Friday, December 26, 2014

A Flurry of Holiday Cheer and Lights

Some of my fondest memories of the Christmas Season are viewing the outdoor decorations and Christmas lights.  Christmas lights have always captured the child lurking in my soul.  As a child we searched out Christmas lights on the way to visit relatives during the Christmas Season taking different routes each trip to ensure we saw as many different light displays as possible.

My Grandfather and father handmade a life size Christmas display one Christmas of Santa, his sleigh loaded with Christmas packages and reindeer.  It was mounted with lights glowing on the roof of my Grandparents house.  Each year Santa returned to my Grandparents house for many years and then upon our house eventually on my parents house.  I wish I had pictures to see the display but it remains intact in my memory.  As a child I loved this magical time of year.

I still do wander different roads today in search of unique lighting displays.  It is one way I relive the magic of Christmas's past.  I believe there have not been as many light displays as years past.

Coeur d Alene Lake has lights that light up around on the North end of the Lake.  There is a boat cruise that we have taken in the past..  This year I went a on a driving tour around the lights of the lake with some of the other sisters.  The Boardwalk around the Marina has many displays and others only available from the boat tour.

The boardwalk as viewed on the internet
  A holiday dinner with Sisters on the Fly at the Cedars Floating Restaurant


                             ......we added a certain 'glow' to the festive atmosphere of this elegant restaurant.
You can see some of the lights on the lake behind Carolyn on the right pic.
  The Motto of the Sisters on the Fly is..... We have more fun than anyone.................. And We Did!!

This year the Gaiser Conservatory in Manito Park was remodeled and decked out for Christmas with lights, poinsettias and other Christmas Blooms.  I have visited the park many times in the past but never when it was lit with Christmas lights.  There are two wings, one for tropical plants, one for desert plants and the center main entry section which contains a waterfall and pond with benches for sitting on a quiet day.  This night there were hundreds of festive participants waited their turn in line to view this free Christmas lighting extravaganza. Auntie, Hailey and I were able to find a handicapped parking space right in front and were met by an display elf assistant who moved us to the front of the line.

Even the lines and crowds of people do not dampen my spirits as I take in the beautiful display and I was able to  get some decent photos without all the onlookers.


Probably one of my favorite views was outside the observatory. One of the inside helpers from "Friends of Manito Park" suggested that I take a picture of the observatory outside before we leave.  I am so glad she did.  In my rush to leave all the people and congestion I might have missed the glorious sight.

Isn't it gorgeous ablaze in in colored lights?

What a beautiful gift to the citizens of Spokane this lighting display has been.  How wonderful if it were to be open more days to allow more to view its wonder.

James King is up for national honors for Best Private Holiday Light Display in's annual contest.  James and his wife Karrie painted and cut out some 55 Disney characters to complement the 9,000 lights on their Spokane, Wash. home.

The couple, both Disney lovers who met in the fourth grade, spend over 40 hours on their display in an effort to give a Disneyland-like experience to those who many never get to visit the California theme park.  I have seen many fabulous displays showcased on television from around the country but this home displays the love and and Christmas spirit one family has to offer.  People come from miles around to view its festive lights.

It comes alive with the lights and music.

And close to home a little friendly competion between husband and a wife

New York may have the Empire State Building....

(from the internet)

But Spokane has the Steam Plant Stacks

And Finally.......One house has been a showcase for over fifty years. Each year the owner has built a new light displays having worked on them throughout the year and over the years he has garnered a faithful following.  I went by again this year and this year found a sign instead......

After fifty years of displays...... you deserve a rest...... 
More than children are disappointed.

but I'll be back next year for you see, some of the kids never grow up.

We found some spectacular lights...... some simple.  But I enjoy them all.

Hope your Holiday was Merry!!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Finding a little Ho, Ho, Ho

While maintaining a large house, farm animals, a job and growing children, it was difficult to do all the things I wanted to do around the holidays.  Sometimes my Ho, Ho, Ho got lost in all the frenzied preparations.  The list of all the things that make a perfect Christmas grew longer and longer.

December 18, 2008 

I lead a simpler life today. 

Yet, the dream of making a gingerbread house has remained. 

I dreamed of a beautiful house covered in candies sitting in the center of our table but it was always bumped down the list by other pressing activities. One year I even made the gingerbread walls, gathered the candies and yet, the house remained in pieces....

Saturday, I woke up ready to embrace creating a Christmas Vision I have long held. 

Rather than risking not getting to the creation step this year, I decided to jump to the building step.  This year I gathered graham crackers, candies and whipped up a batch of Royal Frosting and set out to build a Christmas Trailer much like my own little Lolita.

                                                          Royal Frosting -  Whip together
                                                                       2 egg whites
                                                               3 cups powdered sugar
                                                  a little water to desired consistency

 Gluing the graham crackers together using Frosting. 

I piped on frosting for the vertical walls before construction of the wee trailer house.  Apply candy quickly as the frosting drys hard in just a few minutes.

 After several hours of work, this was the finished product.  While it resembles Lolita.... I must admit it looked a little like a fourth grader made it.  SO...............

The next day, I made another wee Christmas trailer.

While I visualized making this in my trailer one day..... (all the better without the baking stage) I have also decided that postponing activities to someday  only leads to disappointment and dreams deferred. 

While not quite the reality to match my "Christmas Vision", I have embraced my inner fourth grader and have my wee little Lolita! 

 Today was a fine day to enjoy the Christmas Spirit!!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Lolita Basking in the Morning Glow

A neighbor across the river where Lolita is Winter Parked posted a sunrise picture.

Swiftwater RV in the bottom left of picture.

Miss You Lolita..... Wish I was there!!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Keeping On, Keeping On.... and other Winter Ramblings

It seems last year I spent all winter resisting nesting and settling in.  My life seemed focused on living a mobile life while home based in a wintery location.  I sought out like minded outdoors people and followed new trails while planning for the escapes in the Spring and Summer.

If you have been 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.  Taking each day as it comes is my present motto.

Is this a sign that I have given up the dream of full time travel 
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-always were always on the back burner and complicated to orchestrate.  A willing neighbor feed the barnyard crew but their was always so much to catch up with upon  our return.  While most of those responsibilities are behind me now, I at times find myself feeling like I am living in limbo. I know that my simplified life will allow us to travel again.

For now, a granddaughter who longs for roots and belonging in a school community hold us stationery for now during the school year.  We have been making changes to our stationery nest (carpeting in my room and decorating for the holidays) and attending church with Auntie.  After thanksgiving we again made a meal for a church sponsored homeless effort.   

Last spring and summer we were able to travel and fulfill some of my travel dreams. A trip to Utah and trip around Washington State satisfied for a time the wanderlust that I have always felt.  I struggled with  the physical demands of travel and hiking due to previous injuries.  So this fall during our stationery time, I have decided to address getting into better shape so that the injuries don't prevent me from doing the activities that I desire.  Trips to the doctor have resulted in physical therapy to try and strengthen injured areas. Therapy is certainly painful, but  I am hopeful that it will help.  We shall see.....

During the Christmas holidays, we are planning a trip to White Bird, Idaho to where the trailer is wintering.  We will be on winter storm watch so that we travel when the passes are clear of ice and snow. We hope to enjoy a winter holiday.   So far, no snow so I am praying for NO snow so I can be a happy camper!

Last year at this time I was moving into a carved out spot in the basement to capture some needed private space.  This year there is new carpet and Christmas decorations.  I do believe I am settling in.                           But then again....
                                                 my mind wanders to Spring....
                                                                                              to adventures yet to come.

            Long winter nights leave to much time for thinking.....

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Another Day, Another Rant

In general, I have never been a great visitor of Art Museums or Art exhibits.  One clear exception is when the exhibit makes a statement about our world or human existence.  Such an exhibit recently opened in Spokane so I planned a day to take in the sights of a new local artist.  It is behind glass in a old storefront window.  (I used pictures from the web as my pics were not particularly good in the poor lighting and glass reflection)  Photos courtesy Stiggy Art.

Pic by Spokesman Review
  The Artist, Austin Stiegemeier, hailing from Rathdrum, Idaho recently opened the display he entitled "Violet is an Anagram of Love it."  (An anagram is a type of word play, the result of rearranging the letters of a word or phrase to produce a new word or phrase, using all the original letters exactly once.)

With the possession laden grocery carts and cardboard dwellings, the display makes a very public statement about poverty and urban decay and the way homeless people are treated in our society. 

Made entirely of recycled or abandoned materials, the symbolism between the materials and homelessness is easily recognized.

In a town that criminalizes homeless behaviors such as sitting or laying on a sidewalk, there is plenty to be said.  

"Violet conveyed a number of complex ideas at once. It’s a condemnation of the city’s controversial sit-lie ordinance. It’s an examination of poverty in our city. It’s a visualization of the queasy juxtaposition between the 9-to-5 life of downtown business executives and the panhandlers squatting in front of the high-rise office buildings where they work." (from the Spokesman Review, November 2 2014, in a feature article titled Art Installation About Poverty, Urban Decay.)

 Many people argue living on the street is often a 'choice' made after a lifetime of poor choices, 
What of those for whom there is no other option?
  Often we do not want to see the devastation that others face daily in their lives.  Does it cause  people to feel uncomfortable?

In a land that seems to have a growing list of thou shall nots, a 90 year old man, Arnold Abbott was arrested for feeding homeless people in public.  He vows to continue feeding the hungry with his last breath. 
"As Martin Luther King Jr., said, our responsibility is to disobey unjust laws," 25-year-old Nikki Rye, one of the three who was arrested with Abbott, told the Sun-Sentinel.
 "These actions violate basic human rights."
Visitors to the exhibit were invited to contiribute to the exhibit.  
(Note... those lying or sitting on the sidewalk were not arrested.)

All that remains is to outlaw all remaining expressions of dignity, compassion and humanity.

 Another Anagram for the day


 Use all the letters........


It seems somehow appropriate for the day.

Monday, November 3, 2014

A Long Winters Night - Sheltering in White Bird Idaho

The day has arrived.  The days of travel with little Lolita in tow are done for another season.  But that doesn't mean camping is done for the season..... Nope not at all.  Today is departure day for a new adventure.

Beautiful fall weather as we take off for the wilds of Idaho

Last year Lolita went to a covered storage unit for the winter.  I could go out and check on her but due to insurance requirements we were not able to stay so it was a long, long winter with day only adventures. 

Lolita, safe and sound during winter of 2013

  This year, we are anticipating  new winter camping adventures.

After watching the weather reports and coordinating with gal friends from Sisters on the Fly (an organization of adventurous women who camp together, many in vintage trailers) we took off for SwiftWater RV Park located in the wilds of Idaho along the Salmon River.

We traveled through this area last spring on our return from Utah and stayed at this wonderful RV park.  It was in full Spring bloom and a beauty to behold.

I  discovered that several of the gals from Sisters on the Fly wintered their trailers here and visited their trailers off and on during the winter when weather allowed.  I was up for a new adventure so it became our new Winter Plan.   Camping in the Northwest does require a different kind of camping than we do for our summer adventures so we have been preparing Lolita for this first of a kind (for us) adventure.

Swiftwater RV is nearly 200 miles away and several passes that have ice and snow during the worst of winter and I certainly don't want to be pulling Lolita up and down those grades during the winter so November 1 was our departure date to arrive before any snow flies.

Our trip down was literally clouded and shrouded with fog and significant rain most of the trip.  We traveled in a caravan of three and stopped several times and knew that if there was a problem we had company and support along the way.  We followed the rooster tails of rain flying up from the trailers and away we went. There were some eery moments where I watched their little trailers slip into the fog soup and rain, to later emerge out of the fog in front of me.  There were a few tense moments of hydroplaning but we took out time and arrived safe and sound at Lolita's new winter home. 


Swiftwater RV (At an elevation of 1380 feet) sits at the bottom of a canyon along the Salmon River with steep hillsides providing shelter to our new little nest along the river.  Due to the low elevation winters are generally mild with snow rarely staying for long on the rivers edge.   I will watch the weather reports and road condition cams on the passes and wait and watch for breaks in the weather for a winter getaway...... In the mean time I shall dream of stolen moments in Lolita.

Our first afternoon here was punctuated with rain, rain, rain.  I didn't even unhook from the truck nor put the jacks out.  Due to the poor weather conditions I didn't take any pictures except out wonderful gathering for a yummy dinner and campfire at the covered gazebo.

Our individual sites provide electricity to keep on the lights during the long, dark winter and warm our little trailers when we come for a visit.  The nearby bathhouse has water, restrooms, showers and laundry facilities. 

A campfire with friends make sense to me to take the chill off a fall campout.

The next morning we woke up to a dusting of snow on the mountain tops but we were protected down by the rivers edge.  During coffee the next morning, I watched deer traveling across the hillside across the river and a flock of turkeys called as I settled into our winter camp. 

 Taken from the other side of the river to see our new little home.

 Lolita tucked into the middle.  More vintage trailers are due to arrive later in the week. 

An opportunity to make new friends

Lolita got her rain hat on to keep her nice and dry through the winter.

A nice lunch and I was ready to begin the return trip home.

 The heavy rain clouds have lifted allowing sweeping vistas of the gorgeous landscape.

While driving the truck, I would never be able to enjoy the ride without frequent stops at viewpoints to take in the view and a few moments of reflection.

Each time I view the hills around White Bird, it's like I am seeing a new painting.  The colors and lights are different hence a different painting with a different viewpoint.  I believe I could never get tired of the variation of light and shadows dancing across the canvas.

The last view from the top of White Bird Summit (elevation 4245ft)

When I come in the future I will plan on staying a few days, relax and enjoy the scenery and all that the area has to offer near White Bird Idaho.

Looking forward exploring the area sights:   

  • Hiking to the Historic White Bird Battlefield
  • Driving the old Highway 95 up White Bird Hill
  • Taking a Jet Boat Trip up the Wild Snake River  
  • Learn more of the local history, 
  • Explore the Nez Perce Trail 
  • Search out the local hang outs in the nearby towns of White Bird, Riggins and McCall.  

I am may not be living as a Full Timer..... but I will continue to seek full time adventure
where ever I can find it! 

~Happy Trails~

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Well Diddle - Damn

Well, Millenicom is no more.  I have used it happily for two and a half years. 

 Yes, I even hung in there after the price increase to $89.00 per month as it was the best deal available for bloggers on the road (IMHO).  

Most customers received word of the recent change via an email.

Info from Millenicom:    This is to correct an earlier email that was sent to you regarding your service. Verizon Wireless, the carrier providing your wireless service, may be contacting you about options for your ongoing service. Going forward your relationship will be directly with Verizon Wireless. Millenicom will no longer have any role concerning your account and Millenicom does not now or will have any relationship with Verizon Wireless. Thank you and we apologize for any inconvenience this notice may cause. 

I  had decided to cancel my subscription on September 30 as I would be home bound for the winter except brief interludes when I venture out into the snowy white world on adventures mearly days before the unexpected announcement .  I have internet available at the house and the RV Resort will my trailer will be for the winter, so paying for Millenicom would have been unnecessary and costly.   Before I canceled my subscription I talked with the wonderful tech folks at Millenicom and was assured that I would need to pay a reactivation fee but would be welcomed back when I was ready to hit the road again in the Spring.  Win - Win????  Not so fast. 

 Enter the corporate decision of Verizon to take over Millinicom. 

I have watched the advertisements regarding deals available to Verizon customers to double their data that go on through October.  I have no intention nor can I afford $160 to continue internet as I knew it.  So we shall see.   As I am no longer a customer of Millinicom, I am only eligible to double up my minimum data on my phone.  


Well I can no longer post pone gathering more info.....and consider my options!


Wish me well!!




Saturday, October 25, 2014

Northrup Canyon - A Time Capsule Awaiting Exploration

Combine a historic ranch, long on intrigue, great geology, a crisp fall day with perfect weather and I can get positively excited about heading out for a hike.  In fact, Northrup Canyon was one of my must do hikes and one of the reasons I returned to the Grand Coulee area for this trip.   I was surprised and hooked by the history of this canyon that sent me on a two week quest for answers on the internet in addition to a fabulous hike.

Rich soil and a good water supply initially attracted settlers to this canyon.  John Warden Northrup purchased property and created irrigation systems, gardens and orchards.  Four generations of the Northrup family lived in Northrup Canyon until 1927.

The canyon opens up leading into the only naturally forested area in Grant County.  Sprinkled with fall colors it draws me into it's splendor.

Just before the trail drops down near the aspens, the trail has a Y.  The main trail leads off to the left and a smaller trail leads to the right and follows up along the canyon wall.  The former d Wagon Road between Almira and Bridgeport used for stage coach and freight wagons -- is there to explore. 

Leading down into the canyon , the aspen are just kissed by cooler temps making their yellowing leaves rustle in the gentle breezes.  The twittering of birds, unseen but heard quietly beckoning.....

And the canyon draws you in pulling you forward marveling at it's stunning formations leaving the small forest behind.

  Chunks of columns,
        cracked by weather,
                         break away,
from their positions 
           guarding the wall.


                                             The sphinx broken, alone at the canyons floor.                                    

opening to the meadows which were used for farming

And the Northrup Homestead

John Warden Northrup, after several failed marriages, career changes and moving around the Northwest, he moved with his wife Catherine (Caty) Northrup into the canyon in the 1829.  They built a cabin, set out a garden and planted trees. Some of the apple trees they planted are still to be seen in Northrup Canyon.

When in 1894, John Warden Northrup's health began to fail, Israel Sanford leased part of  the property.  Soon afterward he killed Caty in a dispute over the ownership of the orchards in the sagging log house shown above that still stands on the property.  At trial he was found 'not of sound mind.'

So what happened to him?..... I want to know!

John's son George brought his wife Joella and family to the canyon and took over farming in the canyon after John's death in 1901.  George who had many occupations including sheriff, a banker, a real estate agent, lawyer, preacher and miner, never liked farming. 

The Canyon Lady

Love the stories of the strong and determined pioneer women of the west.

We stopped for lunch and visited with some local mountain bikers who at the ranch site eating their lunch and reminiscing about their childhood memories in the canyon and surrounding area.  After stopping for a bit we explored above the homestead before heading back down the trail.

See the homestead at the bottom of the grassy knoll.
Canyon hillside beyond the homestead.

Headed back down the canyon and met some explorers along the way

I stopped and chatted with a graduate student studying land and resource management. We talked about land management and the area Geology.  What a raw treasure this area is.  Interpretative signs would add so much to knowledge and enjoyment of the hikers along this trail. 

Hailey went on ahead but I found her mark along the trail.

Garbage or Historical Items?

Near the trail head I explore acres of historical artifacts. 

During the building of the Grand Coulee Dam, large camps of workers were located near the entrance to Northrup Canyon.  Large communal kitchens produced acres of  rusty piles which are now protected as historic.

Interesting how garbage cast aside in a few short years becomes historically significant. 

We reluctantly left this wonderful canyon, a time capsule spanning thousands of years for the journey home, to return again another day   

I often have said one of the things I hate about vacation type travel is time constraints often dictates returning another time to do all the unfinished sights and hikes. So it is with this trip.  I would rather stay and enjoy all that an area has to offer before moving on.  But I had hoped to climb Steamboat Rock and my hip dictated that I not do another challenging hike. 
Steamboat Rock and Candy Point trail.....Other hikes to be done another day

We reluctantly left this wonderful canyon,
                       a time capsule spanning thousands of years for the journey home,
                                                                                                   to return again another day.

  ~Happy Trails~