Divide Bridge Heading South – September 2018

Saturday September 29: We get up a little earlier than usual and I get tea made for the thermoses. We have a quick breakfast of yogurt and fruit before we finish packing, and we are on our way before 10:00. We are leaving the Bass Creek Recreation Area in the Bitterroot Valley of western Montana where we have been camped for the last couple of weeks. Our destination today is Divide Bridge campground in southwestern Montana.

Destination in southwest Montana

The wind is fierce as we go through Hellgate Canyon on the east side of Missoula. We are relieved that it lets up some as we head further east, but even so, stopping for gas at Deer Lodge, we are surprised at how cold the wind is.

Reaching Divide Bridge Campground, we find a spot with grass still green and shrubs showing autumn colors. Our set-up is minimal, as we won’t be staying long.

Cougar at Divide Bridge Campground
Autumn Colors
Visit to the Big Hole River

Of course, I visit the river right away.

Big Hole River

In the evening, we work on our projects – dulcimer and CI Legacy for Clifford, while I continue editing Princes and Priests and prepare another blog of our travels. We have nachos for dinner, as that is easy and tasty, and head to bed earlier than usual. Travel days are tiring, but at least we have a pretty place to stay.

Sunday September 30: I am up early to use the restroom and see that it is a drizzly morning The neighbors have a nice big campfire, so I go over to say “hi.” We have a nice visit before I go back to Cougar to make tea for the thermoses, as we are planning on leaving to meet Tye and Tammy at Lewis&Clark Caverns.

Saying “Hi” to the neighbors who are set up by the river

However, the drizzle turns to sleet, which turns to snow. Since we don’t have a current weather report, we are a bit undecided about the wisdom of driving over Pipestone pass to meet them, not knowing what the weather is on the pass or on their side of the mountain. In the end, we drive out to the highway where there is cell service and cancel our plans to meet them. I am very disappointed, but again, discretion is wise.

Snowing at Divide Bridge Campground
Snowing at Divide Bridge Campground

By afternoon, the weather clears up and had we had communication, we might have been able to still pull off a get-together, but oh well, sometimes things don’t work out the way I’d like them to. At least it is pretty here and I spend time walking about, taking photos of the snow on autumn colored leaves in the morning and photos of the river in the river in the afternoon.

View from the campground

We are short on power today; I edit until the laptop battery is dead, then play viola for awhile. Dinner is cooked and eaten by lantern light. Even though we normally use our electronic devices a lot, there are always things that can be done without power. Tomorrow we will be continuing south and we will see what the weather brings our way.

Last Days at Bass Creek – September 2018


Wednesday September 26: I go down to the creek first thing this morning; I will miss being here. Back at camp, I make a campfire and sit outside to write in the journal.

Morning visit with Bass Creek

Today we take care of little projects like hanging towel racks, stuffing steel wool in any openings we can find underneath, and spraying the gasket around the slide-out. Then I clean out my car and pack it with the tubs of music and books that will remain in Montana. Nancy and her husband Dick will be babysitting my Forester this winter.

Autumn foliage at the campsite

Thursday September 27: Text a happy birthday message to my youngest son, the nomad. Then Clifford and I head to Missoula for a last day of errands, shopping, and laundromat. We have quite a few things to take care of, as well enjoying a stop at Book Exchange, so it is late by time we arrive back at camp.

Sunset colors as we drive back to camp

Friday September 28: This morning I put the clean clothes and sundries away before heading out to see Ang one last time. My grandson Oden is there, and it is wonderful to see what a great young man he is becoming. We have lunch and I’m happy that I get to see them again before leaving Montana.

Oden and Ang
A very special young man

On the way back to camp, I drop my car off at my sister Nancy’s place and Clifford picks me up there. Back at camp, we pack up all the outside stuff in preparation for leaving tomorrow. We have a ways to go, so hope to get an early start. It has been good being here in Montana with its rivers, lakes, and mountains, great seeing my kids and their families, my siblings, and long-time friends. I wish we could stay longer, but weather considerations indicate that it is time to move on.

Good-bye Montana – see you next summer!


Sister Hike – September 2018

Tuesday September 25: One of the best things about camping here in the Bitterroot Valley is that I get to see my sisters, Lillian and Nancy. Both sisters have come out a couple of times and we have visited with our brother Rollie who is also camped here. I had planned to meet Nancy for another visit and hike, but that is being cut out by our leaving early. However, I do get to see Lillian one more time before Clifford and I leave Montana for the season.

Lillian and I meet for lunch at a nice place in the nearby small town of Florence and sit outside in the sunshine in the enclosed patio, protected from the breeze. So nice to have the time to visit with no rush to be somewhere else.

After lunch, she comes back to our campground and we hike up the Bass Creek Trail to the quiet spot on the creek where I hiked earlier this week with friends. We both take photo of the waterfall that is usually hidden and then continue on up the trail, taking photos of each other. What a fun day!

Bass Creek Trail
Hidden waterfall on Bass Creek
Bass Creek

Clifford went on a cross-country hike by himself today. It is good that we are both getting out and hiking some. He also made progress on the CI Legacy Project. After dinner, while I did the dishes, he played the dulcimer, which is always nice to hear. Most days I play the viola, but not today. Sister visits are more important!

Kootenai Creek Hike – September 2018


Monday September 24: The low last night was in the mid-30’s and the high today is only 59 degrees with a cumulus cloud cover. In looking at the map and the forecast for cooler weather in Montana with rain and possibly early snow, we decide that we will have to leave Bass Creek earlier than planned and begin the journey south. I am not so happy about this, as it means a change of plans as far as seeing family goes, but I do understand the wisdom of the decision.

In the afternoon, Clifford and I drive to one of the other main drainages in the Bitterroot Range, Kootenai Creek, just a few miles further south in the Bitterroot Valley. It is a lovely hike with lots of autumn color and the creek seems especially lively as it tumbles around boulders and over rocks that form the creek bed. We left camp a little late for getting sunlight on the foliage, but at least we are here and have the opportunity to enjoy this beautiful scenic trail before we leave this area.

Kootenai Creek Trail
Kootenai Creek
Kootenai Creek
Kootenai Creek

Bass Creek – September 2018

Wednesday September 19 to Sunday September 23:

Clifford and I are camped at Bass Creek in the Bitterroot Valley of western Montana. We sure do like this campground with its mix of wooded creekside campsites and open ponderosa forest campsites.

Autumn colors at our campsite in the Ponderosa forest at Charles Waters Campground at Bass Creek Recreation Area

My brother Rollie is camped here, also, but leaves on Thursday. I make breakfast for the three of us and then we say our good-byes for now. It’s been fun playing music with him, sharing meals and playing cribbage almost every evening. We will see him again this winter in Arizona.

Brother Rollie and Ninja

I’m having issues with my brand new cell phone. People can call me, but I can’t call out. I spend a long time on Clifford’s cell talking to Verizon trying to figure things out. Eventually it is somewhat resolved. I also send a few texts to family and friends from the new cell. I take a few photos, but have other things going on, so don’t really have the time to devote to it right now.

Bass Creek with the new cell phone

On Saturday we make a trip to Missoula for errands before driving out Petty Creek to see my daughter Ang, grandson Oden, and Ang’s friend, Rama. It is good to see them and have dinner together. We don’t stay long after dinner, as they were up late last night and we would like to get back to Bass Creek before dark.

My favorite display at Book Exchange in Missoula
Wildlife on the road to Ang’s place
Ang’s greenhouse flourishing

Sunday morning I make coffee and a campfire, planning to sit out to write in the journal – and then it starts to rain. I hang a tarp over the clothes line for a shelter and sit out for awhile with the fresh air and the rain.

Campfire and shelter from the rain

In the afternoon, long-time friends, Ken and Shelley Anne, come out to the campground to have lunch with us. After we eat, Ken, Shelley Anne, and I hike up the Bass Creek trail to a spot where the lively creek is calm. This year it is also very low and we are able to step down to a spot where we can see a waterfall that is normally out of view. It is so wonderful to spend time in this setting with these dear people.

Bass Creek Trail
Bass Creek along Bass Creek Trail

During these days, I have also been editing for Ang and have prepared the first draft of a query that will be sent to literary agents for her epic fantasy novel Princes and Priests.

Our days are jam-packed with interesting and fun things to do. I am looking forward to a few more days here before we begin the southward journey to southern Utah.

Jam-packed days at Bass Creek

Back to Bass Creek – September 2018

The week of September 12 through September 18: We move from our great spot at Seeley Lake, returning to Bass Creek in the Bitterroot Valley of western Montana.

Cougar and Clifford back at Bass Creek
Living in a forest

We make a couple of trips to Missoula for errands and shopping, including picking up the new cell phone that I ordered. I am hoping that photos taken with the Moto Z2Play will make it easier to share photos via the net and cell service, since that is the primary way of sharing nowadays. I will be comparing photos taken with the cell and photos take with the little Canon. I see that many really outstanding photos are now being taken with cell phones, even by professional photographers. I have been reluctant to make a cell phone my primary means of taking photos, but it is certainly easier to carry a cell phone on a hike, which was a determining factor in putting my money toward a new cell phone (which I needed anyway) rather than a new camera.

Walkabout to try out the new cell phone camera
Hillside behind our campground
Morning light on wildfowers

Another highlight of the week is a “sleepover” with my daughter Ang, with steaks cooked over a big bonfire, and then spending the night in Terry, our old camper that we gave to Ang when we got Cougar in August. Morning coffee, time spent in the greenhouse, and working on editing issues fill the next day before I return to our campground at Bass Creek.

Sleepover with a bonfire

This particular week culminates in another sibling/spouses gathering, this time at brother Rollie’s campsite, also at Bass Creek, with everyone bringing food for a potluck and a big campfire. Rollie and I play a few bluegrass tunes, but mostly it is fun to be part of the conversation and laughter as we listen to tales and almost tall-tales of our growing up years. I sure do love this group of humans and am so glad we had time together again before we go our separate ways. Rollie will be leaving Montana in a couple of days; Clifford and I will be leaving before the end of the month.

Last Days at Seeley Lake – September 2018

Monday September 10: I walk to the lake in the early morning, appreciating the peacefulness with the first light of day on the water. There are a couple of benches that provide places to sit or one can stroll along the beach or take the path through the woods along the lakeside. Over the course of our time here, I have done all of these. Back at camp, I make a campfire so I can continue to be outdoors.

Today Clifford and I go for a drive to other campgrounds along the stretch of lakes in the Seeley-Swan Valley. The campground at Lake Alva has numerous empty spots, but no view of the lake that we can find. Lake Inez has some camping spots along a road above the lake, but it is not a campground and spots would soon fill, so we wouldn’t try to come here with the camper.

Lake Inez
Lake Inez
Autumn colors near Lake Alva
Autumn colors near Lake Alva

Back at Seeley Lake, which we still like the best, at the suggestion of a friend, I do an energy clearing ceremony, wading out in to the lake and letting bits of bark and cones float away, representing a releasing of tension and negative energy.

Back at Seeley Lake
Back at Seeley Lake

In the later afternoon, I finish reading the novel I had started before going to Wallace. After dinner is the usual bedtime routine and it is always surprising to me how long it takes to take care of all the loose ends before getting into bed.

Tuesday September 11: I got up kind of late this morning, but walk down to the lake before breakfast anyway. I make my way toward the bridge and get several shots of the lily pads that line the bank there.

Lily pads along the lake shore
Lily pads along the lake shore

Back at the campsite, I visit our neighbor, Ana, an artist who is outside painting. She is an interesting woman and we have enjoyed our visits.

Today I take out the ¾ cello that I brought back with me from Wallace where it had been stored. At one time, I had hoped to play cello regularly as we camped, but cellos are too big to play indoors in an RV and often the weather is not suitable for playing outdoors. This one, even though not full-size, still takes up a lot of room. Being a rather inexpensive instrument, one I was willing to take camping, also means that it does not have great sound. I haven’t enjoyed playing it as much as I hoped I would, which is why it ended up being stored in Wallace. But now it is with me and we’ll see what happens next. I sort the rest of the stuff in my car, stuff that we brought back from the basement of my daughter’s house where we lived for about four years. Some of it is packed to go to a second-hand store in Stevensville, some will go back to Monticello with us, and sadly, some things just go in the dumpster.

Our last day at Seeley Lake
Our last day at Seeley Lake

We pick up outside stuff – chairs, tables, and such, as we will be leaving tomorrow. It has been great being here, but I am also looking forward to going back to Bass Creek so as to see more of my family before we begin the journey south.

Wallace & Back – September 2018

September 7 through 9 is a jam-packed three days of family gathering at the historic Jamison Hotel in historic Wallace, Idaho. Although the kitchen is too old-fashioned to be easy to use, the space in general is spacious and gracious, the bar quite spectacular, the bedrooms quaintly charming, and the basement reputed to be haunted.

The impressive Jamison Hotel bar
The impressive Jamison Hotel bar

I tend to like things harmonious and organized, so the hubbub is a bit unsettling for me, but it certainly is interesting and lively.

A grandson and his dad, my son
A MacDonald Family squinting in the sun for the photographer

The Wallace Gathering was quite amazing and I know I will miss seeing who is up and having coffee at the Wallace Coffee House when I get there, who wants to go to breakfast somewhere, who wants to run to the store or go shop browsing, and who is just hanging out sharing stories. Awesome group!

The setting of the sun

On my way back to Seeley Lake, I stop to take photos of a beautiful sunset and reach camp after dark, happy to be back in my own space with Clifford and Cougar

The light and the color remains
Lingering light as I approach the lake

More Seeley Lake Days – September 2018

Wednesday September 4: The night was chilly and autumn colors are becoming more pronounced. After a morning walk along the lake, it is warm enough to sit in the sunshine to write in the journal and send pics to my family.

Morning walk by the lake
Morning walk by the lake

My daughter Katie calls to see if I will come to the sibling and friends gathering in Wallace, Idaho. I had thought I would not go, but it is worked out for me to meet up with my daughter Ang and her friend Rama to ride partway with them. It will be good to see kids and grandkids that I might not otherwise get to see on our travels.

Autumn Colors
Autumn Colors

In the afternoon, I continue with editing Ang’s book Princes and Priests. Later, Clifford and I go to the laundromat in the town of Seeley Lake. After the baskets of clean clothes are loaded in the Suburban, we cross the highway to the gift shop for a really good ice cream cone. Back at camp, after dinner and cleanup, we both read/study until bedtime.

Wednesday September 5: Clifford is up earlier today, so I sit out in the morning sunshine to chat with him and then we tend to some CI email. For both of us, it is a day of our usual activities: Clifford works on the CI Legacy Project, plays his dulcimer, and listens to his ham radio; I edit, write blogs, play viola, and read. Dinner is simple and we are happy being here.

Sundown at Seeley Lake Campground
Sundown at Seeley Lake Campground

Thursday September 6: This morning I make a campfire instead of going down to the lake. Nice to sit here with my coffee and journal.

Campfire, coffee, and journal
Campfire, coffee, and journal

After breakfast I pack a bag to take to Wallace. As I’m getting my car tidied up, I meet the neighbor across the road, an artist currently living in a tent as she does large colorful lively paintings out in the open. She is quite an interesting and friendly woman, with a great idea for a foundation to help other artists.

Stormy wind ruffles the water
Stormy wind ruffles the water

I do my walkabout this afternoon as a storm is moving in with a bit of a rainbow. By time I get to a spot clear enough to get a shot of it, the rainbow has faded, but it was still exciting to see.

The fading rainbow
The fading rainbow

Breakfast burritos for dinner and then I tidy up our cozy space before heading to bed.

Seeley Lake Days – September 2018

Saturday September 1: Clifford didn’t feel well in the night, but fortunately he is okay this morning. I go down to the lake first thing this morning for photos. I love the ambiance of the mist rising off the lake.

Mist on Seeley Lake
Mist on Seeley Lake
Rising Mist
Rising Mist

Chat with Rollie before he heads out to attend a bluegrass festival.

Rollie and his rig
Rollie and his rig

I drive into the town of Seeley Lake to look for local honey, browsing through gift shops, and end up buying local raw honey at the market. Stop for photos of water lilies on the way back to camp.

Lily pond on the shore of Seeley
Lily pond on the shore of Seeley
Lily
Lily

In the evening I do some editing of Princes and Priests for my daughter Ang and then edit photos from my outings today.

Sundown at Seeley Lake
Sundown at Seeley Lake

Sunday September 2: It is a beautiful morning here with the mist on the lake again. After the mist lifts, I sit outside in the sunshine with my cup of coffee while I write in the journal.

Mist on the lake
Mist on the lake
Shore hidden from view
Shore hidden from view

Today is a day of calls: some business calls and some family/friends calls. I play my viola and do more editing today, as well as start reading another novel. Nice to have time to read, along with all the other things that I like to do.

Monday September 3: I make coffee and then go sit by the lake to muse on things while I sip at my coffee.

Sitting by Seeley Lake to muse
Sitting by Seeley Lake to muse

Back at camp after breakfast, I send photos of the lake to all the family. The afternoon is more editing and reading and playing fiddle tunes on the viola. Life is good!