Eastern Utah
EMAIL ME AT: mgypsy97 at aol dot com

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Nothing done today

I had planned to go out for a few items but scratched that idea and just took it easy all day, sleeping off and on in my recliner. I needed that sort of day!

Ara had problems with her flight to Chicago at 6:00 am, as did a lot of other passengers. She ended up not getting on the flight, so Jeannie was frantic trying to make things right. Together with a helpful customer service agent, she got her scheduled to fly to San Francisco, picking up a direct flight from there to Germany. That is certainly better than a 10 hour layover in Chicago, and will also get her into her destination earlier in the day tomorrow. The flight to S.F. was not on time - they had to wait for the plane to come in from S.F. before they could reload it for the flight back. Of course that time of the morning means FOG in San Francisco, but she was finally able to board a plane with enough time to make her connection on the international flight. This is one of the reasons I refuse to fly except in a dire emergency. You can always expect things to go wrong which is tolerable in case of bad weather, but drives me crazy when it's for other human-caused reasons.

I was surfing the TV channels last night and realized I was watching the National Geo channel, which I did not pay extra for. The fact that I pay what I do for watching 6-8 channels has always bugged me anyway, but I wondered if being able to view the channel was just a fluke or not. I can still get it today, so I will hope that I can add one more channel to my meager list.

My Direct TV bill is $30/month, and will double the second year to $60. I will probably cancel it at the end of the 1st year and just pay the early cancellation fee.

The Verizon bill ($120) includes 20 for my land line phone, my cell phone @300 min., and the new MiFi. I had to call the Verizon store today because I was having problems with it, and they told me to remove the battery and then put it back into the unit, which solved my problem. The tech suggested I bring the unit back to the store and they will give me a new battery. I like the service even if I'm not always entirely happy with the product.

On the left is my Uniden phone in the base (I have two extensions which I rarely use, but then I rarely use the main phone). On the right in back is the Verizon device that I paid $25 for, which plugs into the wall and the base station plugs into the device. It was so easy to connect, there is no contract and I pay $20/month for it. I recently found out I could have carried it with me as I traveled, but then I would have had to take the phone & base. With my track record of losing electronics I don't think I'll do that. The salesman said that some RVers take it along on trips in their RV's, and the antenna can be unscrewed from the unit and placed on the roof. I have no idea about that, but it would have been nice when I was full timing.

I could drop the cellphone and buy a Trac phone, which I may eventually do, but for now I'll keep paying for 300 minutes a month (of which I use maybe 100). It's been too hot to think about the options available, so I'll put it off for a little while.

I will have to go out tomorrow because I'm running low on ice cream! There is an RV show at Cal Expo and tomorrow is the last day. It is free admission and free parking, so I don't have much excuse to not go especially if I get there when they open at 9 am, which is still cool (around 60F). I sort of don't want to go because I am really not interested in what are the latest features of big RV's. If I can find something, I want it to be small and light on features. Not that I don't like features, but it's just more that I have to worry about repairs for. Since I don't intend to live in an RV or van for more than a few months at most, I can be pretty much of a minimalist.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Ready to go!




We all got into the act. I didn't have as much problem with it as I did in the store where they add weights to the pack. I think sandbags are more difficult to carry than actual clothing and gear, so I will hold my options open!

Nothing seems to be going as it should - she is picking up the international flight tomorrow in Chicago where they are expecting heavy storms. Then, she was supposed to call the landlady in Germany where she will be living while at school, but neither of the phone numbers work. She did get in touch with a friend who lives about an hour away from where she will be going to school, so she has someone to call in an emergency, and he offered to let her camp out at his house rather than spend the night trying to get some sleep in the banhof (railway station). Oh to be young again and setting out on such a journey. In my experience, the journeys that start out with problems and setbacks and unknown futures are the very best and teach you the most. As well traveled as Ara is, she will be ready to deal with any situation when she has completed this trip. Solo traveling does that for a person.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Computer and other woes

I was deleting some old mail in my inbox as well as the trash. I must have hit the wrong key because all of the sudden my inbox is completely empty! I guess it's all in the Trash if I need it.

Also in the category of "Why Do These Things Happen to Me", i bought some hand towels at Costco this morning. They are hotel style plain white, although larger and fluffier than most hotel towels I've had experience with. I had noticed that all my hand towels had stains of one type or another on them, so I figured I would buy some to hang when the kids & grandkids come over. I threw them into the wash with a couple of dishtowels and a large blue beach towel that I've washed previously, and that I wrapped around the side of the rocking chair that could scratch the inside of my car during the drive back from NY.

When the washer stopped and I pulled the hand towels out I realized the blue had run onto them. Rats - I never have that happen and I don't worry about sorting clothes. If I have enough for a load of dark colors I'll wash them separately, otherwise I'll just throw them in with everything else. I had to re-wash the white towels and used some Clorox hoping the stains would come out. Mostly they did, but what a waste of water, soap, and time.

Costco had regular unleaded for $3.559 so I filled up the gas tank. They also had Cosequin for dogs, at $38.99 for a bottle of 180 tabs. A dog the size of Lady needs two a day, and that makes it cheaper than even the bargain basement stuff at Walmart or Target. I've been paying close the the same price at pet stores for 120 or fewer tabs.

I wanted also to comment about my new Verizon Jetpack MiFi. So far I don't like it nearly as well as I liked my old (lost) one. I think I will make a trip to the Verizon store next week and see if there is something I could do differently. One sales tech at the store had suggested that I shouldn't keep it plugged in except to charge it. I plugged the old one in 1st thing in the morning and pulled the plug last thing at night, and it was ready throughout the day. This one seems to charge only when the connector is inserted into the unit and the unit is powered off. I would think if I left it plugged in while using it that it would keep up the charge, but it hasn't worked that way. I may need a different kind of power cord, or change the way I'm doing something.

As it is, I'm almost tempted to return the MiFi, cancel DirectTV, and contract with AT&T for TV and internet service. I would probably have already used AT&T except that my experience with their cell phone and internet air card service was less than satisfactory. Why do I think U-Verse would be any better.

As for traveling and taking along internet access, as long as I stay in motels I can use theirs when it's free and pay $2.99 a day when it's not. I don't need connection when I'm camping. My monthly bill has decreased, in part because I insisted I didn't want or need 450 minutes of cell phone usage a month, so he gave me 300. That isn't available when you look at Verizon's plans online. My total bill used to run in the area of $132.+ per month, and the last bill was $119.88. I don't know how I an get it any lower and still get the good customer service from Verizon.

The thermometer has reached 88 (expected to top out at 89) and it's hot although having a couple of fans running helps, and I don't have to turn them on until afternoon as the mornings are so cool. The heck with how my legs look much better in capris and my arms look much better in t-shirts, I'm wearing shorts and a tank top!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Excursion to REI

Ara stopped by this morning and we drove over to our favorite outdoor gear store to look at backpacks. We got there when the store opened and found the b.p. department, but it became immediately obvious we needed some help and advice. An extremely knowledgeable young man came to assist us, and after looking at the many types and styles and uses for backpacks, we ended up with a model that will be perfect for packing clothing & other items for travel, plus can be used on the trail later.

He packed the various models with weights in the neighborhood of 20-25#, and carefully adjusted each pack to Ara's comfort, according to the torso size he had calculated first of all. Ara decided on the same pack I would have chosen, and I think it will last her for many years.

I have been secretly holding out hope that I can do some backpacking in the future, but when I tried on the pack which held about 25# I realized how futile are my hopes. I've been there, done that, and as much as I want to do it again, I just can't. Damn! One by one the aspirations and joys of my life are being taken away from me. But seeing that pack on my granddaughter, I realize I will live on. She is like me in many ways, and I believe she will always have a bit of gypsy to enrich her life, so I feel that maybe some of my genetic makeup has trickled down to her. And I just have to keep adjusting to the changes in my life and modify the things I do. Aw hell!

So much for shopping at REI - we also got a "pack holder" which is like a super lightweight duffel-bag type cover which completely encloses the pack, and which will protect it and the straps when checking it as luggage. The salesman said that if a strap gets caught in the conveyor belt it will be cut immediately. Don't want that to happen. By the time we were ready to check out, using my annual REI dividend plus my credit card, I decided to wait on the few items I want so as not to max out my card. The credit card is now tucked inside my passport and they are both in the place I leave them here at home. I normally only get the card out when traveling and had loaded it up pretty well on my recent journey. A little belt-tightening is going to be in order!

I forgot to take a picture of her with the pack, but will post it tomorrow if I can get one in the meantime.

Monday, June 25, 2012

It's catching up with me

I was supposed to pick up my granddaughter and be at REI when they open to look for a backpack. She would rather take that to Europe next week than regular luggage. Instead she had to work early, so I went back and crawled into bed, fully clothed! I slept until about 11 am, although it wasn't a deep enough sleep to feel great. Her high school is having some sort of thing this week and that is where she is volunteering to help.

Maybe we can get to REI tomorrow. I want to look for some type of PortaPotty for my tent. I have to get up too many times during the night to be getting in and out of my tent, which is't so bad if I'm right next to the woods but I can't count on it.

For some reason I've been craving cigarettes lately, and the only way to relieve those cravings is to have a beer, which I don't do in the morning. So I'm just toughing it out and hope the cravings go away soon and leave me alone for a while. When I'm on my deathbed I'm going to chain smoke a carton, and I sure don't want to wish for that anytime soon!

I'm cooking shrimp and onions tonight. Sure wish I had grits on hand, but I don't and don't want to go out to get them. I'm still so tired and listless, and wonder how long this is going to last. I'm eating well so I think I should be feeling better. If I was getting ready to go on a trip, rather than coming home from one, things would be different!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

3rd Birthday

Arianna turned 3 yesterday. Asked what kind of cake she wanted, she insisted she wanted "monkey cupcakes". So Donald made cupcakes and decorated two with little monkeys, and the rest with "bananas". Of course they were delicious because he makes the best cupcakes and cream cheese frosting in the whole world!

Just beginning to open her presents:

Initially she wore a new birthday dress and princess hat, but I see in other pictures she changed her clothes. I think this is a real "kick-ass" pose:

With 3 of my siblings, we make up the left side of our family. The other 4 brothers weren't able to be here, so we solved the world's problems ourselves!

We had a delicious lunch that included hamburgers, fresh corn on the cob, bbq'd ribs (I brought some home with me) and other wonderful dishes.

One more day of blessedly cool weather, but Tuesday will start the climb into the 80's and eventually the 90's. My favorite seasons are spring, autumn, and winter, in that order, and leave summer out of it.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Friday blahs!

I'm still under the influence of too much driving but I got a few things accomplished this morning. Two men came by with a big truck about 7:00 pm last night and picked up the old stove & range hood. I'm so glad to see that empty space, but now I need to clean the driveway. I believe I brought an electric leaf blower from my house in Asheville, and I need to use it to get all the leaves from the nooks & crannies of this place. Also there is a big grease/oil stain from the former occupants that needs to be treated. I swept a lot of the sawdust from cutting the pergo onto the stain, but of course that soaks up the excess oil but doesn't clean the driveway. I'll do it in good time, or as the southerners like to say, I'll do it directly.

Today I visited Costco pharmacy to pick up a 90 day supply of my hydrochlorathizide tablets. I cut the 25 mg tabs in half and take a half tablet a day. The cost for 45 tablets was $.12. I told the lady she was breaking me with such high prices. I asked about folks who don't have good insurance coverage for prescriptions, and she explained that anyone can use a Costco pharmacy even without a membership. Just tell the person at the door that you are going to the pharmacy.

She checked and said that in California the cost of the HCTZ would be $6.00 for a 30 day supply, but that a 90 day supply would be cheaper. I doubt that it would be extraordinarily cheaper, but who knows. The cost would no doubt vary from state to state, but anyone who thinks they are paying a lot for a generic prescription such as HCTZ might do well to check out Costco. I can't remember ever having a complaint with the pharmacy I use. Of course, you could check out the prices for other prescription drugs as well. I've always been pretty satisfied with what I have to pay, and I realize they charge more for brand name drugs - that is the doing of my insurance company who wants me to only buy generics, and not of Costco. I also saw a sign while there that they do pet prescription meds as well, so when I refill Lady's meds I will transfer the prescription from Walgreen's to Costco, provided the cost is less.

I spent some time trying to hack down an ugly rosebush in my front yard, and twice I have gouged my hand with a thorn causing it to bleed and sending me running inside for a bandaid. I hate taking the daily aspirin dose which is the cause of so much bruising and bleeding, so I've cut down from daily to every other day. The latest medical research seems to show that daily aspirin does not prevent heart attacks, but I take it because of the stent implant, and the only reason I've stayed with it this long is that I don't want to have a stroke. I would certainly prefer to die outright from "the big one" rather than live after having a stroke, but we don't get to choose.

We are enjoying what looks like will be four days of weather in the 70's before climbing back up next week. Donald's mother gave me 3 fans - one is a tower model and the other two are table models. I think I should be better able to bear the heat when it returns.

My son Steve brought my grandson Liam over this afternoon, and delivered my cellphone that had been sent to his address. I've been without a cell phone for two weeks now and can't say that I've missed it all that much. It was inconvenient when I could only make local calls from the motel phone, and when I wanted to contact folks I was planning to visit, but not being connected 24/7 isn't the worst thing that can happen to a person.

Steve and I talked about campers, vans, pop-ups, Casitas and Scamps. He will keep his eyes open for something and I will do the same, although I'll probably wait until end of summer to do any serious looking. And I'm already thinking about where to go tent camping for a few days in the near future, preferably somewhere in a National Forest near a lake or stream for Lady's pleasure. I also might look into taking her down to the American River (about a mile from me) when the weather turns hot again.

We also agreed that doing something to the roof is a priority this summer before the rainy season begins. Then I can think about replacing some of the water damaged paneling in the main side of the living room, and then I can finally paint. It is the only room that has yet to be painted, although I'll probably want to go over the bathroom and cover the pink walls and ceiling in there.

I love being back in my house which is so comfortable, but I'm already hearing the siren call of the road.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

I can't stay awake!

I guess it's the result of all those miles driven, but I have been napping throughout the day, usually waking up energized and ready to check a job off my list. That doesn't last long and I'm back on the couch.

Today is a little cooler, thankfully, and a constant breeze is blowing. I did a couple loads of laundry this morning and hung it on the line to dry, which it did in no time. I think it's the breeze that makes it smell so good.

Last night I turned on the TV for the first time since I've been home and briefly watched the weather channel. I realize it's been extremely hot just about all over the country, and here I've been whining and crying about the heat like I'm the only one who is suffering from it. Sorry about that. We're getting a short break in the weather for a few days, and I hope you all get it as well.

I called a man who advertised in our monthly newsletter that he would pick up large appliances for free, so I called about the stove and range hood. I can't believe it's been sitting on my driveway since last December. At least I put the old range into the box the new one came in. So the man told me he would be here between 9am and 5 pm - that sort of keeps me sitting at home waiting all day. I want to go back to Costco, but that can wait for a while - nothing urgent. I hate it when someone can't be more specific than that, but most utilities are that way as well as other businesses. I can't complain too much since he's picking it up for free. The reason I didn't have someone get it right away is because they all were charging $60 for a pickup at that time.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Too hot!

It is 88 at 1;00pm and pushing for a high of 97 today. Then is stays sunny until so late there is no break from the heat. The next 2 days will be mid-80's, and then a few days in the 70's. Hallelujia! I really hate hot weather, but I'm getting too old to want to be in frigid temps in the winter. Asheville NC was just about perfect!

I did some shopping at the Sac Food Co-op this morning and loaded my cart with organic veggies, and also bought Dover sole filets. I haven't seen them in a long time, and having them fresh will be a real treat. I want some ice cream but as hot as it is it would melt on the way home, even if I buy it at someplace nearby.

What I need is to go to Home Depot and buy a mister, and then sit outside and be cool all afternoon. I wonder if they are expensive, but I guess everything is these days. The crape myrtles are starting to bloom which surprises me as they didn't bloom until around August in North Carolina.

The new MiFi is working fine, although I notice that sometimes it is smokin' hot and others it just crawls along. I still don't have my cell phone, but I'm not going to call my son or d-i-l and ask them to come over with it as hot as my house is. I may have to break down and hook up the swamp cooler, as I can't take many more afternoons like this one. I could go wander around the stores in cool comfort, but I am not leaving Lady at home to suffer alone.

It is so frustrating to try to do anything in Blogger lately. I wanted to change my header photo, which I've done many times before and done correctly. This time I kept getting a red message saying something about an incorrect url for the photo. So when I unclick "shrink to fit", the picture appears but is way too large for the screen. OK, I tried it one last time and it "took" even though it's not the picture I wanted and is not very clear.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Back in Sacramento

Update for Monday, 6/18 (yesterday):
I got an early start hoping for an early arrival since I will have so much to do, emptying everything from the car, bringing it in, and putting it away. It was a 3 hour drive and I pulled in around 11:00 a.m. I notice I'm waking up much earlier than usual and suppose it is due to the time zones I've gone through. Even this morning I woke up at 5 a.m., which would be 8 o'clock in NY.

Traffic was heavy, but extremely so in downtown Sac. I needed to change lanes to make my turn off I-5, and a car driving in that lane sped up rather than let me in. The traffic is as bad as that around Chicago, but the drivers here are less polite, in my opinion. I got home without a hitch but the letdown that began when I left Crater Lake reached a peak today. I fought the urge to cry although a few tears fell.

As soon as it gets a bit cooler and the commute traffic dies down, I plan to go to Costco and buy a fan or two. All my windows are the jalousie type, and at least half the cranks are either missing or non-operational. Several thorough searches of the front seats, under and behind, has not turned up my MiFi, so I don't have internet. I planned to drive out to my favorite Verizon store today but it's just too damn hot!! Ten o'clock tomorrow morning should still be fairly cool, although it's only cool in the shade.

(I bought Lady a new bed at Costco, the cushy type she likes. She never did care for her orthopedic type bed - she thinks she's too young for anything "orthopedic".)

I haven't added up all my figures yet, but the trip odometer set as I was pulling away from the house in NY now reads 4032.8. That is about the same as the trip east, so I've driven well over 8000 miles in two months. I'm exhausted just thinking about it. To those who again tell me I should go slower and stop and smell the roses, I can say the cost of lodging prohibits that. It is double or over the cost of most commercial RV parks.

I love the northern midwest, from Michigan to Montana, but I'm talking about the northern parts of those states, but the place that absolutely blows me away, this year as well as last, is Crater Lake. I'd love to live close to it, but I really don't think I would like to live in Oregon year around.

My car is so filthy and I know I should take Bounce sheets to the front of it before going through a car wash. I found that Windex seems to melt away most of the bugs on the windshield.

Today, Tuesday 6/10:
I'm back from the Verizon store and the proud owner of a NEW MiFi - 4G no less. In chatting with the salesman about my lack of connectivity (my own fault for leaving and losing devices), he told me that the land line phone I have can be put into an RV and taken on the road, or carried along in the car and plugged in from place to place. It is a small box with a short antenna and plugs into the wall, and connects with my land line base phone holder. That would come in handy if I get another RV of some sort, although with my track record I would hesitate in carrying the phone system in and out of motels.

I'm thinking seriously about finding something I can travel and sleep in before my next cross country trip, so I have about a year to find a suitable vehicle. I am a little worried that for what I want to pay for a used model anything, I might run into problems with repairs, maintenance, etc. A teardrop trailer would be fine for me but I wouldn't pull it with my Highlander - it might work for a short trip but not over all the mountain ranges and the number of miles I travel.

That means a trailer or anything I'd have to pull would require a replacement for my Highlander and I'm not eager to do that. That leaves a Class B or very small Class C: The B's I've seen, even used, are still expensive. That would be my preference though because of being able to park almost anywhere. Suggestions during the coming year will be gratefully considered, but I'm looking to start seriously searching in late fall/early winter, when there seem to be more on the market.

Carolyn, whom I met when I was in Kalispell, travels in her van which she has adeptly modified to accommodate living and sleeping in. As she mentioned though, she wishes she could stand straight up. I think that would be even more of a concern to me - I now use a tent with 6' center height because I had trouble getting in and out of my old tent.

I've put away a lot of things from my car but still have a way to go. After lunch I'm going to take a nice nap on the couch however. I had a wonderful night's sleep on my own perfect mattress last night, but still woke up at 5 a.m.

My daughter brought the two girls over yesterday evening to visit, and she helped me bring a lot of things in. She also used her good, young eyes to look for the MiFi, and since she didn't find it I'm satisfied it is lost for good.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Redding, CA

I arrived in Redding, CA at 3:30 pm and got the shock of my life when I opened my car door at the motel and stepped into a furnace. It is 103F here, and I've spent the last two months in beautifully cool temperatures. I haven't checked to see what Sacramento is like, but Redding is always hotter. (Just checked and Sac is 96 with a low of 59 tonight--Redding's low will be 70, so I'm going to get an early start in the morning. Just 3 hrs or so and I'll be back home. It's not hard to believe I was cold at Crater Lake this morning at 7600 feet in elevation!

When I came through Redmond OR yesterday I saw a billboard advertising an Italian restaurant, and the big caption read: "Legalize Marinara". I thought that was pretty funny, and then today I drove through Weed, CA. The signs here say "I Love Weed".

This picture was taken yesterday, and shows the river between Washington and Oregon - the hills are on the Washington side. I love photos that depict reflections.

Entering Crater Lake area:

Now I'm going to inundate you with snow pictures:

I saw a pull-out and decided to see what view could be seen. I was so glad I did, and you can see a rushing stream to the right of center in the picture.

I met two very nice couples who travel together - one from Massachusetts and the other from Arizona. I took their picture, and they were kind enough to take mine. We had a nice discussion about traveling, the National parks, and so on. It made the stop worth-while, in addition to the views.

Further down the hill was a turn-out for a rest area, so Lady and I took a walk around. This building is a snow shelter, and I suppose since parts of the Park are open for winter recreation, it could come in very handy. I could easily make this building my home:

And finally for today, a shot of beautiful Mt. Shasta taken through buggy windows!

This journey is nearly over, and I'm already planning the next one, but in the meantime I want to come back to Crater Lake and do some tent camping. Maybe in the early fall, when the bulk of the tourists will be gone and before the snows start to fall. There is so much to do and see here, but I think I need to leave the dog at home.

I will close with something that comes from my heart. "God bless Teddy Roosevelt!!!" He had such great foresight to see that the nation needed to protect its wilderness and lands that would otherwise be developed and desecrated.

(By the way, I haven't found the connector cord that allows me to upload my pictures from the camera to the computer, but DUH!, I realized I could remove the memory card in the camera and insert it into the computer.)

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Bend, Oregon

I arrived in Bend at 3:pm today and have been trying to stay on an internet connection ever since. The free wifi is just about worthless. Add to that I can't find the cord that links my camera to the computer so I can't download any pictures I've taken today. While searching for the cord I found my sunglasses. Now if I could just find my Mifi as I will be home in a couple of days and will have no internet.

I read the blog I posted yesterday and think I overreacted to Couer d'Alene and the Idaho Panhandle, just like I did with Duluth, MN and Williston, ND. I haven't been in any real traffic since I left Milwaukee except for these three places and I guess it just hit me with something I got used to being without - TRAFFIC. So please just ignore my rants about cities, malls, traffic, etc.

I walked around the motel a bit with Lady and we went across the street to see if we could find anything of interest. There is a place called "Imagine That!" and is an adult superstore. Next door to it is a nightclub. I don't think I've ever been in an adult store, but I've seen the inside of a nightclub or two. I have the excuse that I'd go but can't leave the dog.

Looking back at Clarkston, WA where I stayed last night, I really liked it. As I mentioned it was sort of confusing entering the city but easy to drive out of. I had a good mix of US Highways and a little interstate today and the drive was a good one. Coming down US 97 to Bend, the Cascade mountain range was to my right and I loved seeing the snow on the high peaks, one after one of them.

Last night I checked the website for Crater Lake and saw that the north entrance is now open. That means I'll be driving all the way around the crater and through the park. I'm hoping to check out the campground, and if I don't stay this trip, I might drive up later in the summer or early autumn. I really have a camping bug, but not with a car packed with traveling stuff - just want camping stuff and that can easily fit into the cargo area of my Highlander, giving Lady the entire back seat. She's doing pretty well, by the way.

The vet said that she isn't seeing very well so that means her vision and hearing are both a problem. It also makes me think she would be losing her sense of smell, and what is there for a dog if and when all three of those senses are compromised. When I got fuel today I took her for a short walk in back of the station, where she picked up a thorn or something in her paw. It evidently worked itself out because she seems to be ok now. That is one thing I really dislike about the entire west - there is no soft green grass anywhere, unless someone tries to grow KY bluegrass in their yard and wastes a lot of water keeping it alive.

Depending on where I am tomorrow night I may or may not post. If I'm at the motel in Klamath Falls I'll have wi-fi and hope the connection is better than this one.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Clarkston, WA

These are the best of the photos I took from the moving car today, and none are very good. I hate taking pictures this way, but sometimes it's the only way. They were all from US2 West between Kalispell and the Idaho border.

Let me say (again) that I love Montana and think it is one of the most beautiful states, overall, in the US. I considered taking a spin up to the border and driving a few miles into British Columbia since I have never been in that Province. I had a motel reservation in Clarkston for this evening and figured that would be enough driving for one day, and I didn't want to add any miles to the day's total.

I've always liked Idaho but this was the first time I've been in the Panhandle. It may be the last, because I think the scenery is much better in the lower part of the state. I'm probably swayed also by the terrible traffic and driving conditions around Coeur d'Alene. Between the turnoff for Spokane and leaving Coeur d'Alene are stoplights at every corner, all set so that you hit them when they are red, and malls lining both sides of the highway so that there is a maximum of traffic at all times of day. Yuk! Sorry, but I just don't care for large cities, heavy traffic, or malls.

Continuing on US 95S I was passed by three police cars going at very high speeds, and then an ambulance. Several miles further I saw what caused the trouble - a big tractor trailer must have rolled completely over onto the side of the road. I didn't see the cab, but the trailer was upside down. The EMT crew was putting someone into the ambulance as I drove by. I sure hope he makes it.

The rest of the drive is OK until you turn onto US 12 West, which I found confusing going through Lewiston, ID, and then even more confusing in Clarkston, WA. But I made it to the very nice Motel 6. I have an extremely nice room with fridge (keep my beer cold) and microwave (I won't use). There is a Costco just across the street and down a ways but I'm not even going there because I have no room to put anything. I'll do my shopping when I get back to Sac. There is an indoor pool and hot tub, but I'm too tired to even think about it and will probably be asleep by the time it gets dark.

Lady gets into the car very well today although she hesitates before jumping out of it. She needs her nails clipped, which will be her next ordeal. The worry I have now is that she hasn't eaten for 3 days although she drinks plenty of water, and sure gobbles down the pill wrapped in a slice of turkey.

The next two days should be a fairly easy drive if I remember correctly from doing it last year. It's mostly through high desert which is pretty in its own way. I think somewhere along the way is a High Desert Museum, and I might just take a look if it is one of my "short" days.

Here are some photos that Carolyn took of our trip into Glacier NP. Carolyn was there to help me get the car loaded back up this morning, and took Lady for a nice walk around the premises. It has been so nice meeting her, and I'm sure our paths will cross again. And thanks for lunch yesterday, Carolyn - I didn't need anything else to eat for the rest of the day!

Drinking out of the creek:

A walk down to the lake:

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Catching up

I was fortunate to be able to connect with old friends Sandie & Jim Dixon in Helena. They came and picked me up at the motel and drove me around to show me the sights of Helena, which is a beautiful little city - the kind that seems to be so liveable. I had always heard that the state capital is one of the prettiest in the country, and I believe it.

We drove up to the street called "Last Chance Gulch" from back when gold was found there in the mid 1800's, in sort of a last chance attempt. The street is closed to vehicular traffic and is lined with shops, restaurants and bars. We ate at the Windbag Saloon, and all agreed the food was excellent. On the way back to the truck we stopped for ice cream, the end of a perfect evening with a couple of fine folks I visit with almost daily via the blogging world.

From the time I arrived at the motel in Helena I noticed a definite problem with Lady and hesitated to even leave her for a couple of hours. I had in mind to drive up to Glacier NP, which I have wanted to see for so long. In the morning I decided to go for it, but even though it wasn't a long drive I tried to stop often for Lady, who refused to get out of the car. By the time I was a few miles from my destination of Kalispell I knew I should take her to a vet. The GPS wasn't showing veterinarians at all, but don't you know when I turned on a road nearing the town a sign on the right pointed to a veterinary clinic. I decided to take her immediately, but had to return later in the afternoon when the doctor could see her. They did blood work to make sure her kidney and liver function was normal, and gave her a double dose of a painkiller. I called today to find out the results of the blood test, and since it was normal they called in a prescription to a local Walgreens for the medicine in tablet form.

Only a few minutes after they administered the medicine at the vet's office I could see an improvement in the way she stood up, walked, and even climbed into the car. Her condition continued to improve overnight and well into today, when I picked up her tablets. I stopped at a local grocery and bought a package of sliced turkey, and wrapped a slice around a tablet. She gobbled it up, so I'm hoping things will go much better for her the remainder of the trip.

I think I mentioned in my update that I was looking forward to meeting Carolyn who had been in Kalispell for nearly 3 weeks. I emailed her my problem with having to take the dog back to the vet in the afternoon, which meant I couldn't drive into the Park yesterday. Carolyn met me at the vet and helped me with the dog, then after Lady was comfortable, I left her in the motel room and Carolyn and I drove around in her van and saw some of Kalispell, which is such a wonderful little town.

This morning we finally got on the road to Glacier NP. The Road to the Sun is open for about 30 miles at the east and west ends of the Park, but the middle is still under snow from an avalanche. It is expected to be open all the way through by the middle of next week: Carolyn will probably stay for that but of course I want to get the dog home soon.

I loved what I saw of Glacier. Carolyn is worried that I am disappointed in how little I was able to see, but I think everything has worked out perfectly - finding the vet on my way into town and getting that problem taken care of was a godsend to me. What if I had been on the road to someplace else and had to drive for miles, or go out of my way to find help for Lady. To me, the trip here has evolved as if it had all been part of a perfect plan. I'm satisfied with that, for sure.

These are some scenes taken on the way from Helena to Kalispell:


Knowing how Lady likes to drink from moving water, I found a small embankment where we scrambled down so she could enjoy the creek water, and carefully made our way back up. She was surprisingly agile today.

I took pictures with three cameras - my digital, a color film camera, and a black & white film camera - and will have lots more photos when I get the film developed after I get back to CA.

I'm leaving in the morning and still up in the air as to which route I'll take - down through Idaho, across Nevada, and into CA along US 50 around Lake Tahoe, or across Idaho nearly at the border with Canada and then down through Washington, Oregon, and into CA. I need to make up my mind soon, but it could be when I get into the car and program an address into the GPS.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


I took Lady to the vet after I checked in the motel and emailed Carolyn explaining what I had to do. We got to the vet a little early and planned to walk her around to get her joints unstuck, but she wouldn't get out of the car. Then Carolyn showed up and after brief introductions, she helped me with the dog and stuff.

The vet's opinion after looking at her and asking me lots of questions, is that she is in pain from being cramped up in the car for so long. She took a blood test, the results of which should be available tomorrow, to make sure her renal and liver functions are ok, and gave her a dose of some type of NSAID liquid meds. If the tests come back ok then I will get a prescription for pills. The dose they gave her helped almost immediately - she was able to get in and out of the car, but hasn't moved around the room much, doesn't want to go out for a walk (maybe she can't), and hasn't eaten anything and drank very little water.

Tomorrow morning I'm planning to check with the vet, then meet Carolyn for breakfast, and we will go in my car to Glacier. I'm here to see that and I'm going to see it. This area is breathtaking and I know I ain't seen nothin' yet! I'd love to stay a day or more longer, but after the cost of the vet bill I think I'd better go home as planned, and I'll skip Crater Lake this trip. Haven't figured out my route or stops yet, but I will try to keep the days fairly short so I can stop often with the dog. I might get castigated for putting this into words, but I need a man to help me rearrange the cargo in my vehicle so I can give Lady more room. I just don't have the strength to do it myself. She always got up and turned around a few times in the seat, and then went back down again. At least that gave her bones a chance to thaw out, but the way it is now she has no room to turn around in. I feel really bad about it.

So thank you all who have written to express your concern for my pet. She's not out of the water yet, but I'm hoping I can get her back to California and to regular exercise in a warm climate. That same climate that will nearly kill me, might be better for her bones.

I just can't do a blog about Helena or Kalispell yet, but it's being composed in my mind and I'll write it soon.

I told the vet and her assistant that Lady is a gentle soul, but she IS 85 pounds and she is stressed out, and she IS very strong as well as stubborn. I said I would feel much better if they put a muzzle on her. They didn't and then had to do it. Mama knows best!

Kalispell, MT

I arrived in Kalispell at Noon, and it was a wonder that the motel had a room ready for me. About 10 miles before arriving I saw a sign to a veterinary clinic, so I stopped and made an appointment to take Lady back at 2 pm. She is still in the car, an hour after we stopped. She can't (or won't) make an attempt to get out, and I'm not going to force her and then have to somehow lift her back in the car in 45 minutes. On the drive here I stopped several times and tried to coax her to get out, but no luck.

I think she is in a great deal of pain, and if they determine that painkillers will help her then that's what we will do. I lost my previous best friend because his legs wouldn't hold him any longer and I couldn't watch him suffer and lose his dignity. The same holds true for Lady.

I'll blog later and update readers on the trip to the vet. Also, I need to post yesterday's pictures and account of getting together with Sandie and Jim. Right now I don't have the heart to do much of anything.

See ya later.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Helena MT

I was ready to go early this morning and left Miles City at 7:30 am. It's a good thing because I ran into 3 different road works where the line of vehicles had to wait for a pilot vehicle to escort the lane of traffic. It took me at least an hour over what I and the GPS estimated to get here, and I unlocked the motel door at 3:15. I had booked the room last night online - my first experience with doing that. I always preferred to call the number and talk to a human, although I usually just dispensed with reservations because I always like to stop by 3 pm, and it normally isn't a problem getting a room, except, as I found out, in the city of Williston, ND.

Montana is BEAUTIFUL! I apologize for the lack of clarity in the photos but I was taking them through the car windows, and the windshield was nearly covered with bugs. Mostly I drove through pretty open country, but the scenery changed often enough to keep me awake.

I stopped several times at gas stations to use the restroom, but I figured Lady needed to stretch her legs, so we pulled over in an area for installing chains during the winter. There were a lot of cows over the fence, and one by one they turned their heads to stare at either Lady or me. Then they started walking towards us, and I'm chatting away with them and took their pictures before saying goodbye.

I needed to "go" so bad and there was good visibility in both directions, virtually no traffic. I thought about it but just knew that if I saw a vehicle in the far-off difference I would wet on my jeans! Later on through the Helena National Forest there were many pull-offs, but usually close to the creek which runs along the road, and the road was very curvy so I couldn't see far. I don't know why I worry because backpacking and hiking has taught me how to be comfortable in the woods along hiking trails.

I'm meeting up with Sandie and Jim in a little while and we will have dinner. I'll post the pictures tomorrow.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Miles City, Montana

Can you believe it??? Take a look at a map and think about me starting out this morning in Grand Forks, ND and ending up in Miles City, MT! My destination today was Williston, ND, an easy day's drive - until near the end of it.

To begin with, North Dakota is just fine. The first two-thirds of my journey was through pretty nondescript territory, but the road was a divided highway with two lanes each way. I didn't find much traffic to begin with. When I passed Minot the terrain became much more scenic but the scenery was marred by the oil drills, trucks and equipment everywhere, dirt and mud everywhere. Still, the traffic moved ok and it was possible to maintain a fairly steady speed. The roadway up to Minot was superb, and the rest of it was ok although you can see the effects of all the truck & equipment traffic.

Eastern ND:

Western ND:

The photos were taken in a moving car so that's the best I can do and still keep my eyes on the road.

When I got to the outskirts of Williston I knew it wouldn't be a good experience. Heavy traffic, mostly trucks and oil tankers moving through the town bumper to bumper. I stopped at one motel and quickly saw a sign in the lobby saying no pets allowed, so I quickly left. I drove on to a Super 8 motel which I knew overcharges for the rooms but does allow pets for an extra fee. They were absolutely booked up, and when I saw the lobby it was enough for me to leave and decide to drive on.

Leaving Williston the road was just two lanes, not divided, and there was a lot of slow traffic and trucks on it. Coming into Montana I made the decision to leave US 2. While I liked it through Wisconsin, Minnesota, and most of North Dakota, I knew it would be hard to find a motel within my budget. I turned south early on and connected with I-94 at Glendive, then drove the rest of the way to Miles City. I haven't taken my mileage yet so I don't know how many miles I drove (not sure I want to know); I just brought a few things inside along with Lady, opened a cold beer, and will need to go back to finish retrieving my stuff from the car.

I'm not sure where I will go from here. I really want to see Glacier NP, so I might take I-94E to US 12 and stop overnight in Helena, driving the following day to Glacier and staying overnight for 1 or 2 nights in Kalispell. If I do that I will skip Crater Lake in Oregon and go back a more direct route.

I realize I swore I didn't want to get back on an interstate for a long time, but to tell the truth, there was virtually no traffic on I-94 whereas US 16 that I drove south on was terribly congested. You just never know.

I found this link that makes me feel pretty sure it was a cougar I saw back in the UP of Michigan. http://www.kostich.com/Cougar04.JPG In thinking about it I realized if it had been a tawny color I would have thought "mountain lion" right away. The picture has the head and ears right, but the one I saw did not have his mouth open and was completely grey. Gorgeous animal!

So, for anyone who hasn't driven US 2 I would say it is an excellent highway for as long as I traveled it. Through ND there were plenty of rest areas along the way, and fuel stops (with diesel) in the small towns. These are good fuel stops for the most part, with clean restrooms and just about everything that you would find along an interstate.

The wind was blowing steadily at around 25 mph with gusts up to 50 mph. My fuel mileage took a dive although the price per gallon in ND is lower than in Montana, so fuel up at the border if you drive this way. I would strongly recommend bypassing Williston - for being fairly large there isn't anything you could need badly enough to make it worthwhile.

I guess I'll be writing from Helena tomorrow, or not. One more thing, I mentioned that my son tracked down the cell phone I left in Duluth. I still can't locate my MiFi, and now I can't find my sunglasses. Since sunny weather is expected I really need to find them. I started out in a car that was tidy and organized, and by now it is a total mess! It may take me until I get to CA and start removing things from it that I will locate my missing items.