Friday, May 11, 2018

Kalispell Habitat Build - May 2018


KALISPELL HABITAT TREK
May 10-28, 2018

Thursday, May 10
Baker City, OR to Wallace, ID
352 miles

Well, we are off on another adventure, leaving BC at 6:15am. Ginger takes the first driving shift (it will virtually be all freeway!) as we head over the Blue Mts and to the Mission TruckStop and the road north to Milton Freewater and Washington. Highlights? The glow of the rising sun on the puffy white clouds to the east, and the socked in Elkhorns to our west; a herd of horses running wild and free on the slopes of Cabbage Hill; and our first trip all the way through Washington WITHOUT having to purchase gas!

I drove to M-F where we filled the tank (and got a free cup of coffee because we spent over $30 – There are advantages I suppose to big gas tanks!) Rick took over and promptly drove us into rain! Our plan today was to get to Colfax, in the heart of the wheat and garbonza palouse of Eastern Washington, and then cut to the east of Steptoe State Park and over to Plummer, ID. We would miss the traffic of Spokane AND get into Idaho sooner where gas prices are cheaper. Most of what we saw in Washington was similar pricing to Baker City which has gone up to $3.15 range in the past week.
Deep green waves of winter wheat. 

The palouse was gorgeous and green. Winter wheat nearly a foot tall and spring wheat just shooting through the surface. The rolling hills have a magic all their own, and the wind turbines were definitely spinning. We had a tail wind all the way to Idaho which helped mileage considerably! The rain storms were intermittent, and sunshine lit our road the rest of the time, with big white and gray clouds on the horizons.

Our ‘shortcut’ took off about 10 miles north of Colfax on a relatively windy stretch of road in chick pea land! Lots of fields planted, but nothing showing yet. We came to the town of Oakesville which seemed to be wall to wall grain and bean elevators and storage on the train tracks. Definite farming community!

Neat old building near Tekoe, WA.  
Over the Idaho border and into Plummer on US 95. Plummer is the western end of the Trail of the Couer d’Alenes bike path and is located in the heart of the Couer d’Alene Indian Reservation. We found gas for $ 2.91! Hurray. North on 95, still traveling amidst green hills, but the hills are getting bigger and the trees are now more evergreen. Into Couer d’Alene and on to Interstate 90 for the 50 miles to Wallace.

Episcopal Church in Wallace. 
We garner the first campsite of the day at Wallace RV (eg. no one else is here when we arrive, but as I type now at least a couple more rigs have pulled in for the night.) Price is still $30 and we get set up. Even though North Idaho is still on Pacific time, we have already changed our clocks, so we are working off MDT! Our meals so far today have been rather scarce, so we walk downtown (under the freeway) and find the Smokehouse BBQ. We haven’t tried it before, so why not? Rick had pulled chicken sandwich and I pulled pork. BBQ sauce on the side, so Rick took hot while I was sweet! He had jambalaya and baked beans, I coleslaw and mac and cheese. It was all very good! We walked around town for abit – always in respect of the efforts Wallace has made to preserve its historical heritage. When I-90 was being routed through, planners wanted to tear down some of the century old buildings. Wallace rallied and had the entire downtown declared a historical district – hands off! So the freeway is elevated as it rolls through this narrow opening in the hills. We like the RV park because it is located within view of the freeway, but up a little canyon which cuts out all the noise. A stream is raging down past the park which provides plenty of ‘white noise’.
Methodist Church in Wallace

Raining again as we return to the trailer and a quiet evening.

PS.  I couldn't help taking a few church pictures in Wallace, having just finished my book featuring 50 churches around the country.  I just love these unique buildings!  

Friday, May 11
Wallace to Kalispell
167 miles

Rain off and on during the night, and LOW clouds this morning as we packed up and left Wallace around 8. I took the freeway shift again first, which wasn’t the best choice perhaps, as I drove right up into the cloud over the top of Lookout Pass. The pass is only 4700+ feet, but it was socked in and visability wasn’t great! Then a 30 mile coast downhill into St. Regis. We stopped for a pit stop and coffee – saving our gas stop for Plains as it is advertized in the $2.70 range!

Rick drove the 35 miles into Plains along a raging and swollen Clark Fork River. We later read in the Kalispell paper that it is causing some major flooding down in Missoula and will probably peak later this year at a 100 year high. Muddy and filled with trees and debris. All the creeks have been frothy and filled with water. Western Montana had some record snowpacks this year and it is melting faster than desired!
Tough to get the pictures from a moving car, but there's some
syringa in the foreground and plenty of balsam root in back! 

Gas in Plains was $2.76 – good thing because we took nearly 16 gallons!

The hillsides in Plains and all the way up to the Flathead were covered in huge spreads of arrowleaf balsam root – yellow fields everywhere! With the deep green of the lush grasses, the combination was gorgeous. We didn’t see any bighorn sheep this time around (we’ve only been so lucky once!), but the wild iris in the damp lowlands, the balsamroot, and the syringa (mock orange) on the hillslopes made for a beautiful drive. We even got a few breaks from the rain!

Forsythia starting to bloom at park!
We took the bypass around Kalispell and hit the WalMart for some groceries, arriving then at the RV park around 1:15...hungry and ready to get set up. But first a thorough cleaning of the trailer – we finally had water connected to be able to really scrub the sinks, etc. We ran into ‘Speedy’ Steve, one of the frequent HfH volunteers at WalMart. He hasn’t been working lately because he is busy building his own house here in Kalispell. Guess that means they are giving up their beautiful home on the river in Columbia Falls – downsizing, he said!

From behind the trailer
A lazy afternoon after we heated up some soup for lunch/dinner (it was 2:30 by then!) I fixed up salad and dippin’ veggies, visited the office twice to pay and get our site assignments figured out. Walked around the park again just to relive some memories. The skies are clearing and it could be a cool night! (In the 30’s! - maybe I should get my barrier padding out for a little more warmth!) But it is nearly 8:30pm and the sun has not yet set. You have to love northern climes that are near the western side of a time zone!

The couple from Sandy – the Maltmans – are due to arrive tomorrow around noon. Everyone else on Sunday, with Gayle arriving on Monday. We are playing tomorrow by ear in terms of our activity. They have a huge group building, but we still plan to swing by and see the progress and talk with Steve!
Excited to be back in this beautiful area!

Big grassy meadow between park and the Swan Mts. 
SATURDAY, May 12
Job Site Visit; Glacier NP Bike Ride!

It was a little chilly last night since the skies cleared off – 32 on our outside thermometer! But the sun is shining bright and it promises to warm up. In the meantime, since the trailer was 49 degrees, I cranked up the heater and pulled my fuzzy blanket over me!

Progress of the Habitat Townhouse
Around 10 we finally headed over to the west side of Kalispell and the new townhouse going up. A full crew from Leadership Kalispell was there, along with a number of women sporting their bright turquoise Women’s Build shirts! Nici saw us come and was quickly over to greet us with hugs. We had a good visit with Steve, but he was definitely busy coordinating people! Enough conversation to know he is busy over the weekend, so we won’t try to make connections there. We met one of the homeowner moms and the dad for the other side!

Left to head back to the RV park as lunch was arriving for the build crew. We got to park just a few minutes after the Maltmans had arrived. They were coming up from Moab area, not directly from Sandy, OR, as we thought. Confirmed that the Clark Fork was VERY full and brown! We invited them to join us on a trip up to the park, but they needed to go grocery shopping, etc. (we understood!) With our trek just us, we put the bikes in the truck just in case things worked out to ride up the road aways.
A pause to check out the creek 

BEAUTIFUL afternoon! Parking was a zoo around McDonald Lake Lodge, as that was where the road ended for vehicles. As one of the first warm days with sunshine after the road has been cleared, it seemed like EVERYONE and their uncle was out hiking or biking. One fellow who passed Rick said he road 4 ½ miles past The Loop! Our plan was just to ride to Avalanche. That was far enough for me – 8 miles with plenty of uphill. It will take my ‘sitter’ time to get accustomed to biking again.




Big puffy clouds and plenty of blue sky. The peaks were out in all their glory. Driving up the reflections in Lake McDonald were fabulous, but never in a good spot to stop and snap a picture. Driving back down, the wind was just strong enough to negate any reflections. :( Rick saw ONE trillium right at the beginning of the ride. Otherwise the flowers are not out yet.

We get the biggest kick out of the families out for the day. Lots of bicycle trailers, tiny tots on training wheels, one little guy on a scooter (with a trailer for the uphill portions!) Families were playing in the river, the snow, and just in general enjoying the scenery and each other. A great way to spend Mother’s Day weekend! I’ll let our pictures tell the story!
View up the road toward Brown Mt. and Cannon Mt. 

Quiet roadside pool with south ridge peaks
Frothy McDonald Creek
Still a little snow at Avalanche, but I made it! 
From the bridge at Avalanche Campground
Peak of Brown Mt. near Avalanche
Heaven's Peak and McDonald Creek
Horse bridge over McDonald Creek
Another view of this cute couple in front  of falls.

One last shot looking back at Rick as
we head back to lodge.

McDonald Lake and peaks from Apgar Village
Rusty had called this morning to invite us to join them tonight in Big Fork, but we decided to decline – A. we weren’t going to get back in time, and B. this was Anne’s party for Rusty to meet her friends. We got back to the trailer around 6 and quickly cooked up the burgers and corn for dinner. Kim Maltman came over and we gave them our brochures because they are going to ride in the morning! Good choice!

Quiet evening, beautiful colors on the snowy peaks to the east as the sun goes down. Tomorrow the real fun begins!  
Panorama from Apgar Village of McDonald Lake and peaks. 

SUNDAY, May 13
Happy Mother’s Day and CAV Welcome

Happy Mother’s Day to me! And it looks to be a beautiful day!! I glanced over to Maltman’s rig at 6:30 when I got up and found their truck already gone! There early departure for Glacier NP was indeed early!

After a leisurely morning, we head over to Cislo’s at 8:45 for breakfast. It is located just down Hwy 2 towards Kalispell – huge pancakes and convenient! What more can we ask for? I have a veggie omelet and a pancake – don’t know what possessed me to order a pancake, but it was good. The omelet was very rich with cheese – tasty! Rick had pancake, eggs, and spicy sausage. A young couple was seated behind me in Rick’s field of vision. They had a little baby – maybe 6-9 months – with them. At one point Rick’s attention was focused on the family. Apparently the baby was choking! A nurse in the other corner responded and helped the baby recover. The young mom was obviously upset. I was very proud of Rick when we left and he paid the bill for the young couple, saying to the clerk ‘Just tell them Happy Mother’s Day!’

Rest of morning very quiet as I worked on some pictures, organized my thoughts for the meeting tonight, and waited for the other rigs to arrive. Laura and Jeff Walker came by after church around noon and we talked for nearly an hour. They are CAVs we met in Rexburg last fall and will be work-camping at the KOA in Whitefish again this summer. They plan to come down and work a few days while we are here.

The Putnams arrived around 1, Maltmans returned from their 30 mile bike ride shortly after. By 3:30 all were here – Huls, then Hinkles, then Lee Allem! So we have on site, plus us!:
Rick and Paul Huls (full-timers, originally from Seattle area)
Andrea and Charlie Putnam (full-timers, originally from New Jersey)
Scott and Kim Maltman (Sandy, OR)
Tom and Diane Hinkle (Prineville, OR)
Gayle Miller (Portland, OR) (To arrive on Monday)
Lee Allem (Salt Lake City, UT)
Rusty Munn (Baker City, OR)

Luke called between the arrival of Huls and Hinkles! Good timing!

We gathered in front of Hinkle’s 5th wheel for Happy Hour and meeting. Introductions and by then Rusty and Anne arrived with a dish of hot chicken skewers from the BBQ! Worth the wait! Covered details of the build and then enjoyed another hour of fellowship. It is going to be a good group.
Visited with Jed for about an hour after the meeting – while I walked laps around the park. (Probably got good mileage in today as I walked while talking with Luke as well!)

We get a brief reprieve in the morning, not meeting until 8:30 at the job site because Steve has a doctor’s appointment.

MONDAY, May 14
CAV Build Day 1

Whew! It is 8:30pm and I think I am already ready for bed! A full day and we even had a late start time!

Rusty works on roof trim.
Paula drilled in screws while I cut
boards. 
The weather is absolutely gorgeous as we head over to the job site this morning. Nici (and Rusty!) were there to greet us, the coffee was brewing, and we gathered around for our opening devotion by Rick, and introductory information from Nici. Just as we were going to start pulling out some equipment, Steve drove up and the opening started all over again! Introductions, especially for the newcomers, etc. A brief safety reminder. We broke into four small groups to begin tasks: roof, siding nailers in place, mesh installed, and my group which was finishing off the
garage door trim. Rick was up on the roof (big surprise!) with Maltmans and Rick H. I worked with Paula and Diane. Since we didn’t get started until 9:30 or so, we skipped our morning break and took lunch a little early (11:45a). Lunch was Subway sandwiches! Rick and Paula had to take off to get their motorhome fixed at noon, so we were a little shorthanded for the afternoon. We ate in one of the garages, enjoying a little shade, especially for those who had been on the roof all morning! Others thought the sun felt good.
Charlie was busy putting up nailing strips for siding. 

In the afternoon Andrea joined Diane and I as we checked and fixed the rebar in the two house sides, installed (no glue yet) the blue foam along the sides of the foundation, and then helped unload the tables and stone. Rick and Rusty helped Steve cut and deliver the foam and then went with him over to the ReStore to pick up the tables and the boxes of stone leftover from the previous homes. That is exciting to see because it means MAYBE I will at least get to work a little with the rock before we leave! The concrete truck is coming on Wednesday to pour the inside of the house. We have a lot to do tomorrow to be ready for them!
Steve sets up concrete for Wednesday!

Back to the RV park for showers and a little relaxing time before we head back over for our welcome dinner and a chance to visit with the homeowners, both old and new! Shultze’s, Davidsons, and Ashleys (later) were there from the old subdivision, and the Botts and Horshmans from this house. So many children’s names to learn or remember! The Davidson kids were so thrilled to see everyone – you can’t help but feel special with the greetings we received. Mahrias, Ethan, Bree, Brendan, Ryan, and then we met Jason and Arianna Horshman, and Sarah and Ryan Botts. We met Erik Botts on Saturday, the 16 yr old son. Nici also had her two kids there, so it was quite a zoo of adrenalin! Rusty brough Cheryl, a good friend of Anne’s who has been volunteering regularly with the affiliate since Rusty introduced her to it last fall. It was fun to meet her. Anne couldn’t come.

Habitat kids gather around the cake
I managed to work out a time for tie dye parties – we’ll have two, one at the Ashleys and one at the RV park. Wednesday and Thursday of this week. Calendar planning is not easy with the family’s busy schedules!
The baby whisperer manages some
time with Arianna.

Pizza, chocolate cake, lots of good salads, and it all disappeared! There were probably 35-40 people there at one time or another.

Back to camp to find Gayle has arrived and moved into the P site! She said she requested it because the internet is better and she needs it for some app that has to be sent for her sleep apnea. Something like that! Several of us went down to visit with her upon our return, but sleep and rest overruled eventually!

Beautiful apple blossoms behind Gayle's trailer

Diane glues down foam. 

TUESDAY, May 15
CAV Day 2

TIRED!! We worked a full over-time day today! Regular start time with the roof crew continuing on top, Lee and Charlie working on plumbing bracing, etc. in anticipation of tomorrow’s concrete pour. Our foam crew began the task of gluing all the foam we had cut yesterday into place. That was more labor intensive than we expected as the glue was cold at first and VERY hard to push through the caulk gun. Sweep, glue, hold, trim was our business! I worked with Gayle, Diane, Andrea, and Paula, but Gayle had to leave to visit ER with ear drum problems. She was gone for a couple hours.

Tom puts up roof trim.
Rusty and Tom were finishing up roof metal edging, and by day’s end Rick’s crew on top has ¾ of the roof covered with the wrap surface. We are almost watertight!

Steve ordered a load of gravel to arrive around 2pm and that hastened action all around to clear the garages of everything, plus all the piles of wood in front had to be restacked and moved. That effort was exhausting! We moved 1x4s. 2X4s, 2x6s, soffits, trim, rebar, sheetrock, ….you name it! Site is much more organized now!
Gravel truck in operation
Kim up on roof. 

The gravel truck was fascinating to watch! The young operator backed in partially and then got out his remote and proceeded to operate both the truck itself and the gravel dispenser part by remote. Odd watching the truck shift positions with no one at the wheel! Both garages were given an additional layer of rock in prep for the concrete. Tom and Rusty immediately set to work measuring and laying out a pattern for concrete holes to be drilled to pound rebar into. Fortunately Rick came to help Rusty with the drilling (at that point we were past cleanup time and the roof crew decided they were done up in the heat!) I pounded in rebar and eventually we all placed and tied rebar as fast as we could! The right side garage had to be concrete ready!!! We wrapped up at 3:30, cleanup happening by half the team while the garage was finished.

Temps hit 80 today so warm! We took our break in the shade of the west house – all lined up with the picnic tables out in the sun! By lunch, everyone
All lined up for break time. 

moved their chairs back into the tiny garage. That won’t be an option tomorrow!
The roof crew has way too good a time! 

Happy Hour was very staggered. A few (3!) arrived at 4:45 and more an hour later. Some never made it out of their recliner or bed! Naps! Folks were tired! I stayed the whole time finally making it back to the trailer by 7:15. Rusty came by right after work and visited with Rick for an hour with a beer. I had taken some of my books over to share and Lee surprised me by purchasing 9 of them! Nine!

Warmer beautiful evening, but the storms are coming! :(
Status of house end of Day 2
A beautiful sunrise on the Swans

WEDNESDAY, May 16
CAV Day 3

Hurray for rains and storms that held off until 8pm – plenty of time for finishing up at the job site AND a tie dye party in the garage at Ashley’s house!
A victorious roof crew finishes!

In fact, the slight cloud cover at times made for a more enjoyable day in terms of heat. Rick’s crew up on the roof finished all the prewrap by day’s end – ready for the shingles that the local volunteers Pete, Jim, and Terry brought over from the Re-Store!

Tom and Rusty tackle windows!
All the windows in the east side were installed today – the west side will have to wait until Friday when the concrete that was poured today will be dry enough. Now that the roof is watertight, the painting rack can be set up inside and painting begin!
Team Photo after lunch!  

I helped Steve cut the foam to finish up the east side and ended up totally covered in foam snow. What a mess – but Diane, Gayle, and Paula got that house finished up with the glue. I went in to the garage to help Lee and Charlie finish the rebar layout and tying. We also had to remove some of the gravel from the west side prior to the arrival of the cement truck!

I made an inuk
while we were
installing windows.
Rick and Scott up on the roof! 
I shifted from job to job today. A little rebar tying, a little window installation, help Steve, fetch materials – I guess the kind of job you are supposed to do as team leader - Whatever is needed and keep everyone else busy and supplied.

Lunch provided by a couple from the Methodist church – baked beans, tater salad, and sandwich fixings, PLUS chocolate cake and punch. A good meal and much appreciated.

Steve gave me the keys to the trailers so we could lock up. He was headed up to Columbia Falls to pick up some materials we needed for tomorrow. I gave them to Rick who stayed and locked up while I took the truck and went over to Ashley’s place for the second half of today: Tie Dye Party!



End of Day 3 Photos - front of duplex.  

Allison helped set things up in her garage on her dining room table (we covered it!) and a tarp on the floor. We actually tied on the ground on the tarp, using the table for the dye trays. Lisel helped me mix the dyes, fetching water and shaking for me.
All in all, Davida came over with her three kids, Mary and her four all dyed, the three Ashley kids, and Nici came by with her two children. Highlights were those who wanted to try the heart design, plus we drip dyed rainbows, and a dress with a crochet top that we striped the top and swirled the bottom. Great fun – and I don’t have to wash any of it out! (Except for my four little hankerchiefs!)

Quick stop at Dollar Tree enroute home, then half hour with the Happy Hour group, shower, light dinner, and now listen to a gentle rain off and on!

Forgot to mention – George and Bobbi Neason stopped by with their grandson Travis after lunch to say hi. Fun to see them, and we will see them again when we head to Bandon in a few weeks.



THURSDAY, May 17
CAV Day 4: Rain Shortened!

Today was rather short! We gathered and I led devotions, but even then a light misty rain was falling. The forecast was not great for the morning. The teams all got started: windows, scaffolding moving for the cement folks, webbings, siding strips. But shortly after we got rolling, Steve told me he might cancel as the rain was starting to come down harder. I said could we work at least to get SOMETHING down and then quit around break time. Which we did. By then everyone but Tom and Rusty (working inside on the windows!) was pretty wet and the ground was very slippery (lots of clay in it!) So 9:30 stop time!!! We cleaned up and made a date for 4pm at Great Northern Brewery in Whitefish!
Wet clothes hang from trailer

Rick and I stopped to top off gas and then just before turning on to Helena Flats Road and the RV park, Steve called to say he needed his keys back to get into the trailer because the roof was leaking over the garage and the fresh cement pour. So we turned around and headed back!

Rick was feeling somewhat responsible as the head of the roofing crew, but Steve assured him the job they did was perfect – he thinks it is the quality of the wrap used – which was a new product for him. NOT PLEASED! We all three jumped back on the roof and I loaded staple guns while Rick and Steve put down 3-4 layers of the NEW wrap (good stuff) fast as lightning! (I will say I did not JUMP up on the roof since I had to reach from a step bench on the scaffolding and needed a hand to get up there with my short legs!)
Heater works to dry out our boots.

We have the keys once again to open on Fri morning and are back to the trailer by 11am. Some relaxing time with the heater cranked up to dry things out!

Around 2 we drive up to Whitefish for a little time to cruise around the downtown. I make my annual trip to the Quilt shop to purchase a couple new cute bear patterns for wall hangings, and then into several other shops. We drop $50 at one purchasing a gift for Tom and Diane, a shirt, earrings, and a tree topper for our Christmas tree! The plaque for Hinkles is artwork of a boxer, only all the white parts are colorful – it looks like someone tie dyed Shane! Perfect!
Enjoying one another and Great Northern Brewery

Everyone but Gayle gathered at Great Northern. Even Rusty had driven up from BigFork! We ordered 4 plates of nachos for the table. Good time, good conversation, good fun! I sat between Rusty and Kim and across from Lee and Rick. The rain had stopped – but it was still cloudy and threatening for the evening.
The group at Great Northern

We will work tomorrow no matter what – we can be inside on the Botts side of the house!

Forgot to mention – Homeowner Teresa Botts came to work this morning, which had to be frustrating for her to stop early. She home schools her kids, so it is harder to get away to work to accumulate the hours needed. She said she’ll be back next week, but it was fun to install the two back windows in HER house this morning and have a chance to visit and know her better. Nice gal.

FRIDAY, May 18
CAV Day 5

What a great day of work! We had our full CAV crew on tap, plus Pete and Jim, local volunteers, plus Marquis and Allison’s dad, Vic! We got a lot done with only a sprinkle of a few raindrops in the afternoon. Hardly noticeable raindrops!

And a great start to the day with the arrival of the new Executive Director, Bob, who welcomed us with donuts! Bob had been on vacation with his wife in Mexico for a 35th anniversary fling. A very outgoing man and lots of fun. Has lots of ideas for expanding the program here in the Flathead Valley – Brush of Kindness, Aging in Place, Neighborhood Revitalization programs.

Rick and his roofing crew got Pete and Jim and split into two groups, each working on one side of the garage window peak. They nearly reached the top by day’s end with shingles.

I bounced around again today from job to job, mostly working with Paula. We marked chalk lines on the concrete slabs in both sides for slits to be cut in the slab for ‘break’ lines (when the concrete wants to crack, it will do so on these cut lines). After cutting into the slab, Marquis, his father-in-law Vic, and Andrea began the process of chalking out the floor plan on the slab. Vic had experience with this and Andrea later told us it was fascinating to be a part of.

Paula and I moved piles of 2x4’s into the garages in prep for wall building. (We had some help from others.) That job took until lunch and I think I nearly had all my steps for the day by then!

Good lunch provided by Buffalo Terrace Senior Living – sandwiches, fruit, and chips. Allison and the kids stopped by to show off their tiedye shirts! The hearts came out wonderfully! I can’t wait to see pictures of the rainbow drips!
Rusty, Tom and Diane worked on windows and doors all day with installation. Lee and Charlie finished all the siding planks and then….hmmm, not sure what they worked on then! I’m sure Steve had a job for them.

A smaller crew for Happy Hour, but those of us there took the opportunity to etch our mugs. I think just Maltmans and Gayle still need to do theirs. I made three more with Steve, Nici, and Bob on the name panels.

We are ALL descending on Anne’s place Saturday night for a BBQ! I sent out emails with directions late Friday night.


SATURDAY, May 19
House Cleaning and Laundry; BBQ in Big Fork!

A good lazy morning! But unfortunately we ran out of propane during the night, so at 9:30 Rick took off to get a refill. I don’t think we had filled it since Butte, MT last fall and we had three weeks of showers in Tucson on that tank!

In the meantime, I got started cleaning and sorting and re-organizing. With the team leadership responsibilities, I had a few more piles of stuff on the front bed shelf that needed a little cleaning up. Bathroom scrubbed, floors swept, dishes done. And then we headed down to the laundramat. This campground has excellent facilities for a very reasonable price. Not need to look any further!

In the afternoon I took off for a bit to JoAnn’s and Super 1 Foods. Picked up a taco dip for tonight’s BBQ and a bottle of wine.

Day has been warmer, but not hot and partly cloudy/partly sunny.

We all carpooled to head down to Anne’s place in BigFork – Maltmans invited us to ride with them which was nice. Gayle took Hinkles and Lee, and Putnams drove the Huls. Worked out well. Beautiful evening drive through the vast green waves of fields and classic barns that dot Hwy 35 between Kalispell and BigFork. We turned off on Swan River Road and in a couple miles found Anne’s place on the right back in the trees. Neat house which Anne has remodeled extensively since moving in two years ago. Now she is looking to put it on the market in July, pending the new place she and Rusty are building in Joseph. (Hopefully!)

Just a great evening getting a chance to mingle and visit. Sheryl came as well and I think she really enjoyed herself. Steve and his friend didn’t make it, but that wasn’t surprising.

Steak, shrimp, and a vast array of salads, coupled with brownies, ice cream, and Baileys for dessert. (I skipped the Baileys!) We didn’t get home until 10 pm! It is misleading because it stays light so long!



SUNDAY, May 20
North Fork Road and Hidden Meadow Hike

Sunday dawns with bright sunshine and clear skies. A gorgeous day!! What shall we do with it??? We had thought to go down to Somers Bay Cafe for breakfast, but that changed to “Let’s drive up to Polebridge and find a short hike to take”. We left just before 10pm headed north to Columbia Falls.

The drive is incredibly beautiful. The Livingston Range of mountains that form the western side of Glacier National Park are still ladden with snow, their jagged peaks clustered together as they divide four different glacial cut valleys and their corresponding long skinny lakes. Driving up the North Fork Road from a vantage point on the west side of NorthFork Flathead provides unmatched views of the range, especially for about a 10 mile stretch before the road drops down and into the trees. The western larch trees tower over the landscape with their bright spring green. The Flathead is raging, close to flood stage in places.

We drive through the tiny town of Polebridge, enter the National Park, and then head back down the Inner North Fork Road south toward Logging Camp. About 5 miles down we find our trailhead to Hidden Meadow. The inner road is much narrower and rougher than the main North Fork Road. Beyond Logging Camp it isn’t open on down to Apgar yet.

Our trail was only 3 miles tops round trip – just right for a lazy Sunday afternoon. We did find several spots of bear scat in the trail, but no sign of bears. Rick had the spray and I stayed close to him! Basically a hike through the woods, with no views of the surrounding peaks. Once we got to the meadows we could see peaks up to the north. The forest, however, was filled with glacier lilies, some trilliums, and lots of lupine, columbine, and larkspur leaves (no flowers yet, sadly). Found plenty of wild strawberry blossoms, yellow and purple violets, Wildlife was limited to two deer in the meadow, a couple of tiny frogs, and two loons on the water.

The meadow had a large pond in it, ground squirrel holes, and a towering Douglas Fir tree with beautiful bright green aspens surrounding it. One other couple was on the trail and we ran into them at the meadow.

Back to the truck around 2pm and we headed back to Polebridge to purchase some treats for the Happy Hour crew! One huckleberry bearclaw, a huckleberry croissant, and a couple of day old fruit frittos. The bakery is awesome here!

Rick wanted to drive on up the North Fork Road for a few miles toward Canada to see what was up there. The sign clearly said, “No Entry into Canada, No road into Glacier Park beyond this point”! There are, however, a number of ranches and homesteads up the road, some large, some rustic, some very elaborate. We stopped at a rafting entry point along the river for a few pictures, but overall the views toward the Kintla peaks were hard to find.

Back to the RV park around 5pm, having stopped in Columbia Falls for gas and a car wash – the truck was filthy from the dirt roads. Eventually much of the group gathered to enjoy our treats as we all shared our adventures for the day. Kim and Scott hiked over 12 miles up and around Sperry Chalet and Fish Lake (very ambitious!). Hinkles went canoeing up on Thompson Lake, Gayle and the Putnams went to the Conrad House Museum. Huls went exploring south on Flathead Lake. I think Lee was the only one who stayed close to camp!