Wednesday, September 11, 2013

We definitely live in a beautiful country!

We need the tonic of wildness – to wade sometimes in marshes where the bittern and the meadow-hen lurk, and hear the booming of the snipe; to smell the whispering sedge where only some wilder and more solitary fowl builds her nest, and the mink crawls with its belly close to the ground. – Henry David Thoreau

A tonic of wildness - Such anticipation!
My first taste of Glacier National Park was from the east side. After a night at an RV park just outside of Glacier, I continued my travels on Highway 2 that skirts the southern edge. Most travelers are not in a hurry on this road, allowing for those of us who don't want to miss any of the sights. First stop when I reached West Glacier was to drive into the park to sign up for a Red Bus trip.

The historic Red Bus
A friend had written to say that this was the best way to see the park – and well worth the cost. I was in luck, the next 6-hour interpretive bus trip started soon; giving me enough time to get settled into an RV park. Transportation was in one of the park's bright red, open-top 1920s vintage touring cars!

The “Going-to-the-Sun” Road
This road is said to be the 'most scenic route on this planet!' Going from dense forest in the west through prairie grasslands to the east, this narrow road was built in 1932 and rebuilt in 2005. Along the way we passed gorgeous granite peaks, waterfalls, lakes, historic lodges and more. One of many sight-seeing and photo-taking stops was at the lodge/visitor center at Logan Pass, It straddles the Continental Divide at 6,646 feet. The road was narrow and steep – and I'm sure glad to be seeing the scenery from the bus.

Wild and rugged – and beautiful Glacier National Park; up close and personal
The park is about 1,500 square miles of high altitude scenery, including glaciers for which the park is named. There are more than 200 lakes and countless rivers and streams. There were some remaining snow fields and a few glaciers visible in the distance.

Here are some photos I took – none that really do the beauty of the park justice.

Standing up in the Red Bus - glacier an snow field

At one of many waterfalls

another waterfall

Sun is setting in Glacier Par

More Montana and Idaho
From West Glacier, I continued west on Highway 2, staying a night at Two-Bit Outfit RV park in Libby (MT) and then a night at Riley Creek in Idaho's panhandle.

Consumer News – a public service
A stop for groceries provided some good laughs.
  • As I walked through the paper products area, a display of toilet paper caught my eye! In bold graphics, each package boasted that it featured “cleanstretch” for a “confident clean”. Of course I bought the package and back at Jeremiah I compared this 'new-improved stuff to my usual. I must report, no noticeable difference.

  • A “wax-vac” for ear wax removal. This is a hand-held device that I assume is battery powered. I did not buy it, so there's no report to pass along.
Destination: Spokane, Washington, to visit family at their “hobby farm”
My nephew Peter Hardt and his wife Carlene live on what they call a hobby farm. Critters include sheep: one horny and happy ram and his small harem of three ewes (one currently pregnant), and two 12-week-old lambs. Chickens: one happy rooster and his harem of egg-laying hens. Two dogs and a cat. They also grow various vegetables and have fruit trees.

Since they both work, this visit was limited to the weekend – and we certainly packed it with adventures along with plenty of critter time.

Spokane County Interstate Fair
Ridin' Rockin' Livestockin' was the fair theme. Peter and I enjoyed the various fair displays, animals, and such on Saturday while Carlene, as a member of the local photography club, was taking a shift at the photography displays. She is a gifted and talented photographer and had a few ribbon-winning photos there.

You know that I spent a lot of time with the critters – thoroughly enjoying each and every one. Here are some of my fancy favorites:

Decorated Bull

Fancy, spotted chicken

Decorated Cow

Decorated goat
Chicken having a bad-hair dey
More Wildness: Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge
On Sunday, Carlene treated me to a visit to this wildlife refuge. Turnbull is a unique area of wetlands, grasslands and forests that has been set aside as a refuge and breeding ground for migratory birds. And one of those birds – a Trumpeter Swan – has fascinated Carlene for a number of years. So much, that she has thousands of photos of the swan, many of those that are in the book she has written and published, A Swan and His Family.

What's special about these swans? In the early 1900s, Trumpeter Swans were hunted nearly to extinction. Thanks to the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, these swans are making a comeback. They are the largest of all native North American wildfowl: males stand about 5-feet tall, can stretch to nearly 6-feet from bill to feet, and wingspans are from 6 to 8 feet!

Not just a book of pretty pictures, Carlene has included educational facts making this book a good resource for children and adults alike. (available from Amazon)

Back into Idaho for the drive south and then into Oregon – more wildness
Highway 95 South is definitely more wildness! I spent one night at an RV park in Grangeville, Idaho, and continued south the next morning. This highway took me along the Salmon River, down into numerous canyons and back up again to high places. It was a roller-coaster road.

I chose to drive a longer-than-usual route because I wanted to end up at Junipers Reservoir RV Park in southern Oregon. Once in this state, I changed to highways 20 and 395. Along the way were some teeny, one-dot towns with virtually no services. At one point, I back-tracked several miles to fill Jeremiah's gas tank – good thing, too! The portion of 395 had no fuel opportunities for a hundred or so miles. And a lot of the road was out of cell phone service area! It took me along a smelly, most likely usually dry, alkali lake bed. It did have some water that was the source of the smell.

The sun was setting as I drove through the small town of Lakeview; I had to pull over and wait for the sun to go behind a nearby hill because I was headed west and had the sun seriously in my eyesight.

Tomorrow I'll drive to Gardnerville, Nevada, for a visit with my sister Linda. I'll also turn over two non-working laptops to her son, Tim, and get some help with this durn Windows 8!

Thanks for traveling along with me! And thanks for keeping in touch via email and phone.