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.