Thursday, September 24, 2015

Kalispell Round Two - Fall 2015

The apple tree behind our trailer is loaded!!
SUNDAY, September 20
          Some of these posts will be short and sweet!  We went to church today in Whitefish!  Rick watched the Steelers dominate on TV.  We went grocery shopping!  We talked with Jed and Mom R on the phone.  Hmmmm....I drew some prayers!  And that about sums up our day!!

MONDAY, September 21
The house at the end of the Thrivent week.  Wow!
           Let's see if I can make today more exciting than yesterday.  We spent a lazy morning.  I started a new book for my morning devotions.  I caught up on email correspondence.  We went out to the house site and were amazed at the progress the Thrivent group made!  Concrete poured for driveway and front walk.  Rock work finished.  All painting finished and scaffolding gone.  Bright turquoise front and back doors painted.  The plumber has been in.  We ran into Steve and he recommended a hike for tomorrow up in Jewel Basin.
         We explored a little - up to Foy's Lake and Lone Pine State Park.  Didn't pay to go into the park but it has a great view overlooking the upper Flathead Valley.  We were going to visit the Re-Store but Steve said it was closed on Mondays!  Rick checked out some day packs at Sportsmans at the mall.  I went to Weight Watchers and lost 3 pounds!
Front of Genia's t-shirt!  
 (All that hiking!)  We did our laundry and rendezvous'd with Lynn to get my Super G (Genia) t-shirt - a fundraiser for Tartaglinos.  Only I am somewhat embarrassed to wear it because my name starts with a G - it seems a little egotistical!  Fun talking with Lynn however, who drove to the RV park to deliver the shirt.

TUESDAY, September 22
Mt Aeneas Hike, Jewell Basin
7 miles, 2000'
Our convoluted loop route!
          Well, today won't be boring!  And it definitely wasn't lazy!  Rick was out of here shortly after 9am to head back over to the mall and check out packs at Cabelas and Sportmans.  We had done a little internet research last night and if we were going to buy, why not do it now while he could enjoy using it!  He came back with a pack from Sportmans.  Said the saleman was very helpful about how all the pockets could be used, etc.  
          In the meantime I sat with computer in my lap refreshing the Habitat site every 30 seconds to try and get on one of the Mason Texas CAV builds.  When it finally showed up, I think it was already full!  Not sure how much we want to play these 'games', but it was a good build in the right place at the right time.  We are on the wait list, so maybe it will come through at a later date.  Otherwise, God must have other plans for us during our drive across the south next spring!  
          So...we are finally on our way by 10:45a heading down Rt 35 toward Big Fork.  A turn off on the Swan Valley road and then to Echo Lake and the Jewell Basin access.  The last 7 miles of road are gravel, the last 5 narrow and steep and wash-boardy!  But…those miles pick up at least 1800’ of elevation!  We arrive at Camp Misery (named for an Indian tribe who had to spend a winter here) around 11:30 and are on the trail by 11:45am.  I doubt we will be eating lunch on the summit! 
Panorama view from top of Misery Mt. toward Flathead
Ging on top of Misery Mt. Peak at far right is our goal:
Mt. Aeneas.  
           We have the option of turning the hike into a loop rather than an in and out.  It will add a little distance only.  But looming above Camp Misery is a peak which I called Misery Mountain.  Shortly after leaving the trailhead, we pass a side trail to its summit.  It is early and I am raring to go….’Let’s go to the top of this one too!’  So we did and we rewarded with views to the west of the Flathead Valley and much of Flathead Lake.  A forest fire swept through this side of the ridge at one point.  Lots of barren white trees spike the hillside. 
Fireweed fluff and Flathead Lake!
We found some sumac berries
the bears hadn't eaten!
        Trail then contours around the west side of the ridge – still past fire burn now covered with bear grass and fireweed.  Nothing in bloom now, but the seed pods of the fireweed are spectacular.  I shall call it fireweed fluff! 
         We come to a major crossroads where trails come up from the lower valley, another route to Camp Misery, a trail to Birch Lake, etc.  But we take 717 to Mt. Aeneas and we begin to climb again.  Switchbacks up the side of the mountain to the top of the ridge where an old microwave tower sits.  I tried to google for information about the old building, which looks very abandoned, but no luck.  Everyone mentions it, but no one knows anything else about it!
Jewel Basin panorama from ridge just beyond microwave tower.  You can barely see edge of it at far left. 
        From the ridge by the tower you have views down into the basin (we could see at least 7 lakes) and west toward the Flathead.  To the south the narrow spine of the Mt. Aeneas ridgeline snakes its way to the summit.  We passed a few other hikers coming down who reported mountain goats near the top.  (All our sources said this was very common!)  It is about a half mile from the saddle by the tower to the top.  Awesome ridgeline walk! 
Ridgeline walk to top of Aeneas. 
        About 100’ down from the summit we met another couple of hikers.  In talking about the goats, Rick mentioned we have a lot in our Elkhorn Mts. of NE Oregon.  The man asked where abouts did we live.  Turns out it was Don Arledge, a former 5J teacher who left the area in 1984 to teach in Peru!  We had a great talk and he gave us a contact should we ever be in Patagonia (where they are living now!)  Rick asked who we should give greetings to and he said TOM NOVAK!!  We will deliver the message! 
Two of us atop the peak with Hungry Horse
Reservoir in background
There were lots of flat rocks
for good inuk building!
    I built an inuk suk at the top and we finally ate a little bit more (we had snacked once already!)  We got to the top around 2:15 and probably spent about a half hour on top.  Jewel Basin is a lake strewn low spot in the Swan Mountains between the Flathead and Hungry Horse.  There are 50 miles of trails and 27 lakes in the area.  We could see at least 4 more lakes to the south of us. 
Rick heads down the south ridge of Aeneas.
        Coming off the peak we followed the south ridge STEEPLY down to a lower trail that dropped into the basin.  We had seen about 11 mt goats down in this draw from the ridgeline, but now three of them crossed right in front of us and headed back to the top.  Such regal and beautiful animals. 
Hello, friends!  Welcome to my
Sumac colors
          The basin is prime bear and grizzly country!  Rick did yell ‘Hey, bear’ a lot as we traversed the thickly treed slopes.  We got to Picnic Lakes and found our trail over Nip and Tuck Pass (a little uphill again!) and down a whole series of switchbacks.  But the hillside, oh the hillside.  What a glorious splash of colors.  The sumac looked like burning bushes in places 
Avalanche chute above Picnic Lakes -
the trees were all cut off! 
(appropriate since that was this morning’s devotion drawing), yellow undergrowth covered the hillsides, deep reds of huckleberry, - indescribable.  I kept stopping to take pictures, and Rick kept reminding me to stay close because he had the bear spray! 
This hillside was ablaze with color!
We had to make a few more junctions on different trails to make our way down to Camp Misery, arriving around 4:45!  Tired, but excited about all we saw. 
          We considered stopping somewhere for dinner, but the late return and a shower pulled us back to Rocky Mt. Hi RV!  We have to work tomorrow!  Can’t play everyday.  
More sumac color
On the color trail near the end of the hike. 

Wednesday, September 23
Habitat Build Day - First Day of Autumn!

          It might be the first day of fall, but it is a beauty!  Brisk morning - in fact we had to scrape the windshield today to drive to the job site!  But the weather warmed and by afternoon we were all down to t-shirts basking in the clear blue skies and delightful 70's temperatures!  
          Quite the eclectic crew working on Kearney's house today!  There were 6 guys from the Kalispell Coca-Cola business, I think working their first Habitat experience.  We had a gal from Glacier Bank who wanted to work, but couldn't come on Friday with the rest of that group.  So she came today!  Pete was a new local volunteer, having just retired in Whitefish.  And lastly, besides Rick and I, there was Brian, a late teen who will be here all week working off some community service.  (And of course, Speedy Steve too!)
Rick and Steve work on the first wall. 
          The sod is due to arrive on Friday, so Steve wanted to be sure that all the raking and leveling of the yard was finished.  The Coca-cola guys worked all day on that process, armed with shovels and rakes and wheel-barrows.  Pete, Brian, and Gabby told all the forms off the concrete sidewalks and driveway and then basically moved lumber all day.  Not a glorious job but they never complained!  The local lumber yard has donated a sizeable amount of the framing lumber needed and a load of it was dropped off this morning that all had to be moved into the garage so the sod could go down!  
Today's accomplishment: two walls. 
      Rick, Speedy, and I began the process of framing walls for the next house.  This was an education for me.  I have framed before, but not working directly off the plans.  The X's and O's were already on the top and bottom boards, or we were given pictures to follow (San Antonio).  First we had to build a 'jig' that will lie on the flat surface of the driveway to build the walls on top of.  The walls are being fully sheathed with windows and doors cut out.  We started with the front wall which had two windows and the front door.  Not the easiest place to start and it took most the rest of the day to finish!  Rick and Steve were doing all the nail gun work, while I manned the chop saw and tried to stay ahead of them, cutting the jack studs, cripples, and headers.  Slowly I began to understand how Steve interprets the plans and then transfers it to the base boards.  He will still actually make the initial marks on the board probably and then I can finish it up.  Pete came over and got a lesson in nail gun use from Speedy because the sheathing takes ALOT of nails!  Since we did all our work at the back of the house, you can't really see much difference from the front other than the dirt is a little smoother!  
End of Day photo

          Nothing too exciting tonight.  I did find an email waiting for us saying we got on the Mason build!  Need to finish re-registering for that this evening.  Otherwise, dinner was the leftover chicken and tater salad from the lunch provided today (no one else wanted to take it!) and a leisurely evening reading, etc.  Tomorrow I may go in to the Habitat office and use their secure internet to check on some financial things.  

THURSDAY, September 24
Habitat Office and Re-Store; Hockaday Art Museum

          I could get used to these 'off days' when we don't have to be anywhere very early!  It was in the mid-30's again when I arose just before 7am.  Trailer around 50 degrees and it didn't warm up very fast!  But I bundled up in my fuzzy blanket and worked on my drawings, etc.  Spent much of the morning finally getting some pictures added to my blog, but was unsuccessful in uploading the YouTube video of my time-lapse on the house.  Around 10:45am we finally got moving and headed over to the Habitat Office in downtown Kalispell.  Katy had said we could come by and use the internet there - a secure internet so I could do a few financial things.  I was hoping to upload the video, but discovered I would be using their computer....they didn't have wifi, just cables.  So I was glad I had my little log-in notebook with me with passwords.  We checked on our Canada transactions, made a donation online, and took care of the paperwork Synchrony Bank wanted.  Steve stopped by while we were there and reminded me I can use his hot spot for the video if I need to!
          We were getting ready to leave and I said something about taking off so they could get some lunch.  Katy instantly said, "Do you have plans?"  We argued over who was taking who, but Katy flipped out the credit card first!  We went to a little Italian sandwich shop within walking distance and ate out on the sidewalk patio, basking in the sunshine!  I had a portobello panino, and Rick a BALT sub.  Good meal and a delight to sit and visit with an exceptional young lady.
One of the watercolors...
  I had done a little research last night about places to visit in Kalispell and stumbled upon the Hockaday Art Museum, which happened to be just a block from the Habitat office!  It is also a former Carnegie Library building turned into art center!  I enjoyed the current exhibits, but was mostly interesting in the ongoing display of Glacier National Park art.  There was a book in the gift shop of nightime photography in Glacier.  Amazing photos of time lapse moons, stars, comets, plus the northern lights, sunrises and sunsets.  Pretty cool.
Neat quote on gift shop wall.

          Then a quick trip down to check out the Re-Store on the south side of town.  Alot of nice furniture, on the spendy side.  We end up spending a bit $1 on four books!
          Back to a quiet evening on the 'farm' - in the apple orchard??  It isn't supposed to be as cold tonight!

Friday, September 25 
Habitat Build Day with Glacier Bank

        So much for not as cold!  It was 35 outside when I got up and the trailer was 44 degrees (we hadn't turned the heater up as high!)  Shiver!  But.... we were rewarded with a glorious sunrise over the Swan Mountains!  
I had to walk 15' out of the trailer to take this panorama sunrise photo!  

End of the day....check out the grass!!!
        We are joined today on the build site by a whole crew of gals from various Glacier Bank branches and divisions, plus a lone guy from the loan division.  He took alot of ribbing!  The bank folk worked all day in getting the ground totally level and smooth, removing more rocks, and then laying the sod when it arrived just before lunch.  (It was cut just this morning, rolled, and brought over.) Instantly, the house transformed!  Surrounded by green grass!  By closing time everything in front was done and partway to the back.  
Rick and Pete get started cutting out a window.
    In the meantime, Pete (new guy from yesterday from Whitefish), Rick, and I built walls.  Speedy Steve was working on some other errands, so we were on our own.  Steve T went over the plans with me again, testing me with How long will you cut this?  Where should the overlap be located?  Etc.  I guess I passed the test, because he left for the rest of the morning and I was on my own to lay out the next five walls!  A little scary!  And my measurements and cuts HAVE to be accurate so that the two sides of the house actually both end up exactly 41' in length (that way both sides of the back door will meet!)  While Rick and Pete used the nail gun to assemble the walls, apply the sheathing, cut the windows, and make sure the walls are square, etc.,  I worked back in the garage going back and forth from the plans to the base-plate and top-plate that I had cut, and then marked for
Our stack of walls is growing on the driveway!
You can see the grass, and piles of sod.  
the studs, jack studs, cripples, etc.  Fortunately, six of the seven walls we completed today didn't have any windows or doors!  I have the wall ready like a little 'kit' - jacks all cut, headers ready to go, etc.  I have another big windowed wall all ready for the guys to nail together tomorrow.  It is challenging and a big responsibility.  I won't be around when the walls are assembled together to know if I made any mistakes!  

        Back to the trailer to relax, shower, and enjoy a quiet evening.  I did walk down to office and pay for our last week here, so they won't kick us out tomorrow!  

Saturday, September 26 
Habitat Build Day - Kearneys plus Church Groups!

          Another beautiful sunrise this morning with the sun backlighting the clouds as we drove across town.  Rick stopped so I could take a picture!  
          We had another good crew today.  Jan, a Whitefish local who we have worked with before, was back.  And of course, Speedy Steve.  Brian had one more day of his community service to finish.  There were 9 volunteers from Selah Fellowship and 3 more came from Faith Covenant Church.  Our lunch was provided by a family from Faith Church.  And most importantly?  Jason and Angela, the homeowners, were there to work!  
Rick and John construct a wall. 
          Rick, Jan, and myself continued working on the walls.  We were joined after a half hour by John from the Faith church.  Rick patiently instructed him in the use of the nail gun and the process for the wall construction.  Jan was helping out wherever and I basically, after a quick chop saw lesson, gave her the job of cutting the cripples and the header boards - to measurement when Rick needed them, and in general having them ready at 1" too big so we could be fast at the last minute.  She did great, and then was available to help me move my big boards out to the chop saw when necessary.  (I found it very hard to maneuver the 16' pressure treated 2x6 floorplate boards by myself!)  Since we closed up shop early today (shortly after 1pm) we only FINISHED one wall, but the second one is almost done!  Both had a window to figure in.
Jason and Angela pose in front of their house.

        I got the next three wall sections (all one 35' east wall of the house) laid out in the garage.  Steve must have confidence in me, because he stopped by to go over the plans for that wall with me, said to divide it up 14-14-7, and I could figure out where the windows go based on the plans!  And he left!  I had to ask a quick question a little later because I was a half inch off and not sure where to put it (not my measurements, but the way the plans worked out).  Next week....we'll put together the east walls and the north walls, plus garage!  It would be quite an accomplishment if we can figure we built all the outside walls for the next house in these two weeks.  
Flower bed laid out in front of house. 
Rick chats with Jason and Angela. 
  We stopped early for two reasons.  First, the group was so efficient at laying the sod and finishing all that exterior stuff up.  Angela got the chance to design the curve of her front flower beds.  Edging installed and staked.  Just awesome.  Secondly, Steve's daughter flew in for the weekend from back East, so understandably, he wanted to be HOME!  Genia's sister and mom are also visiting.  Genia is about half through her chemo treatments.  

          Quick stop at Walmart for necessary items like paper plates, and then a relaxing Saturday afternoon.  Rick found football games to watch! I wandered around the campground for a mile and took a few funky pictures.  
Creek running through campground and sun in tree. 
SUNDAY, September 27 

Worship in Kalispell

          Today we decided to worship with the Kalispell First Presby Church, located right in the heart of town on Route 93.  It is a beautiful wood structure inside, complete with wood chandeliers.  A modern screen drops down before worship for announcements, etc., but it rolls up out of the way during the service (probably remains more during the contemporary service the third Sunday of each month).  There was a Pentecost 'banner' hanging in the middle of the aisle - a double circle of red/orange/golden ribbons with white doves attached in various places.  Kinda neat.  Nice service, pipe organ, but I have to admit that the organist played faster than I could sing, and that is FAST!  We went out to
breakfast at Sykes afterwards.  Only had to wait 10 minutes for a seat which was amazing since the place was hopping.  
Not much, but a view anyway.  
          Easy afternoon on an incredibly beautiful day.  Highs probably barely hit 70, but the sky was cloudless and clear all day long.  It will be cold tonight (freezing most likely.  Our little heater will hum!)  Talked to Moms, Rick watched some football, I finished painting a rock and actually just sat outside and read for abit.  Went through my Habitat tools and cleaned and organized.  Packed for tomorrow's hike.  
           We had a front row seat for the lunar eclipse.  I couldn't see from the trailer, so had to keep going outside to check on the progress.  It was pretty reddish at the point of total eclipse.  Pictures not great since I don't really have much of a tele lens here.  

MONDAY, September 28 
Hike to Iceberg Lake, Many Glacier Region, Glacier NP
10 miles RT, 1200' climb

          BRRRR!  The temp was subfreezing when we got up early to begin this 12 hour day - approximately 6 on the road and 6 on the trail!  We left as the sun was rising and that big old super moon was setting and returned with the blinding light of the sun setting in the west.  Yes, we manage to drive INTO the sun both directions!  (Poor planning, but not sure how to prevent it!   Ask God to rotate the earth in the opposite direction for a day?)  
          I drove the first short leg up to West Glacier while Rick ate his cakebread.  I knew it was going to be a GREAT day when we stopped at the Town Pumpe on the corner leading into Columbia Falls and I realized I had forgotten my coffee cup.  But the wonderful clerk in the shop gave me my coffee for the refill price!  Not to mention the skies are absolutely clear - cloudless - and I didn't SEE even a wisp of cloud ALL DAY LONG!  
Logan Pass mountains form a silhouette over Heaven's Peak
and lower valley.
          We got to Logan Pass around 9:15 and the parking lot was by no means full, but there were plenty of early hikers preparing to hit the trails.  A couple of resident big horn sheep browsing the lot as well.  Down over the newly paved and beautiful
Good morning! 
section of Going-to-the-Sun Highway toward St. Mary's.  The road is now superb, but the fire vistas around the west end of St. Mary's Lake were devastating.  Fire burned both sides of the road (I am amazed the road held strong).  It appeared to be a quick burning fire, however, as already green plants and grasses are pushing their way through and dotting the undergrowth.  Further down the lake I could see the white 'stick' hillside of a previous fire some 10 years ago on the south shore.  

St. Mary's 2015 fire
Triple Divide Peak (while stopped for construction)
This is not only Continental Divide but also the
Hudson Bay Divide from the Atlantic
          Our only stoppage for construction was for a bridge leading right into the St. Mary's community.  A pause of perhaps 10 minutes and we are headed north to Babb and the road into Many Glacier.  The hillsides surrounding Lower St. Mary's Lake are COVERED with the golds of autumn - mostly aspens I think.  
Lake Sherborne as we head into Many Glacier
    Lake Sherborne, which is dammed for irrigation and a small power plant, is LOW!  Definitely much lower than when we came last year in late August.  Many of the streams we crossed later on the trail were dry, but others were flowing well and there is still definite moisture in the higher country.  
We go right!

          We are on the trail by 10:20am.  I still was tossing the idea of attempting Ptarmigan Tunnel in my mind (distance the same, add another 1200' elevation) but after I felt the slight twinge in my left knee as we started uphill I knew I wouldn't make that kind of elevation gain today.  Oh well.  Iceberg Lake
View into Swiftcurrent drainage
is a very popular hike and we realized how popular with the amount of traffic we found on this late September Monday out of season.  We probably passed or encountered at least 20 other groups of hikers.  We followed what we discovered was a seasonal worker on her first day of 'off season' attempting to get to the tunnel before it closed for the year.  She was freely yelling, "Hey bear, we're here!" every minutes or so.  Once

"Hey bear" section of trail, but Rick is looking for
sheep and goats!
 we passed them, Rick took to the call, but probably not as often.  By days' end we were rarely announcing our presence because there were enough people passing back and forth, any grizzly in his right mind would be long gone.  The hillsides above Swift Current Lodge are PRIME grizzly habitat and bears are often seen.  We did see a huge herd of bighorn sheep on the hillside above, plus a few mountain goat.  Later, coming back, the glimpse of a moose in the willows above the trail, a spruce grouse and young, and a chipmunk that was VERY angry with us and yelled right at me for a minute or more while I took his picture!  (I think a bird has disturbed him first!)
By Ptarmigan Falls
      But what vistas!!!  Aspen golden glory, yellows alongside the trail, and eventually some of the reds of huckleberry and sumac.  Beargrass spikes in the higher meadows covered the hillsides.  Red rock, green rock, black rock with white layers zebra-ing it.  A FEW purple asters still with color, the dead white heads of pearly everylasting, and the spindly twisty spires of fireweed were the only wildflowers I saw.  
Iceberg Lake is up in that cirque. 

          We basically hiked up one of the three drainages that flow into Many Glacier - along Ptarmigan Creek.  We contoured on the hillside above with sweeping views into Swiftcurrent drainage and a wing of Swiftcurrent Glacier as well as Ptarmigan valley and the gray mass of Ptarmigan Wall in the distance.  Eventually we leveled off and passed into the lodgepole forest closer to the creek and at 2.8 miles came to the tree obscured Ptarmigan Falls.  Hard to get a picture of anything other than right above it!  A short distance beyond we came to the point where the trail divides.  The left branch goes south toward Iceberg Lake, tucked into a cirque under Mt. Wilbur and the southern end of the Wall, and the north branch heads up Ptarmigan Creek to the small lake and then up to the man-made tunnel that passes through the wall and opens out above the Belly River drainage.  We went left!  
Under parts of The Wall

            We passed through more forest for about a half mile and then opened up into a contour under the wall that was spectacular.  The wall looks like it is turreted, with little peaks all along the ridge.  You can see the permanent snowpacks above the unseen lake and realize the sun doesn't reach those spots very often.  The hillsides were green, layered with colors of rock, and splashes of red and yellow.  Below us
My favorite picture - trail, cirque, and Iceberg Peak
Iceberg Creek tumbled out of the cirque in a series of small waterfalls.  We stopped on a rock outcropping about a half mile from the lake for lunch.  Rumor had it is was COLD down by the lake and we were in the sunshine to eat!  

Tarn just below lake
     As it turned out, we didn't get to the lake until 1pm and by then the sun had reached the northern shore line and was dancing bright light on the lake with brilliant turquoise patches.  The sun was just barely above the jagged top of Wilbur Peak so the lighting changed constantly as the sun moved.  So cool.  There were no icebergs in the lake this late in the season, but the lake usually freezes solid and then breaks apart in the summer months gradually, filling the lake with chunks of ice.  (Hence, the name....duh!)  
Iceberg Lake

          We got back to the truck at 4:15 .... just about 6 hours of hiking time!  Perfect.  A drive around Many Glacier campground (seeking a restroom!) and then we head down to St. Mary's to find a drink.  Hmmm...everything is closed up for the season at the lodge, so we find the little grocery store and buy a couple of sodas.  Not alot of choices.
Iceberg Peak and lake
 Back over the road with the sun in our eyes the whole time!  We thought about stopping West Glacier or Corum for a bite to eat, but they were closed.  So we hit the Subway in Columbia Falls at 7pm and grab sandwiches to eat in the trailer!  Glad to finally head south on Rt 2 and have the sun NOT in our eyes.  It sunk behind the hills as we headed south!  

          A long but perfect day.  Thank you, God, for such glorious fall weather!  Thank you, God, for making such majestic mountains!  Thank you, God, for the health to be able to explore them!  G'night!  
Not sure why the Photosphere icon keeps showing up on the finished pictures!  Iceberg Lake with sun playing peek a boo from behind Mt. Wilbur.  
These snowfields probably also calve all summer long into the lake. 
Outlet creek. 
A hole in the tree captures Rick on the trail.
This little chipmunk scolded me for over a minute after a bird had invaded the 'nest'. 
A spruce grouse right along the trail.
Red rock on trail and fall colors - looking back toward Ptarmigan Wall. 
Mt. Oberlin silhouette in setting sun on Garden Wall near Logan Pass. 
Garden Wall vistas as we head down Going to the Sun Road. 

TUESDAY, September 29 

          After such a busy and full day yesterday, this entry will be short and sweet!  We were lazy and relaxed in the morning.  I caught up on pictures and writing.  We did our laundry.  Later, we went over to the Mall and Rick got a free haircut at SportsClips, compliments of the Red Cross (we had received a coupon by email!).  Michael's Arts and Crafts store just happened to be across the way, so we spent an hour there!  Back to park for Rick to shower - he was happy with the cut but wanted to get the 'goop' out of his hair!  Up to Columbia Falls to check out the Habi-town street, go to Weight Watchers, and then out to dinner at Los Caporales.  It was another beautiful day weather wise - clear and in the mid-70's (and COLD in the trailer in the early morning! I have taken to wearing my fingerles gloves to type!)  PS.  I did remember to wear my SuperG shirt today as Tuesdays are Chemo Day!

WEDNESDAY, September 30
Habitat Build Day - ParkSide Credit Union

          It is the last day of September!  And my, the leaves here at the park have started to change and even drop! And it is a chilly day again as the temp drops below the 30 degree mark!  But a simple beauty of a sunrise just as we arrive at the build site begins to warm the day....which eventually reaches the mid-70 range and shirt sleeves!  
            Today we worked with Parkside Credit Union which added up to just 4-6 people at various times (plus a tremendous spread for lunch!)  A newcomer and neighbor from down the street, Ed, came on behalf of his Parkside employed wife....he got permission from HIS boss to come instead.  It was neat because it meant Kearneys got to meet another one of their new neighbors!  Ed worked with
Rick cuts out a window
Rick and I all day on the walls.  We ALMOST finished all the main house walls, but I had to stop us at sheathing the kitchen wall because I realized I marked it incorrectly and the sheathing would have ended up on the INSIDE of the house.  Not good.  We will check with Steve on Friday morning as to possible solutions.  There ARE options at least!  I was just glad that I caught it BEFORE we nailed all the sheathing on. Otherwise we just have the garage walls to do and we will have finished up this house. 

Kealani hammers in the nails. 
            Kearneys (and Kealani!) came for lunch today and their monthly meeting with Vicci and Katy.  Kealani (she'll be 4 next month) wanted to help, so I gave her a hammer and she pounded a few nails on the sheathing!  She also helped us clean up.  She is quite the little character!  Jason was off work today so he helped us out in the afternoon after he was done with Vicci. 
           The Parkside gals painted siding all day for the house down the street.  Steve HOPES that the hole will be dug on Friday for the new foundation there.   

THURSDAY, October 1
Movie Time!
        I think today just about scored a record for nothingness!  I didn’t even get dressed until 1pm!!  We spent the morning reading, writing, drawing, etc.  It was overcast all day long and cooler.  A few light raindrops even fell.  A good day for recuperation!  Around 1:30 we headed over to the mall and went to the movies!  Saw the new Mission Impossible movie with Tom Cruise and company.  A fun flick. Until the end of the movie we thought we were the only ones in the theater, but two guys must have come in after the movie started and sat way up front.   Back to the trailer where we picked a box of apples from the trees in back of us.  Rick watched the Steelers game on TV tonight.  And THAT was the sum of our day!!  

FRIDAY, October 2
Habitat Build Day with YWAM

We are getting later in the season and the sun doesn't
rise until we are enroute to the job site!
          A quiet start to the morning as the YWAM group doesn't arrive until 8:30 or so.  They are out of Lakeside down on the Flathead.  Rick and I consult with Steve as to my error from Wednesday and he suggests we just cut off the whole door section, flip the wall, and then remount!  Success, altho it takes us nearly an hour to finish up that wall!  
Rick and YWAM crew prepare to stack
another wall. 
   Today is a little different in that Steve assigned us plenty of helpers in order to instruct and get them familiar with the process, as this group will be coming every Friday for the awhile.  Steve plans to have them build the walls for the next unit, same plans as the one we just finished.  So while Rick got a group going with nail guns, studs, and the construction, I worked with Trevor (from Illinois) and how to interpret the plans and mark the boards.  All this group has definitely done construction, so it wasn't difficult.  

           We got the garage walls all
The section of plans that have me stymied!  
finished, but Trevor and I struggled after lunch to figure out the common wall between garage and house as I couldn't find the measurements we needed to determine the distance from the end of the wall to the center of the door.  Steve was gone for the afternoon as I think Genia had a medical appointment.  We laid out the board as we thought but refrained from actually building it.  I'll check with Steve in the am!  

Enjoying the sunshine with Katy at Coldstone
  With such great manpower, Speedy Steve got the trailer from the Re-Store and we hauled the walls down to the other lots.  That freed up considerable driveway space!  The rest of the YWAM crew finished all the painting of the siding for the house down the street.  Things are wrapping up at the Kearney's home right now!  

          Rick and I went out to Coldstone Creamery with Katy after work.  Katy won't be on the job site tomorrow, so this was our 'parting' goodbye!  Good visit and fun time.  I really am fond of this gal and her contribution to the affiliate is amazing.  She is such an ambassador for Habitat homes and makes every group of volunteers feel special.  She makes us feel VERY special!  
          Tomorrow will be a calm day on the job.  Just us and Kearneys and Speedy Steve working.  Steve T has invited us to meet him and Genia Sunday morning for breakfast down in Somers.  

SATURDAY, October 3 
Final Habitat Build Day 

          It must be time to wrap it up.  I think we are tired.  I know the wall building has been tough on Rick's back and my brain is about fried!  We sleep in a little late after rain and wind shook our little trailer during the night.  We arrive first at the job site and then are pleased to see that Jan has come back today, a Whitefish local volunteer.  Steve shows up, but left the keys at home, so he leaves, but Steve M arrives with HIS keys so we have most everything out and ready to roll by the time boss Steve returns.  Kearneys arrive.  Our small group works all day to finish the 24 exterior walls of 265 Short Pine and then we got four walls of 255 Short Pine finished.  I discovered a few studs I should have been putting in all along, but didn't
Our final four walls all wrapped up for the week.
because I was never told about them.  Steve patiently explained to me the purpose, etc. so I would know where to look for them in the plans.  So hard and so much to learn!  He said they could install them when they put the walls up...don't fret!  

         But this has been an intense week of fractions, measurement, cutting, and figuring.  We weren't fast, but I will guarantee my cuts are accurate! 
         Around 2 I was finishing up the layout for my final wall.  I did not expect to see it built, but at least it was laid out - one of the most complicated in that it had a split top plate, two windows and the front door.  But... Steve T came out back and attacked the process, cutting the jacks and cripples MUCH faster than I was working.  We worked a little late, but that front wall was done!  
I just thought this tree was
pretty across the street. 
    Final goodbye with the Kearneys.  Angela had brought a little token gift for Rick and I - Montana keepsakes!  So sweet of them.  They are such nice simple folks who want desperately to have a better home for their family.  Angela was telling me today that the trailer park where they are living is not the best, nor in a good area. "It's just a bad place for the kids" she said.  So hard for them to see the outside looking finished, but the inside is still bare wood.  

          We went back to park and cleaned up.  Went to Lowe's to check on blinds for the broken ones in trailer.  No luck, so we went to Applebee's and had an appetizer sampler!  We leave in the morning!!  

Sunday, October 4 
Kalispell, MT to North Fork, Idaho
244 miles
Pretty much a straight shot south today!

          Augggh!  I actually wait to get up AFTER Rick has rolled out of bed this morning, although I was awake about 10 minutes earlier.  Our last day to get moving quicker rather than later in the morning!  And we are ready to roll shortly after 7:30am.  I was a little surprised at how fast Rick was getting us packed up and when we pulled into Somers Bay Cafe just after 8am, I discovered why!  He thought we were meeting Steve and Genia at 8am, not 8:30!  So we had several cups of coffee while waiting and I browsed through a book on Huckleberries!  Rick checked out all the great photographs in this quaint little
This cool barn was right outside the Somers Bay
Cafe, but Steve also pointed out a white dot to
the right which is the new property he and Genia
have purchased! 
cafe.  Steve and Genia are frequent diners at the cafe as the sailboat is moored at the Somers Marina every summer.  Steve admitted that they often go to church on Saturday nights and come down to the cafe on Sunday mornings for a get-a-way.  We had a delightful breakfast together, just visiting about lives, plans, kids, adventures, etc.  All too soon it was 10am and we needed to get going.  Steve thanked us profusely for our contributions to the program and our friendship and we promised our return.  Gave Genia a big hug and whispered in her ear that her name is on my prayer picture EVERY DAY until I hear the word remission!  Great people and I thank God for putting the Flathead Valley affiliate into our plans two years ago.  

          A smooth 100 miles down to Missoula.  We haven't driven this way in the fall before.  The Mission Mountains don't have anywhere near the snow they did in our June passage in 2014 and most of the fields and grasslands are brown and dry.  But the trees are every stage of green, gold, orange, and red and that provides plenty of color!  
Bitterroot Mts. just south of Missoula - patch of
red foliage in the cirque! 

Ten thousand foot peak of the
Bitterroots near Darby.
Rocky slopes near Lost Trail
Pass summit.
          From Missoula south on US-93 is new road for me.  Rick had passed this way once before in 1975, so it had been 40 years for him!  I loved the every changing vistas of the Bitterroot Mts to the west of us, and the fun little towns we went through, especially Darby and Hamilton.  (Amazed that Hamilton, with under 5000 people, boasted FOUR chain grocery stores!)  As the valley narrowed, we began the final windy climb up to the summit of Lost Trail Pass at 7041'.  We found a ski area at the top - not on the map so unexpected!  A forest fire had burned considerable terrain on the Montana side of the pass, fairly recent from the status of the trees, vegetation, etc. (within the past 5 years?)  
Salmon River at Wagon Hammer RV 
Trees in campground
          Downhill to NorthFork, located on the big bend of the Salmon River and the starting point for many rafting trips.  We stopped at WagonHammer RV park, located right on the river, and got full hookups for just over $30 for the night.  Not bad.  Definitely in a canyon, however, as no cell service!  They do have good wifi, however!  MUCH faster than Rocky Mt. HI RV Park in Kalispell!  
          Arrived around 3:30 and just relax reading in the sun for awhile, altho it dropped below the canyon walls much earlier than normal.  It will cool off quickly tonight!  
Our trailer at the end of the row at Wagon Hammer!
MONDAY, October 5 
North Fork, ID to Eagle, ID
258 miles

Typical Salmon River vista
          Did you know that when you follow a river, the road is NEVER very straight??  Today we wound in and around the Salmon River, then the Payette River, on a twisty, curvy route to Eagle, ID and a spot for the night before hitting Bish's RV in the morning and a winterizing appointment.  Rick had driven part of the route once before and I had never been this way.  My pre-conceived notions of what central Idaho was like were blown away.  
Salmon River

          It is NOT tree covered!  Yes, there are deciduous trees along the river and perhaps in some of the gulleys, but there is a definite lack of conifers on the slopes of the rocky hills.  Much of the area is reminiscent of the Riggins terrain - high desert, volcanic rock, cut by the blue of the river.  Plenty of rocky spires and cliffs, sometimes splotched with the iron red or rhyolite purple, but not much green! 
Early morning mists on Salmon River
   We left North Fork right at 9am, delighting in the misty swirls of cloud on the river. It looked like a hot springs was nearby.  There was frost on the grass.  Guess it did get a damp cold last night!  Our first stop was in Salmon to gas up and get some coffee!  Only paid 30 cents more than in Lolo and the coffee was cheap for refills!  Then a windy 100 miles or so (2 plus hours) through Challis (we topped off with gas) and to Stanley.  The first views of the Sawtooth Mountains coming into Stanley were fun. 

          We found a little Bakery/Cafe and ordered right before the lunch time rush!  (Literally, at least 10 more groups came in right after us!)  Ate out on the patio in the sunshine and visited with a couple from New York.  
Dropping into Stanley with Sawtooths in background

          From Stanley it is another hour around the end of the Sawtooths and then DOWN DOWN DOWN to Lowman, ID.  A narrow canyon, filled with avalanche dangers that is often closed in the winter months.  At Lowman we turned west on a road that Rusty recommended.  I couldn't even find a number for it on any map, but it connected Lowman with the town of Banks on the Payette River and Highway
Black cliffs outside Garden Valley
55.  This road wound up far above the East Fork of the Payette through a narrow canyon of black rugged rocks, then opened out into Garden Valley and a huge nursery with greenhouses (never could find a name for the business).  Great route and glad Rusty mentioned it!  
Payette River from Hwy 55

           Banks isn't much more than a junction.  We had thought to pick up a drink, but didn't really see a place to stop.  On to Horseshoe Bend and then UP UP UP over a 4200' pass to drop down, past Bogus Basin access, into Eagle.  We found the High Valley RV Park and pulled in around 3:30 pm.  A classy place, but the price was within our budget at 34.99!  We will be able to clean out the trailer in the morning and easily be down at Bish's by 9am.  
           Last night out!  We both talked with Moms tonight as we both have cell service again!  Hurray!  

TUESDAY, October 6 
Eagle, ID to Baker City, OR
138  miles

          As usual, the hardest part of the trip home is finishing up the blog!  Suddenly, it is more important to unpack and wash, clean and repack, the photos are all on the laptop and I am on the desktop, download pictures, etc. etc.!  Moreimportantly, that 30 lb box of apples is now neatly shelved in the pantry - 7 quarts of applesauce and 7 smallers jars of apple butter!  So.....I will try to get this wrapped up now on Wednesday evening! 
Hills of Burnt River Canyon
          Up and moving by 7:30 or so to not only pack up the trailer, but also wash anything that was going to involve water down a drain.  So....a thorough cleaning of the shower, toilet, and both sinks!  I caught the stovetop while I was at it and swept everything out as well.  By 8:45 we were on our way south the 20 miles to Bish's in Nampa.  A few minutes late for our 9am appointment, but they didn't care! 
Charred freeway near Pleasant Valley
          Winterizing was all done by 10:15, we gassed up at the Chevron on the corner (after discovering that gas prices in Boise were NOT lower than Eagle, etc.  Horseshoe Bend was cheaper!  Ah well!  The final 100 miles goes quickly and smoothly.  We are interested to see the fire damage in the Pleasant Valley region of I-84, as we haven't been over the interstate since the big fire in August.  You can definitely see where the flames jumped the freeway in places, as well as the charred land up Alder Creek and Ebell Creek, both areas where church members lost trees, etc.  Otherwise, the land just looks dry....very, very dry!  
          Home by 11:15 (we picked up an hour!) and Luke showed up within a half hour and helped us unload all the trailer.  By 4pm, I was putting cleaned dishes back for winter storage and we were on the second load of laundry, towels, sheets, etc.!  I had gone through all the mail and begun to fix tuna for dinner - for which Luke joined us!   
          It is always a pleasure to crest Pleasant Valley and see our Elkhorn Mountains, to walk into our house (it was cool!) and just soak in the presence of HOME. We thoroughly enjoy the time spent on the road, but, be it ever so humble, there's no place like HOME!  I'll have to soak it up quickly, as I think we will leave again in a week to visit my Mom for a quick hello!  
Required homecoming picture of Elkhorns from Pleasant
Valley - no snow in October!  :(