Friday, November 30, 2007

I did it

30 posts in 30 days

I may not be able to get a fancy button from NaBloPoMo to put on my blog but I did it.


I was going to just write about how this is November 30 and the last day of NaBloPoMo and unless I counted wrong I did it and posted every day of the month.

Instead my daughter posted a Blog on Advent here that rather blew me away and has me rethinking what I am going to do for Christmas this year. It started many years ago when my brother gave to the Heifer Project in our names instead of giving us gifts that we didn't really need. I have since given donations to The Nature Conservancy in his honor for projects I thought he would appreciate. Or to my favorite local Conservancy here in Leelanau County Michigan.

So although no one else is likely to read this Blog post. I will echo Tandaina's sentiments and those she quoted

"Christmas has become obscene" and I vow to spend more Lenten time rethinking the useless little dodads I am inclined to give family members just because it is expected of me. Just maybe I will take my brother's and daughter's examples and words to heart this Christmas. It is time I set an example especially for our God Sons.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Almost to the end of November

One more post after this one, to make it to the end of NoBloPoMo or whatever I have been striving to achieve with a blog post every day of the month. It has been a challenge sometimes. I work late tonight so this one is going to be a quickie.

It is a cold blowy day here and DDHH is out in the woods again trying to bring home the Venison. He has had a very disappointing hunt. His spot which in past years has presented large numbers of deer walking by every day has offered almost none. He has seen two deer, neither offering a good shot or possible shot.

So instead of a long post finishing the travel log I searched my photo library and offer up a couple of pictures for today. Here is a Junco by my feeder and a bit of summer promise on this cold blustery day.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


forgot to post - watched a movie instead
Jump out of bed
run upstairs
boot up the computer
akk no glasses cant see what I am doing


whew made it

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Travel Log Continued - not quite finished.

I don't know about you but I am getting tired of writing this thing. I should finish it though.

When I last left this project we were in the southern Bighorhn Mountains of northern Wyoming. The Bighorns run north and south at about the middle of Wyoming and just slightly up into Montana. There are two highways that cross them from east to west. In the south US 16 leaves Buffalo Wyoming and runs over the peaks and down the other side to Ten Sleeps and then into the Bighorn Basin. This was where we first attempted towing in the mountains. I have previous posts about camping at Middle Fork Campground in the Bighorn National Forest and the pictures are here.

There will be more about the northern route through the Bighorns, US 14 and US 14A when we return to the Bighorns at the northern, steeper end of the range.

On leaving the southern part of the mountains we traveled down to Ten sleep and then paralleled the mountains north to Grey Bull where where we headed west through the Bighorn Basin here on US 14 headed for Cody. At Grey Bull there is a large collection of old WWII aircraft mostly bombers and tankers that were until recently used for fire fighting. Again we were down at low enough altitude for it to be hot. Husband wanted to get to some mountains in Montana but most of them were a long way to the west and north, far from where we were to pick Duncan up in about 10 days. It was suggested to us by a couple we met, who were also camping in an Airstream at Middle Fork, that the Buffalo Bill Cody Museum in Cody Wyoming was worth a couple of days time. Then we could go straight up US 212 into the Beartooth mountains and into Montana. This US 212 is the same highway we took across the Indian reservation in South Dakota.

We found a full hookup campground within walking distance of the museum and settled in for a couple of days. We spent a day and a half in the museum, did several loads of laundry, went shopping at the local Wal-Mart, and took time to drive back east to Lovell to visit Duncan just a week before we were to pick him up. In Lovell we found the Queen Bee candy company. They make the most divine honey praline candy and organic chocolate bon-bons. All organic and made from the Bighorn basin honey. Much of the basin is irrigated to raise Alfalfa hay and as a result lots of wonderful alfalfa honey. The bee hives are the oddest arrangement I have ever seen. We kept seeing them as we drove through the Basin and were completely puzzled by them until we finally stopped and took a closer look at them. Sure enough my eventual suspicions were verified by seeing honey bees flying in and out of the open boxes.

If you look at a map of Wyoming and Montana, Yellowstone National Park jumps out at you. Hard up against the east side of Yellowstone are the Beartooth Mountains. US 212 runs through Red Lodge over the Beartooth Pass and then down the other side and into the east entrance of Yellowstone Park. U.S. 212 (pictures here) has been written about as the most beautiful highway in America. It was beautiful and a good bit scary to drive in parts. That was the farthest west we ventured this year, to the Beartooth West summit at 10,547 feet. Then we turned around and went back to our campground at Greenough Lake (pictures here). We stayed from August 1 - 5. This is the only place we met bears. One came into camp a couple of times. One night he visited us and stood up on both sides of "White One" to take a look in. Thankfully he only walked past the trailer. There are strictly enforced guidelines for campers in place to prevent the invitation of bears and the possibility of their habituation to people. "A FED BEAR IS A DEAD BEAR" were signs all over the campgrounds. We were told that two had been shot earlier in the summer because they had become habituated to invading campgrounds and breaking into cabins. Like the Bighorn Mountains these mountains also had Alpine Meadow tops that we walked upon but here there were more mountains visible with rocky peaks, more like what you think of when you think of western mountains. From the summit we could look west into the Yellowstone. And like Middle Fork Campground in the Bighorns we had a very nice river running through the campground behind the campsite.

From the campground at Greenough Lake we drove 8 miles up the valley on a "road" that paralleled US 212 part way, but along beside the busy river. It was little better than a two track though amazingly heavily used. Much of it was more rocks than dirt. It ended at a large improved parking lot which was at the foot of a walking trail up the mountain to a pair of small fishing lakes. We then spent three hours climbing up that trail but never reached the lakes. Even so we had wonderful vistas looking back down the valley and climbed to where the trail crossed the river on a lovely foot bridge. Here again the hand labor involved in hauling and building is to be commended. There are pictures of this trail also in the Beartooth album.

Our next stop was the last National Forest Campground of this month long trip. The northern Bighorns, Medicine Circle, picking up Duncan, and the return home will be the last installment of this travel log. I have yet to create the album for the Cody Museum and the Northern Bighorns.

Monday, November 26, 2007



Sunday, November 25, 2007

Travel log continues.

This is where I left you the last time. We had just taken a walk up the valley to explore the road that ran through camp, and continued to a wooded ridge top where we could look down on a cattle trough. We also had the revelation that the Elk we were seeking were not having digestion problems. All the large "elk" pies were indeed cow pies and we were on open range - DOH we were no longer in Michigan we still needed to think "out west".

On another day we took "White One" exploring and found the road that lead back to that same water trough. Now instead of exploring in a valley we were on the ridge above. The views were those mountain top views that will never become mundane to me.

Another day we went exploring for a dispersed camping site and drove across my favorite stretch of road. All along the fence line were flocks of Mountain Blue Birds, my first sighting of these little pieces of azure sky in their feathered forms. There were Mule or Black Tailed deer everywhere. Not the flighty nervous types like our eastern White Tails. These deer stood beside the road and watched us go by. We spotted a Pronghorn or two and a large flock of Crows.

I specially love the tops of the mountains we visited. Though I might call myself a tree hugger in a different sense of the usual term I loved the mountain scenery above tree line. you can see for miles either to other mountains or just across these alpine meadows that undulated against the sky. It is hard to describe in words the feeling of these places. I love the Northern Hardwood forests of Michigan and the Big Lakes and the dunes that shoulder up against them. Michigan is not flat, it also undulates very much like the prairies and the alpine meadows but their undulations are hidden by the dense forest growth. The mountains, especially these alpine meadows have a sense of "distance"? - I do not know the word or words that describe a sensation I have never felt anywhere else. Somehow maybe altitude, even when you are not looking down but across, creates that sense of awe and space that seems to go on forever.

There are more pictures on my Picasa Album.

Saturday, November 24, 2007


I was having a terrible time thinking of something to write for today - two days after Thanksgiving - so I was just poking around in my old photos and came across some pictures of family gatherings. These are of our immediate family and of DDHH's family. My only remaining family is a brother in Missouri. When I married into this family it was huge by my standards. Husband's Father's family consisted of 9 brothers and sisters and all their children and grandchildren. We were of a "mature" age when we married and most of the cousins of our generation already had children.

Now there are only the two youngest siblings of my Father-In-Law still living. One lives near enough to see her several times a year at family gatherings, the other is 1/2 the country away and not in good health so we have not seen him in a number of years. I guess that means we should be going to him instead of expecting him to come to us.

I remember being so thankful for this large family when I married into it. They were a large welcoming clan for someone who had grown up with very little family. Growing up I had one living grandparent and no Aunts and Uncles. My father had three first cousins that we called Aunt and Uncle out of respect for their age. But they lived far away and we were lucky to see them once a year at best. There were some children - what does that make them to me, maybe second cousins once removed or something like that? They were much older than my brother and I and had children our ages. I have since lost track off all of them and their offspring.

Now looking at recent family pictures we who were the younger generation are now the older generation. A full generation has nearly passed in the twinkling of an eye. What good memories I have of that generation, the Greatest Generation they were, some veterans of WWII, with stories to tell. The Oldest sister was an Army Nurse who served behind the lines landing at Dunkirk shortly after D Day. The middle brother nearest in age to my Father-In-Law was a reconnaissance pilot flying in both theaters and then stayed in the Air Force after the war. He flew everything from P-38s to all the bombers including the B-17 and B-29, and ended his career holding altitude records in the U-2. One brother served in the Navy. The youngest sister was a school teacher who idolized her oldest sister. One sister married a dentist. The oldest brother was a fine finish carpenter. My Father-In-Law could fix anything by just sitting with a cup of coffee and thinking about it for a while. He was a gifted Tool Maker who refused to be without work. During one strike he took Mom all the way to the other side of the continent. The first day in California he walked out the door with his tool box and came back in the evening after a full day of work at a job he stayed with until the strike was over and they could go home.

I did not know all of the brothers and sisters. Some had died before I met DDHH and some we did not often see. As with all families, large and small there is some unhappiness. But I am thankful for that large family I married into and for those cousins that we still see at different family gatherings. Our immediate family is extended also because DDHH is one of four siblings, three of whom live close to home in the same county. And we are doubly blessed because three of our collective five children live here too.

Here is DDHH holding his Sister's granddaughter.

Here is DDHH's father's youngest Sister who with her brother are the last two of the "older" generation.

And I have a picture of the three girls that are part of our "collective" children, which I mentioned above, but I will not post it unless they say it is ok - so I may add it later.

So two days after Thanksgiving I am still thinking of the blessings of a large extended family.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Black Friday?

Not me. You will not find me shopping the day after Thanksgiving unless it is on line from the comfort of my Internet connection.

After the snow and cold rain of yesterday it was a beautiful sunny day. I played with my camera in the showy yard and the dog played in the snow. I made a leisurely job of baking a batch of butter-egg-rolls, picked up the clutter on the kitchen counters, rehung some pictures and crosses on the kitchen and Living room walls, edited some pictures on my computer, and baked a pumpkin custard.

I should be continuing my travel log. but I will instead upload, tonight, another set of pictures to my Picasa web album.

So for today here are a few of the pictures I took today in the cold, snowy, sun.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving Day

We woke to SNOW on everything this morning. It was a shock at first even though it had beed predicted but it sure is pretty.

Duncan loved the snow. He ran in circles and then nipped at the snow with his front teeth.

This is fun I am at daughter's house, both daughters are cooking while I am playing with daughter #1's Mac and DDHH is playing on her PC. Quite a treat that we can both be on line at the same time and it is hight speed.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Thanksgiving Eve

Not getting much done today but fussing around with my Picasa web albums. It is cold and raining and I am not even looking forward to going riding.

I think Duncan is enjoying his day inside the house instead of stuck in the run. He is following me around. It is very hard to take pictures of him because as soon as you put a camera up he wants to know what it is and has to investigate.

There he finally decided to stay put for a short lie down. So here is Duncan at six month and about 10 days on a rainy November day.

Here is Duncan about a month ago on a sunny October day in his run. Actually it was Lady's run built originally for her and then her 1/2 sister Magic joined her two years later. Now we have Duncan - and we call him Mr Magic because he looks a lot like her. But we are finding Goldens or maybe just dogs are a lot alike. We see Magic and Lady behavior appearing more and more. DeJavous.

so here is today's post.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

I don't know how she does it

My daughter, Tandaina was saying that she had so much to do and so little time. She writes a lot, seems to be able to read a good deal, meditate and pray, and works full time. Plus had time for church things, goes riding and takes pictures sometimes. I don't know how she does it.

I write a little, and read almost nothing, and only work part time. I do church stuff, go riding and take a few pictures. And yet she gets so much more done than I. Can it be that she has high speed internet and I have a very slow modem on dial up???

Or maybe she wasted less time just poking around on the internet and playing solitaire.

Oh well I have to give up trying to keep up with a daughter on fire and 32 years younger than I - opps I told how old I was when she was born. So does that me older than dirt? heheeh

Today was a not unpleasant, mostly gray, day with some sun and really pleasant temperatures for a ramble outside around the yard with camera in hand. Even though it is almost Thanksgiving there is still a lot of color in the yard. And just a touch of sun will accent the softer hues.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Thinking of one another

I don't often drink the coffee at church coffee hour because usually there is only powdered creamer - NOT the same thing as even liquid soy creamer. Yesterday there was a carton of 1/2 and 1/2 sitting by the coffee pot. Hooray! I enjoyed that cup of coffee with cream because the coffee is good coffee. When I went in search of the gal that had provided the treats for coffee hour in order to thank her for the cream she said "oh yes - I remembered Uluwene likes the real thing". It is the small things we do for one another that make our church family very special.

Course for this lady thinking of others comes naturally. She and her husband have adopted 6 kids from the same family, and it has not been a picnic. These kids were very much special needs kids, smart but damaged by their abusive natural parents. Oh yes and then a couple of years ago they took on another little boy from another abusive situation. All of these children from families that truly were neighbors - they lived on the same street. The children used to come to this family and spent
more and more time with them, including regularly attending church, until they first became foster children and then were adopted.

Thank the Lord for loving hearts.

Sunday, November 18, 2007


Last Sunday there was live music for worship. It was very energizing. Then for the last hymn they used one of my favorite songs from a contemporary praise album. I lost it. There I was, the dull old traditionalist who wants hymns from the old traditional hymnal incorporated into our worship services, rocking back and forth and GASP, dare I admit, actually raising one arm and - oh groan, blush - waving it around. What a spectical I made of myself right there in the front row.

And to top it off at bell choir practice the next day it was publicly commented on by one of the worship committee members. How embarrassing - she had noticed my loss of control.

Later in the week I confessed my embarrassment to my daughter who would never raise even one hand a little bit in worship, and breathes Traditional Anglican Worship. Her unexpected response was to ask "why embarrassed?" "Let yourself be moved by worship as the soul leads. No reason to be embarrassed."

Then this morning I was determined to control myself - no shows from this "frozen chosen" Anglican in the front row. So I stood stock still, not even my usual gentle rocking to the rhythm. Ohh the treachery of my own eyes. I could not control the tears. I wept through the hymns.

My soul WILL sing and refuses to be held in abeyance.

Praise God.

Saturday, November 17, 2007


This is an experiment to see what the difference is = Georgia
Lucida Grande
Which do I like best
hmmm what is Font?

I sort of like Trebuchet, if for no other reason because of the name - not sure it is spelled the same way but it at least reminds me of a Medieval siege engine that threw things over fortifications - wall of forts or castles.

Ha after research I am correct Trebuchet is a siege engine invented by the Chinese.
On second thought not such a good thing to be enamored with, though the physics of the thing was pretty amazing.

Ok well lets see what Verdana looks like and do a web search for this name. Just for the heck of it. Bah just a type face invented by an employee of Microsoft.

Those were not so different what does Lucida Grande look like - more delicate - Well what do you know this one is a font created for MAC OX - If I want to use this one I will have to watch out for the - - - what do you call this window I am typing in? It wants to switch back to Georgia today.

So the question becomes which is easier to read this Georgia looks a lot like the Lucida Grande - /shrug. Oh well I can switch depending on my mood.

and here is more drivel for NoBloPoMo today.

Friday, November 16, 2007

The real thing, I think.

The real NoBloPoMo post for today, I think

Poor DDHH no Venison for the larder again today. His hunting spot became so crowded on this Friday afternoon that he has given up on the weekend. Tomorrow he goes to fix Tandaina's clothes dryer. The daughters have been coming to our house to do laundry for a couple of months now so that will be a welcome help.

I did get the pictures of the Bighorn basin posted in my Picasa Web album the other day, but it has been so long now since August that I am loosing track of just exactly where the pictures were taken. We traveled across and up and down the Bighorn basin several times. First from the southern Bighorn mountains north through Greybull then west and north across the valley to Cody Wyoming at the foot of the Beartooth mountains. We spent three days in Cody, visiting the Buffalo Bill Cody museum, making a trip back east without the "Silver Dog House" across the basin to visit Duncan the week before we picked him up, and doing laundry. Then we went north and west into Montana and the Beartooth Mountains where we stayed several days. Those pictures are yet to be uploaded. Then we returned from the north and down the east side of the basin to US 14 and up into the northern Bighorn mountains. There we would visit the Medicine Wheel and try the steep long slopes down US 14A without the trailer behind us. Back into Lovell to buy more of the wonderful honey candy from Queen Bee Candy Co. Then back up 14A to our camp. The next day, from there back down to Lovell to collect Duncan and back up to camp again. If it sounds convoluted it was but we were constantly unsure of our ability to haul the trailer up and down the steep slopes so part of the loops were a result of avoiding 14 A with the trailer. As a result I have lost track of where and when a lot of the pictures were taken.

Oh well. I have a general idea, I know Beartooth from Bighorn and basin from mountain top. To anyone else reading these posts it probably doesn't matter.

The travel log will continue - when I get to it.

For the future here is a peek of the top of the world in Montana.

Test post

I logged on here at 7:37 PM we will see how long it takes to post this with my slow connection.

arrgg I hate it when you are trying to correct spelling and the picture you just spent 10 minutes uploading disappears.

Ok the picture is back at 7:51 pm. I am not kidding that is how long it has taken me to write these few words and upload this picture twice.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

pant pant

With my dear deer hunting husband - hmmm my DDHH - new nickname - in the woods this morning I had to run the dog around the house - was good exercise - kept my heart rate up for about 1/2 an hour and got us both some exercise. We just ran rings around the house well ran and walked. but it worked.

This is probably all for today since I have to work from noon to 8:00 pm, and now I need to go grocery shopping - - - - - - - and this dial up connection is so slow it just makes me - ummm frustrated to the Nth degree what ever that means.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

opening day

My dear deer hunter is going hunting tomorrow morning. The first time he has been able to go on opening day in over 28 years. All other firearms openings he had to work. Funny thing, if you love the outdoors, and wildlife, and hunting, and want to work for a state game department, you don't get to hunt very much. This year is different. While I write this he is abed early. The alarm is set for 3:15 am. I will go back to bed.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Lake Huron

The best part of the "retreat" of which we attended only part of on Saturday was the location. It was at a church, I think maybe Methodist, retreat center. There was a large two story dorm building with a two story sitting room on the main floor. There was a gas fireplace and large windows that looked out over Lake Huron.

There was a dining hall which had also had a wall of glass looking out over the lake, and we met in the chapel which faced east, and had a large window over the Altar also looking out over the lake.

We were not able to attend the Friday night session of the retreat because we could not leave our puppy overnight and pets were not welcome. So we arrived for breakfast Saturday morning and participated - more watched and listened- to the Saturday events. Probably because we had missed the Friday night session I don't think we got a lot out of it.

The title was Spiritual Freedom Weekend. But I found it rather depressing. They were talking about spiritual Strongholds - mindsets and habits that we develop that control, dictate and influence our attitudes and behavior, oppress and discourage us, filter and color how we view or react to situations, circumstances, or people. We were handed a list of types of Strongholds with lists of habitual behaviors we were to check off. As one of the other retreat members said "mine is black" because so many were checked. Fr Jack kept saying don't become discouraged - - -but it was just a way of checking off all your bad habits - - - heck the list was depressing.

Oh well the lake was pretty and we enjoyed a couple of walks along the beach. And the food was good.

Monday, November 12, 2007


It is 10:00 PM and all is quiet.
A full day is done and morning comes early.
So this is all NaBloPoMo gets today
just so I have something to post
and don't miss one day.

Tomorrow is a new day that promises sun
so who would not rather be out in the garden
than racking one's brain for something to type.

If you think this is a poem
its not.

good night, sleep tight,
and don't let the bed bugs bite
stay out of hotels and motels.

Sunday, November 11, 2007


After having two full days away from home I find it really hard to keep up NaBloPoMo. So here is a couple of pictures from yesterday's church retreat on Lake Huron.

If I can figure out how to download a picture from my cell phone I might have one from a family 40th anniversary party we attended today.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Good Morning

We are headed for a "retreat" that Fr. J is directing for the members of New Church. We are only going to the Saturday sessions because we have a baby dog to stay home with at night. So this is a post to be sure I don't miss todays NaBloPoMo if I am not able to post this evening.

Here is a taste of the Bighorm Mountains that are yet to come in my travel log, just to keep you waiting with baited breath for the next installment.

Friday, November 9, 2007


We attended the funeral of a co-worker's husband yesterday. He has been fighting cancer for two years and finally lost his battle to remain with us on Sunday night. This is the second Roman Catholic funeral I have attended. It was a very comfortable experience. The Roman service is so much like our Anglican service that I could hardly tell the difference. I was able participate with the most of the responses. We sang the psalm responsively, which was something I grew up doing and had not done in many years. I even knew the hymns and one of my favorite Communion hymns concluded the service.

Our home church is new, almost 3 years old now, and we meet in a rented office building. We sit on office type chairs and when the service is over the furniture can be moved around to set tables for a pot luck meal. To be in a dedicated sanctuary, a very beautiful one, to sit in a pew and have a kneeler to use when praying was very pleasant. We keep telling our selves and each other at New Church that "The Church is not the building" but oh how pleasant it was to worship in a beautiful, sanctified space, dedicated to Worship of our lord and Savior.

I was reminded by Tandaina at lunch today that she would give up any beautiful space for a loving church family, which we do have at New Church. So I need to put the "green eyed monster" of envy away and wait for God's time to provide us with a "Place of Our Own" if that is what God intends for us.

Thursday, November 8, 2007


As I looked out on the bird feeder this morning it seemed to be awash in a sea of small birds. Too numerous to count as they flowed over the feeder and piles of spilled seed on the ground. Flocks of Gold Finches in their pale winter plumage, and House Finches, the males with their raspberry colored heads and backs, mingled with plain female House Sparrows and males with their black bibs. Chickadees and Red Breasted Nuthatches darted to the feeder and back to the tree branches. Gray Juncos with their white bibs and pink bills mingled with the finches on the ground. One Junco looked smaller and browner. Maybe like the rose sided Oregon Juncos we saw out west? No it is must be just an immature Slate Colored Junco. Titmice are here too moving from spruce branch to the feeder, taking their turns. Suddenly there is a surge of flight as all flee in panic, one small body bouncing off the window screen and safely away. One brave - or foolish?- Chickadee remains, sitting on a slender branch, among the clinging yellow birch leaves. Gradually the birds return from the false alarm, a few at a time like leaves tumbling to the ground from the overhanging birch and Spruce branches.

Later two Blue Jays arrive to take over the feeder from the smaller birds. Their backs a reminder of the summer sky that hides today behind the solid gray clouds. A sprinkling of large snowflakes drift down like feathers lost in a flurry of panic or death dealt by the Sharp Shinned hawk that occasionally feeds from our bird feeder, but not today, they are some of the first snowflakes of the coming winter.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007


Having been born and raised in Michigan I a have, not too surprisingly, had very little experience with mountains. As a child our family drove through the Smokey Mountains on our way to Florida every Easter. I will date myself here. That drive took 4 days partly because the entire distance was done on the Dixie Highway, US 10, all the way on two lane blacktops, which went through every large city and every small town Between Detroit and Ft. Meyers. Now don't get me wrong, the Smokies are very scenic and the driving can still be torturous but those mountains do not have bald heads, they never get higher than tree line. My next experience deposited me on the tarmac of a small airport having just deplaned from a 6 seat commuter at the tiny Dubois Wyoming air port. I remember turning slowly in a complete circle or maybe two with my mouth hanging open, gaping at the rocky mountains which surrounded me. Now those were mountains. The tops that we hiked to were rocky and well above tree line. I remember a tiny cedar curled in a protective hollow about the diameter of a coffee cup but no deeper than a saucer. I was told by the Biologist that the tree was probably several hundred years old. Then were was a short visit to my brother's home near the Ozarks, which are much like the Smokies, beautiful and rugged but not breathtakingly high. Then in 1999 we visited Rocky Mountain National Park. Very high mountains with a very definite tree line, like someone had drawn a pencil line around the mountain and set a limit on where the trees were allowed to grow. As we drove up there were trees and then there were no trees, a sudden delineated change from forest to alpine meadows with no trees and snow in July. From the top you could see miles away to more mountains.

Our trip west has broadened my perception of mountains. Of course the Badlands are not mountains at all. They are severely weathered plains that have created surreal landscapes where it is HOT in the summer. The Black Hills are just what their name implies, very lovely but hills and it can be HOT in the summer. The Black Hills are an ancient upthrust weathered into fascinating fingers of rock. No glaciers were here in South Dakota so grind the tops off and smooth things over. Here the trees grow to the tops of the ridges and over. There is no tree line and no alpine habitat.

That Changed when we went north and farther west to Wyoming and Montana. The Bighorm Mountains of Wyoming are a small range of mountains that include Hazelton Pyramid which is 10,534 feet above sea level. Two miles high! What I found so amazing about these mountains was that although they were very high and there was a tree line it was not as marked as in Rocky Mountain National Park. The tops of the mountains were covered in alpine grassed meadows which extended for miles. Although you could see great distances very often it did not look like you were ON a mountain top. It was odd. I always knew we were in or on the mountain but sometimes it just did not look like we were on a mountain. This picture to the left shows Hazelton Peak 10,264 feet high, from the road toward Doyle campground which is at 8,100 feet of elevation.

Farther west yet in Montana we met the Beartooth Mountains. They were not really much higher but they showed much more evidence of their glacial shaping with rounded hanging valleys above younger vee shaped stream valleys. All of the roads and driving there was rugged. None of the miles and miles of nearly flat toped mountains like the one above. Everything in the Beartooth mountains was STEEP. and the alpine meadows were above a very obvious tree line. A saying we learned in the mountains was that "if you are too hot you are not camping high enough". We had nights in the mountains when it got down to near freezing, while it was in the 100s in the valleys below.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Bighorn Mountains

Our next stop was in the southern Bighorn National Forest along U.S. highway 16 west of Buffalo Wyoming. In Buffalo we were warned it was good to have reservations, so we pulled into the first promising camp ground and the first open site. It was a pull through, - EASY - It is always good if you don't have to back up the rig - and put down roots for a week. Our site was unfortunately close to the road, which turned out to be fairly “busy” for a Forest Service camp, and this not as private as we would have liked. BUT it was right beside Middle Clear Creek, which flowed merrily down hill with a good volume of very cold water. The out house was only one camp site away and the pitcher pump well provided delicious cold mountain water.

From here we did a lot of exploring over the course of the week both on foot and with the help of "White One". After taking a closer look at our Bighorn National Forest map we discovered why this road that supplied 9 campsites was so busy. The road went much farther up the valley into and provided access to a large number of Forest Service lease cabins. Many years ago the Forest Service used to lease land to people for a very nominal fee and allow them to build permanent private cabins. These leases continue to be handed down in families for generations. In some areas the leases can be sold and in others they can not depending on the Forest Management District policy. Frankly it generated a good deal of the "green eyed dragon" of envy in me. Husband on the other had found it unjust that a few people could have private homes and private use of public land that actually belongs to all of us. The cabins were very nice, some log cabins and others what looked to me like year round homes that of course would not be accessible except by snow shoe or snow mobile in the winter. We walked to the end of the road where it crossed the creek on a foot bridge to the last cabin up the valley. Then we continued walking up hill following the footpath along the creek and then away from the creek high into the mountains near the wilderness boundary.

Here the pines were tall slender gray barked Lodge Pole instead of the massive orange barked Ponderosa. We saw occasional Elk droppings and were constantly on the lookout for them but never had the luck to see them. We saw lots of tracks which we thought might be Elk but there were what looked like cow pies everywhere. "NAH can't be, maybe the Elk are umm loose this time of year." We finally climbed through a saddle and looked down the slope to a stock tank sitting beside a road. DOH!! as the kids say. We were on open range - of course they were cow pies and the tracks were cattle tracks. Sadly in our 31 days on this trip thought we saw lots of piles of Elk poop we never saw one elk.

On this same walk we came out of the forest into an area where there clearly had been fire a number of years before. Sitting on a branch in a dead snag, near a tall rock out crop was a large hawk. To our utter amazement when we looked more closely with our binoculars there on top the the rock out crop was a marmot sunning himself.

Enough for one day - or rather evening - I will continue this story another day. In the meantime you can see more pictures here.

A Tase of What is to Come.

My first reaction was a big YUCK!!

Driving to town to buy two MORE gallons of that big name paint that is "supposed to cover in one coat", so my dear Husband can put the second coat on the kitchen today, the wind was so strong that I had to work to not be blown all over the road and the SNOW yes SNOW was wet on the windshield. Well not really so odd it IS November after all.

But my second reaction was thankfulness for the reminder that I was not waiting for a bus to come take me to town, that I could drive myself where I wanted to go; that when I returned home I would drive into a garage and not have to get out in the weather; that I HAD a snug warm home to go back too. Thankful that I have a warm coat and warm gloves. I was thankful for the beautiful, warm, long fall that we have experienced and the colorful leaves still on the trees to brighten a gray day. Thankful because cold weather is necessary to grow wonderful, crunchy, juicy, delicious Michigan apples. The trees must have a cold dormant period. That the farmers and gardeners will be blessed by far fewer cut worms to destroy their crops next spring IF we have a cold enough winter. Oh my, the blessings I can number on a blustery fall day that is just a fore taste of the real winter that is to come.

My challenge to myself and you is to add to this list - when we automatically start to complain or grumble about the weather or something else, lets try to think of our blessings. You are invited to post them here in a comment, if you wish, or on your own blog.

Monday, November 5, 2007


Wow what a Sunday. We are not a very big church, a fairly new church in fact. We had six Baptisms yesterday. Two children, three infants and one adult. 107 people crammed into the space we usually fill up with about 70 people every Sunday. What a blessing.

The really odd thing was that I NEVER just throw my little digital camera in my purse to take anywhere - but this Sunday I did. My niece handed me her camera to take pictures of her 4 year old and her infant being baptized. I took one picture with her camera and the card was full. Halleluia! I sent Husband out to the car to retrieve my camera with a totally empty card just waiting to record all of the baptisms.

Pictures to follow depending on how they turned out once I get a chance to look at them. I will post them on my Picasa Web album with a link.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Black Hills - last chapter of this part of a trip

I really enjoy creating these travel logs of our trip this summer. It gives me a chance to go back and recall what a wonderful time we had, in rereading my diary discovering some of the details that I forgot.

In my last chapter we went to Devil’s tower in 104* heat. The drive “home”, we had come to think of the “Silver Dog House” where ever he is parked as home, was long and tiring. We drove south through very flat range land in Wyoming to Newcastle then east back into South Dakota. As we came east the late evening sky was dark with heavy clouds and we could see lightning ahead of us. We drove through Jewel Cave national Monument and made a note that it was a place to see next time we came to the Black Hills. We had fallen in love with the area and decided we wanted to see more – there was so much of the Black Hills we had not seen. As we drove through Custer we hit the tail end of the thunder storm with wet streets and sprinkles on the windshield. At Custer we turned back north and passed the Crazy Horse Memorial, which we could see from the road, with the completed face lighted. We decided that was out look at Crazy Horse. We arrived back at the trailer well after dark, tired and glad of the thunderstorm, which had cooled the air to comfortable sleeping temperatures. If you look back at some of my earlier posts the map of the Black Hills is there to see our route.

The next day was Sunday, a day to do mundane stuff, like house keeping. I was even able to use my cell phone to call home from Hill City where we went to do laundry and grocery shopping. On the way back after finishing our errands we passed a flock of mountain sheep ewes with one lamb, right on the shoulder of the road. Sunday afternoon we also tried a swim in the reservoir on which the campground is located. We only managed to wade out to our waists. We are spoiled by Michigan's clear sandy bottomed lakes.

Another treat that I had while in the campground in the Black Hills was to add a Townsend's Solitaire adults and juvenile to my birding life list. It was the unusual appearance of the plumage of the juvenile that caught my attention at first. He is a dark bird with what looks like scales all over his chest and back. He is heavily spotted with white which makes the feathers look like they have dark edges. I later saw him with the solid gray adult and was able to see the white outer tail feathers on the birds as they were fly catching among the Ponderosa pines at our campsite. The Solitaire is a small thrush who is related to Blue Birds and Cat Birds. Here is a link to a site from the Seattle Washington audubon that includes a recording of their song. And Another that has more complete information from Cornel Lab of Ornithology

Monday morning fairly early we broke camp and headed west for the southern Bighorm Mountains.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

November 3rd

Ok so the rules of NaBloPoMo say we are supposed to post every day - - - what to post other than the weather is bright and sunny - a beautiful fall day, and that my loving husband is painting my kitchen for me?

Or maybe I will just give you this picture of a female Praying Mantis washing her "hands" before she finds just the right place to secrete her egg case. I took her picture just a few days ago on a White Pine stump. I hope she found a place that suited her as she would not have survived the hard freezes we have had the last two nights. By now her eggs should be safely tucked in their hardened foam nest that will keep them hidden until spring.

And lets include a picture of those sun bright maple leaves that were finally beginning to fall after the first freeze two days ago.

When my daughter, Tandaina , pointed me to NaBloPoMo I said - "but what will I write?" she said "you will think of something" Well this is poor fare - hopefully tomorrow will bring a better offering.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Killing Frost

Our First heavy killing frost finally came last night or early this morning. The giant Poinsettia, which has been sitting on the patio, waiting unknowingly for its death by ice finally met its end. The plant I have been nursing along for years had outgrown at least 4 pots since it came home for Christmas 4 or 5 years ago. But times change and a new puppy meant the potential for nasty blisters in mouth and throat had to give way.

When I took Duncan outside, to let some of his puppy energy run out in frantic circles, the frost was thick on the grass and fallen leaves. Ice was among the leaves in the birdbath and the still air was sharp with the promise of winter. The sun bright yellow leaves of the Silver Maple have been holding tight, but they rained down around me with a whisper in the still cold air.

It has been a surprisingly warm fall. I still have a taste of summer in a vase. Rose, and Foxglove and Salvia.

Devils Tower

More in the continuing saga of our trip out west this summer.

- - - - - - The Next day we went to Devils Tower. Though this is still technically still in the Black Hills it is in Wyoming and required a longer drive than we anticipated. We drove north along the Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway. The Spearfish river flows north through Spearfish Canyon toward the Belle Fourche River. The canyon is very narrow and the small river flows right along the road. There were places to stop and see waterfalls and lush growth of wildflowers. But eventually there is a small dam that takes the water away for irrigation and power production and the river is reduced first to a trickle and then to a dry, rocky, river bed that gives evidence of the river's potential when there is not a drought.

It was a HOT day. When we finally reached Devil's Tower at about 5:00 P.M. it was 104* We walked the 1.3 mile trail around the tower very slowly in the heat, seeking the shade of the very tall Ponderosa Pines that grew all around its base. Occasionally we saw American Indian prayer bundles or cloths tied to trees. In spite of having seen lots of pictures and knowing the geology actually seeing the tower was an amazing experience. In Michigan our volcanoes are so old that they are just big hills covered with forest. Here was the core of a volcano exposed by eons of erosion and cracked into huge six sided columns of rock 600 feet tall. Thinking back on that walk I don't really remember the heat, but the awe at the great columns of basalt that make up the structure of the tower and the rubble field at its base. There were great hexagonal pillars lying on their sides among the trees where they had been dislodged by frost and gravity. Because of the heat and mostly the late hour the large crowds had dispersed and we were mostly alone on our walk. Large birds constantly circled above the tower and around its sides. Turkey Vultures nest on the top and on larger ledges high up on the tower and were flying continuously about it. As we came around the tower the moon came into view through the trees with the Vultures circling.

More pictures of Devils Tower can be seen here.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

November 1

Day one of NaBloPoMo 07


Halloween afternoon was beautiful, sunny, and warm, if somewhat windy. The Sugar Maples still wore their golden and scarlet coats of leaves, this is late for such color in lower Michigan. It was a day to go for a trail ride instead of taking an equitation lesson in the large indoor arena. On days when we ride outside I ride an old palomino quarter horse pony. Cricket is a steady reliable trail horse who takes care of himself and his rider. It also helps if he and you are both paying attention to your surroundings. Cricket has been laid up for a little over two weeks with an old "sports" injury that acts up occasionally. It "acted up" when we were on a trial ride last month and in the end I was walking us both, limping, back to the barn. Yesterday he was sound of "knee" but crabby. Oh yes it is getting to be winter - if not cold yet the days are shorter and that is how horses tell the seasons; when to shed or grow a winter coat, and with Cricket when to put on his crabby winter demeanor - when you have to be much more aware of what he is doing with his great big teeth as you move around him, fortunately with more bulky sleeves. My trainer rode the six year old mare that I ride for indoor lessons. She is still green and somewhat unsure of herself on a trail ride. She will willingly lead until she becomes nervous and then she wants her old reliable friend Cricket to lead. We had a very pleasant ride, but both horses found the day a bit spooky. Image shied as we came out of a line of pines into a field we often refer too as the "spooky field". But just barely beyond steady old Cricket spooked also, refusing to go on through the hedgerow and into the big open field. He and I had a minor argument about it before he finally went along, ears pricked sharply forward and with a nervous gait. He even found the familiar woodlot a place he did not want to go which required another "discussion" to urge him forward. A couple of other such nervous episodes added up to not quite the usual for Cricket.

Someone once told me that on Halloween the veil between this life and the next is very thin. If that is true I expect horses might be sensitive to such a phenomenon. Maybe that is what we experienced on that Halloween ride. Or maybe Cricket just did not want to go back to work after a two week vacation, or he was still a bit sore, of which he otherwise gave no evidence. Or it was just his crabby winter self beginning to emerge. Or maybe it was just the wind.