Sometimes what is right in front of you is hidden from view… until you look in a different sort of way.
Sitting on the same rock with the same river below, the same red cliffs before me, the same trees, the wind as before. But not really the same – the water in the river has now reached the ocean. New leaves have come and gone. The wind, where does it go? Still windy, but not the same wind at all. Even the red cliff, solid and unchanging as it seems, has weathered away a bit under the forces of nature. How am I like the river, the trees, the wind, and the rock. Life moves on – no moment is repeated, new experiences come and go, some things about me that are unseen are the most powerful, and even that which seems most solid and stable is ever-changing with the forces of nature.
Wednesday August 29: Early morning at the Seeley Lake Campground in the Seeley-Swan Valley of western Montana, I go down to the lake to take photos in the mist. The ambiance of mist and fog appeals to me.
I fix yogurt and fruit for Clifford and myself, make coffee for the thermos, pack a little bag of clothes, and wait for my brother Rollie to arrive with his motor home. He and I are going together to Sun River on the other side of the mountain from the Seeley-Swan Valley where this campground is located. Clifford will be staying at the campsite with Cougar, holding down the fort, so to speak.
Riding in the front of a class-A motor home is quite the vantage point for seeing the scenery, but it feels like a long drive from Seeley Lake to Sun River. There is certainly a lot of variety in the landscape and I especially enjoy seeing the rivers, something that I miss living in Utah.
Although I grew up in western Montana, I also lived within view of Crown view for twenty years, so there is a familiarity with seeing the scenes from the east face of the Rockies.
Once we arrive in Sun River, we find Matt and a fishing buddy, Lexie. It is good to see him. After Rollie gets the motor home set up, we all walk down to the river just to see the river. Tomorrow will be the fishing day.
I make dinner for all of us in the motor home and we visit until late. Rollie’s couch is my bed tonight.
Saturday August 25: Mostly sunny this morning and I sit outside for my quiet time. Have a good chat with my son Matt when I call to wish him happy birthday.
My daughter Merri comes out to have lunch with us. She brings some fresh produce and we make a good tasty lunch, eating out in the screen house.
After Merri heads home, I play viola and read. Nice day except for the mouse we found bumbling about near the steps. Mice are bad enough, but have to wonder if this one has rabies or is somehow demented. Creepy.
Sunday August 26: Today Clifford and I go to Wallace again, as we have to get more stuff out of my daughter Katie’s basement.
We visit with her a bit and great to see the grandkids for a minute. Then Clifford and I load my car as full as we can get it. We are back at camp in time for a late lunch. The evening is dinner, dishes, and reading for me, while Clifford works on his projects. We run out of propane in the night, which is inconvenient, and catch four more mice, which is totally creepy.
Monday August 27: We start packing as soon as we are up, as we are leaving today. No showers or breakfast or hot tea, since we are out of propane. We are on our way about 11:00 a.m. and once we arrive in Missoula, we go to Cracker Barrel for lunch, Bretz RV for propane, Barnes&Noble for the bookstore fix and a latte, and on to the Walmart parking lot where we replenish supplies and spend the night.
Tuesday August 28: Since we have two vehicles – my car and Suburban towing Cougar – we leave Suburban and Cougar at Walmart and take my car to a music store in Missoula. I want to get a shoulder rest, but when we get there, the fellow working there doesn’t know how shoulder rests work, so he is no help to me. Instead, I end up with a shaped sponge, which I hope will help with holding the viola properly. It beats me how a city the size of Missoula, a university town with a good music department, does not have a properly stocked music store with knowledgeable clerks.
Back at Walmart, we finish our shopping and then head out of Missoula, stopping at Bonner for gas. Heading north on highway 200 to the Clearwater junction, we then wind our way up the Swan Valley to the Seeley Lake Campground. We find a roomy spot near where we were last year, but with more of a view of the lake.
After we get set up, I walk down to the lake, taking photos to share with family, while Clifford gets his ham radio antennas up. It is so great to be here! After a simple dinner, Clifford continues adjusting his radio gear and I read until heading to bed.
Saturday August 18: It is less smokey this morning and very pleasant sitting outside writing in the journal.
Later, when the temperatures warm up and the flies become bothersome, we set up the screen house over the picnic table, giving us place to eat, write, and play music without the pesky flies.
Sunday August 19: A walk in the forest is a lovely quiet time for me this morning.
In general, the day has the usual things going on: writing, reading, editing for daughter Ang, and taking photos (Carol); ham radio and CI Legacy Project (Clifford), with the addition of being stung by a wasp (Carol) and going bike riding around the two loops of the campground (both of us).
Monday August 20: It is hard to tell overcast from smoke haze this morning. In spite of the somewhat dreary sky, I walk around both loops of the campground. We are the only people here; even the hosts are gone.
In the afternoon, there is a knock on the door and we are surprised to see my son Saul. We invite him in and I make tea for the three of us. He is headed to an organic farm and has stopped here to spend the night. We have a nice visit and after he gets his camp set up, he joins us for dinner. Since he travels a lot, we get out the atlas and share thoughts about where he and we have been and where we all might be going in the future. Maybe our paths will cross again.
Tuesday August 21: I walk about taking photos in the mist this morning. Then we invite Saul for breakfast and chat a bit more before he heads out.
Today I am going to Wallace to visit Katie and her family. Katie, her daughter Justice, her mother-in-law Sue, and I go to lunch. Really nice to visit with all of them. Being in Wallace also gives me a chance to go to the laundromat, my favorite second-hand store, and the market before I drive back over the mountain for a late dinner with Clifford.
Wednesday August 22: After my morning quiet time and breakfast with Clifford, I start cleaning out my car. Katie needs to have our remaining stuff moved out of her basement, so yesterday I put as much as I could into my car. It it is too much to take back to Monticello, so I will be sorting and getting rid of books and other items. I find it hard to get rid of books, but in reality, it is not likely I will ever have time to read all of them.
Later, Clifford and I work on the back-up camera issue and find a spot where we can put the receiver (adhered to an aluminum pizza plate stuck in the bathroom door) so that the signal carries all the way from the back of Cougar to the monitor on the Suburban dashboard. It takes a bit of jury-rigging, but it works.
I finish the knit afghan for the newest member of the family, great-grandson Oliver. Bicycle, dinner, viola practice, and reading complete the day for me. Clifford continues with his projects and is up until the wee hours, as is normal for him.
Thursday August 23: It is smokey again and we have caught another mouse. Did it come with us from Bass Creek or are the mice a problem here? When camp host Susi comes around, I ask her about the mice and it does appear they have been a problem the last couple of years.
Today Clifford and I go to St. Regis again, as there is wifi at the Visitors’ Center. I send the completed Princes and Priests synopsis to Ang, while Clifford downloads a big music file. We have lunch at a cafe here, but it is not nearly as good as the meal we had at the $50,000 Bar&Grill earlier in the week.
In the evening, I make plans with Rollie regarding a trip to Sun River (near Great Falls, Montana) to visit my son Matt. Clifford will stay with Cougar at Cabin City.
Friday August 24: I make coffee and sit outside for awhile before getting ready for our trip to Couer d Alene. I have another doctor checkup, and once that is finished, we run errands in CdA.
On the way back to our campground, we stop in Wallace so Clifford can help make decisions about what to do with the rest of our stuff in Katie’s basement. We fit what we can into my car and the rest will be given away. Katie is cooking steaks on an outdoor grill, but due to the lateness of the hour, we have to head back to camp rather than staying for dinner. She sends a juicy steak home with us, which we thoroughly enjoy.
Tuesday August 14: Today is moving day. Although we like where we are at Bass Creek Recreation Area in the Bitterroot Valley of western Montana, we are heading to Cabin City, a campground on the Montana side of Lookout Pass. This will allow visiting with my daughter Katie and her family in Wallace, Idaho, without pulling Cougar over the pass.
When we arrive at Cabin City, there is almost no one there, but the spot we would have chosen is already taken. Oh well, that is the way it goes sometimes. We pick another nearby spot that will allow both shade for the RV and access to the sunshine for the solar panels, a bit of a challenge in this forested campground.
After we get set up, we have tuna sandwiches for lunch and proceed with our usual activities. In the evening, the hosts, Susi and Tom, come around and we chat with them for awhile. We met them here a couple of years ago and discovered at that time that Susi is the youngest sister of a really good friend of mine from high school days. “Small world….”
Wednesday August 15: Pretty light on the forest this morning, in spite of the forest fire smoke.
Today we are going to Wallace to visit Katie and her family; my son Saul is there, also, doing some work for Katie. My wellness visit is in Kellogg, just 12 miles down the road. The doctor at the clinic there was my doctor when we lived in Wallace and I still want to see her, but it will be the last time, as she is moving to Texas and I am one of her last patients in Idaho.
After the doctor visit, Clifford and I go to dinner with Katie and her friends. There are several conversations going on at once, so it is hard to talk to Katie to see how she and her family are doing. We’ll be back next week, so will visit more with her then. It is late by time we get back to Cabin City, but I read until midnight before heading to bed. Clifford, as usual, stays up with his projects until the wee hours.
Thursday August 16: Today we take care of the mail that we picked up in Wallace yesterday, having forwarded it there. Later, we make a trip to post office in St. Regis, the nearest town with a post office, and then dinner at the famous $50,000 Bar & Grill at the nearby Haugan exit. The food is plentiful and the gift shop has lots of fun stuff. I buy a top for myself and a T-shirt for Clifford, kind of a splurge, but worth it.
Back at camp, I walk about taking photos and then read most of the afternoon. While it might not be the most productive way to spend time, it good that I have the option to do just that.
Sunday August 12: Smokey and a few puffy clouds this morning at the Bass Creek Recreation Area where we are camped, but other than the smoke, it is a nice day and good that it is not so hot as it was in Missoula yesterday (100+ degrees).
Today is a gathering of my siblings and spouses at my sister Nancy’s house, just down the Bitterroot Valley a few miles from where we are camped. Daughter Becka calls and we chat while I make a quinoa/fruit salad for the potluck with my siblings.
Nancy and Dick’s place is looking really nice; tall shade trees and a beautiful big lawn provide a pleasant outdoor space for the gathering. Besides Nancy and Dick, my brother Rollie is there, brother Ed and his wife Sheryl, and sister Lillian and her husband Cliff. Lots of good conversation and laughter as we partake of the potluck. Rollie and I play music for a bit. It is such fun having this time together.
Back at camp, we hang out until my bedtime, and just as I’m getting into bed, I hear a noise (Clifford is outside) and looking toward the kitchen, I see mice coming up out of the heat vent. I have a mouse phobia, so my scream brings Clifford back to the camper. Two mice are caught in glue traps that we put out, as I suspected there was a mouse in the house. All the years we had Terry, we only had one mouse one time; we’ve only had Cougar two weeks and have already caught two mice with possibly a third on the loose. I’m kind of freaked out about this and it is midnight before I finally go back to bed. More bigger better mouse traps are high on the shopping list for tomorrow!
Monday August 13: It is still smokey, but otherwise a pleasant today. Today I am going to Lillian’s place, also in the Bitterroot Valley, a ways out of Stevensville. I stop at a thrift store in Stevensville to drop off stuff that is being discarded due to the move from Terry to Cougar. Need to simplify a bit. Then on out to Lillian and Cliff’s place in the slopes of the Sapphire Mountains, the range facing the Bitterroot Range, forming the wide Bitterroot Valley.
Lillian and I have a great visit with show-and-tell time, since I haven’t been there for at least a year, and then we sit in her outdoor seclusion area, enjoying the peacefulness of the place as we talk. All too soon it is time to head back to camp.
I stop at the Super 1 on my way and buy mouse traps, hoping that we really don’t need them. Clifford and I have a late dinner and begin packing, as tomorrow we must leave. It has been great being here, but we have other places to go and people to see.
Monday August 6: We are glad to be camped at Bass Creek Recreation Area in the Bitterroot Valley of western Montana. After a walkabout in the early morning sunshine, we invite my brother Rollie over (he is camped across the road from us) for tea on our patio. It is a nice time to sit out and chat.
Today Clifford and I go to the Stevensville library, about six miles away, as it offers both power and free wifi. We get caught up on email and Clifford takes care of downloads that are too big for our hotspot wifi at camp. For lunch, we share a sandwich, sitting on a bench in the sunshine, and then continue with our projects.
Back at camp, Rollie joins us for chicken and rice dinner.
Tuesday August 7: Today I head into Missoula to have lunch with dear long-time friends, Ken and Shelley Anne. Ken and I have known each other since 7th grade when we were both in the cello section of the Missoula youth orchestra. We have a great visit and then I run errands. As I’m leaving my last stop, my car won’t start, which is disconcerting, and I can’t get hold of Clifford, which is also disconcerting. Eventually it starts, much to my relief, and I make it back to camp.
In the evening, my sister, Nancy, comes out for a visit. Really nice to see her.
Wednesday August 8: After a walkabout down to the creek and sending photos to family and friends, Clifford and I sit out on our patio for tea; nice way to start the morning.
Clifford and I work on our projects and later in the afternoon, after Rollie returns from his gig in Stevensville, we sit out in the shade and play music together. Later Rollie joins Clifford and me for dinner.
Thursday August 9: This morning I walk the entire campground loop, and then join Clifford for tea on the patio. Since texts work here, I send photos and arrange time to meet with some of my kids and my siblings. In the afternoon, I start the synopsis for Ang’s book, Princes and Priests, as we are going to seek a literary agent. Learning how to do a query properly is a big project.
In the evening, my friends Ken and Shelley Anne come out. After they get set up in a campsite just down the road from us, we have time to sit out and visit awhile, making plans for a drive up the mountain tomorrow.
Friday August 10: I’m up at 7:30 and start getting ready for the hike with Ken and Shelley Anne. As I’m rushing about, Ken suggests that I take time to do what I need to do. What a great concept – Take Time to Do What I Need to Do! I realize I seldom do that, with the needs of others taking priority… so much so that it is just a habit.
Ken, Shelley Anne, and I are going to Joseph’s Ridge, a rather slow drive up the mountain due to the winding and somewhat rough road. At the pull-out/picnic area, after finding a parking spot, we get our hiking sticks and water, and head up the ridge trail. Ken hikes on ahead of Shelley Anne and me, as he seeks quiet, while we ladies are eager to visit and share what’s going on in our lives. We all end up back at the picnic area about the same time and share a picnic lunch with a fabulous view all around us. Back at the campground, we say our good-byes.
After Ken and Shelley Anne head back to Missoula, Clifford and I go to the Stevensville library to take care of our business there. In the evening, Clifford, Rollie, and I meet with some of Rollie’s bluegrass friends who live near the campground. I am not a traditional bluegrass musician, so am limited in how I can join in with the others, but we have a good time playing music together anyway. Snacks and visiting afterward is quite fun, also, and it would be great to do this again, if time allows. Back at camp, it is late enough that I get right to the bedtime routine and off to bed.
Friday August 3: We finish moving out of Terry (our 30-year-old RV) and into Cougar (our new-to-us RV) in the Bretz RV parking lot in Missoula, Montana, where the two are parked side-by-side. We wait for my daughter Ang and her friend Rama to arrive, as they are taking Terry to give the old gal a good home and keep her in the family.
It is afternoon by time Clifford and Cougar are ready to head across town, while I follow in my Forester. Reserve is a very busy main street across Missoula, and we get separated when I stop at a red light. It is a bit nerve-wracking for us, as Cougar is a lot big bigger than Terry, and the backup camera is not working. Due to the traffic, it takes us a good long while to get across town, but finally after Clifford has made it highway 93, I catch up to him and we continue southward down the Bitterroot Valley, arriving at the Bass Creek Recreation Area in late afternoon.
Coming into a popular campground on a Friday afternoon is not the best timing, but unavoidable in this case. There is only one spot available and we are grateful that it is a big pull-through. There is not much shade at this site, but the sun will be good for the solar panels and since we now have have an awning, we will be fine. Our view is a good-size meadow with a hillside of trees across from us. By time we get set up and have dinner, it is quite late. We are happy to be here.
Saturday August 4: I spend much of the day putting things in place, unpacking and relocating, trying to find room for everything. In the afternoon, I hike a ways up the trail, but decide not to go too far alone since a bear and cub have recently been seen in the area.
By evening, everything is pretty much in place. We sit out on our patio, enjoying the warm evening air and the view. Bed before midnight.
Sunday August 5: I go for a walkabout first thing this morning and take a few photos. This campground is one of my favorites, being in the mountains with a creek nearby and a good hiking trail.
In the afternoon, Clifford and I meet Ang and Rama at the Lumberjack on Graves Creek Road for a late lunch. It is great to see them, and the hamburgers here are quite good.
Returning to Bass Creek, we see that Rollie and Ninja have arrived and he is setting up in the spot right across the road from us, which will be handy for getting together to play music.
After Rollie is set up, we hike up the trail a ways to that sweet spot where the creek is calm. Sure is good to be here.
Back at camp, I organize and reorganize, still figuring out where things go in our new space, and then catch up on my journal, as writing got behind last week as we moved from Terry into Cougar. That was a big deal and other activities were pushed to the back burner. Before heading to bed, I finish reading the James Doss book that I started a few days ago.