Friday, August 24, 2007

6:48 pm Friday August 24, 2007

Yesterday our wonderful Penny the Pace delivered us safely across 6,375' Homestake Pass on I-90 then north on US 87 and US 12 to White Sulphur Springs, Montana. I white knuckled it all the way across but the 25 mph speed limit on the down side helped considerably. The “Home Park” for our Coast to Coast camping club membership is here at Conestoga RV Park. We only pay $3.00 per day for full hookups and can stay for two weeks if we choose. WSS is a typical small town that has not changed at all since we were here two years ago. No sign of any growth to speak of. Built on a high plateau, the area abounds with wheat and hay fields and lots of pasture for cattle and horses. I hope to get some writing done and Phil will do some fishing while we are here.

We were in Missoula for three nights and two days, arriving just a few days after the firefighters contained a major fire that burned right down to the edge and temporarily closed US 93, the road to Glacier National Park. The staging areas for the firefighters were just down the road from our RV Park as they continued the efforts to increase the area under containment. When we left Thursday morning, the 23rd, they were still at 35% but some rain and cooler weather with higher humidity and no wind was helping a lot. Here are some pictures of just part of the thousands of acres that were burnt around where we were parked.

Here is Penny the Pace and the Lone Ranger at Jim and Mary's RV park in Missoula, Montana. Again, we had shade trees but our datastorm internet satellite receiver found our bird and locked on through the trees!

The firefighters saved every home and we heard they only lost one small outbuilding. Amazing!

The black hills were on fire just a few days before we arrived.

At this fire fighting camp, the accommodations were primitive--just small one man tents. They had large air conditioned tents farther down the road at the next camp.

We spotted this datastorm satellite internet receiver at the staging area across the highway from us.

These pictures do not show how big the staging area really is. Probably covers 20 acres easily. This was one of two just a few miles apart.

Part of one of the firefighter's staging area on US Highway 93 near Missoula. See the Datastorm satellite internet receiver on the fifth wheel?

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

7:03 pm Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Many year ago when I began working on my family history and genealogy I gradually found and made contact with dozens of new “cousins” across the country. Some I already knew existed but many more were new to me. As I corresponded with them via letters and telephone calls in the beginning, then e-mail and for the few within a drivable distance from my home town in person, I discovered a plethora of jewels in my family tree. And my cup runneth over!

Our recent visit with my cousin Lea and her husband Bob in Medical Lake has gifted me with another of those gems. Lea is a year or so younger and her husband is a year older than me. Like I said in a previous post, Lea and I have corresponded over the past years but it was our first meeting in person. Phil and I were welcomed so warmly, we instantly felt like family.

“I have been riding since I was a youngster and broke my first horse when I was nine years old” Bob told us when I asked him where he learned the expertise used every day for training, riding and caring for the many horses on their ten acre ranch. Over 50 years ago when her father died while she was in high school Lea had to give up her horse when she moved in to town with her mother and sister. Finally, less than 20 years ago she was able to realize her never forgotten dream of moving back to the country where owning, riding and competing as well as training horses would again be possible. As they gave us a tour around the ranch we could sense the love and pride they both feel about this laborious lifestyle they have chosen, even into retirement.

In October 2007, they will celebrate 50 years of marriage with their children, grandchildren and their one great granddaughter as well as many other members of their family and friends from around the country. We will not be able to attend but we wish them much happiness and lots of beautiful new memories for many more years to come.

Here we are, squinting into the sun for posterity:

L-R: Phil, Joy, Nikki, Lane, Lea, Isaac, Bob, Tyler and Bryant and in front, Nikki's tiny chihuahua pup, Scout.

Here's a picture of champions, Rosie and Lea in competition.

Last picture of Lea and Bob with all five of their children taken in 2002, just a few months before son, Scott passed away.

sitting, L-R: Scott, Lea, Nikki, Christyn

standing, L-R: Tom, Bob and Steve

I loved this picture so much, I took a picture of it to share with all of you. It was taken by a friend of theirs while Bob and Lea were on a trail ride about ten years ago.

A table full of grandchildren having dinner at Grandma and Grandpa's house.

Granddaughter-in-law, Heather and her daughter, the newest member of Bob and Lea's family: great granddaughter, four month old Lillianna Rose.

A candid shot of Bob in a pensive moment.

Just a few of the many trophies that Lea and her horses have won over the years.

Lea leading her champion paint, Wild Rose-- affectionately known as "Rosie" over to say hello.

Lea and her pet goat.

Part of the herd ...

Thursday, August 16, 2007

1:30 pm Thursday August 16, 2007

Phil is soooooo happy! He has a good size fishing lake just steps from the door of Penny the Pace. I am also soooooo happy because our Datastorm found a hole in the tall trees that surround us to connect with our Internet satellite so we are online.

We have a date for dinner with my cousin, Lea and her husband, Bob tomorrow. They have suggested we go to the “best place to eat around here”—the casino. We said we can believe it telling them about the great buffet at Little Creek Casino in Shelton.

We had our “linner” (what I call our late lunch-early dinner combo) at Chili’s in downtown Spokane yesterday and then walked around Riverfront Park which is just down the street from the Convention Center. From there we went to Wal*Mart and replenished our fresh fruit and of course, some other absolute essentials including a couple prescriptions for me. We were home in time for Phil to manage a couple hours of fishing before dark.

Here are some of the photos we have taken over the last few days:

Our Penny the Pace and the Lone Ranger at Dan's Landing RV Park and fish camp near Medical Lake, WA. Clear lake is just in front of her on the right.

Can you see the sun shining through the little hole in the pine trees? Our satellite internet dish found "the bird" through that gap and I was a happy camper!

Fish on!

Phil and his 12 ft. port-a-boat
tieing up to Dan's Landing dock after a great morning of fishing on Clear Lake.

Busy railroad bridges cross I-90 going north into downtown Spokane. This section of the highway descends two miles down into the Spokane River valley where the city is located. Did you know there are two cities in one? Spokane Valley is a city of it's own directly beside the city of Spokane. Who knew?

Here is Phil letting his inner child out to play! A real curiosity at the park is the huge Radio Flyer, an oversized replica (27 feet long) of the traditional red wagon beloved by generations of youngsters. The larger-than-life version is a favorite of children of all ages, who climb to the top, go down the slide at one end and play on the gym bars beneath it.

Gorgeous summer flowers are everywhere in the park.

The Clocktower was built as part of the Great Northern Railroad Station in 1902. An outline is visible where the rest of the building extended east and west of the tower. The tower is brick outside, and plaster inside. Maintenance personnel must climb two vertical ladders, three steep flights of stairs, and a section is twenty to thirty feet high.
The clock is simply a giant grandfather clock, with four faces. The clockworks are enclosed in a small room on an upper level of the tower. Maintenance personnel actually stand inside the clock to wind or set it. The pendulum is a metal ball that weighs approximately two hundred pounds, and is suspended on a thin strip of metal. The counterweights descend approximately forty feet, between windings. The clock is an "eight day" clock, and is wound once each week. Instead of a key, a crank (similar to a tire iron) is used for winding. It winds a cable around a spool that is approximately two feet long. The clock is set from inside the clockworks room. The hands are attached to shafts which extend from U-joints from the clockworks. The face is lit from inside.
The chimes are electronic. A small organ is used to program rolls (similar to piano player rolls) with tunes. As the rolls play, fine chords (similar to piano strings) are tapped, and the sound is amplified to speakers in the top of the tower.

This carousel was created for Spokane's Natatorium Park in 1909, where it remained for 59 years. It remained under the ownership of descendants of the Looff family during that time. When the park closed in 1968, the carousel was dismantled and put into storage, where it remained for seven years. In 1975, the carousel reopened in Spokane's Riverfront Park, where it is still in daily operation throughout most of the year. The carousel features 54 jumping horses, two dragon chariots, a tiger and a giraffe. All of the figures as well as the Ruth & Sohn band organ are original, making this one of the only complete Looff carousels still in operation.

This carousel is huge!

The children were having a screaming good time in this beautiful fountain.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

11:20 am Sunday, August 12, 2007

Our last day in Moses Lake has dawned sunny and beautiful. The Pier 4 Campground (Coast to Coast park) where we parked Penny the Pace has experienced the ebb and flow of all manner of RVs during this past week. There are many empty sites around the perimeter of the park but we have pretty much determined they are for Class C RVs, truck campers and tent sites as most are very short back-ins. Most of the larger Class A sites are full.

We have been resting and exploring the area with the bonus of a wonderful visit with my COX cousin, Norine in Othello added for good measure. Thank you Norine for your hospitality! Of course, we made our usual stop at Wal*Mart for two prescriptions, groceries and some other supplies. We strolled through the little Farmer’s Market in mid-town and attended an afternoon matinee to see the new movie, “The Bourne Experience.” After sitting through two hours of intense action I am still not sure it is the “last” movie in the Bourne series. For those of you who care, the plot did answer some questions concerning the main character, Jason Bourne’s true identity before being programmed by the government as the “perfect” assassin.

A day trip to Cashmere via Quincy and back through Ephrata by way of as many back roads as possible was a wonderful experience. It was another one of the area’s typical grand weather days and driving down into the gorge then back up to over 3,000 feet gave us a major dose of wheat farming on top of the world! Absolutely gorgeous and my “farmer gene” was thoroughly sated with this view across thousands of acres of golden grain.

Tomorrow morning we are off to Spokane for a week. I have never spent any time there and am looking forward to checking out the area. Also, meeting a LITTLE cousin and her family in Medical Lake is a much anticipated visit. Lea and I have corresponded for many years but this will be our first face to face meeting.

A huge baler on the road in eastern WA. Farm equipment travels between fields on the highway and we always give them a wide path.

Is this an adorable face or what? If I lived in a stick house I would have a dozen of these little sweet hearts.

Phil turned the Lone Ranger around so I could get a better look at these wonderful animals.

Adorable Alpaca just outside Moses Lake, WA.

Front of the Aplets and Cotlets store and factory. Lots of yummy goodies inside!

Aplets and Cotlets candy factory in Cashmere, WA. That is powdered sugar all over everything. Yummy candy!

Cousin Norine's large ranch house up on a shady hill.

My cousin Norine and me at her beautiful ranch in Othello.

Cousin Jack in happier days on a horse back moose hunt. This is his widow, Norine's favorite picture of her much loved spouse.

My cousin, Jack at work in his veterinary clinic in Othello about 2001. We were sad to learn that Jack passed away in January of 2002.

Our last glimpse of best friends, Gloria and Les. They hosted us and our Penny the Pace for three months in Shelton while we took care of business. Thank you dear friends! We will miss you!

Great Granddaughter, Carly trying on her new sunglasses.

Carly's chocolate chip cookie birthday cake! Different and yummy. Her Grandma, Bobbie treated the family to a wonderful buffet dinner at the Casino south of Shelton.

Servers at the Little Creek Casino buffet arrive to sing "Happy Birthday" to our great granddaughter, Carly. She is eight years old already! L-R: Carly's Aunt Sara, her Daddy, Joe, Carly and Grandma Bobbie.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

3:00 pm Thursday, August 2, 2007

Phil and I are counting down to our departure date. If all goes well at my final doctor follow-up tomorrow, (I do not anticipate any problems) we will be leaving our current location in Shelton, WA on Monday—August 6th.

Phil is fishing with his pal, Lester today. It will be the last time they can go out together before we head east. Our tentative itinerary is eastern WA, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, Nebraska, Colorado, New Mexico then finally, Arizona. I have a bad case of “Hitchitch” and feel we have again overstayed our welcome which seems to be the norm for us once we settle in here at Gloria and Lester’s “RV Park.” It doesn’t come much better than this unless maybe they had a lake next door for the guys to fish in everyday.

The time here in Shelton has flown by and it is hard to believe we have been fixed in one location for three months! We did move Penny the Pace to Olympia last week to get her new front tires. She is very proud of her new traveling shoes and they look good! They ought to—we considered taking out a loan to pay for them. However, unless the road drops out from beneath us (per the disaster in Minneapolis yesterday) we should now roll safely down the road for many more miles.

Here are pictures taken over the past few weeks:

This is our precious granddaughter, Brooke. Is this an angelic pose or what? She will be three in October.

Granddaughter, Brooke, and her daddy, Mike. He is Phil's second oldest son and they live in Tacoma.

My niece, Tammy and her husband Steve (center picture) hosted a housewarming party in July to celebrate their beautiful new home. One of our gifts was this eight generation collage I made for her family picture wall. The image (top center) is of Jessica's (Tammy's daughter-bottom center) gr, gr, gr, gr, gr, grandmother, Nancy (Wood) Turner who was born about 1799 in Virginia and died in 1851.