Life Happens

September 12, 2017

Once again Dan and I are alone.

While we made our plans to go to the Grand Tetons, life happened. Our truck has been in the shop in Bozeman, MT for seven days now and they are still working on it. Apparently a cracked head in our F250 and diesel leaked into our coolant system. So here we are at Bozeman Hot Springs RV Campground. It isn’t a bad place to be stranded. It has been in the mid to high 80’s and we have the Hot Springs to soak away our cares…until we heard the weather forecast of a winter storm watch. For Bozeman this means thunderstorms and rain.  Hopefully our truck will be fixed tomorrow and we can leave before the weather hits. If not, well we will deal with it when and if it happens.

FB_IMG_1505279322335Our truck at M&W Repair in Bozeman.

DSC_9286_Boz-hot-springs2Pools at Bozeman Hot Springs

It was a bittersweet moment as we watched our son, daughter-in-law and grandkids drive away yesterday morning from Bozeman Hot Springs to return to the life they built in beautiful Bigfork, Montana. At the beginning of summer we went to Bigfork to work, to help, and to play with family. They were in the midst of a total remodel and they had no usable dinning room, kitchen or living room and a leak in the roof.  We were extremely tired at the end of each days work, but we managed to find time to play too, teach the grandkids new games and relieve some of the burden of cooking and cleaning.

While there we celebrated three birthdays and cried with them as they buried their beloved family dog, Bruce.

20170701_094816Bruce kept us company while working on the house.

20170630_102516Dinning room during painting.

20170630_102536Working on the kitchen before cabinets.

20170720_103316Me and my daughter-in-law did all the painting.

20170720_095209Kitchen cabinets are in. That’s my granddaughter getting something to eat.

20170720_095455Fixing the roof.

We accomplished our goal and so it was time to move on.

Our plan was to travel to the Grand Tetons spending scarce one-on-one time with our oldest Montana granddaughter. Our son and his family would then join us later to enjoy the Grand Tetons and then they all would return home. No matter how well we plan something, we know we should always expect the unexpected. Instead of the Grand Tetons, they came to Bozeman. We had to change or cancel plans going forward but being retired makes it easier to be flexible and go with the flow. However we still have to work at letting go of expectations and disappointments. After all life happens.

This morning we walked to The Coffee Pot Bakery Café, a local favorite which is right down the street. Their bakery goods were amazing.

1174870_origCoffee Pot Bakery Cafe

We did some laundry, walked 4 miles, organized some cupboards, wrote a blog, and did some reading. We ended our evening soaking in the Hot Springs and eating a $1 ice cream cone.

Tomorrow is another day. We don’t know what it holds but we will try to stay positive and productive, making the most of the day if our truck isn’t finished yet instead of begrudging what we can’t control anyway.

 

 

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The Mountains are Calling

September 7, 2017

“The mountains are calling and I must go”                                                                                              John Muir

and so we did.

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Something within me desires to connect to nature and it’s creator. I hear His voice in the wind, the rivers, the roaring of a waterfall, a peaceful lake, and the rustling of leaves. His handiwork is all around us. It is above us and beneath our feet. He envelopes me and speaks directly to my soul.

This is why we go.

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We find a clear path to personal growth and transformation, through a forest wilderness

and so we go.

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I think John Muir’s wife Louisa was a wise woman. She understood her husbands desire to go to big, beauitiful, wildness loaded mountains and often urged her husband to go for his health.

We go for our health too, mental and physical.

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I am so grateful to my parents for sharing their love of nature, hiking and camping with me. The legacy they left is forever etched on my heart and Dan and I have in turn, encouraged our kids to go, seek, explore, awakening the same yearnings to seek the creator of all things created on his own turf.

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We know it is a legacy because our children are sharing this same love for creation with their children, our grandchildren.

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Glacier, Jasper, Banff and Kootenai National Forest reminded me that we are still wild at heart. There are still places where we can open our door into a world untamed and unspoiled wilderness. Finding awesome is a good place to be.

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As awesome as this was, the smoke from forest fires and bare charcoaled sticks where green forests once flourished, was a sober reminder of how little control we actually have and how quickly everything we take for granted could be gone in a instant, including our lives.

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As we drove through Kookenay National Park, we stopped at a small gas station to fill up. There were small pick-up trucks lined up to get gas, they were being evacuated from their homes. Each truck was loaded with what was important to them, kennels holding their dogs.

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And so they go…..

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to who knows where to wait out the fire and then they will return because the mountains are calling and they must go.         

 

 

 

The Maze

August 26, 2016

We paired off with a partner and headed into the 15 acres corn maze except for our son Phil. He went alone because seven people is a odd number.

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The race was on! Running forward was easy. So were the first left and right choices we made.  After that, the adrenaline created by the desire to stay ahead of the others kicked in and spurred us on.

We came to an intersection and our natural tendency to choose our own way and take shortcuts only lead my six year old granddaughter and me in circles or caused us to backtrack.

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There were five markers total with clues. I’d like to say that by working together we came up with a strategy or a plan that helped us find the first marker but the truth is we stumbled across it.

We heard laughing and talking coming from others as they negotiated paths off in the distance. We were sure they must be on the right path while we were still on the wrong one, but thick walls of corn stocks kept us apart.  Their voices faded and we were left to find our own way through the labernath.

We slowed down and started to talk about options.  We talked about the story of Hansel and Gretel and how they dropped bread crumbs to find their way home. We found corn on the ground and broke it into small pieces to drop on the path so we could tell where we had already been.

We soon found a bridge and climbed it to get a bird’s eye view of where we were and where we wanted to go.

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We met three families who were traversing the maze together while pulling two wagons of small, hungry, tired children. They had enough of the maze and were ready to find the exit. They asked me if I knew which direction was out. I pointed to the path that lead the way back to where I had seen a person with a maze shirt. “I think someone who can show you the way out is down that straight, and narrow path” I said.

“No”, one of the tired fathers said. “We came from that direction already, we just want to move forward.” “There has to be short cut out of this place that’s closer.”

I thought to myself, I remember those days. When we were young and felt trapped in a maze, not knowing how to get out and not wanting to backtrack or accept help. We thought if we just kept moving we would find the shortcut.

It’s not easy to admit when we chose the wrong path or made an impulsive decision. At the time we thought we were right or at least justified in our decisions. It was life experiences and consequences that humbled and matured us.

“Sometimes making wrong choices can sometimes lead you to the right place. ”

Author Unknown

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Note to readers: Our son beat us all out of the maze!

 

 

 

 

A Simpler Time

August 21, 2017

We hit the open road to explore past and present through cool towns nestled in the foothills.

Our first stop and admittedly my favorite was High River, home to Maggies Diner, where scenes from the modern Western TV series ‘Heartland’ are filmed.

I’m not sure why my husband and I have enjoyed this television drama so much. Maybe it’s the beautiful scenery or the focus on home and family values. Maybe it’s the love and respect they show each other no matter what life throws their way.  In a time of social uncertainty where moral issues are not clear cut, it’s refreshing to watch a story line where the family pulls together and not apart.

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We took a step back in time at High River’s Museum of the Highwood to experience past Western life as well as to view present ‘Heartland’ props and photos. The museum had something interesting for all ages.

20170819_134504.jpgHead ’em up, move e’m on!

Next we drove to Bar U Ranch in Longview to discover the life of a ranching cowboy from the late 1800’s.

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bar-u-ranch-nationalBar U Ranch

20170819_162828.jpgOur posse headed for the ranch.

20170819_163301.jpgBetter then a computer!

20170819_163623.jpgThe tack room.

20170819_165921.jpgLearning to rope a steer.

20170819_164700.jpgA wedding party passing through.

I asked a few people what they thought a real cowboy was and I got answers like they wear cowboy hats and boots or they ride horses and chase cows.

I even offered to pay the grandkids a dollar if they asked a cowboy they saw but they we’re too embarrassed to ask.

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I certainly am not an expert on cowboys, and I probably have watched to many Westerns but somehow I think a real cowboy is more then boots, a hat and a herd of cows. I think being a real cowboy comes from deep inside himself.

What about you, what do you think makes a real cowboy?

Cowboy wisdom: “Real cowboys don’t need to correct people. They just smile, nod their head,and say yep. Each to his own. That’s the cowboy way.”

Note to reader: The Bar U Ranch is a National Historic Site. I read it is a preserved ranch and for over 70 years was one of the leading ranching operations in Canada.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Cowboy Trail

August 18, 2017

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What better way for a couple of city-slickers to kick off a Canadian road trip along the scenic ‘Cowboy Trail’, then to go a small town rodeo.

I’ve heard said “It ain’t rodeo unless you can taste it”.  I’m here to tell you I ate my share of dust between bull riding, steer wrestling and barrel racing.

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The next morning we woke up our cowpoke, rustled up some grub, saddled our horse powered trucks (fifth wheel and trailer in tow) and headed for wide open spaces where the sky never stops.

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We entered Canada just east of Glacier National Park just past the town of Port of Piegan. The border guard asked us four simple questions:

1. where are we were from? That was easy.

2. What guns, rifles, shotguns, or firearms did we have? When I said none of the above, he asked…

3. What do we use to protect ourselves? I think he was a bit shocked and maybe embarrassed when I did an impersonation of Karate Kid. Needless to say, he asked us our last question…

4. Did we have any firewood? I had done a little advance research and so we already knew not to bring any with us. We unloaded the firewood we had at our son’s in Montana before we embarked on this adventure.

The border guard let us pass through to the rolling foothills surrounded by stunning Blue Canadian Rockies.

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Being that we don’t have an international data plan, we put our phones on airplane mode when we crossed into Canada and opted to only use them where we have wifi. The downside to this is we don’t have GPS. Do you know how dependant we have become on GPS? If you don’t think so, turn it off the next time your driving somewhere you have never been, you probally won’t last 10 minutes before you turn it on again. With that said, we decided on the old school method of an official Alberta road map. I can’t believe how much fun it was to follow along and we didn’t have someone telling us to turn left or turn right or worse yet, make a u- turn. It is so annoying!

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Our son is the Wagon Master of this here Wagon Train. He towed his trailer in front of us with his family of buckaroos. He has an USA/ Canada data plan which means they have GPS as long they have bars (reception).

Between us all, we got to where we are staying for the next few days, Bow River Edge Campground in Cochrane, AB. This will be our home base while exploring Calgary and the surrounding area.

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Note to self: Fill up with gas before going over the border. If you think gas prices are high in California, you ought to come to Canada.

Note to readers: The Official Cowboy Trail runs north and South along Hwy 5, 6 & 22. I read that it’s more than a highway. It is a way of life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wheels with Wings

March 19th, 2017

I am gazing out our bug splattered windshield at the long stretch of highway 60 before me. I am thinking that the neutural grey-green shrubs blend well on the open space of the high desert we are driving through. They are the bones of this landscape with occational patches of red dirt for a splash of color.

The hum of our 250 Ford engine mingled with the familiar rattles of our old truck, lulls me into a state of introspective consciousness.

Something is changing but it’s hard to put my finger on, or describe but I am going to try.

Since we have been full time RV’ers, home in the traditional sense of the word, is where we ‘park it’. I know a lot of you don’t consider living out of an RV on the open road, as having a home. Traditionally a home is someplace you can put your roots down, find a doctor, a dentist and get to know your neighbors right?.  That is what we thought too when we started this journey Feb 1st of 2016.

So what is changing? you ask. The more we’re on the road, the more I realize that we are developing wings and deeper roots. Stay with me now, I know this sounds a bit crazy but let me explain. These wings I am talking about are free of self imposed limitations. These wings, when spred to fly, trust in something much bigger then ourselves. These wings give me a different perspective, one of being a very small part of life on this planet. These wings help me to see glimpses of the grand design. They also remind me that I am only passing through. If I am only passing through, I must be going through to somewhere. This ‘somewhere’ is part of the grand design which is part of a grand plan. Plans have an architect. I need only to look at the universe to know it is so. How it all works far surpasses my understanding but knowing the architect gives me hope, and it gives me peace.

RV life is humbling. This is part of our journey. At times it can be lonely, scary, frustrating and stressful. But it can also be fulfilling, adventurous, freeing, enlightening, relaxing and beautiful!

We camped at Homolovi State Park. We had the privilege of looking at constellations through telescopes the Ranger’s had set up for us. I felt so small against the black inky sky full of pin hole lights suspended in space.  The more I gazed to the heavens, the smaller I became in the universe, yet I gained a stronger sense of self and belonging at the same time. I know I am part of the grand design. I feel the world beneath my feet but there is also a wonderful connection knowing that we are part of something truly profound.

Our roots are deep. The ones that strangle are being trimed off. The ones that give life are growing with nourishment in the river of life.

If you have been following our journey as we left corporate america, sold our home, downsized, hiked 500 miles across Spain and then went on the road as full time RV’ers, then you already know our home is not of this world. We are just passing through.

Boundless Love

February 20, 2017

When your retired, and a full time RV’er and a medical situation arrises 2700 miles from everything familiar, it is challenging.  Like many others in this country, our medical insurance is expensive and our deductible is crazy high topping out at $6,750 per person. However, we are both very grateful to have insurance….even if it is basically just major medical coverage.

It was a chain of circumstances and complications that led to  the medical emergency that resulted in surgery for my husband of 42 years this past week.

What I have learned to do when there is a problem bigger then me, is to remind myself how vast, boundless, limitless, measureless, and immense my God is and so I usually give it to Him to handle. He does a much better job with it then I could ever do by myself, so that is what I did. Then together we focused on making the best decision for the immediate situation in front of us. We then repeated this process again and again, until there was a solution for every situation that came up. Some solutions we had control of and others we did not.

Even though Dan has asthma, he has been blessed with a strong immune system and has always been very healthy.

With that said, he has experienced an occational bout of acid reflux which turned out to be gallstones and the cause of flare ups that mimic a heart attack. Nobody knew this, not even multiple ER doctors he has seen over the years.

After one such bout that accumulated other symptoms, compounding the pain until it was it was no longer bearable,   we texted a friend for a hospital recommendation.  We were on our way home from Cape Canaveral, when we decided to drive straight to the hospital and not go home. Since we live in our RV, home is where we park it. Currently we are parked in Mt Dora, Florida so that was the direction we were heading.

We reached the ER by 10:30 am and they wheeled him into surgery at 1:00 pm. It was so fast, and Dan was in so much pain that he didn’t have time to over think it.

The surgeon appeared and said to the pre-operating male nurse “We need to go now and get his gallbladder out, his infection is raging, and I am concerned about sepsis.”

I quickly bent down and whispered into Dan’s ear what was meant only for us and only for that moment. Then I kissed him and they took him away to the operating room while a male nurse led me to the waiting room.

Alone, I felt the heat rising in my face and the tears stung my eyes. I wasn’t scared, I was hurting.  I have known Dan since I was 14 and we have  grown up together. In that time, he has never broken a bone or been operated on. I knew he was desperate for a solution and I was desperate for him not to be in pain.

Dan and I are so different in many ways, that we laugh about it sometimes. We argue about it too as our communication wave link is not always in sync. Yet we have learned how to keep our love alive while keeping our vows. It is a life long process that requires continuous commitment and during this process we found that we complete each other.

I was elated to see him sitting up in bed after the operation. His eyes were a bit glassy and so were mine. “I’m missing body parts” he said.

“You still have all the important ones” I said with a laugh as I hugged him.