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.
Talia and Lucas mugging for the camera!
Shriner giving "High Fives" to all the kids!
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!
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:
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:
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!
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!