Adventure in Alabama

Kathryn was concerned when we left Louisiana that Alabama did not have an adventure. We’ve crossed the state several times, but with the exception of fuel or lunch at a rest stop, we’d hardly even slowed down in the state. 

When we headed back toward Maryland from Pensacola FL, Kathryn mentioned a few detours we might entertain. However, she needed to be in MD for a concert the following Saturday and it was looking like Drew would need to attend a Thursday meeting. Some certainties abound with RV travel, like problems occur when you’re pressed for time and things often take longer than you expect to get fixed. Three days (Friday – Sunday) is not as long as it sounds when you’re pulling you home over the highway. 

About two hours after we left (west of Brewton AL) we had our fifth blowout. This time the tread came off the tire in apparently one piece. Unfortunately that piece broke out freshly replaced fender skirt and busted the end of sewer connection, notably the bayonet connector which the sewer hose connects too. Joy. 

After finding that a tow truck would take 2+ hours to get there we started up the road to find a better place to sit than the shoulder of AL-113. Turns out there was a truck tire place right behind the the kangaroo next to the I-65 exit. They did not sell truck tires, but the fine gentleman working there took the few minute to have us pull through and change the tire for us. For free no less, we gave him $20 and our thanks. Kathryn found some adventure in Alabama after all, Adams the girls were pleased with a new accelerated return schedule. 



Trekking to Vermont. State Number 49

It is weird heading out and getting a hotel reservation. Also weird having to pack again, not carrying our bathroom with us and have to actually plan out a potty stop. And not have my trusty oven twenty feet behind me.

But, we are only two states away from having had adventures in all fifty states by the time Gwynevier is 10 (“Fifty by Ten”). And the big ten is April. It is colder approaching April, believe it or not, than it is now.

And so, we trek north. In the little Subie Forester.

Rollyhome is still in the shop. It has been over a month. The galley holding tank (the tank that collects water from the kitchen sink) is being fixed and it is frozen out there. This means that if they run water through our system then it may freeze and that can be rather..um.. Not good.

So, we have been staying with family. Wonderful visits with my parents and his.

We came back in to Maryland thinking we would be scheduled and “on it”, making play dates and seeing everyone we could. But, after traversing most of the circumference of the country and moving ever-so-fast to get “home”, we have not done much but relax and have not seen many people but family. It has been good to just relax and be with family but it has also been a but unnerving to be out our beloved “Rollyhome”.

The girls still waiver with whether they like being nomadic or not. When we came home, they were asking for a three bedroom home. But, I have to say, being in these “big” spaces for the last four weeks since Rollyhome has been in the shop, they have been quite “off” their rockers. Bigger spaces seems to mean more places to sneak and get into arguments. While we even began to look at homes, it is off the table for now. We’ll just keep living tiny with this big country as our back yard. For now.

After a few weeks of displacement, the girls have been requesting Rollyhome. They want to “be home”. They want I be “in our own space”. I wonder if they have a bit of wander lust. They have been restless and have had difficulty. Honestly, so have we parents.

Our parents are wonderful and gracious and helpful . Their homes are comfortable. The visits and time together are invaluable. But we are just “off”. Something in the air in Maryland.

As I said before, I had grand plans of what I (we) would do in Maryland. We spent time dreaming about purchasing another home and “rooting” but I realized that I was wanting to root because we were out of our home. We just need to slow down a bit. Maybe it will be slow in Vermont.

One thing will be wonderful. Drew will
be on vacation this week. That will mean a wonderful, slow week. Once we get there.

Our itinerary:

Tonight: Scranton, PA.
Tomorrow, visit beloved family in Honesdale area.
Tomorrow night: stay somewhere in New York:
After that: stay somewhere in Vermont.
Maybe get the kids on some skis.
Maybe
jig up to Canada.
We’ll be gone a week or two.
Something like that.

Like I said, we did not get much done this month. Including making plans.

But adventure is never hard to find. Neither are cuddles with these sweet girls. And sometimes, that’s all we need.

Flatly Tired in Minnesota.

Yesterday, driving from Medora, North Dakota to our stay in Fargo, I put into my new, fancy to-do app several items. One was to make reservations in Sioux City, IA for our stay that will gain us adventures in two states: Nebraska and Iowa. Another was to make family Halloween plans . The girls had begun to dream of it and pretend about it and plan it already. In the note section of the first, I put “find a campground with a Halloween festival weekend”. I was thinking this would be difficult and a few weeks out. Then, I began tackling some to-do’s.

I peeked at our campground App, Allstays, and found a KOA in North Sioux City, SD. As I called, two birds fell out of the sky. Figuratively, of course. They only had a few spaces left because of their Halloween festival this weekend. A third bird may have fallen as well. That is yet to be seen. I may be able to teach some Uke.

But, here is the thing. It took us a bit to get out today from our stay just west of Fargo. I woke up tired and grouchy, so I laced up and ran laps around the campground. Just short laps but simply doing it makes such a difference. Much better. Plus, we lost an hour in North Dakota. Time change.

As we rounded through Fargo, I insisted on an adventure into the neighboring town of Moorhead, Minnesota. Moorhead delivered an adventure, alright. And four experiences of Minnesota Hospitality.
We drove through and thought the place was charming. A small, college town that is separated by Fargo only by a river, we knew there would be a good cuppa joe. After finding an ample parking spot near this place, I went in to find Adventure in a cup. http://moxiejavafargo.com/

Not only was I served by a bison,

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But the friendly bison served us her favorite salty caramel mocha in the frozen and hot varieties. Our first taste of Minnesota. Her coffee and her hospitality.

Yum. I carried them out to the RV and found out that Drew had discovered a flat tire.

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Yes, the flat tire was on the same side as the window that blew away in Washington (which took to long to get the right part in, so we chose to bring it home to get it fixed) AND the same side as the fender skirt that broke away in a dust storm in Amarillo (same timeline)

We were parked on road that was not very busy. That was a good thing. Luckily, we have Good Sam. After we called them to get assistance, we removed the bikes to access the garage. We got out the spare.

A quick note on changing fifth wheel
tires. It is Unadvisable. An exercise in futility and it a good way to get hurt. So, we called and waited. Stuck up some nifty orange cones to give us berth while we were waiting.

A nice man who was just coming home from the college parade stopped to see if we needed help. He and his daughter gave our girls some candy from the parade. This guy was “Minnesota kind”. He was from Mandan, ND but, since we were in Minnesota, we’ll say he was our second true taste of the Minnesota hospitality. Thanks, dude. Luckily, we were okay and thought that someone would be there some time soon, but it was nice to know you had our back. Generous strangers.

Some time soon came very soon. When this guy showed up with a very big hydraulic three ton jack.
l

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Yep, that’ll do it.

Pretty soon we were off trekking. He didn’t even accept a tip. Thanks Good Sam. And thanks Justin, the wonderful. You make the world a better place.
Minnesota hospitality number three.

Number four came presently when we drove back to the main road and saw something blue blow out of the truck. Drew surmised that it was the cover to our orange levelers. We drive a few blocks to backtrack and found an appropriate place to stop. Drew used the time to potty stop the girls and grab a snack while I went back to where we saw the blue fly out.

It was a windy day. The beautiful Minnesota fall leaves were blowing around as well as other various debris that had been caught up. I looked north, and south. Scanned the other side with my eyes. I didn’t see the bag and didn’t hold much promise of finding it. Perhaps it would be our fiat Minnesota litter. Hopefully our only.

A young woman in blue walked by. Not noticing her earbuds, I asked if she’d seen a blue bag blowing by. She removed her earbud and said she hadn’t. I scanned a bit. Walked a bit more and then walked back to the corner.
Trying to wave Drew down for a pick up, I saw he was still not settled back into the driver’s seat. I chose to use the wait time to look again. Then, I saw the young woman running back from the other side of the street a block north from where I was.

“Oh, no she didn’t” I said aloud to myself. Then. As I saw the blue and black clearly waving in her hand, “she did.” I walked to greet her and thank her.

Random stranger young lady. Thanks for the random kindness. Minnesota Hospitality. Number four.

And, southbound we were. Good tire. Coffee. Blue bag recovered and grateful hearts. Girls a bit restless.

As fast as that was, we still
hold only a slim hope of getting to the Halloween festival. Additional stops will be required to check tire pressure.

We’ll try.

Licked by a Wolf in the Backcountry.

Unedited so far. No
Pics up yet. Sorry.

Today we took a trek to Bowman Lake. This was a trek to the back country where the roads are not paved. Not only did the road take unexpected turns. So did our day.

We began on the other side of Lake McDonald and through the National Forest on the “fire side” of the lake. From the road, not only could we have an up-close view of the areas of the National Forest and glacier Park that recently burned umma wildfire, we could view Glacier National Park from more of a distance and see the immense peaks from a different perspective.

We passed the Beaver Dam we explored two nights ago and turned north toward Canada. We were continually impressed with the views of the mountains that were recovering from the wildfires and were particularly pleased with the yellows and oranges showing up against the greens and browns.

Aspen and other disiduous trees have begun to turn for the fall here. This drive afforded us many opportunities to gawk at them. Did you know that old Aspen forests may be some of the largest plants in the world? Even surpassing the Redwoods. This is because a large grove may actually be a single organism! I have more research to do on this. My current source on this is talks with Rangers.

We drove pretty far up and found ourselves in a cute little backcountry town of Polson. I only wish I had gotten a picture of the outhouse with a sat illite attached. Some snacks and drinks consumed on the wooden handmade chairs on the porch of the mercantile was more enjoyable than it may seem. We were reminded of Talkeetna, Alaska, though Talkeetna is clearly more populated than the 300 that reside near this oasis.

I chatted music with some of the ladies, one who is learning ukulele. If we returned back from our lake trek, I would teach them a bit. Unfortunately, we did not return in time. Fortunately, we enjoyed our every minute that we spend driving to and soaking up the lake.

Passing back into the park, we crossed a beautiful river and followed the rutted, single-lane up and them down through thick forest, along the river and near cliffs. Evidence of Wildfire was still abundant. The aspen were clearly thriving in some places.

Spending our lake time near the picnic area, we saw more warnings of bear and mountain lions.

Here’s where the wolf comes in.
I looked into the woods as I saw motion a large, grey animal was moving through the wood near the picnic table. My first thought was wolf, judging by size and canid qualities. Then I saw a woman who had the animal on a leash and had a black dog with her as well. I pointed out to the girls that there are big dogs and the woman heard me and told me the large grey one is a wolf. Her pet. Her fourth wolf that she had raised since before the wolf (Motto) had opened his eyes. He was stunning and beautiful. Clearly gentle. The girls asked of they could pet him. We and his parent agreed. We all had the opportunity. We talked for a bit and took some pictures and then separated to explore the Lake.

I don’t know that I can say much more than a picture can about the lake. I don’t think I got any pics of the pebbles that make up the shoreline. So colorful. Much like Lake McDonnel.

After lake time, we met up with the woman and her “dogs”. Having friendly conversation, we say on the shoreline to watch Motto in the water.
Then he did it.

He came over and licked my face! Like, all over! I am not one to mine doggie kisses unless they smell like they are coming out of the other end. Motto’s licks were clean. No slobber. No stink. Just licks.
At some point while a wolf is licking your face, you kind-of think, “Gee. This is a very large carnivorous animal that in the wild is very fierce. In very exposed. Is this a smart thing to do?”. Yes, I did think that. But only for a fleeting, minuscule second. The other time I was thinking, “wow! This amazing creature is lickings face. A wolf. I am being kisses by a wolf. Thank you wolf.

Getting tired. Gotta go prep the RV for movement tomorrow. I’ll
Have to catch up on this later. Totally crashing.

Who Did What?!?

One of us picked up a hot charcoal briquette with bare hands. The other sharpened pencils. Who did what? Match the blister to the deed.

At Glacier National Park. After a nice exploration day. More on that later.

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Glacier. Wowsers Already and it is Just the Beginning!

Wow.
First day out and are significantly impressed with the vast, pristine wilderness.

After a late start because we were caught up in an Ancient History book and were pretending to be creatures from the Precambrian and Cambrian Eras, we pushed out the door. Yes, we had to push.

A quick stop by the visitors center to get info and Junior Ranger books. A quick hike up the trail there, teensy.

Pauses along the way. Once at the lake where we pondered the idea of change. The most beautiful pebbles. Once at Avalanche, where the girls did a few pages and I had a conversation with a couple from Texas. This is where we think we saw a grizzly.

Another stop at an overlook of a creek where we observed the power of water and how it can carve out a gorge and beautifully shape rock. We talked about eddies. We shared a delicious lollipop.

Hunting for glaciers, we discovered that the experience would be nothing like Alaska glacier experiences. We would have to hike very far and the glaciers seem smaller. But, still! It was great just in sheet vastness of landscape and nature. The glaciers are fewer and smaller now and the hundreds of glaciers have melted to a new total of a piddly, puddly twenty five. By 2030, scientists expect that these important natural resource will will be gone. So sad!

We think we saw a grizzly.
We found mountain goats. Twice.
Crossed the continental divide, twice.

Took a noisy hike as a kiddo sandwich, This is a safety thing. Noisy to warn the bears. Kiddos between the adults to let the mountain lions know we are a pack.
Watched butterflies. Orang-ish ,small butterflies.
Found wildflowers, Many purple. Wondered if orange berries we found were edible.
Awed and gaped at the mountains. Those mountains…

Threw snow balls.

Watched a huge raven stooped on a Subaru.

Oogled a bear and her two cubs. The And ogled the hominids that lost their minds to look at them. Discovered that mama bears eat the orange berries we were wondering about. Also realized that near cubs really are cute. Especially when they are nesting in a tree sleeping with their paw dangling over a branch. Like, teddy bear cute.

And when we returned to the KOA, we
Played with and made new friends from Misoula. We had a Little House on the Prairie bond.

Did origami. Swans.

Then we read and let the young eyes droop.

An experiment with cider and red wine in the evening went deliciously. Hmm.

Tomorrow awaits!

There are no accidents!

It is amazing when you are most of the way across the country and you run into someone you know!

Annie is the sister of a dear Annapolis friend and the daughter of some wonderful people we honored years ago in the Chesapeake Bay String of Pearls Project for protecting their land and, thereby, the Chesapeake Bay.

The story- after a day of homeschooling work, I was tasting some wonderful (and hot) wine today at the Co-op in Moscow. I noticed a young woman who looked familiar and figured I had seen her earlier in one of the many (too many) times I had been in the co-op. I went back to my conversation which included that we are from Maryland.

Then a woman approached me asking me if I said I was from Maryland. I told her I did and she looked familiar and quickly realized she is Ted’s sister! And Katie, her daughter, had taught with me at a camp in Maryland. She is in school in Idaho and Annie was visiting her. They were lunching with Katie’s friend. We spent some time talking. What a surprise!

And what a treat!

We are tempted to go by her town on the way up to Glacier tomorrow. But that could mean difficult roads across the Bitterroot Mountains. Hmmm.

Sorry, Annie, I know the picture is not good of any of us.

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Moscow, Idaho

Enjoying our time here visiting dear friends. What a lovely place!

An adventure getting parked where we had a reservation, but could not stay due to pesky overhead branches threatening the integrity of our rubber roof. What a beautiful place it was!

An easy park that was closer to town. Easy peezy.

Visits with precious boys and their Momma her belly and their Papa. Blue tape art and play.

Also, a visit to a church community that was resonant in its message.

Expansive skies framed only by the grain- and-chocolate-covered hills rolling along toward everywhere.

A small town where everything you need you can walk to. A co-op with delicious, hot gluten-free food and friendly peeps.

An Appaloosa Horse museum. My girl’s favorite horse.

Nez Perce National Historic Park, the “home” of our nomadic, hand-me-down American Girl Doll, Kaya. And an other learning experience in understanding the treatment of the native peoples of this country.

And more to come.

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Truck Stop Adventure

In which we decide to save a few bucks whilst driving to Moscow, ID. We stay at an truck stop (right down the street from the KOA) and are woken up at 4:49 in the morning by the blaring carbon monoxide detector. This is the earliest start we ever did see.

Only, it was not Carbon Monoxide that caused the detector to go off. It was a low battery. The battery was low because the refrigerator was slightly open all night. Well, it was open for the few hours that we slept.

But, still, we got out super early and, with a few hard boiled truck stop eggs and truck stop cut fruit, we were off to a good start!

And what a beautiful day it way. Adventures awaited us, nature, birds, volcanic structures, beautiful rolling landscape formed by lava, ice and water.

And, the bonus– dear friends awaited us just on the other side of that “Welcome to Idaho” sign.