A Friday in Fall ~~ plus Twin update!

Eight years ago I was finishing up my fourth year of living in the Southern California desert.  It was really fun to live in an area that was soooo foreign to me – weather wise, but after four years of “the fun” I was sure missing something.  Missing it real bad.  That something was the changing of the seasons.  For the most part, the trees never lose their leaves in Palm Springs.  If an evening temp gets down to the 40’s (around 7C for my non-American readers), well, that’s pretty miraculous.  I think what I missed most was Autumn.  I love the changing colors, crisp days, extra blue skies, or – the pouring rain like we had today.  Today was lovely.  We didn’t have to go anywhere… and I sure do enjoy my days at home.  Hubby and I got the house nice and clean and also performed an autumn rite of passage…. we put the flannel sheets on the bed today!  Ohhhhh I DO love the coziness of flannel sheets 🙂  Eight years ago, there were NEVER any flannel sheets on the bed.  I rarely made hot soups on weekend evenings, and huddling up before the fireplace was unheard of!

Today I also fired up the oven and baked a batch of yummy pumpkin-apple-walnut muffins… oh the delectable aromas in our house!  That and my wonderful “Scentsy” warmer with “Sentimental Cider” making our home smell heavenly.  For dinner I made a delicious meal of pork chops with apples, garlic smashed potates, and sauteed brussels sprouts with lemon zest.  Ahhhhhhhh……. the joys of Autumn.

Last week we made a trip over the mountains to visit family.  It was probably the last trip over with our motorhome, until spring.  There’s just no chance we want to have to drive that thing in the snow.  Anyway, we had a nice visit with Son #2, dear DIL and my brother.   I am hoping to get weekly updates in the way of “baby bump” photos that I can share.

Here is dear DIL at 12 weeks.

Then on Monday, they had another ultrasound… Here are the twins, both looking great according to the Doc. 🙂

Then today I received the latest baby bump photo….Still pretty tiny, but definitely growing!! 🙂  Won’t it be fun to watch the twins (and dear DIL) grow?!

Here are a couple more photos from last week’s trip.

I’ll end this post with a Happy Halloween greeting from our beautiful black cat, Mr. Jinx!!

Shame on me!

Shame on me!  It’s been well over a month since I’ve done a blog post.  Shucks, I’m not being a very good blogger this summer.  Hopefully I’m ready to get back on track now.   I feel like I have been all go-go-go this summer and frankly, I’m ready to get a little laid back!  At the end of July we decided we better take Jinx our cat on a one night trip in the motorhome, just to see how he might handle the RV lifestyle.  We drove down to Anacortes, only 40 miles or so from home, and spent a night near the bay.  We made one major mistake on this trip.  We learned that Jinx really hates riding in the car, but tolerates riding in the RV, so in the future, we’ll bring the motorhome HOME first and load up Jinx directly instead of driving up to the barn where it’s stored and taking off from there.  Jinx wailed and yowled the entire way – and this was AFTER I bought him a “calming collar” with all those so called pheromones in it to keep kitties happy.   Once we arrived, turned off the motorhome and got set up, Jinx was fine.  We took his kitty scratching post, his kitty potty, and his bed as well as his favorite blanket.  Here are a few shots of Jinx on his first road trip:

"We're not in Kansas anymore, are we mommy?"

"A closet is a great place for a nap!"

"I'd like to get out of here, PLEASE!"

We decided with much trepidation that Jinx might do okay on a two to three day trip, but we were pretty sure he’d go bonkers if trapped inside for a week.  Hence, we decided NOT to take him on our next trip which was to the Oregon Coast.   We left here on a hot summer day (Aug 5), experienced ONE day of decent weather, and arrived home a week later (Aug 12) to a heat wave which we are currently in the midst of.  The week we were gone was cool, misty, breezy, and everywhere we went people were complaining about this being the nastiest (AKA=coldest) summer they could remember.  Well folks, it’s arrived late, but it’s arrived.  Summer I mean.  Apparently they’ve had “it” in full force back east, but certainly not here.  Till now, I mean.  We are currently running every fan we own to try and keep cool… after all, people around here don’t for the most part have air conditioning!  Here are a few pics from the coast trip:

The man, the beach, and a fire awaiting

The next day - rain surrounds the Astoria bridge

Our sunny day, looking towards Lincoln City, OR

Yaquina Head lighthouse in the distance

A closer view of Yaquina Head Lighthouse

There's seals on them thar rocks!

The obligitory seal 'close up'!

The RV park/golf course in Astoria

Rainy morning at the Astoria Column

At the Columbia River Maritime Museum in Astoria. The Lightship "Columbia". She anchored at the mouth of the river from 1950 to 1979.

Despite the less than optimal weather, we had a lovely time.  We learned more about our motorhome, learned lots about Lewis and Clark at Fort Clatsop, enjoyed the sights at Yaquina Head, and all about life along the Columbia River as well as the treacherous crossings of the Columbia River bar (something both John and I have done and do NOT wish to repeat!!!!).

More next time about our murder mystery party which took place in mid-July!  Can’t believe it’s been a month since the festivities!  Be looking for my post about “A Taste of Wine and Murder”!!


2000 miles later, we’re home!

Hello again from the wandering RV’ers!  We’ve finally made it home and as is always the case, we’re glad to be here.   The picture at left shows the home on wheels parked at son #2’s house where we spent two fun days with son#2, dear daughter in law,  and my brother as well.  We reveled in the lovely sunny days that we knew would NOT be waiting for us here at home. 

Here’s a pic I couldn’t resist including.  It’s “Huckleberry” the cat, my first grand-kitty!  Isn’t he a cutie!  He loves Granny, not so sure about Grandpa,  but he does love Granny!!

Onward to some of the pros and cons of our first big trip…  The cons first.

Con #1 (this is tops on my list by far) – RV Toilet Paper!!  It’s horrible!  I know it’s supposed to fall apart in the holding tank, but c’mon.  Does it have to start the falling apart process when in use ??  YUCK.

Con #2 – Worrying if we hooked everything up correctly, if we forgot anything, and if we were going to accidentally get into a spot where we couldn’t turn around.  While towing your car you CANNOT back up – or at least it is highly discouraged!!!  We didn’t always hook up everything properly, but like the intelligent folks we are, we managed to learn from our mistakes.   We did see one very unfortunate guy in a motorhome who was towing a jeep.  He tried to make a U-turn at an intersection in Yellowstone Park – and failed.  He ended up part way into a ditch at the side of the road, and the WORST part – he blocked traffic for a while which tends to really tick off drivers in Yellowstone!  How embarrassing.

Con #3 – Having to book all our camping spots in advance.  We need to learn to be just a little bit more flexible.  However, that said, you’d be a total nut to NOT book a spot near Yellowstone in the summer.  The other places were not nearly as busy and we probably could have “winged” it.  When you reserve your campground in advance it sort of forces you to follow through to your original plan – which is sometimes okay, and sometimes I think being able to modify the original plan would be a great thing.

Con #4 – Hubby will disagree with this one, but sometimes I’d love a smaller RV.  I have fond memories of camping in the woods near a lake or stream as a kid and young adult, and this big hurkin’ thing ain’t gonna fit into a Forest Service camp spot.  If I won the lotto, I would without a doubt nab a smaller RV for those times when you want to get really close to Nature 🙂

Con #5 – The bed.  Okay, this problem can be solved.  It rolls to the center and how I do hate that!!!  I think the mattress simply needs to be replaced and before we go on another extended trip, it will be.  It must be!!  I have not been dubbed  the “Beautyrest Sleep Queen” for no reason!  I delight in a good night’s sleep.  It’s a must for this gal.

Now for the Pros…..

Pro #1 – Packing up one time!  No suitcases either!  Just put your clothes into the closet and drawers and you are all set!

Pro#2 – Not having to eat restaurant food every meal!  Okay, it’s true that when on vacation it is fun to NOT have to cook all the time, but at the same time it’s great to be able to pull over to the side of the road (in a safe place) and fix lunch whenever the mood strikes.  I think it also is probably cheaper to make your own meals in the long run and quite possibly healthier!

Pro #3 – The comfort of “home”.  I really felt like I was “home” and in the comfort of my own surroundings when we were on the road.

Pro #4 – The washer/dryer combo.  Our coach came with a really neat appliance!  One I thought I’d probably never use, but I was wrong – oh, SO wrong.  The washloads had to be small, but they came out great every time!  I was fascinated with the thing.  Hubby caught me staring at it numerous times as it rolled the clothes first this way, then that… then went into dryer mode.  I LOVE that thing!

Pro #5 – The expensive ($40) under sink water filter.  I thought we were throwing away the forty bucks when we bought it.  Again, I was wrong, very wrong. This filter is a particularly good one, and I had enough confidence in it to drink directly from it daily.  We made our coffee from the filtered water every morning.  So – no worries about the water, and no dragging gallons of bottled water along.  All the water at the campsites was technically safe to drink.  But this filter just made me (actually I think BOTH of us) feel better.

General thoughts…

Now that I know I really WILL use the washer/dryer, I don’t need to pack as much in the way of clothing.   On a similar note, I probably brought more food than was necessary as well.  It’s fun to shop in a local market and grab what you might need.   There is so much beautiful countryside to see out there!  So many places we would love to go and explore… “Someday” we hope to take a six-month trip.  On that trip I hope we can go slower, spending more time in each spot.  This trip was pretty much “go, go, go”.  And what about Jinx the RV cat?  He stayed home this time but there is no way we can leave him on a six-month trip!  Next month we hope to do a one night stand with the black ball of fur and see how it goes.

One last note… most folks out there these days have a GPS.  We have one too – you may remember that I have sung the praises of “Maggie Magellan” in the past.  This trip, Maggie was somewhat inconsistent.  She led us tried to lead us down some crazy roads.  My advice is always have a MAP!  It’s a great old fashioned tool that was priceless for us.

Hopefully you have enjoyed reading about our adventure in RVing.  Now it’s back to regular life – for a while at least!!!

Lower Falls, Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River

Missoula to Walla Walla – day 12

We woke on a beautiful bright Sunday morning, packed up all the “bits and bobs” as my English husband says, and headed west towards home!  While in the Missoula KOA campground, one of the employees suggested to us that we shouldn’t drive over Lolo Pass towards Lewiston Idaho.  He said it was twisty and that there was some road construction going on also.  We thought it over, having just driven through the winding and steep roads of Yellowstone Park, and decided we’d go ahead with our plan… and oh my goodness, we were so glad we did.  The scenery along this road (Idaho Highway 12) was so beautiful.  I wish I had some great pictures to share, but I have only a few – due unfortunately to BUGS all over the windshield!  Here is a shot taken at the top of Lolo Pass, explaining how this road was one taken back in 1805 by Lewis and Clark on their quest towards the Pacific Ocean.  There was a time in my life where I was super-interested in the westward movment of the 1800’s and I had read numerous books on the Lewis and Clark trail.  Since hubby didn’t know much about all that stuff, he got an American history lesson  whether he wanted it or not.  Yikes, I hope I didn’t bore him with all that stuff.  If I did, he hid it well – another big mark in his favor!  I do love that man!!

Here’s our rig, getting ready to leave the top of Lolo Pass and head on down the other side.  It was not nearly as steep as many of the roads we’d navigated in Yellowstone – for the most part, we just buzzed along.  My apologies in advance in regards to the next bunch of photos.  Many/most were taken through the buggy windshield as we traveled along.

This one shows how closely the highway follows first the Loscha River and then further down the mountain, the Clearwater River. 

Here’s a shot of hubby in the pilot’s seat, doing a great job guiding our house on wheels down the highway.  Note the little screen on the dashboard.  That’s the “back up” camera, and he likes to leave it on to keep an eye on our car (also known as the ‘toad’) as well as the traffic coming up behind us.  Unfortunately, the back up camera has a mind of it’s own and works when it wants to, and only then.  It’s definitely one thing hubby plans to rectify once we get home.  For those of you who think Washington state is all mountains and RAIN, here’s a snap of some of the farmland in far Eastern WA where lots of grain (mostly wheat) is grown.  The wheat is about a month away from being harvested and hasn’t taken on that legendary amber color it’s known for – yet.  These were taken as we approached Walla Walla, an area that is known for farming and now also for grape growing and wineries.   The photo below does show some wheat that is getting close to being ripe.

Here we are all set up at the RV park in Walla Walla.  The weather was sooooo nice and warm, we decided to eat outside and barbecue a couple of steaks.  When it came right down to it, I couldn’t eat the steak!  I know this will sound absolutely NUTS, but while we were at a truck stop in Montana, gassing up, a trailer full of cows pulled up next to us.  Okay, they did have a driver, we’ll call him “the cowboy”.  Anyway… the trailer had holes in it and one of the cows kept peering with one eye through a hole at me… like he was trying in his best bovine way to say, “hey woman, you know where we’re headed, right?  HELP US!!!!”    I told John that after this “experience” I had with the cow, I wasn’t at all sure I was ever going to enjoy steak again.  I’m thinking that maybe I’m over it already, because tonight we’re thinking about barbecuing a burger and darned if that doesn’t sound GOOD!  I will try very very hard NOT to think about “Brownie the cow” when I’m munching on the burger.  Seriously tho, I really DID feel sooooo bad for those cattle.  Today we woke to another HOT one!  After locating an RV parts store for some odds and ends, we began some wine tasting.  Here’s a place we absolutely loved!  And yes, we did indeed buy a bit of great tasting wine from these folks!  One photo is the front and one is the side yard. 

We have enjoyed wine tasting on nearly every trip we’ve taken.  Most memorably in Australia, New Zealand, California, and right here in Washington State. On a final note for today, here’s John with the t-shirt given to him by the Saviah Winery.  So cute!!  The shirt AND the husband 🙂Well folks, we are about at the end of our Yellowstone-and-back adventure.  Tomorrow we head to Yakima to spend time with family for a couple of nights.  Then it’s home sweet home.  I will definitely be doing one last post with all the things I loved about RV’ing and some things I didn’t.  And possibly some similar comments from hubby who has been an awesome chauffeur all across the West.   See you soon!

Birthday at Grand Teton

What a lucky girl I was!  I got to visit Grand Teton National Park for my birthday!   We started the day out at a small but very cute local restaurant where I could get French Toast for breakfast and hubby could get whatever his heart desired also – including live World Cup games.  It was divine!! If you are ever in Victor, Idaho – eat at “Scratch”.  Really, really yummy.

After breakfast it was over the “Teton Pass” and down towards Jackson Wyoming and Grand Teton Park.  It was a cloudy morning as the picture shows.  But, as I may have said before, the weather in this neck of the woods literally changes minute by minute.  The Tetons are simply magnificent, sunny or cloudy.

In the photo above, about the middle of the picture on the left side (very hard to see without enlarging) is a herd of Elk, roaming near Jackson Lake.  Here’s the zoomed in shot – but you’ll need to enlarge it as well. The sun came out a bit later, and the “birthday girl” made an appearance near Jackson Lake Dam 🙂Another sighting of the “birthday girl” in a bit of a windstorm near Jenny Lake.  Wow, the weather got rather wicked really quickly! Literally 10 minutes down the road, the sun broke through the clouds again – and we were glad it did!Then it was on down the road, quickly while the sun still shone, to the Episcopal Chapel of the Transfiguration.  A very popular photo spot in Grand Teton.  Luck was with us, they had just finished a wedding at the chapel as we arrived.This stained glass window was inside the Chapel, not far from the entrance.  I thought it was quite fitting.The altar inside the chapel… What a view!  It reminds me of a church we saw when we were in Juneau, Alaska.From there we trekked to the old barn on “Mormon Row” – the most photographed spot in Grand Teton.  I think it would be particularly stunning in autumn.  Believe it or not, the wedding party were out by the barn as well!  We couldn’t believe it when we saw the limo in the same general vicinity.  I think they were there snapping more wedding photos on this sunny afternoon.From there it was on to Jackson Hole.  What a CUTE and very “Western” town it is.  Here’s hubby in one of the four Elk Arches which lead into the town green or square or whatever they call it!I am so thankful that John has recovered enough from his hip replacement surgery to make this journey.  What a blessing!  Here is a sign that explains the Elk Arches. Not to be outdone, the “birthday girl” was also seen under the Elk Antler Arches!!We did wander into a few of the MANY shops.  Here’s a t-shirt that caught hubby’s eye….Soon it was time for the birthday dinner – and people, it was extra delicious!! 🙂 Well, there you have it.  The birth-day in Grand Teton and Jackson Hole.  It was a fabulous day!!

On June 26th, we spent the entire L-O-N-G day driving 380 miles from Victor Idaho to Missoula Montana.  I took no photos along the way since a lot of it was backtracking.

Tomorrow, another post showing some of our drive from Missoula to Walla Walla, Washington.  And maybe a few shots of the wine tasting we hope to do here in Walla Walla.

Yellowstone and beyond – days 8 and 9

Yesterday was our last day (for this trip) in Yellowstone.  What a simply gorgeous day it was…. sunny and warm – perfect for photography and sightseeing!  We took off in an eastward fashion and went towards the northeast entrance of the park, where this photo was taken near the Lamar Valley.  What perfect beauty.

Our goal this day was to look for more wildlife in the abundant Lamar Valley of Yellowstone and make our way through the northeast entrance and up the famed Beartooth Pass.  We saw more buffalo, some moose, another black bear, but no grizzly – which is what we were really hoping to see!  Oh well, maybe next time.  Outside of Yellowstone’s northeast entrance, the road immediately becomes the Beartooth Highway.  This is a famous highway because it is quite literally one of the highest roads in North America at 10,947 feet – and one of the most scenic!  It was no surprise to find that there was still snow alongside the road as we climbed our way slowly to the top of the pass.  Here’s a view from inside the car. And yes, we saw lots of motorcyclists enjoying the snow, sun, and cool weather.  This road was sort of scary in a car… I think it may have been (for me) downright frightening on a bike! Here is a view from the top.  What a sight!!  Note the still frozen lake below us.  The mountain range in the distance is the Absaroka Range, a “sub-range” of the Rockies.  Thankfully our brakes worked fine as we came down this steep mountain pass road.  We made our way through Cooke City Montana and then back into Yellowstone park.  On the way back to our RV park, we came across a large traffic backup in Yellowstone – a fairly common occurrence.  A park ranger was directing traffic due to the huge back up and we had to ask, “what’s going on” as we went by.  She replied that there was a bear and a coyote in the meadow and that another ranger had a scope set up on up the road.  If we could find a spot to park she said, we could stop and have a look through the scope.  As luck would have it, there was a small spot for our little car and John pulled in.  We walked over to the large group of people all looking into the distance.  We found out that there was indeed a coyote, who had “taken down” an elk calf and was in the process of consuming it.  The bear was a bit of a distance away, having smelled or seen the commotion and no doubt wanted to get in on it.  He stayed away when we were there, simply watching the coyote from a distance.  The Yellowstone coyotes are MUCH larger than your typical version.  Maybe he even scared the bear.  Who knows?  Anyway, we both got a chance to look through the scope set up by the Ranger.  We were even able to take a snapshot through the scope.  Okay, it’s not a great picture, but you can see the coyote leaning over his fallen prey.  It was an awesome sight – seeing this in person was gripping.  Nature.  Raw and wild.  After returning to our motorhome, we gathered up our swimsuits and drove 25 miles north of Gardiner to Chico Hot Springs.  One of my good friends from work, Pam (a true Montanan), suggested we take a swim in the hot spring pool and have dinner at their stupendous restaurant.  We debated on what order in which to do these two things, and finally decided to swim first, eat later.  Thank goodness Pam told us to get reservations!  The dining room is oh-so-popular and was fully booked out… in fact there were more then one unhappy group of people leaving the dining area complaining that they didn’t know you had to have reservations.  We had a fantastic meal of Montana steak, potatoes, and salad.  It was absolutely divine!!! We walked out of there stuffed to the gills.  Thanks Pam for the heads up about Chico!

This morning we packed up our great home on wheels and headed south towards Victor Idaho – our spot for the next two nights as we explore Grand Teton National Park.  TO get there, we actually drove the big rig plus the car in tow through part of Yellowstone.  Here’s hubby as we’re about to enter the park.From here we drove about 160 miles or so to Victor Idaho.  Here’s a scene from the beautiful countryside on the Idaho side of the Teton Range.  Our elevation here is around 6,000 feet.  The lilacs are JUST NOW in bloom and we have some outside our motorhome.  From what we can gather, the folks around here are mostly farmers, raising grain and seed potatoes.  Frankly, I’m surprised that such things can grow at this elevation, but… they do.Tomorrow we are going to the Wyoming side of the Tetons and Jackson Hole!  I’ve told John that I’m itching for a pizza from somewhere in Jackson Hole for my birthday dinner 🙂  More soon from your rambling RV’ers!  Oh, we filled the gas tank today and were happy to see that our mileage has gone up to 9.3 mpg.  Needless to say, John is pleased!

Motorhome trek to Yellowstone day Seven

Don’t miss Day Six below….  I am publishing both day Six and Seven today.   At the end of Day Six (previously stated to be our “day of the buffalo”) we finally got back to the RV park about 7:30pm.  I was too tired to eat (mark that down as a first!) and so John was on his own for dinner – sort of.  He decided to barbecue for dinner and guess what he cooked?  Uh huh.  Buffalo sirloin that we’d picked up the day before from the local market.  I will fully admit that even if I’d been hungry, I would have been hesitant to try the barbecued buffalo.  I am simply not very adventurous when it comes to meat!!  After consuming the buffalo steak, potatoes and peas he said it was “okay”.  I guess that means we won’t be rushing out to the local market to stock up our freezer with buffalo to take home.  Yay.

This morning we did not rush to get out and get going.  After skipping dinner the night before, I was hungry for a “decent brekkie” this morning so made us sausage, hashbrowns, and toast.  A perfect start for the day.   Our plan was to do the upper half  of the figure eight (the park’s main roads are shaped like a figure “8”) and we knew the upper half was shorter than the lower half.  Hence the slightly later start.   We had a leisurely drive this morning, still on the lookout for WILDLIFE, not really expecting to see any because they (all the park people) tell you that your best chances of seeing anything (EXCEPT buffalo!!) is to go either very early in the am or late in the evening, towards dusk.  Not far into the park this morning we came across – A couple of female big horn sheep!  A pleasant surprise!   We drove a few miles further and I noticed something sort of orange in the distance.  As we got closer we discovered we’d come across…

Some Pronghorn deer!  We were so excited!  We thought it couldn’t get any better…. until!! The coup de gras!

You guessed it!  A black bear, wandering around in the woods 🙂  Our day was officially made!   Remember to double click on any of the photos to enlarge them.

We continued our drive to Tower Falls, Norris Geyser Basin, Mammoth Hot Springs, and stopped for lunch off the beaten path alongside a quiet little creek.  Getting close to the end of the day, we drove past Sheepeater Cliffs and near there was the Yellowstone River again.  We walked down to river’s edge and on a whim did a quick self portrait.  I love how it turned out.  Just a couple of happy modern-day Yellowstone explorers.

To finish off today’s post a pretty cool photo of the travertine terraces of Mammoth Hot Springs.  Yellowstone… many faces, all astounding.