Our Lady of the Blue Highways

Our Lady of the Blue Highways
Portrait in oils by Jackie Poutasse

Saturday, December 29, 2012


And down, and down  and down.

There were only two days while I was in Chico that it did not rain – and for those two days, we drove up to Lake Almador where Carol and Ken have a second home.   It was a lovely drive -  The recent storms had done their work, though -   as we wound our way through the mountains along the “lovely little stream”   which  was now angrily tearing away at it’s banks and bordering  trees and shrubs, a chastened sun tried unsuccessfully to warm the day.  

                                          Mt. Lassen
The next morning, we took a trip around the lake – it was a beautiful drive – the sky was blue with large white clouds hanging around the mountain tops.   The lake was calm and reflected the sky’s brilliance.     Carol and Ken do a lot of hiking and kayaking in and around the lake.     Their vacation home is located in the little town of Chester, CA -   It reminds me a lot of Lincoln, MT -   small town, in the pine woods, with a single main road – Chester is bigger and has more businesses than Lincoln, though.

                                                                                               Lake Almador

We returned to Chico after two days of clear weather, only to have it start raining again the next morning.  

Carol and Ken have a big Black and white cat named Max.   When we first arrived, he took one look at Tucker and ran and hid under the bed.   But slowly, at Tucker’s insistence, he lost some of his shyness and in a very few days the two of them were chasing each other all around the house.  Max loved to jump up on a dining chair, and lay in wait, reaching his paws through the back of the chair to swat Tucker as he came by.  By the time we left they were very good friends.


While in Chico, I had dinner with a friend I met on the walking trails of Bidwell Park when I was last in Chico, two years ago.   It was a very nice evening, even though I got lost on the way  ( was careful to pay attention to streets and avenues, but neglected the easts and wests)  We talked about the possibility of doing some camping the next time I come through  - in about 2 years.

 Early the next morning, with a weather forecast of sunny and fair, I headed down the road toward Victorville, CA    Because the roads were still wet, I decided to take Highway 5 – more direct, and possibly less travelled.   Well, let me tell you -   B-O-R-I-N-G!!!!!   There is nothing on Hwy 5 from Chico to Bakersfield .   Every so often there was a rest area, and every so often there was a service area offering fuel and food -  Taco Bell, Burger King or McDonalds that was it .   The road just went on and on and on forever.  The traffic was relatively light – a lot of trucks, but evenly spaced and since they had to travel at a lower speed than I did – no problem in moving along.

Shortly after leaving Bakersfield behind, it was full dark, and I entered the Tehatchapi mountains and…… FOG.   Carol and I had talked about fog and how it is best to just pull off the road, so I did.   I sat for awhile  watching the traffic – and it seemed no one was slowing down.   I thought maybe this was just a light patchy fog and decided to give it another chance.   I entered the highway just behind a big truck – travelling 35 mph.  It was perfect – I followed that truck all lit up like a Christmas tree for 70 miles – until we were well clear of the fog, and I was almost at my turn off for Victorville.   I felt so blessed, so protected!   

 The next morning, we awoke to a bright southern California day – lazy, hazy blue skies – warm – the first time I’d left a building in short sleeves since August.   I met Corliss at the Hobby Lobby store, picked up a couple pieces of fabric, made a couple other stops, then we had supper.  Afterward, we drove to her sister’s home and visited for a couple hours.  Corliss was my supervisor when I worked at the JoAnn’s store in Chesapeake, Va and she is my dear friend.

I think I should rename Tucker – Houdini!   It appears I’ll not find a harness that he can’t get out of.  One that I made stays on pretty good, but until I come to a stop someplace where I can set up my sewing machine,  I can’t make more.   While in Victorville, between one stoplight and the next he slipped out of his harness and came bouncing over to my lap.

In the morning, Tucker and I checked out of the motel and turned our headlights toward Phoenix.  We left about 6:30 a.m. for the 350 mile drive.   We came down from the high desert just out of Victorville – what a rollercoaster ride – dropping over 1000 ft in altitude in a very short time.   We eased through San Bernardino, and headed East.

We had a very pleasant, uneventful journey.  Once again, I was fascinated by the huge wind farm near Palm Springs - I  looked it up once – I seem to remember there are about 4000 turbines in that valley. 

 From mountains, through deserts, more mountains, down valleys, and up on high desert plateaus,  through rain, sleet, snow and hail,  it’s been quite a journey so far.  

We arrived in Sun City about lunch time.   The weather was exceedingly pleasant – in the mid 70’s.


   Tui gets a bath

Tucker immediately made friends with Tui and Christi, the Shih tzus.  Tui at 15 was not interested in the antics of that young whippersnapper, but Christi  and Tucker were  soon chasing each other all over the house.   Sadly, Tui left this world about a week after we arrived.  Christi was was devastated and went into deep mourning.  Tucker started biting her front paws to try to get her to play with no success.   (He also started attacking my bare toes)  Tucker tried his best to cheer her up, then gave it up and just stayed as close to her as he could.  Today, more than a week after Tui’s passing it appears Christi is finally showing an interest in what is going on around her.   She was whining at our door this morning, wanting Tucker to come out to play.  It takes time.


 I found a candy supply store – semi-locally  (about 30 miles away) and managed to make up some chocolates for my hosts.   And a few extras, too – as usual.   Luckily, I am immune to my chocolates…….. I reach for the Hershey’s Kisses instead.  I tried a couple new things this year – first, I made my own fondant for the centers –first time – it was a rousing success!  Second time, it seemed to be going ok – I took the syrup off at 238 degrees and poured it into the food container and poured it into the food processor container.  Then I washed the thermometer and placed it into the syrup – Wow, it somehow had shot up to 293 degrees – it took a day and a half to get it all melted and out of the container.   The second “first” was the caramels – first time I have ever made them – they are delicious


Yesterday was Kathy’s (Kit’s Mom) 88th birthday, and we celebrated with an ice cream cake.  Kathy was born and grew up in Australia.  She came to the US when Kit was a baby.


(OK, I double clicked it, and I don't know the secret to deleting the duplicate)
Wishing you all a very Merry Arizona Christmas!!!!


Until next time
Bear Hugs
Luv n’ Boots and Tucker, Too.
Little Bear is still with us.

She believed she could do it and so she did!






Friday, November 30, 2012


The trip to Chico was uneventful, once I got the fuel filter replaced.

I made it as far as Twin Falls, ID the first day.  I could have gone farther, but the next stop would have been 140 miles  down the road, and I figured that was just too far.   I’m very happy I stopped when I did.  

We stayed at a pet friendly motel.   While walking Tucker around the perimeter of the parking lot, I noticed a pit bull in the neighboring yard just about the same time Tucker saw him and he saw Tucker – That dog charged the fence, putting his considerable weight behind the leap.  Tucker who had been barking at the interloper, switched ends and ran between my feet and scrabbled to climb my legs – he’d had enough of sociability.

This was the first time Tucker had stayed in a motel -  and every time the dog across the parking lot barked it set Tucker off – and every time a car door shut, and so on and so on.   Finally in a state of half-sleep – about midnite – I captured Tucker and held on to him for dear life to keep him quiet so I could get some sleep as well as everyone else in the adjoining rooms.   Luckily no one complained – so maybe we didn’t disturb anyone else after all.

We left Twin Falls at about 6:30 a.m. -  and thought we were lost for a while as I drove down this very dark and lonely road, headed for Wells Nevada.  As the sun came up, the road continued to be lonely, but the sunrise was beautiful, and on one particular hill, the sun brought out the bright read of the clay – by the time I got to a turn off – the light had changed, but at least I had seen it.

Shortly after leaving Twin Falls, we were driving on sage brush flats -   but at considerable altitude – rising and descending between 5000 – 6400’    (I love the altimeter on the GPS)

As we were approaching Jackpot, NV I wondered how it had been affected by the legalized gambling in Montana.   I know a lot of Montanans would drive down for a weekend of gambling.  My memory of Jackpot is of bright lights and gaiety.   Not so much anymore.

South of Jackpot, we descended through a red rock canyon, and a little further I could see fog off to the east – then noticed the sagebrush – it was touched with frost which the early morning sunlight turned to diamonds sparkling on each branch – breath taking!

At one point and for more than 20 miles, I pulled the “caboose” end of a caravan consisting of a RV towing a car, followed by three vehicles, all with trailers, then me.   It was rather slow going – but finally we were able to get around – about 20 miles from Hwy 80.

Once on the highway – we cruised right along -  I passed the California Trail Interpretive Center, but I was early and it wasn’t open yet -  I would have liked to stop there.   I was driving  along the Humbolt River bed – or at least the wide, wide level area between the mountains – and imagining what it must have been like for the pioneer families who passed this way 150 years ago.  I had been over this road once before – about 1970.  I hadn’t remembered it.   Too many

Western movies in between -   I don’t see how anybody in that vast flatland could sneak up on a wagon train.   

We got to Reno about 3 in the afternoon, so I decided to push on the last 160 miles to Chico.  I took a “short-cut” through the mountains.   It was a beautiful ride.    At one point, I saw we were going to drive through some wispy fog.   After entering the fog, I wondered…… Opened the window, and nope, not fig – smoke!   I looked up and the smoke at the top of the mountain was blazing red, and smoke was extremely strong smelling.  Nobody else driving along the road seemed at all concerned, so I just kept peddling along.

I had to stop a couple places to take photos.   One of the Feather River with Fall Foliage – beautiful -  just barely past it’s peak of color.   The other photo was of two iron bridges – at angles to each other – one for the road, one for the railroad – very interesting!

Within about 5 minutes of taking the photos, it was dark – and I still  had 40 miles of twisting, turning mountain road to get through before I arrived in Chico   It was not very much fun in the dark, but obviously  we made it ok.  

 The next day, it started raining, and it rained, and it rained, and it’s suppose to rain for the next 3 days at least.   We did get a break one morning, and Tucker and I walked over to the park and along the trail a ways.  Brings back memories of my last visit. 

I took Tucker out to attend to business, he walked to the end of the lead and kept right on walking.   That did it!   First stop – PetCo where I got a good, well fitting harness which he cannot get out of – cause the snaps and fasteners are up on his back.   I feel safer for him at any rate.

 Once this storm ends, we’ll be going to Lake Almador where Carol and Ken are remodeling a second home.  

I can’t get connected to Carol’s internet server, so we’re headed to the library today so I can post this and check my e-mails.

 Until next time,
Bear Hugs

Luv ‘n Boots and Tucker, Too
And Don’t forget Little Bear

She believed she could do it, and so she did!







Monday, November 26, 2012


It’s time for me to get on the road again.   I’m leaving this morning for Chico, CA.
The time spent here in Montana and with Diane has been a very healing time.   I
Think I am totally de-stressed!  

I’ve written a lot about the big skies of Montana – every time we drove into Great Falls,
I was awed by the vista.   Now that the fires are all out, and the smoke has left the area, we can see beyond the 90 miles to the cabin,  - northward for miles along the Rocky Mountain front.
It’s hard to believe you can see so far!

We enjoyed a deliciously wonderful Thanksgiving with Diane’s son and his family – unfortunately her daughter and other son were unable to join us.   It was a very cold
Day – 23 degrees on the thermometer, but the wind chill brought it down quite a bit.

I had most everything packed by Tuesday, and still had Friday to finish up – I had to get a new tail light cover -  I asked Mark if he could help me put it on -   it obviously just “clicks” in place – but we couldn’t get the old one off – so instead of waiting til Saturday to get my oil change,

I made a trip into town on Friday to get the tail light cover put on, oil change, gas up and stop at a grocery store – got to pick up some Cream of the West, and hopefully some Gold Leaf iced tea –

Then it was back to Diane’s to do laundry, put everything else I can into the truck, and enjoy left over turkey sandwiches!!!

 Diane did her Christmas decorating on Friday so I could see it before I leave – took her all of 15 minutes.   It was just the perfect touch – not too much  nor too little.  

I’m spending tonight and Sunday night in Helena – with my friend Barb, then its on through Idaho and Nevada and into California.  I hope to make it in two long days driving -   I don’t like to drive after dark, and the days are short – but I’m going to push for 450 miles a day -   with the higher highway speeds out here, I should be able to do it -  Hoping for Twin Falls the first

Night and Reno the second – then it’s only about 100 miles more, but I don’t want to take on that particular road at night, after a full day of driving.  I just remember the 500 miles drives to upstate NY to see Angie -  took me 12-13 hours -   I’ll just have to shorten pit-stops and keep up the speed.  (course before Brooke moved to VA – I’d take the eastern shore route – not an interstate, lots of little towns and took forever)   Once she moved to VA and then to MD – I’d drive the 160 miles to her place, spend the night and leave for NY in the a.m. which helped a lot.

 Post script:   I pre-wrote the above so I could post this early Saturday – but then, I had an adventure on Friday.    I stopped to fill up with gas, first - $$   Then I got an oil change $$$

Then – I decided to stop at the ATM and get travel cash -   OOPS   The ATM as much as said “you can’t get blood out of a turnip!”   Most distressing – my check had been direct deposited on Wednesday, and I hadn’t bought a thing since – so into the bank I sallied – full of righteous

Indignation.   Imagine my chagrin when I realized my check was not posted Wednesday because it’s not due til NEXT Wednesday.    OOPS.   I quickly transferred funds to cover the gas and oil change, then remembered  the check** I wrote at the Vet’s for Tucker’s heart worm medicine.

Well, now, this all put my travelling in a different perspective.   I packed up turkey sandwiches and froze them so I’d have them when I left Helena.  Didn’t pick up anything but some ice tea and a jug of water at the store.   So, anyway, once I simmered down and checked out my funds and realized I was ok –  trip was back on track!

** About the check for the vet – when is the last time you’ve been able to do this?   The Vet didn’t accept plastic -  I told her that I had checks, but……    they are out of state,  the address is wrong, the phone # is wrong and the bank has changed.    She shrugged and said – well, that’s ok!  And……   she didn’t even ask for an ID!!!!     Ah, living in the West!!!

It’s now Sunday, and I’m in Helena.   I checked the road cam for Monida Pass – and it is snowing.  Not good!   But – the road is clear and snow is due to stop this evening.   Monida Pass is about 7000’ – but it’s not a mountain pass – there are mountains around it, of course – but the pass itself is high prairie.

 I’m also having trouble getting and staying on the internet – so I’m not quite sure when I’ll get this posted -  I’ll keep trying today, though!

 Well, we started out from Helena bright and early – about 6 a.m.    I had noticed a little roughness  while driving the day before – this morning it really got bad!   I finally figured out that I had let the truck sit for a month, and it probably had condensation in the gas tank  - which turned out to be the problemI had a bit of the additive left and it helped, but then it got worse again – I limped into Dillon, MT – got some more additive and filled the gas tank – got back on the high way and……..  I couldn’t get Luv to go over 40 mph.   I swung back into Dillon, stopped at a repair shop and ended with a new fuel filter.  All is fixed.

 I ended up making it to Twin Falls – and stopped for the night.   I wanted to go farther, but the next stop would have been 164 miles and I felt that was too far.   So early up tomorrow and hopefully Reno or even Chico tomorrow!!!

Until next time,
Bear Hugs

 Luv ‘n Boots and Tucker, too
And Little Bear, of course

She believed she could do it and so she did!







Saturday, November 17, 2012


Brutus has come and gone, he left behind moderate piles of snow – at least here in Belt – in other areas, he brought a lot more snow.  

Snow kept us housebound for 4-5 days – didn’t bother me -   Then one day, we felt the shift in the wind and the Chinook was on its way!   Temperatures soared into the 40’s   Snow started to disappear, Tucker could finally find his facilities.    The reason we were housebound is that Diane’s house is half-way down a hill – which means she has to fight through the snow to get back up the hill.   Her son came over one day with his 4-wheel drive truck and drove up and down the driveway to break it open.

I spent a couple hours shaking snow off items I had stored on the porch -  hauled boxes and bags in and set them in the bathtub until dry.  

The day it hit 40 before 9 a.m., I resumed packing the truck -   I have it nearly done – and hour or so, will leave just my immediate clothing and bedding to pack. 

We’ve been busy cooking up holiday goodies this week -  bunches of fudge, some almond roca and almond bark – starting on the chocolates today.   I successfully made fondant – a first!   And burnt a pan of goo that was supposed to end up as hard candy.  

I found I will have to learn to make candy all over again, due to the high altitude and dry climate.   My almond roca was done 20 degrees before it should have been.  Fudge has to be wrapped up asap to keep it from drying out.   And I remembered why I didn’t like sugar cookies while I was growing up – they turned rock hard!!!  

I’m busy tying up loose ends as I’ll be leaving here a week from today - I got a cover for my broken tail light – but can’t figure out how to put it on.   Have to find heart worm medicine for Tucker,   need to renew my driver’s license – I think I can do it on-line – if not, don’t know exactly what I’ll do.  Have to get an oil change – and mail a mountain of packages!

I guess I did make progress this week, after all!!!

We’re still watching old movies in the evenings – this week we’ve focused on Fred Astaire -  Tonight, I think it will be Doris Day.

Holly asked me what I’ve been reading -   Mostly James Mitchner -  The Source, Processional, Mexico,  and Chesapeake.   Edward Rutherford:  Old Sarum,  and some mystery stories – oh yeah, when I first got here, some Agatha Christie books.

We are going to have a houseful for Thanksgiving – and dinner with all the trimmings.   I wish you all a very happy and blessed Thanksgiving.

Until next time,
Bear Hugs

 Luv ‘n Boots and Tucker, too
And don’t forget Little Bear

She believed she could do it and so she did!





Friday, November 9, 2012


Last week I spent a few days at my niece’s home.  While I was away, Diane heard a noise out
her front door.  Thinking it was her friends delivering the rest of her wood, she opened the door and was taken back by the sight of a half dozen cops running across her yard with rifles at the ready!!!!   Now, that could really curdle your morning coffee!    Along the county road were 7 police cars with red lights flashing.   

 A bit later, an officer came to tell her that they had caught the fugitive, but she needed to evacuate until the bomb squad cleared his vehicle.

Back Story:    The fugitive was the Virginian who, a couple days before, bestowed bombs on the home of an ex-girlfriend and some others who had offended him, then took off on a dead run for Montana.

A local observed,   “These people think they can come to Montana and disappear in the vast nothingness....”   (Personally, I would use the word Beauty in place of Nothingness!!!!)

Police had picked up his trail somewhere along the way, and decided Belt was a good place to finish the business.   They set up barricades at the Armington Junction – a mile down the road, and locked down the school and other businesses  (of which there are very few).  In any event, they captured the bomber in the woods below Diane’s house.

In the evening, Diane received a call saying they had called in another bomb squad – from Missoula 200 miles away and she would have to stay away over night.

The next day when we had both returned to Diane’s, we were discussing the coincidence of this fellow coming from Virginia and ending up at the very place I was staying.  Then I had a thought -   what if I had been there – parked in the drive with my Virginia plates!!!!!   How would I have explained that???!!!

The next morning, we headed for Bozeman to visit Diane’s daughter, Shelley and to pick up some deer hides a friend was giving Diane.  

Shelley lives out a bit from town – in fact, it is a 1 mile walk to her mailbox.   Shelley walks it every morning with her dog, Booger,  a big laborador who has become a best friend to Tucker.  Booger is  older, and more laid back than Tucker – they get along fine -  Tucker even gets along with Itty Bit – the cat   (Full name – Itty Bitty Stinky Kitty – she was found as a tiny kitten in a ditch, abandoned and smelly)

 Well, of course we had to join them on the daily walk -  Tucker was allowed off lease for this and he loved it.   The second day – I thought I’d not do the walk.   As soon as Booger and Shelley left the house,  Tucker planted himself at my feet and gave me “the Look” – you know the look – the one that says “get your fat ass off the chair and take me for a  walk!”   Well, who could refuse an invitation like that.

Anyway, our first day there, Shelley said we were having Pumpkin pie for dessert that night – then forgot to make it.   The next day we spent the majority of our time running errands in Bozeman and mostly grocery shopping – a store there is cheaper than any in Great Falls so Diane wanted to take advantage.   Lately, I’ve been thinking about coconut pie.   During the course of the day, Shelley mentioned she’d sure like to have a coconut pie!!!  So it was decided.

However, by the time we got home, it was time to put supper in the oven, and we had to wait til after we ate to start the pie – it took awhile, and by the time we got it out of the oven, it was bedtime – So--------- we had coconut pie for breakfast, and, it was delicious!!!!

 Then we packed up and headed back to Belt – winter was in the air, and a major storm was expected the next day, and I needed to get more stuff packed in the truck before the snow began flying.

It is now day 2 of the winter storm “Brutus”    It’s about 20 degrees out this morning – high tomorrow 17 and on Sunday – it’s expected to be a high of 11 -   (I’m leaving here in 2 weeks, hopefully before the really cold weather sets in)

 The major problem I have right now is Tucker.   While he has had just a bit of experience with snow from last month, he is not at all prepared for this!!!!   We haven’t gotten a great deal of snow yet – but still it’s enough to reach his belly,  and the wind is blowing and as I said, it’s Cold!!!     He just doesn’t know what to do when he gets outside – he can’t find his “bathroom” because it is buried in the snow so he wonders around in confusion for a very few minutes, “sprinkles” a bit and heads hell bent for Texas to the door.    I guess desperation will win out in the end – in the meantime, if there are accident – thank goodness Diane has concrete (heated) floors,  rather than white carpet!!!

 I’m still trying to finish a sewing project which is not cooperating, and today we are going to make fruitcake – well Diane is, I’m going to use the same basic recipe, but instead of fruit I’ll pack it full of toasted nuts!!!

Diane’s house is built so tight – the fire eventually went out last night, it’s now 8 a.m., and we haven’t started a fresh one yet – but the little bit of heat from the floor is enough to keep it warm enough to sit around – with a sweatshirt for a little extra warmth.

 While we are storm bound this weekend, I’ll also start making Christmas goodies so they are ready to mail the day after Thanksgiving.

Until next time
Bear Hugs
Luv ‘n Boots and Tucker, too
Don’t forget Little Bear, he’s still with me, also

She believed she could do it and so she did!







Thursday, November 8, 2012


Winter has arrived and plans to stay around awhile. It’s 25 degrees right now – expecting a high of about 37 today – fresh snow last night – not a lot, just enough to show through the grass.

(Originally written 10/27/2012 -  Today – Nov 8, 2012 – we are expecting a real winter storm – 12 – 18 inches of snow and winds making it true blizzard conditions – we are checking the pantry to make sure we have the necessities – like maybe matches to keep the fire going? – I told Diane – well we’ve got Cheetos and Coca Cola – we’re set!!!)

There has not been a lot going on since we returned from our camping trips a month ago. 

A month ago!!!???   Good grief how time flies.

We’ve settled into regular routines.   First thing in the morning, I check Facebook to see what Brooke and Angie are up to -   (Brooke is horse camping this weekend – temp yesterday in her neck of the woods was nearly 70 -   Angie is starting a new job.)  and then I check my e-mail.

After that – a few hands of solitaire, or some other game – Diane is doing the same.    When we can pull ourselves away from the computers, we have breakfast and settle down for more of the same.

I’m working on some sewing projects, so at some point during the day I spend time at the sewing machine.  

I re-joined Netflix so every evening after supper, we watch an old movie – Last night it was “His Gal Friday” with Rosalind Russell and Cary Grant – circa 1940.

Then a few more computer games and off to bed.   Sometimes, I even manage to get dressed during the day –

We usually go to town twice a week – for church and to run errands.   That’s about it!

Before this latest cold snap, I started loading the truck – all the camping gear is installed.  It’s suppose to warm up to the 50’s this week, and I’ll have my sewing projects finished, so I can load up all that stuff, too.   It’s only a matter of 3-4 weeks before I leave here, so I need to take advantage of the weather – don’t want to be trying to pack in knee deep snow. 

I’m not going to try to camp while on the road this time.   I’ll just stay at KOA cabins or pet loving motels.  

 I’ve decided to take Hwy 15 and drop down to Hwy 80 and across to Reno – then weather depending, I’ll either head north from Reno to Susanville, CA or south to Sacramento – then North to Chico.   I’ll be going over the Monida pass in Montana -  which is not mountainous, just high prairie so I’m not worried about that – but the Donner Pass between Reno and Sacramento – well, that’s another story.    I think they require you to have chains for the Donner Pass – I have to check that out – another unexpected expense – which if I don’t use on this trip, I’m not likely to ever need   (Are these famous last words????)

Diane and I had a “Girls night out” last night.   We went to the Cattlemen’s Cut for top grade, grain fed beef!   It’s been forever since I had prime rib – it was well worth the wait!

Last night, Tucker stole the blankets – how can a less than 3# furball steal blankets???? 

His newest trick is to walk across the keyboard while I’m “working” on the computer, or even just curl up and nap on it.   Silly Pup!    The other thing he does now – I now have the computer sitting on the coffee table, I sit on the sofa – Tucker jumps up and naps on my shoulders.   I swear he is part cat!

 Wal-Mart has become my favorite store on my travels -   Tucker is welcome there!   I just put him in his carry bag and off we go – and he attracts attention everywhere we go.   It’s illegal here to leave a pet alone in a vehicle -  If I have to go to Sam’s – for instance,  I have to leave him in the car – so I have to take my chances.

 Well, I smell breakfast cooking,

Until next time,
Bear Hugs
Luv ‘n Boots & Tucker, too
Don’t forget Little Bear

She believed she could do it, and so she did!!!






Saturday, October 6, 2012


I now know where I would live if I could live anywhere in the world!!!!

A couple days after our first snow we drove into town and the Highwood Mountains were so beautiful – it was early evening, and they were in cloaked in blue shadows with a “dusting” of snow. (as proved later, it was more than just a dusting)    I wanted photos. 

The next afternoon we left Belt for the mountains, which are very close.  As soon as we left, we were in cattle country – rolling hills and wandering creeks.   Individual farmsteads were decked with fall foliage and the bright blue sky was laden with clouds pregnant with snow.  

The roads were well graded and wandered up and down and around.   The views were awesome.   I took many photos, and Tucker exercised his voice by barking at cattle, horses and deer, and sometimes nothing at all.  As we edged by the Highwoods, we drove through an area arched with golden trees and then started climbing the grasslands once again.  

We were on top!   Not of a mountain, but of a prairie hill – and the view was breathtaking!    Just last week as we were driving around Flathead and Whitefish lakes, I wondered to myself if there was anywhere left in this country with a view that was not blocked by McMansions!    Well, folks, I’m here to tell you there is.

Standing on top of the world, I had a 360 degree view.  To the south, about 50-60 miles across a broad valley, – the Little Belts and Kings Hill,  close behind us the Highwoods,  to the northwest – over 100 miles away the Rockies and to the northeast – stretching as far as the eye could see – the eastern prairies of Montana.   You stand in one place and turn in circles and see only nature in her finest.   The snowstorm had cleared out all the smoke, and the Big Skies of Montana were overpowering.

I always think, when I see a home built on top of a hill in Montana, that it must have been built by non Montanans because no native in their right mind would build there because of the wind.  The wind never stops here – east of the mountains.  But, I tell you what – if I could I would and never, ever complain about the wind!

 I did not take photos from the top because a flat image could never convey the beauty and vastness, the images are engraved on my heart!

The farmsteads were mostly along the creeks – we only passed 4 “stand alone” homes during the entire drive – they were built on top -  two were across the road from each other, the other two were over a mile apart – no other structures cluttered the top!

 Of course if you wanted to built here, that is if any of the landowners would consider selling even a smidgen of their land, you might want to have unlimited funds – wells would have to be deep – very, very deep and electricity would have to be brought for miles.   Yep, you’d need deep pockets, indeed.

Actually, you’d need the attitude, also - many a pioneer went mad on the prairie, of loneliness and the incessant wind.

So, now I know where my dream space is and I’ll visit it from time to time, and hope the landowners hold firm and my next visit doesn’t have McMansions strewn across the “Top”

Until next time
Bear Hugs

Luv ‘n Boots and Tucker, too
And don’t forget Little Bear

She believed she could do it, and so she did.

Thursday, October 4, 2012


We hit the road in a timely manner with Cousin Diane, her daughter Shelley, and Tucker in tow.    We decided to take a different road north – Hwy 15.   We started out through grazing areas, and moved on to wheat fields, miles and miles of wheat stubble.  Finally, north of Conrad, MT, we took a short cut over to highway 89 to be closer to the mountains.   This shortcut was a nice ordinary, paved road – no excitement there!

 We stopped at Marias Pass for a quick lunch.   Marias is the lowest pass on the Continental Divide in the state of Montana.  In the 1920’s, before this section of Hwy 2 was completed, travelers would load their vehicles on the train at East Glacier, and retrieve them 67 miles later at West Glacier.

 Across the road was a mountain with a white layer about ¼ from the top.   During the construction of the planet – the part of the mountain above the limestone line travelled about 70 miles from the southwest to end up on top of this mountain!

We got to Apgar campground in Glacier about 3, finally found a site with a large enough tent pad, and close to the washroom, and set up camp.   We had supper, loaded all the totes into the cab of the truck, and by that time it was dark and we went to bed.  It dropped to the 40’s over night, but we were quite comfortable in the tent.

Each night got colder.  I was ok – I had the 2” memory foam pad on top of my air mattress.   Shelley was in pretty good shape – she had a foam pad, too – but she got cold the last night.    Diane did fine the first 2 nights – the third – it dropped into the 30’s and she got quite cold.   I had my big quilt in the back of the truck – just because I hadn’t taken it out before we left.  We folded it in half and put on top of her air mattress and the last night, she slept comfortably.

Yes, it was cold.  I had all the stuff necessary for morning coffee, tea, whatever so we could grab it and start the water heating without delay.  Tucker we wrapped a blanket around him and held him close until he stopped shivering – the last morning we put him and blanket in chair, then covered all with a sleeping bag – he didn’t warm up until after we got on the road headed home.

OK – so we’ve covered the weather.  We arrived at the park on Monday evening.  Tuesday, we stayed in the park – drove as far as we could on the Going to the Sun road – which was only about 15 miles.   It was a pretty drive – for most of the way, along Lake McDonald – it was so smoky it was hard to see the mountains across the lake.   At the end of the road, we parked and Shelley and I took the short hike through the ancient cedar grove.   It was so quiet – and so awesome.  I got fascinated by the root systems where trees had toppled.  I took several photos. 

We returned to Apgar and perused the village.   Checked out all the souveniers.  I’m still looking for a souvenir T-shirt.  I guess I’ll just have to iron on a photo of Mountain Goats I took last time. 

Wednesday, after another good night’s sleep, and we were off to drive around Flathead Lake.   It was a very enjoyable drive – about 100 miles altogether.  And, still…. Smoky!

 We stopped at Big Fork, a very entertaining small town.  We slowed to enjoy a sculpture garden, and all of a sudden, Tucker started in barking, and BARKING and BARKING!   There on a low, flat rock – just above his sightline, was a sculpture of a cougar, and Tuck was not going to let it get his ladies!!!!   The artist was nearby and said she enjoyed seeing dog’s reactions to it.   Most big dogs, she said, turn and run.  Now, I’m not sure if that means they have more sense than Tucker, or that Tucker is braver????

As we walked around town, several people stopped us to pet Tuck and ask about him.  One lady actually called us to stop, she had been following, trying to catch up so she could see him up close.

Thursday morning the plan was to drive the 25 miles to Whitefish just to check out the town – we’d learned by then that we couldn’t do the walk in the treetops as it was only open Friday, Saturday & Sunday – and we were headed home on Friday.    Shelley had noticed the sign for Polebridge  - 24 miles, and was intrigued by the name – I kept wondering where I had heard it before.   That morning our neighboring campers told us they had driven up to Polebridge where there was a wonderful old general store with fresh baked goods and hot coffee.   So we decided to go there first.  We left the campground at 9:30 a.m.

We drove through an old burn area – I believe from 2003.  The regrowth as doing quite well.    The fall colors were beautiful – green and yellow trees, and old homesteads, and new cabins.   As soon as we turned on the road to the general store, I knew where I’d heard “Polebridge” before – my cousin’s 2011 calendar had a winter photo of it.  We drove down the hallway of trees to the bright red false front general store.   And, indeed, it had fresh baked goods – and delicious coffee.   The area was a natural clearing in the middle of the forest – basically on top of that  mountain – and you could see for miles to the distant mountains.  They had cabins for rent – a stage for entertainment and a half-moon house for visitor’s convenience.   On the porch were 2 payphone – for use when they worked – which they weren’t that day.  Anyway, the phone boxes were wood barrels hung on the wall with the front cut out for the phone.  Very quaint.   It was surprising how many people lived in that isolated area just a few miles from the border (border crossing closed  - permanently)

 As we got back to the main road (unpaved), we spied a sign indicating Whitefish 38 miles – if we turned right.   We decided, what the heck – if we go back and head for Columbia Falls – and Whitefish – it would be at least that far.  So off we went.   I am sure glad Luv has 4 new tires!  It was a Forest Service road.   Bumpy, even though it was well graded – that means between the chug holes, the road was flat – not washboard.

We are all so glad we did it!   It was an outstanding drive – no clinging to the side of the mountain – we drove through beautiful color.  While the trees just turn yellow, shrubs and other low growth turn orange and red – the contrasts were breathtaking.   We stopped at a beautiful small lake – clear as glass – you could see the fish!   We had “Jack – (GPS) set up and followed his instructions.   We kept driving and driving and driving.  The whole time, we only passed 3 vehicles.    We stopped for a bit at another lake just to drink in the view.

We got back on the road, and kept going, and going, and going – this took quite awhile since my highest speed was about 22 mph – most of the time it was half that.    Then, we came to a fork in the road – 3 roads.  Jack said, actually insisted, we take the right fork …….. but, that was already barricaded for the winter.   We started down the center fork on a wing and a prayer – we had some disagreement in the truck on whether we were headed in the right direction.   I turned Luv around – not too bad cause this was obviously a logging road and had lots of turn-offs.    We sat back at the fork in the road.  Contemplating, Diane had the compass, and said we were headed SW – I was looking at Shelley’s Montana Atlas, and noticed it showed longitude & Latitude, and I checked Jack and got the L&L of where we were and found it on the map.   Looked like the middle fork was the right one, so we started out again.  (Jack continued to insist we make a u-turn, but he was easy to ignore)

 We drove, and drove, and drove.   Finally, we had to pull aside so a Jeep could pass.  I flagged them down and asked if the road took us to Whitefish -  Yep!   Turn left when you hit the pavement about 3 miles ahead.   Whew! What a relief!   What an adventure.  We intend to take more Forest Road Adventures next year!

 we were in Whitefish very briefly – had to wait for the restaurant to open – so I headed for the quilt shop -  they were entertaining a busload of Canadian Ladies – so I didn’t hang around to buy anything, but I took notes of patterns I saw so I could look them up later.  In any event, our 24 mile trip to Whitefish took 5 ½ hours!   We would not have missed a minute of it!

Friday morning, we packed up and headed for home.   We continued our adventure by taking a shortcut from the downside of Roger’s Pass to Wolf Creek.  (Roger’s pass – the last time I drove down it, my brakes failed – if you don’t think that was an adventure – think again!)  I’d never been on this road – it was beautiful short-grass prairie, it was afternoon and the shadows on the hills were something to behold.   At one photo stop, I turned to get back in the truck, and there on the other side of the road, just inside the fence line were 2 deer, and they very politely stood still long enough for me to get a shot or two.

 Arriving in Wolf Creek which is where we could have connected with the interstate, we elected to take the old road – which winds along the banks of the Missouri.   We saw a small group of antelope on a hill, then spotted some deer swimming from an  island to the river bank.  That was interesting.

When it started getting dark, we popped onto the highway.   We drove along with the sun setting behind us and a full moon rising ahead.

 When we pulled into Diane’s yard – deer shot in every direction!   4-5 ran in front of the truck, some headed to the front yard, and 3 took off around the house.   One stuck around behind Luv until Tucker spotted it and bade him farewell!

And that, my dear friends is our Glacier Park adventure for 2012

Until next time,
Bear Hugs

Luv ‘n Boots and Tucker too
And don’t forget Little Bear

 She believed she could do it and so she did!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


Woke up surrounded by the white stuff!   Can’t even see the little town of Belt – less than a mile away.  

Earlier, it was large, fluffy flakes, but now it has settled down to some serious snow – tiny flakes, but coming down furiously.   Unfortunately, or fortunately, however you want to look at it, the temperature is in the mid 30’s so it won’t last.   The earth is still too warm.

My nephew Rick, and his wife, Erica spent the night in Great Falls so they could start out early and see the countryside as they return to Wyoming – they won’t be seeing much for awhile though!!

Rick and Erica are taking a very fast trip through Wyoming, South Dakota and Montana (Erica has never been out West – they are from Michigan)  They’ve been to Mt. Rushmore,  the Crazy Horse statue, Crystal caves, Yellowstone park, and are headed back to Wyoming, stopping to see Custer Battlefield on the way.   In Wyoming, they’ll both get tattoo’d by Rick’s brother, Freehand Robert – owner of My Mother’s Tattoo Shop!  

Anyway while here – Rick wanted to revisit the site where they scattered his Dad’s ashes last year.   I rode along so I would know the spot also.  Rick brought along a bottle of my brother’s favorite Tiquila, to “share with his Dad”.   We walked about a quarter mile to a spot on Logging Creek which had been one of my brother’s favorite fishing spots.  Last year as Bob was scattering the ashes into the creek, the bank caved in, taking him down into the water, so they decided a better spot was up the side of the “hill” about 40 or 50 feet up.  As far as I was concerned, it could have been 500’ up – I slipped and slid up the hill – Rick came back down aways to give me a hand.  We sat there awhile, admiring the view and talking about my brother and his family.   When it came time to go back down, I found a good stout stick for support, that and the help of Rick’s shoulder got me safely down. (I have to add here – my brother always, always had M&M’s on hand – I looked in his pantry one time to see an entire shelf stacked about 6 bags high of all the different types of M&M’s -  Last year, his daughters scattered M&M’s into the creek!   What a neat idea!)

Last year, on the day of the scattering, Rick took a photo of the creek.   Later, while reviewing the photos of that trip, he chose one for his screen saver.   Even later, he happened to look at the photo and was astounded to find there was a figure in the photo – fishing.   There had not been anyone in that area when the photo was taken – but there it was!  Think what you like, but, well, we have our own ideas about it!

 At the time my brother passed, he was in Phoenix – he had been living in Thailand until he got sick.  He had a dog in Thailand  – a German Shepherd who had adopted my brother.   Upon my brother’s death, the dog started howling and continued howling for three days – the official period of mourning in Thailand.   He wouldn’t eat for those 3 days, and would not be distracted.   You cannot explain the unexplainable……..

On the way back to Belt, we spotted a couple deer crossing the road – looking to the right there was a huge herd – I counted between 40 and 50 deer.   Rick got out for a photo op – after a few minutes, the herd decided to vacate the premises – they jumped the barbed wire fence, leapt across the road and over another fence – it was such a beautiful site!

 I am going to curl up in a big chair and watch the snow -  after a few of these storms, I’ll be ready to pull the drapes and cover my head, but for now, I am thoroughly enjoying the first snow of the season.

Until next time
Bear Hugs

Luv ‘n Boots and Tucker, too
And don’t forget Little Bear

She believed she could do it, and so she did!