Tuesday night saw us in a RV park in Billings, MT–on purpose. Mother Nature is acting ugly in October after our awesome Indian summer! After 10 inches of snow then torrential rain on Monday night which caused the snow on our metal roof to slide with resulting big thumps scaring all three of us half to death–we now were expecting daytime highs of EIGHT degrees and night time lows in the minus numbers plus more snow! This is October Mother Nature–behave yourself!!!
Time to depart. Except, I had my last knee injection scheduled for Thursday along with a haircut. Phone calls went out on Monday and I was able to reschedule the knee thing for Wednesday. Haircut was a different matter but I got lucky–my hairdresser is super, super busy–schedule your next appointment when you leave or you won’t get the next appointment. I called bright and early Tuesday morning and hit the jackpot–she had a cancellation for Tuesday afternoon at 2:15.
Having to be in Billings (2 hours away) by 2:15 stressed our capabilities to the max! I was dumping stuff on the bed thinking to sort it out once we were settled for the night. Closing up the house, empty the dishwasher, get rid of the garbage. We were heading down the driveway by 11:45am–exhausted! My Cowboy drove that motorhome through multiple roundabouts in Billings like a pro and delivered me 15 minutes early for my hair appointment.
We are spending the night in our only second ever KOA campground. Winter rates in Billings are much more tolerable than summer–$49/night. In summer it is $80+/night. Lots of people living in RVs this time of year–do they know what winter is like in Montana???
My last knee injection was at 10:00am today and we were off. To beat this winter storm we are traveling the interstate this time. We will be just ahead of the storm hopefully and by Thursday afternoon we will be in southern Colorado with daytime highs in the low 70’s and temps at night in the upper 20’s. We usually boondook but at these temps we are finding RV parks. Tonight we are in Wheatland, WY at Mountain View–a parking lot with hookups and great staff!
Casper, Wyoming is notorious for wind, major wind and today was no exception. The Cowboy handled this old coach with ease and we traveled with no issues Larry! Our phone rang Tuesday as we were arriving in Billings and it was Larry–the guy who sold us this coach asking if that was us he just passed in Billings–yep–can’t get away with anything in Montana!
I promise to do better with the photos in the next blog.
My first few years in Montana, I loved winter. I loved hibernating in the house with no yard to mow or weeds to spray, sitting in front of a warm fire reading a good book. Cooking soups, breads and desserts. The Cowboy’s excavating work slowed in winter and most of our “work” involved feeding the cows every day. Then calving would start–and I must admit–that wasn’t so fun!
Spring was a long, long time coming in Montana. I would be traveling for work, flying off to destinations in the south where the trees had leaves, the grass was green and the daffodils were in full bloom. Then–I would fly back into Billings, Montana in a blizzard. Leaves, green grass and daffodils weren’t happening in the frozen north for months.
So the years went on and we started going to Arizona in January of 2003. And now, I don’t like winter, at all!! And it’s winter in Montana and we are still in Montana this year–dang, gimpy knee!!! Saturday our high temperature was 35 degrees and snow drifted down all day.
Thursday we took a trip to Billings–I had another knee injection and we bought a few groceries. We ordered takeout from one of our favorite restaurants–CJ’s–and ate sitting in the car–not an ideal situation but it’s winter in Montana and sitting outside is no longer an option.
Friday was our 26th wedding anniversary. No celebrating in this Covid mess. I made cheese enchiladas for lunch–that was our celebration. Made me sad.
I get so excited when I master a new knitting technique. In an email from BHookedCrochet.com there was a free pattern to make these:
I ordered the yarn the pattern specified–cheap, nasty stuff and started a pumpkin on Friday without success–ripped it out three or four times. I emailed my friend Judy from the Patchwork Times who while in the midst of a move from Texas to Missouri always returns my emails promptly. Judy is a knitter extraordinaire! Saturday she told me to use the magic loop method–oh dear, something new to learn! YouTube to the rescue and by evening I had the beginnings of a pumpkin. Can’t say I’m sold on the magic loop method but it keeps one from having to buy a whole set of shorty knitting needles. This pumpkin is a fiddly process and I don’t like fiddly.
Writing the above paragraph I thought of another knitter extraordinaire we had the privilege of knowing. One of Nat’s caregivers, a kind, super caring young woman–Sandy–was working on becoming a Master Knitter. Her knitting was simply stunning. Sandy was one of the supervisors for the home health agency we used and I never called her for extra help that she didn’t provide that help. We loved her. At the age of 55, Sandy lost her life to a brain aneurysm.
Sunday was more of the same–snow, not even 30 degrees. Even Emmi has no interest in being outside. We shoveled snow so I could fill the bird feeders and so we could get to the motorhome. When the snow stops the Cowboy will attach the snow blade to the skidsteer and plow the driveway.
Are we living a new normal? Is this what our lives will be now? Check out our friend Nina’s blog, Life Within, and Building Anew–Nina is a fabulous writer and now lives with her husband and father in France.
I sincerely don’t think I’ve ever experienced wind such as we’ve had in our neck of the woods this past three to four days. On Tuesday night it was as if we were in a hurricane–literally! If we didn’t live in a log home the walls would be shaking!! It’s been cold with a nasty spitting rain. It’s dangerous to take a 10 pound dog out for a walk in this wind–she could end up who knows where as the wind swirls changing direction at whim.😁
Monday I used the new Cricut to make some labels for some of the Beaver control switches. This new Cricut and I have a love/hate relationship–it’s a learning curve for this brain! Twenty years ago when this Beaver was manufactured I’m sure engineers sat around a table and decided to hide the switches for the lights, generator, water pump, etc. under a cabinet–yes, under a cabinet over the dining room table! I’m sure those engineers thought, “that will drive someone crazy!” On the front of the cabinets above the dining room table is the monitor panel for the batteries, tank levels, etc. There is plenty of space above that panel for the other switches to have been located in plain sight–but oh, no, those engineers had to hide the switches and make you crane your neck to see which one you need. So I made labels to help us learn by feel exactly where the right switch is located.
In the bedroom of this coach the same engineers placed the light switch down low under the edge of a tiny little vanity located in the corner. Not on the perfectly good wall to the right as you enter the bedroom! GRRRRR!!
And speaking of motorhome, my handy husband, bless his heart, just spent two days on his knees (not praying) working on the hot water heating system. Our temps are much cooler and the Cowboy fired up the heating system to make sure nothing freezes in the motorhome–the system wouldn’t stay running. We used the heat on our trip to the Bitterroot Mountains ATVing with Larry and Geri–it worked then. Not this time and I’m so, so glad we tried it now, not in the cold, dark morning of our departure! The Cowboy would NOT have been happy! Parts are ordered, the repair is ongoing.
Emmi was not a happy girl on Tuesday–bath and a trim. Today she went to the veterinarian and she wasn’t a happy girl again–two days in a row–she will need extra treats to recover!!
Less than a week ago the Cowboy was reading an article about potential shortages as this virus event drags on and on. I don’t remember what exactly was going to be in short supply other than flour until he landed on the word, “YARN!” Guess we know where my priorities are right now! I immediately found my computer and logged onto a website, MissBabs.com. I’ve had such poor experiences with big websites such as KnitPicks and WEBS.com–they ship their yarn via pony express I swear! And when you call their customer service lines they act offended that you would dare complain.
Not so with Miss Babs! I ordered on Thursday of last week and if not for Monday being a holiday, I would have received the yarn on Monday. The yarn in itself is amazing–huge balls of luscious, soft, squishy yarn in a gorgeous deep garnet red. It’s for a sweater (my first) and I was going with a basic neutral grey. The Cowboy picked the red color and now I’m glad I let him! The yarn came packaged in tissue paper complete with a thank you note, three little complimentary stitch markers and a strand of yarn to try. You can actually email a person at Miss Babs and get a quick reply. I’m in love!
Photo doesn’t show the luscious deep red color!
The wind actually stopped just after 4pm and it snowed briefly. We bundled up and hurried to take Emmi for a walk and almost managed to get back to the house before the wind started blowing again followed by snow pellets.
And—we voted today. Our ballots came in the mail, we filled in the dots and I delivered them to the ballot box sitting outside our clerk and recorders office.
The first injection of the rooster comb stuff is done, two more to go over the course of two weeks. I’m not crowing, yet!😆It’s nice to be able to obtain medical services in Columbus instead of driving all the way to Billings–it’s about half the distance. The orthopedic group I’m using has a clinic most Thursdays in Columbus. An added bonus is the grocery store–an IGA–open, bright, clean and very well stocked with friendly employees.
Friday was another beautiful day–with smoke, lots of smoke. Couldn’t smell the smoke but the mountains were obscured for most of the day. On Sunday we enter a different weather pattern with several days of possible rain.
My morning was spent putting the backyard flower bed down for the winter. And I selectively pruned the huge spruce tree in front of the house–it’s lower branches were taking over the flower bed and the smaller spruce tree. The Cowboy completed an irrigation project.
In Montana we receive only 15 inches of moisture per year if that. Not enough to make hay crops without irrigation. Much of the farm land in Montana has “water rights.” These water rights were established by the early pioneers in the late 1800’s. Earlier water rights have priority over water usage each spring. The water is taken from Montana’s rivers and creeks and diverted into a series of ditches running to each property. Ranchers and farmers in times past used flood irrigation techniques. Today’s center pivots are said to be a better conservation tool for water usage. Other irrigation techniques include using irrigation perforated pipe, wheel line irrigators and other methods.
On our small ranch we use flood irrigation from a large ditch out of a nearby creek. Our ditch was built by two men using horses and a fresno scoop–three MILES of ditch!!
The Cowboy’s project on Friday was to build and install a new head gate at the point in the ditch where the water is either sent into the irrigation ditch on our ranch or allowed to flow down the creek beside our house. I forgot to take a photo of the one he built using an old culvert and salvaged steel but here’s a photo giving you the general idea.
The Cowboy felt as if the old head gate and culvert were leaking allowing precious water to flow on down the creek when he was trying to irrigate. So–he built a new head gate, dug up the old one and installed the new allowing it to settle in over the winter.
Saturday was a windy, warm fall day with the wind taking away much of our fall color. By early next week I am betting our trees will have lost their colorful foliage and winter will be just around the corner.
Sunday’s weather change arrived early–Saturday evening the wind gusts were awful and about 9:30pm we lost power–rare for us. And it rained, not much but it rained finally! Some time in the night our power came back on–now to reset all the clocks. Sunday was miserable with rain/snow/wind and very chilly temps.
My last finished quilt project is off the longarm. The longarm has been put to bed for the winter and the sewing machine cleaned and oiled. Very little sewing stuff is going to Arizona with me this year. I have a sewing machine there and I’m taking things to make masks if need be. Lots of yarn is going with us.😍
Until December our family birthdays are celebrated. On Tuesday we celebrated the Cowboy’s birthday with an evening party and chocolate pie–instead of cake. He had a good day–a little puttering, a little napping and an evening with family–a good day. The grands and greats brought Grandpa a fabulous birthday present–he loved it!–
We are having one beautiful Indian summer–the leaf color brightens and changes by the hour it seems. Our days are warm, nights are cool. All that may change over the weekend but for now we will take it.
The Cowboy cut several downed aspen trees into firewood on Wednesday. Emmi was to have had a vet appointment but they called just as we were walking out the door–an emergency surgery gave Emmi a reprieve. After making the Cowboy lunch from last night’s leftovers, I headed to town for coffee with Jeane and Jill–on the patio of Thistle Creek. We are all caught up on the “news.”
Back home I found the Cowboy puttering with the motorhome and when I attempted to extend the bedroom slide, I found something else for his puttering pleasure–the slide wouldn’t extend. He was thrilled.🤣
I have the best family. My Mom lives in her own home but she couldn’t do that if it weren’t for our family. My sister Ann and husband Danny, my brother Ross and wife Vicky, and my niece Niki and her family. They all make sure Mom gets to places she wants to go, they take her to doctor appointments and church. And they feed her–someone is always at Mom’s house making dinner–it was Vicky tonight. Other nights/days Mom goes to their houses. I have the best family–I love and appreciate them so much!
Wednesday Ken and Lesley dropped by bearing a gift–I fed their kitties for them while they were away on an ATV trip into Utah. This is a John Worth pottery piece–I have quite a collection of John Worth pottery and I love his stuff–John is also a friend and neighbor. Thank you so much Lesley!
I’ve used WordPress for three years and not once have I had any glitches, issues, problems–nothing! Until today! The site keeps switching me to “block editor” instead of the “classic editor” I’ve used since day one. What’s up with that WordPress???
Thursday was another one of those busy days putting on the miles. Our first stop was in Columbus, Montana where the physician’s assistant for the orthopedic surgeon I saw holds a clinic at the local hospital. I had additional knee x-rays and then a blunt conversation with the PA. Seems the orthopedic surgeon I saw last September might have missed something as he told me my knee looked “great, no arthritis!” Not only do I have arthritis but I have significant arthritis and am not too far from having to have a total knee replacement!! YIKES!! When a person has an injury and arthritis, arthroscopic surgery won’t help. I’m not quite to the bone on bone stage but close. So, we are trying conservative measures–the knee was injected with cortisone on Thursday. If that doesn’t work we will try a three part injection series of a gel substance made from the combs of roosters of all things! Geez, I turn 65, start Medicare and fall apart!!
We enjoyed the best lunch at a new to us restaurant–the Windmill. They have a beautiful outdoor patio behind the restaurant situated on the edge of a large pond surrounded by cottonwood trees. They allow pets on the patio, our food was good and the service outstanding!
Late in the afternoon I saw a new internist. He spent one whole hour with me, taking my history and doing an exam. The most thorough doctor’s visit I’ve had, ever! Impressive!
Friday was a warm, breezy day in Montana with some smoke appearing from the west–had hoped we were finished with that stuff! The Cowboy finished his Geoff and Nancy project and I spent part of the day loading things into the motorhome.
Saturday we took a short road trip with friends Sarge and Sarah. There is a small ranching community north of Big Timber called Melville. The building which sits by the highway has always been a restaurant and served as the local post office for so many years. The post office is now gone and three young women have opened a new restaurant in the building–Cafe 191. We were able to sit on the porch, the food was good, the company delightful.
Sunday we spent the afternoon at Geoff and Nancy’s in the company of good friends. They have a lovely home with an awesome deck on the edge of the river. We ate good food, drank great wine and enjoyed the company of good people.
Life is good!
Here are some photos of our latest projects–
The Cowboy cut these from steel for Geoff and Nancy–there are five of them but these two are probably my favorites.
And I gifted this scarf to Sarah on Saturday so I can now post a photo–I finished this piece about three weeks ago but Sarah was in Wisconsin at the time.
We can’t eat any more birthday cake! Our family has so many September birthdays–six to be exact–and we can’t eat another birthday cake! Tuesday night we celebrated the third birthday of our glorious great granddaughter Millie Bliss with one of those amazing chocolate cakes made by Mimi. Lonn grilled the best beef, chicken and shrimp kabobs–it was a fantastic dinner and we had so much fun. Our great grandchildren are one of life’s greatest joys!
Wednesday after lunch we took a hike–bet you are having a hard time believing that one! In 2000 the Cowboy’s mother died after a long, long battle with cancer. At the time we had a USFS cattle grazing permit near our ranch and from horseback we spread Joy’s ashes at a spot which overlooked the Boulder River valley where the family ranched. We no longer have horses so we took the CanAm up through our friend’s property as far as we could go and hiked down the trail to spread Nat’s ashes near Joy’s. In spite of the ups and downs of almost two miles we both did quite well. The four legged critter with us did very well!
It was disheartening to see the land not being used–it’s overgrown and there is so much downed timber. The trail is disappearing into the forest.
Thursday it’s back to Billings with a stop in Columbus for another knee x-ray and an appointment with the orthopedic surgeon’s physician’s assistant.
Beautiful day for a ride–cold mornings and perfect afternoon temps–Indian summer.
Thursday was spent doing I don’t remember what but I’m sure we were productive! I have been going to our friend’s house every morning to feed the kitties–they are elusive kitties–one day I might see one kitty, sometimes two but never the third. Saturday morning all three showed their faces. I enjoy the drive up there, takes me about 10 minutes to get to their house and it’s a beautiful drive early in the morning.
Friday morning after feeding the kitties I headed to Billings. It was time for my long awaited appointment with the orthopedic surgeon, a haircut and I had a Costco list a mile long. I walked in the doors of Costco just as they opened and it was a zoo!–people everywhere! I make my list in order of where I know things are usually located in the store and zipped my masked self right through all those people and was out the door with a cart full of stuff!
Costco was surprisingly well stocked Friday. I watched a woman with the help of one of the meat department employees load her cart with probably 25+ packages of hamburger meat. For you non Costco shoppers that’s about 150 pounds of hamburger meat!!! I saw her later in the store and asked her what she was going to do with all that meat–she owns a food truck and has three big contracts coming up in the next three weeks. Costco had paper goods, flour, yeast, canned tomatoes, vanilla–all things that in the past months have been in short supply.
After lunch I headed to Billings Clinic Ortho and Sports Medicine Clinic. It’s a HUGE practice with probably at least 10 physicians. Their large waiting room was empty–just one other guy and me. They ask that you not arrive until your appointment time. I liked Dr. Fischer and he didn’t waste time!–asked me if I could stick around for a MRI if he could arrange it and he did. My first MRI–geez that machine is noisy!! The folks at Billings Clinic couldn’t have been more helpful and organized–I was impressed. MRI finished, I pointed the car toward home arriving about 7pm–long day. Dr. Fischer is to call me on Monday with the results of the MRI.
Saturday the wind howled, we had a little rain and it was dang chilly! Here’s a photo I borrowed from a news site–these were the conditions on top of the Beartooth Mountains on Saturday!
The Cowboy has a project in the works for friends Geoff and Nancy. I played with the new Cricut machine Saturday afternoon–it’s a much more sophisticated machine than my original Cricut and is operated using your computer or tablet. So–there is a learning curve! I did manage to finish a glass etching project I had started. We walked the dog–she almost needed an anchor it was so windy!
My new toy–turning skeins of yarn into balls of yarn. Who does that old lady looking hand belong to???
We received enough rain to settle the dust, the mountains all around us were brilliant white with snow.
Our fall colors are appearing fast and furious now–I love this time of year!
Monday I was ambitious and after lunch tackled the front yard putting the flower beds to rest for the winter. It was a gloriously beautiful day–warm breezes, abundant sunshine and perfect temps. Lonn came and went all day hauling away our hay which he purchases for the ranch he manages. The Cowboy worked on Geoff projects and irrigated.
I’m cat sitting again and was out and about early Tuesday morning getting caught in a traffic jam on the way back from our friend’s home–a large flock of huge turkeys right in the middle of the road! I was out and about early because the three of us were off to Billings. Knowing it would be a really long day Emmi went along–I just can’t leave her alone for that many hours.
At the primary care physician’s office the Cowboy received a good report and his flu vaccine. He then came back out to the car to sit with Emmi so I could go in and get my flu vaccine. If you plan on getting a flu vaccine now is the time–the nurse told me their last shipment was half of what they usually receive.
Next stop was the dermatologist. The Cowboy inherited his father’s skin. I lost count of the number of MOHS procedures Nat had. I’m thinking the Cowboy is trying to keep up with his father–Tuesday he had a MOHS procedure on the side of his neck. All is well.
Our grocery pickup order at Walmart looked as if we were feeding a family of six instead of just two–I haven’t been to the grocery store in a while!
Wednesday we both turned in circles all day it seemed. I did manage to bathe Emmi and run some loads of laundry. In the evening our friend Joe came for dinner–he and his wife Tammy purchased our ranch in 2005 and live in the house where the Cowboy and I started our lives together. Joe has been working from home since Covid started and can work in Montana just as easily as he can work at their year round home in Colorado. We enjoyed a special evening on our patio until the chill of the evening drove us all back into our houses. We haven’t seen much of Joe and Tammy this summer due to Covid and it was fun to catch up on all their news.
Why do I write a blog–I admit it’s nice to have people comment–a high school classmate Karen, left this comment on Facebook–You each always amaze me with your versatility, and live an incredible life. Another interesting read. Living our day to day life especially in these times I wouldn’t say it’s “incredible” but it’s certainly good Karen–thank you! It’s fun to look at our statistics–and shake our heads at the number of blog views we have, people reading about our lives.
But the most important reason I continue to write a blog–it’s an argument ending tool. I’ve written a blog since 2008 and when an issue arises about who, what, when and where, I can search the blog and find the answer. That searching opens another can of worms–I can waste hours reading and reminiscing about our travels and lives and looking at photos. Or I can look back and see how many RVs we’ve owned since selling our beloved Country Coach motorhome.😏😏
We’ve owned six other RVs–toy haulers (ugh), single axle camp trailer (big mistake), truck campers (ugh), and two motorhomes. With these six different RVs we are money to the good.
The Cowboy missed the power and the weight hauling capacity we had with the Country Coach, I missed the room, the refrigerator (way bigger than any refrigerator in any other RV we’ve owned) and the stability. We really wanted another Country Coach and we really wanted shorter than 40 feet but it wasn’t to be.
We were both so over driving long distances to look at so called “immaculate” RVs only to find trashy RVs and vowed not to travel any farther than 100 miles from home–that would be Billings or Bozeman. One morning back in early August when I got up the Cowboy said, “get on Craigslist and look at this Beaver motorhome.” I did, we made arrangements to look at the motorhome in Billings. We purchased it on August 7th from a lovely couple–retired police officers from Ohio who moved to Montana after retiring.
The coach is a 2000 Beaver Marquis. A top of the line motorhome which in 2000 sold for over $400,000–can you imagine!!! It’s twenty years old (depreciated waaaaay below it’s original value) and had a few issues–cracked tiles and soft sub flooring in the bathroom and a diesel leak which we didn’t discover until taking it on its maiden voyage. The outside paint job is beautiful. The inside is in good condition–better than most we’ve seen.
We would not expect most of our readers to pick up on the various hints we wrote since purchasing the coach in early August–tile floors don’t usually happen except in high end motorhomes, not very many small motorhomes are fueled with diesel and I’m not sure there is a small motorhome out there with a diesel hot water heating system. Until last Wednesday’s blog post not one person picked up on these clues–we certainly thought our Canadian friend John, or friends John and Pam or Sue, or Al might have noticed–nope.😁 In Wednesday’s blog I even had one photo taken through the windshield with the Beaver emblem visible.
Our friend Phyllis–we ATV with she and her husband Greg–left this comment on Facebook, “Did you get a different motor home?? I thought on our trip last year, you had a V10???” When we headed south in late September last fall everyone but us was driving a newer diesel pickup. We were in the Winnebago Aspect with its V10 gas engine. The Cowboy took a lot of ribbing about “can you keep up?” And Phyllis noticed we were now driving a diesel. I told her that if there had been a prize she would have won!😆
We are very happy with the way the motorhome performed on its maiden voyage to the Bitterroot National Forest. In our last post I mentioned that the entire slide gasket was gone leaving the coach open to cold air and critters. Today the new gasket is in place–Ebay and a handy husband to the rescue. There are things we will change–one of Beaver’s not so smart ideas were those curtains–Roman shades that open and close with the push of the button–great idea but how do you clean the things??? I untied the FOUR cords for EACH curtain, hung them over the deck rail and scrubbed. You can’t put the curtains in a washing machine as there are metal rods sewn into each of the folds. Brilliant idea–NOT! I then re-tied each of those fiddly cords and re-hung the curtains. The curtains also hang too low blocking too much of the view. A new couch is probably in order at a later date.
Thursday we took dinner to Lonn’s to celebrate Katie and Mike’s birthdays and Friday we attended an outdoor 60th wedding anniversary celebration of friends and neighbors, Judy and Lyn. A fun gathering with good food!
And that’s what we’ve been doing this past week. The upcoming week will be a busy one–two trips to Billings and three doctor’s appointments–nothing serious.
Saturday the wind blew and it rained a couple drops. Today we can see the blue sky, feel the sunshine when it comes out from behind the clouds and see our mountains–it’s wonderful!