Friday, July 31, 2015

Another day in the "Naughty Lands"

…as you know from my previous post, since these hills aren't as rugged as the BadLands, I am calling them the Naughty lands…

Got a painting going!  Yay!  Here's my latest WIP (work in progress).

I kinda like this start - it feels a little looser than my previous ones and I had fun working on it.  (Its 8 x 24).  The blue-green streak in the lower third is the sagebrush.   It takes on many colors throughout the day, from white-grey to green to blue green…love it.

I did a "scenic route" in the park and saw some bison, some free-roaming horses, a Pronghorn (the park newsletter say these are not a deer or an antelope but a family all its own.  It is the fastest land animal in North American with speeds reaching 60 mph)… well my guy was just moseying along, a coyote in a prairie dog field… and then two turkeys passed my campsite.  Not bad!

Anyhow, enjoyed the Teddy Roosevelt National Park, now that I have a painting done, it must be time to move on!  So I'm getting Mac packed up.  Still studying the atlas to decide where next - stay tuned!  ; )

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Adieu Montana, Hello North Dakota...

Had another pleasant drive across the remainder of Montana yesterday.  Really enjoyed the Big Sky Back Country byway.  Very little traffic and a variety of stuff to see.  When I started out, there were these power lines with the old glass insulators on them, which were showing up a turquoise green.  Quite remarkable, but couldn't capture in on camera… That color seems to be calling to me right now… be curious to see what happens with that!

We did some more of the long, gentle roller coaster hills.

And the day's "Big Sky" was blue this time...

We stopped for lunch at Makoshika State Park, our last stop in Montana - it was the start of the "badlands" type of country, and there are evidently a number of dinosaur bones that have been found in the area…

We bid adieu to Montana and crossed over into North Dakota, headed towards the Theodore Roosevelt National Park.  Here is some of what we saw (well *I* saw it anyway, T was snoozing  - his kind of roads) on the way...

I had passed through so much cattle country that I decided to buy a very small filet mignon.  I haven't had a filet in a long time - probably over a year, but I figured, "When in Rome..."  It was pretty good my first night in the Park.

I called Robin for advice on how to cook it, it had been so long…she helped and it came out well.  I was telling her that this park was sort of like a small, gentler bad lands - with more green vegetation, etc.   "Oh," she said, "more like the 'naughty lands'!"  Love it!  Yep, that's it exactly…

View from first night's spot.
So I grabbed a spot for the first night and then went scoping for a spot to plunk down in the next day… early the next morning, I was up at dawn (of course)…

Saw some folks packing up and grabbed their spot when they left - a nice spot with a good view and shade - which we'll need.  Will be upper 80s later today.

View from camping spot #68

T got his moment of Zen in the Little Missouri river last night which flows next to the campground…

Happy hound.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Tail Wind to Jordan (Montana)

Headed out of Choteau yesterday under clearing skies and a strong West wind.  The wind picked up all day - by the end of the day it was blowing 25 mph.  I got 27 miles to the gallon! Woo hoo!

I took highway 200, the Big Sky Back Country byway.  It was.  The drive was quite enjoyable, hardly any traffic, with an interesting variety of scenery.  Here's what I saw leaving Choteau:

Cowboy with lasso sculpture

It clouded up later in the day, but you can see the area is appropriately named:

Big Sky country

I had looked online the day before for places to camp, and it was slim pickin's on the eastern side of Montana.  There's a state park called Hell Creek, but it was up a 25-mile gravel road (my maps program said it would take an hour).  Didn't appeal to me.  Then I found a free campground run by the Kiwanis Club in Lewistown.  We decided we'd head there and check it out.  The reviews said it was basic but clean…They were right.

I liked it.  But we got there about 12:30 and though I sometimes like to just hang out with Theo in Mac for an afternoon, I had just done that in the rain the day before, and there wasn't much to do here, plus did I mention that it was very windy?  So we rested and had lunch and got online to see what we could find further down the highway.  Besides, I was getting such great gas mileage with that wind, I figured I should take advantage.

lunching at the Kiwanis rest stop

I decided I'd have to go with a private RV park again.  I called one that I found and a teen-age girl answered the phone with a "hullo?"  I asked if this was the Hilltop Campground.  "Yes."  Me:  "Are you open?" Her:  "umm, I think so.  Hold on, let me get my dad for you…"  (then I hear a bunch of noise - probably wind!) - then she came back to the phone and said she couldn't find him, could she take my number and have him call back…OK.

Hmmm…not an auspicious start!  So I called the other one in Mosby.  Also got a young girl "hullo."  But upon my request this one got dad right away.  I asked if they were open.  Yes.  How much?  $25 for full hook-up.  "Sounds good - might see you in a bit."  Hung up.  OK, so we headed to Mosby, another 75 miles or so.  More beautiful scenery along the way.

Well, Mosby consisted of just a few houses and I almost missed the RV park, but when I saw it I saw a hand-painted sign on a piece of old plywood that said "RV Park" and a bunch of run down buildings and one camper…  I continued up the hill to a brand new rest stop to consider my options.  Then I found there was zero phone reception.  Hmmm.. 

Let's just say I wasn't "feeling the love" for the Mosby spot…Then a UPS guy came in and I asked him if he knew if the next town,  Jordan, had diesel and had camping?  He said yes to the first question and didn't know to the second one.  OK, I decided to continue on, I was enjoying the drive, we were both rested and besides, there's that gas mileage : )

Jordan was another 60 miles or so.   The hills became like long gentle roller coasters… then we came upon a beautiful sage brush prairie.  The sage brush looked more blue than the photo shows it.

Got into Jordan about 4:30 pm.  Filled up with diesel and asked the lady in the station if she knew of a place to camp.  She said "Yes, just down that street" and pointed.  "Its just a plug-in."  I told her that was just what I was looking for.   Have to admit I was pretty happy to be able to stop for the day.

So I drove a block to the K & K RV park.

The office, which looked like it was in the mobile home of the family that owned the park, had a little neon sign saying it was Open.  I drove up and a nice man came out and I asked if he had a spot for the night.  Yes, $25 for full hook-ups.  Great!  I paid up.   He pointed out the shower house to me:

Hmmm, I think I'll be sticking with the shower in Mac…

It turned out to be just fine.  There were a couple other campers there, I have great internet reception, and there's a cute little park across the street with cottonwood trees, and a new hospital next door…but I did lock my doors just to be sure.

Theo likes the Cottonwoods

Incidentally, just after I arrived I was walking Theo across the street to the park and my phone rang.  I answered it and it was a lady with the Mosby campground.  She asked when they should expect me, I said since I didn't get a all back I decided to continue on to Jordan… She replied "No call back?  My husband was expecting you."  I apologized and explained that I thought she was the other campground… She seemed rather put out and said "Well, thanks for letting us know."

Gee!  I didn't realize I had committed myself!  : )  It was rather strange…and I never got a call back from the other place, of course.

So today we continue eastward.  Looks like the west wind is picking up : )

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Heading east again...

Woke up this morning to clearing skies.  Looks like we'll have a tail wind heading east - that usually bumps my gas mileage  up to about 23 mpg.  Not bad for one's house…

Skies are cleaning at 6 this morning...

I came across this poem which I wanted to share with you…I found it at the Poetry Foundation's website.

The Peace of Wild Things

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Choteau laundry musings...

It's a cold, wet, dreary day and T and I  are thankful to be cozy in our little Mac nest in Choteau, Montana.  Decided just to relax and enjoy electricity and Internet and phone for a day… its been awhile!

After doing the laundry yesterday (see the last two posts) I was reminded of a poem the late librarian in my home town wrote.  I asked my mom if she still had it.  She did!  …and sent it to me, so here it is for you…

      Light Versus Dark 

Agitated and spun, assigned to the dark confines of the drum  
It bears tortuous pains of drying: 
Tossing, twisting, tumbling,  Smothered in sear black heat 
No escape until the buzzer signals. 
The agony is finished. 
The wash has fallen in a heap -  limp, relinquished. 

Agitated and spun, hanging outside on the line 
The wash unfolds and billows in the breeze, 
Basking in sunshine, bleaching as it dries. 
Wrinkles smoothed by the wind and sun, 
It breathes, absorbs, is fresh and alive - 
Filled with fragrance from a day 
Spent in Nature’s company. 

                   - Minnie S. Simpson 1980


As I wrote yesterday, I had Mac wide open and the laundry dried in the warm breeze…  We were seeking shade…  What a difference a night makes!  A cold front came through and its drizzling and 55 degrees this morning!

I was thinking that in a way it is a relief to have a rainy day in the flat plains after all of the grandeur day after day at Glacier.  I mean its hard work to keep admiring things every minute!

Yesterday I had Theo tied outside while I cleaned up Mac, and I heard a sound… he was in play mode with a kitten!  Poor T is confused about cats - Marite's hissed at him, Robin's cat and he tussled, and now this kitten walks right up to him.  He wasn't sure how to react.  I shoo'd the kitten off - didn't want any altercations… he kept coming back.  Finally I brought T inside and closed the sliding door.  Five minutes later the kitten crawled in through the driver's window!  Persistent bugger!

So, its a good morning to get the next leg of the itinerary planned, sip hot tea and stay cozy with Theo… Think we'll  head out mid-day for our next destination - not sure where yet, probably a state park somewhere in mid-Montana… stay tuned.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Heading out...

Now that I'm back in the land of the holy Internet, I thought I'd catch you up on the last couple of days. I was in the non-fire section of Glacier, in fact they evacuated a campground north of us and a lot of those campers came down to ours.  Since I had THE most perfect camping spot at the end, I simply ignored the masses.  I was in # 95, at the end of the line, by the river, looking up at Rising Wolf mountain…I circled it in yellow on the map below:

Finally got a bit of the painting flow going.  Here's my studio set-up (T's in the dark background, lounging on his bed in Mac):

I also tried working in the tent for awhile, but that didn't work out - didn't like the view through the screen, but it was a good spot for Theo to hang out, and to store stuff and to hang laundry…

…and here are some of the WIP's (works in progress) - I was working in the bright light and forgot to compensate, so they came out a bit dark… will have to adjust later, but it felt good to try to capture the moment.

"Glacier on Fire - the last snow"

Later in the afternoon, I did see something that might have been some of the smoke from the north… but it was high up and didn't affect us.

Later in the afternoon a shower came through and made everything sparkly.

Just after the shower, a crew came in and set up a bunch of chairs and a table and there was a quick wedding down in the meadow…

I've been admiring this mountain "curve" - it seems almost figurative…and the changing light on it is nice.

So, I decided it was time to leave the MOST PERFECT camping spot and get on down the road again.  By leaving now I can keep the drives short, and have a few extra days in case I want to stay a few extra days somewhere else.

Theo and I took our early morning walk and on the return I was scanning Rising Wolf mountain.  Just as I was thinking "Gee, wouldn't it be nice to see the bears again…"  there they were - right on time too - at 6:20 am…  What a treat!  Yay!  A good send-off.

We headed on down the highway.  What a switch!  From the mountain views I've posted over the last few days, to this:

Now, that is Theo's kind of highway!  Luckily the view to the starboard side was still interesting for me:

The speed limit was 70, but we were comfortable at 60… after about an hour there was a sign that said "Road Work Ahead"  then a sign that said 35 mph.  Quite a switch!  I slowed down, and then the pavement just ended!  I went to a bumpy dirt road!  So wild.  That lasted for 5 miles and then it was back to 70 mph.  Go figure…

Winters must be pretty rough here!

Decided to check out Choteau.  Its the town where A.B. Guthrie lived and wrote The Big Sky.  I had decided that I needed 1) Internet and phone service, 2) electricity and 3) laundry facilities… that meant one of those gawd-awful RV parks which I avoid… But I crossed my fingers and pointed Mac to the Choteau Mountain View Campground.  The signs for it kept saying "Under New Management."  Is that a good thing???  Anyhow, low and behold it had been closed for awhile and just re-opened and NO ONE was there!  Yay!  I got the only shady spot, I have three loads of laundry going, and you see that I am able to blog.  There are some good points to civilization I suppose…

Theo & I love empty campgrounds...

Of course, as usual, I couldn't bear to use a dryer when the humidity is like 12%.  I swear the clothes dry faster in the air!  So once again, T had to put up with laundry in Mac.  He's getting used to it now…

I saw a bumper sticker on my way out of East Glacier:

   "Montana is full.  I heard North Dakota's nice."

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Bear! Bear! Bear!

I finally saw a bear!  I was just turning away from admiring the mountain early yesterday morning and I saw movement… I looked and saw a black dot moving along the mountain…looked with my binoc's and saw a mama black bear with her two cubs!  Here's a picture of the little dot!

I watched them for 15 minutes, eating and walking.  The cubs even wrestled a bit for me.  ; )

We had another nice rain for an hour yesterday and it was quite windy.  The rain and sun made some nice colors on one of the distant mountains across the lake… I've started some watercolors of the scene.  Something about rainy days makes everything already look like a watercolor…

I got my watercolor "studio" going in Mac, thought I had a photo ready of it, but don't, so that will have to wait.  I've also been makings notes and drawings in my journal...

….and contemplating what to do next with this mountain painting, or to call it good for now…

My mom said it was time to post a photo of myself again, so I set up the timer to get one of me and Theo in Mac.  I woke Theo from a nap and he was not cooperating!  I thought this was a funny photo!

He was happier later when we went down for his moment of Zen…

…and I want my nephew Daniel to know that Theo still plays with the toy he gave him.  Yesterday he went to sleep with his head on it.

It is really nice to stay put for awhile and get to know a place - esp. such a breathtakingly beautiful spot.  I like having a view and privacy from my campsite too…

I stumbled across this quote I like, and it seemed to fit the moment!

"I'm sick of following my dreams.  I'm just going to ask them where they're going and hook up with them later."  - Mitch Hedberg