Even the smallest of ‘critters’ can catch you off guard…

I forgot to share this very important event. The other day I got in my car, which was parked outside the garage. I get all buckled in and put my car into reverse. As I look at my display screen a HUGE spider was walking across it. My display screen is 7” and this spider almost covered the screen. I could even see all the hairs on it’s legs. I began screaming and climbing into the back seat, which wasn’t easy as I was seat belted in. Also I was in the reverse gear which made the car jerk violently when I took my foot off the break to save myself. I am cursing that I will never leave my car outside again…and Derek is in the garage just staring at me, because he can’t really hear me, but sees that I’m in distress, or having some sort of fit or seizure.
Then it clicked, the spider wasn’t in my car. It was walking across the backup camera and being magnified on my display screen. The spider, it turns out, was about the size of a lentil. Never had as many spiders in CA as I have now living in Oregon. 

Modern technology in our car’s is wonderful. But it can also cause heart attacks. ‪#‎Oregon‬

Bald Eagle – Wow!

I am continually amazed by the beauty of nature and all forms of animal life.

Today I was so fortunate to finally get some shots of the elusive Bald Eagle. I’ve seen him/her fly overhead a few times, but the time I grabbed my camera it was too late. Well today I decided to sit on my front porch and enjoy my coffee. I took my camera with me because I had seen some lovely butterflies. But then I heard the screech and got totally distracted from the butterflies. I wish my camera settings were a bit better, but I did not dare take the time to change them because I didn’t want to take my eyes off the eagle.

Truly my lucky day!

She’s Home!!

What a fantastic 4 days! Our baby girl got to come home and what a joy that was.

So the back story is, long ago in 1989 Derek and I…fast forward to November and it’s a girl! And what a beautiful and smart girl she was and still is. We decided to raise her to be strong, independent, compassionate and we kick ourselves everyday because of it. (I am joking of course…or at least some).

When it came time for college she moved to San Francisco, 590 miles away! AWAY! We thought our hearts would break. But, they didn’t and lucky for us we got see her 4 times a year so it was great. The third year of college she decides to study abroad, in Spain. This time she’s over 5,800 miles AWAY! I’m sensing something, but not sure yet… She meets a young man and falls in love. She comes home a year later and finishes up her studies and graduates with honors galore and is still in love with Joakim. Guess what?!?! No she didn’t get married, or bring a bambino home. She decides to study for her Master’s Degree. Awesome yes? Yes…but she goes away. To Sweden! (stupid boys – sorry Joakim I do adore you) So for the next 4 years our baby girl will be working, studying and living in Sweden. The good news is she’s 800 miles closer than when she was in Spain.

But last week she and Joakim came back to the states for a whirlwind trip. They stayed with my folks for a week so she could see her family and friends down in California. Then went to San Francisco to see friends there and drove up to Oregon to finally see where we moved to. So we took them around all over and showed them a small slice of our neck of the woods. Below are just a few pictures we all took. Click an image to make it bigger and read the description. Those of you with lives, carry on.

#McMenamins #Oregon #Beer

The Greenhouse Project

Well I must say I was in for quite a shock moving from Southern California to Oregon. I made this silly assumption that after we moved up here, growing a garden would be a cake walk. I was leaving behind a state that got into the triple digits for most of the summer. I was gaining a more mild climate, along with rain. How wrong I was. There were so many factors I never anticipated. For starters the weather. I now live in an area where there are 4 defined seasons. Oh sure there were 4 seasons in S. CA, but down there I called it, Spring, Hell, Wind, and something moderately cool.

That being said, I now have to understand that, you just do not plant anything in the ground before Mother’s Day. Seriously! I thought oh pish, it’s 80 degrees outside the frost is over. It was, for 5 days at which point the temperature was dropping to 24 degrees at night. Lost everything I planted due to frost. So now I listen when I hear folks talking in the garden centers. Heed the wisdom! Which is what prompted me to get a greenhouse. I need to be able to control the weather, on a small scale. I researched this project for almost a year. The choice was made, a Solexx Greenhouse that was 12 feet long, 8 feet wide and 8 feet high was purchased.  Below are photos of our assembly and comments.

I must give a lot of thanks to the folks over at the Greenhouse Catalog. Between numerous emails, going to visit them at their location in Salem Oregon and several phone calls I knew I made the right decision. Michael and Bryen answered all my questions and even provided information I had not considered.  I do not agree with some of their installation instructions, but this does not mean I had any regrets in our purchase. And I think they owe me a bottle of wine 🙂

On to the installation. I will be honest the assembly instructions say it will take a couple of days to assemble. I would say this is not quite accurate. It took us a week+ and we’re retired. Part of this is due to the fact you must prepare your area for where the greenhouse will be. We opted for laying down a gravel base. Get ready for your upper body work out folks. We sprayed the area first with vegetation killer, then put down weed guard.

And then it was time to shovel it all in place. I won’t bore you with those tedious shots. I’m just very grateful for Aleve!

Just a few 1,000 lbs of rock.

Just a few 1,000 lbs of rock.

Here we go...

Here we go…

You look at these boxes and you think, “Ok I can do this. Just one step at a time”. So a show of hands, how many of you have had to assemble a swing set, or a bicycle on Christmas Eve? Uh huh…take that and multiple it times 10. As I said prepping is key to success. You need to know where to place it on your property for maximum sun, you may need a permit depending on where you live. Will you need to run electrical to it, water? How will you get electrical/water to it? You know what they say ‘Love is in the details.’

You begin with the base frame and ribs. This goes pretty smoothly. Here is a collage of the various stages.

Framing

Framing

At one point it started to look like a giant whale bone carcass. Do keep in mind, wherever you build it, if it’s not on the site, you will have to carry it later. (Good thing I joined a gym a month before we started).

It is from this stage on that things got a bit…um…challenging. We carried the assembled frame over to the grassy area near the gravel site. Ribs were attached at the top to form the hut.

Ribs connected over top

Ribs connected over top

Front View

Front View

Panels

Panels

We put the panels out in the sun as they come curled up in the box.  And this is where assembly began to fall apart and we had to adapt and improvise.

You are directed to install the panels horizontally and slide them up and over the top. So panel one will become panel 6, and 2 will be 5 etc. Something like this –

Sliding - not so good.

Sliding – not so good.

You are told to use duct tape to help hold them together while you lift the bottom, add the next panel and slide up. Folks we had some duct tape that was so sticky I still have no finger prints and the weight of the panels (while not a lot) was enough to pull the entire thing apart.  That, compiled with a breeze we have out here all the time would lift the panels like a sail. After the 4th attempt we said “forget it let’s go another route!” First we took 4 cinder blocks and made anchors. We then secured one end and tossed the rope over the top and anchored on the side. Each panel was then slipped under the ropes and secured with a couple of screws.

Anchor 1

Anchor 1

Anchor 2

Anchor 2

Notice no duct tape.

What would have been better was to get the solexx siding the way they show it on the site. In long sheets rather than panels. Note the difference. He’s just sliding his from one side to the other thru the connector. Ah well…

This would have been easier

This would have been easier

Once you get all the sides on and secure you can put in your vents and shelves. Mine has 6 base vents, a front louver and rear exhaust.

One of the instructions on the exhaust fan says “Rough cut an opening 16 X 16”. What they should have said was measure and trace exhaust frame and cut neatly. Because if you don’t the back will look like hell. We had to build a frame out of trimmed solexx panels to seal it.

Assembled

Assembled

Front Louver & Shelves installed

Front Louver & Shelves installed

The flooring I got was a tarp that will also help with weed retardant. You can see the exhaust fan in the back, cords will be dressed up a bit more later. The exhaust fan is on it’s own control. You can set it to come on at a specific temperature. This will pull the hot air out of the greenhouse by pulling cooler air from the floor via the floor vents. But the real cool thing is the solar opener.

Solar Opener

Solar Opener

This little device is set to automatically open the front louver when it reaches 65-70 degrees. Trust me you want it to. Some might think but that’s far too soon the greenhouse will cool too fast. It won’t. This is power free by the way. It’s operated via wax in the tube. Wax gets warm, expands and vent is opened. As it cools the wax contracts and closes the vent. Really neat!

Below the electrical is going in. We hired a certified electrician for this because we needed it to code and pass inspection. Some things you cannot cut corners on.

Wall Switches going in

Wall Switches going in

Overhead Outlets

Overhead Outlets

Ready for Plants

Ready for Plants

So here is the inside all done. I also have 4 light panels of T5 lighting. I do not have a heater yet as I don’t want to try and grow in Dec and Jan when the highs are in the 30’s and lows in the 20’s. It would be just too costly. My herbs were moved in and it’s starting to look like a real greenhouse. Next spring I will update with more pictures of what I’m growing. In January I will be taking the Master Gardener classes and get my certification. I am sure that the knowledge I get there will help me immensely with greenhouse gardening success!

Did I mention at night it becomes a beacon for alien space craft?

Alien Beacon?

Alien Beacon?

Wonderful and Easy Homemade Bread!

Unusual storm blowing thru S. Oregon. A bit of rain, some good winds but not real cold. So with that in mind it’s time for 18-hour No Knead Bread and soup. (Just a note, really takes about 20-21 hours when you add in the second rise) Start it at 10am and it’ll be ready for dinner the next evening. This bread is so versatile! You could sprinkle cheese in the middle when you fold it and maybe some jalapeno’s, or add fresh herbs.

3 cups All Purpose Flour

2 ½ tsp Kosher Salt

¼ tsp Active Dry Yeast

1 ½ cups Warm Water

Combine the dry ingredients together in a large plastic or glass bowl. Pour in the water and stir just until mixed. A shaggy dough should form. Cover the bowl loosely (I use a very large glass bowl) and allow it to sit on the counter for about 18 hours. Keep it away from windows if it’s cold outside. The dough is ready when it becomes covered in bubbles and when you can see the strands of gluten forming when you tip the bowl. Your dough will be very wet and sticky. That is how it should be.

Sprinkle the work surface (I like to use my Silpat so that the dough doesn’t stick) with a mixture of about ¼ cup all-purpose flour and ¼ cup cornmeal. Scrape dough out onto the floured surface and fold it four times like you would a letter-once from 3 and 9 towards the middle and once from 6 and 12. Place dough back into the bowl seam-side down and cover again, allowing it to rest for another 2 hours. (Or leave on the Silpat, just make sure it’s covered and has room to rise again)

Midway through the final rise, preheat your oven as well as the 3 to 4-quart pot and lid to 450 degrees for 1 hour. After the dough has risen for about 2 hours, remove the hot pan and lid from the oven and quickly dump the dough into it. It should now be seam-side up. Replace the lid on the pot and bake the dough covered, for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and continue to bake it for 15 to 20 minutes longer. Be sure to check it after 15 minutes to ensure it isn’t burning. If you have a Schlemmertoph clay cooker it’s perfect for the bread. You can also free form it and slide it onto a pizza stone.

I did a double batch and in the first one I formed it into a baguette and put in some roasted garlic. The other I did in the Schlemmertopf pot.

Out of the Schlemmertopf

Out of the Schlemmertopf

Form into a french baquette

Form into a french baquette

Clay Cooker

Clay Cooker

I wish you could smell this bread. Well you can! Geez get in there and whip a batch up and tomorrow you will come back and say “Thank You, it really was so easy!”

Blackberry Part…oh heck it’s Festival Time!

The weekend of August 16th-18th marks the start of the 25th annual Sutherlin Blackberry Festival. I am so happy to experience this event. Last year we had moved up here one week after the festival. While I did not compete this year, just you wait till next year!

This is a wonderful event. There are numerous booths where you can browse and shop for all sorts of fun things. But before we can get started on that, let’s bring in our flag honor guard.

Representing all Branches

Representing all Branches

I am constantly amazed at how seeing our flag fly makes me feel so proud.

Respecting the Flag

Respecting the Flag

Yep, very proud to be an American. A young lady, Alexandra,  sang the National Anthem and just nailed it. She was 11 years old. So wish I could have gotten her picture.

Come on! Let’s go to the festival.

There are booths set up all over offering food items, clothing, makeup, jewelery, hand crafted items, pet items you name it. One thing I bought that I now love are bowl pot holders for your microwave. I often times heat up soup or a bowl of oatmeal and have to reach in and grab that darn bowl that is hotter than lava hot freshly spewed from a volcano. Well now all I do is put my bowl on my holder and the put it in the micro.

What a neat idea. A bowl holder for the Microwave.

What a neat idea. A bowl holder for the Microwave.Bowl holder with a bowl.Bowl holder with a bowl.

One of the neatest things is the raffle for a car and another for a motorcycle.

2006 Harley Sportster

2006 Harley Sportster

The winner of the motorcycle was Frank Harper of Texas (long time Sutherlin Resident).

1972 Ford Mustang Mach 1

1972 Ford Mustang Mach 1

The winner of the car was Harold Wells of Oakland.

I’m going to do the next set of pictures a bit bigger since they are in a collage form. I didn’t want to make you have to scroll though for days.

Face Painting

Face Painting

These kids were so proud of the art done on their faces. It was just a joy to take their pictures!

Junior Boot Camp with The Body Shop Total Fitness

Junior Boot Camp with The Body Shop Total Fitness

I just love the fact that the gym here in town, The Body Shop Total Fitness, gets so involved in promoting kids to get up and exercise! Well done Terry and Dianna Brock.

A ride for everyone

A ride for everyone

Yes that is a gun holster in the middle picture. Some really nice rides were on display.

Old is always better

Old is always better

There were nicer “old cars” here than I ever saw at Route 66! Just gorgeous vehicles!

Let's Eat!

Let’s Eat!

And of course there’s the food! If you were hungry and couldn’t find something to eat here I would have been shocked. Bad thing is to walk by these taking pictures realizing you forgot to eat lunch. Let’s just say I got to taste a lot of different things. Folks are pretty friendly around here.

And the winner is...

And the winner is…

For the cooking contest which included (but not limited to) – cookies, pies, cobblers, candies, jams/jellies, sauces and savory dishes. Rhonda Seekins of Sutherlin who took home 5 ribbons – three 1st place and two 2nd place! Wow nice job!

There was also a chili cook off. Now the only thing that I thought was ‘different’ were the categories – Men, Women and Texas Style. I didn’t know men cook chili different than women do. I think I would have done men and women together, made a category for junior division (15 and under), kept Texas style (no beans) and had another category for say white chili’s, chili verde etc.

2 winners from each category

2 winners from each category

What a great event this is! If you are ever planning to come up to Sutherlin, do make sure to time during the festival. At night there are bands, dancing and more food. Also you can tour some the best wineries Oregon has to offer!

 

Happy Anniversary!

I cannot believe it has been one full year since we left the big city and moved to the Great Northwest. So much has changed in the last year. We’ve learned so much of what it means to live in the country, and I think our lives have changed pretty drastically, but for the better not worse.

Let’s see…

1. Blackberries – harbor many critters. Always look before you pick. As you may remember it was while trimming these tenacious vines that I freaked out over a bug and broke my foot. You will often be investigated by bees and wasps as your fingers become stained while picking.
2. Foliage -Do be sure to trim blackberry vines back and other overgrown foliage because you never know what you will find. Case in point I have found the following – I have a pear tree I didn’t know I have, along with an apple and 5 cherry trees. Also found – an old VW Bug with no engine. A bumper to another car, a family of nutria, a pheasant nest, a skunk den (kept well away from that!) an old metal trash can and assorted bottles. Man that must have been one hell of a party!
3. Trash – you really must recycle everything you can. We don’t have trash pickup so we have to go to the dump. And everything must be sorted, glass – green, brown and clear. Cardboard – corrugated and non. Aluminum cans, tin cans, plastic bottles over here, and plastic containers over there. Newspapers, metal scraps, wood scrapes on the top side. Batteries in the shed and last but not least garbage.  But that is a lot of stuff to haul to the dump. So come October thru May we burn everything we can, which is a lot. Below are the steps to a bon fire. Which can be a big shindig for some. People will actually ASK you to bring them your clippings so they can burn them. They stand around, drink beer, tell stories and burn stuff. Seriously it’s an event! I’m actually looking forward to hosting one. And I can’t believe I just said that haha.

Must be safe first.

Must be safe first.

Must have emergency equipment available. There is also a hose attached to the well house.

Add a bit of an igniter.

Add a bit of an igniter.

Toss in a burning piece of newspaper.

Toss in a burning piece of newspaper.

And whoosh!

And whoosh!

You can really feel the heat from just this small of a fire.

Time for me to get to work and  bank it in.

Time for me to get to work and bank it in.

Time to feed the second pile to the first pile and bank it.  Now it may seem this takes a while, but if you start piling all the stuff up over a period of time it dries up. So these piles go up like balsa wood. Takes about 3 minutes to burn it all down and if you’re not careful you might be painting your eyebrows on for a week or so. But once banked the bigger pieces on the bottom will smolder for 24 hours or more.

4. Rain. It’s going to rain in Oregon. Not near as much as I thought it would, but much more than down in California. This brings you to proper clothing and an understanding that water will get into things you don’t want it to and thus you have to deal with it. Proper rain attire in Oregon, a light jacket or vest, boots and hat (heavier coat if it’s a cold winter day). If you pull out an umbrella you’re not from around here. There will be large puddles so make sure you boots cover your ankles.

If there is a space for a molecule rain will get in, like a car in places you never thought of.

Innards removed

Innards removed

This is what happens when you hear a sloshing noise as you’re driving. And for a week you’re trying to figure out what is wrong. You go out one day and come home to take your groceries out of the trunk to find them soaked. Seems water had been leaking into a small hole under hood near the windshield wipers. This small stream (not drip) of water has been slowly filling every crevice under the under the carpet panel. When it got to full it spilled over into the trunk, but again under the carpet. It wasn’t until it reached maximum capacity that it started to soak the carpet. We are talking gallons of water. So much so that –

Starting to jack it up on its side

Starting to jack it up on its side

We had to start jacking the car up and tilt it on its side as much as we could to spill the water out. This was as we started the tilt.  So water can be a real problem.

5. Wildlife! And no I don’t mean the cows that live next door. Although, being from CA when we first moved up here they were fun to watch and I did consider them sort of like wild life. Then I learned what a pain in the butt they are. Did I ever tell you about the one that ‘crawled’ under the fence and ran amok in our yard? Well I had to wrangle that POS by myself down to the end of the property, through a large gate and back into his own yard. Boy do their feet cause a lot of damage. Anyway, back to wild life. So far it’s been just amazing to see all the different animals that come to visit us. We’ve had deer, geese, a skunk, a family of nutria, turkeys, a fox, ducks, osprey, a hawk that lives in our giant pine during the spring, a wild cat (that we do not have) and a bee colony of all things. Why it’s like wild country safari around here.

Ducks, Geese and Goslings - Oh My.

Ducks, Geese and Goslings – Oh My.

The Bee Keepers

The Bee Keepers

3 of 7 deer that regularly visit.

3 of 7 deer that regularly visit.

The Turkey Ladies

The Turkey Ladies

Run little Fox

Run little Fox

Stay back from ol' Stinky

Stay back from ol’ Stinky

Nutria Family

Nutria Family

6. And I think this is the most important. Friends. I have been so fortunate to meet new friends and start enjoying their company. We have Kish Doyle and Anne Wickersham, Rick and Velda, Terry and Dianna and some wonderful neighbors Phil and Kimberly.

Life is pretty good up here in the Great NorthWest. Including the views. This is sitting in my chair looking out my living room window. My window is much bigger, just focused on the middle and those gorgeous clouds.

Gorgeous Clouds

Gorgeous Clouds

So often after rain storms I can go out to my back patio and find a rainbow, and in this case two!

Fantastic Rainbow

Fantastic Rainbow

I have finally started to feel like I really live here and not just staying over for a long visit. I no longer catch myself driving to the grocery store ‘remembering’ how I used to go to the store or how I used to shop. Now I think about my day in Oregon distance, uncrowded freeways, no graffiti and friendly folks. I ponder the weather more here than down South and the old phrase “..if you don’t like the weather wait 15 minutes…” has become a familiar saying.

We have been so fortunate to retire here. Here’s to many, many years!

Cheers!

Cheers!

Vacation – Work or Relaxing?

So I’ve been gone for a few weeks as we have been on vacation 🙂 It’s a long post, get that coffee or iced tea. (Those of you who are family, sorry but you are obligated to read the whole thing…there may be a test at the end.)

Well back in January we decided to head out and explore more of the Great Northwest. Where we erred was, in doing our first trip in July. And to make matters more complicated the holiday weekend of July 4th. I guess once you retire you forget you can go at any time. You don’t HAVE to go during one of the busiest weekends of the year when you have an extra day off. Our itinerary would include heading north thru Oregon into Herminston and checking out the desert area of Oregon…but before that could happen you have to prepare.

A lot of work goes into a camping trip. It’s not just about throwing a few hotdogs and hamburgers into an ice chest and rolling up a sleeping bag. We’re just not that type of campers. I truly admire the true “outdoorsmen”. The ones that can pop up a tent, unroll a bag and cook up some basic grub over a camp fire with wood they collected in the forest. Seriously, who does this?

Despite the fact that camping has changed dramatically in the last 25 years (more on that later), I am really starting to enjoy it again!

You know how they say things happen in 3’s (or in our case 5’s)?

The first thing we had to do was prep the trailer, this is basically making sure the fresh water tank is ready, the gray and black water tanks are empty. So we start running the water…holy cripes what is that smell?! All joking aside, it smelled like someone was conducting a sulfur experiment and all the water running and flushing in the world wasn’t helping any. Time to deploy the killer of all things bad – bleach. A good soaking and a couple of rinses later and smell was gone….this was issue 1 of 3.

After all that rinsing our gray water tanks were now pretty full. Fortunately for us we had an old house on our property that had a septic system. Hubby spent many hours first just trying to find the darn thing and then making sure it was useable. Yay we can! So time to hook up our new rig set up which allows us to have the truck, our motorcycle for sight seeing and our camper.

Here we have our truck, Goldwing and camper.

Here we have our truck, Goldwing and camper.

We pull the trailer down to the end of the property to dumb our tanks. The hoses barely fit but fit they did.. *crunch*…um what was that sound? “@#$&%!!” That would be hubby now cursing and me with a big question look on my face “what happened?!” “I just stepped on my glasses!” “How on earth did you do that?” “I put them on the ground here because….well I just did ok?” “Um..ok..still not sure why but let me see if I can fix them. Omg Derek these are your prescription sunglasses! Why did you leave them on the ground?” Well that conversation went on for about another 15 minutes and needless to say we couldn’t fix them…this was issue 2 of 3.

So we get everything packed up, food, clothes, tools, dvd’s etc and head out for the great adventure. 1 hour into our trip and I realize I have forgotten to pack our summer clothes and just as unicorns poop rainbows an ungodly heat wave hits the NW. “@#$%&!” And that would be me…this was issue 3 of 3.

Now that we have those issues behind us, we can now enjoy our vacation…right?

Day 1 (June 28th)

We arrive in Herminston Oregon. It was like getting out of the truck and into a furnace that was cranked up to incinerate bones. What’s worse is we still have to set up a bit before it gets dark. It is 102 degrees outside. Then we get inside and have few moments of utter panic as we cannot get the trailer AC to work and the temp inside the trailer is 98 degrees. We’ve never had to use it before and since we don’t have a 30amp breaker at our house with a proper plug there was no way to test it before we left. But after 15-20 of fiddling with it and finding the manual to the thing it’s up and running. Hallelujah and pass the cheese and when we get home install 30 amp breaker!

Around 2am the lightning started that had to be close because of how loud the thunder was. We had to jump up and cover the motorcycle, darn weather.com never said anything about thunderstorms, and to also bring in the awning and my plants. The lightning was massive streaks in the sky. Just an awesome display of nature! And after we busted our butts getting everything secure the rains hit…all 30 seconds and 100 drops of it. Lol figures.  But for over an hour we had a wonderful show that was worth getting up for.

This is what we saw - Photo Courtesy - US National Weather Service Pendleton Oregon

This is what we saw – Photo Courtesy – US National Weather Service Pendleton Oregon

We get up at 7am to continue our trip and it’s already 84 degrees outside. We’re off to Wallace Idaho. I sure hope it is as quaint as I remember it.

Day 2 (June 29th)

Uneventful trip this go around, but in a very good way! Park is situated in the back of this old mining town. (For those that have seen the movie Dante’s Peak with Pierce Bronson this the town that blew up because it was on a volcano in the movie.) Many of the original brick buildings remain making the streets very pleasant to stroll up and down.

Such a cute small town.

Such a cute small town.

One of the interesting buildings here.

One of the interesting buildings here.

What was very interesting to see was the back alley that has all the electrical for the town running through it. Numerous transformers (no not the robots), wires, poles etc.

Back alley electric company?

Back alley electric company?

One thing to note, if you have the app on your phone, or tablet or other device called The Urban Spoon – Trust it! If you don’t have it, get it. It’s a great app that helps you find places to eat and often times includes pictures of the menu and food, reviews from folks that have eaten there and directions for getting there. We found one place while walking thru the town that looked quite interesting. A little BBQ joint called the Smoke House BBQ and Saloon. The US gave it a 50% rating and we thought, oh come on, smells wonderful let’s give it a shot. Worse dinner ever hahaha. That’ll teach us.

The campground has new owners and they’ve made some good changes, adding a few camping cabins and a Pub/Grill.

My heart broke however, when I found that the one place I just adored was no longer in business. I guess I will only have one absolutely, perfectly baked, lavishly frosted, tender and delicious cinnamon roll in my lifetime. Ah but the memories still make my mouth water.

Bit of a snafu (for those that don’t know this word it’s a military acronym. I’ll let you look it up on your own *smile*) when we left, the tract on the main slide came loose, but having a hubby who’s very handy in these matters makes all better quickly. We are off to Garrison Montana…why? Well it’s a nice half way point to stop before heading into Yellowstone. Don’t like to drive more than 6 hours a day max. So we’ll drive 4 hours to Garrison and then another 4 the next day to Yellowstone.

Day 3 (June 30th)

Garrison Montana. What a beautiful area! Found a lovely campground along the Blackfoot River. (Note to those that are planning to go camping but haven’t experienced it. Always, and I do mean always, carry bug spray and use it generously.  If you don’t, the next day you may wake up and look like you have the pox.) The campground was all grassy and had a great view of the ‘big Montana sky’ and hills. The camp site had a few wild kitties running around and I think I now know why our Ranch Kitty adopted us. I cannot seem to control myself when I see a wild kitty and promptly call out in a high sing song voice “Kitty Kiiiitttty!” which I have found out in cat tongue means “I have tuuunnaa!!” Now we have 2 wild kitties following us on our camp walk. Derek just looks at me and shakes his head. (Don’t roll your eyes at me mister who stoops down to pet and love on them.)

We get up early because we’re off to Yellowstone. I’m in the trailer getting it prepped for today’s travels… “Denise…can you come out here please?” I figure he needs help with something so hop right out and he’s pointing to the motorcycle in the back of the truck that is covered in kitty footprints. Seems the wild kitties decided to sleep in the seat of the motorcycle. Quick check inside the truck to make sure no kitties are in there and we’re off!

Day 4 (July 1st – July 8th)

We arrive at the Rocky Mountain RV campground around 1:30 in the afternoon. We made our reservations back in January and boy am I glad. They reserved a prime spot for us and I mean it was perfect!! The back of our site overlooked Yellowstone River, we only had another camper on one side of us and the hillside and overlook on the other side. Magnificent! Being as the day is half done, we decide to take our time setting up, it’s 95 degrees again but here it’s a very dry heat.

Our spot at the camp grounds. We overlooked the river behind us.

Our spot at the camp grounds. We overlooked the river behind us.

The next day we head on in to the monument. Thank goodness we found our cooling gear.

Sidebar – allow me to elaborate on cooling gear. We ride a big Goldwing motorcycle on our trips. While riding on the back of a motorcycle you are exposed to all the elements. On this particular trip – heat. Now some of you may be thinking “wait a minute you’re on a motorcycle it’s like having the AC on all the time!” Um..no. You’re exposed to the radiant heat come up from the asphalt (100+ degrees at time) and the air that’s flowing around you while you drive is 95+ degrees so it’s like having 1,000 hair dryers pointing at you on a high heat setting. Not exactly refreshing. So we wear cooling gear. This consists of a neck wrap that is filled with dehydrated silicon beads. We soak them for about 30 minutes and they expand and fill with water. We also have vests that are similar. We put the vests on while they are soaking wet and then put our breeze jackets over them. This creates a cooling sensation while the water evaporates while we’re driving. It can mean the difference between a horrible trip and a wonderful one.

We now continue with our regularly scheduled posting…

We decide to head to the Ol’ Faithful geyser. And while he was about 30 minutes late in erupting it was impressive!! He used to go off like clock work about every hour, but with earthquakes opening fissures underground it takes longer for the pressure to build.

This did not disappoint! He was a bit late but so impressive.

This did not disappoint! He was a bit late but so impressive.

Here is Ol Faithful and in the back to the left was another geyser that went off and looked to be even bigger.

Here is Ol Faithful and in the back to the left was another geyser that went off and looked to be even bigger.

We then ran into a bison, almost literally. These creatures are massive and they know they own the park. They will walk right out in front of you and slowly saunter across the street, or stop and look around. You never, ever honk at them or get our of your car and ‘shoo’ them. This is their home and you’re driving through their living room, so their rules. Later we found a small herd, and one made it’s way across the river.

Herd of buffalo caused quite a traffic jam.

Herd of buffalo caused quite a traffic jam.

He made it safe to other side.

He made it safe to other side.

The elk here, we only saw the females, are also brazen. Here is a picture where they come into a small community and lay on the grass, even go so far as to walk up the steps of some buildings. We drove by one very up close. The top of my head comes to their shoulders on some of the bigger females. (I’m 5’ 7 1/2” btw)

They wander all over and the rangers put up cones to keep the people away.

They wander all over and the rangers put up cones to keep the people away.

On the way back to our campsite we came to a spot in the road where many were stopped and pulled over. We couldn’t because there just wasn’t enough room, so going by at a snails pace we see it…a grizzly bear!

Grizzly bear I saw as we were heading back to camp.

Grizzly bear I saw as we were heading back to camp.

Here let me zoom in a bit…

Close up of bear.

Close up of bear.

The next day we decided to hit some of the ‘pools’. It seriously impresses me when we stop along the side of the road in a small pull-out and there  by edge is a pool of boiling water. You can feel the heat coming off it and it’s very small, no bigger than 3 feet in diameter! As we continue up we get to the bigger pools. Some look so beautifully blue and deep and refreshing, only to find out that their temperatures could cook boiled eggs (which is what a lot of these pools and geysers smell like).

There are also mud pots. These are formed when sulfuric acid dissolves the rock and water pools into the mixture.

Boiling mud...yeah boiling!

Boiling mud…yeah boiling!

This pool was so incredibly deep blue and about 200 degrees.

This pool was so incredibly deep blue and about 200 degrees.

Even with the ground being so hot, bacteria and small organisms still flourish.

Even with the ground being so hot, bacteria and small organisms still flourish.

Looks so inviting, but at 90 degrees outside the steam was still rising. This pool is above boiling point.

Looks so inviting, but at 90 degrees outside the steam was still rising. This pool is above boiling point.

It’s really interesting the topography of this park. You’ll be going through hills with scraggly trees, wide rivers and then come out to a huge open plateau.

On July 4th we opted to hang out at the campsite. Even with cooling gear, getting on and off the bike, shedding and donning helmets and jackets wears one out. So a lazy day it was. Went into the small town of Gardiner (very touristy but adorable) and did a bit of shopping. Evening arrives and that’s when the fireworks start on the west side of town. The main show started around 9:30 pm. Then another show on the north side of town started. These went on till midnight! I just adore a good firework show, but that long of one and I was beat.

More fireworks Yay for fireworks

July 5th we had planned on heading back into the park to see the Yellowstone Grand Canyon. Mother nature had other plans. A large summer storm has arrived. Lots and lots of rain, thunder and lightning. Looks like another relaxing day of reading is ahead 🙂 Well the rain, lightning and thunder started at 6am and as of 6pm has not let up one bit. The temperature outside at 6pm is 60 degrees. 36 degrees cooler than yesterday! I figure this is a good evening to bake pizza.

Unfortunately the rain did not let up until we left on the 8th. We did get one other morning which was great and we headed off to Yellowstone’s Grand Canyon. A much smaller version of Arizona’s of course, but just beautiful. This drive we saw breathtaking vista’s.

Breathtaking Vistas

Breathtaking Vistas

Makes one feel so tiny

Makes one feel so tiny

Then you can hike down trails to see the canyon.

Yellowstone River

Yellowstone River

River from other direction.

River from other direction.

Another Fall. The sound water makes at this volume is incredible.

Another Fall. The sound water makes at this volume is incredible.

We started back because we noticed the clouds coming back over and sure enough because we “need” to get back is when a black bear would run across the road, stopping traffic. To make matters worse, people started jumping out of their cars to get a picture snarling up traffic even more. Lucky for me my hubby has some mad motorcycle skills and I can take pictures while on the back of the bike.

Black Bear that captivated many.

Black Bear that captivated many.

The temperature on this ride started out about 86 when we left and as we climbed higher in the mountains it is a wonderful 75.  Also in Montana they do not have a helmet law. While it’s been proven that wearing one A) can keep you alive if you crash it also B) keeps your head cooler in the sun. I already mentioned our cooling gear and all this brings me to some of the smiles and light head shakes from the Harley riders. Now I’m not going to get into which is better Harleys or Goldwings but suffice to say I know there were some that looked down on our safety ‘antics’. But we got the last laugh. As we started down the mountain I mentioned those clouds…well the temp dropped from 75, to 60 to 50 to 42 degrees in about 7 minutes. Then the hail started. I wish I could have gotten a picture but I was afraid of ruining my camera. Hail is over 1/4 of an inch and we are wearing leather gloves and our breeze coats which have shoulder, elbow and back armor and this hail HURTS!! We both have our face guards down and now the hail is coating road and very thick I might add. Derek and I keep yelling “ouch!” “Ow! that one got my knee!”  and then I got a case of the giggles at the absurdity of it all. And look there are the Harley riders..no coats, no helmets and no gloves. They are getting pummeled! They all had to stop and get to the side of the road and hide under the trees. Who’s laughing at the safety riders now huh?

This is what it looks like before you get the crud beat out of you by hail.

This is what it looks like before you get the crud beat out of you by hail.

Side note – Uno is a fun a game while camping. However Uno after a martini or two is a GREAT game! The next morning our sides and face still hurt from laughing so much. Who knew?

July 8th – we pack up and head to Garryowen Montana and 7th Ranch RV Park to tour Custer’s Last Stand. I am not a big US history buff, but I must say this was a very interesting park to visit. We took the bus tour which gave us just a wonderful tour.

220 soldiers are buried beneath this monument alone.

220 soldiers are buried beneath this monument alone.

Custer's Tomb Stone. This is where he fell. He was exhumed and buried at West Point.

Custer’s Tomb Stone. This is where he fell. He was exhumed and buried at West Point.

The Battlefield

The Battlefield

Nice tribute and honor paid to the horses that lost their lives too.

Nice tribute and honor paid to the horses that lost their lives too.

Our Indian guide Amber who is Crow Indian.

Our Indian guide Amber who is Crow Indian.

I then became fascinated with some small signs they had by various plants explaining what they were and how they were used by the Indians. I even bought a book going into more detail – Edible and Medicinal Plants of the West by Gregory L. Tilford. Just a wonderful book.

Sunset in Garryowen MT

Sunset in Garryowen MT

July 11th we started heading home and while we had planned to take a couple of side trips we were just exhausted from the heat, and tired of it. We got to Missoula and stayed at Jellystone RV park and what a cute place. More geared to those with kids of course, but a really nice park! The next night we got to Pasco Washington and to the KOA camp site. All our camp sites up till now have been mainly Good Sam or other privately owned sites. There is a difference between GS and KOA. GS does not allow modified, homemade or van conversions. They don’t want debilitated vehicles. KOA’s have a more lenient policy which why we got parked next to what I am calling The Beast.

A behemoth...I think it killed the tree.

A behemoth…I think it killed the tree.

I wish the picture showed the whole image. This thing was leaking water from 4 different points. Their sewer hose did not have a fitting but rather was just stuffed down as far as they could stuff it. A giant cardboard box was under the front end and soaked from all the leaks. Then, our site, had a dead tree. We walked the park and our site was the only one with a dead tree. Why they didn’t just cut it out is beyond me. Then I worried why it was dead and looking at the leaks from next door again. We opted to sit inside our trailer and watch a video rather than sit outside and look at the beast.

We got home on the 13th and happy to be home! My garden went nuts in the 16 days we were gone and all my lettuce bolted as did my dill. But got the first zucchini of the year and had it for dinner. Ranch Kitty was happy to see us as well.

And now, some more random vacation photos.

This one of several spots we would stop and have picnics.

This one of several spots we would stop and have picnics.

Eerie when you look to the hills and see vapors and steam coming out of the cracks.

Eerie when you look to the hills and see vapors and steam coming out of the cracks.

These are mineral flats 'Minerva Terrace'  that have formed over the centuries.

These are mineral flats ‘Minerva Terrace’ that have formed over the centuries.

This big guy held us up for 10 min while he sauntered across our path.

This big guy held us up for 10 min while he sauntered across our path.

Lily pads in full bloom.

Lily pads in full bloom.

We made it!

We made it!

No it's not a golf course.

No it’s not a golf course.

See I told you it wasn't a golf course.

See I told you it wasn’t a golf course.

A beautiful art piece commemorating the unification of the tribes.

A beautiful art piece commemorating the unification of the tribes.

This is an Indian saddle. How they managed to have children after using this I will never know!

This is an Indian saddle. How they managed to have children after using this I will never know!

Bye Bye for now :)

Bye Bye for now 🙂