Sue and Mo at Harris Beach

Sue and Mo at Harris Beach
Sue and Mo at Harris Beach

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

11-30-2022 Home in the Fall

The colors on our maple didn't turn until mid November this year

As you no doubt are aware, if you follow the blog, I am writing backward.  Well, maybe not writing backward but definitely going backward in time to last fall.  It is much easier to do that sentimental, stream-of-consciousness kind of writing that I did this morning when writing about December.  If I am in the mood, that is the kind of writing that I enjoy the most, when it just flows.  Now I must get down to the brass tacks of documenting the weeks between our return home in mid-October and the beginning of the December blog.

Even on cold foggy days in November, the leaves were still on the trees

Why is this so hard, I wonder? Maybe because after a long journey, the return home feels a bit like the same ole same old stuff.  Looking at the calendar, what stood out the most was the medical appointments.  My regular doctor for another shot in my locking trigger thumb, my annual visit with the Neuromuscular specialist for the IBM, the skin doctor, the dentist for an overdue cleaning, and joy of joys, repeated trips to Rite-Aid for various vaccinations.  A flu shot, another pneumonia shot after one ten years ago, a Covid booster, and the dreaded shingles shot.  Not a single bad reaction to a single one, even the shingles vax only gave us a tiny bit of a sore arm for a day.  Felt pretty lucky with that after some of the horror stories I had heard.
The trigger thumb doctor is great at the cortisone injections but said it was time for me to see the hand specialist and schedule surgery.  Oh, Joy.  Hopefully, I can get it done in between cruises.  I have two coming up this year.  Hard life, I know. The Neuro doctor is well acquainted with IBM and wonder of wonders is right here in Grants Pass.  IBM groups throughout the world spend a lot of time complaining about how even the best specialists don't know what they are doing more than half the time.  My guy is so cool and studied IBM specifically, so he knows to NOT prescribe any kinds of creepy steroids or auto-immune drugs and simply tracks my progress from year to year.  Good news.  Progress is very slow and on the IBM Functional Rating Scale of 0 to 40 with 40 being the best and 0 being basically completely incapacitated, I am now 30 out of 40, and last year I was 31.  So that means it is going slow and once again he said I probably wouldn't need a wheelchair until I am 100 or so.
The zinnias didn't freeze until the middle of November

When we got home, fall seemed a long-forgotten memory from driving through the northern part of the country that we only imagined.  The temperatures here in GP in mid-October were in the low 90's.  At least it cooled to the 50s at night, and the days were shorter so it didn't feel quite as bad as it can in summer, but it was still really hot.  We settled into being home, thrilled at what great condition the property was in with help from caretaker daughter Deborah, and friend Gerald who kept the sprinklers checked and running, made sure the salt was filled in the water unit, tried valiantly to damp down the activity of the many ground critters who love our lawns and gardens, and mowed and trimmed the grass. 
As you might remember, the MoHo overheating problem was never actually solved during the trip, and Mo said that once again as she drove over the passes, the temperature gauge heated up every time, even though she wasn't towing the baby car on that solo trip home from Portland. (Remember in that last blog post for October when I said Mo stayed in Portland with the MoHo while I drove home alone in the Baby Car?)
Mo and her brother did some work on the rig, with Dan making a new harness for the hydraulic jack motherboard which had come loose back in Illinois somewhere.  We spent the last part of the trip trying to get level with blocks and really missed our jacks.
The first couple of weeks after we got home, Mo spent a huge amount of time on the internet searching for the right parts and then even more time installing those parts.  Wonder of wonders once again, Mo to the rescue, and she figured out the overheating problem.  She finally decided that even though we had a new thermostat installed at the beginning of the trip, maybe it was faulty in some way so, after much hunting around, she ordered a new one.  When it came and she got the old one out, they didn't match!  Seems as though it was the wrong thermostat all along.  We made some test runs over the passes, and so far so good!  The rig hasn't overheated once since Mo finished that repair.
Mo also figured out that she needed to replace the solenoid for the unit that operates the hydraulic jacks.  Sure enough, after she did that the jacks worked fine, and have worked perfectly ever since.  I am so grateful that Mo is a darn good fix-it kind of person and usually can figure out what needs to be done.
Maryruth and Gerald entertained us for a lovely dinner in October when we returned home

I usually begin decorating for Fall on September 1st, no matter how hot it might be.  The summer flags go down and the fall flags go up.  Not this year.  With it already being mid-October when we got home I had my work cut out for me getting out all the Halloween decor in time for my evening hosting the Grants Pass Book Club.  I love fall and have learned that I can put up everything for fall and Halloween and only have to take down the 100 percent Halloween stuff to keep the rest up until time to decorate for Christmas.  Yes, you may have figured out by now I might be a little bit nuts when it comes to this stuff.

The book club evening was fun, and I served a big mess of nacho bar fixings to accompany the hot cider, topped off with a bit of caramel vodka for those who might choose to imbibe.  It was a fun evening, and when it was over, Halloween was upon us. 

Since we live on a rural road, I decided to go over to my friend Maryruth's home for the trick-or-treating festivities.  Their home is in one of those nice neighborhoods with sidewalks and level walking where people from all over town bring their kids for the evening.  It was great fun answering the door with Maryruth and seeing all the little kids in their costumes.  I have missed that part of Halloween living where we live in a more rural area.
Check out all the hot October sunshine pouring in the windows and the green leaves on the trees
I may have mentioned "Fall", but with temperatures in the 80s and all the leaves on the oaks still bright green, it was hard to realize that it actually was technically fall.  Most years by November 1 the leaves have turned and the colors in Grants Pass are postcard brilliant.  Not so this year.  But the weather played a nasty trip and overnight it went from the 80s and sun to the 50s and rain, but still no frost.
My zinnia bed bloomed fully until the morning of November 15th when a hard frost finally put those brilliant little flowers to rest and they were relegated to the compost pile.  Finally.  Still, the leaves didn't fall from the trees until early in December, so our fall raking chores were postponed until the weather turned really cold and really wet.  So much for raking this year.  The colors this fall were somewhat subdued, with only a bit of color finally showing up in early December.  I have photos to compare so I do know that it really was a poor year for color in Grants Pass.
Deborah with me in the sunshine at Schmidt Family Vineyard
Lovely place to be on a fall afternoon
Mo and I spent a lovely afternoon at our favorite local winery with Daughter Deborah. 
We also managed to complete two fall puzzles that were fun and challenging.  It seems that as soon as we finish a puzzle and put it away, I get antsy to bring out another one.  Puzzling is the one thing I can do that will take my mind off of all the other things I am supposed to be doing.  I get a bit obsessive, I guess, but it is such a soothing activity that takes my mind away from everything else.  I need that sometimes I guess. 
Thanksgiving this year was hosted by Daughter Melody and Robert at their home in Brownsville. 
Mo and I drove up early on TG morning with an invite to stay in their guest room.  Daughter Deborah drove with her son Matthew and our neighbor Karen (the elderly lady who lives across the street).  Karen is a bit forgetful and gets confused sometimes, but she really loved the trip and spending the day with our family. 
Neighbor Karen, Daughter Deborah, and Grandson Matthew at Melody and Robert’s home
Axel and Py doing what young people do, hanging out in the media room with their phones
We also enjoyed having the grands visiting for the day with Axel and their partner Py joining the family for the festivities. Grandson Xavier had to work, but I got to see one grandkid for the day so that was great.
Mattie was an honored guest as well
Somewhere during the middle of November, Mo said she thought it would be fun to spend the night at Seven Feathers on the way home from Melody's place.  The Casino and hotel are only 45 miles from home but on the I-5 route.  We checked into making a reservation and were a bit daunted to discover that the cost with the dog would be more than 200 bucks for the night. 
Why stay in a hotel when we have a MoHo only 45 miles away.  We decided instead to drive home from Brownsville, rest for a day, and then on Saturday, we drove the MoHo back to Seven Feathers for a great night at the RV Park associated with the casino.  RV people traveling I-5 through Southern Oregon are often familiar with this Casino and RV Park.  It is a wonderful park with a beautiful indoor pool and lovely grounds.
Seven Feathers RV Park is a very  nice park
For less than half of the cost of the hotel, we had a perfectly level spot on cement right near the pool, with full hookups.  In Canyonville, the sweet gum trees at the park had turned gorgeous colors of red and orange and even though the weather was wet, we enjoyed every minute of our stay.  Mo and I drove over to the Casino for a bit of entertainment, where the small amount of money we chose to donate provided us with some noisy colorful entertainment for an hour and a half or so.  We didn't care to spend the big bucks for the steak house restaurant, and the buffet is only mediocre, so eating our own meal in the MoHo was perfect.
Mattie enjoyed the walks around the beautiful grounds. 
Part of the draw of Seven Feathers for us is the pool.  Early Sunday morning we put on our suits and walked through the chill to the waiting heated pool.  Locked??  It seems that the pool closed that morning for some repairs and swimming was not to be part of our Seven Feathers stay on this trip. 
The drive home was a perfect test for the MoHo, with 4 passes between Canyonville and our home in Grants Pass.  Not once did the temperature gauge needle budge from its normal operating zone.  What a relief after all that trouble and worry on our long trip last summer.
Grandson Matthew is a great roof climber for putting up the lights
During the last days of November, it was time to take down all that orange and gold fall stuff and get started with Christmas.  The weather was warm enough for Matthew to get the lights up before the first of December.  It was good timing because after that week the weather turned foggy and icy and I wouldn't have wanted him climbing around on a slippery, icy roof.
By the last days of November the leaves finally started to falll
With the outside lights going up I was inspired to begin the inside decorating, beginning with the Christmas Village.  I have been doing this village for about 40 years now, adding more and more in the early years and cutting it down a bit in the last few years since we moved into Sunset House.  Sometimes I think maybe I don't need to do it, but after it is up I am always glad I made the effort.
In the midst of all the decorating and un-decorating, visiting, making Christmas cards, and reading books for the book club, I kept on writing and writing about the cross-country trip.  It was on November 30 that I wrote that very last blog post and I haven't had the mental energy to try to keep catching up on the back posts until these last couple of days.  Finally. 
Now, at last, I am all caught up.  It somehow seems an important thing for me to do on this last day of the year.  I can begin 2023 with a clean slate, all caught up and ready to go for the next year. 

10-07 to 10-10-2022 Family Time in Washington and the Final Run Home

Take a look at Daughter Deanna’s view through their front windows in Lincoln, Washington

Let me say right away that this is a family picture-dense story of our visits as we wound our way home from our 7-week trip across the country.  We traveled many miles to see “stuff”, but we also spent some quality time with family. As many have said in comments throughout this trip, we are so lucky to have a way to not only see amazing sights throughout the country but also visit family and friends along the way.  It doesn’t happen without serious planning and ensuring our route includes these heart-warming stops.

My Great Grandkids: Orion, Theron, and Tearany

With everything falling into place for Friday, October 7 for a visit with my great-grandchildren, we left early from Don and Wynn’s home in Spokane.  The trip on this section of Highway 2 between Spokane and Davenport would be the last of our magnificent trip across the northern part of the United States.  Highway 2 continues west over the Cascade Mountains to the Pacific Coast near Seattle and is another stretch with magnificent scenery I have traveled many times over the years.

Lincoln is a tiny community on the shores of Lake Roosevelt, the dammed portion of the Columbia River east of Grand Coulee Dam.  The lake is long and surprisingly deep with the depth of the portion near Deanna’s house more than 200 feet.  The nice thing about this area around Roosevelt Lake is that the cold snowy winters of Eastern Washington are moderated a bit. The National Park Service operates 35 recreation areas along the 660 miles of shoreline and the adjacent hills are dotted with vacation homes for Spokanites searching for a bit of relief from the late winter to enjoy a bit of springtime that comes earlier along the shores of this lake. 

Lincoln is about half an hour from the closest community of Davenport where Deanna and Keith can get a few groceries and eat at a small restaurant.  The big box stores of Airway Heights west of Spokane are less than two hours away if needed.  The two of them have created a lovely life in this rural spot with a home and small acreage surrounded by open space and wildlife.

The sheep are an interesting addition to their property, coming down from the cliffs nearby to nibble on whatever tasty goodies might be in the yards and gardens of the residents.  A small herd wanders almost daily through Deanna and Keith’s place.  It is fun to see them, and many are wearing trackers. 

The best part of this location for the family is that it is within driving distance from Wenatchee where the great-grandkids live with their mom Tracey.  My grandson Steven lives just an hour north with his new wife Stormi as well.  It is all about family, and when Deanna and Keith decided to retire from trucking, this was the spot they chose to be.  Keith is retired, working part-time locally, and Deanna is working from home.  It is a good fit for everyone. 

We parked the MoHo in the driveway, perfectly level, and hooked up the power to their 20 amp outlet.  The temperatures were pleasant with no need for using the air conditioner so 20 amp was completely adequate for the small amount of time we spent inside.  Most of the day was spent in the house with the family.

Tracey, the kid's mom

I was excited that we could visit, and even more excited that Tracey did some fancy maneuvering to get the kids out of school on a weekday so that I could get hugs and love from my great-grandkids.  This was the reason Mo and I slowed down and took a few extra nights along our route as we approached Washington State. 

The kids had worked on a painting for me and decided that I wouldn’t have space enough for three so they collaborated on a painting with each kid doing a section.  Happy Birthday to me! I think I spent that day completely immersed somewhere in the middle of New York City. I had completely forgotten that I had a birthday, so this, and the cake Deanna made was a sweet surprise.

We also got to listen to Orion play his flute which he is very good at with some years of band behind him.  He is also now learning the Saxophone for his high school jazz band and played that for us as well. 

We spent the day laughing and playing with the kids and enjoying the view. I don’t get to see these kids nearly as often as I would like with several hundred miles between us.  It was a special day.

Loved seeing how much Orion has grown, now 14 years old and in high school

For supper, Keith made burgers on the grill and we enjoyed the great weather with dinner on the deck

The kids stayed overnight, and the next morning Deanna and Keith cooked a big country breakfast for everyone with all the fixings, including some yummy cranberry muffins.  We had more sweet family time, enjoying the view and taking more photos before Mo and I continued toward more family visits in this part of Eastern Washington.

Deanna and me.  Yeah, we both like to be barefoot.

Mo’s brother Don, whom we visited the previous day in Spokane, bought a recreational piece of property near the confluence of the Spokane River and Lake Roosevelt near the community of Fort Spokane.  He wanted to share his new place with us and show Mo all his plans for creating a family getaway not far from their home in town. 

Mo and I traveled north along the beautiful road to Fort Spokane, enjoying the amazing views.  Currently, the property is a work in progress but it was fun visiting and hearing Don’s plans for the future.

Theron, Steven, and Stormi

Our day continued with another half hour north of Fort Spokane to Gifford, Washington, where my grandson Steven lives with his new wife Stormi.  It was wonderful seeing Steven again and hearing his stories about living on a small homestead.  Steven is very much into permaculture, organic gardening, and growing as much of his own food as he can on his small hillside acreage with an amazing view of Lake Roosevelt.

Steven’s property isn’t far from the Gifford Campground on the lake. Mo and I took Mattie there for a bit of time at the lake so she could run around before we took the steep road up to Steven’s place.

Theron takes after his daddy with his love of gardening.  He was very proud of his carrots.

Here is a photo of Theron’s dad Steven.   Think they look alike?

It was late afternoon when we returned to Deanna and Keith’s home for a wonderful supper of freshly caught trout on the grill.  Yum.  It was incredibly delicious.

With the kids gone and just the four of us, there was time for good conversations about family and life and all the good and all the challenging stuff that life can bring.  I treasured the time with my daughter.  Grandkids and Great Grandkids are great, it is wonderful to see them, but for me, there is nothing quite as special as daughter time. I am darn lucky to have three loving, beautiful, fabulous daughters. The other two are closer in distance but we are all as close as the phone and the internet. 


Daughter Deanna in a moment of talking about our family

On Sunday morning, Deanna went back to work in her cozy home office and Mo and I packed up the MoHo.  We headed south from Lincoln by 8 am, on our way through Davenport toward Highway 395 and West Richland, a town in what is called the “Tri-Cities”, consisting mostly of Richland, Kennewick, and Pasco.  Located on the Columbia River, the TriCities have grown exponentially since I lived in Idaho.

Nancy and Mo in Nancy’s kitchen.  Didn’t manage a photo of her new puppy

Mo’s sister-in-law Nancy, wife to her brother Roger who passed a few years ago, lives in West Richland and we didn’t want to miss another visiting opportunity.  We didn’t stay long, but enjoyed the time at her home visiting and meeting her new pup. Nancy has often made the effort to travel south to Oregon to visit with us at Sunset House so we were glad we could stop in to get a hug and a bit of good conversation. 

After our short visit, we continued south toward the Columbia River and west on I-84 toward Mo’s brother Dan and wife Chere’s place in Beavercreek, Oregon, a small community in the mountains east of Portland.  We settled into another level paved site and enjoyed a fabulous dinner that Chere made for us.  Tacos, Tostados, and all the fixin’s including some crock pot roasted jalapenos for a topping and fajita grilled chicken.  So Yummy!  Sometimes visiting friends and family gives us a chance for some great meals.

Chere on the porch of their lovely home in the woods near Beavercreek

In addition, Mo’s brother Dan is a great fix-it guy and he and Mo settled in for the afternoon trying to troubleshoot the overheating MoHo, and the messed up levelers which hadn’t worked since we were somewhere in the Midwest. They were partially successful but needed at least part of another day to continue the work.  We decided that instead of waiting around, I could take the Tracker and continue home first thing in the morning and Mo would come later with the MoHo.

Dan and Mo

The best part of this plan for me was that I got to drive south on I-5 and cross the six steep passes between Eugene and Grants Pass without stressing out about the rising temperature gauge in the MoHo.  I stopped in to visit my youngest daughter Melody in Brownsville, just a hop off the freeway before continuing south.

Daughter Melody loves her dahlias

The next morning, Mo and Dan flushed out the exterior of the radiator to see if that might help with the heating problem. Mo then headed south toward home, alone in the MoHo without me or Mattie for company. Even without the Tracker, the temperature gauge rose a bit over the steepest passes, but Mo was able to get home without incident.

Yes, Jeanne, that is the wine you gave us that we saved for a good celebration

That evening we celebrated the completion of our cross-country trip with a bottle of wine on the deck.  Even in October, the temperatures were 91 during the day and evening sunset time on the deck was warm enough to sit outside without sweaters.  Such a surprise.

With this final story, I am at the end of the long tale of our 8,150-mile trip. I realized that in the post where I talked about miles and days, I never added up the states that we traveled from late August to mid-October.  We traveled to 29 states, including Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, Nebraska, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana, Idaho, and Washington.

Just a little side note:  In the next post, whenever I get around to it, I will tell the story of the overheating problem and the fix!  So far so good, and we think the problem is solved.




Tuesday, November 22, 2022

10-05 and 10-06-2022 Onward to Friends and Family in Idaho and Washington

Now that is a long title that isn’t all that exciting, but I have no clue how to write it differently.  We crossed the country from Wisconsin to the Continental Divide without stopping along the way to visit anyone.  No one we know lives near the High Line, which lies close to the Canadian boundary.  But once we officially entered a part of the Pacific Northwest, the area of Northern Idaho and Eastern Washington sometimes called “The Inland Empire”, that all changed. 

We left early on the 5th, traveling west toward the looming eastern slope of the Rocky Mountains and the Continental Divide. We expected a steep grade and decided that it would be prudent to travel separately so the chances of the MoHo overheating would be less.  I took the photo above with my phone while following Mo in the Tracker.  Yeah, a bit fuzzy and the photos of the buffalo along the highway are even worse.  Still, I knew Mo would love the buffalo photos so I did my best.

No eye rolling allowed, please.  Those black things that look like rocks really are buffalo.  I think my friend Gaelyn takes pretty good photos while driving, but I am not a fan of that process, and obviously not very good at it.  Believe me, I never try it while driving when Mo is in the car.  Not a good thing to do, I know.  Still, I have the photos to prove that there really were buffalo there, and caught some great photos of the MoHo which I would never get any other way.

It was only 60 miles or so from our campground in Cut Bank to Marias Pass.  The actual distance of any part of that pass that could be considered even moderately steep was the last 12 miles from East Glacier to Marias Pass.  I knew that crossing the Rockies in this northern part of Montana was much less challenging that traveling some of the passes through the Rockies in Colorado.  The elevation difference between different passes is considerable. 

Elevations along Montana’s Divide range from a low of 5,280 feet at Marias Pass near Glacier Park to 11,141 feet at the most southerly situated Eighteenmile Peak.

An interesting tidbit from this website about the Continental Divide in Montana: Montana’s Divide respects no geologic structural dictate, but rather snakes at random through the high terrain of the state’s Northern Rocky Mountains. With a spectacular start in the remote western reaches of Glacier National Park, at the 49th parallel of latitude where Alberta, British Columbia and Montana join, the northern most point of Montana’s Divide begins its run to the south at an elevation of 7,460 feet. It leaves our great state about three miles into Yellowstone National Park at 8,320 feet where Montana, Idaho and Wyoming join in a nondescript, flat, difficult to find timbered landscape.

When we reached the top of the “grade”, we parked opposite the Continental Divide marker at Marias Pass and laughed with each other about how easy it had been.  We hooked up the Tracker and continued west on our route toward Northern Idaho.

Once again, when attempting to find fuel in West Glacier there was a bit of a kerfuffle and before we knew it we had passed all the recommended stations and were in downtown Libby.  Lucky for us, we had enough fuel to get farther west to Troy, Montana, where we made no attempt to find cheap gas and simply fueled the MoHo at a station that was on the right side of the highway and had large enough bays to make fueling easy.  Funny how after driving several thousand miles the priorities shift from saving money to saving sanity.

Troy was a sweet afternoon delight.  I was again in familiar territory, having driven the route from Spokane to Troy many times for many different reasons in the past.  It is an easy route, quiet, curvy in places, without any significant grades to deal with.  We were content to stop in Troy and enjoy the city park for an hour or so on such a beautiful afternoon. 

The park was lovely, located along the banks of the gorgeous Kootenai River.  The population of the town is somewhere around 800 people, and on that sunny afternoon, it was clear that the city park was the location of much of the social life of the small community. Funny thing about Troy, at 1880 feet, it is the lowest-elevation town in the state of Montana. Troy was registered as a town in 1892 and grew quickly after the Great Northern Railway built a freight station there, leading to a boom in workers, miners, and their families.

The railroad bisected the town and we waited a long time for some train workers in individual cars to pass at a crossing.  There were many people on both sides of the tracks watching the working cars, and it was evident that they appreciated their train workers.  No one seemed the least bit frustrated by the 20-minute wait except us.

Our destination for this first night in Idaho was Bonners Ferry and the big parking lot at the Kootenai River Inn Casino and Spa located on the banks of the beautiful Kootenai River.  We have camped there in the parking lot a few times in the past and when I called the casino to verify overnight parking they were as welcoming as always.  The only request was that we park on the far eastern side of the lot and make sure that we weren’t blocking any traffic.

The Kootenai River Inn and Casino is a great parking lot for a free night on the road

Chat and Georgette, long-time friends who once lived in California, now live in Bonners Ferry on a gorgeous piece of property overlooking the wild mountains east of town. We have camped with them in the past, but sadly this time Georgette was away at a cow dog training event and couldn’t be with us.  Her husband Chet was hiking on that day but agreed to meet us at the Casino for a nice visit and dinner at the restaurant.  I completely forgot to take dinner and friend photos but did manage to get a photo of dog lover Chet visiting Mattie in the MoHo after dinner.

Our night was pleasant and quiet except for the trains.  There was a crossing right near us. Every hour or so the loud clanging of the crossing would wake us and the train would roar past with its whistle wailing.  We laughed at this being the worst train night of our trip. If you decide to park at this casino it might be smart to have earplugs.

Our route the next morning was along a very familiar road.  Highway 95 bisects the state of Idaho from south to north and is a route I traveled sometimes daily in my years mapping soils in Northern Idaho.  The road hasn’t changed all that much and I recognized much along the way.  I found myself remembering soil pits that I dug in various locations in Boundary, Bonner, and Kootenai counties.  There is no better way to learn a landscape like the back of your hand than to travel all those back roads day after day.  Every time I return to this part of Idaho memories surface about my days in the field.  Most of them are good, but other memories come up of fearful lightning storms where I hid for an hour in my eight-foot-deep soil pit with trees falling all around me. Another time when a giant bald-faced hornet managed to get inside my long leather gloves and stung my arm repeatedly.  Such fun and part of the life of a field scientist.

Nothing but a windshield view of Pend Oreille Lake south of Sandpoint since we were moving along quickly

Our first destination for the day was in Dalton Gardens, Idaho, a small community adjacent to Coeur D Alene.  The sweet thing about Dalton is that most of the lots in the town are at least an acre or two.  My friend Laura lives on one of those acres and covers every inch of her lot with flowers.  There are some vegetables there as well, but the most exciting thing about Laura’s gardens are the dahlias.  I grew dahlias when I lived in Northern Idaho, sometimes digging as many as 700 tubers to winter over in my tiny rock-lined basement. 

Laura welcomed us with open arms, and her three young labs greeted Mattie enthusiastically as well.  It only took a minute or two for the dogs to begin running and playing together. In Laura’s complex backyard, Mattie had plenty of places to hide when the bigger dogs wore her out.  Those labs never seem to slow down.

Laura brought out pumpkin pie and coffee while Mo tried to keep the lab entertained with the slimy ball that you see if you look closely at the top of this photo.

We had a wonderful, sweet visit, sharing memories and flower walks.  Laura and I have almost 40 years of history together and even with miles between us, the friendship is enduring.

Laura is holding one of her grandbabies here, and notice the slimy ball in the lab’s mouth

We left Laura’s place in early afternoon, traveling west on I-90 toward Spokane.  It is always a shock to see the Rathdrum Prairie and the Spokane Valley after living in that area before the huge growth that exploded in the 80s.  What once was miles and miles of fields of bluegrass grown for seed has become miles and miles of housing developments, malls, and box stores.  It is a sad sight, but one repeated in so many places.

Mo’s youngest brother Don lives on the south side of Spokane, in a lovely neighborhood with a view toward the Spokane Valley to the east and Mt Spokane to the north.  Mo and I both looked forward to spending a night with Don and Wynn.  There was plenty of room to park in front of their home located toward the end of a cul de sac.  After settling in, we visited a bit with the two of them while waiting for the rest of the family to arrive.

Wynn is a great cook and has a beautiful kitchen, recently redone.  Here she is enjoying the huge bouquet of dahlias given to us by Laura’

Mo’s niece Ginny, with her husband Gabe and their three beautiful children, arrived a bit later.  The kids are all well-behaved, however the youngest, Georgia Wynn is a very talkative ball of fire. We shared deck time and talking time before a lovely dinner that Wynn made for us in the dining room. 

After our lovely supper, with good manners all around, the kids decided to head for the basement game room, and Mo and I followed.  Before long the family was engaged in a rousing game of ping pong, with Mo, the one time PE teacher giving everyone a run for their money. 

Here are a few of the moments during our evening ping pong game that created so much happy laughter.

It was a wonderful evening, filled with family, good food, and most of all lots of laughter.  We went to bed tired and happy and ready for the next day that we would be sharing with another great family.  Our planned route of family visits would include the next destination, Lincoln, Washington where I would spend time with my daughter, grandson, and great-grandkids.