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
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.
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.
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.
Thursday July 26: Today we are leaving Lolo Creek and heading south through the Bitterroot Valley in western Montana to attend the Hardtimes Bluegrass Festival, held on a ranch south of Hamilton. We arrive about noon and are very fortunate to get a good spot, almost exactly where we were last time, on the edge of the ravine and under a big ponderosa pine tree. My brother Rollie arrives a bit later, parking in the level lot below where we are set up.
making lunch for the three of us, we wander around to listen to some
musicians jamming and to visit
with people Rollie knows –
and he sure does know a lot of
Friday July 27: Clifford and I run errands in the morning, then listen to the scheduled bands on stage in the late afternoon and into the evening. Dinner is super late, but it was a fun day.
Saturday July 28: I am up by 7:30 and walkabout to take photos while things are quiet.
I text Becka to wish her Happy Birthday. After breakfast, Clifford studies and plays his dulcimer while I edit.
In the early afternoon, we head down to the stage area to listen to the bands that are playing today. All the bands are good, but we do have our favorites. The music ends about 10:00 p.m. Back at the camper, Clifford fixes himself a late dinner and I read until after midnight.
Sunday July 29: After I get up, I go for a walk so Clifford can sleep awhile longer. After breakfast, we head to the stage area so we can watch the bands that are playing gospel music. Rollie has been jamming with a group that will be playing this morning, so we want to be sure to watch them.
In the afternoon we go listen the last of the scheduled bands, and Clifford buys us tasty saucer sandwiches for lunch. After the last band finishes up, many people in the audience help with tearing down, including Rollie and me. Clifford is dealing with an injured shoulder, so is not able to join us. Before the kettle corn vendor tears down, I buy two big bags of popcorn for the price of one – best popcorn ever!
Monday July 30: As soon as I’m up, I start packing the outside stuff – tables, chairs, and so on. We have a quick breakfast and then finish packing up, as we are heading out this morning. Today is an exciting day for us, as last week when we were on our way to Barnes & Nobles in Missoula, we stopped in at Bretz RV on a whim. To make a long story short, we bought a newer and bigger RV. We have been considering this change for several months, looking at a few RV lots and doing research online. Bretz had a 2009 Cougar in the size, weight, floor plan, and price range that we need.
We didn’t have time to move from Terry (our 30-year-old RV) into Cougar before the bluegrass festival, so today is the day we start moving from one to the other. We park Terry and Cougar side by side in the Bretz parking lot and begin moving preparations.
Tuesday July 31: We spend all day moving from Terry into Cougar, making trips out to get containers and shelving, as well as new bedding (Cougar has a larger bed than Terry). The saying that one has to scramble eggs to make an omelet sure describes the process. By evening, I have things orderly enough for us to sleep in our new bed, but there is still a lot of stuff to move.
Moving continues over the next couple of days, and by Friday we are ready to take Cougar on her maiden voyage. We give Terry to one of my daughters, so the old gal will stay in the family.
Saturday July 21: Yesterday my brother Rollie moved his motorhome to Lolo Creek Campground, and this morning he and I are heading to Alberton to participate in Alberton Railroad Days. He picks me up in his S10 and we head over the mountain on back roads to reach Alberton before the parade.
It is great to see my daughter Ang, who is the organizer of this event, a money-raiser for the non-profit that she established for the benefit of the Alberton community. Rollie and I are happy to add to this event and we get set up in the park to play bluegrass music. Besides playing music, I take photos at the parade and the “Shoot Out.” I am happy to see my daughter Merri and her family, including my youngest great grandson for the first time, as they stroll through the park.
Later, Clifford joins us and we walk about to see the vendors, listen to music, and have a great lunch, courtesy of Merri who lives just up the mountainside from the festivities. Rollie plays with the Old Time Fiddlers at Trax, one of Alberton’s bars, and I am invited to join them for one tune on the viola, which was fun.
Clifford, Rollie, and I leave about the same time, driving back over the mountain and back to our campground, satisfied with the events of the day.
Tuesday July 17: Although we like Divide Bridge Campground along the Big Hole River in southwest Montana, we are on a time schedule and leave fairly early.
We arrive at the Lolo Creek Campground north of Lolo, Montana, about mid-afternoon. This is a great location, relatively close to siblings in the Bitterroot Valley and kids on the west side of Missoula, as well as friends in Missoula. The drawback is that there is no cell service, so we have to drive back to Lolo to let everyone know we are here and begin making plans for getting together.
Later, my brother Rollie and his pal Ninja drive up to see us and we play music – first time together since March. Since we are going to be doing a “gig”in a few days, some practice time together is a good idea.
We share a late dinner and I wrap up the day with the usual evening routine of reading, journal writing, and so on. Clifford works with his ham radio since we will be here long enough for him to set up his big antennas.
Happy to be here, happy to be in Montana, and soon I’ll be seeing my kids and my other siblings. Montana, here we are!
Wednesday July 18: Today is a day of settling into our spot, as we will be here for two weeks. We walk to Lolo Creek, just a short ways away, but other than that, we hang around camp, enjoying a relaxing day.
Clifford is focused on his ham radio communications and playing his dulcimer. I finish getting the inside of Terry set up, read, and write in my journal, having gotten behind while traveling.
In the afternoon, my brother Rollie comes out to play music and have dinner with us. A peaceful day, and it sure feels good to know that we do not to have to pack and be on the road in the morning.
Thursday July 12: Today we are leaving for Montana. I have spent several days getting the camper packed and things ready for us to leave, but there are always last-minute things to take care of. Clifford has to pack lab items and he has a call with a CI consultant. It is 4:00 in the afternoon before we are finally on our way.
After a brief stop in Moab, we continue on north. The route between Moab and Price, Utah, being rather barren, is not my favorite part of the state and I’m glad when we reach the Price Walmart where we’ll spend the night. We set up in the back lot with a tree beside us, balancing between the hiss of the street light and the rumble of a semi engine. We pick up a few supplies, then opt for an easy soup dinner tonight.
Friday July 13: We finish stocking up and get a much earlier start today, winding our way through the scenic canyons of Utah south of the Salt Lake City complex.
We arrive at Diamond Campground south of Spanish Forks in early afternoon. Although most spots are taken or reserved, we find a pretty spot with shade and privacy.
It seems quite hot here after having gotten used to the cooler elevation of Monticello. After a tuna sandwich, we take naps, avoiding the pesky bugs for awhile. Later on, we play frisbee, which I’m not very good at, but it was fun. After dinner, I have my usual routine of reading and writing in the journal before bedtime. Clifford always has books to study and his ham radio gear to work with.
Saturday July 14: We are spending the day here at Diamond CG so as to make our run through Salt Lake City on a Sunday morning. It is quite delightful having a day to hang out – reading, writing in the journal, playing viola, playing frisbee and going on a walkabout on the nature path with Clifford – like a real vacation!
Sunday July 15: We are up at 8:00, and soon packed and on our way. It does help to get across Salt Lake City on a Sunday morning, but even so, it is my least favorite part of any trips we have made north and south. Sure wish there was some other efficient way to get from Montana to southern Utah.
We arrive in Idaho Falls, Idaho, in the later afternoon and get set up along the stretch of grass and trees bordering the side parking lot at Walmart. After getting a few supplies, we go to Panda Express for dinner, as I am too tired to cook tonight. It is too hot to feel like doing much. This sure would be a good time to have a picnic table in the shade!
Monday July 16: We leave Idaho Falls about 10:00 a.m. and it is always exciting to cross over into Montana.
We stop in Dillon to see my cousin Bill and his wife Sally. Sally has a small, but gorgeous yard. We can’t stay long, as we need to reach our next camping spot and get set up, but it was nice to see them for a little while.
When we reach Divide Bridge Campground, I am excited to see a spot available by the Big Hole River. This is exactly the spot I was hoping for, but when I get out to help guide us in, I find that the mosquitoes are abundant and voracious. So, we drive to the far side of the campground away from the river, but don’t see any spots that we like. The compromise is the row of sites in between the dry side and the river. It is nice here with lawns and shrubs, but not so many mosquitoes. We find a spot with a tree and after getting set up, we sit out at the picnic table with cool drinks.
I am happy to be in Montana, and soon I’ll be seeing my kids and my other siblings. Montana, here we are!