Tweets by @morningblend56 According to Mary: June 2008

Sunday, June 29, 2008

A Fun Day in Montana

What a fun day. I had my first “backing up a camper” lesson from one of my gentlemen friends with a big rig. He looked like Santa Claus. I handle the camper fine most of the time except when “it gets away from me.” (His words) He told me he has taught many a grown man the art of backing up a trailer. He showed me which mirror to use and where to place my right hand so that my brain, I mean my wheels, will line up the way I want the trailer to go. He was an excellent teacher. He gave me homework. Go back to Iowa, (if it’s still there when you get home,) and practice in a parking lot…and DON’T let it get away from you! He consoled me “the small trailers are tougher to back, you know, because they get away from you faster than the big rigs.” And he has been all over the world including the Arctic Circle. He knows.

I saw the famous Beaverhead Rock that I have been reading so much about. Sacagawea recognized the rock formation from her childhood and saved the lost William Clark and got him back on the right trail. I kept imagining what it must have been like for her to see that rock again…stolen from her Shoshone Tribe as a child by another tribe and then sold to a French trader to wife and now a young mother...

Along the road today was a garnet mine where you buy a bucket of dirt for twenty five dollars and pan for treasure. Just like on TV.

It was hot in this valley this afternoon. But the air is so dry that a little breeze is all it takes to keep you comfortable. I don’t miss humidity. And the nights get down into the 40s. Yum!

Good night everybody. God bless you!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

A Long Day in Montana

It's hard to keep track of the days but I just heard the bells ring for Saturday night mass here in Dillon, Montana. It was a long day for both Cal and me. The snow capped mountains are beautiful but distant and there are long Montana stretches that seem to take forever - even in the van. This is ranch and cattle and mosquito country. We are pushing to get to Yellowstone.

Yesterday we camped in a lovely little USFS campground again right by a mountain stream that roared. Cal likes his white noise but this one was a little much. It was part of Montana that was burned in the 2000 forest fires. The trunks of the some of the huge ponderosa pines were charred but unhurt. They are mighty trees. I told Cal we were camping among the Ents. If you don't know who the Ents are, I'm sorry, I can't help you. Either you like the Lord of the Rings or you don't.

I had been driving though mountain passes that at one time would have terrified me. Now I enjoy it! The only other thing I have to say is that men don't like to see a women hitch up by herself. There is always an old gentleman will a big rig camper who stands around to watch and give advice and a little WD-40 when I need it.

Is it still raining in Iowa?

What I see

Cal Biking down the Road

What I see

A Battlefield - Big Hole, Montana

Thursday, June 26, 2008


Today is our first rest day. Rest day, re-group day, catch-up day, clean-up day, re-plenish day. Since I had a shower, I said that the car could have a bath, too. Rule number one for all you men who think you want to try this kind of adventure with your wife. Wash wife - and THEN car. Nothing special about Missoula to tell you. Just a city with more traffic than seems appropriate...but then, I've been a mountain woman for 11 days now. I wear a twisted bandanna in my hair and little make-up. I try to clean up purty for Cal but I have developed a new look to accommodate my new role as scout and wagon mistress. This re-adjustment to Pella might take longer than I thought...

The Perfect Campsite - Wendover

How we do run on about the wonders of this campsite! However, I must ammend, the mosquitoes were primitive little savages that tried to bite right through the screen. The Lochsa River is about 20 yards beyond the camper. The campground is an historic site as it is where Lewis and Clark realized they had lost the Lolo Trail and needed to head back up the steep hills to get back on the Trail. They were starving and miserable and had to kill horses to eat...even their Native American guide was lost. The area is so wild and difficult that Highway 12 (the road we took across the pass) was not completed until 1962. And that's your history lesson for today.

What I See

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Map of Idaho Route

Check This Out, Jeff!

I have discovered a new sport in Idaho called Bridge Boarding. It takes a rope, a bridge and a rushing mountain river and a piece of plywood. See above picture.

Today in Idaho I saw mile after mile of calendar picture forests with rushing (and I mean rushing since they had a lot of snow this winter) mountain rivers. We are on the part of the trail that was so discouraging to Lewis and Clark, and where the Nez Perce Indians skillfully evaded the US army for so many miles. Tomorrow we cross Lolo Pass. Lots of history there. I am reading a lot about Lewis and Clark right now.

Tonight we fall asleep to the sound of the rushing Lochsa River in a forested campground. Beautiful and Peaceful. It has been a perfect picture postcard kind of day. Wish you were here.


Sunday, June 22, 2008

Map of Oregon Route

Cowboys Drink Espresso - or Leaving Hell

For those of you who just like the facts, ma'am, we are in New Meadows, Idaho after giving a glad farewell to Hell's Canyon. It is an stunning area but I couldn't help but put myself in the spiritual geography of the place. I found those giant bare hills more intimidating than any of the mountains that we have crossed so far. I hope I have a picture that shows it but I doubt that I do. Hell is something you have to experience. :).

All the little towns pop. 500 and less have espresso shops. I have given up my morning coffee because it takes too much time in the morning and just wait until the first tiny town. And there is a line up of cowboys hats waiting for their morning caffeine.

Phil wanted to know what my day is like. I actually haven't had much spare time so mornings start at about 7:00 when I kiss Cal goodbye and then snuggle in bed for another 1/2 an hour or so. Then I pack up the camper and get myself ready for the day and hitch up the camper to the van. That always takes longer than I want....those hitches...I have learned to pray myself through the process and some little tricks to get that ball in just right! Do get water, gas, groceries and ice and then I drive down the road to find Cal and check out his condition and make plans for the next part of the ride. Sometimes I go right on to the end of the route and find a place to set up camp. Then I set up the camper and have an hour or two free time until Cal comes down the road. Dinner, cleaning up ourselves and the camper and getting ready for the morning take the rest of the evening. Cal goes to sleep early. We have not had electricity or Internet or cell phones much of this first part of our ride so we sneak writing blogs in whenever we can. In my spare time, I am reading the journals of one of the members of the Lewis and Clark's team (very appropriate) and I did get a chance to play my recorder one day and work a sudoku. There is always photography but it is very hard to edit my pictures on the laptop. I am enjoying my experience but it was a lot easier on paper.

Right now I am in a tiny city park, waiting for Cal to come any minute and much to my surprise I have Internet service!!!!

Maybe Idaho might be a little more Internet user friendly than western Oregon. I hope so! I want to learn more about the Oregon Trail.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Places with Faces

I wouldn’t have missed Mitchell, Oregon for the world although it's so small, I almost did. We are in the high desert. Ponderosa Pines and hot bright air. Mitchell is one of those broken down little towns that exist as a pit stop on the way to somewhere else. Pop.190. It’s got the crazy charm of a town that tries to entertain without putting on airs. (No cell phone coverage here. They’re a little apologetic about that.) A bear named Henry lives in a cage next to the gas station with era 1960 gas pumps. Everyone in Mitchell has a story because no one would choose to live here unless circumstances prevailed. I spent quite a while with Judy who is busy selling off the artifacts of the town. She was raised on one of the biggest sheep ranches in the United States. First husband didn’t work out so good. She met her second husband when she was waitressing and spilled two drinks in his lap. They’ve been married for 18 years. I bought a doorknob. It was the only thing I could afford.

We are camping in the city park for free with 4 or so other bikers. While we were finishing up dinner, a woman (we found out later her name was Doris) came to the park with her dog. He would jump straight up in the air and grab a mouth full of leaves. If he chomped onto a branch strong enough he would dangle from the tree by his mouth, tying to wrestle the branch out of the tree. We have pictures. She was reading a old worn copy of Jane Eyre so I knew she was a kindred spirit and we chatted like old friends.

For those of you who might be worried about me going another night without a shower, I do have a way to wash up that is quite satisfactory. It involves a large plastic tote, a bucket, and about 3 gallons of rinse water and a plastic cup. Not quite the same as a hot shower but it works in a pinch.

The high desert is quite beautiful. I can’t believe all the variety of climates in Oregon. They have something for everyone.


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Koosah Falls

Showers and Clean Clothes Can Wait

I guess showers and clean clothes will have to wait....
The campsite was beautiful but primitive and we fell asleep with the hum of a waterfall in our ears. Well worth the sacrifice.
It's so wonderful to hear from all of you! I try to reply but my laptop time is limited. I do wonder what's happening in Cedar Rapids and the rest of flooded Iowa.
Today I can say officially that...I love it. For everything I dislike there is something that I wouldn't want to miss. I hate hitching up the camper...I always smash something, a finger or a toe or a knee, but I wouldn't miss washing my face in cold mountain air with warm water. And a shower is becoming AN EVENT. Every day has a drama to it. It's like living in a reality show.

Forgive a few personal comments.

Merlyn-We are staying at the First Baptist Church in Prineville tonight. Please forgive us. (The Prineville Christian Church office was gone for the day by the time I called. I did try.) Cal was feeling so good he wanted to bike a little longer. Thanks again for all your help getting us over the Cascades. We expect to see you biking out to Pella one of these years. We will always have a warm place in our hearts for the Oregon Christian Churches.

Rosa, good to talk to you. Please explain to Kris how to comment on a blog. Ok? My love to Terri. It will get better Lana.

I have so much I want to say. Sometimes I wonder why God cares about this stupid bike trip, but he is showing up so often in such beautiful and sometimes amazing ways, I can't help but think that maybe He is having fun too.
Love to all of you.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Learning Curves

Cal wrote a blog about his first day on the road. I spent most of today trying to figure out exactly what I am supposed to be doing... and when it's the best time to do it. All this thinking has me plum tuckered out! Thank you Norkenzie Christian Church and the Hough family for your support today. You were a gift today!
We will be camping in the Cascades tomorrow. I wonder if there is a campground with a laundry.... Time to wash some clothes.

Happy Father's Day!

It All Started with Starbucks

It all started with Starbucks. I hadn't had good strong coffee for a few days and I find the smallest treat can make the day special. But the day just kept getting better and better. We had saved some of the most spectacular view of the Columbia River until morning and I took pictures to my heart's content. (I'll download some pictures later. It takes a long time and I am waiting at for Cal at our first rendezvous spot out of Florence.)

And then it got better. Cal saw me look wistfully at a Monastery sign and off the beaten path we went to visit the only monastery IN THE WORLD of Brigittine Monks. We had a lovely chat with Brother Francis and I learned about the Brigittine order. We were so blessed by our little side trip and I hope he was blessed as well. AND we bought candy! It doesn't get any better than that.

Next on our agenda was to find some local fresh fish to eat. Mission accomplished. It was a local fish market in Newport, Oregon crowded with locals, buying and eating. That's always a good sign! And then, dear sister-in-law Gretchen, it was time to baptise Cal's bike in the ocean. He couldn't think of a good name yet...I think the name will have to evolve from the trip. He's a little distracted right now, but on a slow evening we'll work on it.

Our campsite was ready at Florence Christian Church. Then the hard part began. All my planning and preparing just seem to create a bigger learning curve then we wanted. It was frustrating trying to determine the best way to do everything...and all that stuff! It still all needs a place to coexist with us until we need it! I had to calm myself that this will all make sense soon...once we find a routine. This is where the character building stuff starts...I'm a great tourist...but I find I need help to be a better person. This, too, is part of it.

Playtime is done.

Today's biggest problem -- trying to carry 5 gallons of water.
Todays' biggest blessing -- Everything.

Til later,

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Fork in the Road

We put in a very long day driving and we are parked at a rest stop getting some sleep before we reach our destination tomorrow. At least Cal is. We are at the Columbia River which divides Washington and Oregon and we will head down the coast to Florence and be there in plenty of time to relax before Sunday. This day has been a blur. Stretches of beauty and stretches of boredom. Bounty and desolation. And sometimes the desolation was beautiful. It all went by so fast. I am glad that during the bike ride the pace will be a little slower and not interstate roads.

I have really learned to appreciate cruise control.

I am learning to appreciate why Iowa farmland is so valuable and how very rare rich flat earth is. I imagine the pioneers and wagon trains traveling the kind of distances that I traveled today and seeing what I saw. It blows my mind. I remember my kids playing Oregon Trail in Mr B's class in school. Did you get to Oregon alive, Rachel?

I see all sorts of things to be curious about, but no time for answers today.

Did you know it's against the law to pump your own gas in Oregon?

God is good and we are almost there!




Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Mighty 80

We left Pella in a morning downpour and watched the flood water lapping at highway 80 as we said goodbye to Des Moines. I heard they were closing 80 tomorrow east of Des Moines. I am not at all surprised. I have been following the weather in Iowa all day. Unbelievable. More of the same! Lord, have mercy! As I write this we are watching the sunset on the western side of Nebraska and the air is dry and 50 degrees and falling rapidly. Fresh and clean. Big big sky country. The sun takes forever to set. I'd forgotten...

We have a laptop with a wireless internet donated by Matt Smith from Altel. WoW! It connects to what used to be the van cigarette lighter and runs off a power converter so I can check up on all of you while Cal is driving. (I did my share of driving today, too.)

All my list making abilities served me very well. Packing was a snap. I shall feel very organized for a day or two until my disorganized nature overtakes me once more. But by that time, it won't matter. We made it!

We said more goodbyes this morning. Our son, Jeff, told us we are crazy. It nice to be able to do something once in a while that your CHILDREN can call crazy.

The camper pulls like a dream. Good gas mileage too.
Today our job is to drive. It's hard to remember that's it's part of a much bigger picture.

We will drive until we are tired and then pull off somewhere and sleep. It's nice to be on the road and this far along. We just crossed into Wyoming.

Good night All.

Ps. The message on my Styrofoam cup of coffee that I bought in Kearney, Nebraska said. "You are nowhere." I quite agree but I wouldn't advertise it.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Wishing Well

My boss and co-workers from Gosselinks came over last night to sit in my camper and to enjoy each others company one last time. You all make coming to work a joy! (See above) And best wishes to Lana, the newest employee who will be learning the job while I'm gone. (Lana...don't believe a word Chris says.)

Church goodbyes, work goodbyes, friend goodbyes, family goodbyes, just-in-case-I-don't-see- you-before-you-go-goodbyes... Thanks to all of you who have wished us well and God speed.
(Of course, there are some of you that I will be talking to more on the road than I do when I am at home trying to balance daily life! US know who you are.)


Here are some of the personal things that I am taking to entertain myself on the road.

Recorder (instrument) and music books...
Genealogy charts
Italian and Spanish and Sign Language books (Spanish is more practical, but Italian is prettier.)
Bird and Tree and Rock Identification books
Laptop Computer which becomes my office, post office, library, road maps, telephone book, newspaper, darkroom, and weatherman as well as entertainment. I'll be missing the Olympics!
A sudoku book
I plan to pick up reading material as I go.

This week it has been hard work to stay in the moment and not be distracted by what's ahead... It's like Cal and I are studying for different exams and the tests are coming! He is an experienced biker and I am an experienced camper...but never before like this.

Cal wrote about "bonking."
I am hitting the wall in my own way.
I think I know how birds must feel in late summer when they are gathering to migrate...

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Thank you - Florence Christian Church - Oregon!

Thanks to Florence Christian Church for allowing us to park in their parking lot on the night before we start the ride. I checked out their website and they seemed to be similar to the church Cal and I attend in Pella, Iowa,, so I felt comfortable asking them to allow us to park there. Thank you to Jan and Frieda who helped me on the phone. You will not be forgotten. Just because Cal needs to be on the road at 8:00 doesn't mean I won't be able to attend church in all these places if they will accept me in camping clothes! What fun! To worship my way across the United States!

Both Cal and I are getting itchy. We are SO ready to be on the road and doing this "thing." One week from today we leave for Florence.
The camper goes up and down according the the weather. You see, the thunderstorms have been usually fierce this spring and frequent. So every time bad weather threatens, the camper goes down. I am getting quite an expert at taking down the camper...except for the door. Those of you who have fold-downs know what I mean. I'm short and I seem to get banged and bruised by that door. It may be an ongoing fight this trip. But I do love that little camper.

Our house is in upheaval. As Cal and I prepare for this ride, our son, Jeff, is getting ready to move to Sioux Fall to start his dream job. We have another Jeff living here this summer who is interning at Vermeer and taking two college courses. He studies at the dinning room table every night. My nephew and family will be stopping for an overnight while we are gone and another one of Jeff's friends may need a place to stay as he looks for an apt in Des Moines. But this is no bed and breakfast. Everybody does their own thing. Right now I feel the house is more like a commune. (Kids: Dad and I are finally able to live out the best part of hippiedom.) I wonder what the house will look like when we come home!

My prayers for all my family and friends and fellow travelers through internet. Love you all.