Thursday, December 31, 2009

Las Vegas

Last night was so quiet camped out there in the desert with no one else around. It was a little cold--we need to investigate alternative sources of heat rather than our furnace if we are going to boondock. The furnace just draws too much power.

We took a walk in the late afternoon and got scared out of our minds--we were walking along the road that leads into this boondocking spot, there are other RV's spaced out from each other in this big wide open desert. I saw a guy step out of one of the RV's and the next thing I know he is yelling for his dog who is on a dead run right at us--it is a pit bull--I stooped over and grabbed Emmi up into my arms, the pit bull reached us and jumped up on me trying to get at Emmi, Michael wrapped both his arms around me with Emmi in between us and the owner of the dog finally made it come back to him. The owner says to me, "thank God you picked up your dog!!!." Good outcome but could have been disastrous!! I was literally shaking when it was all over.

Sunset in the desert


Our boondocking spot.

Whatever possessed us to agree to come to Las Vegas is anybody's guess--friends Rick and Judy live on an 80 acre farm in Kansas with no lights or neighbors. How the four of us ever decided on Las Vegas is a mystery! Rick found out that over 300,000 people will be on the Strip tonight. When looking for RV parks we first were going to stay at Circus-Circus where you can walk to the Strip until we found out they wanted $75 for a RV spot! So, because we knew Sam's Town RV Park had a free shuttle to the Strip we decided to stay there. Rick and Judy couldn't get into Sam's Town when they made their reservation so they are at Circus-Circus. OK, now the problem. There is no shuttle tonight on New Year's Eve because they close the Strip to cars and close all the freeway exits into downtown. So, as of right now our plan is to wait until about 8:30 and then drive the route the VERY nice young man at Circus-Circus gave me into the back gate of the Circus-Circus RV park where Rick and Judy are staying--wish us luck!

Dad's co-pilot. No, she doesn't sit up there when we are going down the road. Emmi is sitting there growling at every car she sees go down that road below us.

Las Vegas as we were driving in this morning.

May the coming New Year bring prosperity and happiness to all our friends and family. May this great nation straighten itself and its leaders out. May this war end and our granddaughter come back to us safely. Happy New Year.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Valley Of Fire

There cannot possibly be any Canadians left in British Columbia or Alberta! They all passed us on the freeway yesterday heading south and most of them own or rent homes because they were traveling in cars. We should have counted them!

The roads through Salt Lake City

Me driving!!!

We hit Salt Lake City about 9:30 and encountered the usual heavy, heavy traffic but we also got snow and slick roads. Very slick roads. We saw car after car in the ditch—no bad accidents, just looked as if they lost control and spun off into the ditch or median. I drove for about an hour and let me tell you, maneuvering a rig this size on icy roads makes you pay attention! The icy roads and snow continued until just outside Cedar City then we hit sunny skies and warmer temps.

Our plan was to stay in Mesquite, NV for the night at one of the casino campgrounds—NOT! The only campground left in Mesquite is made for rigs the size of truck campers! The pull throughs held rigs about 20 feet long! So onward again and it is getting late!

We remembered a nice RV park in Overton, NV and headed there—NOT—they were full. It is now dark and we are still looking—onward again. To Valley of Fire State Park about 20 miles from Overton. What a spectacular spot! Reminds me of Sedona—huge red rocks and no lights—the moon was beautiful last night, Emmi and I walked and walked while Michael was getting us situated—this state park has electric and water hookups, with two dump stations. (So tell me why was the guy with a million kids running his grey water across the road last night when Emmi and I were out walking???)

Poor Michael spent about 2 hours trying to get our hot water tank going—this motor home does not have the traditional RV hot water tank—ours operates only on propane not both electric and propane. Somehow in spite of the fact that Mike had winterized the rig the hot water tank had frozen water in the bottom—after 2 hours with him fidgeting and running an electric heater in front of the hot water tank we had hot water. YEA—we both wanted a shower really bad!
The only disadvantages to this park are the price--$24 per night and no Verizon service. I can use the cellphone but can’t get enough of a signal to use the Verizon air card. But, not a problem, we are filling up with water this morning and heading just back up the road to a fabulous boondocking spot. And we are pretty sure the Verizon aircard will work there.

Red rocks in Valley of Fire State Park

The view
Our view out the front windshield of the motor home.
We climbed up on the rocks above the motor home and took this photo--that's us in the foreground of this photo.


Well, we've had a wild hair--friends Rick and Judy (the ones we were meeting in the Quartzsite area) called and they want to spend New Year's Eve in Las Vegas--so, we have a reservation for tomorrow night at Sam's Town--are we crazy or what???




Monday, December 28, 2009

On The Road

After a nearly sleepless night--I was excited, Michael was worried about the motor home--we left home at 8:15am. Stopped in Big Timber to do some banking and took off. Dry roads all through Montana. Our original plans were to make it to Jackpot, NV for the night but when we exited I15 onto Hwy93 to go across Idaho to Nevada we quickly encountered icy highways. About 30 miles of that and we came to a cross roads that would take us back to the interstate and decided that was a wiser choice. This time of year there is something to be said for dry roads!

Dortha, recognize these mountains? These are the Grand Tetons visible as we drove back toward the interstate.


We are in Pocatello, ID for the night in the Cowboy RV Park where we have stayed many times. Boondocking was on our agenda but with temperatures forecast to be below 20 degrees we decided to stay here. It is a small, fairly quiet RV park except for the guy in the office who was concocting all kinds of stories to try and explain why he couldn't pay his back rent of $600! Al from the Bayfield Bunch blogs about his dislike of RV parks and when you have to pay $31 just for a spot to park for the night you can understand his dislike. He and Kelly are our inspiration for boondocking and we intend to try it lots this winter.

The old motor home traveled well today with no problems, YEA!!! Onward tomorrow.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

We Are Ready To Roll

Well, it is almost 7pm and we are both exhausted! We packed and packed, loaded the little convertible into the trailer and packed some more!! I think I have everything--I'm sure I will have forgotten something. I made Chex Mix for snacking, spaghetti for quick dinners on the road, and bread for sandwiches.

Nat came for lunch and we had leftovers from Christmas Eve--beef tenderloin, mashed potatoes and I made a fruit salad and a green salad. I think Nat will miss Emmi more than he misses us.

The Crazy Mountains on Christmas Day.
We hope to make it all the way to Jackpot, NV by tomorrow afternoon. When you have good weather and are driving a rig the size of the motor home--we like to travel hard the first couple of days to get to warmer country!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Day After

Michael and I had a very nice Christmas morning relaxing, enjoying our coffee and opening presents, just the two of us and Emmi. We received from each other books, (I got a great Montana history of quilts book), vests, jackets and Adobe Photoshop. Miss Emmi got a new teddy bear and a beaver that squeaks--her favorite toy is still the duck!

About 2pm we headed into town to drop Emmi with Nat and then it was on to Steve and Jeane's. What a wonderful, wonderful Christmas Day celebration. Jeane outdid herself with the food and the company was awesome. Jeane's house looked spectacular--she is one of those kind of women with exquisite taste in decorating. Their house is a historic carriage house which at one time housed the horse drawn carriages--the glass windows are where the carriage doors were at one time. Jeane's husband Steve is a very gifted artist as is their son Reed. Their daughter Jordan always says she got left out of the talent pool! But Jordan is a great Mom to PJ.

The cooks, from the left--Jeane, Gemma, Jordan and Deb.
After dinner stuffed and waiting for dessert.
Jeane's table, beautiful.

The two resident dogs, Red and Gizmo the Corgi.
The Carriage House
The Carriage House with the Crazy Mountains in the background.


We had a wonderful time yesterday and the fun just continued today. That is after we both worked ourselves to death!! Michael went up the Boulder and installed a set of fireplace doors for Denny and Ellen. I packed, did laundry and quilted a small wall hanging so I could check out how the new table Michael made for the longarm would work. After all that we went to Lonnie and LoraLee's for steaks and crab legs--the crab legs were huge!! And oh, so good! I think we have feasted enough this season--the new jeans I bought aren't going to fit if I eat any more. After dinner we played a card game and then headed home with one tired little puppy who had played and played with all the other dogs.
It has been one of the best Christmas seasons ever and we are so thankful for our blessings!



Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas

It is almost 10pm on Christmas Eve and everyone is gone. We had a wonderful dinner with Lonn, LoraLee, Katie and Nat. Our friends Robyn and Claire also joined us. We enjoyed beef filet Mignon roast, garlic mashed potatoes, fruit salad and a wonderful salad made by Robyn. Dessert by LoraLee was pumpkin pie and chocolate/cherry cake--YUM! It was a very enjoyable evening eating, drinking, eating some more and visiting.

When LoraLee and Lonn moved into their new home recently, LoraLee mentioned that she would like a bench and coat rack for the new mud room. Michael built her both as her Christmas gift--the project turned out very nicely! I received great new books, a quilting pattern and a gift certificate to the quilt store in Billings all of which I love. The kids gave Michael a new vest and a new tool carrier--he is delighted! Christmas Eve with family is the best!

Some of the winter scenes from our walk this morning.



Today was my Daddy's birthday, he would have been 81 years old. He has been gone 7 years and we miss him greatly. I too miss my side of the family during Christmas--we are very close and until I married Michael 15 years ago, I had never been away from home on Christmas but once. But, marriage is a compromise and I understand that Michael enjoys being here in Montana as I enjoy being in Arkansas so we alternate years. It works.
Merry Christmas to all our friends and family!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

White Again

The quilting group Christmas party was so much fun--a little sewing, lots of snacks and warm apple cider. We all brought 3 fat quarters (quilting fabric cut to half of a half yard) wrapped for the gift exchange. Then we did the stealing game--one person opens a gift and then the next person to open a gift can either steal the first present opened or chose another one from the gift table. It was fun, lots of laughs and everyone left with fabric they liked.

About two months ago, Lonn and LoraLee lost two of their dogs, both young cow dogs, McNabb crosses. Were they stolen?? Did the wolves or coyotes come in and entice the dogs away?? Did the dogs just decide to wander?? Who knows, but they were gone and Lonn and LoraLee were sad. No sign of the dogs--fliers were put up everywhere and all the vets and shelters were notified--until a week or so ago. A dog that looks like Jack and Gus had been spotted along the Boulder road by many people and on the way home from Big Timber last night I saw him and he looked like Jack. It was dark of course but the dog I saw had a big white blaze on his chest. I slammed on the brakes and turned the engine off, got out of the car and called and called but he wouldn't come to me and I couldn't see him in the dark. Lonn was going to go back today and look for this dog.

We woke to snow, lots of snow and cold again today and we were off to Billings with Nat for his MOHS procedure. Nat called early and wanted to cancel the appointment but I nixed that idea! Michael decided to go with us as the roads were terrible. It took us about 45 minutes longer than usual to arrive in Billings.

Dr. Wentzel at the Billings Clinic has done his best to convince me of the time intensiveness of the MOHS procedure. I am convinced that it is the best and safest procedure for removal of basal and squamous cell skin cancers but I still stand by my blog To The Doctor written back in November. I also understand that Dr. Wentzel is one of only two physicians here in Montana qualified to perform the MOHS procedure--he is extremely busy. Time intensive this procedure may be but the physician's day is still over scheduled with too many procedures! With that said, we arrived at about 11am for our 11am appointment but Nat wasn't called back to an exam room until 11:30. We were walking out before 2pm! This skin cancer was not as invasive as the previous one and Dr. Wentzel was able to resect the lesion with only one procedure! Nat was very happy!

Our little outside Christmas tree this evening, the skies are clearing and it is forecast to be very cold tonight as in below zero!
The rising moon tonight.
Emmi went along today and was such a good girl, we ran a few errands while Nat was occupied, Costco, Cabela's, etc. We are home, tucked in by the fire and planning our escape from the frozen north, maybe we will leave here on Monday, Dec. 28.
Oh, we hit ANOTHER deer tonight on the way home! I've never hit a deer in my years of driving and up until the one we hit on Labor Day this year, Michael had only hit one other deer in his life. Mike was a teenager when he hit that one--I think the Explorer is jinxed!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Off To Another Party

We seem to be social butterflies this time of year, this afternoon I am off to the quilting group Christmas party in Big Timber. Should be fun, we have time to sew and visit before the party. I made some mulled apple cider to take and the whole house smells wonderful!

A walk first this morning and then Michael and I got started on our various projects. I make all my own greeting cards and due to the lack of storage in the motor home compared to our previous 5th wheel, I don't want to take my card making stuff with me (it's a lot of stuff). So, I wanted to get all the greeting cards I would need for the next 4 months made and I got it done.

Michael is working on another set of fireplace doors and the trailer which will transport the little sports car. Both of us are getting excited and ready to be on the move.

The neighbor's horse and cattle with the Crazy Mountains in the background.


Our weather is due to change, very cold and probably snow. Nat and I are going to Billings tomorrow for his next MOHS procedure.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Winter Solstice

Tonight is the longest night of the year--many years ago I read a book, Winter Solstice by one of my favorite authors Rosemunde Pilcher in which the main characters in the book host a winter solstice party. It struck my fancy so to say and when we are home in Montana for the holidays, we have a winter solstice party. We have such good friends and many of them were here tonight, Larry and Kelly, Jill, Terry & Kerri, Jeane and Steve, Arch and Gwen, Robyn and Claire. We enjoyed great food, wine and conversation--it was a fun party and everybody left their politics at home.

Now Emmi is asleep in Michael's lap (she was the chief entertainment) and we are relaxing, it was a busy day!

Another warm and mostly sunny day today--this was the view on our walk this morning.



Sunday, December 20, 2009

Fiftieth Wedding Anniversary Party

I really, really wanted to finish this quilt today and by 8pm tonight I was successful. I have struggled the entire time I was quilting this particular quilt, doubting my skills. Now that it is off the frame, it looks pretty darn good if I do say so myself.

The quilt belongs to a customer in Big Timber and the photos don't do the colors justice.



I sure hope she like it!
Michael and Emmi went for a walk and I think Emmi got a lesson in how not to chase deer while they were gone.
This afternoon we attended the fiftieth wedding anniversary celebration for our good friends Peg and John. It was held at a bed and breakfast in Big Timber and was a wonderful party. Their son gave a toast that had us all in tears, toasting his parents fidelity to each other and their family. We enjoyed being a part of their celebration! And the cake with almond frosting was delicious!
Emmi spent the afternoon with Nat which they both enjoyed.
Our weather is crazy, one week it is 25 below the next week it is 50 degrees which is what we had today.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Test Drive

Michael really wanted a cold morning to take the motor home for a test drive into Big Timber, it was about 30 degrees when we took off, not quite cold enough--he wanted to see if the air throttle would attempt to freeze up again. Things didn't go off totally without a hitch, when we went down to the barn to start the motor home, the engine batteries were dead. I came back to the house to quilt and Michael started trying to figure out why the batteries went dead and found a quick fix--off we went.

Made of couple of errand stops and then went to fill the motor home with diesel which has come down in price lately! Now, time for my rant--why in the world do gas stations put a $75 limit per tank??? That has to really make the truckers happy! I had one gas station tell me it was my credit card limit---nope--it is an American Express and has no limit. I know the limit is in place to lessen the station's losses when people drive off without paying for fuel but for goodness sakes, in this day and age, do they really think we can fill a 150 gallon diesel tank with $75???? To make matters worse, the wind was howling so bad that Michael couldn't keep his hat on! And it was cold!

Back home and back to quilting, I am gaining on that troublesome quilt and it is looking very nice. No more disasters today.

Off for the test drive.
The Crazy Mountains looked stormy today.
Emmi and her duck. Mark, Dortha, Jim and Ellie gave Emmi that duck while we were all in Glacier National Park this summer, it is probably her favorite toy and I need to do some repair work on the duck soon before his quacker falls out!

Michael hauled firewood and moved equipment around, putting the mini-excavator and Nat's tractor into the barn for the winter. Emmi and I spent the afternoon in the quilt studio.
We sure are a boring pair--we would much rather be at home by the fire, eating my cooking than going to town on a Saturday night--stayed at home on Friday night, too!
Live simply, love generously, care deeply, speak kindly and leave the rest to God. (Quoted from the Traders Dispatch, Dec. 2009)


Friday, December 18, 2009

ARRRHHHGGGG

Some days it doesn't pay to try and start projects. Quilting a customer quilt, marked it with chalk as I lots of times do, misted it with water to remove the chalk and the red fabric bled all the way through the batting onto the backing, ARRRGGGGHHH!!! So spent two hours doing what quilters call "frogging" as in rip-it, rip-it taking out all the stitching I had done, removing the quilt from the frame, loading new backing and will start fresh in the morning, I'm too tired tonight!

We took two walks down to the country road today trying to get rid of some of Emmi's energy and some of our pounds! Emmi has definitely entered puppy adolescence--she is into everything and anything goes into her mouth!! But, we still love her, she is adorable!

Mike spent the day working on the trailer again, fixing the roof vent, etc.

This guy seems to like hanging out around here, hope he is catching some of the blasted mice. Steve, now that you are feeling better, what is this bird??

It was sunny today and about 40 degrees.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Safely Down The Hill

Couldn't find Emmi this morning, looked all around and finally found her in my chair--she is just learning to jump up on things--might not be such a good thing to have learned!

Emmi's first haircut still with the bald belly from her surgery.
Our driveway is 5/8ths of a mile long and in places very steep. Michael had been stewing about how we were going to get that motor home to the bottom of the hill. With the truck and 5th wheel we just chained up the truck and went down the hill but the motor home is a little different. The driveway had melted some yesterday and after we took our walk, he decided to try it--I followed in the Explorer to record the event and say prayers!
Off we go.
The steep part, so far so good.
Success--parked in front of the barn down near the county road. We will have to cart everything down there to the motor home in the Explorer and truck but at least it is safely down the driveway.
I didn't totally get a quilt loaded on the frame but did get some greeting cards made. Michael worked on the trailer today and made a disappointing discovery, the motorcycle won't fit in the trailer with the car. He isn't too disappointed, just a little.
Tonight we wrapped all our Christmas presents and put them back on the bed in the guest room, not under the tree. Miss Emmi decided that the three presents I had under the tree must be for her and decided to get a jump on Christmas by unwrapping them! She is into everything now--there isn't going to be a new puppy in our future right now--we came to our senses!!!




Wednesday, December 16, 2009

What Did I Do Today

Do you ever have days where at the end you wonder--"did I get anything accomplished today?" When I sat down to write this blog I had to really think about my day.

Emmi had me up at 3am--she thought the big bad wolf was after her I think, growling, snorting and short little barks. This went on for close to an hour before I finally could ignore her and go back to sleep.

I started the day out by scurrying around to finish packing the last Christmas box being shipped to Laci in Iraq. I took the package out to the McLeod post office where Judy and Shiela were working today. Judy, the post mistress and her husband Vic own the buildings in the tiny little spot of McLeod, the post office building seen in this photo
their home which used to be a general store when Michael was a child and various other buildings and cabins which they rent out in the summer time. When Michael was a child and teenager there was a natural hot springs swimming pool at McLeod. There is also a two room school house still in operation, grades K through 8th--the number of children attending varies from year to year. Michael attended school there as did our granddaughters.

Laundry and bathing Emmi took up some time this morning as did making lunch. I also made a batch of chex party mix. After lunch I gave Emmi her first hair cut--she doesn't look like our little Emmi now, she looks like a schnauzer and she behaved very, very well. Michael got the driveway plowed this morning all the way to the road so Emmi and I took a walk.

I took this photo of the East Boulder River on my way back from the post office.
Michael and I both started packing the motor home today--it's a start for sure. We can't load much--nothing that would freeze and break the container or ruin. We are hoping the weather holds and we can then move the motor home down our steep driveway and leave it parked in front of the barn we are renting from Joe and Tammy. It will be a hassle to load the rig with it way down there but safer in the long run if we don't have to drive it down a snowy, icy driveway.
So, I guess I did get some things done today, just didn't feel like much.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A Marathon Billings Day

20 degrees when we got up and before we headed down the driveway at 8am, it was 31 degrees. Of course the wind is blowing but it feels positively balmy after the sub zero stuff we have had lately!

Off for a huge Billings day. We left Emmi at Nat's and arrived in Billings around 10am. First stop was to pick up Michael's boots which had been left for repair over 3 weeks ago--he was so glad to have those boots on his feet again! Then on to Northwest Glass where Mike ordered some glass for another set of fireplace doors he is building.

Next stop, Big R, a western/ranch store where we did some Christmas shopping and I found 2 pair of jeans that actually fit!!! Our granddaughter Kristen will be so happy on Christmas!

Petsmart, Office Depot and Famous Footwear, all before lunch!!! Are you tired yet Angie?? We took a break for lunch at CJ's, a much needed break. After lunch I made a quick stop at JoAnn's before Mike dropped me off to get my hair cut while he shopped Harbor Freight. After the hair cut it was Target, Costco and Wal Mart. No more stops after that because the car was full!

A stop at Nat's to pick up Emmi who had a great day with Granddad and then finally home. Michael decided to fire up the skidsteer and plow the snow away from the doorway so we didn't have to wade snow to get the car unloaded--it helped immensely.

We are now relaxing and enjoying some of the delicious grapefruit we bought at Costco.


OK, Al, Kelly, Ellie, Jim, anybody--somebody talk me out of getting another dog. We are thinking of getting Emmi a companion--we have found another litter of mini-schnauzers who are four months old--just two months younger than Emmi. I spoke with the breeder today and we may go look at them this week and you know what happens when you just go look????

Monday, December 14, 2009

Mother Nature Is Mad

I think those of us who live on the East Boulder have done something to make Mother Nature mad!!! It snowed hard last night and we woke to a new 10 inches of snow and minus 10 degrees. It did "warm" up to about 15 degrees today but tonight it is all ready below zero again!

I managed to clean our house this morning, it really needed it. Did the Monday laundry--sheets and towels. Michael was slow to get started today, too--the cold just depletes your motivation! I cooked a good lunch, shrimp scampi with pasta and made homemade bread.

After lunch I headed into town to my friend Barb's. Barb quilts and has rented my longarm machine but she also is a very talented cardmaker and representative for the card making supply company "Stampin Up." About once a month we gather at her house and she teaches us a new technique. A few weeks ago, Barb was diagnosed with breast cancer. This past week she got a very good pathology report and will undergo radiation but no chemo. The party today was part Stampin Up and part celebration of her good report. We learned to make gift tags for Christmas presents. My creativity was not the best today, I think the cold weather took it but I did get some tags made.

When I got home Michael had just come in the house from the garage to one upset little dog--someone left her all alone the whole afternoon. She destroyed the wrapping paper on one of the Christmas presents under the tree and when I went downstairs to the quilt studio--Emmi had been in the trash can and there is paper everywhere! Poor little puppy!

Tomorrow we are off to Billings with a list a mile long. Hope the roads aren't too bad!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Red Lodge, MT

Jane and Rich, Michael and I
It's baccccckkkkk!!! See the temp on the Explorer computer---yes, minus six degrees, again. But we got no snow--Big Timber had about 2 inches of new snow when we dropped Emmi off at Nat's to spend the day.
When I moved from Houston, TX to Powell, WY in 1992, I had major culture shock. No dry cleaners, no chain restaurants, very small town from a city of over 3 million to a state that had less than 500,000 residents. When my husband at the time decided he hated Wyoming and wanted to go back to Houston, I decided to stay. I was the Director of Nursing for the small hospital with 40 beds and one of my nurses, Jane and I became the closest of friends. She and her husband Rich made me part of their family--their children Elizabeth Jane and Jonathan were such a joy! When I married Michael in 1994 and left Powell, Jane and I felt as if we had been split in two. Although we have not kept in touch as we should have, when we do meet it is as if we were never apart--it is that kind of friendship. Michael also adores both Rich and Jane. Today we drove to Red Lodge, MT for brunch with Jane and Rich. We had a great time visiting and catching up. I truly adore Jane and Rich, they are what friends are made of!

The scene on the way to Red Lodge, about a 2 hour drive from our home--frosty!
The entrance to Old Piney Dell where we met for brunch.


The lobby.

Mike and Rich, who by the way got us a "senior" discount for brunch!


Downtown Red Lodge.

The historic Pollard Hotel in downtown Red Lodge.


It was a great day. When we got home I went to Nancy and Geoff's, (Michael decided to stay home with Emmi) to join Jill, Terry and Jeane for stew, homemade bread, salad and great wine. Another wonderful evening with great friends.


When I got in the Explorer to come home it was minus 3 degrees and snowing hard--Arizona is definitely calling me!