Saturday, September 2, 2017

2017 Fall Habitat and More Trek!


Baker City to Craters of the Moon National Monument
294 miles

We left Baker City around 8am, stopped to check air in the trailer tires at Les Schwaab, and are on our way! I drove through Boise today – my first time with the trailer. UGH! Gas and food stop at Mountain Home (Arby’s!) and Rick took us across the Snake River plateau – the Sawtooths in the distance to the north, and an old lake bed of farms and ranches surrounding us. Smoke and haze bad in Boise area, but cleared out the further east we went.

Arrived at Craters of the Moon National Monument around 3 and found a campsite! By evening it was full. Up on a knoll with terrific views and plenty of breeze. We walked up to the Visitor Center to get cave passes for tomorrow, explore the information, and pick up some great books for kid gifts. 

The Cave Passes are new – the white nose syndrome for bats has spread to the western states and they are trying hard to avoid it here. We can’t wear or take anything with us into the cave that we wore in Mammoth Caves last year, as Mammoth is one of the really bad ones back east.

Back to site to relax and enjoy the evening unfold. Leftover pizza from our night with MT Nesters earlier in the week for dinner!

Beautiful sunset, although clear skies and no clouds. The crescent moon and Venus sinking into the western horizon was gorgeous - the moon becoming almost orange. Right before we went to bed, the stars were fully out and the milky Way soared across the sky. So beautiful. We left trailer door open (screen!) and all the windows on the back bed open. Like sleeping outside!

SATURDAY, August 26
Exploring Craters of the Moon

What a beautiful morning! I slept until 7 and then saw the sun rise over the eastern horizon. The campground is eerily quiet in the morning, but gradually traffic on the highway begins and the sounds of awakening happen.

We spend a lazy morning until 10am, when we leave, with the truck, to make the 11 mile loop of the monument. We had thought to just walk down to the caves, but that would have been a 7.5 mile trek, and the trip back in the hot sun on the black pavement just didn’t sound appealing. This way, we’ll do all the stops.

So...splatter cones with their deep shafts and snow in the bottom of one! Pahoehoe lava and a’a lava cover the landscape, the flows very visible. But in many places limber pine, brittlebrush and rabbitbush dot the terrain. The rabbitbush is in bloom with its bright yellow canopy of color. We walked the half mile Devil’s Garden nature trail – an area of huge ‘Floaters’ - giant pieces of crust that were carried down from the vent by the lava. They look like immense grotesque statues.

But the highlight is always the lava tube caves! We hiked out the black asphalt ribbon trail over the flow first to Beauty Cave, got our headlights going, and descended the rocky entrance. Couldn’t go too far, but the roof of the cave appeared to be dotted with sparkling gems – light reflecting off drips of water and ice. Boy Scout Cave has a challenging entrance through a narrow opening. Rick was disappointed to see the lack of ice. He remembers coming in the spring and the whole floor was a sheet of solid ice. But it is 40 years later and nearing fall, not spring. We found a few places with ice tucked in corners!

Our last ‘cave’ was actually Indian Tunnel – a long lava tube with several cave-ins along the way so light filtered in frequently. You didn’t need the headlights. We exited at the far end through a tiny arch tunnel of lava, into a tiny pocket, and then out. Pigeons were roosting throughout. We got to walk across the pahoehoe to return to the trail and the entrance, following a series of stakes.

Back to the trailer for a late lunch, rest, and then a return to the VC (it is slightly air conditioned!) By 4pm, there was enough shade cast by the trailer to sit outside and relax.

Around 6 I put my shoes back on and headed out on the North Crater Nature Trail. I wanted to finish getting my 10,000 steps and it was a lovely cool (well, cooling!) evening. Up and over a small cinder cove to the trail start and then a good wander through the most recent of the flows. Back in 45 minutes!

The sky again put on its display of stars once the sun and moon disappeared! The campground is full, more children this time! We have families near us. I went to sleep to the sound of a little girl very unhappy…..

Craters of the Moon to Rexburg, ID
118 miles

To Rexburg and time to get to work!! Another calm, quiet morning and a late arising! The wind is still and the birds even are silent.

We are on our way around 9:15 – the topper of the morning is Rick’s spies one of the rare ‘Blazing Star’ flowers in bloom right at the campground exit. These flowers bloom at night and then close up early in the day, so we hadn’t seen them yet! Soooo pretty!

Smoke in the air!! And as we near Rexburg we perhaps see the reason why. Acres of burned sagebrush plateau about 10 miles west of town – between I15 and Rexburg.

Into Wal-Mart for groceries and gas, and then down about 8 miles towards Idaho Falls on US 20 to find Sheffield RV Park. I had discovered a voice mail earlier in the day from our team leader giving directions to the park. We get settled into a little spot (as far from the highway as possible, thankfully!) and get set up. Two other rigs are already here, including our friend Mike Humes, whom we built with in Columbia Falls.

A hot afternoon, but we get the air turned on, showers taken (they’ll be in the trailer, not the bathhouse as it is $2 for a shower). Our neighbors arrived during my shower and it will be cozy! I think their RV is angled 90 degrees from us and the door is about 4’ from the back of our trailer! Oh well! We can make it work. Nice folks so far. ….. More later. Luke is calling!

We gathered at 5:30 around a picnic table nearby – made introductions, etc. Our last couple is due to arrive soon (not tomorrow!) Three rigs who have built with CAVs 15+ times, and two rigs that are relative newbies – this is their third build. Folks from a high-rise in downtown Chicago to full-timers from PA to Naval officer Mike to us from small-town rural Oregon. Quite the spread. Around 6 the Executive Director came to join us and share a little more about their affiliate. Nice gal, who got the word on Wednesday that her Building Supervisor wouldn’t be working Thursday-Friday-Monday. Taking a LOOONG Labor Day weekend! So….we hope to be able to work inspite, but have to get permission to do so without ‘supervision’. (Politics and paper-work!)

It is going to cool down much nicer here in Rexburg than at Craters (all those rocks holding in the heat!) I spend the evening catching up on computer work since I can finally plug it in. No wifi yet – need to get the code from the camp folk.

MONDAY, August 28
CAV Build Day 1

Brrr! It definitely cooled down more! Rick grabbed the sleeping bag in the middle of the night – it was obvious we were going to be cold by morning! A brisk 52 in the trailer when I just got up. But the forecast bodes for considerable warming by day’s end!

The house site is only 5 miles up the road, so an easy 10 minutes max to get there. It is in a very new development with CCR (restrictions, like in Kalispell. They will have rock, garages, etc.) It is a Mormon development. Our homeowners are a single woman with 5 kids (NOT Mormon, but it will not be an issue) and a veteran, Shelby, his wife, Nori, and teenage grandchild. The vet is in poor health (needs heart surgery) so will not be able to work. We met Shelby and Nori today (Nori worked all day) and they will be providing lunch tomorrow. Nice folk. (I liked Shelby instantly as he was wearing a Star Wars style shirt with “May the Lord be with you”.)

Our site supervisor is Steve, an older guy but is becoming more and more invested in the Habitat spirit of building. He still maintains his construction firm on the side. I ended up working with him for the latter two-thirds of the day – all of it out in the front of the house in the sun!

Rick worked with Mike H most of the day, putting up missing pieces of sheathing from Shelby’s house – ladder, scaffolding, and up and down work! I did a few odd jobs before Steve grabbed me for his helper. We put up the header for the garage and built the rest of the garage front walls. They I installed some bracing brackets (14 nails each) on one of the trusses. Then we sheathed three of the front trusses so they didn’t have to be done after they were raised. A crane is coming tomorrow at noon to lift the trusses up to the top of the second floor for us. We just have to anchor them in!

This is a good group of workers, but we were all feeling the intensity of the heat by the end of the day. In fact, I tried to work with one of the nail guns after I had taken off my gloves and almost burned myself on the metal shaft. We stopped around 2:15 and cleaned up.

When I opened up the trailer, I realized why we were so fatigued! Our little clock/thermometer registered 106 inside the trailer. I think that is a record for us! Ouch! But….by the time we had returned from Happy Hour at 5:30, it was down to 78 and much more comfortable! I don’t think the low is forecast to be as cold tonight.

We gathered at 4 for a de-briefing and Happy Hour and chit chat for an hour and half. I did get a wifi code this afternoon, but it is so slow, not sure it will be worth anything. Alas.

TUESDAY, August 29
CAV Build Day 2

Whoa. Today was somewhat brutal! Again in the 90’s, although the clouds protected us for awhile. But….we worked until 5:30pm, having started at 7:30am – a 10 hour day! 

Rick spent most of the morning finishing up sheathing projects and getting walls ready for the trusses. I wielded the archaic nail gun and helped sheath two more gable ends, and then switched to a sheetrock drill and we installed the firewall sheetrock on one of the gables. Steve grabbed me to come up and help install sheetrock on the wall of the second floor also. (In a duplex, you must have sheetrock separating both halves with a gap of 2” inbetween.) We were working with a deadline, as not only was Shelby and Nori bringing in lunch, but the boom truck was due to arrive at 1pm to raise all the trusses.

Two houses worth of trusses is ALOT!! We didn’t finish, even though we worked until 5:30. But we got all the really heavy and major ones up. Still a few tricky ones to maneuver to the back of the house (which was part of the problem for the boom truck) which we will have to do by hand. Rick did yeoumans work – scrambling up on the trusses, interior walls, etc. to install all the spacers, line things up, etc. I was given the job of the tie line, which is a rope attached to one end of the truss to help guide it into place and keep it from spinning around in circles. Those of us on the ground crew at least had the option of hiding in the shade between loads. We were sending three trusses at a time up.

Everyone was absolutely beat by the end of the day. A short meeting style happy hour (no food or drinks!) Oh – trailer was only 101 today when we returned!! We voted to work a short day tomorrow and perhaps have dinner out together.

CAV Build Day 3

Last night at our ‘meeting’, we decided to only work a half day today since everyone was rather beat from yesterday. As it turns out, it would have been a decent afternoon to work, as clouds covered the sky much of the time and it even dropped a few sprinkles of rain! Plus homeowner Prudence arrived around noon with her son Jordan, ready to work for abit! Rats! She had also brought by a huge zucchini and a cucumber, ice and more drinks. Promised to come back tomorrow as she wants to help raise the rest of the trusses.

Steve got us started on a variety of jobs today while he made a trip to the lumberyard. Rick and Mike were finishing up the bits and pieces of sheathing, another group fronted the garage walls on the west side, and I went up to the upstairs level to install hurricane brackets on all the trusses! One of my favorite jobs! At least here they have a specific nail gun (powerful little guy – it blew my hardhat across the room on the first nail!) that has a tip that fits right into the holes on the clip. Push, pull the trigger, and pow! Nail in! Shoots through the metal bracing quite easily. After abit, Gae came up and manually hammered two nails into the clip to hold it in place and then I came around and put the remaining 8 nails in with the gun. I also had to go back to the brackets I installed the other day and secure the truss to them with 6 nails each. It was a lot of lifting the heavy nail gun, climb ladder, climb down, move heavy ladder through bracing, wall sections, etc. I finished around 11:40 with the west side and figured that was it. I wasn’t starting the other side then! My arm was getting tired! And Rick said he was running out of steam around noon as well. We must still be tired from yesterday.

After our showers, Rick and I discovered the water system was again leaking until “my” seat in the trailer. Rick went to work to fix it, once again. At 2pm we all gathered with our laptops at the picnic table for the first two hours of Mike’s “Safety Class”. (Technically, we get yellow hardhats for this!) At 4 we decided we would do that last hour at another time!

Time to take off then for Applebee’s! We took Ginny and Michael with us, carpooling a little! Still Happy Hour time, so half-price appetizers!! Good thing, cause our drinks cost more than the food! Good time, however, with conversations all over the spectrum. The group is pretty compatible.

Relaxing time back at the campground and another early to bed evening.

THURSDAY, August 31
CAV Build Day 4

The last day of August!! And it turns out to be overcast for MUCH of the day, therefore MUCH cooler than the previous two! We’ll take it!

Local volunteer Dave wasn’t here today, but a new local, Rick, was! Rick will also be our contact man tomorrow when Sup Steve is gone (a ‘quick’ trip to California!) But we made progress!

While the guys all tackled the process of getting the back trusses up, Gae and I worked on the hurricane clips on the east end. Judy helped me briefly. We got a shorter ladder and with someone there to hand the gun to, all the trips up and down the ladder seemed much easier! (Morning probably helps!) I lost my air hose and ladder after abit as both were needed to get the trusses up. I went to help do the preliminary lift there, and then returned with a shortie ladder to hammer about 5 clips in by hand. WORK!! Decided to wait for my air hose! Eventually Gae and I finished the east end, went back to install clips on the new section just raised, and then did all the east garage trusses. By the end, I was barely able to lift the gun with my left hand and had used ladders, scaffolding, and even Bill’s head in order to get into position for some of the odd angles. 118 hurricane clips total!

Rick says he was ‘all over’ today! Initially helped get the trusses up, and then worked on porch base plates, blocking, etc. Prudence and her son Jordan worked most of the day and it was fun getting to know them. For the last half hour Gae and I checked both bottom floors for shiners and took care of them. Can’t do anything about the second floor (which has some horrible strips of shiners!) until the scaffolding goes up.

We clean up around 2:15 and are back at camp by 2:45. Short 45 minute meeting. I went back around 4:45 to fold strips on the table in expectation of Happy Hour, but only Ginny and Michael came over. We had a good visit and I got a whole batch of strips ready to curl!

Baked potatoes for dinner with salsa! appears Rick’s fix on the water hose has worked!

FRIDAY, September 1
CAV Build Day 5

We heard the sandhill cranes again this morning! AND the sun was a solid red ball – hard to see through the trees, however!

Rick the Volunteer is back again today to make sure we are on task….and to answer questions! And the variety achieved today is vast!! Porch pillars are raised, porch beams are constructed in sandwich style (2 2x8’s with a layer of OSB in the middle) and installed. Sheathing work continues and a few more hurricane clips added to my total! A good day overall, but it got hot!! No clouds in the sky today to hide the sun!

Lazy afternoon after our brief meeting. Nice to know we have a few days off. I think all we have planned tomorrow is laundry, breakfast out, shopping, and Rick is watching football!

SATURDAY, September 2
Day Off

And boy howdy (to quote friend Rusty!) was it a day off! A leisurely morning, then a trip into ‘town’! Frontier Pies Cafe for breakfast (we got the buffet) and then two doors down was Magic Suds laundromat. Not the cheapest we’ve found, but clean and quick. Two loads done before noon. We cruised down the main drag towards Walmart, stopped at a Dollar Tree for a few purchases (including a new coffee cup for me since mine has never shown up since I left it at the job site on Monday!) Back to the trailer by 1. Rick spent the afternoon watching football games and taking a walk. I went to McDonalds for a little wifi time (over two hours) and took a short walk around the park afterwards. Nothing more, nothing less!

Sunday, September 3
Teton Scenic Byway Loop-Grand Targhee

What a beautiful day! We left Sheffield shortly before 8, stopped for gas and coffees, and then headed up Highway 33 toward Sugar City, Tetonia, and eventually Driggs. Rolling potato farms and wheat fields. It is not a perfect day to head up to Targhee, but we are going anyway. Smoke has filled the valley again – fires in Missoula, fires in Salmon, and nearly 50 fires in Oregon all blowing in this direction. Awful!

Rick reminisces from Driggs on up the road to Targhee. It has been 40 years since his days in Pocatello, and adventures skiing at Grand Targhee. SOOO much development up and down the valley since then. Labor Day weekend and we find the Rendezvous Bike Festival in full activity when we arrive – all sorts of RV’s in a mock campground, bikers everywhere! But...we purchase our $15 Scenic Lift ticket and ride to the top of the mountain (Fred’s Peak) at 9762’. From there we can follow hiker only trails along the summit ridges.
We take the Marmot Trail along the ridge crest. The Tetons are silhouette shadows with the morning sun behind them, but the peaks are very clearly defined in the distance. The dropoff on the north side of the ski area is severe. We can hear the squealing of bike tires below us, thankful that this isn’t a shared trail!

We hike up to Mary’s Saddle, and then follow the trail around the east flank of the peak, thinking it will go to the top eventually. We are fooled, but grateful when we get to the other side of the peak and see the shear wall of lava rock that forms it’s north side! Instead the trail continued on up an old uplifted lava flow to what our waitress later told us was Steve-Bob – a rocky prominence that overlooked a vast barren glacial plain. We could see evidence of some mini lava tubes that had collapsed as we hiked up to the end of Steve-Bob.

After a large group of young people left, another couple around our age got to the top and we visited with them for nearly 45 minutes. Mark and Karen, who live in an apartment in the plane hanger down in Driggs. Moved out from Virginia a year or so ago.

Wildflowers were abundant, but most in the final stages of life as autumn rolls in. The wild geraniums were a beautiful red tint leaves, asters, etc. Rick was thrilled to find a few gentians and I even found one clump of Rocky Mt. Blue columbine, altho the blue had mostly faded out. LOTS of butterflies, grasshoppers, and ladybugs, especially near the summits.

The Tetons are incredibly close here. As the day progressed, more and more of the snowfields and shadows of the peaks because visible, but likewise the smoke seemed to increase as the day advanced as well. A no win situation!

We hiked back down and rather than taking the Marmot trail back up along the ridge top, we opted for the service road that would take us back up to the lift. The day was quite warm for that ¾ of a mile of dusty road! We stopped at the Observation Deck to check out some information plagues there, and ended up visiting with a PT who had just hiked up from the bottom of the mountain! By the time we got back to the lift to ride down, we had pretty well scrubbed a visit to Jackson from our itinerary for the day!

We shared a Ciabatta chicken sandwich at the Trap Bar restaurant down in Targhee Village and were ready to head back down around 3pm! Completed our loop for the day with the drive to Victor and then over Pine Creek Pass on Hwy 31 to Swan Valley. US 26 to Ryrie, and then backroads with my phone to get us back to Thornton and our campground. LOTS of wheat fields between Swan Valley and Ryrie, plus we met up with the Snake River several times.

Quiet evening. Oh, and the trailer was an even 100 degrees when we returned today. Thank goodness for the air conditioner!

MONDAY, September 4 – LABOR DAY
Mesa Falls – Nez Perce Historic Trail
Ashton, ID

After a very lazy morning, we left at 11am heading north toward Ashton and a visit to Mesa Falls on Henry’s Fork of the Snake River. I knew not what to expect, although we saw something on the news last night with a video of the falls – and plenty of water roaring through!

Highway 20 is a four lane freeway until about 5 miles from Ashton, where it narrows to its original two lane access into West Yellowstone and the national park. Ashton is a town built on the fertility of the wheat and potato fields surrounding it. We headed east from there and then wound north into a narrow canyon, rimmed with basalt on one side and rhyolite tuffstone on the other. There are two sections of falls – Lower and Upper (appropriately named!) You can only view the Lower from a distance as access is so poor. But the Upper Falls area is well developed with a Visitor Center, fee access (due to the National Historic Trail designation), and plenty of trails to follow. I used our Senior Pass – once again the best buy in the world!

The boardwalk path for the Upper Falls visits several platforms with various views of this, the highest of Idaho’s waterfalls. Shoshone Falls is more massive, but this is higher. The falls slants away so until the final platform you don’t really get even a ¾ view of the dropoff. But there is a rainbow visible and PLENTY of water! Fireweed is puffy white with seed hairs everywhere. Lots of berries, none of them edible!

The Visitor Center focuses on birds of Henry’s Lake and the wildlife in the area – lots of tracks, pelts, etc. Also the history of Chief Joseph and his flight to Canada, which was through this area. Picked up a few postcards, but couldn’t get a pin. :(
I drove us back down to Rexburg and our planned visit to Walmart for some groceries. Tonight we are having a CAV potluck and I needed to be prepared. I am taking my pickled asparagus horse-overs and cut pineapple. Rick picked up a sweet potato pie to try!

Just before our potluck a huge 5th Wheel RV pulls into the pass-through space next to us. Truck AND car with it. We feel just a little boxed in – with their slide-outs and Mike and Judy’s car dolly, there is only about 20” to walk between to get to our trailer! Oh well.

Fun time with the potluck – this is a very congenial group! Meatballs, beans, potatoes, apple crisp, plus my offerings. I am stuffed!

I took pictures tonight of an orange sun setting in the west, and just saw an orange moon rising in the east. The smoke is terrible!

BTW….Rick founds my coffee cup in the back of the truck and tonight I found his neck lamp buried under his seat in the trailer! Rick wondered if we would spend our old age finding things for each other!

TUESDAY, September 5

A solid red sun this morning and MUCH cooler weather! Reprieve for the day! (Although eventually the sun did heat up the day – but only 92 in the trailer when we got home this afternoon!)

It took a little while to get everyone started today, but once we did, we got quite a lot accomplished. Rick worked on the west porch trusses all day, installing the truss, plumbing it, and put in hurricane clips to anchor it. I worked with Ginny and Michael on the sheathing of the back of the west garage. By day’s end, we made it! It involved a lot of extension ladder work, nail guns, and some OSB cuts. At the end of the day I had a small project to fill a gap with OSB that involved climbing on the garage trusses and nailing into the width of OSB. Did it!

We met at 6pm tonight to complete our Safety Training course with Mike. All 6 of us finished the 4 hour course, which pleased our team leader Bill immensely! We got bright yellow Safety Helmet hardhats as our prize.

A rough day….from Sunday’s discovery of Travis Talbott’s death, to Hurricane Harvey and now Irma, to DACA news from Trump, wildfires throughout the west and the Columbia Gorge in flames to the final blow – a text from Annalea and phone call from Luke that Jodie Averett was killed yesterday when kicked in the chest by a cow. I talked with Annalea as well after the call with Luke. So much to grieve today.

WEDNESDAY, September 6
CAV Build Day 7

Forty-eight degrees in the trailer this morning and up to 90 this afternoon! I actually had on my sweatshirt for awhile this morning! But when it warmed up, IT WARMED UP!!! Sun was again an orange ball in the east – we have air quality advisories in affect until late Thursday when hopefully some winds will come and start blowing the smoke away. Apparently it is a mess in Portland with a fire, started by kids throwing fire crackers, in the Columbia Gorge threatening Multnomah Falls Lodge, Crown Point, etc.

But we are building here! Rick spends the day again working closely with Steve on the front porch lookouts, sheathing the porch roofs, etc. Hot time in the sunshine! We moved scaffolding around a couple times to help them out. Mike H worked on the ground for them as a cutter.

I teamed up with Michael (we lost our cutter Ginny to another crew) and we finished up all the sheathing on the walls, backing for the last six earthquake brackets on the foundation, helped move trusses up to the second floor, and then upstairs to install some ceiling anchors for the sheetrock.

Prudence showed up today and worked with various teams, plus we firmed up a tie dye party after work today. So….back at the trailer park, a quick meeting, and then we are setting up for tie dye on the picnic tables. Ginny, Judy, and Gae all dyed articles and we were just cleaning everything up when Prudence arrived at 5:15!! She had four of her five kids with her! So, we reset and got everything tie dyed with them! I was finally done at 6:30pm!! Whew! We have a bucket of items to wash out tomorrow!

I’m tired and ready for bed! The ‘boys’ all went out for drinks and appetizer dinner tonight. Rick said it was a lot of fun and good conversations.

Thursday, September 7
CAV Build Day 8

Another busy day! Cool in the morning and heating up by afternoon, but not as bad as it has been. The smoke is still rather heavy – fires burning in Idaho, SW Montana, not to mention the entire west side of Oregon.
Prudence brings the son of a friend with her today – they do a lot of clean up in the upstairs areas where we have been preparing for sheetrock, etc. I spent the morning in the east house installing nailer strips on top of the walls. Managed to whack the hammer on my healing thumb at one point, but Judy got me some ice and it isn’t too bad this evening.
Rick worked with Steve sheathing the roof of the east garage in prep for putting up the trusses on that part. After lunch Rick took a crew with him to install trusses over the east porch, while Prudence, Caleb and I went up to help Steve finish with the garage trusses. Step by step the end of the day pictures show progress!

Prudence extended her heartfelt thanks to all the crew as she wouldn’t be back (has to work the weekend) before they all leave on Sunday. I told her I would see her next week! We haven’t seen Nori and Shelby all week, but heard that Shelby was having medical problems. Hope all is well for him. He needs heart surgery, but waiting for the VA hospital to schedule.

Back to rinse out all the tie dye, and then wait for a washing machine to become available. In the meantime we had our ‘house tours’ of everyone’s RV! (It was Judy’s idea!) Kinda fun. We have an example of everything – 12’ mini trailer to our 18’ hybrid, to a class A motorhome, a class C motorhome, and a 5th Wheel. Mike Humes 5th Wheel is probably the most spacious and luxurious!

Tie dye came out great – especially Ginny’s baby blanket. So pretty! I got into quite a discussion with one of the park permanent residents while picking up the goods from the dryer. She wants to learn to tie dye AND they had lots of questions about Habitat. Spreading the word is part of our job!

I had devotions this morning and used one from my book, which was a good lead-in to a little promotion. I think I might sell a few! Judy was previewing them!

Muscles are feeling a little sore!

FRIDAY, September 8
CAV Build Day 9
Whew! We are starting to run out of steam! I work with Steve all day today – the east side garage trusses that form a decorative hip above the garage. We got the trusses installed and sheathed, plus the trim on the eaves put up. Mike H was our cutter on the ground floor. I just tried my best to anticipate what Steve was trying to do and hand his the right tools, with the right nails, etc.

Rick and Mike P worked on the east side porch trusses, having to MAKE two additional trusses as well. They also ended up moving scaffolding around and eventually got most of the roof of the porch sheathed. Tomorrow we move more scaffolding and work the last gable peak above the east pop out.

The rest of the group was inside building boxes for attic crawl spaces?? I didn’t get a real good description of their project, but told them I would be inspecting tomorrow!

We wind up work today shortly after 2, so a good relaxing break time (but it was warm!) before the group goes out to dinner for our final ‘fling’. Mike and Judy will be leaving tomorrow afternoon – we are only working a half day tomorrow.

We all gather at 5:30 at Fresco Kitchen and Grill – just a few miles north on Old Yellowstone Highway. Its a good thing we met early, as by the time we left on a Friday night the place was overflowing with people waiting everywhere. Part of that could be due to the arrival this weekend of the BYU-Idaho students!! Rick and I had a great time visiting with Ginny and Michael who sat opposite us. We shared a BBQ Chicken Sandwich and Artichoke Dip appetizer, plus a glass of wine. Good times.

There are clouds in the sky and rain is falling somewhere in Idaho. We even saw Flash Flood warnings for SW Baker County – heavy rain!! Please, God, put out some of these fires!!

Saturday, September 9
CAV Build Final Day 10

Surprise! The sunrise today looked almost ‘normal’ - no red glow, just beautiful clouds and color!

We started out today with important stuff – our group picture!! Steve took a few and then Rick went to ask the neighbor if she would take a couple of everyone, including Steve! Then it was time to get to work, especially since it is just a half day today!

Rick and Mike P finish up their work on the porch and then get scaffolding moved so they can do the wrap around part of the gable that Steve and I are tackling. Sadly enough, I’m not totally sure what everyone else worked on!! Mike H continued to cut for us and after awhile Michael came out to lend a hand hoisting the OSB up. Shortly after noon we had finished what we set out to do today! The gables and porches are all ready with eaves and sheathing!

Back to the campground and lunch, then Rick and I take off for Magic Suds and two loads of laundry! I am able to get online briefly there, but can’t upload any pictures. We meet Mike and Judy leaving as we come into the park – Judy has brought back fresh peaches for everyone. SOOOOO good!

Warm day and we hide in the trailer for awhile, grabbing some dinner. By evening, Gae comes to our door with the peaches and I see Ginny and Michael out at the firepit. We join them for awhile, eventually everyone gathers there. Some final goodbyes around 8pm. Most are leaving tomorrow early morning.

Karl and Kendra got back to us and they aren’t available tomorrow for a lunch date, so Rick and I have no schedule to maintain, other than to be back at the park by 5p for our initial build meeting. We have some questions for Karen, the affiliate director, so we’ll be sure to be here!

A final composite collage of the Rexburg CAV Build.  A great group!  

SUNDAY, September 10
Day Off!

My subtitle above sums it up! When we couldn’t make connections with Karl and Kendra, knowing we were back at work on Monday, we decided to go no where today and just plain relax!! We did some grocery shopping (the aisles and shelves at WalMart were bare due to the influx of BYU-I students this weekend. Rick watched football and I spent three hours at McDonalds on the internet!

Our new building partners pulled in during the afternoon. Team Leaders Jeff and Laura have been up in the Flathead Valley all summer, hosting at the KOA campground just south of Whitefish. They worked on the Ashley house off and on when they could. Paul and Meg are from Sacramento and relatively new to CAVs. They arrived in the SMALLEST RV (short of a tent) we have ever seen – one of the little teardrop trailers that is bed only with the kitchen in the rear that opens to the outside. Wow! Rick just said, ‘I’m not tough enough for that’!!

Good meeting with Karen, the affiliate ED, which lasted almost two hours because we just sat and chatted. Karen seemed much more comfortable this time around.

MONDAY, September 11
CAV Build Day 11

Here we go again….same place, new co-workers!! It takes a little while to get started as Rick and I show Laura and Jeff where the keys are, etc. Steve arrives a little earlier than normal, and we are pleased to see the return of both Dave and Rick, locals we didn’t see last week. Nori and Jordan also were on site today.

At times today there wasn’t enough work for all, as Steve was focused on the roof and getting the outlooks and fascia done so we could sheath. Meg and Nori made mitre saw cuts, Jordan toted a lot of lumber here and there. We all moved scaffolding. Jeff and Rick sheathed the back of the garage before break! Once again, Steve grabbed me as his ‘helper’ and I ended up on the upper trusses of the Smith house putting in the 22” braces for the fascia. Local Rick came up to help me – I wasn’t tall enough and it takes one to hold and one to fire the gun, especially in that awkward spot. (OK, Steve does it alone, but I couldn’t!) The goal today was to prepare the Smith house so we can sheath the upper roof, except for the back hip section, while Steve, Dave, and Rick attend the mandatory safety seminar on Tuesday.

We worked until 3:15 – no one really paying much attention to how long we were ‘at it’! Clean up and then some ‘down time’ in the shade before we left, discussing our approach for tomorrow.

Showers, rest, and a short Happy Hour out by Walkers trailer getting to know one another. I have Nori coming for a tie dye party tomorrow afternoon, plus I went down and gave the information to the lady in the trailer next to the restrooms. (I don’t even know her name yet!) Hopefully enough dye left!

TUESDAY, September 12
CAV Build Day 12

A full day, even if we were only a crew of 5! Laura decided to go to the safety training in Idaho Falls, so Jeff rode with us to the job site. Nori joined us around 9, but that was it! The three guys spent the day ‘UP TOP’ while we three gals manned the saw station below, used the ladder lift to raise the OSB to the porch roof, and built Toe Plates for the guys to install at the edge of the roof – a safety measure. Meg and Nori also finished up the upper door sill in the garage – a job Meg started yesterday with Dave.

Steve, Dave, and Rick were all at the safety seminar as well, so we did our best to be on good behavior today. Rick and Jeff shot hundreds of sheathing bullets today. Paul lifted a lot of OSB!! He should be sore tonight.

Overall, we got all the south side of Prudence’s roof sheathed, part of the north side, and the fascia finished on the north. We couldn’t go any further at that point without a little direction from Steve.

I cut a lot of sheathing today, plus taught Meg how to use the nail gun and Nori made her first cut with a circular saw (fortunately an easy cut and with the portable little saw!) But she was very proud of herself.

Back to the park around 3 and ready to prepare for our tie dye party!! Laura dyes a couple of items, Meg one shirt, and then Nori shows up with her daughter Jennifer and five grandchildren! Great kids and we had a fun time. AND I didn’t run out of dye!! Hopefully we’ll find things wash out ok tomorrow! The gal in the park who wanted to dye never showed up. :(

A quick thunderstorm went through around 7 and then sunshine again. Cooling off. Tomorrow could be rain later in the day and barely hit 80 degrees. Hurray!

WEDNESDAY, September 13
CAV Build Day 13
Our second day ‘on our own’! We hope to work until noon at least, praying the forecasted storms hold off! The safety class should be done around noon and maybe Steve will show up and give a little direction.

In the meantime, Paul, Meg, and I work on the 8” OSB sections that go above the sheathing – to prevent the insulation from popping out. Meg and I are able to do the part on the gable of Prudence’s house, but we can’t reach from the porch roof. Paul gets that part! Jeff and Rick tackle the fascia on the back, and we move more scaffolding (with only four sections it is a never ending process!) I build another toe plate and help deliver boards. Meg and I spend the latter portion of the day cutting OSB for Rick and Jeff who continue the sheathing then on the back side of the house.

Steve didn’t make it in the afternoon, but Dave showed up, fresh with SAFETY ideas! We put up handrails in the stairway, and for Rick and Paul to build the last corner ‘bird box’ on the fascia, they had to span a scaffold riser between two anchored 2x4’s, and then harness up to reach the corner. Dave was excited to try out his newly learned skills!

Back to the campground to relax abit and then help Laura and Meg wash out their tie dye handiwork! Laura had made a crockpot shepherd’s pie for everyone to share at dinnertime. We brought over a loaf of kale bread. A most pleasant evening as we sat around and visited until 8pm.

THURSDAY, September 14
CAV Build Day 14

The forecast is NOT good for today, but we are going in to meet Steve and hope we might get a morning in. Thunderstorms forecast – not what you want for roof work!

The project for today is the back hip section of Prudence’s house – our last remaining challenge! We move the scaffolding again so the gables eaves can be built, and then Steve and Jeff set the hip trusses. I go up to hold the level for abit in that process. Rick is finishing fascia and more OSB goes into place.

Thunderstorms interrupt us twice, but it isn’t until 1:30 when the storm passes right over us and more rain falls that we call it quits – the roof is too wet to be safe! I did a lot of running around today, making cuts, helping with scaffold, making deliveries! Prudence came by just as we were getting ready to leave and we visited with her for awhile. She will be coming in to work tomorrow and we will finish roofing HER side of the complex then!!!

Heavy rainfall for awhile before we head to Applebees - more storms on the way!

A few hours to relax and then Happy Hour at Applebee’s on the schedule for this evening! I also have a conference call with the Program/Mission Committee to review grant applications, but not until 8pm and I’ll do it at McDonalds so I have internet for all the materials.  

FRIDAY, September 15
CAV Build Day 15….nope.

Raindrops are falling on our heads! It rained last night solid from the time we got back from MacDonalds (I came back before my call and sat in the truck talking!) until early morning, paused for a few hours, and then started in again. We cancelled – the roof will be WAY too wet to be safe. Day off!

Walkers and Hoyles headed into town in search of breakfast. We were so excited about Frescos, but they discovered it didn’t open until 11 on weekdays! Wow! Rick and I kicked back and relaxed for abit. A trip to Magic Suds for laundry and Dollar Tree, back to trailer for lunch – Rick had a hankering for spaghetti and we had bought some pasta and sauce at Dollar Tree. We then tried to go to the Teton Flood Museum, only to discover it closed at 2pm. So we went to Deseret Thrift Store and picked up some shirts, jeans, and lots of books!

We pulled out the heater today. The forecast for tonight is high 30’s. Since we washed our sheets this morning and I had the bed all pulled apart anyway, I put up my ‘heat shield’ along the back wall of the bed. Time for the Fall weather!

After dinner I asked Laura if she wanted to make some Christmas ornaments and I took my bin of rolled magazine paper crafts and we made doves. I had worked on a star and dove earlier in the day, plus got a snowman or two made. Meg and Paul came over as well and we ate popcorn, drank wine, and visited for over two hours. A nice evening.

SATURDAY, September 16
Teton Flood Museum….and not much else!

Temperatures are cooling down! It was 38 outside when I got up around 7 (yes, a cozy sleep in day!) but 52 in the trailer since we had the heater going during the night. Not bad at all!

The group is having a final meal together this morning at Frescos – meeting at 9. We sit and chat for two hours!! Laura and Jeff then left for Craters of the Moon, Meg and Paul for Jackson. We went to the Flood Museum!!

A good 25 minute movie of the stages of the Teton flood – the photography wasn’t great and the resolution of many pictures poor, but it wasn’t hard to see the devastation on the farming communities the breach in the dam wrought. The flood happened on Rick’s birthday in 1976 while he was living in Pocatello. Pokie wasn’t affected for the most part, but every town up river was! Besides the loss of homes and businesses, the waters scraped the top soil away from fertile agricultural lands, rendering them useless. It seems much of the area has rebounded in the succeeding 50 years, since we saw acres upon acres of wheat, sugar beets, and POTATOES!!

Over to WalMart for a few groceries and then back for a nap! Later in the afternoon Rick took a walk and I called Cherrie while walking the park. A thorough cleaning of the trailer took place. We spent the evening closing up the front end, draining the tanks, and putting away the water hoses. Easier tonight than in the cold of the morning! All that’s left is our bed and the electric. We can be out of here FAST if we wanted to be!
A few goodbye conversations before heading in for the night. Tomorrow we hit the road again with an open schedule! No firm reservations, just a general direction with a few target locations to set up camp and explore!

SUNDAY, September 17
Rexburg, ID to Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park, MT
173 miles

What a GORGEOUS drive today!! Blue skies, fluffy clouds, and mountains with fresh snow in all directions!! Plus it was new highway for the most part for each of us.

We left around 8:15 with hugs all around (although Laura was still in bed, but we got her last night!) Jeff was still in his pjs, but came out to say goodbye. I do hope we meet up with them again sometime on the CAV trail.

Coffees at Maverik (they raised their prices, however, so refills are now $1.29!! PLUS tax!) and then on up the road toward Ashton, Island City, and Henry’s Lake and the Montana border.

New experience!! Just before the road narrows from 4 lane to 2 lane 5 miles from Ashton, we were stopped by a police vehicle blocking the road with lights flashing. Same thing on the other side. We soon observed that a MAJOR sheep crossing was about to take place! Must have been 700-1000 sheep in the flock and they weren’t very happy about crossing the highway at first. The mass of wool just keep coming and coming until we saw three border collies and a couple of guys on horseback trying their best to get them across the road. Quite the sight!

I sent a text to Diane and Tom as we neared Ashton. The storm clouds have lifted and the smoke dissipated and I can finally see the amazing view of the Teton peaks towering on the eastern skyline. The view from the Ashton RV Park would be a gorgeous as Diane described it!

Stopped in Island City for gas, choking at the price ($3.09) but the climb and a headwind meant we wanted to be sure to run on the top of the tank. Island City is where the Speelmans have their cabin that Conks have borrowed a few times. (We found out the exact location AFTER we were through the area!)

Broad plateaus and snowy peaks from Island City to Henry’s Lake. The rain and snow from Thursday to Saturday have dusted the mountaintops down to around the 6500’ level. No snow on the highway, but roadside in places. It is so beautiful! We cross over the Continental Divide and into Montana at Raynolds Pass (6800’). Shortly after we meet up with the Madison River which is our companion for the next 60 or so miles. We have traveled all three rivers feeding out of the West Yellowstone – Yellowstone area now. The Yellowstone River from the north entrance to the Livingston, the Gallatin from West Yellowstone, and now the Madison. Both the Madison and Gallatin, along with the Jefferson (which we are currently camped next to) all form the Missouri River at Three Forks, just east of us.

Enjoyed the charm of Ennis, MT, and the magnificent vistas of vast ranches, wheat fields, cattle grazing, and always, the mountains. We left US 287 to turn west on Montana 2 to find Lewis and Clark Caverns.

We are able to secure an electric site for the next three days ($34 for tonight as it is still peak season, and then $30 night for the next two). I take care of the fee arrangements at the Visitor Center while Rick fills the trailer water tank (important since we discovered the showers are $3 for 6 minutes!) We haven’t really used the water pump and water tank in the trailer before. This will be a good test. We have 30 gallons of water – that should be able to last us for 6 quick showers over the next three days.

We decide to wait and take the cavern tours on a less than ideal day (most likely Tuesday when rain is forecast), so we take a two plus mile hike around the foothills below the caverns during the afternoon. We lost the trail at one point, but managed to get back on prior to arrival back at the camp. We passed an old gypsum mine (used to make talc) and had several good views back up the valley with the Jefferson River, snow on the north side of the mountains, and the Bridger Mts east of Belgrade in the far distance.

Dinner (we finally ate up the leftover turkey soup from Christmas Eve) and then a relaxing evening reading all the material we picked up at the Visitor Center. We contacted Linda Thoth and have David’s cell number in case we have an opportunity tomorrow to contact him for perhaps a meal out.

The day was beautifully sunny and warm, but not hot, but it is cooling down quickly now. Forecast is for 31 tonight! That’s why we needed electricity – the heater will be running!

MONDAY, September 18
Exploring Butte, MT – Mining Capital of Montana

We stayed warm last night with our little heater putting out the warm air. But it also didn’t get down to the forecast of 31 either, I suspect. By 8:15 we are ready to hit the road and head toward Butte.

We wind for four miles or so through Jefferson Canyon, a narrow gap in the strata walls of limestone and older rock, the river and railroad our companions.

As soon as we are on the freeway and I have some cell reception, I send David Toth a text and invite him to lunch or dinner, depending on his schedule. (We are secretly hoping for lunch!)

First stop is the Office for the Lady of the Rockies tours. Our decision on whether to invest in the two hour trip is made for us – too much snow at the top of the divide and they aren’t making trips this week. We put around the gift shop and then discover a movie on the construction of the statue is playing. We slip into the back to watch the rest.

The statue was one man’s dream to originally place a 5’ statue of Mary, as a symbol of all mothers, in his yard when his wife passed away from cancer. But Butte in the early 1980’s was suffering from economic depression – mines had closed and people were out of hope and out of work. One man’s dream became a rallying call of hope for the whole community. The effort took nearly 6 years, but in December 1985, the 5 pieces of the steel statue were flown by helicopter to the top of the Continental Divide overlooking the town of Butte and anchored in place. It is lit at night. I found the story behind the statue moving – the views today aren’t great with a white statue and a steel gray sky! But we can see it from town!

While at the statue visitor center, we get a reply from David. Yes for lunch! We eventually arrange to meet at the Metals Bar and Grill in uptown (the historic district) at noon. In the meantime we drive around town and see the Open Pit Copper Mine – a nice viewing area allows you to see INTO the pit – which now holds an acid lake. Pretty interesting.

We drive up and around Montana Institute of Technology where David attends school off and on (he is on the 10 year plan according to Linda) and then park and walk the historic blocks, noting buildings, churches, and lots of history.

Lively lunch with David – he is very talkative. Reminded us both so much of his father, Steve! (Including his lion’s mane of blond curly hair!) Glad we made the effort and David’s work schedule allowed for it.

A quick stop at the mall for some shopping, then to Walmart for a few groceries. We decided to take an alternate route home by following Montana 2 the whole way rather than getting back on to I-90. It takes us up and over the Continental Divide at Pipestone Pass, 75’ higher than the I-90 pass. But the top is unmarked and we are up and over before we know it! A fun route home through Whitehall and the small towns along the way.

Just before we get back to the caverns, we spy a huge gaping hole in the hillside above us, facing west so I didn’t see it this morning. ???? I walk over to the visitor center upon our return to ask and discover it is an old limestone quarry.

The wind is picking up and the storm is coming. RAIN!! I write as the water streams down the trailer windows. We are hunkered inside for the rest of the day!!

TUESDAY, September 19
Lewis and Clark Caverns Tour

After a few good storms with wind and rain, we awake to a morning of calm and sunshine! It is beautiful outside! Shortly after 9 we are ready to head up the mountain for our tour. We want to be sure to go while the walking will be dry – more rain is forecast for later in the day.

We just miss a 9:30 tour and the next isn’t until 10:30, but that’s ok, because it was a big group. We poke around the gift shop for a little while and then get our jackets ready and head over to the tour gate. End up with a group of 5 – PERFECT! Our tour guide is Tom who has been giving tours here for 10 years. He is a storyteller and gives a great deal of background on bats, Lewis and Clark, the CCC -you name it. For those unfamiliar with some of this information, it was great and we had a father and son from Germany in our group. Tom did get a little long winded at times though! Our 2 hour tour lasted 2 ½ and we were hungry when we got back to the truck!!

The Caverns were so different from both Carlsbad and Mammoth. Smaller in scale, but much more intimate. We wound in and around columns and formations. So far they are not having any bat white nose syndrome problems, but are being careful. All the bats were gone, however – it is mating season! We descended down about 500 steps and up 100. The exit tunnel is about 50’ below the entrance. A ¾ mile hike to the entrance and a ½ mile hike back – both mostly on the contour of Cave Mountain. We bought a few souvenirs on the way out and headed back down the mountain to get something to eat!!

By mid-afternoon, the rains had returned – we spent a lazy afternoon. I took a mile walk around the campground while Rick cooked dinner. We might have snow again on the peaks in the morning!

WEDNESDAY, September 20
Three Forks