Monday, May 25, 2015


Baker City to Colfax, WA
222 miles

            Well, it’s time to hit the road again!!  We don’t have far to go today, so it is a leisurely 10am departure!  Weather is overcast with a good north wind blowing – headwind!  So much for gas mileage! 
Fog over Tollgate
            As we approach LaGrande, Rick ponders the possibility of taking Tollgate instead of the freeway, especially since there is a great deal of construction still on I-84.  Why not!?  It’s not NEW road, but we haven’t been that way for awhile and the two lanes are more relaxed with the trailer. 
            Beautiful drive, although we hit patches of DENSE fog up on top of the pass.  Had to slow down to 40 mph to get through the clouds, but the trees and undergrowth were so green and lush.  Recent thunderstorms have made everything damp and moist. 
Palouse Country!
            Two hours and we drove down into Milton-Freewater for a little gas – 28 cents cheaper than in Baker City, and cheaper than across the border in Washington.  From M-F and past Walla Walla we entered the ‘palouse hills’ of Eastern Washington.  This was a perfect time of year for the drive, as the wheat fields were dark green, thick stalks waving in the wind.  Rolling hills, creek valleys, quaint towns, and wind turbines!  We found out later when we arrived at Colfax that in addition to wheat, farmers in this agricultural paradise raise garbanzo beans and lentils. 
Crossing the Snake
Peonies in Colfax yard
            We stopped just north of Waitsburg at a small state park (with a ridiculous day use fee of $10!) just long enough to grab some lunch from the trailer.  We had no intention of paying the fee for a brief stop so we ate back on the road! 
            Arrived in Colfax around 2:45 and after a wrong turn, found the Hilltop RV and Mobile Home Park.  Only about 7-8 short term sites, and most of them are used by long term folks!  But we were able to pay for both our site and one for Rusty, so all is good.  Rusty’s site is not the Hilton, but it has hookups!  And it’s just for one night. 
Colfax Hilltop wheat ranch

Colfax nestles in creek hollow

Evening chat
            Both Rick and I took a short walk before Rusty arrived.  I headed up to the top of the hill, thinking I would get a view of the city below, but instead I found a vast hillside of green wheat and a picturesque farm below!  Rick walked up past the hospital and further. 
            Quiet evening visiting outside our trailer.  Rusty spent some time getting acquainted with the setup in his new rig (he just brought the trailer home from TriCities on Thursday!)  We gathered for dinner and conversation until nearly 8p when we turned in for the evening. 
            Showers, a little reading, and early to bed.  Still catching up on our sleep!! 

SUNDAY, May 24
Colfax, WA to Libby, MT
211 miles

            Rusty knocked on our door around 8am, ready to take off.  He had been up for awhile!  We got away about an hour later, heading north to Spokane. 
            Today as another beautiful day for a drive.  The weather cleared after last nights thunderstorm (between 10 and 11 a good storm moved through, rolling booming thunder and lightning flashes all over the place!) and bright blue sky greets our views of more wheat fields! 
Kootenai River Bonner's Ferry
    Gas at a Fred Meyer in Spokane and then off on another two lane road toward Hauser and the Idaho border!  So far this trip the only freeway we will have traveled was the 45 miles to LaGrande and about 10 miles in Spokane!  North of Post Falls we meet up with 95 north toward Sandpoint, Bonner’s Ferry and the Montana border.  We pass Rusty outside a Safeway store in Bonner’s Ferry! 
Between Troy and Libby....complete with bug splat!
            From Spokane north the terrain changes from wheat to hay fields and mountains with pines and firs.  Such beautiful country.  Occasionally we catch a glimpse of snowy peaks in the distance, but the snow is lean this year.  We cross the Kootnai River in Bonner’s Ferry and follow it east to Troy and Libby.  No stop at Kootnai Falls today as the parking lot is packed with Memorial Day visitors.  We will go back some other time to see the falls during spring runoff. 
Our two week home in Libby MT
      We arrive at Two Bit, with Rusty right behind us, around 1:45 (had to push the clock ahead an hour to Mountain Time Zone!)  Everyone else is already here!  Rusty slides into Space 5 next to Dyana and we take #7 on the far end of the group.  Space 6 has no electricity so will be empty!  We are near the highway, but our spot has a large pasture more behind it, so traffic noise isn’t quite as loud. 
            Time to get settled, set up, and relax!!  Calls to Moms, text to Luke, and later a call to Jed.  The internet is unsecure, but it will work!  Phone service is always iffy in Montana.  Rick can’t call out on his phone, but mine seems to work.  Weird. 
Gathered round for meeting and greeting
            We gather for a get-acquainted at 4:30 and I realize during introductions that Rick and I are the only ones who know EVERYONE here (except our guest from the Libby Habitat Board, Don)  Pete and Dyana haven’t worked before with Clint, Kathy, Diane, and Tom.  And of course, we are the only ones who know Rusty.  A good time of visiting and learning more about the small by mighty group of volunteers here in Libby.  Dyana was team leader here four years ago when Libby brought their first group of Care-a-vanners to town.  Hence she is mostly responsible for getting Pete here!  (Including his ride up!)
            It is warm today!!  In the 80’s by the time we arrive and the sun is hot.  Clouds come in and that helps!  But at 9:30 tonight it is still 76 degrees in the trailer!  Time to wrap this up and get some sleep.  We have WORK to do tomorrow!!! 

Monday, May 25: Memorial Day
          Up and raring to go this morning, but the forecast does NOT look good for a full day at the Habitat site!  The build is only a mile from the RV park so a quick drive.  We check out the status of the house so far (framing, interior walls, sheathing on roof), go through devotions (Rick) and safety check, meet Jennifer the homeowner, and get started.  Rick and Tom are on the roof checking and nailing the sheathing down, Rusty working on soffits, and Clint, Jennifer, and I begin to cut and install the joists for the front porch.  We got five boards cut and one installed before the rain hit and Pete called it a day.  We can't paint in the rain (Diane and Kathy were going to work on the siding painting), we can't be on the roof in the rain, and the inside of the house isn't watertight yet to work inside. hour of time for today!  

         Once everything is put away, Rick and I take off to tour the town abit and go to the grocery store.  Rusty ends up taking an 80 mile drive to the Yak Valley - a drive Rick and I plan to take later.  We holed up in the trailer listening to the rain fall, reading, writing, drawing, etc.  By noon the heavy rain had abated.  Rick and Rusty took off on a foot tour of town, I took Diane her rock and story, and eventually Diane, Kathy, and I walked down to the job site to see if I had left the impact driver out. (Later learned Pete had probably picked it up and it is in the tool trailer.)  Took a couple of soggy pictures of the house while we were over there.  

This will be a beautiful butterfly....I hope! 
         I should mention that the park is currently fighting a tent caterpillar infestation - you have to be careful walking under certain trees or between trees for fear of getting a face full of 'web'.  Keep watch for tiny caterpillars climbing on you at all times!  A little unnerving!  I did capture a picture of a 'pillar that I think will turn into a beautiful butterfly, however!
Jennifer & Jasmine
A sleepy Jasmine
         Tonight was our welcome dinner hosted by the affiliate at St. Joe's Catholic church.  There were about 10 members of the board present, which I think was the most of any welcome dinner we have enjoyed.  The Libby affiliate is small but mighty!  (Their main fundraiser is a bicycle race that had over 450 entrants - turning away 100 more - which raised over $30,000.)  They build one house every two years.  Jennifer was there with her soon-to-be 4 year old daughter Jasmine, but Jasmine was asleep in her lap the entire meal!   The meal was excellent and we were all introduced completely!  I presented Jennifer with the wooden plaque that was made by EOPW at our April meeting.  
Board members, Norrells, Rusty, and Pete
          Hopefully tomorrow we will get to build!!  

Tuesday, May 26

House at beginning of Tuesday
Well, we made it to just after lunch today before the rain and thunder came and drove us homeward!  A productive morning, but a full day would have been good.  And probably, we MIGHT have been able to stay and work, but the roofers couldn't do anything and the painters couldn't do anything....and that was 5 people out of a job!  
Chop saw Rusty
Rusty on soffit frame
           Rusty worked on soffits boxes at each end of the eaves all day - finicky work up and down the ladder, measuring, cutting, painting, nailing.  Tom and Rick were up on the roof, finishing the nailing, and then installing the drip edge all around.  They have less than half the roof line still to edge.  Kathy, Diane, and Dyana all worked on painting the siding, while Clint and I tackled the front porch joists again.
Tom and Rick with drip edge
 Unfortunately, our first task was to shave 1 1/2" OFF because the porch was too wide!  Awkward, but we did it.  Then the joists installed, and we started working on the 6x6 support beams (being installed late because the wood didn't arrive on time!)  Not particularly the order you normally build a porch deck, but hopefully we can make it work!
         Weather in the morning warmed up quickly and Rick was HOT up on the roof.  But as the rain started and then the thunder and lightning, the temp dropped quickly.  
Dyana paints siding
          I had devotions this morning and used my Tie-dye Habitat poem.  Rick led yesterday (figured he would get his turn 'out of the way'!)  
          So...we are back at the trailer by 1pm!!  A little computer time, a LONG shower (these are great showers - lots of pressure and HOT water!), phone conversation with Liz, etc.  Of course the skies are clearing and blue can be seen freely among the clouds!  The forecast is not good for the whole time we are here!  Rats!  


Rusty gets plenty of advice on
adjusting his suspenders during devotions
            Weather forecast today at 7am – less than a 20% chance of rain until 5pm or so.  By 8am that had changed to rain prediction for 9am.  And it started to sprinkle just as we finished devotions!  Could we possibly catch a break here?  We think Pete is to blame, since it started sprinkling last night just as he showed up for Happy Hour! No thunder or lightning this morning, just a steady rain that really picked up just as the truck arrived shortly after 9 with the shingles for the roof.  Tom and Rick and Pete unloaded all the shingles (the lift couldn’t get them ALL the way up to the roof, so they had to unloaded bundle by bundle… the rain!  NOT a fun job I imagine. 
AFTER Rick got thoroughly wet
unloading shingles, he donned his
Waiting out the storm
            In the meantime, Kathy and Diane are struggling with the paint job, but Dyana and Jennifer (homeowner!) are busy inside installing the side porch door.  Other friends of Jennifer’s arrive and start helping to install windows.  Local volunteers Dean and Dan are still working on the side porch and Clint and I on the front porch.  Our accomplishment for the day is to finally get the four 6x6 pillars cut and installed.  (Reminder once again….if I EVER build a porch, put the support beams in first!)  We had one problem after another…nuts that were cross threaded and wouldn’t go up and down, bolts to saws-all off, notches to cut in the beams, adjustments, leveling, etc.  It took us ALL DAY LONG!!! 
Jennifer installs her front door! 
            The rain stopped shortly after our 10am break (which we took inside in a dry place as Pete, Dan, and Dean stayed yesterday after the sun came out and applied the sealer paper to the roof!) Sun came out and it quickly turned muggy and warm! 
Clint notches our
porch beams
            Lunch was provided today by the LDS church and they brought a feast!  Chicken salad and egg sandwiches, pineapples, mixed fruits, veggie tray, fritos, and cookies galore!  Enough left for lunches tomorrow for half the group at least. 
Tom and Rick on
roof duty
  Kathy, Diane, and I walked to the job site again this morning and I took Rusty’s Bailey with me for a morning walk!  She was hesitant, but came, perking up considerably after Rusty passed us in the truck.  Kathy and I walked home together.  Both ways I at least get a two mile walk in during the day. 
Rick helps put up side porch gable
            Relaxing afternoon and showers and I join the Norrells and Hinkles for a jaunt down to Christ Lutheran Church and their free pulled pork community dinner.  A beautiful little church and a relatively well attended meal for anyone in the community.  We all found a contribution basket to make donations, even though none was requested. 
    Quick run out to the recycling center after dinner, where I found Garrison Keiler book in a bin!  Nice! 

Inside of Christ Lutheran
            Sun is shining through the clouds and there is plenty of blue sky as we wind down for the evening. 

And a few more construction pictures....
Kathy and Diane did get alot of painting done inspite of the rain!

Our end of the day completion...
four support posts! 


Kathy and Diane get the painting started
Clint prepares to notch
a support post
             More raindrops during the night!  We wake up to a socked in river valley and heavy mist!  It doesn't look anything like the sunshine in the morning promised on Weather Underground!  But we get our crew moving and working and as the morning advances, the sun does shine!  In fact, by the time we leave at 2:15, it is getting downright hot and muggy!  
             I walk to the job site again this morning, with Bailey dog on leash.  A side detour of four extra blocks to mail the postcards at the post office.  Later, Kathy and I walk home again.  
Jennifer works on house windows
Rick and Tom up on
gable roof
  Since it isn't that warm and Dean isn't back, Pete reassigns Rick and Tom to the side porch gable crew.  The shingles can wait until a WARM day when the tar will really adhere.  Clint and I are back on the front porch, Jennifer, Dyana, and Jennifer's sister and husband all work on the windows.  Rusty finishes up the soffit boxes on the house corners and moves on to window trim!  Everyone has a job!  

            By day's end, Rick and Tom and Dan seem to have a good start on the roof over the gable....much better progress than Clint and I make out front.  By break, we have at least finally gotten all the main posts completely set and nailed in place.  I did all the final tightening of the bolt and nailing in the 12 nails on each one.  The rest of the day we worked on the beams that attached the supports to the house, more notching involved to locate them accurately.  
End of day progress for Clint and I
   Daily snacks have been amazing...grapes, watermelon, trail mix, peanuts, cinnamon rolls, cookies, etc.  At lunch today we had leftovers from yesterday as well - sandwiches, fruit and all the cookies still!  

Street in downtown Libby after storm;
near Kootenai River bridge
           Phone conversation with Luke this afternoon and then the group hit the Cabinet Brewery in town.  We had heard that Thursday night was 'charity' night - with $1 of each beer going toward a local charity.  Next week is Habitat for Humanity.  Well, we discovered tonight was not a special night, but stayed a little longer than planned because while we were there the heavens opened, the thunderstorm hit, and it rained harder than we have seen in ages.  A little hail also, but the streets were flooding, rivers running down Main Street.  I took off my sandals to wade through the water to the truck when we left!  It rained pretty steady from 4:45 until nearly 8:30pm.  
           Dyana and Pete joined us at the brewery, but declined a dinner at Rositas.  The Mexican restaurant came highly recommended by Dyana, however, and the rest of us tried it out.  Hinkles and Rick and I all had fish tacos - a single taco, but just the right amount and VERY GOOD!!  
Clint and Kathy Norrell at brewery
Dyana, Rusty, and Tom at brewery ...watching the storm
Tom and Diane at Rositas
   As the rain somewhat abated with the sunset, the skies cleared.  What shall tomorrow bring weather wise?  Supposedly sunshine with more afternoon thunderstorms.  Saturday is forecast miserable - 100% chance of rain all day!  Yikes!!          

FRIDAY, May 29...

Putting up cross braces
           Another gray misty low cloud morning after a night in which I THOUGHT it had cleared!  But....the sun  broke through shortly before lunch and it was getting muggy warm by the time we quit for the week at 2pm!  The electrician and his crew (volunteers all) were there most of the day and will be working tomorrow.)
          And today Clint and I made VISIBLE progress on the front porch!  We finally got the cross braces in and the posts stabilized and level.  From there, help with the
Rick nails down the first
porch truss
trusses and things started to move quickly.  Pete came out to give invaluable help with the trusses, calling out measurements for various lengths of 2x4's which I hastened to cut on the chop saw.  Rick and Dan came and helped lift the trusses in place and Rick nailed one end down at least temporarily.  
Rusty installing window
     The rest of the time Tom and Rick worked to finish the roof on the side porch - ALMOST finishing by the end of the day.  Rusty worked on window trim, Kathy and Diane are painting still - although they were frustrated because of last night's downpour which splattered mud ALL OVER their boards and everything had to be hosed off first.  They were NOT happy camper-painters!  A good productive day!  
Dyana hates it when I catch
her in non-productive moments!

          While I was holding ladders and scampering around under Clint and Pete, I remarked that I should be wearing my hard hat.  Well, sure enough, shortly after that Clint dropped his cat's claw.  Fortunately it did not hit my head, and hit my hand on a flat surface, not the pointed end.  I went and got the hard hat after that and felt much more secure!  
          A group of middle school age students from the local Christian school walked over to the site to visit during their lunch today.  They have worked for the STOKR bike tour (Scenic Tour of Kootenai River), done lessons from the plans, etc.  Today was their chance to visit the house itself and meet Jennifer.  Neat small town aspect of Libby.  
Youth from local Christian
school visited during lunch
The local affiliate has provided snacks every day - trail mix, fruit, nuts, watermelon, cinnamon rolls, etc.  Today Susie brought warm poppyseed breads - almond and lemon.  Good stuff!  Far too tempting to eat.  Susie also brought information for us on the local museum, trails, road trips, etc.  
Don, Pete, and Dyana at HH
          Happy Hour is a little earlier and we are joined by Don, local director, and Susie.  Nice couple of hours visiting and snacking.  One of our treats was the Scandanavian rosette cookies - Diane picked some up at the farmer's market, but also had a second platter donated by the baker, who happened to be a previous Habitat homeowner!  Pretty nice!  
          A beautiful evening out, but the caterpillars and the cottonwood 'snow' make life a little miserable as the evening lengthens.  
Check out that front porch! Sorry, Pete, I chopped off your head!

Saturday, May 30
HIKE: Kootenai River Road Trail 4 miles RT
The wildflowers we saw along the way
          Rumble! Grumble!  Another thunderstorm hit around 12:30am last night...must have come in quickly as the skies were clear when we went to bed at 10pm!  Day dawns with more clouds and rain off and on.  Rick checks the forecast, however, and says WeatherUnderground predicts a two hour hiatus between 10 and noon - just enough time to perhaps venture out to the Kootenai River Trail, located just across the bridge and five miles west on the north side of the river.  Rusty had talked of taking the trail this morning, so he and Bailey go with us. 
        It was still raining lightly when we began our hike.  Rick pulled our yellow raingear out of the back of the truck and we were off, prepared for the worst!  (The worse would have been taking the bikes, which we decided NOT to do even though this is rated as a great biking trail!)  
A collage of hike photos
    The river is running full, especially so after Thursday evenings cloudburst and downpour during dinner time.  We are excited to see the falls tomorrow full of water since the only other time we have seen them was in September.  Shortly after starting out, we see a side trail take off and a sign to Black Eagle Rock.  Why not?  It is a day to explore!  

        Black Eagle proves to be a massive rock outcropping, the top of which is about 300' above the river level.  We took to the west and see an old orchard and homestead below, the misty wisps of cloud drifting among the forested hillsides.  While we are on top, a train sounds its whistle - we are convinced the tracks must also go above us as the echo off the canyon wall is so realistic.  Yet, we SEE the train on the south side right along the river.  Also while on top of Black Eagle we see five big-horn sheep - all ewes and a lamb.  This is a protected area for them.  
Still in our raingear on top of Black Eagle Point

        The highlight for me today was the wildflowers!  Springtime blossoms of honeysuckle and wild rose, thimbleberry, huckleberry, wild currant and mariposa lily.  A scattering of heartleaf arnica, a yellow thistle weed that Rusty said was Goat's Beard, ONE indian paintbrush. purple vetch, and some white daisies.  The honeysuckle was woven through everything!  New growth on all the firs, lush grass beneath all the forests.  The path was basically a road with a firm gravel base - it would have been great biking.  
        Shortly after we came off Black Eagle Rock, the rain stopped (right on schedule for our 10am break!) and we even saw sunshine for awhile.  (The raincoats were peeled off and down to shirtsleeves!)  We saw some giant moths mating, caterpillars, and gophers in addition to the sheep.  
         Back to the campground around noon - we had thoughts of hitting the museum today, but it didn't happen.  I worked on photographs after lunch and Rick took a nap!  Eventually, as the skies began to break up a bit, we loaded up the laundry and hit the laundromat just west of town.  Phone call with brother Mac while we waited!  
         Dinner of salmon patties, baked beans, and salad, and a relaxing evening.  Tomorrow we venture up the Yaak River Valley!  
Panorama of a stretch of the Kootenai River
SUNDAY, May 31  
Yaak River Loop
Yaak River Valley Loop; Kootenai Falls, Yaak Falls
95 miles

          Today was forecast for good weather, although the morning dawns, once again, gray and misty with low clouds on the hills.  Not sure Libby is winning big awards for its weather patterns (or the tent caterpillars!) we head west on Hwy 2, Rusty and Bailey in the backseat, the skies do seem to grow bluer!  
Pano of Kootenai Falls
    First stop this morning is Kootenai Falls, just a dozen miles to the west of us.  Quick stop enroute, however, because Rusty spotted a few big horn sheep on the rocks across the river.  We eventually spotted a few of them with the binocs.  
My bear sculpture

          Rick and I stopped at Kootenai Falls last fall, but the water level is SOOO much higher now.  The upper portion of the falls, while not dramatic in height, make up for it in volume and thunder!  An island in the middle adds a great deal of beauty to the magic of the place.  We found more rose and honeysuckle, but also Queen's cup!  The lush undergrowth and the aroma of the cedars made the walk through the forest to the swinging bridge special.  I enjoyed watching the patterns of the whitewater as it swirled and spun below the bridge.  
In front of Kootenai Falls
 There is a wood sculptor who sets up on a picnic table at Kootenai Falls on a regular basis and sells small wall hanging of men, eagles, bears, etc.  I really liked the little black bear, so we purchased one for the house. He visited with me about the Kootenai names for bears, etc.  
The Swinging Bridge

         Next we pass through the quaint little town of Troy and up to the junction of the Yaak River Road (508).  Rusty said he passed through here 40 some years ago....when the road was gravel!  It is posted 70mph now, even though it is a secondary two lane highway!  Montanans drive FAST!  We can't even go that fast in Oregon on the interstate!  
Yaak Falls upper portion
   We pull over at Yaak Falls - what a treat!  An upper and lower falls, with the lower on a tilt of slab rock that is huge - like a giant waterslide, only much more water at the moment!  We hiked down the steep trail to below the lower falls - scampering around the tilted rocks (I was glad most of them tilted AWAY from the water!)  Found lupine and larkspur growing!  A stop to eat some lunch on the rocks midway between the two falls.  
Docile section of river at the
town of Yaak. 

       Another 20 miles following a more docile portion of the river (prime fishing streams here!) to the town of Yaak.  There isn't much to Yaak - a couple of bars and a general store.  A road continues on to the town of Eureka at the north end of Koocanusa Reservoir, but 508 heads south 37 miles back to Libby.  We drove up over Pipe Creek Summit, past Turner Mt. Ski Area, and through dense forests of tamaracks and pine.  A beautiful drive.  Rusty saw a caribou on this stretch of road last week.  Signs advertise that it is prime grizzly country.  But we saw no wildlife on this stretch.  
Poppies growing on hillside
above Hinkle's RV
What a great drive today!  Back to the park and then to the grocery store.  A walk down to the corner for the ice cream stand and a treat!  Rick called his mom, and I had Diane and Kathy help me make some paper flowers for Jennifer from Habitat materials.  The cottonwood and caterpillars were miserable outside this afternoon and the weather muggy warm.  

           Phone call to Mom Mac, photos processed, and time to hit the sack!  
Addendum!  This morning as we hiked around Kootenai Falls, I realized it was Sunday morning and our church family would be gathering.  That meant it was a HOLY morning and I should treat the hike as such.  So....I quickly went in search of the word Holy and within minutes I had found it.  Funny how often that works out.  Thank you God! 

MONDAY, June 1
Hike to Leigh Lake, Cabinet Mt. Wilderness
4 miles RT, 1000’ elevation gain

            Today is our HIKE day!!  It will be a shorter one, but a good climb and the weather is good for the morning.  (As I write at 7:30pm, the rain is falling once again!)
            We were going to leave around 8am for an early start, but Rusty comes over at 7:30a and says he needs to take Bailey to the vet.  He really would rather go hiking!  But Bailey has had intestinal problems for the past four days and Rusty needs to get it checked out.  (End note….bug picked up probably in So. Utah and medication and a diet of chicken and rice soup should fix her up!) 
            Our destination is the very popular Leigh Lake trail #132 in the Cabinet Mountain Wilderness Area south of Libby.  Only a 3-4 mile round trip, but 1000’ elevation gain.  We drive 7 miles south on Rte 2, then another 7 on paved and gravel roads into the mountains.  The last 2 miles are on a deteriorating road with the northern hillside nearly all deciduous shrubs and tall tree stumps at varying heights, perhaps cut down by avalanches?  Was the area logged or a fire…who knows.  Around the creek was old growth forest with hemlocks and cedars. 
Approaching the
waterfall outlet.
      The trailhead only has room for 4-5 cars to park, small for what is considered a heavy use trail!  But no one else was there at 9am on a Monday morning.  (Two others cars by the time we left!)  We signed in at the register as we will enter the wilderness area about halfway to the lake. 
            The first part of the trail climbs steadily but gradually along the creek through thick forest typical of the Pacific coast vegetation.  I felt like I was back hiking in the Columbia River gorge: trilliums, Solomon’s seal, wild strawberries, etc!  The wildflowers were glorious.  I was afraid we were too early, but we identified at least 25 varieties and I still have a few more to nail down.  That’s not counting many of the shrubs and none of the trees!  Penstemons, paintbrush, and beargrass were especially prolific along the trail. 
Waterfall fun
Wildflowers along the Leigh Lake trail
            Across the creek bottom the hillside rose steeply, marked with a cascading waterfall.  Avalanche chutes were everywhere!  This is also prime grizzly and black bear habitat, but Rick was armed with his bear spray and he yelled every so often when we were going through hillside shrubs! 
Mt. Goat evidence
            At the 1.5 mark we encountered the beautiful waterfall that tumbles and cascades down from the lip of the glacial cirque holding Leigh Lake.  The pool at the bottom was a deep blue-green.  From here the trail splits, the southern branch crossing the creek and continuing up to the lake.  Since there was no question we would NOT be crossing the torrent, we stayed on the northern branch UP the rocky hillside.  The trail was hard to follow, as multiple side trails have been created, some by the mountain goats as much as by humans!  We had to do some creative route finding, but kept coming back to what we believed was the MAIN tree.  Crossed one still active stream with a series of tiny waterfalls and a carpet of wildflowers around it. 
            By the time we reached the lake, the skies had begun to cloud over abit, so the lake lost a little of the deep blue color luster.  The outlet was filled with log debris and pollen!  But the mountain slopes dropping into the lake were covered with waterfalls and cascades – somewhat like Avalanche Lake at Glacier NP.  Snowshoe Peak towers 3000’ above the lake and still had quite abit of snow on it.  It is the tallest Peak in the Cabinet Mountains at 8734’. 
Photosphere picture of Leigh Lake and south shore.  Snowshoe Peak is off photo to right. 
            After we grabbed a snack, Rick scanned the hillside of Bockman Peak to the north searching for the white dots of mountain goats.  We finally found nearly a dozen in several small groups, including some lambs and a couple very ‘buff’ billies!  The trail enroute down to the lake was literally lined every two to three feet with tuffs of goat hair.  Shedding is in season! 
White dots are goats!
Relaxation in retirement
         I kicked back on a lounging rock by the lake for 5-10 minutes to soak in a little sun and listen to the birds and the waterfalls crashing down.  Definitely a bit of retirement relaxation taking place! 
            A couple of gals arrived at the lake just as we were heading out and Rick heard another group down in the willows of the outlet as we left.  Trip back down was quicker, although my knees decided the climb was probably easier than the descent.  I was glad to be done with the downhill part! 
Penstemon and Snowshoe Peak (and a corner of Leigh Lake!)
            Back into town to unwind, shower, eat, and listen to the pitter patter of raindrops on the roof (two sounds in our trailer:  the ping on the metal roof and the deeper ‘thunk’ on the canvas!)  Who knows what tomorrow will bring!   


          Well, it dripped and dropped all night long off and on, but was marginally off at 7:30 when it was time to leave for the job site.  I checked email several times to make sure Dyana hadn't written to say today was cancelled, but no....
Rick and Dan on the porch roof
After installation, we had to
paint the cut end of the siding.
          And it was a good thing we worked through the drizzle!  At times this morning it got a bit damp, but after lunch the rain had stopped by and large.  The front porch roof was nearly completed by Rick, Clint, and local volunteer Dan.  Dyana decked the side porch.  Kathy and Diane couldn't paint, but they prepped inside the house for sheetrock.  Rusty kept working on his window trim.  I offered to help him, but then got pulled off to begin the siding process.  Local Dean eventually worked with me on siding.  I got all the base siding up, while Dean put a spacer board up high.  Then after lunch the two of us got in sync and got over halfway up one of the wall sections.  Something productive to show for the day!  
Dean and I pose in front of our efforts!  

Private beds at community garden
          Working right under the drip edge of the roof, however, resulted in considerable water rolling down my back and soaking my t-shirt.  I was feeling pretty wet at lunch, so the dryer afternoon was welcome!  
Community Garden
            Kathy and I walked back to the trailer park, stopping at the community garden enroute to look it over.  We ended up getting a half hour tour of the entire area by the gal who was instrumental in starting it.  The plants look pretty amazing.

        Raindrops dripping again at Happy Hour time, so we congregate in Dyana's house for community sharing and fun.  Luna (her puppy) was entertaining!  

           Today we were promised just a 20% chance of rain, but again the skies were gloomy and gray in the morning!  Alas!  Kathy and I walked to the job site, using an alternate route that Rick and I scoped out on Google maps - less time on the main highway with trucks zipping past!  I stopped enroute to take pictures of some beautiful orange oriental poppies in a residential yard. 
Rusty, Rick, Dean pause during break
           Susie was on the phone last night recruiting because as we gathered in our morning circle, the volunteers just kept pouring in.  They had heard rumors that we were roofing today!  At least 6 additional local volunteers, in addition to Dean and Dan who have been here every day.  Electrician volunteers still at it inside, plus the man came today to install the heat pump.  Lots of activity on site!  
Shingling the roof is back-breaking work!
      Rick was part of the roofing crew - and spent the morning on the east side of the roof laying down shingles, cutting edges, etc.  There must have been 8 guys on the roof at any one time!  

          Dean and I continued working on the siding, eventually gaining another helper in Tom, who arrived around break.  We made a few mistakes along the way (third time is the charm in making our first window cut!)  But at least we remembered to paint the cut edges this time and didn't have to pull siding off to paint it!  Pete complimented our efforts shortly before I nailed the electric cord to the house behind a piece of siding.  But heck, that was after lunch and the rain was pouring (AGAIN!!) and...and...  we fixed it! 
        Kathy and Diane finally got a chance to try out Tom's siding paint invention - a method to move boards and dry and clean them off.  It seemed to work well until.... 
Diane rolls the shingles

        ....We garnered our 20% chance of rain with a heavy cloudburst around 1:30 which pretty well closed things down for the day.  Painting had to stop, and the roofers definitely had to come down!  The sun came out just after we got cleaned up, but we had scattered showers off and on for the rest of the day!  
One of the house design options

       I spent some of the afternoon drawing and coloring in images of the house front to try out some different column treatments, as well as door colors.  Hopefully that will help Pete decide what is the best way to go tomorrow.  
          Much of the group (like everyone but us?) drove in to Bonner's Ferry tonight for dinner.  We opted out, having eaten at the brewery there before and not wanting to make the drive.  Instead we went back to Rositas and I tried out the shrimp taco while Rick had carnitas.  A good meal.  Afterward we drove around the south side of town, heading up toward Parmenter Trailhead and up to some beautiful farms and ranches on the hills above the city.  
Fields of lush grass in ranches on the south slopes of Libby

Back wall before break time

           I can't believe it!  Another foggy, gray, and dampish morning!  The forecast is for weather in the high 70's, but you wouldn't know it at 7am!  Tom is already back from his early morning trip down to Kalispell.  Diane's plane left at 6am - they pulled out around 2:30 in the morning.  We banned Tom from the roof today - figured he would be operating on limited sleep!  (He was up on ladders, however!)
Dean trims one of the siding
Sleepy Tom on the ladder!
          I walked again with Kathy using the alternate route once again.  Kathy shared a devotion and we got to work!  A good crew eventually appeared again to work on the roof - many new faces from yesterday!  The involvement of the retired forest service workers is pretty incredible.  Rick and Tom worked on finishing up the porch roof, while Dean and I worked all day on the siding.  We got helped from the break on from Rusty and Bob.  Kathy painted all day....alone, although asking for help occasionally to move the boards.  By days' end, SHE WAS DONE!  At least with the siding, guess she has more trim work left to do tomorrow.  
          Electricians still on task, heat pump roof being built, electric panel to be installed until they discovered it was the wrong one.  Roof is nearly completed shingled.  
 At day's end I rode home with Rick and we stopped at the Farmer's Market.  Some nice stuff, including an incredible painting on a tree fungus of a moose cow and calf amidst a field of ferns.  Such detail.  Picked up a card and something for Rick, plus a cookie for Pete's birthday 'cake.  Rest of afternoon I worked on the scribble for the build - of everyone involved at one point or another.  
Pete and his 'cake cookie'

     Around 5 everyone leaves for the brewery.  Tonight, $1 of every beer sold goes to Habitat for Humanity, so we did our best to support the organization.  Pete was given his cards and 'cake' - although I couldn't keep the match lit long enough for him to blow it out!  We didn't have an candles.  We were joined by a couple of the board members, including Dean who I have been working with.  (Dean's wife teaches over in Spokane)  Plus a couple who are CAV 'wanna bes' - they are interested in volunteering when they 'hit the road' soon in the future.  Nice folk - hope we meet up with them again sometime!  
One side is almost sided!
   Once again I just had root beer because they don't sell anything but two pops and beer.  No wine.  Then Rusty, Tom, Clint, Kathy, Rick and I went back to Rositas for a bite to eat.  Rick and I just shared a plate of nachos.  

           I am tired!  Muscles are sore from lots of hammering in awkward positions.  Rick is sore from squatting on the roof over and over.  Two more days here in Libby!  And they should be rain free!  It is clearing off tonight so maybe!  
This is the view out my trailer window every evening...often with a white horse grazing. 

            What is that I see in the early morning sky?  Could it be sunshine?  Perhaps a patch of blue?  Indeed!!  Kathy and I walk to the job site AFTER I wish Rick the first of his many birthday wishes. 
Status of house as we begin the day. 
            More Libby volunteers show up today – more new faces.  I am incredibly impressed with the support of this small affiliate.  Locals Dan and Dean have been here nearly everyday, but more than that – all the electric work is being done volunteer by a retired electrician.  Four to five new faces daily have appeared to work on the roof.  We have had warm treats nearly every morning for our break time snack.  Lunch has been served three times, plus full welcome and thank you dinners.  The town is behind the Habitat efforts in a big way.  And yet it is all done with humor and humility. 
            Rick worked hard on his birthday.  I tried to get a few pictures, but I was working hard as well with little break time to random take pictures.  The one time I tried, he was off the roof already.  He and Tom spent all day doing the soffits on the porch and then shingles on one half of the porch.  They will finish it up tomorrow. 
End of day .... siding is
nearly to the top! 
            I spent the day again working with Dean on siding.  Pete refers to Dean and I as his A team siding crew!  Unfortunately we have not chosen wisely (I don’t think we really had a choice!) and we have been working totally on the sunny side of the house.  Fussy work today around the shelf and mini roof for the heat pump plus a window.  But we made some good progress!  West side siding is finished by another crew (Dean and I started there on Tuesday and had nearly half done).  South side is half done with the gable the main portion left.  NONE of the front has been sided yet.    My shoulders are sore from all the hammering!  But Dean and I have worked well together.  He is a local retired man whose wife still works in Spokane Valley for the school district.  She comes home weekends. 
Kathy and I walk past this beautiful
garden of poppies every day! 
      Susie brought coffee cake for snack this morning – I’d like to think that was Rick’s birthday cake! 
            This afternoon the boys placed a conference call to Rick for his birthday.  A good visit for all of us!  But conference calls are NOT conducive to duet singing – the boys struggled to get through the birthday song in one piece! 
Happy Birthday, Rick! 
Clint, Don, Susie, Kathy, Tom
            Tonight was the Affiliate thank you dinner at the Red Dog saloon – about 6 miles from town on the road to Yaak.  A very popular place on a Friday night!  Lots of peanuts that you can throw on the floor!  Four large pizzas were ordered, plus the affiliate picked up the drink order as well, which was NOT expected!  I had asked Dyana to pick up a couple of pies if possible for Rick’s birthday, but she couldn’t find any so she brought Rick a strawberry shortcake treat and mini chocolate cupcakes for the rest of the group!  We sang H-Bday (had to start over because the first try was WAY off key!)  Apparently this is NOT the year for melodic birthday singing!  Susie and Don (affiliate board members) were there and handed out t-shirts for everyone!  
Pickin' musicians
Beautiful meadow for
Pasture Pickin'
     Upon leaving the Red Dog we stopped one mile up the road at Pasture Picking – an annual Libby event in a rancher’s pasture.  Fiddlers, guitarists, mandolins, banjos, you name it all gather to jam for a week.  RVs scattered throughout a huge grassy meadow with two covered  shelters for the musicians to gather.  It was fun listening to the various songs.  Very country, bluegrass style music.  And the piney trees surrounding the meadow and sheltering the RVs were beautiful in the evening light. 
            Rusty had given Rick a fine bottle of wine for his birthday, and Rick decided it would be great to share it with friends.  So Rusty, Clint, Tom, Kathy, Rick, and I gathered for an hour of stories and wine until just past 9:30 when we all decided it was time to call it a day!  
Tom was wearing my favorite Habitat t-shirt tonight!  

Last day of Libby build

          Oh, what an incredibly beautiful morning!  Crystal clear blue skies!  I went back up the hill behind Hinkle's trailer and caught the poppies in the morning sunshine with BLUE skies behind them!  
          Kathy and I walked once again this morning (and home again in the heat of the afternoon!)  A smaller crew on hand for a Saturday, but Dean and Mel were back, even though Dean's wife was actually home for the weekend!  Susie came by for devotions as well and took our group photo for us.  I said I would 'paste' Diane in later!  She looks a little overdressed considering the weather, but we got her in!  
Kathy spent day caulking!
         Jennifer was present to work and her father and step-mom showed up a little later to spend the day.  They worked with Dyana to finish the front porch decking and then began to side the front of the house!  Dean and I finished our mis-cut board from yesterday and then worked all day, sometimes with Mel and Rusty's help, to complete the east side of the house.  It wasn't fast work, but once the roof of the heat pump overhang was done, we were able to move quickly up the back half of the east side. 

         Rick and Tom were STILL on the roof!  They finished up the shingles on the porch roof and even put in some siding before day's end!  It was warm work today as temperatures approached 90 degrees by mid afternoon.  
Jennifer with bouquet and
         Susie provided lunch courtesy of Christ Lutheran - more BBQ pulled pork, beans, chips, and spice cake.  That was after cookies, strawberries and cantaloupe for break!  I don't want to weigh when I get to Kalispell!  
         During morning break we presented Jennifer with her bouquet of Habitat flowers - I think she is going to put them by her teller window at the bank until she moves in!  I pointed out the photos on the flowers of her and Jazmine!  We tried to access all the house pictures I took for Jennifer to select the porch trim she wanted, but all I could get were the miniatures because I hadn't 'preloaded' them while still online this morning.  Rats!  She looked at the itty bitty pix best she could!
Quick pix of Jennifer and I
Rick and Tom cut their siding

         After leaving the job site, Rick and I went to the laundromat and got our clothes all clean and ready to take off tomorrow for Kalispell.  A brief happy hour with Pete, Dyana, Tom, and us (Rusty went to the brewery to listen to a New Orleans singer) and then a quiet evening.  We are tired!  Tomorrow?  New post from Kalispell!
Status of house at end of build:
Both porches completed and decked, roof completely shingled, siding about 3/4 done.
Electricians and plumbers have been in, heat pump installed.
House is ready for sheetrock!