Jelly Making, Motorhome Fixing

Things aren’t much different around here. The smoke wasn’t bad Monday but Tuesday and today it was awful–you would never know we lived in the mountains! The Cowboy looked at a wind map and thinks most of our smoke is coming from the Oregon fires. On Labor Day we had six inches of snow. One week later on Monday our temp was almost 90 degrees again.

Today’s view.
A rainy spring day photo of the same view.

On Tuesday last week we noticed the Hurricane heating system for the motorhome would keep shutting down. It’s a diesel fired hot water heating system using the same diesel the engine of the motorhome uses. One of the manuals stated that the system would not work with one quarter or less diesel in the tank. Uh-oh! At about the same time we realized one inside dual wheel was low. So, the Cowboy put air in the tire and he and Larry headed to town for a flat tire fix (bad value stem) and fuel.

When they were home, I said, “why does our motorhome stink like diesel??” The Cowboy blew me off as men have a habit of doing😁and the smell went away. Fast forward through our ATV trip and filling the motorhome in Big Timber on our return. As we were driving away from the gas station I said, “we smell like diesel again.” Once again he ignored me. 😁

While dumping the tanks the Cowboy always tilts the motorhome or RV toward the dump station in order to get all the “stuff” 😝out of the holding tanks. I smelled diesel again and when the Cowboy moved the motorhome there was a puddle on the ground–ah-ha!! We do have a leak. The fill hose from the gas cap to the tank was leaking–and had been leaking a long time. Our local auto parts store had a hose and the Cowboy spent Monday changing that hose–three changes of shirts and one change of jeans–he was exhausted Monday night but it’s fixed. After a long washing in hot water and hanging on the clothes line all day his clothes still smell like diesel!

Last Wednesday when we departed for the Bitterroot National Forest it was 28 degrees. As we traveled both of us noticed the coach just didn’t heat. I was sitting under a quilt, the Cowboy wearing a heavy vest, Emmi wrapped up in a blanket. We could feel cold air swirling around us. While camped the motohome also didn’t heat well. I told the Cowboy I could feel cold air coming from under the slide as we traveled. Well–the slide is a super long slide and the entire gasket underneath is gone–missing in action leaving the coach open to not only air but critters 😲. A new one has been ordered, what was left of the old has been removed and the Cowboy will have another day long job replacing that gasket.

Such is life when purchasing a 20 year old motorhome.

I made jelly for the first time in 7 years! Made my brain hurt! But, it gelled, the jars sealed and I only broke one jar in the water bath–didn’t have the water deep enough I think.

Another knitting project is finished but as it’s a gift, the reveal will have to wait. I’ve started a baby blanket and am about to start some other gifts. Life is good on the knitting front.

More photos from our Bitterroot National Forest ATV trip.

Life is good in spite of Covid, in spite of the six to seven political phone calls we get per day, it’s just good.

 

 

 

Another Great ATV Trip Is In The Books

Wednesday morning bright and early with a temp of 28 degrees we slogged through all the mud left from our six inches of snow loading last minute items into the motorhome. And we were off with us in the lead heading for the Bitterroot Valley and the Magruder Corridor. We traveled through the valley of beaver slide haystacks and fields almost covered with hay bales–I sure wouldn’t want to have to pick up all that hay!  Please excuse the dirty motorhome windshield!

We stopped at the Big Hole Battlefield National Battlefield touring a bit, watching the informative movie and having our lunch. Geri and Larry took the lead–a couple years ago they came through the area and scouted boondocking locations. The premier spots were open on Wednesday afternoon and we were soon enjoying the warm temps and the company. Lonn came on Tuesday and he was set up just across the road from us.

It was a chilly night and Thursday morning the temps were about 40 degrees–we elected to get a later start and wait for the sun to get a bit higher in the sky–but it was still dang chilly when we left our campsites at 10am. In 2016 the two of us and Larry and Geri along with Canadian friends Elmer and Heneritta rode one half of the Magruder Corridor. Here is a link to the story about this road and our trip in 2016--the Magruder Corridor.

 

Four years later we were going to ride the other half of the Corridor, sadly without Elmer and Heneritta. The Montana end of the road has many miles of pavement which is odd but on the other hand, it wasn’t dusty!

We traveled 40+ miles that first day, touring several of the roads branching off from the Magruder. This fire tower was empty and we later found out the folks who man these towers have one day off each week.

Lonn

We had clear skies and smokey skies depending on which direction you were heading or looking.

In the evenings we dined well–I cooked the first evening, Lonn the second and Geri fed us the third night. Lonn headed for home after our ride on Friday and on Saturday night we ate the beef stew I had made before we left home.

Friday we backtracked on the actual Magruder Corridor road and traveled to the point where we had to turn around in 2016 due to a mud slide closing the rest of the road. We traveled 103 miles by the time we finished that day–whew–that’s a long day of ATV riding.

Notice our attire–this was at our turn around spot and we had lunch there–it was still dang chilly at noon!!

We rode on Saturday but that’s enough photos and words for one day! Sunday morning Larry and Geri headed south to Blackfoot, Idaho to visit our friends Joe and Kathy before making their way back to North Ranch. The Cowboy and I are home and the inside of the motorhome is unloaded. The snow didn’t damage our new flowers and the place looks great–life is good!

 

What A Fabulous Birthday

Who would have ever thought I would be overjoyed at the sight of all this snow on my birthday–Labor Day–September 7?? It’s a first for me–snow on my birthday but because we needed moisture so badly, I considered it a gift.

Geri and Larry came in from their RV parked in the driveway early Monday morning with a gift–And they sang happy birthday to me–they both have lovely voices! Larry and Geri know how much I love ice cream and they couldn’t find any flowers in Big Timber on a Sunday afternoon–so ice cream it was!

We spent the day visiting, laughing and enjoying the fire in the fireplace, watching it snow. The Cowboy was concerned because I was cooking my own birthday dinner but you know, it wasn’t that big of an issue. Steaks on the grill and the birthday cake the Cowboy baked–not really😍–he bought it at Costco and it was amazingly good!!

Tuesday we spent the day packing and finishing last minute projects on the motorhome. Mid afternoon the Cowboy came inside, I said, “how it’s going.” He said, “not good, the motorhome has a low, low tire.” He inflated the tire–he and Larry left for Big Timber–the tire shop in town had time to fix it!! YEA!!

The snow is slowly melting today but by evening, it’s not all gone. The news reports tell us the snow significantly slowed the fire near Bozeman.

Because of the weather changes, we’ve changed direction–we aren’t going up into the mountains to camp and ride ATVs–the mountains received more snow than we did and the night time lows are not conducive to RV living! So, we are heading west and sticking to a lower elevation for our camping and riding.

Life is good!

 

Fires, Fires Everywhere

This photo was posted on the Distinctly Montana Facebook page and was taken by Alan Hathaway. This second photo was taken I’m assuming by Mike, a friend and posted on his Facebook page.

The above two photos are from a fire near Bozeman, MT that on Friday was 500 acres. By Sunday morning it was 7000 acres. Saturday it was 100 degrees in Bozeman, MT and the wind was howling. Structures have been lost, fire fighters have been injured and it shows no signs of slowing. Fire behavior was erratic and evacuations were chaotic. On Saturday afternoon, our valley began to fill with heavy, smelly smoke from this fire, we could see the plume. It’s about 30 miles from us as the crow flies, 90+ miles by road–we are in no danger.

This was at our house Saturday afternoon–at 11% humidity, it’s no wonder there are fires everywhere.

This isn’t the only fire in Montana–in the Miles City, Montana area there are over 100,000 acres burning. Montana needs rain in the worst way–rain is in the forecast for Monday, let’s hope and pray it rains. We’ve had several years of mild summer forest fire behavior, this summer isn’t one of them.

Other than watching the fires there isn’t any exciting news around here. More work on the motorhome, a trip to Billings for batteries, some yard work–and that’s about it. I’m loving the new flower bed area in the backyard where I used small gravel for mulch–I took the advice of a reader and didn’t use the landscape fabric. I’ve had very few weeds sprout their ugly heads.

Monday, Labor Day, is my birthday–a momentous one–not one of those zero birthdays but important nevertheless. I qualify for Medicare!! For the first time in a loooong time I do not have a yearly deductible in the thousands of dollars. For the last year the insurance I purchased from the Marketplace had a $2500 deductible and an $8000 out of pocket. I can’t count the number of years or thousands of dollars we have paid for insurance and never used–because we never met the deductible. We are grateful for our health and I never thought I would wish to be 65–but I’m glad to be there!

And speaking of birthdays–the Cowboy asked me what I wanted for my birthday and I said, “yarn.” And he delivered–before you get all excited and think he ordered yarn all by himself–think again!😆

The Cowboy has been asking me if he picked chokecherries would I make jelly. Well, I finally caved and Friday he spent about two hours in that hot sun picking chokecherries–it takes a whole lot of those tiny little berries to make jelly! By late Friday evening, we had 12 cups of juice–success! When we come back from our ATVing trip with Larry and Geri jelly making will be on the agenda.

Just before 2pm Sunday Larry’s big new Ford truck rolled up the driveway. It’s good to have them here. We sat outside visiting until it was time to finish the supper I had started earlier in the day. We enjoyed beef stroganoff, mashed potatoes salad and homemade ice cream. After all that food we took a walk up into our dry, dry hay fields. The smoke was awful last night and today–but it does make for beautiful sunsets.

There is a mountain range out there but the smoke has obscured it.

Life is good.

 

 

Fall Is Here Maybe

We’ve had some chilly morning and a couple chilly days. Warming back up through Saturday then the weather will really turn chilly with perhaps even a freeze. Incredibly windy yesterday and today. As a result of the wind and carelessness there are some major new fires. In Arkansas people are trading in their cars for boats it’s raining so much!😁😁When we walk each morning and evening the skies and grasses are golden–fall is just around the corner and I’m ready!

Nothing much is happening in our world right now. We are still working on the motorhome and still doing the mundane chores. I had to stop baking–it wasn’t good for our waistlines! 😍 We are still eating well, just not much bread or desserts.

This photo was taken during our little coffee picnic at Thistle Creek last Thursday. One of our local photographers, Mery Donald was taking merchandise photos for the store and asked if she could photograph us. She graciously sent me a copy of the shot she took. Mery’s photos have been featured in national magazines–she is talented!

On Monday we did take a drive–a little reconnaissance mission–a 300 mile round trip drive. Larry and Geri are starting their slow trek south from summering in South Dakota where their daughter and family live. They are stopping here and we are going up into the Little Belt mountains for some ATV riding. We drove up into those mountains on Monday looking for camping spots. We found several, empty strangely enough so we should be able to find a spot the week after Labor Day. We may make another side trip over to the Dillon/Darby area of Montana depending on the behavior of the forest fire burning in that area. We love it when Geri calls, “are you guys up for an ATV trip?”

Wednesday I drove to Livingston for groceries and saw so many RVers struggling to hold their rigs on the highway–the wind was blowing that hard. Back in Big Timber I enjoyed a fabulous pedicure with both of us wearing masks–thanks Margie!!! The husband and the dog were very glad to see me when I arrived.

I belong to several knitting groups on Facebook and group members describe their yarn deliveries as “squishy mail.” Well, I received squishy mail a couple days ago–a kit from the yarn store in Billings. It’s a much more complicated pattern than I’ve attempted–for a shawl/scarf. The customer service from that store was amazing. I ordered online, they immediately contacted me saying their online count was off and the kit was out of stock. More kits were expected soon and they kept me informed every step of the way. Totally unlike a major online store I ordered from on August 16, still not here.

Life is good.

 

 

 

The Days Just Blend

After our marathon trips to Billings the first part of the week, we’ve been sticking close to home and checking chores off the list. The days just blend together. We both have this conversation often–“what day is it?”  “I have no idea!”

On Thursday I did go into Big Timber to meet friends Jeane and Jill for coffee at our fabulous new little shop, Thistle Creek. The building has an outdoor courtyard which fronts the street–a unique spot in downtown Big Timber for enjoying some of the best coffee–not sure what we will do when the weather turns nasty! I borrowed the photo from the Thistle Creek Facebook page.

I like making a simple occasion special–coffee with girlfriends–we’ve not seen much of each other this summer so I wanted it to be really special. That morning I made lemon poppy seed scones, found a tablecloth, some cloth napkins and pretty plates I adore that were a gift to me on my 50th birthday and was off to town. It was a special time spent with two very good friends of almost 26 years.

I said we stuck close to home didn’t I–well on Friday we ventured just a little farther than home traveling to Livingston, getting takeout from Big Sky Thai and meeting Sarge and Sarah in the park for a little picnic–and I took another tablecloth. I might have gotten that tablecloth idea from my Mom–even if we were on a road trip such as to Chicago to see family Mom packed a tablecloth–Dad was a touch picky about cleanliness. And I remember those tablecloths–they made those roadside picnics seem special.

On our way home from Livingston we stopped at the Big Timber Farmers Market which continues to grow. The season is winding down with only one more market left. I grabbed tomatoes and left–it was fairly crowded. Our little community has acquired a few more cases of Covid causing one of the busiest local, popular restaurants to stop serving food for the time being. Someone, a local person, had been tested for possible Covid exposure. Were they tested before they ventured out to one of our community’s iconic restaurants/bars on not one but two nights. Did they know they might have been exposed. I so hope “no” is the answer to both those questions. This restaurant in their busiest season has now lost revenue and probably had to lay off employees who now have lost their salaries.

Our weather was awesome today–chilly and overcast to start and ending with cool temps and sunshine. Fall is just around the corner I’m thinking.

 

The Heat Might Be Done

Smokey skies make for great sunset photos–

Hey, what happened to our mountains??

The following photos are all taken at sunset.

Trips to Billings can be exhausting and the one on Tuesday was no exception. I think our car could make that drive all by itself–400 miles in two days! Doctor appointments for the Cowboy and hair appointment for me. But what made it really exhausting was knowing we had to go back on Wednesday. It’s almost impossible to get last minute appointments with physicians and certainly not on the same day you all ready are going to be in Billings. The Cowboy was having some concerning issues but after three doctor’s appointments in two days–all is well and we are supremely relieved. The third doctor’s appointment was a fluke–he had a dermatology appointment for September 1 meaning in just a weeks time we would have to make that 200 mile round trip once again.

On the way to Billings this morning I made a phone call asking if his regular dermatologist had any openings today, Wednesday–yea, right, as if that was going to happen. Dr. Williams did have one opening today but it wouldn’t work with the Cowboy’s other appointments. The receptionist said they had a new dermatologist and she could see the Cowboy at a time that worked–so we did it! We think the Cowboy is finished with doctors for the year–we hope!!!

The backyard remodel is finished. I decided against lawn fabric and just spread small gravel as a mulch. It looks amazing–we are so pleased!

It’s raining as I am writing this blog. Our temps over the next few days are in the 70’s and even high 60’s–the heat may be gone!!  Life is good.

Smokey Skies

Our friend Sue posted this photo and link on Facebook early this morning–it tells the tale. It’s a smoke map and as you can see southeastern Montana is in the red zone. Saturday was miserably hot and so smokey we could see no mountains–it was as if they didn’t exist. Fall can’t come soon enough for this girl!

The Cowboy has been working away in the motorhome with the air conditioner running. Friday we did make a run to Livingston–he had an appointment to have his drivers license renewed. When we drove through Big Timber on the way to Livingston I scored pizza dough from our new boutique grocery store!!!

And Friday was a really good day–I had gotten up that morning telling myself today was the day–I was somehow going to get an appointment scheduled with an orthopedic surgeon. While we were out walking Dr. Fischer’s office called and left a message. The surgeon had reviewed my records and an appointment could be scheduled. Late September was the earliest they could see me but at least there is help on the horizon! We both need help!–if it’s not my knee it’s the Cowboy’s ankle! We take turns walking Emmi.😁😁

Recently I wrote a blog about my love for reading and mentioned what I was currently reading–A Good Neighborhood.” Whew–I did NOT like that book and almost stopped reading it. One of the main characters was so morally flawed, too much bad happened to other characters, there was an undercurrent of sexual abuse and the ending was incredibly sad. A high school classmate Karen recommended The Radium Girls and I was able to obtain the audio book from one of the library systems I use–what an eye opening book!! During the early 1900’s young women, some as young as 13 were hired at good wages to paint clock dials with radium!!! so the dials would glow in the dark. The radium powder made the girls glow in the dark too! As you can imagine, many of those girls lost their lives due to exposure to a substance not yet regulated.

Another high school classmate Myra recommended Hillbilly Elegy, a memoir and another one I’m having trouble leaving on the table while I knit and listen to The Radium Girls. A struggle indeed! I did read and finish another little book recommended by yet another classmate Joe–he had gone to Bible college with the author of 1000 Strangers In My Car. Joe’s classmate was a minister for 30+ years before Parkinson’s disease affected his voice. The author struggled to find employment after leaving the ministry and became an Uber driver. It’s a quick read and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

My latest knitting project is progressing–not rapidly but progressing. I’m still cooking. We have a busy week coming up–two trips to Billings for doctors appointments–this getting old isn’t for sissies!

This photo was taken on Friday–Saturday and Sunday we couldn’t see these foothills from our house.

 

Dang It’s Hot

It’s just wrong for us to have temps in the 90’s at 5200 feet elevation!! Ugh–it’s so hot. I sit in my living room chair under the ceiling fan and knit. If there is anything to be done outside, it’s finished or rather I’m finished by 11am. Emmi is walked at 7am and after the sun goes down and if I see one more rattlesnake she may not get walked at all!😬😬

The Cowboy has been working in the motorhome. The entire bathroom floor has been removed down to the metal floor studs. The toilet is out. This is one major project! At least he can run the air conditioner in the motorhome while he is working! Why do people let issues go until it becomes such a problem to fix?? Once again, I am so glad I have a handy husband!

We were in Billings on Monday obtaining supplies for the motorhome bathroom remodel and it was 104 degrees! Masks were worn and lots of hand sanitizer was used. Wednesday we were in Big Timber obtaining more supplies–Mike likes to support the local lumber yard–he graduated from high school with the owner.😁I retrieved my concealed carry permit from the sheriff’s office and attempted once again to purchase pizza dough at our new little boutique grocery store. Attempted is the key word–this stuff is like gold–comes in on Friday morning and gone by Friday afternoon usually. We will be traveling through Big Timber on Friday–I will try to score pizza dough.

And really, that’s all we’ve been doing. I’m still cooking every meal we eat, I packed peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to Billings for lunch–isn’t that a sad state of affairs! While we might get takeout, it’s too hot to sit outside and eat that food.

I’m attempting to see an orthopedic surgeon without much success. One would think we lived in Canada as much difficulty as I’m having.😀 I’ve contacted two well recommended orthopedic surgeons–one affiliated with Billings Clinic, the other with St. Vincent Healthcare or SCL Healthcare or just SCL–I think that particular hospital is having an identity crisis! Both want to see my records from any previous surgeon I’ve seen for this knee issue–ONE–and then review those records before granting me an audience! The surgeon I saw for my knee in September of 2019 had been practicing a whole sum total of 3 days when he saw me. I’m a retired operating room nurse. I’ve seen my share of good and bad surgeons. I want someone who is highly recommended and who has been operating for a long time. Guess I may have to wait a while!

Pink skies over the Crazy Mountains.
Thunder clouds brewing on our evening walk.
Setting sun highlighting our log home.

 

Dear Friends

Before I married the Cowboy I lived in Powell, Wyoming and was the Director of Nursing for the small hospital. One of the nurses who worked at the hospital–Jane–and her family became part of my family. Jane’s husband died in 2017 and she has remarried–a delightful man–Paul. They are bicycle riders and were heading to Idaho for a week of riding the Idaho Rails to Trails route. Jane and Paul stopped by to spend a couple nights with us. They have their RV and the bicycles plus the only dog Emmi has ever actually played with–Lacy. You should see the two of them romping all over the fields chasing each other!

There are friends in life who you may not see often or even talk to every day but when you are together it’s as if you’ve never been apart. Jane is one of those friends–and I love her dearly. We’ve talked and laughed so hard this weekend. And eaten well!

We took them to Natural Bridge on Saturday early enough in the day that the area wasn’t over run with people. The people we did see were exceptionally polite, stepping way back from the trail to give everyone space. The Boulder River is low right now and the falls aren’t spectacular but it’s still a beautiful area.

We had beautiful weather over the weekend but starting tomorrow for several days the temps are in the miserable range–UGH!

Jane and Paul rolled down the driveway just after 11am and we’ve been puttering. Emmi gets so agitated when I trim her fur–so today I gave her half a haircut–the front half. She isn’t going anywhere nor participating in any beauty events so I will get to the other half of the haircut on Tuesday. The Cowboy has been working on the floor in the motorhome–it had some soft spots from previous water damage and he is going to fix those.

Life is good.