PART 5 – Final Week of Flathead Valley Habitat Plus!
Sunday, September 21
Mt. Oberlin Summit Hike from Logan Pass
4 miles RT, 1500’ elevation gain
|Rick heading up the trail; our destination|
of Mt. Oberlin in the distance
Today was forecast to be PERFECT…so Rick and I decided to worship at God’s cathedral and boy, we weren’t disappointed at all! What a glorious experience! Rich, the Habitat/National Park volunteer recommended this hike to us. Kudos to Rich!!
We left at 7:30 to gas and coffee up and head up the mountain, hoping to arrive in time to get a parking space at Logan Pass on this most beautiful of fall Sundays! Our 9am arrival guaranteed a spot (thank goodness, because much later and people were driving around in circles….starting with Tom and Diane who drove up a little later!) Due to the snow a couple weeks ago and recent freezing temps, the water has been turned off and winter preparations have begun (huge snow poles everywhere to help with spring snow removal!) So…we had to wait to use the few chemical toilets available in the parking area (which were being cleaned when we arrived!)
We found the trail exactly as Rich described it and headed up through the gorgeous meadow regions above the pass. Most of the flowers are past, although we did see some aster and a couple of harebells. Later a little buckwheat and a few other alpine succulents I couldn’t identify. (Sedum maybe?) The first mile was relatively steady climb but nothing too strenuous. The sun was still low in the eastern sky, so much of the Logan Pass area was in shadows. Mt. Reynolds on the east side of the divide was in shadow all day. I don’t think the sun shines on the west side of it until late in the afternoon! Mt. Clements, the sphere shaped mountain right above the Hidden Lake overlook, was a highlight the entire hike. It has some small ice fields (once a glacier due to moraines below, but I don’t know if it still fits the definition!)
|I just love the colors here...up on top!|
Once we were up above the icefields, we turned toward Mt. Oberlin and started climbing up the rather steep scree slope. The route was easy to follow and rock cairns marked much of the way. As we approached the ridge itself, it became harder to follow – multiple routes and cairns. But we slowly made our way up, climbing steadily. I kept turning back to catch the beauty of the sun on Mt. Clements. We might have been on scree, but the colored layers of rock were still quite obvious. I loved traveling from green layer to red layer to yellow layer, etc. In a few places we found red cairns on top of green slabs!
I later read that the NPS prefers people to use another route for the climb, but since there are NO signs marking this trail, they can’t really complain much!
|Rick is on top of Mt. Oberlin!|
We finally reached the top around 11:30. It took us about 2 hours to make the climb. Not too bad considering I stopped to take about 100 pictures on the way up! (Gosh…that is about 50 ppm*!) Another couple was just coming down and we ended up on top ALONE for over an hour. Considering the traffic we saw on the road below, the chaos in the parking lot, and the hikers we could see on the Highline Trail and Hidden Lake boardwalk, an hour of solitude was a gift of God!
|Panorama looking northwest from top of Mt. Oberlin|
|Ginger and her inuk-suk|
We took panoramas to the east and to the west. We had a 360 degree view. Many hillsides were covered in golden hues along with the light and dark greens. So amazing. The west side of Oberlin is a drop-off of about 3000 feet. You don’t want to take a step backward! But the top was incredibly flat and easy to navigate. I built an inuksuk on top, next to the 2 foot high cairn that had been constructed at the summit. My biggest problem in building the inuk was finding an appropriate head rock. Most of the rocks were so flat, shale like stuff.
We headed back down around 12:30, passing several more couples coming up the scree slope. (One couple did come up via the saddle, but they said it involved more rock ‘climbing’ in places.) The shifting of the sun highlighted other views, especially toward the Weeping Wall to the north. Driving back down the road, the sun was really hitting the golden trees and hillsides. Sooooo pretty.
|Fall foliage as we approach Avalanche Creek|
Back to the campground around 3:45, in time for showers and a relaxing evening as Rick enjoyed his Steelers on TV. It took me most of the evening to download, edit, and delete the 300 plus pictures I took today! Whew!
More pictures from today.....
MONDAY, September 22
|I love the red strata lines as we move through the waterfall area.|
|Mountain goats at the beginning of the trail!|
|Ginger with Mt. Clements in background|
|Heading up the scree slope, one switchback at a time!|
Check out the red and green rocks!
|Is Rick sneaking a kiss?|
|Up on top of the world!|
|Heading back down the trail.|
|Mt. Pollock near Logan Pass|
|View of west side of Mt. Oberlin....looks ominous from here! |
MONDAY, September 22
Hmmm….today’s entry will be as short as yesterday’s was long! We relaxed and read books, went out to lunch at the Cimarron Café (eggplant Panini sandwich for me, Rick had some sort of melted chicken hogie), did laundry, and went grocery shopping. Whew! That took until 3pm!!
I got two drawings finished during the day and caught up recording my journal entries in the actual journal!
And then we had campfire time! Tom had invited a couple of the other ‘neighbors’ here in the park to a 7pm fire. We met Howard and Joanie who are next to Arletta and Carl’s ‘spot’ and Bill, a retired Chicago cop, who lives in a permanent little trailer between Hinkels and ourselves. Interesting conversation, but Howard seemed interested in perhaps coming to volunteer sometime this week!
TUESDAY, September 23
Drop-In Build, Week 2
Tom and Diane discovered they had ‘brake’ problems in their truck Sunday upon descending the Going-to-the-Sun Road from Logan Pass. (Does that make it the ‘Leaving-from-the-Sun Road’?) So, we picked them up at the Les Schwab dealership enroute to the job site this morning. Their truck is going to the doctor today for new brakes!
And it was a rather quiet job site. Just the four of us, Boss Steve and Steve M, the other local volunteer! Steve T had office work to do, so once he got us going, he disappeared into his little trailer for much of the morning. Diane was busy still cleaning paint supplies, Steve, Rick and Tom were putting up ceiling sheetrock in Nycci’s house, and I tackled the massive 12’ piece that goes behind the kitchen wall in Lexie’s place. Rick and I had taken most of the measurements before we left on Saturday. The 12’ panel had 14 ‘penetrations’ or places where I had to cut the sheetrock to make it fit. It took me until break time to measure and cut everything. Then after break, the rest of the guys came in and helped me get it in place and put a few screws in. Then they went back to their ceilings. I spent until lunch screwing in the big piece, cutting and installing the last remaining smaller piece for that wall and checking the entire wall for screws that needed to be deeper.
After lunch, Rick and Tom tackled the stairwell ceiling and walls on the west side, while I volunteered to go into the stairwell closet in Lexie’s place and finish the walls in there. I don’t mind the closet work, and the pieces are small enough to handle by myself. Plus, Steve doesn’t mind if you patch in that closet so I was using up odd pieces of sheetrock. I ALMOST finished before our 2:45 quitting time.
The day started out rainy and damp, but the sun broke through soon enough and by lunch the sky was almost clear and it was warming up. Then….as we left, it started to sprinkle again lightly!! The nice weather will hold for a few more days, but next week looks ugly. Wet!
I finally stopped enroute to WW and took pictures of Annie’s Garden center. The west wall of her gift shop is lined with built-in flower boxes and on the other corner is an OLD truck filled with flowers. Love it.
Stop at the Thrift Shop near downtown and found it is closing tomorrow – everything is 50% off. So I picked up a pair of work jeans, a little loose fitting, but that’s ok for the job site. The grease I got on my other pair hasn’t rendered them unusable, but they sure feel grimy…even after washing.
Dinner and then some time talking with Diane and Tom about the southwest and solving Facebook issues! Also heard tonight that my good friend Midge is having major medical problems and hospitalized in Tri-Cities. Prayers…lots of them.
WEDNESDAY, September 24
Drop-In Build, Final Week – Sheetrock!
|Malachi gives Rick and Tom treats!|
Today was a regular build day, so a crew was here from Lowe’s Home Improvement store, as well as Rich and Steve and the return of Tina! Good to see familiar faces who greet you with, “Are you STILL here??” – with a smile!! As Steve was trying to get through all the introductory safety stuff, Lisa Little-foot and Malachi came out to head for school. Malachi walked right into the middle of it all explaining that he had two mini shrimp kabobs and took them to Tom and Rick and instructed them to eat them for lunch. It was pretty amusing, but then Steve said to come stand next to him while he got to talk, which Malachi did. Suddenly his hand went up. Steve acknowledged, and Malachi proceeded to give us his own safety talk about wearing proper shoes – not just socks! – and looking out for danger. Then he said he had to go to school to learn to build with Steve. We were all cracking up and Lisa just had that, ‘Welcome to my world!’ look on her face!
|Nycci shows off our door piece before installation and trimming!|
Then it was to work. Most of the Lowe’s group was put to work in Nycci’s house sheetrocking and I went back to finish my closet in Lexie’s side. But Steve brought Nycci and her mom, Fawn, down and asked if they could be my ‘crew’ for the day. Fawn mostly organized all the sheetrock scraps and moved them out of the way (thank you!) Nycci and I managed to muscle and think our way through the rest of the closet and one wall of the bathroom. It was work!! But…we did it!
|Jennifer speaks at lunch|
Rick and Tom worked all day to finish up the ceilings in Nycci’s side. Another group prepared the ground for the sod which is coming in soon. The backhoe was supposed to come today to compact the foundation and level, but it didn’t arrive.
During lunch Steve put Nycci on the spot and asked her to speak about her Habitat experience. We had heard Nycci’s story earlier, but Steve also asked Jennifer to speak. Jennifer moved into her home a year ago. She told how her husband AJ, who didn’t have a good work ethic, learned to work side by side with Steve, eventually put in 200 plus hours MORE than necessary, and got a job at the building trades store which he still has. Habitat homes can change lives. Pretty cool to hear.
|Preparing to trim the door.|
Our neighbor at the RV park, Howard, rode with us this morning. After our campfire the other night he decided he would like to volunteer, so he was ready and waiting this morning. He spent the day sheetrocking as well. Steve is anxious to get the houses all ‘rocked’ because he is hiring the mud and taping done by a subcrew next week. That should speed things up!
We stopped at the Thrift Shop enroute home and picked up a few things, but Rick didn’t find any pants!
No campfire tonight. I was trying to catch up on church stuff and relaxing a little. Luke is going to call later.
THURSDAY, September 25
Drop-In Build, Final Week – Sheetrock & Paint
Another beautiful, albeit warm, day! The skies were absolutely clear this morning as we drove in to the site. Howard came with us again, but will be leaving at noon when his wife picks him up.
All of us were assigned to work on the sheetrock today, and I was transferred to the west side (Nycci’s house) to get started in the tiny little closet under the stairs. (Apparently my trademark! I don’t mind!) Rich and Catherine arrived shortly after and Steve assigned them to work with me. We got the two ceiling boards installed and were working on the end boards when Steve came down and asked one of us (not Rich!) to join Diane painting. Catherine let me go although I know she wasn’t keen to spend another day in a closet! After two days of solid sheetrocking, I relished the brief respite to go outside and paint soffits!
Diane had the area all set up and ready to go. We painted 10 soffit panels and then ran out of paint! By that time, the bulldozer had arrived to backfill the foundation, compress around it. I went down to take pictures of the sheetrockers and the foundation work. We spent the rest of time before lunch cleaning more of the paint roller mesh grates, as our paint still hadn’t arrived!
Right at lunchtime, AJ arrived with a lot of trim boards to paint and two more gallons of Jazzy Olive trim paint. We helped unload and then everyone enjoyed lunch sitting in the shade of Lisa and Heather’s home. It was warm in the sun!
|Rick and Tom at work in the stairwell.|
|Our finished pile of soffit boards all stacked up.|
|Metal grate partially cleaned.|
Diane and I finished painting the 18 soffit boards, plus 5 partials. We cleaned up the area and decided NOT to start the other trim boards at 2:15. So we went back to cleaning the mesh grates!
Rick and Tom worked together all day in Lexie’s stairwell, finishing up the sheetrock there. That side should be finished by the end of the day tomorrow, especially if another group comes.
|Diane at her paint cleaning station!|
We invited Steve and Genia, Steve and his wife Lindsey, Rich and Catherine and Howard and Joanie to Happy Hour tonight. Rich and Catherine begged off, as they knew by the time they got back to Whitefish, walked the dog and showered, they wouldn’t be driving back to Columbia Falls. Can’t say I blame them! But it was fun to have Steve and Lindsey join us for the first time. Steve has a reputation of being grumpy (self-proclaimed), but he is a riot in small size groups. We have really enjoyed getting to know him better in the past couple weeks.
Heard back from Bozeman today. The director there found an open RV park east of town (20 mile commute one way, but…) that will accommodate us. We need to call and finalize plans. I was impressed that he went out of his way to find us a place with sewer for us. Guess we will stick around to work for them now! We also told Steve today that we would probably stay through Wednesday and work a couple more days. Cleared it with Leon here at the park as well. We just can’t seem to leave!
|Rick, Steve M and his wife Lindsey|
|Genia and Steve Tartaglino|
FRIDAY, September 26
Drop-In Build, Final Week: Scottibelli’s Ristorante!
Raindrops fell during the night, I sliced my thumb while preparing an apple for breaktime, and it is a cloudy, ominous morning as we gather at the site. We are joined by random local volunteers (Tamara returned!), and a group from the Methodist Church in Kalispell. Katy makes her debut as the volunteer coordinator in welcoming everyone and introducing the various groups. Then Steve takes over with his safety talk and today’s jobs.
|Foundation work continues - plumbing lines going in.|
Giant 1" spider we found under
one of the boards we painted.
Diane and I went back to the paint station. We did a final stack of all the soffits were painted yesterday and then started in on all the trim boards. Eventually another delivery arrived of 4x8 siding panels that had to be painted as well. We got it all done!
Cleaned up and then the highlight of the day: dinner with Steve and Genia down in Kalispell!! We offered to drive Tom and Diane with us and we met Steve and Genia at the Kalispell Brewing Company for beers. (I had a diet coke!) Then we walked about four blocks down Main Street to Scottibelli’s Ristorante, their favorite Italian restaurant. A really nice place! Genia had picked up the tab at the Brewery and Diane and I had discussed taking them out to dinner – a raincheck from the sailing day when they couldn’t go out. So I said, ‘Then we’ve got dinner’…Of course, they objected. We stayed quiet, but when Steve and Genia’s pizza didn’t arrive with the rest of our orders, the waitress said it was on the house. I quickly piped up again, ‘Remember, we’re covering your dinner!’ They laughed, but let us! We all had ordered appetizers – bruschetta, clams, or spinach-artichoke dip – and an entrée. Add to that three orders of wine and it was a hefty bill! But worth it!! We sat around and visited, shared stories, etc. until nearly 9pm! Such down-to-earth people. Hopefully by the time we finished, we had solved the problems of Habitat, the world, etc.!!
Clearing off tonight – we could see stars as we drove home from Kalispell. And then soon to bed, as we have to go to work in the morning! Again! Agh!
SATURDAY, September 27
Drop-In Build, Final Week: Unitarian Blitz!
A brisk morning, but not that bad in the trailer. We haven’t had the heater on for two weeks I think. And I didn’t put it on this morning, although we were 48 degrees inside.
Volunteers today were from the Glacier Unitarian Fellowship and they turned out in numbers! Not all at once, unfortunately, which meant Steve had to continually keep orienting people, but he handled it with his usual aplomb. (He did admit last night that he stresses out trying to keep everything on a task, etc., but never wants to show it. He hides it very well!) They brought do-nuts, blueberry muffins, and then a lunch that included watermelon, sandwiches, cookies, chips, apples, etc. etc! I never really got a good count, but we had a couple crews sheet-rocking, a crew landscaping, crews out helping with the insulation and rebar of the foundation, and Diane and I were finishing up the paint station and putting things away. We also tried to help out with the coffee making, etc. today.
|Diane, Inuk, and Ginger finish covering all the painted siding.|
During break I finally threw away the white coffee pot. It leaked water all over and it never dripped INTO the pot correctly. We had set it aside a couple weeks ago, but it got pulled out again today with the big group. Not worth it! I went out and announced that anyone who wanted to donate a coffee pot to Habitat, it would be appreciated!
After lunch Tom asked me to come down to Lexie’s house and help him finish the ‘screw check’. We were armed with a putty knife, screws, and a driver. Too far in, put in another one; not deep enough, screw it in; missing? Screw one in. Check every panel, every wall and ceiling. Whew! We ended up also caulking a window and installing the sheetrock. Finished the east side by 3:30pm, as most of the crew was leaving. At least now the house will be ready for the mud and tape sub-contractor crew arriving next week. The foundation is almost ready.
|Insulation and re-bar on the slab. Concrete Tuesday!|
Diane and I got to present gift packages to Heather and Lisa on behalf of Habitat. They had been donated by Proctor and Gamble – filled with cleaning supplies, paper supplies, etc.
|Kids build in the paint area today.|
We crashed tonight. Ate our leftovers from the ristorante and eventually arranged a breakfast date with Tom and Diane for the morning before they take off.It lightly rained off and on this afternoon, but definitely cooler all day.
SUNDAY, September 28
Rest Day – Goodbye to Tom and Diane
I am going to steal three more days on this blog since this will officially END our CAV service here in Columbia Falls. We are working two more days this week and then leaving, bound for White Sulphur Springs and a rendezvous with Steve and Pam Sundstrom, Habitat friends from Las Cruces.
|Main Street, Whitefish MT|
So, today will be short! We lazily arose and left around 9:30a to drive Tom and Diane up to Whitefish for breakfast together at the Buffalo Café. They were going to leave around noonish, and we wanted a final meal together. So….we heard the Presby church bells ringing while we walked right past and into the café across the street. Good friends are God-sent gifts as well!
|Fish Sculptures from old crutches|
Good meal – all three of them had blueberry pancake meals while I was adventuresome and tried the huckleberry peach French Toast bake. Oh boy was it good (and probably loaded with points!) We explored the Purple Pomegranate gift shop afterwards. What a neat place with so many cool items and ideas!!! I kept taking pictures! But they showed me the crutch into a fish sculpture they wanted to make for the barn wall! Awesome.
|Kaleidescope picture of Tom/Diane|
from the shop!
|Sunrise Prayers through the Gap|
MONDAY, September 29
Rest - Laundry - Groceries
All in all, a pretty laid back day! We didn’t even get back to the trailer until nearly 5pm!!
Rest - Laundry - Groceries
So, another relaxing Monday during Habitat builds!! We head down toward Kalispell to do our laundry at the place Tom and Diane recommended, figuring we needed to do a little Wal-Mart/Target etc. shopping anyway. A decent little place and we wandered next door and ambled the aisles of the Army-Navy Store while the wash was going.
Then over toward the ‘BoxStoreMall’ area off Hwy 93! We had to drive around awhile to find the Mexican restaurant we remembered from our last visit – I made my Target PB2 purchase enroute! But we finally located Bajio’s Mexican Grill. A cross between fast food and sit-down, kinda like Panda Express in a way. Good meal, though.
Wal-Mart shopping included the purchase of new work boots for Ging, a coffee-maker for the affiliate, and a French Coffee press for us to have in the trailer ….adding a little class to our lifestyle perhaps!! Groceries and then a stop at the Great Clips for a haircut, just enough to get by until my appointment for a perm with Doris the first of November.
TUESDAY, September 30
Drop-in Build: Almost Done! Concrete Foundation
This morning was an intense three hours of work to get the final steps of prep work done for the concrete slab to be poured this afternoon. We had to dig trench, lay re-bar in the trenches and on the top of the insulation, insulate the final edges, trim all the upper insulation, and of course, tie all the rebar together and raise it to the proper elevation. The inspector was coming around noon for an afternoon pour.
Best laid plans….the rain started falling about a half hour after we got started. And kept coming. Our crew was Steve and Steve, Rick and myself. Steve M was prepared and well insulated against the weather. The rest of us? Not so well! By the time we took a short break around 10:30ish, Rick and I were soaked through, I had been kneeling in pools of water most of the morning and my pants were a muddy mess. We grabbed a coffee to warm up, Rick changed clothes, and we donned our Niagra Falls rainwear to finish the job. Just then, the inspector arrived. He stood in his shirtsleeves in the rain for about a minute, asking if we were going to elevate, finish tying the rebar, etc. and then said, “Tell Steve I was here – good to go.” With the inspection ‘done’, we had no pressure to finish, because the concrete guy had notified Steve an hour earlier that he wasn’t coming this afternoon – it was too wet! We shall finish in the morning! Went home to a HOT shower, dry clothes, and the electric heater!!
We shared a can of soup for lunch, put the wet clothes into the dryer, and spent a leisurely afternoon in the trailer.
With a lack of pictures, I will include the scribble
for today's devotion...it gets the idea across!
Skies are clearing somewhat this evening – spots of blue sky, a bit of a sunset, and temperatures are cooling!
No pictures again today. I wanted to take one this morning - a selfie of one wet and muddy girl OR Rick in his Niagra parka, but there was no way I was getting the camera out of the car!
WEDNESDAY, October 1
FINAL FLATHEAD BUILD DAY!!
|Finishing up the beam|
This is really it. We are going to leave! The morning is thick fog as we pull out of the campground for our final day on the job. We stop at the SuperOne to pick up a dozen do-nuts to offer for the day. (We had Steve M in mind as he loves his sweets!) Glacier Bank had a big crew out to work, plus locals Steve M., Rich, Jan, and Rich and Catherine from Whitefish. The nice surprise was the return of Chris, who had been gone for the past two weeks! He got sick after the dragon boat races. All the locals plus Rick and I were sent inside to sheetrock! Everyone else finished up the foundation work to prepare for the concrete, laid grass sod, built retaining walls, etc. The day gradually improved weatherwise and the sun tried to shine through the clouds at times. But…. It did not rain anymore!
|My partner Jan!|
|Our beautifully enclosed beam.|
I paired up with Jan, a retired educator from Portland, Oregon, who has moved to Whitefish. We loved her license plates: mtnlvr….mountain lover! She is sorry she won’t be able to get the same plates when she has to switch to Montana plates! We finished up the drywall in the stairwell closet, put in some pieces in the utility closet, and after lunch enclosed the beam that divides the kitchen and living room. Not a bad day’s work. Rick was busy as well, doing some fairly intricate cuts around the stairwell. He worked alone, grabbing whoever available at the time to help with holding or moving the boards at times.
|Rick does his figuring before a cut.|
|Newly painted door|
|Wood for last unit is piled in front, but sod is laid,|
outside is finished.
I took some pictures at the end of the day to send to the CAV crew who started Lexie and Nycci’s house last May. The outside is basically done. Finishing work is starting on the inside. The target finish date is still mid-December or early January. With the concrete slab done tomorrow, Steve plans to start the framing on the last unit on Friday! The wood was all delivered today!
Back to the park to fill the propane tank (good thing, it was down to 2 gal left), shower, do a quick load of laundry, and then settle in for Rick to watch the Pirate playoff game on TV. (Not going well currently….:( )