of us headed into the Helena National Forest in a pair of Jeeps. We explored cabins and mine buildings built in the late 1800's, some of which were still being used well into the 1940's. At one point, Albert zigged instead of zagged around a muddy area and got stuck in a pretty bad mud hole. Rich, the guy with the other Jeep, wasn't much of a backwoods explorer and had obviously never pulled any one out of a tight situation. Joe and I talked him through the process, and Albert's Jeep was yanked out in no time at all. Joe did have to use a shovel to dig the back tire out, sinking all the way to his knee in the soft, wet bog. Everyone but Rich thought the whole situation was funny. Rich, who probably never took his Jeep off of maintained roads.... and most defantly had never allowed himself to sink knee-deep in mud, didn't want to attempt going any farther up the road. We could have skirted the mire and continued on, but since Rich balked at the idea we turned around and went the long way around the mountain. Rich did show us some interesting places he had previously been to, and pointed out others for us to explore another time. I am assuming they are on "decent" forest service roads, or can be accessed by a short hike.
We returned to Albert's cabin in the early evening, relaxed and talked about the days adventure, then Albert showed us the few things we needed to know how to operate while we stay there the next three weekends alone. Generator, propane, water pump and purifier, and which appliances had pilot lights. We plan to cut and split some firewood for him while he is gone, too, as the wood stove is his main source of heat during the winter.
Another work week has come and gone. Only a few items to note...My ride share didn't need rides to Great Falls this week, working instead in the Helena office of her employer. I also found out a blog and Facebook friend may be passing through the area. I have never actually met this person and we may meet up if his journey takes him through Central Montana.
Another good friend, Ty, who now lives in Wisconsin, brought his brother to Helena on a trip the two of them are taking together. Tom, Ty's brother, had never seen the Rocky Mountains or their grandfathers childhood homestead in Eastern Montana. Tom is an interesting creature... a bit odd... but I adapt well to new and unusual people so the three of us had a good visit. It was much too short, as we could only meet up on Wednesday evening. He was at a BBQ not far from my house in Helena, and I had some plans that kept me in Great Falls later than usual that same evening. We finally connected at a bar about two miles from my house about 10pm. We ended up closing the place down at 2am!! I haven't seen Ty for three years when I flew out to attend his wedding, so there was much to catch up on. We do phone each other, but that doesn't compare to face-to-face conversations. We have missed each other dearly and made promises to meet up again much sooner than another three years!
Wednesday was also Krystle's 20th birthday. She was closing up at her restaurant job so she cam home about 1am and was surprised I wasn't home. The kids are sometimes shocked that their parents DO have a life on occasion! I told her I had her birthday present in my vehicle and she could come and get it and say hello to Ty, or I'd give it to her when I got home. She was tired so opted for the later. She was sleeping on the couch when I got home, so I just placed the present on a nearby chair and went to bed myself.
Krystle woke about half an hour before me, as she had to work the opening shift on Thursday. When I saw her, she was wearing one of the shirts I had given her for her birthday. I had left the tags on with a note saying if she didn't like what I had picked, she was free to exchange for something she did like. I was happy to see she liked my choice and glad I was not so out of touch with today's young adult fashions!
Thursday evening (yesterday) Joe and I checked out the last of Great Falls' weekly Alive @ Five activities where the city closes off a downtown block to traffic while vendors and live music take over. We had not gone all summer so decided to at least make an appearance and get some of that good, but very bad for you vendor food!
After hanging out a bit downtown, we decided to finish off the evening at the movies. We went to see Inglorious Basterds. I liked it, but it didn't have any of the sudden unexpected plot twists that I have come to associate with Quintin Territino's movies. Twisted humor and gore aplenty, so if you plan to see it expect his work in those area. I'm happy to have seen it on the big screen, and may rent it from Netflix to see it again. To me, it was worth the money the theaters charged. That doesn't happen very often.
Tonight I will be heading back to Albert's cabin. He said he should still be around. That would be nice for a quick once-over, but if he has left for his trip I'm sure I'll not have any troubles.
Pictures are coming, just have to get onto a computer that will not crash or hang when I want to upload them.

Good friends

Spending time with my good friend Ty and his brother Tom. They are visiting from Wisconsin. This has been a Great visit.

Saturday, August 15, 2009


Rosemary pork chops with Apricot brandied apples.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Back Home, Sunburned and Tired

...But with a smile on my face and great memories of Rockin' the Rivers 2009. This photo of a full moon was taken on Thursday evening after Joe and I decided to get a good, full nights sleep on a real bed instead of trying to drive to the festival campground and set up in the dark. Now, you DO know crazy stuff happens on a full moon, right? Well, our crazy day began long before the sun went down! The day started innocent enough, but then "the incidents" began. I used my lunch hour to head to Wal-Mart for the last minute perishables. I shopped for 20 minutes, had to stand in the check-out line for 30! Joe used his lunch hour to do some running around, and while he was gone his mechanic dropped off his Jeep. I said something about Joe being happy it was all in good running order, and the shop assistant said something under his breath that I didn't quite catch, but it sounded negative. Then Mr. Shop Assistant asked me to have Joe call the mechanic. Hmmmm...
Joe called and was told the "squeaking noise" was dumbfounding the mechanic. Very odd, as this is a VERY knowledgeable guy. The Jeep should be OK for the short trip and if the noise changes to take it back in.
Fast Forward to 6pm. Yea! Joe has packed the Jeep, my Rav-4 is almost packed, and we are on our way for a much needed and looked forward to 4 day vacation filled with Classic rock, new friends, a little too much alcohol, and lots of fun! I leave first, telling Joe to meet me at my house in Helena as I wanted to make a last minute check on the dog, water the garden, and pack a pair of jeans that were in the drier.
I'm 20 miles outside of Great Falls when my cell rings. Joe is one mile out of Great Falls on the side of the road with coolant running out of the bottom of the car and the engine overheated. He thinks it may just be a hose, but I have a bad feeling and turn around at the next exit and head back to where he sits. When I get there, the mechanic had also just arrived with his tow truck. This is a very nice fellow and he is doing this free of charge (he also did the repairs needed free of charge, working over the weekend!) Joe and I had to make a quick decision of what we needed from the Jeep and what would stay behind. The little Rav was packed from floor to roof! We knew we would have to stop at my house, now not just for the little things I needed to do, but also to remove and re-pack our stuff to be sure we had everything we needed, and to make the load a little safer in the event we had an accident. Decapitation was not on my to-do list for the weekend!
By the time everything was said and done, it was after 10pm. I had been hearing weather reports of thunder storms moving through the area, and made the suggestion for us to just stay at my house and head out in the early morning. Joe was so stressed it didn't take much to convince him this was a good idea! As it turned out... it was an excellent choice. A storm dropped hail ranging in size from golf ball to tennis ball size over the campground that night. (It broke the windshield of a neighboring campers pickup!)
We arrived at the festival area about 9am. You have no idea anything is happening way out here in the middle of nowhere until you crest a hill and see this:

Hundreds of campers, RV's, and tents! We had arrived! We set up camp in our tiny allotted spot (see previous post for a photo!), met some of our neighbors, and finally relaxed into festival / vacation mode!
The music began at noon with some local Montana bands. They were followed up with Jared Stewart, Rhino Bucket (a new artist, not a classic rock band, but in the same style as many of the late 70's rock bands), The Smithereens, Tesla, and closing with a very popular Montana band who are gaining a national following- The Clintons- who finished up about 2am. We went to the air bed and our sleeping bags right after Tesla played while the younger set continued to party all around us. A short rain shower dampened the dust while we were heading back to camp, but only lasted a few minutes.

Saturday we woke to a beautiful morning. The mornings are quiet and actually peaceful! All the parties last into the wee hours, so those people don't even begin to stir until after 10am, leaving the sunrise to those of us who can't last that long anymore! After coffee from the percolator and a breakfast of fruit and bagels, we drove the few miles to Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park. Not many of the festival goers know about the parks little gem--- Hot Showers!! A ten minute shower will cost you $3.00 in quarters, but after a day in the dust it is a small price to pay.

After the showers, we took a little drive to the town of Bozeman. It is about an hour or so south of Rockin' the Rivers, which is between Cardwell and Three Forks, Mt. The Bozeman area Geocachers were holding an event, and as we didn't plan to watch any of the bands playing before 3pm this was a great way to spend the day. One of our Geocaching friends from Great Falls was planning to catch the bands ( mostly wanted to see Peter Frampton!) at RtR that evening, so we invited him to stay at our camp site so he wouldn't have to drive afterwards.
We returned to RtR after the Geocaching event about 3pm, just in time to catch one of our festival favorites Too Slim & the Taildraggers:

Yep, just the 3 of 'em! (Too Slim always reminds me of the actor Steve Buscemi). The rest of the Saturday evening line-up was the Pat Travers Band, Sweet:

Peter Frampton (too dark for photo), and the night closed out with another festival favorite Hells Belles, an all girl AC/DC cover band. Since our friend Greg was hanging out with us, and we all had had a long day, we just sat at the campsite chatting by the light of the Coleman lantern after watching Peter Frampton perform. We headed to bed while listening to the last band's music flow over the campground.
Sunday morning was once again picture perfect. We just sat around chatting about nothing in particular while making omelets, washing them down with Mimosas. Greg took off for home around three, and Joe and I just hung around camp, listening to the music, people watching and swapping stories with our campground neighbors. Sunday's music lineup
was Randy Hansen (playing Jimi Hendrix tunes), Dave Walker Band, Spencer Davis Group-- this photo was taken while we were walking from the campsite to the music arena to watch Spencer Davis. The sunset was glowing off the old Sappington Junction Bridge:

My eye caught this licence plate, too. This was on an old bus style RV painted teal blue:

After Spencer Davis finished, it was Tommy James and the Shondells. I got this (bad) photo during the song "Mony, Mony!":

The Outlaws performed next, but I really wasn't impressed. I guess I'm just not that into 10 minute guitar sequences that were incorporated into every song. "Ghost Riders in the Sky" was about the only song I really knew of theirs. I sat and people-watched while Joe dozed off. We were trying to stay awake to watch the closing band El Loco, a very good ZZ Top cover band. We had never watched them, but many people had given them rave reviews. We managed to stay awake, but the night sky was clear as a bell and the temperature dropped into the 50's. We were both a little sunburned so the cool air was uncomfortably cold to us. We left for our camp site after only a few songs.
Monday morning (wow, was that only earlier today?!) we woke early and after a quick breakfast of coffee, Orange juice, and bagels; we began the task of tearing down our camp. It really didn't take much, but we would stop every now and then to joke with our camp neighbors:

Starting with the two guys sitting closest: Pete and his buddy Sam (who I dubbed re-Pete because I had trouble remembering his name!); Steve (lounging, hung over); Michelle (Mrs. "My Baby"); Tonya (Steve's wife); Lyn (Mr. "My Baby"); and this other dude who I don't think I was ever told his name. This was a great group to be set up next to-- although this was Michelle and Lyn's first anniversary and EVERYTHING was "Hey, My Baby? Can you ...." followed by:" Of course, My Baby!" On Sunday morning I counted six "My Baby"'s in less than 10 minutes!!! It became a running joke in our campsite. Of course, only when the newlyweds were out of earshot, that is! This photo was taken at about 9am, just as Joe and I were about to hop into the Rav-4 and head for home.
Joe was anxious to pick up his Jeep from the shop so we stopped at my house to unload most of the stuff that belongs here, then I took him home to Great Falls. We drove straight to the shop and although the Jeep wasn't quite finished, we did find out the radiator had split when the engine overheated. The squeak was diagnosed as a malfunctioning rocker arm (whatever that is), and since they were in the same area... they checked the water pump. That was looking worn, too, so it was replaced. A radiator, rocker arm replacement, water pump, and thermostat all replaced for free... not to mention the tow truck, too!
The mechanic was going to finish up on that, then deliver it to Joe's house.
I dropped Joe off, we finished unpacking the stuff that belonged there, and I turned around and came back home.
Chores were calling.
Vacation was over! I took a hot shower (no quarters required) and scrubbed my body squeaky clean with a shower loofa. I washed my hair three times. I brushed my teeth for about 10 minutes. Ahhhhhh! Clean again!
Life returned to normal.
Laundry started.
Garden watered.
Dog loved on.
Blog updated.
Now it's bedtime.

P.S. I would have taken more photos, but Joe had just found a great deal on a new camera for me and I am still learning how to use it. It is a Kodak Easy Share Z812 IS. This camera is really nice! 8.1 mega pixel, image stabilizer, 12x Optical zoom.... and I think if I can figure out all the functions, it just may wash dishes and fold laundry, too!

Rockin' The Rivers 2009

This is our little piece of Jefferson County dirt that was our campsite.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

A really, really quick post...

...But I will try to cover everything!

The garden would be doing great if the deer wouldn't have found it. They ate all my green tomatoes (6 at the time) and my (so far) one and only bell pepper that was the size of a baby's fist. They also stomped all over one of the squash plants.
All of the radishes have been harvested. I learned that if I sliced them thin they weren't too bad in a salad! I have a few left in the fridge. Carrots are about the size of my pinkie, and lettuce continues to grow nicely. I did resort to Sevin bug killer and treated the areas around the garden. The next few days I was literally walking over a grasshopper killing field! There must have been hundreds of them! Seriously. I am a grasshopper killer on a major scale and I am not upset about it one teeny-tiny bit! Now that they are gone the parsley, carrots, and lettuce are able to grow! I do have weird patches where the hellions killed the young plants by eating them continuously all the way to the ground. I will have to do another treatment soon as I am seeing evidence of encroachment of the bugs from outside the treated area.

Work has been very busy. Word of mouth seems to be the way many customers are finding us. I guess that means people are happy with our work! I am also happy to tell everyone that I found someone to car pool with. Joe found a post on Craig's List asking for a driver three days a week to Great Falls and back to Helena. I called, we met, the first week went great! Her name is Michelle, too! Strange, huh? She doesn't like to drive as much, so I am the driver and she pays half the gas. She also likes Books on CD, too, so I don't have to stop listening to them. Works out great.

Life is going good. I went to a Dr's appt two weeks ago. Different doc, this time. She ordered a whole slew of blood work tests (I swear she drained me dry!), then put me on Flexarill and Nurotin. I am sleeping much better, and I hurt much less! YEA!!
I was able to sit and finish my "101 goals in 1001 days" AND begin actually working towards a few,too! Life is great when you don't hurt 24/7!
The only other news.... I will be heading to Rockin' the Rivers this weekend. The classic rock festival runs three days and music plays constantly from noon until about 2am Fri, Sat, and Sun. My one and only party /vacation of the year. This will be my 10th year (it has only been running 11). Weather looks unsettled, so we may get rained on, but Hey! That is part of the fun! Of the 10 years, it has only rained badly only three or four times.... but then it clears up and is nice the rest of the time. Oh yeah, it did snow one Friday night! That was insane, but it warmed up to 75 on Saturday and in the 80's on Sunday. This is Montana... the weather is crazy. I will be hitting the road in about 10 minutes....YeeeHAAA!
If I have signal, I will try to post a photo or two while I am at the festival!
Have a great weekend... we'll chat when I get back to civilization!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Monday, August 3, 2009

Goal setting: 101 goals in 1001 days

I have been working on this for the past week. I really didn't think it would be so hard to come up with 101 things to accomplish over the next three years. The last 10 were REALLY hard to come up with. BUT... here it is. Posted for everyone to see so I can't back out of it! hahaha I will post updates on occasion just to let you know I am still on track.

The Mission:
Complete 101 preset tasks in a period of 1001 days.

The Criteria:
Tasks must be specific (ie. no ambiguity in the wording) with a result that is either measurable or clearly defined. Tasks must also be realistic and stretching (ie. represent some amount of work on my part).

Here we go. Starting August 1, 2009; here are the 101 things I'm going to try to accomplish in 1001 Days. Well, actually 1095 days because it was easier to figure out the weeks and months if I bumped it up to three FULL years instead of 2 ¾ years.

My 101 Goals to Accomplish in 1001 1095 Days
( Three Full Years)


1. Extend Porch over door
2. Screen Door frame fixed / replaced
3. Porch painted yearly (0/3)
4. Repair / Replace shingles on garage roof
5. Fix / Replace heater in hot tub
6. Install patio area or lower deck for BBQ and hot tub
7. Patio or low deck placed between house and garage w/ arbor and fairy lights
8. Paint exterior of house and garage
9. Start saving for sprinkler system
10. Lawn started
11. Clean out garage once a year (0/3)
12. Minimize grasshopper impact each year (0/3) *Started 7/09
13. Fix Hydrant pipe

14. Paint or tile kitchen sink backsplash and sink wall. Replace laminate across counter front.
15. Fix laundry door
16. Paint Bathrooms (0/2)
17. Replace shower enclosure in main bath
18. Replace flooring in bathrooms (0/2)
19. Purchase area rug for living room
20. Install Higher exhaust pipe on furnace
21. Replace kitchen faucet
22. Put doors on open kitchen shelves ( or install new cabinets)
23. Fix outside outlet
24. New(er) energy efficient washer and drier
25. Make kids old room into office / library
26. Wash all mini-blinds at least once a year (0/3)
27. Replace broken door knobs and mouldings
28. Make a door from garage to back yard


29. Expand garden each year: (16x16) (16x24) (16x36)
30. Order and plant trees from extension office for wind / dust control.
31. Plant fruit trees (small orchard – apple, pear, plum, or cherry? Research This!)
32. Plant maple trees
33. Cut consumption of sodas to special occasions only
34. Eat “out” only one time or less a week.
35. Try one new main dish meal every month ( 0/36)
36. Build a greenhouse / grasshopper deterrent
37. Start seeds indoors by April 1st each year (0/3)
38. Learn how to can, or otherwise preserve, foods.
39. Make and jar own salsa and tomato sauce.
40. Make my own Vanilla Extract and Kahlua
41. Try to grow a tea tree.
42. Study about (and plant) basic cooking and medicinal herbs.
43. Buy a chest freezer
44. Purchase half a beef
45. Purchase half a hog
46. Finish cutting, sorting, and storing loose recipes in binders. *started 7/09
47. Learn about raising (and harvesting) chickens for eggs and meat.
48. Create flower garden with bird bath and feeders as focal points.
49. Cook one very nice meal a week, just for me (from The Pleasure is All Mine (or similar) Cookbook.
50. Make a new soup once a month. Serve with home made bread and butter. (0/36)


51. Get rid of 100 items per room:
Kitchen- 0/100
Bedroom- 0/100
Living Room- 0/100
Garage- 0/100
52. Learn to play an instrument (at least 3 songs)
53. Get rid of all clothing I have not worn in over 12 months.
54. Get job with State (at least one state ap per month 0/36)
55. Loose 90 pounds, at least 30 each year. (0/90)
56. Keep writing goals: Blog or journal writing daily,
One short story a month (0/36)
Year 1 create outline, plot, & characters for new WIP
Year 2 & 3 write it!
57. Be to work on time!
58. Do Yoga at least one time a week
59. Take walk or hike once a week (0/156)
60. Watch one foreign or classic DVD a week (0/156)
61. Go camping at least once a summer (besides RTR) (0/3)
62. Take at least one bubble bath a month (0/36)
63. Learn about celebrations of the solstices
64. Visit one museum or cultural center each quarter (0/12)
65. Learn to fly fish.
66. Do something that pushes my mind, body, and spirit farther than I think they can go.


67. Call Fosters at least once a week.
68. See parents at least once a week.
69. Help Krystle find apartment and move.
70. Go to Kalispell at least once a quarter (0/12)
71. Find and communicate with only cousin
72. Visit Steph
73. Revive three old friendships that have grown distant (0/3, who)
74. Visit Billings and Missoula at least twice a year to see friends (B 0/6; M 0/6)
75. Turn three current acquaintances into good friends (0/3, who)
76. Stay in at least one of Glacier’s hotels or Chalets.
77. Make three new friends (0/3, who)


78. Learn to knit
79. Knit gifts for friends / family (dish towels, hat, socks, scarf, ?)
80. Finish Joe’s afghan
81. Do one ceramic project a year (0/3)
82. Do one stained glass project and give it as a gift
83. Take a watercolor class
84. Take a tole painting class
85. Make a quilt
86. Finish Hummingbird cross stitch project
87. Finish crocheted kitchen curtains
88. Take a class on natural fibers, use a spinning wheel


89. Donate one dollar to a charity for every goal not accomplished in time.
90. Purchase and Read “Back to Basics”. Practice doing things it talks about
91. Purchase and Read The Encyclopedia of Country Living
92. Try home made laundry soap
93. Get Income taxes finished each year by March 1st.
94. Replace American Flag Yearly (0/3)
95. Get fuel efficient car
96. Take a boat ride on one of the Glacier Lakes


97. Buy a lawn mower
98. Buy a weed eater
99. Buy a new BBQ
100. Buy a new Laptop computer
101. Boat motor

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Maybe I should write more often!

Yeah, Yeah, Yeah.... I could give many excuses or reasons why I didn't post all week, but it reallly comes down to this: I Was Lazy.
BUT, I do have a ton of stuff to talk about. Don't worry! I'm not going to put it all in one post (mostly because it is 10:30pm on a Sunday night and I have to meet my new car-pool gal at 7am. More on that later.)

After my last posting full of writing about all the different bloggers I follow, I was honored with The Superior Scribbler Award from Jamie at The Variety Pages.
To accept this award I have to pass it on to five other bloggers who I feel are deserving of it, and who would be able to fulfill the requirements, too.

Arrgh! Only FIVE?!

Here are my five picks, in no particular order:

Jenna at Cold Antler Farm- OK, anyone who follows me knows I really like this girl!

Sandra at Diary of a Stay at Home Mom- because I wish she were my neighbor! Very down to earth as she chats about life on an American Air Force Base. Excellent recipies, awesome photos, and cute kids!

Genius Rock Chef's blog is one of my favorites. I have experienced every emotion while reading his writing. I usually laugh, as he has a truly off the wall sense of humor, but he does write about his life and there have been some very emotional posts, as well as one or two that stirred up some anger (most recently... neighborhood kids abusing animals).

Angela's blog- My Year Without Spending is like my conscience. No, Really! She has made the commitment to not purchase anything new (some exclusions like underthings) for an entire year. She is also trying to lessen her impact on the planet one baby step at a time. This blog is a constant reminder for me to be a little more eco-friendly.

Only Half Nuts is written by a woman who has a firm hold on reality and isn't afraid to "Tell it like it is". She vents her anger at her husband, only to temper it with her next post full of love for the man. Sometimes while being fustrated by the growing pains of her newly out of the nest sons she will ask for advice on some situations. She writes things as she sees them. She doesn't pull any punches. She is known to swear like a sailor. She is as Real as Real gets.

To play along:

1. Each Superior Scribbler must in turn pass The Award on to 5 most-deserving Bloggy Friends.

2. Each Superior Scribbler must link to the author & the name of the blog from whom he/she has received The Award.

3. Each Superior Scribbler must display The Award on his/her blog, and link to This Post, which explains The Award.

4. Each Blogger who wins The Superior Scribbler Award must visit This Post and add his/her name to the Mr. Linky List. That way, we’ll be able to keep up-to-date on everyone who receives This Prestigious Honor!

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Wonders of the Blog-O-Sphere

Like many other folks out there, I follow quite a few blogs.
Some of the owners write daily, or near daily.
Some once a month, or less.
Most are like me, writing only when they have something to say or share, which may be daily or only once a week.
Of course, there are a few that are written by people that I do know on a close personal level and had been friends with long before that first photograph and intro words were written and posted onto this blog. The majority, though, are the writings of strangers.

They all have a unique story to tell. Each post gives me a tiny insight into the writer, and consequently, a peek into their lives. The happiness or the challenges they face. Anger and sadness that must be vented before acceptance or forgiveness can ease their minds. I follow along, a voyeur of sorts I suppose, crying or cheering them on. I laugh when they share something funny. I add a comment or two if inspired. I've noticed I only follow the blogs of the people who I think I would have befriended had I the chance to meet them face to face. Regular people, but with something to share. People who type words onto a computer screen not knowing who will come across them and find something useful. Real people sharing real stories. I don't follow any that are blatantly political, pushy on the religion, or trying to sell me something. Yes, a couple have an agenda, but they also have a heart and a soul. I like to think of these fellow writers as friends, or at least acquaintances, that I check in with periodically. Many also have added me to their reading lists, and we often comment back and forth giving advice, encouragement, or a laugh when needed.

Let me tell you a little about them. (I am not going to put links here. You know you can find them on my profile page, or by clicking on their photo in the right hand sidebar.) I will start with the two young men I have just stumbled upon. Chris and Todd. Two good looking young men (well, they ARE younger than me!) who decided to travel around the U.S. by hitch hiking, leaving all their possessions behind except what they could carry on their backs. They both had their reasons, and their ideologies were similar, so they decided to travel together this summer. As of the latest postings, there has been a bit of a fallout and each has gone their own way for now. I can't wait to read more of the past postings and look at more of their photos. I have just started following them, so I don't have the whole story, BUT they both write intelligent thought provoking posts. I have figured out they both love nature and people watching. Ahhh... I think I will enjoy these two bloggers immensely! I feel I have picked up a new novel and can't wait to dive into their travel stories.

Keeping with the Adventurous types-- Roz Savage is a woman who is rowing solo across the Pacific. She posts daily as long as she has a signal on her satellite phone. Sure, she does have an environmental platform, but most of her writings are about her voyage. Very interesting, and I get a daily glimpse of the ocean, which I haven't seen in much too long!

Suleo is a bit on the outside of my "comfort level". He is a college graduate who chose to live without money, and has done so for a number of years. He lives in a cave, getting all his possessions from charity or dumpster diving. Yeah, food too. He will not accept money. This is a religious thing for him. His writing is brainy and insightful, even if it does have quite a bit of religious fervor thrown in. I read for his experiences; and the people in his life are colorful. He gives his readers a chance to see life from the homeless persons point of view. His last post pretty much summed things up by saying most of Americans are rude, selfish, S.O.B's (although he took five paragraphs to say it!).

Jenna is a young (mid-20's) gal who decided the homestead life is her calling. She works for corporate America during the day; while raising chickens, sheep, a goat, angora rabbits, two pack / sled dogs, and bees the rest of the time. She also has successful gardens and taught herself to bake, knit, sew, and play the fiddle. I "found" her after reading her first (so far, only) book Made From Scratch where she posted her blog address near the end. She is vivacious and loves everything life can give her. I have never heard anyone talk of chicken shit and sheep manure with such humor! She is single, but she seems to have picked up a number of suitable male followers. Hopefully one will eventually come along that sweeps her off her feet.

Pepe' is a fellow Montanan who's passion is climbing mountains. Another blog I live vicariously through! When he isn't climbing, he posts about sports and anti-smoking legislation. Occasionally he will throw in a movie review, too. Some day I hope he and I will meet, if just to say we did. Hell, he is only a few hours away and I do go to Missoula fairly often. I'll be sure to let you know if we do!

Sandra is a stay at home mom of two, a wife to an Air Force man, awesome cook, and story teller. She came to the U.S. from South Africa, after growing up in Portugal. Her writing is fresh and from the heart. I wish she were my neighbor!

Rock Chef is just a joy to read! He lives in Cantebury, Kent; UK. He and his wife are very much in love, and he shares their banter from time to time. He also plays guitar (has posted a few vid's) and has a bit of a whacked out sense of humor. Not many postings go by where I am not laughing out loud. Really! I look forward to his posts more than all the others. The comments section of his posts are a Do Not Miss item, too. He is truly One in a Million.

Only Half Nuts, or OHN as her readers have dubbed her, is the mother of three sons- two of whom are out of the nest and on their own. Her and I have shared many of the same "what should I do about ____" quandaries. She is the wife of a police man who last year had a cancer scare. That is when I first started to read. All is good now, but I enjoyed her writing style so much I just kept following. She is straight forward and pulls no punches. We'd get along great, I think. I wish she were my OTHER neighbor!

Joe and Albert are talked about often in my own writing, but Joe's photos are much better than mine! Albert was a lucky find at a writers conference and I am blessed to have become his friend. His blog is about his daily life living off the grid. He is living my dream!

Andrea (who I have met once, but is a good Facebook friend) writes about geocaching and life in Great Falls.

AND, all the others. A mixture of my other interests. Garden advice, living on a budget, recipes, movie or restaurant reviews, and writing. Some have personal anecdotes and family life intertwined. I read about life in Alaska and many of the lower states, as well as three Providences of Canada.

I thank everyone who has shared a bit of themselves, whether they know I was there or not.
I also thank everyone who has happened by my little piece of the Blog-O-Sphere. Over 2000 visits so far! I hope those visitors had a pleasant experience.
I especially thank all my regular visitors who stop by often, and my cyber friends who comment. You are the ones that let me know at least SOME of my posts are being read!

Now that you made it through all of THAT, my next post will be a lighthearted update on the garden and confessions of my murderous behavior.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

In the words of a fellow Blogger

I have spent the better part of this evening perusing some other blogs. Jenna at Cold Antler Farm (one of the blogs I follow daily- and have for many months) put out a request for her followers to speak up and say "Hello". The last time I looked, she had something like 134 comments! Woo Hoo! Way to go, Jenna!
Most of the posters wrote a little about themselves, and I decided to check out a few that sounded interesting. I saw photos of farm animals, gardens, flowers, pets, people, handicrafts, and landscapes. Most posts were of daily life and observations.
One post actually gave me pause.
I stopped.
Re-read it, slower this time. WOW! Talk about hitting home. I decided I needed to share some of it here.

The following is the words of FruGal, from her blog Living Well and Living Cheaply:
... a list of life experiences people had that made them realize how poor they were. There are some things I can directly relate to, and some things I could add to the list like the time I was 5 days away from a paycheck with 5 dollars to feed myself and deciding how to make one package of raman stretch for a full day, then receiving a letter with a couple of $20 bills in it from a friend with the simple command, “Please buy some food to eat,” and spending an hour crying before I could pull myself together enough to go get real food for the first time in a couple weeks. I have obsessively recounted a handful of change for fear that I miscalculated what the tax would be on an item worth less than a dollar knowing if I was short a penny I’d have to suffer the embarrassment of putting the item back. Real poverty isn’t just about how much money you don’t have, it’s about a lack of dignity. It’s not just stressful, it’s humiliating, degrading, and poison to the soul. When you’re in a situation where you’re trying to decide between paying the cable bill and paying the cell phone bill, you’re not as poor as someone trying to decide between basic needs like food or shelter.
I’ve brushed up against poverty a couple of times in my life, but never stayed there for long. When people criticize my frugal lifestyle now and say I shouldn’t deprive myself of things like take-out teriyaki or clothes that weren’t worn by anyone else but me, I just have to shake my head. What I’m doing is a choice and as long as I’m not making that choice between one basic need or another I’m not really poor. ....... Living in a first-world country as a middle class citizen, people think they’re poor when they can’t afford luxuries. In the same country there are people who die of curable diseases because they can’t afford treatment. When someone says to me they’re really upset that they had to cancel remodeling their kitchen due to the economy and I’m wondering how long it’ll be before the pain gets so bad I can’t work and whether I’ll be able to the afford the surgery I need by then, it makes me think that this country is sadly lacking in clarity. ...... I pay more in a day for the handful of pills I take than for the food I eat. One doctor’s visit is a months worth of groceries and for it I get 10 minutes of face time with a doctor who asks me to schedule a follow-up appointment right after I told them I don’t have health insurance. I really hope someone out there with a loud enough voice has the guts to stand up and point out how ridiculous it is for doctors, hospitals, and pharmaceutical companies to continue to pad their pockets with over priced goods and services while people are dying of things we cured 50 years ago.

She put into words so many of the things I have been thinking about lately, but unable to put into a tangible sentence. I did remove some political and some personal sentences, but for the most part, this was her post.
It is very personal to me, after being to the same point of "being poor" she relates to, AND the situation with doctors and medications. I never had a friend send me cash, but I have had a local church send a couple to my home when my kids were very small bearing Christmas gifts for our family. I remember getting kitchen and bath towels, my ex received a robe and a small tool set, but the girls? They received many, many packages of handmade doll furniture, store bought dolls, stuffed toys, bedding, and craft sets. A large food basket with everything needed for a Christmas brunch and dinner was left as well. I never had asked for this. I don't know who told them that our holiday was limited to one gift for each of the girls, nothing for the two of us adults. These folks weren't even of my religious choice! I cried that night, and again on Christmas when the packages were opened and we saw what was so freely given to us strangers. Someday I will be able to repay that gift to another young, needy family.
Before I can do that, though, I have to struggle through the broken U.S. healthcare system and try to get my body back into a semblance of working order... without health insurance.
Wish me luck!
Having seen and experienced "poor", I learned how to live in a very simple way. Sure I buy most of my clothing second hand, and watch the grocery ads. I don't think going out to the movies is worth the money, but do like the experience once in a while. I save and budget for anything "extra". I don't make a ton of money, but I am not in need of any of the basics either. I have learned to live frugally out of neccessity long before it was the "in thing". I have removed most of the stress out of my life, and I am able to say I am happy and content with the way my life has become.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Estrogen Moment (Guys, you should sit this one out!)


What the Hell? Is this a joke that God placed on all women just to get back at us for tempting Adam with that apple Oh So Long Ago? Talk about holding a grudge!

We all hear about the things "The Change" may make our bodies do. Things like hot flashes, mood swings, crying jags. Yeah, Yeah, Yeah! Those I can deal with. The thing that is really annoying me is being off the regular cycle of events. Aw, c'mon, you know what I mean.... Aunt Flo, The Monthly Gift (hahahaha!), my little visitor, on the rag, my period. Why does everyone beat around the bush instead of just calling it what it is-- menstruating? ( Pun was NOT intended, but so funny I have to leave it in!)

I was never a strict 21 or 28 day gal; but I knew it would start within a certain three day time frame, and always right when I woke. Now, I never know when or where my cycle will start. Nor do I know if it will be light on day one like it had for nearly 30 years, or if I will be running to the toilet every hour and a half. Is it going to last three days or seven, or my standard five?

I remember this is how it all began. Not sure when IT would happen each month. It sucked then, and it sucks now.

I don't think it should be this way. I think the female system should run regular, then stop, Just like that. One month Aunt Flo visits, then she is gone forever. Not this little game of "Surprise! I know it has only been 19 days, but I thought I would drop in a bit early! And you thought it was safe to wear your new undies!"
Or, just as bad-- the waiting game of "OK, body, it has been 30 days... I've been wearing liners for the last 10, dammit. Just show up so we can get this over with, already!"

I'm ready for it all to be done with. Sure, passing through menopause is that first stage to "getting old",a rite of passage that turns us middle aged women into old ladies.... but for Me? I am just looking forward to the freedom.
Freedom of not spending money on Kotex, or Tampex, or Stayfree.
Freedom to wear white or light colors whenever I feel like it.
Freedom to know my new pair of expensive panties are not going to be ruined.
Freedom to sleep soundly on my new 1000 count linen sheets (not that I have them, but should I ever have the desire to go buy some....!)
Freedom from the ups and downs of PMS.

Well, you get the idea.

Sooooo, if any of you men DID read this, and I seem a bit cranky these past few months, now you know why. I don't know how long this will be gong on, so I guess you all should just get used to for the time being! Don't even think of patting me on the back and telling me you understand.... there is no way in Hell that you do (unless you had a sex change).
Just smile and pretend nothing is wrong.
I'll know you are pretending, but I won't have to kill you and bury you out back in the field! *evil grin*

Saturday, July 18, 2009

A Minor Blogging Milestone!

This is my 100th post! Yea Me! I think I will go treat myself to something sweet and full of calories! OK, it doesn't take much to give me an excuse to treat myself. Just getting up in the morning can be reason enough. LOL

This is going to be a "Catch Up" post. It will be a long one, so I made a batch of Iced Tea and pulled some of my home made cinnamon rolls out of the freezer! Make yourself at home, and lets chat for a bit.

The last we really talked, I was in the middle of telling you about my trip to Newport, WA. In order to keep the story shorter, I will tell it mostly with photos.
Saturday, June 27th, dawned bright and sunny. We had been told there was to be a parade to coincide with the local rodeo and it would be passing right in front of the motel we stayed at. Harry (the ex-husband) and I were up much earlier than "the kids", so we went to a local cafe' for a very good breakfast. By the time we finished eating and returned to the motel, Heather was up and about to leave on a coffee run. I gave her a few bucks and my order... a double shot Almond Mocha Latte'. Yummm!

The parade was to start at 11am, but like most small town productions, it really didn't get started until about noon. The motel was nice enough to allow us a late check out since the road in front of their place was closed anyway. Here is the family just relaxing while waiting for the parade to begin:

Talia, Lucas, (my grandkids); Harry (the ex), Heather (my oldest daughter), and Mike (My son in law).

Talia and Lucas mugging for the camera!

The parade began, and it was like any other small town America parade! There were school bands, civic groups, majorettes, classic cars, the Shriner's:

Shriner giving "High Fives" to all the kids!

There were many floats of all shapes and sizes, most of which had participants throwing candy to the kids lining the streets:

Adding to the candy spoils! I'm glad I wasn't going to have the kids in MY car for hours on end after this much sugar!

There were fire trucks with sirens blaring, police cars of all shapes and sizes, even inmates from the local jail who volunteered to follow the horses picking up poop! Smokey The Bear made an appearance, too! He was shaking the hands of all the kids... but Lucas was afraid of him!

After the parade, we went to Don and Murial's home for another visit before we all headed out in different directions. Talia, Lucas, and Heather took advantage of the cool river water while playing with Don and Murial's dog. Lucas thought it was the funniest thing when the dog would bring back every stick he threw into the river. There is no sound more precious than a small child's innocent laughter!
When he tired of the water, Lucas discovered how much fun sand can be:

I was the first to leave, right about 3pm Pacific time. I wanted to take my time and see the sights. Harry is all about getting to the destination as soon as possible, so over the years we had been married we had never stopped along the way. Heather, Mike, and the kids were the next to leave. They were meeting a good friend in Coeur d'Alene, ID; and staying with him that evening. Harry was just heading back to his home in Kalispell, so he hung around the longest.

Less than 10 miles from Don's home, I made my first touristy stop here:

The waterfalls have been dammed creating a source of electricity for the area. With the dam to my back, I took this photo of a railroad trestle crossing the river:It was also where I first noticed a large amount of wild daisies blooming:

I drove across the Idaho panhandle, once again passing through the picturesque cities of Sandpoint and Bonner's Ferry. I will be back to explore these towns! Not far from Bonner's Ferry I stopped to read this sign (click on the image to enlarge it enough to read): OK, so aparently you CAN'T expand. I guess if you move the photos after importing them you loose that feature. In order to keep that feature, you have to import all photos, then type around them.(Thanks Albert for letting me know they weren't working).

... after crossing this bridge:

Before I knew it, I was back in Montana! Instead of going back to Kalispell, I was heading home to Helena. I needed to head south, and the turn off I took was just on the other side of Troy.

After passing through the tiny town of Troy, MT; I was looking for my turn. Right at the junction was this welcome sight:

Yep! A Rest Area! This was one of the nicer ones I have seen. It is surrounded by forested land, but the grounds are park-like and landscaped beautifully. I "did my business", ate a snack from my cooler, and walked around stretching the legs for awhile.

Highway 56, the road I was on, took me through forests, crossed many tiny streams, and skirted Bull Lake. It was a beautiful drive! I didn't stop for photos, but just took in all in and saved the scenes in a special place in my head. On the map I had seen a marker for Ross Creek Cedar Trail. I was intrigued, so planned a stop there. It was getting to be late in the afternoon (early evening), so I also planned to eat my supper there. Once I actually got there, the sun was hidden and evening was darkening quickly, as it happens deep in the forest. I chose to hike the short trail first, then eat afterwards.

The trailhead sign.

As soon as I left my vehicle, I knew this was not going to be a "normal" Montana hike. The ground was fairly swampy except in the parking area, picnic areas, and a few parts of the trail. The trail was actually elevated in many places in order to keep human impact to a minimum. I made my hike quickly, stopping only to read the information signs along the trail. The mosquitoes were out in droves! I think I donated two pints of blood to the tiny vampires and I was only out of the car for about half an hour! Here are a few pics of the trail:

The Start.

Ross Creek.

Into the deep, dark forest!

I ate a small supper of a tuna sandwich, strawberries, cheese crackers, and a soda. For dessert I ate a tiny bag (one of those 100 calorie packs) of chocolate cookies. I didn't even try to eat at one of the picnic tables, opting instead to eat in my car in order to keep what little blood I had left!
Once I left the narrow valley and heavy cedar forest, I was once again in sunlight! The trailhead was on a tiny forest service road about 5 miles from the highway. On my way back to the highway I was greeted by this vista:

At the point where the forest service road met the highway, there was a small open area. The entire place was covered with wildflowers:

A few miles down the Highway, I stopped to read some informative signs and take in the view of the setting sun over the Cabinet Mountains:

Information sign #1

Information sign #2.

The Cabinet Mountains and Bull River Basin.

A little farther down the road, I stopped to stretch at this roadside wildflower filled meadow:

At the junction of Highway 56 and Highway 200 was this little business. It had just closed. It looks fun, so my next trip through I'll make plans to be here when it is open. The sign says "Unique birdhouses and Made in Montana gifts".

I drove along highway 200, thoroughly enjoying the sights of the Clark Fork River valley. I passed Noxin Reservoir and drove through a number of quaint small towns. As the evening light was fading past the point of picture taking, I stopped at a fishing access near Thompson Falls to pee and stretch. There is a very touching memorial there:

Memorial and old park bench.

Plaque and poem on the memorial stone. Very sweet!

I took one last look up the Clark Fork River:

And, down the Clark Fork River:

before heading back on my way. It was about 9pm by now. The evening light lasted for about another hour and I really enjoyed watching the sunset colors on the river as I continued to follow it. I got to Saint Regis and the junction with the Interstate about 11pm, arriving in Missoula about midnight. I had thought I would travel into Missoula and stay the night there, but the night was mild, the moon bright and my spirits were high. I decided to just gas up, drink some coffee and drive the rest of the way home. Driving at night doesn't bother me. Sometimes I actually prefer it as there isn't as much traffic to deal with! I got home without incident, pulling into my driveway about 2:15am. It had been a great day!