Wednesday, May 29, 2013

A Rainy Day Drive

 Mr. Keith and I always like to find a pretty drive on our days off. Steve at the KOA recommended Bridger Canyon Road so we headed that direction, north of town. It was a rainy day. We couldn't even see the snow covered mountains above Bozeman but were told it would be worth the drive anyway. We've seen lots of beauty in our workamping years, but the area around Bozeman is beyond gorgeous! There are so many shades of green everywhere, and the hills almost look groomed with no underbrush and brambles. I kept saying "oooh and ahhh". We could live here!

 During the summers we worked in Missoula we saw, everyday, the "M" on the hill above town. It was placed there by the students at the University of Montana. We never were sure if it stood for Missoula or for Montana, probably both. The "M" above Bozeman is definitely for Montana, also placed there by the students at the Montana State University. Both "M"s have a hiking trail to the top. This one looked much more strenuous than the one in Missoula! We won't be trying it! The arrowleaf balsamroot flowers, finished in the areas farther west, are just coming into full bloom on the hills here, like this one, nearly covered with them.

 We saw several deer along the road on our drive. This one posed nicely for us in this beautiful setting. And, although I couldn't get a good photo, we saw our first Sandhill Cranes! I was so excited to add them to my bird sighting list. I believe these cranes are the largest birds I've ever seen besides the emus we took care of in Deadwood SD. My iPad bird identification app told me they can stand 3 to 4 feet high and they have a wingspan of 6 to 7 feet. Good thing I brought my binoculars along, but I surely wished for a better camera with a zoom lens.

An old log cabin caught my attention. The trees were taking residence around and inside the building. Intriguing! We agreed that we would make this trip again on a sunny day. We want to actually see the mountains above the canyon!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Virginia City, Montana!

 Since we've been in Bozeman almost 2 weeks, we were chomping at the bit to have a day trip. My first choice was Virginia City, an inhabited ghost town, fixed up for tourists, but still retaining the ghostly feel of times gone by. We were awed by the beauty of the countryside on the way to our destination. This is on Hwy 84. So green!

 There were only a couple of small towns on the way, one was Ennis, a stopover for pioneers traveling the Bozeman Trail. It was a charming little place with a western theme. This sculpture was outside a bank. It is entirely of metal, but looks so lifelike!

 Well, we did it again! 3 years ago, after a very scary time of being lost up high in the hills above Missoula, we shook hands in agreement that we would never again take a gravel or dirt road if we didn't know the condition of it. The sign said, "Old Virginia City Road". How bad could it be? It started out gravel, then quickly turned into a mostly rutted dirt road with several gates along the way, for cattle, I assume. All the gates were open except the very last one, next to the exit to the highway, which we managed to pull aside and then return to its closed position. I was imagining the old prospectors and settlers driving their wagons along this road, hoping for a hot meal, a bed, and maybe riches in gold when they reached the town. Once again, our "wagon", our faithful old Focus, got us through. Will we never learn?

When we arrived in the town we spotted the candy store right away! Of course we had to enter, and, after being very careful to pick out only "small" amounts of jelly beans and taffy we still spent $20.00! I have visited Virginia City 2 or 3 times in the past and always loved it. The area, Alder Gulch, boasts the highest output of gold in the history of our country. Seeing the town now, it is difficult to imagine the tens of thousands of folks who once flocked here. On the outskirts of the town for miles you can still see the tailings from the mining. The land was devastated. Trees and scrub vegetation are now growing up through the piles and piles of rocks left by the prospectors.

 We had a delicious lunch at a cafe´ named "The Outlaw". I had my favorite, a buffalo burger, and Keith had a Reuben. We loved this old car parked outside.

 We could have ridden this stagecoach for $15.00 each, but chose to hoof it on our own. The town was not crowded by tourists yet, one of the reasons we had planned to go when we did, so those horses had lots of idle time. They looked bored.

 I love the weathered appearance of these old boards. The town was at its heyday in 1864 and thereabouts. Minimal care is taken to keep the  buildings standing and safe enough to enter, while retaining the original looks.

 Most of the old storefronts have either businesses inside or are furnished with old artifacts for the tourists to see through the windows.

 I can imagine the Vigilantes of the times walking this boardwalk, looking for outlaws to capture and take up to the hanging place on Boot Hill. We did drive up to Boot Hill, where we found a few graves maintained from long ago. There was a more modern cemetery farther along the hill.

This is the view from Boot Hill of the main part of the town. There was a lovely creek, Alder Creek, running behind Virginia City, which had not been decimated by the mining operations.

Finally, on our way home, heading east out of Alder Gulch, we were treated to this magnificent view of the Madison Valley. Had we continued south from here we'd have entered West Yellowstone and the entrance to Yellowstone National Park. Going north and east took us back to our summer home, Bozeman. We plan to visit Virginia City once again before the season is over.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Gifts and Dogs!

It can be a little daunting going to a new, unknown (to you) doctor for the first time, especially for a serious condition like Mr. Keith's. We found the Bozeman Cancer Center building easily, checked in, and then to our surprise were given a large gift basket made up just for new patients. It contained a zippered lunch bag, a really nice cap, a plush scarf and headband, a mug with tea bags and small candies, a notebook with pen, a notepad, gum, and a couple of other things. What a treat! We were off to a good start in this new place! Then, we met the doctor. She was wonderful, kind, sweet, very knowledgeable about Keith's condition and his treatments up till now. She had done her research thoroughly, using the records the Olympia doctor had sent. We are so happy with her and with her nurses and assistants!

 We returned to the Center a couple of days later for follow up on Keith's low potassium numbers. (He's fine.) As we were sitting in the waiting room we were quietly approached by a woman with this beautiful dog! Her owner asked if we'd like to pet her, and I realized the dog, a Golden Doodle, was a therapy dog and was there to comfort patients. Of course we petted, her — a bunch! I've always read about therapy animals but never seen one in action much less been the beneficiary of attention from one.

 Her name is Chervil. She is a cross between a Golden Retriever and a Standard Poodle. Her fur is incredibly soft and doesn't shed. In disposition she was calm, well-behaved and very affectionate. She knew her job!

 Here is what most impressed me. At first the other folks in the waiting room were just sitting, or reading, some looking a little nervous or depressed, and keeping to themselves. Once the dog was there they all brightened up, began chatting with each other, mostly about Chervil and their own pets. There were smiles and laughter! I especially noticed that when the dog's owner took her off to another waiting room the talk and the laughter continued on. The whole room was now a happy, friendly place. I've always believed in therapy animals and now I know firsthand what a wonderful program it is. This hospital and medical center in Bozeman knows how to comfort and delight their patients!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Travels from Wenatchee to Bozeman

This might seem a funny display of photos, but on our travels we can't really sight-see except as we're driving. We can't pull that big 5th wheel and truck into just any place! After we left Wenatchee, got diesel and gas at Rock Island and visited with my sister and hubby at a rest stop near Quincy, we were ready for the trip to Bozeman to really begin. This photo is near Ritzville, out in eastern Washington. I can't go through this area without thinking of my blogging and facebook friend, Char, who is also traveling around in a motorhome with her husband. Ritzville is their homebase.

One of the most beautiful places we've workamped is in North Idaho. We could live there! I love the old mining town of Wallace, the site of the last stoplight on I-90. To solve that problem the new part of the freeway was built right over the top of the town. Though we've toured there many times in our little car, there is no way we could take the "house" down into the town. So here is my photo of Wallace for this trip.

I love the sky here — Big Sky Country! This is just across the border of Idaho and Montana, before Missoula. We had come over Lookout Pass and down into this valley. Coming into Montana almost feels like coming home, since we worked two summers at the KOA in Missoula and traveled all around this gorgeous countryside.

Our spot at the Missoula KOA. We love coming here because most of the same folks we worked with are still here. It was a great place to work and is always a fun place to visit! We had company from the time we set up till we went to bed, and then again in the morning as we were getting ready to pull out.

Well, here is a scene without the 5th wheel! We had stopped at a rest stop along the way for lunch and a nap. I am always intrigued by this tall smokestack near Anaconda. I'm not sure if it is still in use, but it is awesome to look at, standing out against the hills.

On we go, heading into Butte. More Big Sky! You can't see it in this photo, but there is a huge, white statue at the top of the mountains. What looks like a tiny white slash just to the left of center is where it stands. Someone said it was a Madonna. Not sure if that's true or not. Butte is a fascinating city to tour. We've done that a couple of times when we camped in an RV park there. The old part of town consists of many red brick buildings, old mansions, strangely painted homes and businesses, and, of course, the huge, deep Berkeley Pit, now filling with water. The hills all around the city bear the marks of years of mining.

"Home" at last, our home for the next 4 months at the Bozeman KOA. I was surprised to see, although the day was hot, that the trees and flowers in Bozeman are behind what we've seen in Washington and western Montana. We get to experience spring all over again!  On our days off we plan to go to Yellowstone, Virginia City, and any other place that interests us. We will love it here!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Leaving Lost Lake, Arriving in Wenatchee

 We had so many wonderful people bringing us goodies on our last day at Lost Lake. These fine folks are the managers, Brian and Leslie. Hmmm! Those frosted brownies Leslie made were so good, maybe we should stay!

 Here we're hooking up, ready to leave our lovely sheltered spot. slide wouldn't go in. We had 2 expert electricians, Harvey and Bob, working on our rig, taking apart all the wiring they could think of, and still they didn't find the problem. Harvey ended up cranking the slide in by hand, a very difficult job. We were all ready for a nap by the time we pulled out, 3 hours later than we had planned.

 Our trip over Snoqualmie and Blewett Passes was beautiful and uneventful until at a Cle Elum pit stop we discovered our RV batteries had not been charging. We continued on, planning to get some help when we arrived in Wenatchee. Here is our favorite spot in our very favorite RV park, the Wenatchee River County Park at Monitor. Here, Keith and I decided to clean off the batteries and check them for water, which we had assured Harvey and Bob that we had already done. We were mistaken and all their extremely kind and diligent labor was proven unnecessary because we discovered one battery was dry. We filled it up, and voila´, our stubborn slide went right out without a whimper! We jumped for joy and ran around praising God for solving this problem with no expenditure on our part except for a little sweat. We know that we need to purchase new batteries, though, as these have gotten past their prime. Hopefully they will get us a little further down the road.

 By our very good fortune our daughter Jessi came up from Redding CA to visit Wenatchee at the same time we did. It had been a year since we last saw her. Here she is holding one of her 2 cats which she planned to take with her back to Redding. Daughter Betsy has been caring for them for the past year. I like Jessi's blue hair!

 The main downside of our workamping lifestyle is that we don't get to see our kids and granddaughters nearly often enough. Our gal Katy was about 6 or 7 when we first left. She is a beautiful, charming 15 year old now. (Blue hair must run in the family!) In this photo she is teaching her mom, our daughter Betsy, how to use her new cell phone. The young ones always seem to know how manage the new technology better than their elders! Thus began our whirlwind 3 night, 2 day stay in Wenatchee, visiting family and friends. So many we want to see, so little time!