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.

Montana Here We Come – July 2018

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.

Castle Rock north of Monticello on Highway 191
Wilson Arch south of Moab on Highway 191

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.

Canyon country north of Price, Utah
Wasach Range

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!

The crest of the hill behind the campground

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!

Walmart boondocking

 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.

Southwest Montana

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.

Camping at Divide Bridge Campground
Big Hole River

I am happy to be in Montana, and soon I’ll be seeing my kids and my other siblings. Montana, here we are!

Sunset at Divide Bridge Campground

Utah Trip – Day 1 – September 2017

Friday September 1 – We finish packing the Suburban this morning for our rather impromptu trip to Utah. This is a business trip related to Clifford’s non-profit, Carnicom Institute. Since it is not meant to be a camping trip as such, we are not taking the camper; in fact, we are not even taking a tent. I have packed camping pads, sleeping bags, and pillows, a couple coolers, some canned and dried food, the picnic bag, and a bag of cooking gear – pans, spatula, and so on, and one suitcase of clothing. Hopefully it is enough.

It is a bit hazy from forest fire smoke as we leave Wallace, Idaho, about noon, but increasingly smokey as we head east. Smoke from the Lolo Peak fire in Montana nearly obliterates the mountains the closer we get to Missoula, but even beyond that, heavy smoke continues to dominate the landscape.

A bit hazy as we leave Wallace, Idaho, around noon

St. Regis River near St. Regis, Montana. Hazy mountains in the background

Mountain valleys are hazy as we head east

The smoke is heavier as we reach Alberton, Montana

The mountains near Missoula, Montana – smoke from the Lolo Peak fire

The Clarkfork River beyond Missoula; we have hopes of leaving smoke behind

But no such luck, as mountain valleys are deeply entrenched with smoke

Smoke continues to dominate the landscape as we head more southerly into the hill and butte country of southwest Montana

Southwest Montana

Southwest Montana

Approaching Divide, Montana

We arrive at the Divide Bridge Campground north of Dillon, Montana, in the early evening, happy to find that it has not been closed due to the fires. Although the sites by the river are taken, we consider ourselves to be very fortunate to get a nice spot on the Friday evening of Labor Day weekend. We unpack food and cooking utensils, making vege quesadillas for dinner. Then I make the back of the Suburban into a comfy bed, the coolers and such are loaded onto the front seats, and we are set for the night.

Campsite at Divide Bridge Campground

Bighole River, so much lower than when we were here in May, and all the snow is gone from the mountains and hills

Evening light reflecting off the river before sundown

We watch the sun go down, forest fire smoke coloring the sky.

Forest fire sky

We made 250 miles today, a good start on our journey.

Spring Journey – Divide to Alberton – May 2017 (20-21)

Sunrise on our last day at Divide Bridge Campground

Saturday May 20th – I feel better than I did yesterday, but still kind of low energy. However, I go off for a walk to gather mountain sage to hang on our clothesline with the intention of making sage bundles for smudging.

Really cool big rocks here, along with the mountain sage

Then we get the back of the Suburban cleaned out and repacked in preparation for our leaving tomorrow.

After dinner and cleanup, I do some editing while Clifford studies.

Sunday May 21st – It is so pretty here this morning, I am sorry that we are leaving. This has been a great place and we wouldn’t mind staying longer if we could, but we have obligations in Idaho.

Our destination today is Alberton, about 30 miles west of Missoula, 80 miles from home.

Nice to see blue sky and great puffy clouds

On the road again- southwestern Montana

Snow-covered hills in May – more moisture for the earth

Bearmouth Rest Area stop before Missoula

We stop in Missoula on our way through for a Barnes & Nobles fix and supplies at Costco. Then on to Alberton and set up in the lot adjacent to the park.

We have a picnic dinner in the park on the back deck of the historic train museum with my daughter Merri and her little grandson, my great grand-son, Jack, who is a very intense, almost-two-year-old.

Jack

This is a lovely spot with a huge expanse of lawn and trees in bloom.

Trees in bloom in the Alberton town park

Last moment of light

After our picnic, we walk up to Merri’s place to visit awhile, then back to Terry (our camper) for the night.

Spring Journey – Suburban Issues Continue – May 2017 (18&19)

 

Thursday May 18th – I decide on a campfire this morning while Clifford runs to Divide to get hold of my cousin Bill in Dillon. Bill had helped us with the Suburban, tightening loose battery cables and such, hoping that would solve the problem of it not starting. But no such luck, so now onto the next plan, which is to go to Dillon again and have the alternator checked. So, I put out the campfire and we head off to Dillon, the snow still pretty on the hillsides.

Heading to Dillon

Snow on the hillsides as we travel to Dillon

In Dillon, the alternator checks out as being fine, but a coolant sensor is purchased and Bill installs it for us. Then he makes us another yummy dinner. Nice to have someone else cook and fun visiting with my cousin and his wife Sally.

Back at camp, after walking down to the road to take photos, I make another campfire and hang outside until it is too dark to write in my journal.

Bighole River with snowy hills in the background

The turnoff to the campground

After I go in,  I finish a blog and do some editing, staying up later than intended. Always so many good things to do in a day.

Friday May 19th – It is partly cloudy today with puffy little cumulus clouds floating across a blue sky and up to 74 degrees. Although snow remains on the hillsides, it is hard to believe all the snow in the valley bottom just a couple of days ago.

Cumulus clouds against a blue sky

I’m feeling a little under-the-weather, so not a very productive day, but I take a few photos and we go out to Divide to make calls and check email and such.

More photos of the Bighole River and snowy backdrop

More photos of the Bighole River and snowy backdrop

The trees have started putting out their leaves during our time here

 I take a nap in the afternoon, get a few shots of the pretty evening light and go to bed early, leaving Clifford to do his own dinner and cleanup.

Capturing the evening light

Capturing the evening light on the rocky outcropping above the campground

Capturing the evening light

The sun has set

We are going to stay a couple more days, so no need to start packing up this evening or tomorrow. Sweet.

Spring Journey – Snow at Divide Bridge – May 2017 (17)

Wednesday May 17th – During the night, the rain turned to snow and we are blessed with with a couple inches of the fresh white stuff. I go out to take photos right away, quite enchanted with the beautiful stillness.

New fallen snow at Divide Bridge Campground in mid-May

Home Sweet Home at Divide Bridge Campground in mid-May

After tea, journal, and  breakfast, I go out again.

The Bighole River as seen from our campsite

Snow at Divide Bridge Campground

While the snow still clings to the branches, the effect makes one think of delicate lace.

The Bighole River is rising a bit more

Snow emphasizes the textures of the trees

My laptop is dead and journal is current, so I read some photography and Aarp magazines that I haven’t yet gotten to on this journey. The snow turns to sleet, and I go for another walkabout, enjoying the crisp freshness of the day while snow remains on the trees.

More of the lacy look…….

Looking toward the mountain

Looking toward the river

Sage that I was going to harvest is covered in snow

Aspen, or maybe they are alders, still hold snow, but soon it will be gone

The new neighbor is there celebrating his birthday and has a campfire going, in spite of the light drizzle that continues into the evening. Since the host is there, I go join them at the campfire, rather than try making one of my own. It is nice to have someone to chat with for a bit while Clifford continues with his research and studies.

A snowman built by the maintenance man – too snowy to mow the grass, he said

After dinner, with no solar power to charge any of our devices, Clifford and I both go to bed somewhat earlier than usual – kind of nice, for a change.

Spring Journey – Divide Bridge Campground – May 2017 (14-15)

 

Sunday May 14th Skiff of snow this morning here at Divide Bridge Campground. By time I go for a walk, only the snow on the hills remains.

Snow on the hills around Divide Bridge Campground

Snow on the hills near Divide Bridge Campground

Snow on the hills near Divide Bridge Campground

The Bighole River running high at Divide Bridge Campground

After breakfast there is a knock on the door and some grizzled fellow is there. I ask him if I can help him and it turns out he is my cousin Bill, whom I have not seen in at least 50 years! I have been in recent contact with him through FB and he lives in nearby Dillon, Montana. I told him where we were camping for the night, but it just didn’t dawn on me that he might actually show up on my doorstep! What a fun surprise! He will come again tomorrow with his wife, Sally.

Lots of book editing and photo editing today for me, while Clifford spends the day working on electrochemistry.

Today is Mother’s Day and it is quite wonderful to hear from all of my kids, either calls or texts… well worth the drive to Divide to get cell service.

Monday May 15th – Today is a day of variable weather from sunny with little puffy cumulus clouds, to overcast and rain flurries, and back to sunny.

Sunlight on the river

My cousin Bill arrives with his wife, Sally, and their two very large German shepherds. We sit out at the picnic table to chat for a bit, warm enough when the sun comes through, not quite cool enough to bother with a campfire, and make plans to meet tomorrow for a hike.

In the afternoon Clifford and I go out to Divide to send emails and make phone calls. Back at camp, I explore the other side of the campground, listen to music, and do more editing, journaling, and blog writing, while Clifford continues with electrochemical work.

The passing of a brief rain storm leaves a gorgeous rainbow in its wake, a very nice way to close out the afternoon.

Rainbow at the end of the day

Spring Journey – Snow at Divide Bridge – May 2017 (13)

Saturday May 13th – It is 33 degrees and snowing when I wake up and I am excited to go take photos immediately!

Snow on the hillside

and on the shrubs around the campground

After breakfast, I work on various indoor activities while Clifford continues with his studies.

After tea and journal writing, I go out for a longer walkabout taking more photos of the newly fallen snow – not a lot of it, but enough to make the landscape pretty.

Later, I go for a run/walk down to the day use area and back. Back at camp, since it has stopped snowing and sleeting, I decide to build a campfire and enjoy a bit more time outdoors.

Our campsite at Divide Bridge Campground

Not much snow left along the river; but colors are rich and dark with the dampness

Although there is not a lot of snow left along the river and in the campsite, snow remains on the hillsides.

Snow remains on the hillside

I have enjoyed the fresh crisp air all day and it is with some reluctance that I finally go inside to begin the evening routine.

A last look at the close of day

Winter Journey – Provo to Divide, Montana – May 2017 (10-12)

Wednesday May 10th  – I am up early getting a thermos and clothes ready in case we need to spend the night at a KOA, as we don’t know how long it will take to fix Terry (our now broken-down camper).  We talk to Jason, the manager here at Les Schwab, and learn that we will have to replace both axles, hubs, brakes, and so on.   The reason is explained and we see that it is the best way to take care of our situation.  The parts are ordered and we carry on as usual until the parts arrive.  From the parking lot, I enjoy the snow-capped mountains that border the town.

View from the Les Schwab parking lot

It is interesting to watch how they tow Terry into the bay with a forklift, not dragging the injured part.  We spend the afternoon in the waiting room with wifi and our thermos of tea. I take care of email, post blogs, and edit, while Clifford studies.

It is after 6:00 p.m. by time Terry is ready to roll.  Expensive for us, but very reasonable considering all that has been done.  We will be much safer on the road now.

We head north to the Walmart at Orem.  There is no Walmart in Provo; the address in the book was listed as Provo, but the Walmart is in Orem.  How ironic: we were looking for a Walmart in Provo that didn’t exist and broke down less than a block from the place that could truly fix the problem.  Life is full of mysteries.

Thursday May 11th – We get a few groceries in Orem before continuing north through Salt Lake City, stressful with all the traffic, but uneventful.

As we cross Idaho, we see the lava fields that the area is known for.

Lava fields of southern Idaho

Lava fields of southern Idaho

We stop in Idaho Falls for a late lunch and the salad I ordered was so bad I couldn’t eat it.  Ugh.

We find the Walmart in Idaho Falls and park in a quiet corner alongside a nice strip of green grass with trees, a pleasant enough place to spend the night once I pick up a bit of trash.

Idaho Falls Walmart for the night

I don’t feel great – too much stress, too many miles in the last few days, and lack of proper meals.  Clifford is tired from all the driving, so we head to bed earlier tonight.

Friday May 12th – We are up early and continue north, soon crossing into Montana.  Our plans to camp at Grasshopper Creek Campground west of Dillon have changed, as my cousin, who lives in Dillon has a weather forecast indicating SNOW at that elevation.  Seeing a BLM campground indicated on the map just a few miles off the interstate outside the tiny town of Divide, we head for that, not knowing what we will find.  Some BLM campgrounds are quite inaccessible for towing vehicles, but we are pleasantly surprised to find a well-maintained campground with several lovely sites right along the Bighole River.

Divide Bridge BLM Campground

In fact, it is such a nice campground, we decide to wait out the cold weather that is forecast and stay at least five days rather than heading further north right away.

After getting set up, we drive back out to the town of Divide, close enough to the interstate to have cell service, and notify family and friends where we are.  Back at camp, after admiring the river, I explore a bit, bringing back some fragrant sage.

A variety of trees and sbrubs border the river

Campsite along the Bighole River

The Bighole River running high

There are few gusts and sprinkles through the later afternoon and heavier rain in the evening.  I’m feeling very happy to be here rather than continuing north fighting the weather.