Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Catching Up

If you read the last post, you know that I am returning to posting on The Back Porch View.  I missed the blog, I missed you and to be honest I missed me.
Writing helps me to process and chronicle experiences while the process often reveals insights, hopes and dreams. Looking back, I realize there were many things contributing to my long absence writing the blog.  I am unwilling to leave this gigantic hole in time and within this blog.  It is my hope to find a way to weave some past highlights and reflections with present life and travels.  First you need a recap to capture the changes in our lives.
More than five years ago I made a commitment to raising my granddaughter.  She was then 13 and she needed me and consistency during her teenage years.  I had just sold my home, a barnyard of animals and began to living my dream of four months of full-time travel.  She and I struck a bargain.  We lived in a sticks and bricks house during the school year which allowed her teenage normalcy.  When the summer vacation bell rang....we escaped to a summer of travel and adventure.  This blog was a chronological history of many of those times.


















I felt like I came alive during those travels.  Returning home each fall was challenging.  I felt as if we were living in two worlds but not fully part of either.  To some degree, I recognize my resistance to belonging in the non-travel world was partly of my own making.  I continued to long for the adventures and feared new relationships would keep me from returning to the life of travel of my dreams.
Prior to beginning full-time time travel and my granddaughter coming to live with me, I had a spinal injury that caused three vertebrae to be permanently damaged.  MRI evidence showed the damage would continue to progress over time, with escalating pain and loss off function.  Hearing the prognosis, verified by the physical changes as time progressed, weighed heavily on me.  I had no idea if I would be able to physically return to full-time travel when my Granddaughter was grown. 
The first summer of travel in 2014 was seven weeks of travel around the Washington State exploring places I had never been even while living here most of my life.
The summer of 2015, we traveled across the country from Spokane to Connecticut, Maine, Washington DC, Virginia, Tennessee, Arkansas Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah and back home on a 10 week fabulous journey.
The summer of 2016 led us a summer of travel in Montana, the location of my last blog posts.  Travelers to Montana know, cell service is great in towns and cities but nearly nonexistent in the vast expanse of Montana real estate.  That, of course is where I tend to stay.  When I was in towns, it was all about business, groceries, laundry, gas, propane etc. and then getting to a hideaway spot near our next destination.  It did not include time near a WiFi spot composing a blog.  Procrastination became my enemy.  Without intending to....blogging ceased.
Armed with beautiful pictures and wonderful memories I added a few more blogs when I returned home.  I named one blog of an experience of gigantic proportion, but it remained a memory, without becoming a blog.   (It is still rolling around waiting to be released to print).
2017 Oregon was our destination.  Epic moments included  several once in a lifetime photographs including the solar eclipse and the Sisters Oregon Forest Fire.

 
2018 was a mixed up year in which I faced losing three long time friends and the launching my little "bird" from the nest.   Between senior year events and caring for my friend, I didn't travel as much in 2018 as in the past.  However I was able to travel to the Ocean for renewal.  Loss brings about time for reflection.  While at the ocean, I did do a nature art piece.  In fact, it may have been pointing me back to writing again.























Yes, the DREAM is still alive!



                                            



















Graduation was a huge moment of celebration.  Hailey is on to the next phase of her life.  She is currently working as a care provider, going to college and living in an apartment.  Learning all the life lessons of young adulthood.

Me                  Hailey             Auntie



















One more painful update.  I have lost 2 of my beloved Kitty travelers.
Kitty Flu hit our household and we lost Emmit in the winter of 2017 and Socks six months later from complications last August.  Spook had it also but is still with me and sill traveling with me.
There is never a good time to let them go...  Best Kitties Ever!! Thanks for the kitty memories!


















                      Socks     Emmit (above)    Spook     


I do not regret the decisions of the past 5 years.
I believe it was the right path for us.
I do know every moment I am able to travel is a gift.
And I am grateful to still be able to travel.

Friday, April 26, 2019

Keeping On, Keeping On

It seems I spent years resisting nesting and settling into a home-based life.  My life seemed focused on living a mobile life while home-based in a wintry location.  I sought out like minded outdoors people and followed new trails while planning for the escapes in the Spring and Summer when schools were on breaks.  If you were following along for awhile, we have had some grand escapades and before you begin to worry, we will again.  However, I find myself not working so hard at it.

Is this a sign that I have given up the dream of full time travel or simply a sign that I have settled in to a life that is different than I planned?



When I had a sticks and bricks house to maintain, a job, mini farm and foster children, a great deal of effort and money went into maintaining a home and family.  Get-ways were always on the back burner and complicated to orchestrate.  A willing neighbor fed the barnyard crew but there was always so much to catch up with upon our return.  Those responsibilities are behind me now and while I find myself feeling like I am living in limbo from time to time, I know that my simplified life will allow us the opportunity to travel as much as opportunity allows.

This was the last log I wrote, and I found it in my draft folder. Even though I wrote it, I never published it.  I have been back to full time travel these past five months and have found that I miss the blog...my diart of people, places and recordings of observations, pictures and moments I found noteworthy.  When traveling there is always the urge to turn to you companion to say, "Look at that!"
The blog was that for me was that utterance.  I can't imagine that previous readers are still waiting to read this blog but I have found that I miss it.  I do not feel compelled to write as frequently but will return to recording those special moments and reflections.  I will attempt to catch up on some special moments and weave the lost moments into the blog.

So What happens to a dream deferred?
I am back...If you are reading this, I would love to hear from you.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Back to Glacier...A Slice of Heaven

Back to Glacier.     (Disclaimer....no we are not STILL in Glacier.  Just a lazy blogger catching up plus a worried blog reader checking on me to see if I was OK.)

I felt the excitement and anticipation building as we head back to Glacier Park.  My experiences on the East side of Glacier taught me to arrive at the Park entrance early in the morning so we can locate a campsite before exploring for the day.  I was pleased to see a sign at the gate declaring which campgrounds had vacancies.  My first campground choice (Sprague Creek) showed that it was full so we headed up to Avalanche Creek Campground to set up our base camp for the West side of Glacier.
We arrived early enough that the previous occupants were still packing up so we asked if they were leaving and they indicated they would.  We told them to take there time, put a tag on the post to save our spot, with a chair by their campfire ring and left them with some banana bread and cream cheese.  It was perfect camp site and large enough to have shared with another camper...or two!  We liked it well enough that we stayed our entire stay on the West side of Glacier here.

Funny but I didn't even think to take a picture of our site.

We spent the first day getting our bearing.  Spent some time down at Apgar Village checking out the shops and discovered the swimming area and a great picnic grounds.  


 Lake McDonald is crystal clear and was smooth as glass and OH MY WHAT A VIEW!!

What makes it really amazing is how few motor boats are on the lake.  It is a paradise for kayakers,  For folks traveling without kayaks there is a rental place at the marina, so everyone has the opportunity to enjoy the peaceful splendor out on the lake. 
 
Each day exploring and hiking ends at the swim area at Apgar village, me kayaking,  Hailey hanging out in the water connecting with people her age.  It is an arrangement that works for both of us.  It also is one of the few places that have any internet coverage so it seems to be a gathering spot for those dependent on getting they daily fix.   The campground at Apgar is huge so there are far more people than I prefer but spending some time there once a day works out for us both.

Quaint cabins surround a creek which begs to be explored by kayak.   Around the bend was a motel style lodge on the waterfront.  Not a bad place to hang out....
                              I could sit on the balcony looking at that view for a long long time.

,
One of the most spectacular and unique features of Lake McDonald is the colorful rocks that are everywhere, on every beach on the trails throughout the Park.  They beg to be played collected,  to be played with and (sigh) sadly left behind.  But they are indeed part of the National Treasure.   I have seen many pictures of the rocks of  Lake McDonald showing wonderful colors of the rainbow some using filters that change the hues to unique colors.  I prefer the natural colors which to me were stunning and the mix of colors like a toddler mixed them up in a blender.  These pics are naked.... no filters used.





Historic McDonald Lodge





And it's always....a Goodnight!!

Monday, October 17, 2016

Flathead Lake, Montana

Since I'm from the Northwest, I have had many friends who are from or love the Montana Mountains.  There are many facets of Montana to love but one of the areas that is most often highlighted is Flathead Lake.  I for one, had never really visited Flathead Lake and wanted to spend a little more time than I had allotted in my previous drive by mode.

A look to maps showed several campgrounds around the Lake to choose from so after leaving Two Medicine Campground in East Glacier, we headed out to find a landing spot on Flathead Lake. There is also a lot of farmland that surrounds the lake that is planted in orchards.  Most of the rest remains in Tribal lands or as private development and the remaining is resorts.  I struggled with two of my RVing rules which are dueling in conflict as we moved along on this day.  
  • Secure a overnight site early in the day - then explore and play...

    Versus

  • Avoid backtracking - Travel in forward motion using a home base to explore and play in an area then moving forward again. 

    After checking for availability of a campsite we to no avail  along the east side Flathead Lake we opt for our backup plan of of a Walmart in Paulson at the south end.  Most of the afternoon was spent in search of a suitable landing spot and less time in enjoying the opportunities in the Flathead Valley.   One great exception was the Cherries.  Sweet Cherries were available at fruit stands along the highway and we indulged!!  
    The price wasn't particularly sweet but the cherries were luscious   
    We checked out the local WalMart and then proceeded to find a local "park with a view" for a bit of beach play, dinner preparation and of course.....sunset!


    dinner preparation,


    and of course sunset.



    Having been on the east side of Glacier with limited grocery options for a week meant we were prime for restocking of fresh fruits and vegetables and other provisions.  
    Our stop at WalMart was an opportunity that we would certainly welcome.
    A RedBox Movie rounded out the evening.
    A stop at the car/ RV wash, laundry, and local free hotspot made a great early start to our day!

 
For a fee there are even showers for people!!!  A block from WalMart and all our needs are complete!
  At 9:30 AM we were ready to hit the road in search of a campsite.


We stopped along as we went north checking out camping spots and eventually secured a site for one night at West Beach campground near Lake Side.  We moved each morning (to 3 different sites) as a site opened and finally found the perfect site where we were able to stay an additional 2 nites.   We were hoping to connect with a friend who was going to join us for a couple days of camping. (unfortunately she got a nasty bug), but  I also needed the rest before heading back into West Glacier for more serious hiking.

Every camp site has pluses and minus's.  This campground has a nice day use area but it is quite a ways from the day use area.  As a popular boat launch area, the parking was often full near the water.  Two days I was able to secure a parking place close to the water where we spent most of the afternoon.    

West Shore State Park Day Use Area

One of the difficulties for us was waiting for calm water.  Flathead Lake is a huge lake that runs north to south making it a prime candidate for lots of waves during the day. We also had a couple of storms blow through which added to the wait for calm water.

There is a concessionaire at the day use area that rents paddle boards and kayaks so when we finally had a calm spot in the late afternoon Hailey rented a Paddle Board and had fun learning how to stay upright.


It takes a lot of concentration

The sweet smile of success





        A lot of effort.....
 

 And a lot of practice!
 

 Weather changes quickly in Montana, mountain country and we have to be prepared to wait for the opportunities.                    Morning sun,                    afternoon storms......


The next morning we had a window of opportunity, so we inflated the kayaks and took a picnic lunch out to the little island and enjoyed a little flat water fun.

Our Island getaway

 cruising round the island


One last selfie

While we were at West Shores State Campground, we got to know one of the camp hosts pretty well while we were here and found them to be very helpful.   It was fun to meet someone who takes pride in their job and finds a way to have fun along the way.

surprises she left in the restrooms!

 In the process we learned there are several State Campgrounds around Flathead Lake and they are all run by a commissionaire.  Nearly all of the campsites are reservation only which makes getting into a  campsite nearly impossible for those without reservations.  In the days we were there, there were at least 5 sites each day that stayed vacant when  RVers who had made reservations, didn't show up or cancel.  Meanwhile campers are turned away.  The system favors those who can afford to through away the money, leaving campers of limited means unable to enjoy the lake opportunities.  (End little rant!)

Wildfire Smoke makes pretty sunsets, but hard to breathe

Smoke from wildfires in Hamilton, Montana, (in Southwest Montana)  drove us north so off we headed to West Glacier.  Some adventures are big adventures, others days are ordinary days, living life fully, sometimes quietly, gently rocking on the water.

  ~ Happy Trails - Back to my Happy Place ~

                                                       



Monday, October 10, 2016

Life at Many Glaciers.....After the Big Hike


How do you follow up the a great hike of your dreams? First with a hot shower! At the store you purchase coins for the showers.  It is amazing the things you find out hanging out at the store.  Boy did that feel good!! So soothing to tired muscles and I must admit, my back was screaming at me!  Hailey made dinner, Bless her little heart and we were down for the count. 

So how did I follow up the hike of my dreams?   You rest..... and then you set another goal.  I must admit....the first goals were not so big,  not so grand.  Many Glaciers has so much to offer, it is clear why it is one of the Parks most sought after campground.  If my life circumstances were different, I would hop into the Minnie McVansion and head to this natural wonder again. And Again.  And Again.

First goal of the day was to walk to the camp store and restaurant ....I deserved a reward..... COFFEE!  
Sitting on the porch drinking my coffee, I heard folks talking about the visiting moose.  
Believe me my ears perked right up!

(1/4 mile from our camp site to the trailhead, a mere 1/4 mile hike to Fishercap Lake, a mere 1/4 mile back and of course the trampsing around in the woods to get the best vantage point for pictures. and a 1/4 mile return to the campsite Hailey is going to kill me!)


Oh but it was worth it.....We need to stretch out the sore muscles,  right?



 No babies in tow....but a most hospitable couple indeed.

  I am watching you, watching me....

I assure you these we taken a long distance off with the telephoto lenses,   Just the same we got a few distance pictures and left them to their evening snack.  Evening lighting and distance shots do not deliver perfect shots but I did want to disturb them further.

It was a nice little evening jaunt.

Walking the next morning was a bit better but it was clear there were no more BIG hikes in our immediate future.... (Do you see that another trip will be in my distant future)  
 Sooooo in the mean time, I proposed a little kayaking. 



Hailey resting with Many Glacier Lodge in view.



A thunder storm blew in fast, with 10 minutes between these two pictures.
 


It was a fast paddle for the boat launch where we were met by a park ranger checking on boater as an extreme weather warning had just been announced.



While there were folks on the beach enjoying a picnic and beach fire.....we choose not to be on or near the water during a thunder storm.....


The thunder storm blew in fast and had a lot of cloud to ground lightening strikes.

Luckily no fires.  Too much excitement for me but weather at Glacier is ever changing and requires constant adjustment.

We returned to camp for our forth night at Many Glacier Campground.  It is beginning to feel like our Glacier Home.  There are still so many things I would have liked to do and could have easily spent another week at this campground.  Do consider coming with lots of food and gas as prices near Many Glaciers are expensive.
In the morning we will head out for Two Medicine Campground.


Views along the way to Two Medicine


Two Medicine Lake







In what was our shortest walk/hike we discovered a unique waterfall near Two Medicine.

Running Eagle Falls, also called Trick Falls near Two Medicine




Handed down through oral histories of the Pakuni is the story of a Native Princess, known as Running Eagle who lived in the 1700's before while settles came to this area.  Running Eagle was the only young woman to ever go on what is commonly called a vision quest.  She went alone up into these woods to fast, pray, suffer and dream while she found her medicine.  She became a woman warrior known for her courage and bravery.   After her fathers death she took care of the extended family according to Pakuni traditions.  




Near her 30th year she went with a war party across the Continental Divide where she was killed by the Flathead in the territory.  The other warriors brought her body back and she was buried within a tree above the Falls.  The Pakuni people continue to admire her for her courage and honor and the person she became. 

This picture became so for me as symbolic of the promise of youth following the inner calling of and yearning of their heart.

During spring run off the water tumbles off over the top of the upper falls, later in the summer it falls through the lower falls forming a natural bridge that the water flows through.  I remember when traveling through Utah seeing natural bridges that were formed by the water.  Here is the water still doing the forming.  I so wanted to climb up to the top to view the water as it fell into the hole in the earth.  But there was no way to do so.

Leaving the East Side of Glacier is a bit like leaving the Mountain top. It has been an experience that truly has touched my inner being.  It has been a bit like reading a fabulous book.  For me it is always hard to pick up the next book,  afraid that you will never again find an experience that is as meaningful.



But, there will be new dreams, and new mountaintop experiences.
Each unique in itself. 
So off we go, ready for new experiences, open to all the possibilities. 

~ ~ ~ ~