Eclipse Excitement

My cameras have solar filters installed, the tripod is fixed (Cowboy to the rescue again), the batteries are charged and I am ready–I think!  Have been reading almost every article I can find, F-stops, shutter speed, bracketing–my head is spinning.  I’ve practiced on the sun with the camera settings and my photos are good–so, I think I am ready!

In the last couple of days we’ve had the pooping bear traveling through the yard and night before last a bear cub ON THE DECK!!!  By the time the Cowboy awakened his sleeping wife (who sleeps with ear plugs) the cub was gone–hopefully to find his mom!

This afternoon the local watershed group hosted a summer picnic at the fire hall.  Yes our little neighborhood has a fire hall and engine.  The food was good, the entertainment fabulous and getting to see many of our friends/neighbors was priceless.

 Another smokey day–not as bad as a couple days ago but still smokey.  The Lolo Peak fire is now at 28,000 acres and is threatening the communities of Lolo and Florence–which Larry and Geri, we traveled through last summer, stopping for fuel.

Image may contain: one or more people, night and outdoorPhoto by Nathan Hauerwas.

It’s Been Boring

Western Montana is burning, acre by acre.  One fire in particular, the Lolo Peak Fire has turned especially ugly–19,000 acres so far and last night it made a 4000 acre run.  Highway 12 through western Montana is now closed.  One fire fighter has been killed, homes have been burned, people are evacuated and displaced from their homes.  The cost to fight this one fire has reached $18 million.

In Seeley Lake, a small western Montana community where the Cowboy’s Mom and Dad lived at one time, the smoke is horribly unhealthy and people are being told to leave.  But how do you leave your livelihood–you own the local gas station–if you leave the community has no place to purchase fuel and you have no income.   Same with the restaurant owner–how do you walk away and leave your business?

Image may contain: night, sky and outdoorThis photo was taken from the Lolo National Forest Facebook page, the photographer was not named.Image may contain: sky, cloud, tree, outdoor and nature

This photo was taken by Radd Icenoggle and posted on a Facebook group–Montana Photography.

And yet the conservationists sue the USFS to stop any logging or thinning and the liberal judges agree.  When logging ceases so do the lumber mills–Seeley Lake used to be a robust little community–due to logging.  Other businesses which supported the loggers such as restaurants, grocery stores, etc.–they all close.  And, I can’t bear to think of all the wild animals which are perishing in these fires.

Even with logging forest fires will happen but if the timber and undergrowth are thinned, these forest fires become easier to fight and more quickly stopped.

So, we spend millions and millions of dollars to fight these forest fires.  Lives are lost, homes/businesses are destroyed, animals die–just so we don’t cut any trees.

Photo by Ken Malgren

Image may contain: cloud, sky, outdoor and nature




It’s A Woman’s Prerogative

“A couple more days of riding then home where I hope this truck camper and I part company!  We are the second owners of this 1999 Lance camper—the first owners FULL TIMED in this box—?????”  And I celebrated when the Lance truck camper we owned headed down the driveway.  But, it’s a woman’s prerogative to change her mind–right??  In the only trip we’ve taken with the Roadmaster toyhauler we realized in spite of it being much shorter than a forty foot motorhome pulling a thirty foot trailer it is still too long to use for what we want to do during Montana summers.  We aren’t selling the Roadmaster as we will probably take it to Arizona with us but we purchased this 2006 Arctic Fox truck camper for summer fun–trips in Montana, heading into Canada and Alaska, etc.

Our friends Angie and Ralph purchased a new Arctic Fox truck camper and have been traveling in Canada and Alaska since mid May.  When we saw their truck camper with its slide, we liked how much more room the slide gave you. So, the Cowboy searched and searched until he found an Arctic Fox with a slide in our budget range–in Bozeman!

Tuesday I went to yoga class held at Nancy’s just up the road then the Cowboy, Emmi and I headed to Big Timber for lunch and a little plumbing work.  Seems this is the year for plumbing issues–we had them in our house when we returned from Arizona, now Nat’s has a leaky toilet.  The Cowboy was able to find parts in Big Timber and fix the leak.

Today was bath and haircut for Ms. Emmi and the Cowboy worked on an extended hitch for our ATV trailer we will pull behind the truck/camper.

Big stick, little dog!

Seems we had a visitor last night–one with terrible bathroom habits–instead of leaving a nice/tidy pile of recycled chokecherry seeds, the bear left little piles all the way across the lawn! 🙂

 See the little dark spots all the way to the deck!

And one last photo–a gorgeous sunset Monday evening taken with the Nikon D5000.

On occasion it’s hard to find a blog subject but in spite of writer’s block sometimes, I love this blog!  I’ve kept a journal for over twenty years and the last nine of those years the journal has been this blog.  Tonight I wanted to find some of the comments I made about our previous truck camper and only had to search the blog for “truck camper” to find the one I used above.  And, I found another funny statement when I searched, “truck camper”–I had totally forgotten Larry ever made this statement but when I read it, I burst out laughing–typical Larry.

When we traveled to Alaska in the truck campers with Larry and Geri we had walkie/talkie radios.  I probably said something on the radio jokingly about being so hungry I was going to crawl from the back truck window into the truck camper to find something to eat.  Larry’s comment back over the radio was, “There’s nobody in that truck who would fit through the camper window!”  Hmmmph!!



Last evening we had a littler rain shower, this morning I woke to rain and it rained most of the morning–we received almost an inch of rain!  We are very grateful!  The rest of the day has been cloudy and cool, almost as if fall is in the air!

Last fall, I purchased a new to me iPhone 6 from an eBay vendor.  The phone was advertised as “new, other” which means it was either returned by a customer without its box or it could have been a “floor” model.  I loved the phone with its 128GB of storage–no more “your storage is full, unable to take the photo” messages!–but the battery has always been a joke.  With the phone just laying on the table, not in use, the battery would be almost exhausted by noon every day.  I eventually purchased one of those battery cases giving me an extra two charges before I had to plug in the case/phone.

During the time after Rich’s death I was talking to Eric, Rich’s son complaining about the battery in my iPhone. Eric said, “you know you can change the battery.”  I replied, “I thought you had to send the phone to Apple.”  Eric (he’s a bit of a geek) said, “if you are at all handy you can order a battery and changing kit from Amazon, change it yourself.”  Well–I’m not all that handy but the Cowboy is.  For about $26 and less than 30 minutes I now have a battery which lasts–I let the battery run down completely then re-charged.  It’s been almost two days and I haven’t had to charge the phone! Yippee!!  The Cowboy watched a YouTube video and went to work–

The kit I ordered came with these tools you see in the photo.  The Cowboy said even with all the tools he has he couldn’t have changed the battery without the included tools.

The Cowboy has puttered in the garage all day and I’ve quilted with a break to fix lunch and several breaks to play with Emmi–she’s just a touch spoiled I would say!

Received my solar filter film in the mail today for using with the camera to take photos of the eclipse–the other night the Cowboy had the bright idea of using his welding helmet and I practiced using the camera through the helmet on the setting sun surrounded by smoke and clouds.

Blue Jobs, Pink Jobs

And no, I didn’t use the wrong camera settings, this is yesterday morning’s view–it was worse today, even the foothills were obscured by smoke.  This is our “normal” view of the West Boulder mountains.

No Crazy Mountains visible yesterday or today.  Below is the way that view frequently appears–

Yesterday afternoon we were sitting in the yard enjoying the breeze and sounds of the creek.  I pointed to one of our sprinkler heads and we proceeded to have the following conversation:

Me:  We need to dig up that sprinkler head, it’s too far below the ground and pointed too high.

The Cowboy: I know where there’s a shovel you can use.

Me:  Oh, no, that’s a blue job! (Lots of RVers refer to the inside chores of the RV as pink jobs and the outside chores such as dumping tanks blue jobs.

The Cowboy:  Oh, no–it’s only a blue job when I’m using the excavator, shovels are pink jobs!

Me: Hmmph!!

We are currently in another coffee dilemma!  I am a coffee snob and not ashamed of it!  I like dark, strong, flavorful coffee.  We purchase Costco Espresso Blend Dark Roast coffee beans and I grind the beans–I have a heavy duty type grinder which has a container with the capacity to hold enough ground coffee to last about three days.  I usually grind enough beans to last about a week or more and store it in a glass container–I make our coffee the night before and am not enough of a coffee snob to grind my beans fresh each day.  I was feeling lazy the other day and said I was going to stop grinding coffee and just buy it all ready ground–well–that’s not happening!  The ground coffee I purchased was the exact same bean as the Costco coffee we use but what a difference in taste–YUK!  Back to the beans!

I actually quilted today!!  Can you believe it!  Remember this photo from a blog in late JUNE!!  I finished the little horse and started on the fish today–it felt good to be using the longarm!The Cowboy spent the morning in town installing a storm door for his Dad.  Friday morning Nat called to say the storm door was at his house.  The lumber store is owned by a friend of the Cowboy’s and although Ullmans does not usually deliver, they did deliver the door to Nat’s–small town living at its best!

Summer Writing Block

Yep, that’s what I have, summer writing block.  We are enjoying being at home–notice the vest the Cowboy is wearing–and our cooler weather. It was 43 degrees when I got up this morning.  There’s not much to write about–we are busy as usual with various projects and as I said, enjoying life.  Time to sit in the yard enjoying a cold beverage, time to watch all the various colorful birds at the feeders and time to just enjoy life–it’s summer in Montana.

We are still smokey–not enough to smell the smoke very often but this morning the mountains were totally obscured.

I have been taking photos with the Nikon D5000 and it’s amazing how a little practice helps in understanding the camera!  All the photos in tonight’s blog were taken with that camera.  I took more photos this morning of the smokey mountains but Picasa isn’t cooperating tonight–I can’t import photos from any of my camera cards nor can I import using a USB cord–we will see what tomorrow brings.

That’s all I have tonight, hope you are all enjoying your summer!  And who let the Cowboy wear that grungy hat???

Camera Practice

We are loving our cooler weather!  After days of 90+, eighty degrees is heavenly!  Still smokey and that makes for some great photography opportunities.  Remember before we left North Ranch last year I purchased from our friend Mike a Nikon D5000.  I’ve used the camera very little–I would try to take photos, the photos would look awful and I would put the camera away.  While we were on our little mini-vacation I took the camera and manuals–I would read some, then pick up the camera–my photos were still not great.

A couple days ago I decided to learn how to use this camera–period!  I put my Nikon P600 away and started taking the D5000 on our walks.  Practice is paying off!  The above photo of the sun setting with clouds/smoke was taken with the P600 before I put it away–that is such a great camera, it has a 60X optical zoom which zooms in closer than the Nikkor 55-200 lens on the D5000 camera.

These sun setting photos with smoke and clouds were taken with the D5000–

These next photos were also taken with the D5000–a little fuzzy but not bad!

I was in town this afternoon–errands and a little visiting thrown in for good measure.  The Cowboy stayed home and fixed some odds and ends on our toyhauler trailer.  While on our little trip we noticed the truck was not charging the trailer as we traveled.  The Cowboy discovered a blown fuse and a bad wiring job by the previous owners–all fixed now!

The bathroom project is finished–hallelujah!!!I may stain/paint the bead board–haven’t decided yet.

And one last sun/smoke/cloud photo taken with the easy to use, fabulous Nikon P600 🙂

And today is our great-granddaughter Lora Elizabeth’s third birthday.  We remember being in Great Falls, MT with Larry and Geri anxiously awaiting the arrival of this little girl–

Image may contain: 2 people, people sitting, people eating, table and foodAnd here’s our little man–soon to be 16 months old.

Image may contain: 1 person, indoor


Random Things

Friday night we hosted a lovely dinner party celebrating our friend Jill’s birthday a few days late.  Terry and Jill, Jeane and Steve plus Geoff and Nancy joined us for a delightful dinner and evening.  It’s always so good to get together with great friends.  I like to use my crystal, china and good silver.  I’m not careful with any of it–all of it goes in the dishwasher with the exception of the wine glasses which are too tall for the top rack.  If I had to wash it all by hand the pieces would never be used.  This is my paternal grandmother’s silver.  I was the oldest grandchild and my father purchased this silver for Grandma when he had his first job–so I inherited it and I love using it!

How many of you have a Keurig?  My dear friend Jane gave me a one cup Keurig as a gift for their staying in our motorhome that year at North Ranch.  It makes an outstanding cup of coffee.  The Cowboy and I love our coffee and between the two of us we drink about five good sized mugs of coffee each morning.  We use Kirkland Dark Roast Espresso Beans and a two pound bag will last us approximately 50 days.  At $11 for that two pound bag and about $0.03 for the filter, each cup of coffee we drink is costing us approximately five cents compared to the $0.30 per cup using the Keurig!  And $0.30/pod is conservative–the good coffee costs more.  Don’t get me wrong, I use/love the Keurig–the Cowboy often rises in the wee hours of the morning as in 5am and he starts the coffeemaker.  I may not get up until 7am–by that time the coffee has been sitting for two hours and tastes like mud.  Rather than make another whole/half pot, I use my trusty Keurig.  Then our friend Sarah told me her mother uses a refillable/reusable filter.  The UPS man delivered my refillable pod on Thursday and it works very well–I’m a happy camper!

Wednesday while in Billings we stopped at Pierce RV and browsed through various RVs (the reason behind this madness will be explained in later blogs!! 🙂 ) In one slide in truck camper we viewed which the Cowboy declared a “cheap piece of ^#@&” the mattress lay beside the refrigerator and the refrigerator door could not be opened due to the thickness of the mattress.  I asked the salesman, “what’s up with this???”  You won’t believe what he told me–“fold the mattress.”  There was a factory crease/fold in the mattress and that’s what some crazy RV manufacturer expected you to do every time you wanted to open the refrigerator–just fold that mattress!!  Good grief, where do they get these ideas????  Have any of those RV designers actually used a RV????

Glorious weather today with a high of about 74 degrees.  Nat and Barb came for lunch and when we enjoyed our homemade chocolate ice cream I thought we were going to have to get Nat a blanket–he thought it was chilly!  Barb and I thought it was just right!

  All these photos were taken from our recent trip to Twin Lakes–the Big Hole valley is famous for its haystacks made using these beaver slides.  We did see this one in use, most of the big ranches in that valley have gone to large bales–round or square.  We saw lots of crooked trees with these burls–the Cowboy thought it might be caused by the heavy snow load this area sees in winter.

I just can’t get enough of these reflection photos!

Cooler Weather

I thought cooler weather deserved its own title tonight–still smokey but our high today was about 69 degrees!  In Billings where we were today, the high was 64 while we were there.  A cold front blew through last night giving us a sprinkle of rain and hail.  Billings was hit much harder with high winds, 1/2 inch of rain and hail.

Our trip to Billings today was fruitful–picked up new glasses for me at Costco plus a whole carload of groceries, visited Wal Mart and had a fabulous lunch at CJ’s.  We visited a little with Nat both going and coming as Emmi kept him company today.

We are enjoying some delicious Flathead cherries from the Flathead Lake area near Kalispell, Montana.  A young woman in our community has an uncle with a cherry tree orchard–she helps him sell his cherries by selling 18 pound boxes on our local community Facebook selling site.  We retrieved our box on Sunday and they are amazing!

As I’m a little lacking in blog material tonight I thought I would share this firefighting video with you.  The Cowboy’s Dad and Mom lived in Seeley Lake, Montana for several years.  Fire was always a concern for them as their home sat in a huge pine forest and the roads were one way in, one way out. Let me know if the video doesn’t work–I’ve never inserted a video by linking it to the news source from which it came.

Lindsey Edwards shot this video of a Canadian Super Scooper filling up in Seeley Lake to battle the Rice Ridge fire.

Source: RAW VIDEO: Canadian Super Scooper pulls water from Seeley Lake

Home Again And Still Hot

I’m sure everyone, everywhere has heard enough complaints about the hot weather but that’s the way it goes.  We have a friend, Phyllis, and her husband Greg who are avid snowmobile riders–they LOVE winter.  Phyllis keeps posting little quotes and photos on Facebook about “wish it was winter” or “I’m ready for snow” and while no one is really ready for snow, cooler temps and less smoke would be wonderful!  The mountains to our west are totally obscured by smoke today and we can smell the smoke–there are several huge fires burning in Montana.

Friday morning we decided a truck tour was in order and we bounced out over the 16 miles of rough roads to the highway.  Lunch in Jackson, Montana was first on the list then we made the tour around the Pioneer Mountains National Scenic Byway.  Gorgeous country, beautiful campgrounds and perfect temps. We ended our tour at the Big Hole National Battlefield where in 1877 sixty to ninety Nez Perce tribe members–men, women and children–were killed by the US military under the command of Colonel John Gibbon.  Unfortunately we were running late and the visitors center was closed.  We did walk out onto the deck overlooking the area where the Nez Perce were camped and attacked.

The area circled notes the Nez Perce camp.

On Thursday afternoon our little seventeen site campground begin to fill and by Friday evening it was packed!  We had an end site so we only had one neighbor–a family with two children and two dogs–one an adorable puppy named Otis who kept escaping.  He had the biggest, floppiest ears!

Saturday morning we launched the kayak again, the lake was calm with lots of people out enjoying the beautiful day.

 Saturday afternoon we decided to make another run up to Ajax Lake in the CanAm.  It was just as gorgeous on Saturday as it was on Wednesday!

 This photo and the one with Emmi were taken high above the lake–we enjoyed our lunch at this spot on both days.

Back at the campground we made the decision to leave for home on Sunday morning.  Waste water tanks were getting full and it was way too far/bumpy to go out of the campground to dump and then return.  It was a special week and we enjoyed our time away so much!