On Tuesday the Cowboy and I made tracks for Arizona. We had a ridiculously early flight and live two hours from the airport making it necessary for the alarm clock to wake us at 1AM (we did go to bed early)!! We had loaded the bags into the truck the night before, we scurried around shutting down the house, packing last minute things into the carry on and were out the door in 45 minutes. In hindsight it probably wasn’t necessary for us to get to the Bozeman airport two hours in advance but traveling two days before a major holiday one never knows. Our travel was uneventful–I wore support socks, moved my legs a lot on the plane and walked during our two hour layover in Salt Lake City.
Dan and Louanne retrieved the three of us and our mountain of luggage; we headed off to find lunch. Following lunch Dan had a doctor’s appointment leaving the Cowboy and me to find a grocery store. We left Tucson during evening rush hour but didn’t have too many delays. Home we unpacked, enjoyed seeing our Arizona home after a long absence and went to bed–I think my head was on the pillow before 8pm and I was dead to the world!!
Now, for the rest of the travel story. We had intended to drive and bring the toyhauler with my recumbent bike. Weather changed our decision. RVs have refrigerators/freezers and my intention had been to bring several items from the home freezer–a pan of homemade lasagna, a flat brisket we hadn’t cooked, etc. I decided I wasn’t leaving that good food behind so I packed it in our checked bags. The Cowboy, Dan and Louanne laughed at me but they have all benefited from my decision! Everything frozen I brought was still frozen solid when we unpacked–it was 14 degrees in Bozeman and 16 degrees in Salt Lake City. The lasagna has kept us from having to travel to the grocery store, we’ve eaten some of the cheese I brought, the Cowboy used the Costco bacon bits in his eggs, etc. Dan and Louanne order coffee from a small roaster and were sent the wrong coffee this time–it was even decaf–adding insult to injury. New coffee was on the way but in the meantime they were desperate for coffee. They were VERY grateful for my half bag of coffee beans checked in my luggage!! So–where there’s a will, there’s a way!
Then all of a sudden it’s Thanksgiving–we enjoyed another special day with great friends at Dan and Louanne’s. The food was spectacular and we enjoyed every single bite.
A friend–Susan–posted this sentence on her most recent blog–“At the same time, I’m very conscious of just how very fortunate I am, and never take these things for granted, not for one minute.” Susan had written that she was thankful for her husband, good friends, living where they wanted, doing what they wanted, etc. The Cowboy and I are very conscious of how fortunate we truly are and I want to strive to be even more conscious of that good fortune!
I am walking Emmi girl about a half mile a day and still exercising. Knee is progressing. It feels good to be outside in the sunshine. Our mornings are very chilly–it was 23 degrees Saturday morning!–and our days are sunny and warmish.
This is a blanket I knitted for our expected in January newest great grandchild.
It’s amazing how quickly recovery from a total knee replacement can turn around! On Monday my physical therapist did a “progress report” for my surgeon. The therapist and surgeon had set a goal for me–a knee bend of at least 130 degrees. On Monday at just over 4 weeks from my surgery I had a 124 degree bend!! I was so, so excited! My straightening is not as good but I will get to the goal of 0 degrees. I am currently at minus 2 degrees of straightening. My other strength comparisons between my “good leg” and “bad leg” were good also! Life is good!!
On Thursday we saw my surgeon who had initially told me I couldn’t travel for eight weeks post op. He was thrilled with my progress, told me I looked more like an eight week out patient than the five weeks out I am. He approved our departure and then said, “you know we used to think you should stop every two hours, get out and walk around but now we just think, get there!!” I said, “stop, don’t tell him (pointing to the Cowboy) that, he locks me up in the truck and won’t let me out!” We all laughed and Dr. Fisher told me I should have coached him beforehand!
Back to Big Timber after seeing the surgeon in Columbus we met Sarge and Sarah for lunch and had an enjoyable hour and a half dining and yakking. Then it was off to therapy again for me where Rachel helped me with straightening my leg and also told me I was doing so well. As this was my last day of therapy in MT I had baked cookies for the two therapists who had helped me so much during my recovery.
And I’m sleeping!!! On my side!!! Without pharmaceuticals!! Sleeping gives me a new attitude on life!
Now on the other hand our weather stinks! We went to Billings on Tuesday for a medical appointment and a haircut for me. Roads around Columbus were dicey and the wind howled! Navigating snowy/icy streets and sidewalks is hazardous when you have one bad leg!! Wednesday night another three inches of snow fell on top of the stuff that refuses to melt. Our high on Thursday was about 18 degrees. On Friday morning we woke to minus 2!!
Our initial plan had been to drive to Arizona this year once my knee had healed sufficiently. We had planned to take the toy hauler RV and my recumbent bike as we don’t need to haul a “toy”–there is one in Arizona. The weather in Montana and the weather along any route we might have chosen put a stop to those plans. If it wasn’t frigid temperatures in the teens it was wind, neither of which is very compatible to RV traveling. When the Cowboy said, “we can’t fill the RV with water” my first thought was “we need a new plan.” The weather has warmed but melting isn’t happening very fast and there is still that wind to consider.
So, we’ve been packing suitcases instead of the RV. The Cowboy has been finishing up various projects and walking Emmi when the weather permits. I’ve been exercising and feeding us–this is the absolute best beef stew we’ve ever eaten. The recipe is written for a pressure cooker but could be adapted for stove top. I use regular chopped onion (do frozen onions exist??), I use Better Than Bouillon and water in place of the canned beef broth, I add a dollop of red wine to deglaze the pot and I leave out the celery. Delicious and makes enough stew that I don’t have to cook for two or three days.
The days blend together–no sleep, morning coffee time with our computers, exercise, meal preparation, more exercise and maybe more exercise. You aren’t sick when you have a knee replacement and once the first couple of weeks went by I was able to start vacuuming, cleaning the bathrooms and cooking. The Cowboy was very glad.
Here is a photo of one of the “exercises” I do–there are three 16oz water bottles in the bag hanging from my knee. I sit for 5-7 minutes with that bag hanging from my knee 3-4 times per day. I have to have distraction so I read or call someone and talk for the duration. It is not comfortable but it’s straightening my leg to that zero degrees the therapist wants.
The Cowboy was called into repair duty this week when the dishwasher made a horrible grinding noise then wouldn’t drain. We purchased this dishwasher in 2011 after the initial dishwasher in this house failed at less than 10 years. This is a Blomberg, a high end dishwasher and I wasn’t happy that once again in ten years or less we were going to have to purchase another dishwasher. I told the Cowboy I was going to buy the cheapest one I could find if the stupid things weren’t going to last any longer than 10 years. He fixed it–is anyone surprised?? The dishwasher has a little cylindrical removable basket in the bottom where “trash” can collect. I seldom take it out as I am very careful to rinse large particles from the dishes before placing them in the dishwasher. Well, it seems a little plastic piece from the bottom of that basket broke off and got stuck in one of the pumps–the grinding noise I heard. It took the Cowboy a while to find that little problem! We also had to find new plumbing parts in town as the Cowboy wasn’t happy with the way he plumbed the dishwashers 20+ years ago.
Friday marked a month since my surgery. Our high temps this week haven’t been very high, in fact one day our high was 7 degrees!!! So all that white stuff is still around. The Cowboy plowed our driveway and the area between the house and garage. I’ve ventured out in sturdy shoes with my cane to play with the Emmi girl just a bit. The snow/ice make me so nervous. I can still hear my surgeon telling me in the pre-op area on surgery morning–“you have to move post-op, the only way you can hurt this knee is to fall.” I don’t want to fall.
Two trips to town this week for therapy–the roads aren’t too bad. The therapists I saw this week are really pleased with my progress and I am too. I am getting excellent bend and straightening in my knee.
The chickadees are glad we are still in Montana this year and keeping their feeder full. I love the sound they make. Not very many birds winter in Montana–can you blame them???–but the little hardy chickadees are here.
And here’s an adorable photo of Emmi I managed to snap while she was visiting my lap one day. She needs a haircut–badly!!
I’m sure you are all tired of reading about my knee replacement but as that’s the only thing going on around this house you will just have to be bored!🤕
Has therapy/exercising gotten any easier three weeks and two days post-op?? Yes to some extent. The pain is not as intense when I try to bend the knee. On Monday I was disappointed when the therapist measured my bend and I was only at 114 degrees. So, I called our friend Pam in Arizona (she had her knee done in early September) and got a pep talk. She told me her surgeon said that bending that knee was the most important exercise she could do and showed her an exercise my therapist had not suggested. Sit in a chair and bend your knee as far back under the chair as you can, stop and scoot yourself forward in the chair deepening that bend. OUCH!!
I’m thinking it helped! Then I fell down the rabbit hole of YouTube videos about knee replacement surgeryfinding this video which for some reason really, really helped!! For one thing, the doctor in this video laid out where you should be with degrees of bend at what week in your recovery period–I’m ahead of schedule and that made me feel much better!
The sleeping on my back is so not working. I can’t get to sleep then I am awake at least every two hours if not every hour–then I struggle to go back to sleep. I try very hard not to nap during the day, too.
Then on Thursday I saw my therapist again and told her the above saga–my disappointment at only114 degrees of bend and she set me straight. I am doing very well according to her! She wanted me to ditch my cane which I was using only when outside our home. We went for a walk in downtown Big Timber and she was pleased with my gait and ability to walk without limp. So, three weeks out from surgery I am doing well!
So, with all that encouragement we decided on Friday to attempt a quick trip to Billings for groceries. A pickup order was placed with Walmart, we had lunch at CJ’s and did a quick Costco stop. I walked from the parking lot into Costco and all through the store without my cane or leaning on the cart. There was some swelling but that was to be expected with my leg hanging down in the passenger seat of the car.
The Cowboy heads out to the garage which is heated with a wood stove and works on various projects. He walks Emmi. Our little girl is aging and spends a great deal of time sleeping these days. But she still makes us laugh. Her blanket (a piece of flannel I hemmed) is fairly lightweight. When Emmi gets out of bed, the blanket sometimes hangs up on her stubby little tail–we find the blanket down the hallway, in the kitchen–wherever she managed to rid herself of the dang thing–
Winter has arrived in Montana–I don’t care what the calendar tells us and my recovery can’t happen quick enough so we can depart for warmer climates! The snow accumulation is not expected to be much but look at those temps!!
I have lots of time on my hands–so lots of reading and knitting is happening. And that’s another week of knee replacement recuperation.
Monday was another therapy day with a different therapist who mixed things up a bit. I once again rode the recumbent bike for five minutes and on Tuesday I managed to ride our bike we purchased specifically for my recovery period. Purchased from where else–Craigslist–for a whopping $25 and it was in Billings!
Tuesday we had a great day–Jeane and Jill brought lunch, and dishes, silverware, napkins, etc. Jeane didn’t want Mike to have to wash dishes–she thought of everything. The two of them collaborated on the lunch–delicious vegetable beef soup, amazing cornbread, homemade pound cake, whipped cream and blueberries. It was so good to see them and spend time visiting–Mike has known these two ladies way longer than I have and they are the best of friends to both of us.
The rest of the week was a blur of exercising, another therapy session and way too much sitting. I get up and walk often but still feel as if I sit too much–not my usual mode of operation! I usually log over 10,000 steps per day on my fitness tracker–I’m now logging less than 1000 steps and I think part of those are vibration from the recumbent bike😏!
I have taken over doing the laundry–didn’t like how the Cowboy was doing it. My Mom had a sister, Aunt Bonnie, who never sorted laundry, she just threw clothes of any sort into the washer until she had a load. The resulting pink underwear for my uncle didn’t seem to bother either of them. The Cowboy has heard this story many times and when I first came home from the hospital he told me he was going to do an Aunt Bonnie load. YIKES–my good clothes tossed in with towels and washed on hot!!! I’ve also started helping him with meal preparation–I make the salads, something he doesn’t like to do. He does most of the other cooking and the cleanup.
He’s started to prep things for our departure south–we are still a few weeks from leaving but those weeks will fly by. He puts Sta-bil in the gas tanks of all the vehicles we leave behind, removes batteries and carts the batteries to our basement where they won’t freeze. He’s still working on a project for our friends/neighbors. And he’s still being a good nurse, a dang good nurse and for this I am grateful.
We did travel to Columbus this week–my orthopedic surgeon or his physician’s assistant host a clinic at the small branch of Billings Clinic hospital located in Columbus, 54 miles from our home instead of the 100+ miles to Billings. They see post-op patients, people needing injections, etc. Brian, the physician’s assistant was pleased with my progress and removed my staples. Back to Big Timber I had a therapy session and the therapist “promoted” me–to more difficult exercises! YIKES! Not sure I’m liking this promotion!
All the above photos showing the last of our fall colors were taken with my iPhone. A nasty wind later in the week took away our fall colors.
Does anyone other than my Mom sleep on their back, all the time??? I, before this surgery, could not fall asleep on my back. In order to get any sleep I’ve had to learn to sleep on my back, it’s still too painful to prop my operative leg on a pillow and sleep on my side–I’m getting closer to being able to do just that but not yet. I can’t wait!!
And Hooty came back. I sat down on the recumbent bike Saturday afternoon, started pedaling, looked out the french doors and there he was! He stayed in that tree for a long time then moved to our deck and then out across the creek to another tree. He was still in that tree after dark.
Our first post-op days were rough and I say “our” because my Cowboy nurse was involved every step of the way. He’s been an absolute trooper! The pain was incredible–and as an operating room nurse I know exactly why I had such pain because I know exactly what they did to me in the OR. Physical therapy on Monday was just almost unbearable but it was the turning point–there was no sympathy coming from that therapist and she made my leg move, then made me move it. After the first physical therapy and another set of the same exercises at home Monday night the need for pain meds lessened. I could move about more easily, lifting my leg into the bed, etc.
A friend in Arizona had her knee replaced in early September. She called to commiserate with me about how horrible therapy was and said, “my therapist had me doing lunges the other day.” Oh! MY!! I said to my friend, “stop talking, stop talking!!” With as much pain as I was having at that point just getting in and out of bed I didn’t want to hear about lunges!!!
A couple funny stories and one not so funny from my day of surgery–
When any nurse knows she is caring for another nurse or doctor she wants to be on her toes. My orthopedic surgeon had put out the word that I was a retired operating room nurse. I have never been a hard stick for blood or IVs–it took those poor nurses FOUR tries to start my IV. That was the not so funny story–I was getting a bit agitated–and so were the nurses who couldn’t believe it took 4 times to start my IV.
Then the orthopedic surgeon comes in and asks me, “did you ever do any orthopedic surgery Janna?” I said, “not if I could help it!” He was kind of taken aback and I then said, “you guys have too many tinker toys–plates, screws, saws, hammers–too much stuff. Give a heart surgeon a pair of forceps, scissors and clamps and he’s happy.” The entire room burst out laughing.
On to the anesthesiologist who explains to me that they prefer to do these procedures under spinal anesthesia which means to me that you are partially awake. I freaked!! I reminded this dude that I was a retired operating room nurse and I did NOT want to hear or feel the pressure from any of those saws and hammers!! He told me the spinal and subsequent nerve block would help with my postoperative pain–it didn’t very much. He also told me he would give me happy medicine so I wouldn’t remember a thing and he was true to his word. I remember being rolled into the OR, seeing all the paraphernalia and being asked to sit on the side of the OR table for the spinal and that’s it. I remember nothing else until I was in recovery.
I had great care on the ortho floor of Billings Clinic. Our granddaughter Kristen works on this floor and was there when I woke up. She of course couldn’t be my nurse but it was good to have her present. Her Mom Shannen also dropped by that evening. The first few hours until the day nurse went off duty at 7pm were a touch rough–I think she was having trouble keeping up with her work load. My night nurse was amazing as was my Saturday morning nurse.
At home the days have blended. I spend time in the recliner looking out over our little creek to the beautiful golds of the lingering fall colors. I torture myself three times a day with the exercises that are going to get me out of this chair and on the road south. Friends have been awesome–Geoff, Nancy and Shirley brought soup, casserole, brownies, and these awesome seasoned oyster crackers. Sarge and Sarah drove over from Chico with chicken noodle soup and dessert. Max brought us a delicious quiche and an awesome lemon ricotta cake with homemade lemon curd. We are being well fed!
The second therapy session wasn’t as brutal. I even rode the recumbent bike for five minutes to warm up my knee. It’s amazing how much you can do so quickly post operatively with a knee replacement. The therapist was pleased with my progress as was I!
Fall is leaving us–insert sad face–and winter is coming–insert really sad face. I sure hope we can depart for warmer country before it gets too nasty around here! It started raining Friday evening and it’s still raining Saturday morning. This weather will take away our fall colors I’m sure.
I’ve read two books this week, knitted one hat and gotten a good start on a baby blanket. The two books were really good, Everything You Want Me To Be, by Mindy Meija and Silver Girl, by Elin Hilderbrand. Lots of time on my hands! I’ve been helping the Cowboy with some of the cooking–I do the prep work, he does the rest as I can’t stand for very long. Emmi has been missing our play sessions but once I ditched the walker and took up the cane we can now play ball. She has a ball with a strap attached and I can hook that strap with the cane, giving it a toss. Emmi was a happy girl!
As I’ve written before Emmi loves to bark at things that move, the lawnmower, the vacuum, my walker and now the cane! This is a really short clip of her attacking the cane, turn up your sound so you can hear her puppy bark.
My sweet niece, my only niece (except the greats) recently spent 10 days in Ireland with her husband celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary, (how could it be that long!!) On Friday I received a squishy mail package–yarn from Ireland!! Isn’t it beautiful!
Today brought snow flurries without any accumulation, wind and way chilly temps. Winter arrived.
The owl has been keeping us company sitting in nearby dead trees and even landing on the deck one late afternoon. We’ve been keeping a close eye on Emmi! My research tells me owls prefer smaller prey than Emmi but I don’t trust that research! Not when I’ve read so many stories about owls taking pets–cats and dogs. And yes, maybe the owl doesn’t quite make a getaway with the pet but the injuries sustained by the pet are sometimes fatal. So, we aren’t taking any chances!
Little Emmi had a vet appointment early this week–we love our first class veterinarians in this small community. We have five fulltime vets and one part time. They operate out of a tiny building–Emmi has been examined on the front office desk at times!
The Cowboy continues his work on the big project for our friend/neighbor. I finished the quilt for Jeane and have done some sewing of all things. I ordered some pants and ordered a “tall” as I am five feet, eight inches tall. Evidently that’s not considered tall as I can stand on the bottom of these pants. Luckily I know how to hem pants!
My favorite chair is a La-Z-Boy club type chair with ottoman that is 20 plus years old. The fabric is worn and the springs are kaput. If you are a long time follower of this blog you know we are fans of good used furniture. I was looking for something to replace that chair and there just aren’t enough people in Montana for there to be a good supply of nice used furniture. New furniture is ridiculously priced. So I decided to find someone to re-upholster my favorite chair and Monday evening we delivered the chair to the person who is going to do the work. I ordered a swatch of fabric for him to approve and now have ordered the fabric.
I want to toot my Mom’s horn. She is in her late 80’s, lives alone, still drives just a bit. Mom lives near my sister and brother so someone is always going and coming at her house. Her credit card expired and for whatever reason the new one didn’t arrive. Mom had called the issuing company twice and felt as if she had gotten nowhere. I became aware of the problem when I tried to order yarn for her using her credit card number and saw it was expired.
To make a long story shorter–the representative at the credit card company taught me something new–you can conference call on a cellphone!! Well, my sweet Mom was on the conference call with the company, the rep required us to repeat back to him a code he would text to Mom. Oh dear!! Mom followed my directions perfectly–put the rep and me on speaker, pushed her “home” button, retrieved the text and read it to the rep. Problem solved and she received her new card the very next day. Yarn ordered. Happy Mom! I find it amazing that she can navigate technology like that!!
And this happened this week–Friday I had my right knee replaced. The Cowboy is being a good nurse, friends and neighbors have stopped by with delicious food. This is the first major surgery I’ve ever had–and it’s a rude awakening! Physical therapy starts tomorrow–things may become even more rude!!!
Saturday we were finishing lunch when we noticed Emmi crossing the small front lawn heading to the deck and the french doors of the house. She comes to those glass doors and just sits there until one of us notices her–never barks, never whines, never jumps on the door–just expects us to see her and let her in. The Cowboy had finished eating and headed for the front door, opening it for the princess to enter–I swiveled my head around and immediately said, “look up, look up!!!!” He was talking to Emmi, looking down at her. This is what I wanted him to see–
The owl sat there for almost an hour, letting me open the front door to take photos, never acting as if he were about to depart. A magpie flew in and sat down beside the owl who swiveled his head, looking down on the magpie who took the hint and quickly departed. What an amazing treat!!
This photo was taken with my iPhone when the owl came back the second time.
It’s been a chilly, damp week in Montana with hard frosts. The dampness has given us some foggy days which make for good photos-
The Cowboy has been working on a big project for a friend/neighbor and of course we spent two days in Billings this week–it’s an absolute impossibility to arrange physician appointments on the same day. On Wednesday I went by myself as all the appointments were for me. The Cowboy never complains if I need to go in a store he no interest in entering but I always feel guilty leaving him sitting in the car. So it was a treat to go to the yarn store and spend all the time I wanted–I joined their knit along for October which happens to be a hat. By joining and purchasing your yarn in their store you get this adorable little mug and the chance to win other prizes.
I’ve been working on another quilt for my friend Jeane and cooking. Making meals for us and freezing a portion for later meals. Taking Emmi for one or two walks per day and exercising some. We purchased a stationary bike and a recumbent bike–used and cheap–just in case boredom sets in which I’m sure it will!
This afternoon Sarge and Sarah came for lunch bearing dessert and a caprese salad. I grilled a tri-tip and made Pioneer Woman’s smashed potatoes. We enjoyed a delightful meal and chatting the afternoon away out on the deck enjoying this gorgeous fall day. Sarah also brought gelato and apple dumplings that were divine–so good!
It’s the time of year when we start buttoning down for winter. Cleaning flower beds, blowing out the sprinkler system, removing anything from the RV that might freeze and winterizing the RV. Our weather has been spectacular–too warm and dry for this time of year but perfect Indian summer days.
Wednesday the Cowboy was still under the weather and we made an unexpected trip to Billings to see his family physician stopping in Big Timber for lunch with Jeane so I could deliver her quilt. She was thrilled with it as was I. We took the Emmi girl with us to Billings, not knowing how long we would be there I didn’t want to leave her alone for hours. We picked up our groceries at Walmart on the way into Billings, the Cowboy sat in the truck with Emmi while I did a bit of Costco shopping and we headed to the doctor’s office. New prescriptions and thus it was back to Costco where I was finally able to get my new glasses adjusted.
Costco sells eyeglasses for prices way below any private optician BUT it’s almost impossible to find the optical department not totally swamped with people. They have at least instituted one of those “take a number” things which has helped but when they are serving number 24 and you are number 34–not happening. We have so much to do when we are in Billings I seldom have time to wait an hour or more to have someone adjust my glasses. It was a pleasure to finally get to wear the new ones!
Something I forgot to say about Elk City, Idaho–it has a population of 116 and it most definitely is in the middle of nowhere! There is a school for kindergarten through eighth grade but Google tells me it’s currently closed, maybe that means there are no school aged children this year?? There is a health clinic in Elk City, ID. It’s nearest larger community 60 miles away is Grangeville, Idaho with a population of about 3000. At the other end of the Magruder Corridor is Darby, Montana, population 685. You would have to be a hardy soul to live in Elk City, Idaho! When we visited Elk City in 2016, the population was double what it is today and in 2012 the population was over 400.
These two photos are of our trip home from the Magruder after the rain.
We had an unexpected pleasure Thursday afternoon, The Cowboy’s daughter Shannen and granddaughter Kristen came for a visit from Billings. Kristen started working as a RN at Billings Clinic this summer and between that and barrel racing she is one busy young woman. We did nothing but sit and visit–very pleasant. Kristen is driving (or rather her Mom drove as Kristen had worked the night before and was needing a nap. :)) a brand new Subaru and is loving it. She’s only ever driven big trucks hauling horses in horse trailers around the country. She’s quite pleased with her new smaller rig!
AND–it’s raining as I typed this bit of blog early Friday morning and by Sunday evening when publishing this post we had almost 2 inches of rain in the gauge–so welcome!
I’ve jumped on the air fryer band wagon–a bit late–but Tony, our UPS driver brought a big box to our house on Thursday. I’ve used the air fryer to cook bacon, chicken parmesan, and meatballs. Easy, quick and everything we’ve sampled so far has been good!
Friday evening we traveled to Lonn’s for dinner with the family. Lonn cooked and oh my goodness was it delicious!! He roasted a beef tenderloin with a bread crumb crust that once served you could have cut with your fork. Shrimp marinated in a sweet sauce and grilled asparagus. We dined like kings! I provided the traditional chocolate cake. We celebrate a lot of birthdays in September in our family–little wild Millie turned five this week.
The Cowboy is feeling much better and has been out in the garage working on various projects–some for us, some for friends/neighbors. I’ve been quilting again–another one for Jeane–a vintage Dresden plate top.
A few photos from the walk Emmi and I took Sunday morning after the rain had slacked a bit–
As you can see, the mountains have snow instead of just rain.
Those of you who are Facebook friends have read this story but it’s funny enough to share again–Wednesday when we went to Billings we took the truck with the new flatbed, two coolers tucked up against the cab between the two toolboxes. I was driving when we exited Costco onto the cross street where a work truck had the far right lane blocked. A man was in a bucket lift changing a bulb in a street lamp. As I accelerated we heard an awful noise–my first thought was the man in the bucket lift was in trouble–but no, the Cowboy said, “our cooler!!!” I quickly pulled into the blocked lane, activated the flashers and backed up. The Cowboy jumped out as did I and we began gathering our groceries off the asphalt. We lost 9 eggs from a package of 24 and a container of yogurt exploded. The rest of the stuff in the cooler survived the fall–hamburger meat, grapes, etc. Those coolers rode all the way to Billings, we had been to other places, accelerated many times and the coolers stayed put. Why the one cooler decided to jump ship is anyone’s guess but the Cowboy has plans for keeping those coolers on the truck!
Sometime in 2015 I read an article in our local paper about a road which traveled between two wilderness areas—the 1.2 million acre Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness and the 2.3 million acre Frank Church River Of No Return Wilderness—the Magruder Corridor. The road was open only in summer, could be traversed in a high clearance vehicle and went from Darby, Montana to Elk City, Idaho.
In July, 2016 we along with friends Larry and Geri plus Elmer and Heneritta rode the portion of the Magruder from Elk City to about the halfway point. The road was closed past this point for a mud slide. Our plan was to then head to Darby, Montana and ride that half–Mother Nature intervened with a massive wildfire in Montana which closed that portion of the road for the year.
Four years later in September of 2020, Larry, Geri, and Lonn joined us to finally ride the Darby, Montana section of the road. Our Montana friends had heard us talk about the Magruder and a plan was hatched to ride the entire Magruder Corridor, 100 plus miles and spend the night in Elk City, Idaho at Red River Hot Springs Resort (pay attention to that word “resort!”–there is more to come!). Mother Nature once again intervened and the entire road was closed for a forest fire. We made other plans and were heading to the Jarbidge, Nevada area. Friday before we were to depart on Sunday, the Magruder opened again. I was getting dizzy!
The Margruder Corridor is named for Lloyd Magruder who in 1863 was using the trail to bring back gold dust earned from selling supplies to miners at Virginia City, Montana when four other travelers joined the Margruder party. These four travelers attacked and murdered the Margruder party fleeing to San Francisco with their stolen goods which included Margruder’s very recognizable horse. A friend of Margruder’s pursued the murderers to California, spotted the horse, arrested the party and brought them back to Lewiston, Idaho for trial and eventual hanging.
The road on the Montana side starts out as pavement of all things then gets much worse—the road becomes more narrow with multiple tight switchbacks, ascending and descending several times. Starting elevation is around 4000 feet with the road climbing to almost 8000 feet and descending to 4000 feet several times. There isn’t much traffic but when you come around a tight corner and end up face to face with a large dump truck it does make the heart beat faster!
Sunday we all gathered in Big Timber and headed out–with stops it took about seven hours for us to arrive at a boondocking spot we had used in the past near Darby, MT. The ATVs were unloaded, the dogs were released and we gathered for happy hour and dinner.
Monday dawned sunny and chilly. We got an early start as we had 100+ miles to ride and certainly didn’t want to be out after dark. Rest stops, lunch, more rest stops, a stop in Elk City for much needed gas and we rolled into Red River Hot Springs Resort just after 5pm.
We rode through a recently burned area and began seeing all these wrapped signs, outhouses and buildings. The historic ranger station bridge had sprinklers at either end.
We knew our accommodations would be nothing fancy–dry cabins–no electricity, no water. What we didn’t know was that they were very rustic, sparsely furnished, cold, dank cabins. In our cabin we heard mice all night, probably in the ceiling. The beds were awful, the linens terrible and it was so cold! We had a propane heater on the wall but it smelled so strongly of propane we elected to play it safe and turn it off for the night. Some of the cabins did not have a heater at all!!?? We thought we would start the heater in the morning to warm the cabin–not! The ignitor would not work, we needed matches or a striker neither of which was in the cabin. Using the word “resort” for that place is a stretch! The young couple who now own the Hot Springs has their work cut out for them–the place is in poor repair, there is no real restaurant, so much work needs to be done it’s mind boggling.
Happy hour when we arrived
We were served a mediocre supper and a good breakfast before starting the 100+ miles back to our RVs. Above I mentioned coming around a tight corner and being face to face with a dump truck. Well, we came up behind this dump truck who had a major problem. He had lost a tire a mile or so back behind us, we saw the tire by the road. When he turned this corner, his inside dual tire blew and the dump truck began to tip. He was a young guy but must have been driving truck a long time–he had the presence of mind to pull the lever to open the belly dump which stopped his tipping. But the road was blocked and help would be a long time coming.
The guys decided it might be possible to shore up the side of the road on the downhill side of the dump truck–enough to let us pass. I wasn’t too thrilled about the idea but it worked and the guy with the biggest rig–Greg–tried the new route first and off we went, back to the RVs.
The return trip in spite of the hour long delay seemed to go more quickly and we were back at the rigs before 5pm. Just in time for more food, conversation, laughter and dog loving. All the couples have at least one dog, Greg and Phyllis have two, one of which is a 10 month old lab named Toby who decided my lap was the place to be! I guess he thought if Emmi could do it, so could he! I laughed so hard as did everyone else!
Wednesday we took a shorter ride into the Painted Rocks State Park area and to a fire tower we had visited in 2020. The same guy was manning the tower, it was his 27th season of watching for fires in that tower.
All the above photos from the fire tower area were taken with my new iPhone–I am amazed at the photo quality from a phone camera!
The water level in the lake at Painted Rocks State Park is significantly low–maybe from irrigation, maybe from drought.
Wednesday night it rained and Thursday it rained all day. I love a rainy day in a RV–nothing to do, no chores on my mind, just a relaxing day. Ken and Lesley decided to head home a day early and Lonn also pulled out hoping to find better weather somewhere down the road.
Thursday evening when it came time for dinner it was still raining so we all gathered in our rig–it worked!
Friday it was time to pack up and head home–wet dogs, wet gear, messy rigs but we had a fabulous time and we can finally say we’ve ridden the Magruder Corridor in its entirety!
Phyllis took this photo–these are probably lightning strikes in the wilderness which the USFS is letting burn. Hopefully the rain put out these fire. The Magruder burns often–but we spotted a lot of new growth in the older burn areas.
Saturday was a catch up day–unload, laundry, etc. Sunday I finished a quilt for my friend Jeane and put some of the flower beds to rest for the winter. The Cowboy worked on some things in the RV that don’t work correctly–such as the electric jacks.