Saturday, August 31, 2013


When we lived in (a sticks & bricks house) Escondido, north of San Diego CA, October was always the "fire watch" month.  We never planed any travel from mid September to late October because for the last five years we lived there, three of them were filled with "October fires" within viewing distance from our home.  Many days & nights I spent by the phone waiting for the call, and by the tv watching the reports, with my boxes of special treasures and bags packed and the cars ready for a quick departure - "in case".  All to often the flames came to close for comfort, friends' homes and treasures were destroyed, our Wild Animal Park threatened.  Fires are a very real danger to us.

Our late summer plans were to spend August in Idaho and then September in Utah, as we have a special wedding to attend back in Montana in mid October.  As we were getting ready to leave my sister's in western Washington, we learned of the fires in Idaho.  Not good.  Back at the rig in eastern Washington, we got out the maps and turned the tv on to learn how bad and where the fires were burning.  Mostly northern Idaho and some in Utah now.  With that in mind, we decided it was best to stay around eastern Washington and "wait it out" a week and see how it went with the fires.  Well, it's been almost a month now, and the fires are still raging and have even included northern California.  sigh...

On the 'up-side', we've seen a lot of the eastern side of Washington that we've never seen before, and might not ever have!  My goodness, lots of lakes and rivers and fields and fields of "produce"!  First it was wheat, peas & corn, lots & lots of it.  Just as I was telling Jack that eastern Washington was known for it's apples and other fruit, and he was responding with "I haven't seen a fruit tree anywhere on this trip!" we turned around a bend and guess what?  Orchards, for miles and miles!  You could even smell the apples, the trees were so full, being picked daily, with fruit stand all along the roads!  How's that for an "ask and you shall receive" answer?  It sure is a pretty sight, I must say.  The eastern valley is now being interspersed with wine grapes as well, so the hills look like a nature-made quilt!

We've been lucky to getting camp sites all along the water.  One was right in front of  Spokane River in Nine Mile Falls.  The river's edge was right out our door and made for a beautiful view each day as we eat and read.  It gave us some gorgeous sunsets in the evening.  Next we stayed camped along side the Columbia River in Quincy, again, it was just outside our campsite. I caught a sunrise one morning (I'm not usually a morning person) coming over the ridge of the river, lovely.  Then we moved on to Soap Lake.  Didn't get a "front row site", but still a nice spot, with a lot of (Russian) company!  It's known for it's "healing" mud & waters, and it seems to be the popular place to be!

We made another discovery in our travels through eastern Washington - Dry Falls.  A little known ( we had never heard of it, and I bet most of you hadn't either!) "wonder".  Seems about 13,000 years ago during the ice age, glaciers blocked the Columbia River and forced it to find a new route. It and others in Idaho swelled and flooded and caused huge waterfalls; all this lasting only a few weeks.  When it subsided, it scoured eastern Washington and left dry channels (coulees).  The largest is Dry Falls, a 3 1/2 miles wide and over 400 ft tall group of scalloped cliffs, which at one time was the largest falls in the world. It was pretty impressive.  There were not big billboards advertising it ahead on the roads, no brochures at visitor centers, we just happened upon it along Hwy 2.  It had a nice sign with a great turn-off and a visitor's center and a food cart.  It was the mention of food that caught our eye to tell the truth - as there was none to be had for miles prior to that!  Once there, we were amazed to find such a sweet discovery!

Just goes to prove, life is full of wonderful surprises when you let it lead the way!

Orchards, eastern Washington
Our site in front of Long Lake Nine Mile Falls WA
Watching the sunset at Long Lake, Nine Mile Falls WA

Sunrise over the Columbia River, Quincy WA
Looking down on Crescent Bay Resort Campground, Columbia River
 Soap Lake
Dry Falls - then...
Dry Falls - now...

...kicking back in Washington,  Marie

If you wish to view the rest of the photos from this trip, you can at my Flickr account at:   

Friday, August 16, 2013


One thing you learn when you are an "RV Full-timer" without a home base, is that there are times when you really miss the intimate relationships you have with close friends, past co-workers and family.  We've all learned about how many hugs and human touch we are  supposed to receive each day, so it should come to no surprise that after awhile, your spouse just can't supply all that you need!

When you are on the road all the time, you do get to meet wonderful people with interesting stories and experience fun adventures.  However, very rare do these people "meetings" become close enough to hug.  They usually supply you with the needed laughter and conversation addition to your day, but frequently no more than that.

I believe that is one of the biggest reasons many full-timers create a home-base (or more) for themselves.  It's for that on-going camaraderie of seeing the same people day after day, creating a relationship that is deep enough to supply one with the needed hugs and human touching that is necessary for a happier life.

Luckily, for us, we have a number of friends spread out, ones we've been fortunate enough to make in our travels, and many that we made "back home" that moved to various parts of the country, along with family that is fairly spread out.  We purposefully create our route to include these people.  It wasn't until recently tho, that I figured out that I needed to plan and make sure that, I visit the people that revitalize me.  

My sisters are special people in my life.  I am very fortunate in that I have (had) wonderful siblings to grow up with.  They are quite a bit older than I, and so when we were young I was treated kindly as the "baby" in the family.  Now that we are all "seniors", and with the loss of my brother, I am even more aware that our time together is precious.

We decided that Montana wasn't really that far from Washington, so decided to take a detour and cut across a bit of Idaho and leave the rig at a campground there, and use the truck to make a quick trip to Tacoma for a few day's visit! 

It was "just what the doctor ordered"!  Afternoons filled with laughter as we shared memories and funny stories, playing cards, making meals together, talking about our children and grandchildren and catching up on all the family members.  It seems like no matter how many phone calls you have, there is still so much more that is shared when you are face to face.

Of course the time went by way to fast, as it always seems to, but we will be back again this fall.  In the mean time, there are more places to see, and people to meet and friends to stop and visit with...and get hugs, lots and lots of hugs!

...kicking back in Washington,  Marie

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Let's just do nothing...

After several weeks with friends and non-stop sight-seeing, I was ready for some "down-time".  When we looked to see where we wanted to head to after Missoula, I suggested someplace that really didn't offer much, just a place to park ourselves for a few days.  "Let's just do nothing for awhile" I said.  Ft Benton MT seemed to fit the bill.  Our friends assured us there wasn't really anything there 'to see'.  I found a small campground in Ft Benton (the only one) that had a space left - they were pretty full with harvesters.  Perfect.

Well, that was the plan anyway.  We ended up staying 8 days in this charming town.  Our campground host/owner gave us the choicest spot, the largest one right next to a big lovely tree that gave us great shade that we parked our chairs and pulled out our books and sat ourselves right down!  That lasted a couple of days...until the rain came.

We decided this would be a good time to go into town and see what there was to see and pick up a couple of groceries.  As we drove around (all of a couple of dozen blocks of it) we realized it was steeped in Lewis & Clark history and agriculture.  It had a big museum that housed both of those as well as a replica of the old Fort Benton.  You could get a two-day ticket to see all of them, so that's what we did.  Dashing in and out of the rain drops we began our two-day adventure.  What a surprise we had in store for us!  Here in this little out of the way town, housed some of the best replicas and museum treasures we had seen so far!  It took two full days to see it all too!  Of course lots of Lewis & Clark (Montana is steeped in that) and bison  & Native American history, but what I found most interesting, and educational, was the agricultural part.  Having driven all through these plains areas, seeing fields and fields of wheat, canola, vegetables, etc. various farm equipment, different sizes of bales, this place helped me to better understand it all.  I even got to climb aboard a combine!  Both Jack and I are pretty much "city folk" so all this farming "stuff" has to be explained to us, and we actually find it all quite fascinating.  What would we do without farmers?  Starve, that's for sure.  It sure takes a special breed of people to do what they do, and I for one am glad they do!

They also had a great display of life in general through the early 1900s and the war years.  (I took some pictures of some great quilts for my special quilting friends).  They did a nice job of replicating a small town including just about every kind of building you would likely find, including a homesteader's house.  Jack, of course did a thorough check of the Blacksmith's Shop and found a rather large anvil he'd not seen before. 

In our 8 days, we managed to see quite a few things in and around Ft Benton.  Lewis & Clark"s Decision Point where they had to figure out which body of water was the Missouri and which, what they ended up naming Maria's River.  We went into Great Falls and visited one of my favorite artist's works, CM Russell.  He made his home there and that along with his studio, a large museum and grave site are all in Great Falls.  That city also had an extensive museum on Lewis & Clark, the Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail Interpretive Center.

All this is to say...there just doesn't seem to be any place that doesn't have "something to see"!
 Fort Benton MT
Me on a small combine at the Museum of the Great Northern Plains, Ft Benton MT

"1900's Town" at the  Museum of the Great Northern Plains, Ft Benton MT
"Decision Point" for Lewis & Clark - Missouri? or Maria's River, Ft Benton MT
 CR Russell's Grave site, Heartland Cemetery Great Falls MT
 "Portage", Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail Interpretive Center, Great Falls MT

...on the road in Montana,  Marie

If you wish to view the rest of the photos from this trip, you can at my Flickr account at:   

Friday, August 2, 2013

...and then we got to see Glacier National Park in Montana!

When you experience so much natural beauty and wonderful experiences, you can't help but ask yourself if that wasn't "the best one yet?"  Always thinking that nothing can top it...then, surprisingly so, Mother Nature continues to flash her beauty in more ways than you could ever have thought.  Such was our visit to the Glacier National Park in Montana.

When we left Canada...that in itself was an experience I should share...just in case it should ever happen to you!  You see, Jack's passport expired while we were in Canada.  Yep, we thought, now what?  Well, as my kids will be so proud, I immediately got on my trusty computer and started searching (should I say "googling"?) around for answers.  I found out that we were not the first to have this happen (hmm) and the general consensus was that since we are US citizens, they have to let us back in.  That it could get as bad as a delay at the border with a "scolding", to as little as them not even noticing.  We were (emotionally) ready as we approached the border, expecting just about anything (I mean, who would yell at two little old folks like us anyway, right?).  The nice gentleman did notice the expired passport, asked Jack if he knew it was expired, "oh my, no, really?" The guard said "we were US citizens, so of course he would let us in, but that we should get that fixed at our earliest convenience, and, welcome home."  It was good to be back home again.

We entered at the Carway/Piegan Canadian/American Border and you are greeted by a rather large statue by the Blackfeet Nation welcoming you.  Seems you enter right into their reservation!

We spent that first day driving through Montana en route to the western side of the park where we had decided to camp.  Driving through Montana has been a joy for us as we have viewed the various crops, learning what they are (we learned about "seed potatoes" this time!), watching the harvesting & bailing, seeing some great barns and beautiful lakes.  I have to say, Montana is a beautiful state (but, no, still don't want to move here!). 

Once settled into the campground, off we went on the "one thing everyone does" - the drive: Going-to-the-Sun-Road!  They say to allow 2-3 hours, ha!  Not if your driving me, the one who has to stop at every single turn-out and read the sign, see the sight and take pictures!  It's an all-day trip...and a really awesome one at that!  What fun it was!  Busy, it's July after all, and the tourists are in full force, but who cares?  We were in no hurry and the sun was shining, so life is good!

You would think, I would think, that I would get used to seeing such incredible beauty.  That I wouldn't be surprised or amazed any longer by what Mother Nature can create, but I am.  At each turn (and there were hundreds along this very twisty road) was one more "oh my" moment.  A waterfall, a lake, a glacier you could touch, mountains that took your breath away, big horn sheep cooling off on a glacier, wildflowers blooming, and history.  We met a nice ranger just before she was about to leave her station at the very first ranger station built back in 1917.  No indoor plumbing, way back in the woods...think about it, Montana in the many feet of snow?  With how many animals hungry around you?  Winter, hell, Spring would be worse really, 'cause they would really be hungry!  Nope, not for me!  Brave and all.  We owe them all our gratitude, then and today.

Jack and I had decided that we wanted to see as many National Parks as we could this year and it has really been a wonderful experience.  I thought it would be "fun".  I thought it would be "cool" to do.  Something to "check off" on my mental list of things & places to do & see.  But what I didn't expect was how moved I would be.  How the history of them would touch me emotionally as the beauty does spiritually. 

Our parks are special.   I wish I knew some better way to say that sentence.  It's not enough to put it into a different font.  As I type, I just want to pick you up by the shoulders, and place you in front of where I was, (at any of the parks) even for 5 minutes, and say "just look at that".  Then stand back and watch you.  Watch while you soak it all in.  It changes you.  Once you see it, it changes you.  It's like you can hear all the voices of all the people who had the vision and wherewithal to turn these lands into National Parks so that you and I and our children and their children could see them...and you just want to thank them.  Because, if you allow yourself to think, even for a minute, what this place would look like if no one would have preserved it, you would cry.  As beautiful as Mother Nature is, Man Kind can as easily destroy.  I thank these men every day that they didn't let that happen.

National Parks are the best gifts this country has given us, take advantage of them as much as you can, you won't regret it, I promise you...
 Blackfeet Nation Welcome at the border
 Seed potato field, Montana
 McDonald Falls, Glacier National Park
 Jackson Glacier,  Going-to-the-Sun Road, Glacier National Park
 St Mary Lake, Glacier National Park
 Bird Woman Falls (492 Ft High), Going-to-the-Sun Road, Glacier National Park
 Big Horn Sheep on Jackson Glacier at Logan Pass, Going-to-the-Sun Road
 Wildflowers, Glacier National Park
 Cut Bank Ranger Station (c1917) first buildings built in Glacier National Park
McDonald Lake, Glacier National Park

...on the road in Montana,  Marie

If you wish to view the rest of the photos from this trip, you can at my Flickr account at: