Back to Sloway – August 2019

Thursday August 8: My daughter Becka and I have had a great time visiting long-time friends in Pasco, Washington, but she needs to get back to her summer job in Wallace and it is time for me to see how “holding-down-the-fort” has gone for Clifford at Sloway Campground in western Montana.

When Becka and I leave Pasco, she takes a scenic detour that takes us to a self-serve produce stand where we buy melons, blueberries, and honey, and then to a produce store full of good-to-eat food, where I buy more honey. What a fun detour.

Self-serve produce stand

When we get as far as Coeur d Alene, Becka takes me to this cool place along Coeur d Alene Lake where we sit on a platform above the water to have our very extra delicious lunch and adult beverages. My goodness, traveling with Becka is So.Much.Fun!

A cool place along Coeur d Alene Lake

Back in Wallace, we unload stuff at my daughter Katie’s Bernard Building, as Becka and I will be moving over there from the 4th Street house where she has been staying. Her apartment is next to the big central kitchen and I will spend tonight in a smaller, but very sweet apartment, just down the hall. Becka’s apartment is topsy-turvey at the moment, full of stuff from the previous owners/tenants. I spend the afternoon, while she is at work, cleaning and reorganizing, so by the time she gets off work, it looks quite nice and homey.

Daughter Merri is also in Wallace, working this weekend as a cook at the same place where Becka works. When the girls get off work, we go up on the roof of the Bernard Building, four stories up, relaxing in the cool of the night as we share a bottle of orange muscato. Too late, too tired for anything else, we soon all go off to bed.

Wallace, Idaho

Friday August 9: Becka makes a really great breakfast for me, Merri, and herself. (Katie is sick, so couldn’t join us.) We run errands around town and had planned to go out to eat lunch before I leave for Sloway, but every eatery is either closed or too busy. We buy food at Harvest Foods and have a picnic in Becka’s front room instead, which worked out just fine.

On the way back to Sloway, I stop at the artesian well, Elmer’s Fountain, not far from Wallace. The water there is so good and the place has a pleasing ambiance. I notice a trail that I have not seen before and am tempted to follow it, but instincts tell me that I should head on back to Sloway.

I have a relaxed drive over Lookout Pass, back to Montana, where Clifford is eager to hear about my travels. Traveling was fun, but it is also good to be back “home.”

Clark Fork River at Sloway Campground in western Montana

Fun with Family Days – July 2019

Wednesday July 17: This morning my brother Rollie and his little dog Ninja come out to the Bass Creek Recreation Area (Charles Waters Campground) in the Bitterroot Valley of western Montana where Clifford and I are camped, as of yesterday afternoon. After he arrives and gets his motor home set up, he takes me to our sister’s place where my car has been stored all winter. All we are doing is getting the battery out to trade in on a new one. I say all, as I stand and watch as he wrestles with the tight space and the difficulties of getting the battery out.

Back at camp, we get out our instruments to play some bluegrass music. I’ve gotten better with playing fiddle tunes on the viola, so it is a lot of fun to get together. For dinner, we sit at the picnic table at our site, and I almost get skunked at cribbage.

Getting the instruments out

Thursday July 18: Clifford and I make a trip into Missoula to get a new battery for my car and we go to Barnes & Nobles for our bookstore fix. Back at camp, Rollie and I play music again, dinner at the picnic table again, and I lose at cribbage again. LOL

Friday July 19: Rollie puts the new battery in my car, so now I have wheels. In the evening, several of my siblings and their spouses come to our campsite for a potluck dinner. So fun to chat with all of them, and I am so busy talking and eating that I don’t take enough photos!

The guys at the family potluck

Saturday July 20: Today is Alberton Railroad Days, a money-raiser for the town of Alberton, Montana. My daughter, Ang, is the president of the non-profit that puts on this event. Vendors, music, a parade, an Antique Auto show, and a shoot-out are among the activities. Rollie and I play bluegrass music as our contribution. After he and I play for our allotted time, he goes off to play with the Old Time Fiddlers, while I join up with another daughter, Merri, to look for the Golden Spike, which has been hidden with tricky clues to its whereabouts. No one finds the Golden Spike, so the pot will be bigger next year. It is late by time Rollie and I return to camp at Bass Creek.

Merri and I look for the Golden Spike

Sunday July 21: Today good friends come to visit. Ken and I have been friends since we were in 7th grade orchestra together. Ken, his sweet wife, Shelley Anne, and I hike up the Bass Creek Trail to a lovely calm section below a waterfall. It is so enjoyable to spent time together, having known each other for many decades.

Monday July 22: Today Rollie and I drive out to see our sister, Lillian, who lives not far from where our dad grew up, and about fifteen miles from where we are camped. We have lunch on the patio, appreciating the time together. While Lillian and I do some of my mending, Rollie plays fiddle tunes for us on his mandolin.

Lillian Carol Rollie
Lillian’s daisies

Back at camp, our sister, Nancy, comes out and we hike up the trail, enjoying the sounds of the creek tumbling alongside us. Back at camp, while I make nachos for dinner for all of us, Rollie and Nancy play their mandolins. What fun family days!

Bass Creek tumbles alongside the trail

Montana We Are Here – July 2019

Monday July 15: Today is a long day of driving as we leave southern Idaho and cross into Montana, traveling north on I-15, arriving at Divide Bridge Campground in the mid-afternoon.

Southwest Montana

This is a lovely BLM campground in a very scenic area alongside the Big Hole River, just a few miles from the little town of Divide, Montana. The campground is well-maintained with lawns and flowers on one loop, and left more natural on the other loop. Clean restrooms and good water are much appreciated.

We are happy to have arrived early enough to get a spot by the Big Hole River, in fact it is the spot we had the very first time we stayed here. It is not so hot here as it has been thus far on the trip, a pleasant relief. The mosquitoes aren’t too bad when we first arrive, so once we are set up, we sit outside for awhile, happy to be here with time to relax this afternoon.

Enjoying Divide Bridge Campground

When it starts to rain, the mosquitoes become problematic, so Clifford goes inside to take a nap and I walk about to take photos of the river and the flowers. Back at the campsite, since I didn’t have coffee this morning, I make a French press coffee and do some editing before starting dinner. After dinner, dishes are done, awing is in, herbs are in. We are mostly ready for leaving in the morning. We like this campground and wouldn’t mind staying longer, but we have places to go and people to see…. Family awaits in northwest Montana.

Big Hole River at Divide Bridge Campground

Diamond to Southern Idaho – July 2019

Sunday July 14: As soon as we get up, I make tea and coffee for the thermoses. After yogurt and fruit for breakfast, we pack up the little that needs packing – we weren’t here long enough to really unpack much. Everything is in place and we are ready to leave Diamond Campground, south of Spanish Forks, Utah, by 9:00 a.m. This was such a beautiful spot, I am sad to leave.

Packed and ready to leave Diamond Campground, south of Spanish Forks, Utah
Leaving the campground toward Highway 6

Heading north on Highway 6, we soon enter I-15 and everything is good until we get to Provo. Without warning, we enter a construction area where the lanes narrow and curve this way and that, and the speed limit does not slow traffic down nearly enough. We are nearly side-swiped by a semi trying to come alongside, but he pulls back and we make it through okay. After miles and miles of fast-paced traffic, it is such a relief when we finally make it through the Salt Lake City complex.

We stop for lunch at Tremonton, Utah, then continue on north, still on I-15 until we reach the Devils Creek Reservoir, north of Malad City in southern Idaho.

Southern Idaho landscape north of Malad City

We pull off to check out boondocking here, and driving past the marina and the RV park, we find a fishing access at the far end of the reservoir. We park here and while Clifford naps, I walk down to the reservoir to take a few photos. The water is low, but the hills are very green for this time of year. I talk to a nice family of grandparents, parents, and kids playing and fishing at the water’s edge.

Devils Creek Reservoir

Clifford is refreshed from his nap and we continue on.

Heading north on I-15

A big thunderstorm near Pocatello, Idaho, cools the air from upper 90’s to mid 70’s, but once we are out of the storm, the temperature climbs again.

Thunderstorm near Pocatello, Idaho
The landscape changes as we near Idaho Falls
Beneath the sagebrush are glimpses of great lava fields

We are grateful to arrive at the Idaho Falls Walmart and find a spot to park along the edge of the lot where there is strip of grass, a few trees, and thistles blooming on the ridge above. We stock up on supplies and sundries at Walmart, then walk to the nearby Panda express for dinner.

Thistles bloom at the edge

Back at Cougar, we sit outside to enjoy the lovely sunset and the pleasant coolness of the evening, chatting as we watch the moon play hide ‘n seek with the clouds.

Great sunset seen from Idaho Falls Walmart parking lot

A hiss gives us but a second warning before the sprinkler system comes on. Our backsides are soaked by water hitting us full-blast as we dash inside, rescuing cell phones and books as we go.

It is not a restful night, as each time the sprinkler comes on, the water hitting the side of Cougar is deafening. There is also a lot of traffic, lights, and city noise – but it is convenient and free.

Diamond Campground-Utah – July 2019

Saturday July 13: Clifford and I are spending today camped at Diamond Campground off highway 6, south of Spanish Forks, Utah. This is a beautiful campground and a day here is a day of restoration before we continue the northward journey for the summer.

For a morning walk, I hike to the bluff above the campground, walk the length of it, enjoying thistles in bloom and various meadow grasses that live here. In the distance are the mountains of northern Utah.

Bluff above Diamond Campground
Mountains of northern Utah in the distance

Eventually I find a trail that leads down off the bluff, coming out at the far end of the campground. As I walk back to our campsite, I notice the great variety of trees that grow here, providing beauty, shade, and privacy for all of us who are camped here. After breakfast, Clifford and I hike a ways on the Discovery Trail, which runs along the creek and parallel to the campground. Kiosks along the way provide the history of the area, as well as describing the plants and animals that live here.

A trail off the bluff to campground below
Discovery Trail

In the afternoon, while Clifford works with his ham radios, I edit manuscripts for the authors I am working with. Sitting outside, Clifford plays his dulcimer and I review photos taken this morning. A thunderstorm with wind and rain causes us to take the awning in and move our activities inside. However, after the storm passes, we are treated to a most gorgeous double rainbow.

Double rainbow after the thunderstorm

Right at sunset, I head out for one more walk, taking the Discovery Trail up an incline to a different bluff. My feet and legs are thoroughly wet from the grasses along the trail, but it was well worth the effort for the view.

Dusk on the hillside above camp
Fading colors of sunset

On the Road Again – July 2019

Thursday July 11: I am up early this morning for last preparations before leaving on our summer trip northward. I make coffee, write in journal, and prepare thermoses of tea before Clifford gets up. After smoothies, we finish packing the last minute items, making sure bathroom, kitchen, and lab are in good order.

The to-do list has been very helpful, as most everything has been taken care of ahead of time and what’s left is on a check list so we don’t get down the road and wonder if we remembered such-and-such. It is 1:45 p.m. by time we finally pull out of base-camp, as I like to call our place here in Monticello, Utah.

I take photos as we travel, saying good-bye to the southeast Utah canyon country. It is 100 degrees by time we reach Moab and hot all the way to Price. Increasing winds make the last portion of the journey harder and we are very grateful to pull into the Walmart parking lot, driving around to the far side to park out of the way. Although it is still hot here, it is not as windy in town.

Castle Rock – Highway 191 north of Monticello, Utah
Wilson Arch – Highway 191 north of Monticello, Utah
Approaching Moab & LaSal Mountains in the distance – Highway 191, Utah
Southeast Utah Canyon Country – Highway 191
Utah Badlands near Price

I’m too tired and hungry to feel like shopping, but after taking time for a late lunch, I go in to buy supplies while Clifford naps. It is dark but still warm outside when I finish up in Walmart. I put perishables in the fridge, but let the rest go and head to bed.

Friday July 12: This morning we pick up a few more supplies, and after fruit & yogurt for breakfast, we are on our way. The wind is not so bad this morning, but there is a crazy amount of traffic on highway 6, and we are very relieved to get off this busy winding highway at the turnoff to Diamond Campground, south of Spanish Forks, Utah.

Central Utah Canyon Country

Diamond Campground is one of our favorite overnight places, being located in a scenic valley off the highway. The downside is that most sites are reservation only. We consider ourselves fortunate to find a really great spot with shade on a Friday. It is one of our easiest set-ups with the pads being level enough to not even need the levelers.

Diamond Campground
A great spot in the shade

After lunch, Clifford gets his ham radio set up and I spend most of the afternoon walking around the campground, hiking the Discovery Trail, and hiking to the bluff above the campsite near sunset.

A creek runs through the campground and it so GREEN here
Milkweed gone to seed
View from the bluff near sunset with Cougar below

After dinner I edit today’s photos, grateful that we will be here another day, a day to relax before the big push to Montana.

More Days in Santa Fe – May 2019

Sunday May 5: Clifford and I visit with our friends as we pack up, and then we say our goodbyes before we head back to Santa Fe. The wind has come up, but luckily it is not a long drive. 

Roe Mesa (or is it Glorietta Mesa???)
Driving to Santa Fe

We find our way to our friend Diana’s house and park on the street.  It is not a wide street, so we can only have the slide-out out just enough to barely squeeze through from the front room to the bedroom. 

Cougar “boondocking” in Santa Fe

Diana fixes us a tasty tortilla lunch, and then Clifford and I go with Diana and her housemate Martha to a lecture being given by a doctor of alternative medicine. It turns out that it is Erica Elliott talking about her beginning years teaching in a Navajo boarding school in Chinle, Arizona.  Erica was one of Clifford computer clients when we lived in Santa Fe.  We didn’t know that she had had an earlier career as a teacher.  She has an amazing life story and it was so fun to listen to her talk of that of time in her life.  

After the talk, we bought her book, Medicine and Miracles in the High Desert, and she gave Clifford a big hug. Our friend John is also there, and we all head back over to Martha and Diana’s house after the talk for a delicious chicken dinner and great conversation. Later I start reading Erica’s book and stay up way too late.  It is so interesting, it is hard to put it down.

Monday May 6: This morning Diana and Clifford work on a CI project, indexing his notebooks, as Diana is going to participate in this somewhat tedious job. While they are working, I walk along the nearby arroyo. 

Path along the arroyo

In the afternoon Clifford and I run our errands to the bank, Trader Joe, and a couple other stops, including the Violin Shop, as I hope to get a different chin rest for my viola. It turns out they don’t have the chin rest that I need, but I buy a better bow, so it was not a wasted trip. We also go to the Santa Fe Baking Company, which has been renamed and improved under new ownership, but what is the same is the apple tree by the outdoor patio seating area, and it is at the peak of its bloom.

Same apple tree
Creative presentations

For dinner, Diana, Martha, and I go to Dion’s Pizza. Clifford is napping, so he misses out.  Later in the evening, Clifford plays his dulcimer and I stay up reading until midnight. Being in Santa Fe and doing stuff with friends sure has been fun, but tomorrow we start the final leg of our journey back to Utah.

A Hidden Valley – May 2019

Saturday May 4: Clifford and I are staying another day to visit with our dear friends near Las Vegas, New Mexico, as it is not often that we get to see them. After sharing a potluck lunch, they take us on an outing to a place they call Hidden Valley. It is a fun drive into the deserts of New Mexico.

New Mexico landscape
Lourdes, New Mexico
The church at Lourdes, New Mexico
Visiting the church with our friends
Wildflowers at the church
Water flows in the hidden valley
New Mexico Mesa

Later afternoon, back at their place, we watch a documentary on some of the relatively unknown, but very interesting, aspects of secret societies and other such stuff. We visit while sharing dinner, then Clifford and I return to Cougar. Clifford works on his music project and I edit photos before packing for an early start tomorrow, hoping to beat the wind as we head back to Santa Fe. It has been great visiting here with these special people, but it is time for us to continue the journey back to the CI lab in Utah.

and the lovely iris has bloomed…..

Visiting Dear Friends – May 2019

Wednesday May 1: It is really windy today, but Clifford and I are leaving Rancheros de Santa Fe RV Park/Campground where we have been camped the last week for the Santa Fe event where Clifford was a guest speaker. Today we are heading east to visit dear friends from our Santa Fe years when they and we lived outside Santa Fe, getting together on a regular basis for breakfast at Harry’s or visits to their various homes. We are excited to see them, as it has been awhile, with lots of water under the bridge since our last get-together.

New Mexico landscape east of Santa Fe

As we are traveling east on I-25 between Santa Fe and Las Vegas, NM, right at the junction to highway 3, we hear a great loud bang and our whole rig – Suburban and 24-foot Cougar travel trailer – swerves nearly out of control. The on-ramp of highway 3 gives us a bit of leeway to get slowed down and stopped. With adrenal pumping, I get out to survey the damage. We have a bad feeling that part of Cougar must have ripped off, but it turns out to be a blowout on the right rear tire of the Suburban. It is not a good scene, but fortunately there was no traffic as this was happening, we didn’t wreck, and Cougar is fine.

It is a big deal to get Cougar unhitched, get to the jack and spare tire, and get Suburban jacked up. We put out warning cones and flags, and luckily the on-ramp gives us a little buffer from the traffic on I-25.

It is a big deal to get the Suburban tire changed

After we get the ruined tire off, the spare on, tools packed up, and Cougar hitched up again, we head on to our friends, much later than planned. There is no cell service in this remote area of New Mexico, so we can’t even inform them of our delay.

Iconic butte west of Las Vegas, New Mexico

Once we arrive, they happily show us their new place, a spot is found to park Cougar, and we have dinner together. All is well as we chat through the evening before heading to our respective beds.

A place for Cougar

The next couple of days are spent visiting and catching up on past and current events in their lives and ours.

She-shed at our friends’ new place
Wildflowers delight us at our friends’ new place

Clifford and our friend run into the nearby town of Las Vegas, NM, to look for tires for the Suburban. It is a bit time-consuming checking out places where the damaged rim can be replaced and new tires can be had, but eventually the right place is found and new 10-ply tires are put on. This is what we should have had all along. Live and learn. Learn and live, might also be said.

Hiking along the Rio Grande – April 2019

Wednesday April 17: I go for my usual morning walk at Percha Dam New Mexico State Park where Clifford and I are now camped. The Rio Grande draws me, as the water, the reflections, and the great trees all feel good to my soul.

Reflections on the Rio Grande
The walk bridge at Percha Dam campground

Back at camp, Clifford and I take care of CI business, most especially the CI newsletter, which has been rather time-consuming. My daughter Becka calls, and it is good to talk to her. I even have time for playing the viola.

The afternoon light is quite nice, so Clifford and I decide to hike the trail along the Rio Grande, even though it has remained quite breezy today. With the nice lighting, I get photos that I like of the river and the light on the west-facing buttes reflecting off the river. It was especially nice hiking with Clifford.

Hiking along the Rio Grande
Clifford at the Rio Grande
Rio Grande
Reflections on the river
Once a mighty tree

I had started chili earlier, so by time we get back, dinner is ready and we sit out at the picnic table in spite of the breeze, glad for the stone-walled shelter that protects us a bit.

Sunset at Percha Dam State Park

In the evening, I start going through the photos that I took today, culling some and sending a few texts with photos to family and friends, a good way to end the day.