HOME, HOME ON THE RANGE

HOME, HOME ON THE RANGE –

WHERE THE DEER & THE ANTELOPE PLAY !

We pulled into Fairchild AFB, Spokane, WA earlier than we planned, so we were able to unpack, get settled, and meet up with Tori after work on Wednesday, May 19th. We had dinner at her favorite Greek Restaurant downtown Spokane, just a short distance from her office building.  Not only was it great home cooked Greek cuisine, but the relationship built between the owners and Tori caused us to realize that she had made an impact on Spokane as well as the other way around. We were treated to the most wonderful “Chocolate Baklava “ by Sally, our personal waitress and one of the owners.

The next several days were a mix of packing, good-bye get-togethers, cleaning, sorting and down-sizing, which all lead up to the final “walk through” by the rental company lady.  The little “Condo/house” sparkled when we were done… at least that is what we thought.  Little did we suspect that we were facing the “White Glove Test”!   Could your living domain pass that?   Mine surely couldn’t!  The lady representative from the company, got out of her car, smiled, and put on white gloves… and went over that place like a drill sergeant at boot camp!

 She was not upset about the 3 little scrapes on the wall from a chair that had backed into the wall – she said that could easily be fixed.  Her main concern was a  quarter- sized area behind the toilet that needed attention!  She asked if Tori wanted to take care of it or did she want the cleaners to do it. At that point…. It was decided to let the cleaners earn their money.

Our last night in Spokane, we  were invited to dinner with Angie and Dave who were the couple from back home who inspired Tori’s move to WA 3 years ago.

It was a wonderful evening, even though Dave got home late from his job, we were kept in stitches with Tori and Angie digging up old tales, and commenting on current events! It was a sweet & sad parting for the girls. They met the 2nd year of college and have been close  friends ever since. They both lost their Dad’s suddenly, within 8 months of each other, and their bond is as strong as sisters in many ways.

DEPARTURE: We pulled out of the AFB at 11:55, Saturday, May 29th, 2010 hoping to  avoid some of the holiday traffic. We made it to Missoula to “Jim & Mary’s “ RV camp…. Hooked up the RV and let the cat out of the box and made ourselves at home. It is really nice having all the comforts of home and only costing a fraction of the price of a motel. The best part, is not having to drag everything into the room and out again in the morning. We have the “setting up” and the “unhooking “down to a system now, so it takes only a short time to get everything where it belongs.

The second night was at Bear Canyon in Bozeman, MT … in the exact same site we had on the way out. The view was just as breathtaking as the first time. We did manage to leave earlier the next morning by at least 25 minutes… however, it really was an hour and 25 minutes since we lost an hour as we entered Montana. Tori says they should rename the state to “One Lane State” due to all the road construction.

 We had one incident that backed us up for half hour…. Since we have CB in the truck and Glenn hooked one up for her in her car… the chatter on the air kept us entertained for most of the event! The traffic had been backed up into one lane, but the impolite drivers (for lack of a better word) decided to make 3 lanes…. One on the left, in the lane that was closed and the grossly impolite drivers made another lane to the right on the side of the road that really was part grass. Of course, that got the CB’s burning.. And there were some really impolite words flying around … but most of us in the real traffic lane had to agree with their descriptions…. We also learned that a hot electrical wire was down, causing the interruption in traffic. Many of the impatient drivers did not know this.

It is what spills out when your cup is bumped that shows what is inside…. And that was a bumpy ride!

Finally….. I get to the part that refers to the title!!!     Home on the range…

Not only have we traveled through 1000’s of acres of green pastures, and hills full of cattle… but we have also seen groups of antelope … some near the cattle, some by themselves, many in groups of 4 to 6.

 We pulled into 7th Ranch RV Campground Monday afternoon to stay for the night. It is an actual working ranch, horses, corral, pastures, streams….and RV sites that are “level” with all the hookups, your own charcoal grill and picnic table and another incredible view.

We made it to back to Custer, SD, to the French Creek Campground and were warmly welcomed by “Rock & Diane”, our hosts…. from our stop on the way to WA. We registered for a week this time.

We have been to 2 BBQ’s with Rock as the chef… Steaks, chicken, and all kinds of potluck from the campers here. Rock has a BBQ every Friday and all are invited.

We have met such interesting characters: first, a fellow named Russell. Some called him a “homeless” man…. Russell travels all over these western states with only a backpack. He probably is somewhere between 50 and 55. He sleeps in a tent in all kinds of weather, works as a ranch hand when he can find work, stays in the mountains, or campsites… and has more stories to tell than an old Indian Chief.

Then, there was Dennis, the big man wearing a Harley shirt and blue jeans who sat down at our table during the first BBQ. After a while, we learned that not only was he the owner and chef at “The Hitchrail” (a restaurant the everyone we met at this place has recommended), Dennis is a class A chef who has cooked for Julia Child, Queen Elizabeth, the G 8 Summit and more. The questions started popping out of our mouths so fast, Tori & I had to take turns asking.

Tori had just watched the Julia/Julie movie the night before, so we had to ask Dennis about Julia … was it at all intimidating to be cooking for Julia Child?   Dennis just grinned with a twinkle in his eyes and said,” Aww, I just gave her 2 or 3 glasses of champagne and she loved everything!!

As for the G 8 Summit, Dennis was one of four chefs chosen to cook for the “Big guys”, but every ingredient, temperature, and morsel was checked and rechecked by the SS and the FDA! We hope to stop and eat at his restaurant before we leave Custer. We did pass by the other day… and it looks straight out of an old western movie and more like we should ride in and tie our horse up to the rail than show up in a truck. Dennis did say that some folks do come by horse and do just that!

Today, Saturday… the day before the Volksmarch up to Crazy Horse, we were totally intrigued by our guide, “Darla”, who took us on a personal tour of Pine Ridge Reservation. Darla, had taught in Pine Ridge for 3 years, so it was like coming home for her. She introduced us to the fragrance of “prairie grass”. Just breathing the fresh air, it is similar to fresh mown hay… but sweeter. The four of us traveled miles and miles to get to the Red Cloud School where we met up with “Ron Kills Warriors“, who was one of her students. He guided us through the entire area, including a walk up to the cemetery and Red Cloud’s grave.

Darla made history come alive for us today…. she knew every mile of the trip as she traveled these miles every day for 3 years. When she taught in Pine Ridge, there was not housing for the “white teachers” on the reservation, so she was used to all the driving. Today was a break for her since Glenn drove the truck. We were able to see the Buffalo, Prairie dogs, more antelope… and some of the most beautiful scenery you could imagine.

There were also the Native American homes…. Sadly, I cannot describe some of the poverty we saw…. the result of our government giving the Native Americans land that could not be farmed, most of the soil is sandy only allowing prairie grass, sage and prairie flowers to grow mostly in the spring due to rain. There is no water to irrigate the land even if you could grow anything… so you see old trailers (hot boxes in the summer) with broken down cars( referred to as Indian ponies) in the yard . In the summer the Indians camp outside in teepees or tents, because the trailers have no A/C or even electricity and the heat inside soars into the 100 degrees. There are some houses with no windows or curtains, some have dogs in the yard, many of which get killed on the highway as they run free to hunt much of their own food. You must watch the road closely, in some areas a cow or horse may wander onto the road.

I will close for tonight… and I will refer you to Tori’s blog at:

http://taleofanomad.blogspot.com/

You will need to cut and paste. Tori can tell you about the Casino we stopped at today for lunch. She writes better than I and she has beautiful pictures. God bless you and keep you safe.

Just Mimi

WILD, WILD, WEST “LIVE” & IN LIVING COLOR

 

WILD, WILD, WEST  “LIVE”  &  IN  LIVING  COLOR

How amazing to look out your truck window and actually see Cowboys driving cattle!  That is something I have only ever seen in Cowboy movies, this was real.  There were no cameras, directors, sets, makeup or actors!!  The cattle were being herded right toward us, to an open underpass as we drove over…there were at least 4 -5 cowboys and upwards of 50 + cattle. This happened in Montana, Monday afternoon.  I am getting way ahead of myself…. I think I left you in South Dakota. ( I now am getting little nudges from some family and friends..”when are you putting out the next blog?”)

I believe I left you in Beresford, SD at the Windmill campground with “ Grizzly Adams”.  We didn’t let the dismal, gray morning dampen our spirits as we headed to Custer, SD.  On the way to Custer, we stopped at Mt. Rushmore.  The faces, of course, look just like the pictures … and it was a beautiful drive. There were piles of snow from the recent snowfall, but the roads were dry.  I thought Mt. Rushmore would be much bigger.  There were people on top of George Washington’s head.  At first, we thought tourists were actually climbing up there somehow. We learned that they were workers putting in some kind of lasers. No one seemed to know why they were doing this… but they looked a little like bugs standing on his head. There were the usual “tourist trap” stores, a little café with expensive coffee and ice cream plus meals if you wanted to spend. The shops with every kind of book, statues, clothing items, cards etc, were available. We took our photos and headed down the mountain and on to Custer.

The “French Creek RV Camp” was easy to find, only this time, the owner looked a little like “Uncle Jesse” from the old Dukes of Hazzard. His name was “Rock”, he was 69 years young and has a witty saying for just about everything! His lifetime trade for 38 years was doing all kinds of leather work including everything from boots & belts to saddles. In addition to that, he bred horses. He and his wife, now retired, run their campground and he still works leather items. These folks were so easy to like, the park was nice with all the hookups, so we stayed two days just to rest up and to see more of Custer.

Unfortunately, our Friday tummies were on EST. By 4:00 pm we had walked from one end of Custer to the other looking for food. Finally, we found the “Wrangler Restaurant” complete with a waitress that tuned us in to almost everything we needed to know about the Custer area. It is a beautiful area, nice folks, two saloons and an old western bank turned in to a restaurant, little antique shops, a market, and even a Dairy Queen.

Saturday was an “ R & R “ day. At least, we were in one place for more than one night. We were on our last bit of whole wheat bread, so the day off gave me time to whip up a batch and bake them in the tiny RV oven. I could hardly believe all three loaves fit in the oven at once. When they came out of the oven, while still warm, we took the a loaf over to Rock and Diane. It was only about 20 minutes later, a knock at the door… it was Diane with a gift of freshly caught trout. I haven’t cooked fresh trout for ages…. I had to actually hook up the computer and look for a recipe. It was incredible…even with the bones. While we were feeding on the fish, two deer walked over the bridge and onto the grassy area near the park. Now and then a car would pass, and they seemed totally unconcerned…. We also realized what the little pebble-like poo was near our RV. Looks sort of like rabbit-poo only bigger. Glenn tried to tell me it was “Jackrabbit” droppings because they are a lot bigger rabbit.

Custer has “in-town hunting”!  There are times when 300 – 400 deer come down into town, so they have designated “hunters” who shoot them. This is done only with bow and arrow so as to not shoot anyone accidentally, and hunting is done at night when there are fewer people about. The meat is dressed and given to the food bank. If you want deer meat, you just put your name on the list.

Sunday morning, we got up early and attended the church Rock had invited us to. It is held in the Elementary School Auditorium only two blocks from the campground.

Even though Rock calls it “The Cowboy Church” , we felt very much at home there. Most of the men did wear cowboy boots, and a number wore cowboy hats. There was a special place on the wall where they hung their hats.

We are looking forward to staying at French Creek on the return trip, as we plan to visit the Crazy Horse Memorial during the June 5th and 6th march up to the site.

The rest of the state left us awed and stunned by the beautiful scenery one moment and the desolate acres of burned forest with many black tree trunks and stumps, burned logs and limbs on the ground with areas of grass trying to recover. We tried to research this on the internet, but most articles were about controlled burning to exterminate tree deadly insects. It was strange to see some areas green and healthy and over the next rise of charred forest. We are still hoping to find more about what happened to cause this extensive loss.

Sunday night we ended up in Sheridan, Wyoming. We decided to dry camp or ” boon docking” as many call it. That is when you don’t plug in or hook up to anything. You rely on the generator and propane and your water tank for the necessities. You brush your teeth and flush, wash dishes, shower (if you have enough water… and space in the gray water tank). The batteries provide some electricity, but don’t plan on using the computer, radio or TV etc unless you also have a generator. The generator runs on propane (which needs to be refilled now and then) to provide electricity for the icemaker, the microwave and coffeepot and air conditioner, if needed. Our spot for the night was at a Wal-Mart Super center. Glenn asked the manager’s permission as a courtesy, and we were welcomed and the manager told Glenn about the more private parking in the back area away from the busy traffic. By the time we shut our lights out for the night, there were a good number of other RV campers, small and large along with three 18 wheelers.

Wyoming into Montana is hard to describe adequately. Rolling hills, green with grass, the snowcapped “Crazy Mountain” in the distance teasing us into thinking it was moving as it got bigger and seemed to move from side to side and then back in the middle where it started out. The mountain got it’s name from a “Crazy” woman that fled up into the mountains. The Crow Indians found her, and from then on called it Crazy Mountain.

We are hooked on the legends as you can probably tell. Montana is more beautiful than any pictures can portray. Many places you have a panoramic 360 degree view… then, you are in mountains rising to several thousand feet and you look down and see cattle grazing over huge areas of open range. There are also all colors of horses, from a few to a dozens or more. This is definitely God’s Country…. When you look at the evidence of the living planet so designed and the animals free to roam, the views from high in the mountains where so much seems untouched by humans, it becomes very difficult to believe that a “ big bang” could have done this. It would be like your two year old dropping the eggs and breaking them and calling it a quiche.

Monday evening, stayed in Bear Canyon RV Park near Bozeman, MT with the incredible sites of fields, some homes here and there…with mountain ranges in the distance and the Rockies beyond them. The RV Park is up the side of a mountain and we had an awesome view from our dining room window. It was worth the price to be here and I would love to come back. We are heading out toward Butte, MT next …..it is 106 miles from here. Hopefully, we will land about 100+ miles beyond. We feel so blessed.

 

Happy trails to you and God Bless you………… Mimi

ROLLING THROUGH SOUTH DAKOTA

Rolling through South Dakota

Greetings from the “straight” roads of South Dakota.  The roads here do not follow the cowpath, as in Pennsylvania, they mainly go North & South, or East and West.   There are fields of lush green pastures with black and brown cattle that are speckled with baby calves.  Farmlands that are in the hundreds of acres, cornfields with Ringneck pheasants …. further down the road a little pond with a family of geese, the little ones swimming happily, not at all discouraged by the fog and the drizzling rain.

We have stayed at several campgrounds that are really nice.  It seems we are the early birds of the season because there are empty spaces in the RV parks we visited.  The last one, the owner looked kinda like Grizzly Adams… I almost asked him where his bear was.  He was telling us that he gave up farming to buy the campground (and stick home).  He owned 600 acres, and had to lease 3000 more just to make a living wage.  That is a lot of farming.  I think I would take the campground life too.  Actually, he offered us a job hosting….. he and his wife have been looking for a couple to work 24 hours a week and it would give us  a free week to stay there.  You have no idea how tempting that was, and it is information for the future.

There is not a lot more to share at this time, however, we did each find a sweatshirt at a super center.  We never dreamed it would be this cold.  We were aiming for Rapid City, SD, until we learned that they just had a half-foot of snow dumped on them yesterday!  Guess we will take our time for a day or two  until it warms up.

This note will be short, just wanted to keep up to date.  We are at the halfway point.  The folks we have met so far have been really helpful and super nice.  Glenn has managed to put the pedal to the metal, but stays  under the speed limit.    He has also managed to stay out of trouble …. no dumped tables, or chocolate disasters… we did buy and extra Tide pen..!

We are so looking forward to seeing the Crazy Horse Memorial… the people here seem very enthused about it.  If we have time, we may check out Mt. Rushmore.  It was a little disturbing to me that Mt.Rushmore is on the license plates..and there is no other choice.  Not that carving 4 white men’s faces in Black Hills of South Dakota isn’t a major accomplishment…. I just feel the Native Americans may have a different perspective.  If nothing else, it has to be one of the most ‘”politically incorrect” things that has been done. 

Back to the “Happy Trails”… will look forward to your thoughts and comments and emails.  Keep your head up and the wind at your back, and song in your heart!

Mimi

The BIG House – The Little house – The 5th wheel!

THE BIG HOUSE – The Little House – The RV

Could you ever imagine yourself living in a doll house? As a little girl, I could see myself walking around in a tiny house…. with a tiny kitchen, washing dishes in a tiny sink, a tiny stove, sleeping in a pretty little bedroom and sitting in a tiny living room.

Now I am living in a little home… only it is called a 5th wheel. It has a wonderful kitchen with a little stove and a tiny freezer, a beautiful bedroom that is small until you expand the walls outward, a lovely living room with a fireplace that also can grow space outward if you need more room…… and…. It moves, when you hook it up to a strong Ford truck and put a handy (and handsome) husband with built-in directions, behind the wheel to move us about where-ever we could possibly want to go.

We have a “stick house” which is in a permanent place that doesn’t move. There is also a little stick house in a “senior” neighborhood that is for sale. We are trying to decide if we want to live in a house we can take with us, or stay in a stick house for part of the year, and live in a RV the rest of the year.

For all of the family members and friends who keep us in your prayers and wish us “happy trails”, and, to friends we have yet to meet, this blog is for you. It comes to you as a day by day story on the road as we head westward to move a daughter home…with the hope that we will have a better perspective of a full-time RV life.

The adventure began several weeks ago, when we were constantly struggling with all the tasks involved with getting the BIG house repairs done and the RV in prime traveling condition plus the normal “family stuff“. The “to do’s” kept us so dazed by constantly appearing like “pop-ups” on the computer that we finally wrote them down on the old blackboard in the kitchen. Before the list, the “to do’s” were like an airplane at La Guardia circling with no place to land…. it is amazing how fast things can get done when we get to cross them off !

May 6th, at 12:15 pm, we pulled out of  Montoursville, PA on the westward roads to Spokane, WA. I must admit that we were still loading the RV at 12:03. The day could not have been more beautiful. Our first rest stop was at Warrior Path on Bald Eagle Lake, where the Six Nations country met on Grand Island and then headed to Bald Eagle Mountain. How incredible that we have passed this beautiful site many times and never noticed the historic lands we were passing through.

The first night we stayed at a Super-Wal-Mart parking area near Kent, Ohio, after getting permission from the store manager. Recently, we learned that there are some towns across the nation that have passed ordinances against Wal-Mart providing hospitality to campers. Some towns have gone as far as incurring fines. So, we were happy to have free space to park our RV, and we felt pretty safe being there. The store manager’s only qualification was that we could not stay more than three nights….and he even said that with a smile.

Friday morning, May 7th, we awoke refreshed and ready to go. We noticed the kitchen table was wobbly, like the one we get at our favorite restaurant. However, the kitchen table is bolted to the floor and should have been unmovable. We didn’t have time to deal with it at breakfast, so we let it go. It wasn’t until later during a rest stop, I was in the bedroom looking for something, and heard the most awful CRASH…. !!! With my heart pounding, I turned and looked in the kitchen, there was Glenn and “The Table“. If you can picture a See-Saw with one end up and one end down. Glenn was hanging on to the “UP” end with his butt in the air. He had not let go of the “Down” end of the table and the basket that had been ON the table with all the pens, odds & ends, napkins, Glenn’s glasses and other notable items had been propelled up through the air dumping everything from one side of the kitchen to the other.

The table is now fixed. Which I will not go into, and Glenn is fine. So far, it has been the most exceptional happening… except for the truck mud flap incident. If you need an expert in mud flap repair….please don’t call Glenn.

We stopped at a nice woodsy campground with all the amenities in Van Wert, Ohio, just a few miles from Indiana. We decided to stop early, due to weather reports of severe storms and very hard winds. I made Taco wraps for dinner, as we listened to Country music which was routinely interrupted by NOAA warnings of severe thunderstorms and a tornado watches in Indiana, just about where we would have been had we gone further.

We know that “Papa” ( our affectionate name for God, as written in the book, The Shack ) is with us as we venture forth. He reassures us in our hearts that he is with you as well. God Bless you and keep you safe.

Mimi

Where did “Mimi” come from?

There are more than a lot of  “Mimi’s in the world and I am one of them.  I became “Mimi”  at age 42 when Matt, my first grandson, was born.  I believed that I was too young to be a grandmother or Granny, Nana, or Grammie, since I grew up with  references to those ladies,who, excuse me, were”old ladies” with gray or white hair, a whisker here or there but always offered soft hugs. These ladies often wore only lipstick and/or rosy circles on their cheeks.  They used hairpins and some even had blue hair.

When asked,” What would you like Matt to call you?”  ….” Mimi” seemed like the best choice.  After all, some people who didn’t know me,  might think I was” too young” to be a grandmother.  It was the best compliment they could give me at the time…except for… “You’ve lost weight, haven’t you?”   

The same year Matt was born, my eye doctor prescribed bifocals!   I told him, “Well, I am a grandmother, I guess I could wear bifocals!”  So, Mimi with bifocals entered into a new world…… the one where you can love the little ones and feed them sweets, get them hyper and then send them home!  When the littles ones were naughty, you could take credit for wishing them on your child …. ” I hope when you have children, you have 2 or 3 just like YOU!”  In between, were the hugs, the secrets, and all the things the grandchildren tell you about their parents that your kids  would cringe if they knew you were now aware of.  

That was almost a quarter of a century ago,  in just a blink of an eye.  How did we get here so fast?  It had to be warp speed and now we face “Great-grandparent-hood”.  No, I don’t think there are any of those little “beings” out there yet for me….. but now,  I wonder…. do I become “Great Mimi” or “Great-grand Mimi? 

 No….. thank goodness I will be just “Mimi”.