Saturday, April 21, 2018

To Infinity and Beyond (or, there is life after moving day)

Reading in the great room
The nights here are quiet, with a velvet black sky littered with sparkling stars.  Fresh, crisp air enters your lungs with each deep breath you unconsciously draw, the body's natural reaction to the serenity and awe of standing underneath the mighty constellations.  An occasional sighing sound reaches your ears as the breeze rustles the pine boughs.  Another deep breath brings the scent of earth and living things.  No longer just the figment of my dreams, this is my new reality - as of April 14, our new log house is HOME!

Josie helps with packing
MOVING DAY: If you've ever moved yourself, you know the drill.  You pack.  You stage.  You pick up the U-Haul truck.  You ask strong friends to help.  You load the truck.  You drive the truck.  You unload the truck.  You return the U-Haul.  You return home.  You assemble your bed.  You collapse into it with exhaustion.

Well, our story had a couple of wrinkles along the way.  First, we could not fit everything in the truck(in fact, we still have a few items to pick up from the Whitefish townhouse).  So we nixed our plan to pick up our (new to us) antique desk along the way.  Second, the truck could not make it through the snow on the driveway at the new house.  Yes, folks, this was April 14 and the truck was stuck.  We tried traction sand and boards under the tires, and succeeded only in digging bigger holes.

But this is Montana, and frontier spirit and neighborliness are alive and well here in the Treasure State.  Our borrowed brawn for the day, a neighbor's teenage son, wasted no time in calling his dad, who soon arrived in his Tundra with four of his other kids in the truck bed.  Lickety split, that Tundra pulled the U-Haul back down the driveway, so it could get a running start.  And this time, it cooperated and pulled right up to the house.  (In the meantime, the house enjoyed the pitter-patter of children's feet as the explored the nooks and crannies with me.  The upstairs loft bedroom, with its low roof and 'hidey holes', was an instant hit.)
Of course, this is a couple days later, when the bed is assembled.
"Hidey hole" is behind the bed, below the log beam.

We were ecstatic to find a desk with
accents that match the terracotta
wall color
And this week, another neighbor graciously answered the call to assist Spousal Unit with the desk.  A 50-year-old roll top owned by a doctor until his retirement, the desk could be separated into two pieces, which enabled the boys to manhandle it into our neighbor's Silverado, and later, into our loft.  Although we had measured carefully prior to purchasing the antique, I still heaved a sigh of relief when it slotted perfectly into place!

And the household goods in Whitefish?  Fortunately, volunteer activities require our presence there at least twice a week, and our visits have made a serious dent in what remains.  So, bottom line: we made it through relatively unscathed.  Of course, on moving day, cooking is out of the question; the Kila Pub whips up tasty pizza pies, and we enjoyed a refreshing beverage while waiting for take-out.

It may be a bit unconventional, but we chomped our way through a 16-inch sausage, green pepper and olive pizza while swilling champagne.  It was a heavenly reward after a long, tiring, emotional day.
Upper right: Josie enjoys champagne for her work on the move
Bottom: view from the great room

SINCE MOVING DAY (COULD THIS BE OUR "NEW NORMAL"?):  Of course, moving does not end when the champagne bottle is empty.  In fact, maybe that's just the beginning.  So let me tell you about our adventures in the last (has it only been) six days.  Hanging mirrors in the master bathroom.

Viewing wildlife. Whether on our own property, or on our way to and from town, wildlife abounds.  Eagles (often several together), mountain bluebirds, ground squirrels, the ubiquitous deer, turkeys.  But the best so far are the sandhill cranes on the small lake at the foot of our property.  The picture quality is not the best in this video, but it shows a flying pair of cranes joining another pair already at the lake.  You can hear them calling each other and see the head and neck movement.  Regularly throughout the day, the calls echo around our valley.  Eerie and magical.

Inaugural dinner party. Six neighbors celebrated our new home with margaritas, fajitas and chocolate cake.  Housewarming gifts included a hand-made bird box (house), which was erected yesterday with another bird box and bat box given to Spousal Unit by the kids at Christmas.  We hope all three will soon be occupied.

This lovely basket, a neighbor's gift chock full of wine and party napkins, became a centerpiece on our dining room table yesterday when I added a vase arranged with natural materials from our acreage.

Breakfast on the deck.  It may be April and the U-Haul may get stuck, but the sun on this south-facing aspect puts Grand Cayman to shame.  Need I say more?

Sunsets.  And another dreamy day draws down, pulling the curtain of night into place.  Soon these same trees will silhouette against the sky like so many bristly pipe cleaners, directing my eyes once again to the heavens as the wind sighs in the trees, telling me I am HOME.

P.S. Due to the move, I have not been able to visit many blogs and make comments.  My apologies to you all.  The next week looks to be the same due to our upcoming trip to Ohio for our daughter's college graduation.  Thanks for your understanding, and I look forward to catching up on my return!
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Thursday, April 12, 2018

My Hiking Journal - Entries 9 and 10

Whitefish River
It's been a while since I wrote a post about hiking ... so many other topics have crowded it out.

But it seems appropriate, now that temperatures are warming and only a few tiny islands of snow remain in the yard, to flash back to last summer with a double feature - kayaking AND hiking.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017 - Whitefish River - 10 miles

Our first kayaking trip ever on Whitefish River, we learned about the River while simultaneously gaining a general kayaking refresher.

One of the downsides of kayaking is water ... well, what I mean is - I can't have my camera (my phone) out all the time for fear of water damage or, worse yet, accidentally letting it join the fishies and river reeds.  So generally, you will find fewer of my pictures in this and future posts about kayaking.  (Taking a picture involves stopping on the shore, unhooking the waterproof bag, unrolling it and digging into the towel protecting the phones and car keys.  You can see why Man with Hat might not want to do this every 5 minutes!)
Launch Point - Kay Beller Park (internet)

We launched our 2-person inflatable kayak near downtown Whitefish and paddled upstream to Whitefish Lake.  It wasn't far, but our arms could definitely feel the current.  Once pointed downstream, I felt like Superman freed from the grip of Kryptonite - strong!!!  In Riverside Park, kids lined the pedestrian bridge, taking turns to jump or flip into the water below.  (This only happens in the spring, when the river is high enough to offer a safe depth for jumping.)
Pedestrian Bridge (internet)
To escape the downtown area, the river flows underneath Spokane Avenue, via two massive culvert tunnels.  This was a new one for us.  Would we be able to navigate the return journey through the culvert?  What if there were unseen obstacles in the tunnel?  Fortunately, a couple of hard-sided kayaks floated by while we dithered, and passed through without mishap.  So, we took a breath and entered the tunnel ... the water gathered itself into a strong current centered in the middle of the culvert, which pulled the kayak along.  Quickly, we emerged into sunlight on the other side.  But that same sunlight revealed a casualty - the fishing pole of Man with Hat was gone!  It must have snagged on a willow branch while we pondered our course of action ... not an auspicious beginning to our kayaking season and a true downer for Man with Hat!

Putting aside our disappointment, we paddled on.  The river reveals its true beauty once past Spokane Avenue.  A female common merganser with 5 ducklings.  Plentiful magpies and red-winged blackbirds.  A footbridge with a picnic table under a gazebo.  Canada Geese parents keeping careful watch over 7 goslings.

After some time, we turned the kayak back to the west (and the Superman effect rapidly disappeared).  Paddle, paddle, and paddle some more.  How can water that looks that calm have such a strong current?  When we arrived back at the tunnels, we quickly concluded that we would not be able to propel our way through its current.  Our only option was to portage up and over the road - I am sure we made an odd picture waddling awkwardly across the road with our bright yellow kayak!

We covered 10 miles in 4.5 hours; it was a valuable refresher, but losing a fishing pole, paddling up river and the portage were not experiences we wanted to repeat again in a hurry!

Monday, June 5, 2017 - Crater Notch Trail - 8 miles out and back

On the road again ... to nowhere.  If you've been following my blog, you know that 25% of the time we have been thwarted with a planned hike, always due to snow.  June 5 did not improve that record!  As you can see in the picture below, the road to the Camp Misery trailhead (appropriate name!!!) was impassable beyond this point.  Man with Hat maneuvered the car backwards quite a distance before he reached a point wide enough to turn around, and even then it was a 12-point turn!
That is Man with Hat in the distance, checking out the road.

Having packed all our gear for a lengthy hike, we weren't prepared to give up that easily, and opted for a nearby trail, a spur off the Broken Leg Trail we had seen on May 29 (follow this link for that post).

Crater Notch Trail earns its name from the 'notch' in the mountains that is revealed after 3000 feet of elevation gain, which ultimately leads the able hiker to Crater Lake.  The trail has dense foliage, and given the rain the previous night, our boots and pants legs were soon drenched.  (At the end of the hike, there was not much improvement.)

I found it curious that we did not see many flowers on this hike given the proximity of paradise we experienced on Broken Leg, the next ridge over.  Upon reflection, it makes sense - the thick foliage does not allow for as much sun ... nevertheless, I spied a few newbies (for me).
Upper left - Baldhip Rose; Upper right and Center Left - Bead Lily
Center right - Bear Grass; Bottom - Broadleaf Arnica

As always, we kept our eyes peeled for wildlife, especially bears, but the most we saw of the four-legged creature was scat on the trail (picture not included!)  We startled a pair of blue grouse; one flew into a tree but the other one ran ahead of us on the trail for quite a distance before he finally got fed up and scuttled into the bushes.

Man with Hat searching out the trail

After about four miles, we could get no further due to snow.  Foiled again, Batman! 

Imagine the irony when we arrived back at the trailhead and I took a closer look at the trail sign: This trail is normally free of snow by mid-May.  Ha!

This spring and early summer we are likely to see comparable conditions since our region had snowfall akin to the previous winter.  One of these seasons, we will learn which trails to avoid until later in the summer!
Upper left: Bear Grass; Upper right: Mariposa Lily
Lower right: Western Blue Virgin's Bower

Linking to:

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Mosaic Monday

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Wednesday, April 4, 2018

March Magic

Lake McDonald
Glacier National Park
Wow, 90 days of 2018 are history!  As I reflect on the month, I am pleased.  I have made progress on my most meaningful goals.  Celebrated special events.  Welcomed a friend from Ohio.  And rejoiced with the magic of the moment.  Lots happening in the month, so let's get to it!

ONE: Culinary delights, take two

As you know from my January re-cap, my 2018 goals include cooking once per week.  Lent presented a unique opportunity to explore vegetarian options, and we discovered several 'keepers' this month. (Links for all recipes are at the end of this post.)

Vegetable Soup

Avocado is a tasty glue for this delectable dish.  Add a dollop of salsa and sour cream and you won't even miss the meat!

Your recommended daily allowance for vegies will be met with this nutrient-packed soup.  Paired with a cheesy bread roll warmed in the oven, you have the perfect antidote for a snowy winter day.

This is such a keeper, we have already made it a second time!  We speculate this could also be served cold in the summer time as a variant on macaroni salad.  Rock on summer!

Peanut Tofu Buddha Bowl

If you like peanuts, this is a recipe for you.  The sauce is light and flavorful, an ideal complement for the tofu and broccoli.

TWO: Charming embroidery, continued

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to calculate twelve (months in the year) divided by seven (days of the week).  In other words, how much time should I allot to complete my seven-piece tea towel project?  I decided I should target one per month, giving me wiggle room for unexpected delays, not to mention time in the second half of the year for Christmas-related ventures I have waiting in the wings.  The good news?  Third month of the year.  Third day of the week - complete!

 THREE: Captivating events

If you've been reading my blog for any amount of time, you have probably cottoned to our love of attending events, the quirkier, the better. March is no different - take a look!

Upper right - see the snow pile behind the photo booth? 
Only in Whitefish is Prom held in March.  And only in Whitefish is there a Grand March OUTSIDE.  Couples promenade down the sidewalk in front of their parents and the community - brrrr!!!  Our next-door neighbor's son is a senior - this was a must-see (on March 10, no less!)

St. Patrick's Day is cause for celebration in many locales, and our town is no exception.  At our favorite local pub, we encountered friends from church, whose daughter JUST HAPPENS to teach Irish dance.  She performed a couple of dances while the Irish band played.  Then, a four-person bagpipe corps entered the bar.  Spousal Unit JUST HAPPENED to run into a piper in the men's room, and he requested Amazing Grace ...


As the ski season draws to a close, Whitefish Mountain Resort pulls out all the stops for tourists (but probably even more so for locals, who are already mourning the end of winter, and the resort employees, who are rejoicing the end of winter).  This past Saturday witnessed the Dummy Derby - crash test dummies on skis meet demolition derby!  Of course, it helps that the event is preceded by the Mountain Brewfest, a fundraiser for the SNOW bus (but really just an excuse for a lot of people to drink beer).
Sunny skies draw a crowd for Brewfest

Check out the Minions as they make their run for the prize money - all of the dummies in the mosaics below ultimately joined them in the snow pit under the jump!

The fine art of dummy design: a sturdy base.  Low to the ground.  Weighted forward.
Upper Left: Liftys Rule
Lower Left: Huckleberry Shake
Upper Right: Cannon with white streamers
Lower Right: Darned if I know

Aerodynamic.  Artistic merit - wackier means points!  Test your dummy.  Have fun!

FOUR: Companionable visitor

We've told everyone they're welcome to visit so we're delighted when we get a taker!  (and more of you should do it!)  See, this is the lemon cheesecake with huckleberries that awaits you ...

We had 5 glorious days with Tim, who drove all the way from Chagrin Falls, Ohio for a western road trip including Montana, Utah and Colorado.

We were so proud to show off Glacier National Park while snowshoeing on a bluebird day.
Tim at foot of Lake McDonald with mountains of Glacier National Park in background

In the winter, Glacier National Park is practically deserted (as compared to over 3 million visitors seen in the summer months).  It's a boon for those who don't mind a few extra layers of clothing and 'tools' such as snowshoes!

Due to snowfall, the main road through the park is not plowed after the 10-mile mark, Lake McDonald Lodge.  (This is normal, folks!)

This day, we covered 5.3 miles.  One of the many highlights of the journey was Sacred Dancing Cascades, the location of our lunch break.

If you doubt the snowfall, consider these pictures:
Left - yes, those are traffic cones - big ones!
Upper right: buses WILL park here (in the summer)
Lower right: No fire exit today!

Plow crews have begun the daunting task of clearing the Going to the Sun Road, which typically opens at the end of June (and closes at the end of September).

Just to give you a sense of the level of effort: the "Big Drift", located east of Logan Pass, can reach depths of up to 90 feet.  Every year, the plow crew working on the west side of the road and the one working on the east side meet at the Big Drift and together tackle the challenge.

FIVE: Cherished moments

So maybe you think all of the above is 'magic in the moment'.  And it probably is.  But one of my exhilarating moments this month came from a couple of grainy trail camera photos - because they show something other than deer!


Linking to

All Seasons

I Like Thursdays

Mosaic Monday

Nature Notes

Saturday's Critters

Willy Nilly Friday

Avocado Quesadillas
Vegetable Soup
One Pot Spinach Feta Macaroni and Cheese
Peanut Tofu Buddha Bowl

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