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!


Rock Chef said...

Amazing photos - thanks for sharing with us!

Hm, I bet Smokey the Bear was hot!

Jamie D. said...

Wow - looks like a wonderful drive, so much great natural scenery! I don't get to the western/northern parts of MT much, but will have to make a point next summer.

Congrats on a great trip!

Michele said...

CRC- Yep, he WAS hot! I was thinking about asking him out on a date, but I wasn't staying another night! ;-)

Jamie- you should come north more often! Much prettier than the Eastern side of the state. If you do travel, E-mail me, we can do lunch!

Montana Mountain Man said...

Geeze, It's about time you finished the story and posted the photos. LOL

Nice trip, good photos.

BTW, there is no The in Smokey Bear, and clicking on the photos did nothing.