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Bison and Horses and Bears, OH MY!

September 18, 2016

(Please note: the photos may be a little misaligned in this post. I’ll be learning more about how to fix this as I go along.)

 

There is quite a bit to do in Waterton Lakes. We drove around on Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2016  to give my knees and ankle time to recuperate 20160830_144258after the hike to Bertha Lake.

Red Rock Canyon

We took an easy hike around Red Rock Canyon (0.7 km or about 1/4 mile loop), though the bridge was closed for repairs when we were there). The whole drive is gorgeous with beautiful, wait for it… red rock mountains. The Canyon hike is beautiful with a river that shimmers copper. At least it looks copper with polarized sunglasses on. I used them as a camera filter because it was just prettier that way. There is also an access point to the river so you can walk up and down the slippery rocks. It’s an easy, accessible hike, so there are lots of people.

Bison Paddockimg_0834

We also drove over to the bison paddock and saw these gorgeous beasts chomping away on the prairie grass by the entrance. Once passed the entrance, the drive wasn’t too exciting because all the bison were at the entrance and the road was pretty bouncy in our 4-wheel drive.

 

20160830_192428Prince of Wales Hotel

We stopped at the Prince of Wales Hotel for an early dinner. It’s a beautiful historic railway hotel built by the Great Northern of United States in 1926-27.  It was a popular destination for Americans during Prohibition and has20160830_192107 breathtaking views of Waterton Lakes from the lobby, bar and restaurant. If high-tea is your thing, it’s available in the lobby between 1-5 p.m.; it isn’t ours, so we had “bangers and mash” in the bar. We got an extra treat after dinner when we got to see a mother black bear and her cub eating berries just below the hotel.

By the way, Continental Claire one of our official trip mascots. She observes, she poses, and she contributes laughs… mostly when I’m trying to get her to stand up. She falls down a lot. Claire is from the books by Diana Gabaldon and the STARZ show Outlander.  If you’re not familiar with either, check them out. They books and show are fantastic. Since Claire is English, the Prince of Wales Hotel seemed like the perfect spot to take her picture.

Waterton Lakes Boat Tour

20160831_103555It was a beautiful day for a boat ride, so we got tickets for the morning boat tour by Waterton Inter-Nation Shoreline 20160831_103205Cruise Co. around the lake. The company also shuttles hikers to Crypt Landing. One of the great joys of being at the International Peace Park is the ability to travel to both sides (Canadian/US) the same day… even on the same boat ride. We took an hour-long tour of Waterton Lake to Goat Haunt, MT on the International, a wooden boat built on Waterton Lake in 1927. A country-issued passport required to cross the border and hike to Goat Haunt. The border crossing actually occurs during the boat ride to Goat Haunt; the borderline is cleared of trees every five years. You can see the international border go up and over the mountain ridge and there’s no fence between the two countries.

Goat Haunt, MT

20160831_171352The U.S. National Parks Service has a ranger station at Goat Haunt where we got our Parks 20160831_160736Passport stamped. U.S. Customs and Border Patrol officers will ask questions and stamp “official” passports if you’re going to hike to Goat Haunt Overlook or Kootenai Lakes. We chose Kootenai Lakes because it was an easy, 2.4 miles round trip hike. It took us longer than we expected because I kept stopping to take pictures and was hiking pretty slowly anyway.  We had a a nice leisurely day napping and sitting by the lake.20160831_131412

 

On the boat ride back, we saw a Bald Eagleimg_0869 and enjoyed the views of the lake in the late afternoon sunlight. We’d been thinking about pizza since our hike to Bertha Lake (in fact, our chant before the rain set in was “Pizza Monday!”), so that night we made it Pizza Wednesday at 49-Degree North Pizza. They have great pizza with really interesting combinations and craft beer. I had the #11 with bison and local Saskatoon berries, and Paul had the #4 with pepperoni and bacon. They were both very good. It was even warm enough to sit outside and enjoy the early evening before heading back to camp.

Horseback Riding & Bears

dana-and-me14115552_10210471769819657_4238969929074114144_oWe went horseback riding with Alpine Stables on our last day in Waterton Lakes. Our guide, Casey, had just graduated from high school and was working his third season at the stables. He took us on a great, two-hour ride. Paul and I hadn’t been on horses in years; for me, it’s been well over 40 since I was last on a horse with my friend, Dana. Being on the horses was like stepping back in time when explorers and their horses forged new trails. Our horses were calm and sure-footed on the trails, which was a good thing, since about 45 minutes into the ride we came upon two black bears… a momma and her cub.

20160901_133739They were about 50 feet ahead of us when Casey, who was in the lead, spotted them and stopped. Our horses and the bears stayed calm and we sat there watching the bears eat berries and get fat for winter. They definitely knew we were there… watching us every once in a while, before crossing the trail to eat more berries. We thought it was a good idea to move on and give them their space, but as we started moving, Momma, stood up and looked at us. Apparently, we were getting too close to her cub so we stayed put for a while longer. Once they ambled up further into the berries, we moved on to cross streams and see more of the countryside. That was the closest we came to bears the whole time we were in Waterton Lakes and Glacier National Park. It was very exciting and the highlight of our week in Waterton.

 

 

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 That evening we had a quiet evening listening to a really good guitar player 20160901_204017and singer in the Fireside Lounge, and I worked on my green, cabled knit cap, which has certainly come in handy over the last several weeks. Having left most of our warm-weather clothing in our San Diego storage unit, it’s nice to be able to “whip up” a new hat when needed.

 

For more information on Waterton Lakes, visit these websites:

National Park Service: https://www.nps.gov/glac/blogs/Exploring-Waterton-Glacier-International-Peace-Park.htm

Parks Canada: http://www.pc.gc.ca/eng/pn-np/ab/waterton/natcul/natcul4.aspx

 

We returned the next day, Friday, to the U.S. (“Anything I need to know about?” asked the U.S. Customs & Border Patrol officer) and moved our home to St. Mary’s/East Glacier KOA next to Glacier National Park in Montana.

Crossing into Canada… why didn’t I think of that BEFORE we left?

September 15, 2016

If this is Idaho again, we must have just spent a couple of weeks in Canada and Montana.

dscn3397We “glamped” (“glamorously camped” in our fancy schmancy 5th wheel) at and explored the Waterton Glacier International Peace Park… a UNESCO World Heritage site that is a jointly managed park that includes Glacier National Park (USA) and Waterton Lakes (Canada) from 8/28-9/11/16. I’ve got to say that this is one of our favorite National Parks; certainly, one of the most beautiful places on earth and a “must see” for parks lovers, especially if you want to see wildlife and beautiful scenery.

But we almost didn’t make it across the Canadian20160827_150113 border. The day before we were supposed to cross from Idaho to Canada, I happened to think, “perhaps we should know the requirements for this border crossing.” (“Not like we’ve been planning this trip for years or anything,” I thought [face palm].) Thinking along the lines of “can’t bring certain fruits and meats,” imagine my surprise when I learned that we also needed certifications that our cats, Dickens and Lucie, had been vaccinated against rabies. Of course, I had not had the foresight to check this out while we were still in San Diego when it would be relatively easy to get said certifications. I wasn’t even sure we HAD vaccinated them for rabies before we left…. things were a bit crazy. Of course, this all occurred to me on Friday at 4:30 p.m.

A call to our vet to see if they could put something together for us, was easy enough. But receiving the certs took a little more effort on our vet’s part. Sure enough, Linda at Friars Road Pet Hospital went above and beyond for us in writing up the certifications and texting photos of them to us. After all that effort, it was a bit disappointing that the Canadian customs and border agent only gave them a cursory look. He was actually more interested in the alcohol we had onboard (a case of beer, about 6 bottles of wine and 6 bottles of hard liquor… we’re living in the trailer, right?). He noted that alcohol taxes were very high in Canada, eh, but he wouldn’t charge us the $300 in taxes we owed on all that. Heck, we probably didn’t even pay that much for the booze. We would have given it to him or thrown it away if he had charged us for it. If you’re thinking about going to Canada from the U.S. in an R.V., be sure to check the crossing requirements before you go so you’re better prepared than we were.

dscn3396Crisis averted, it’s the second time we’ve been to Waterton Lakes and we’ll be back again at some point. We stayed in Waterton Lakes Townsite Campground for five nights (8/28-9/2) and we were perfectly situated to enjoy the little town of Waterton, Alberta, Canada. The town and park are open year-round, but many businesses close at the end of September until May/June and only about 50 people reside in Waterton year-round. It’s possible to visit and stay in one of the hotels during the winter, but for hiking and other activities, I’d recommend a summertime visit.

We spent our five days in Waterton Lakes hiking, horseback dscn3412riding and sightseeing. There are several hikes available from the trailhead that leads to Bertha Falls and Bertha Lake. Our 11.4 km (7 miles) roundtrip hike on the first day was a bit too arduous for my knees and ankle. (I decided when we were hiking at Crater Lake National Park, that I’m more built for flat hiking right now, rather than up and down hiking, but I’m getting stronger and slimmer so that will help. And I forgot my hiking poles… again.) It was a beautiful hike though and well worth the effort.

It’s an “easy” hike to Bertha Falls and it attracts lots of hikers and families. The Falls are beautiful, and it’s a great place to stop and have a snack and take some pictures. You can return back to the Townsite, or continue on to Bertha Lake, dscn3434which has many switchbacks, is fairly steep and rated “moderate.” That hike offered amazing views of Waterton Lake, was less travelled and quieter, and the lake at the end was beautiful and calm. We walked around the lake to have lunch, dunk our toes in the cold water, and watch for wildlife. Leashed dogs are allowed on parks trails at Waterton, unlike the U.S. National Parks. Unfortunately, a deer was scared from its hiding place by an unleashed dog. Nothing bad happened, but I really wish people would follow the rules; it just makes it more enjoyable for every living thing.

dscn3401On our way back, the clouds rolled in and it started to thunder, lightning and rain. It was fun to be on the trail as the weather changed (thank goodness for rain ponchos!) and a little scary at the same time. We weren’t in any danger of getting struck by lightning, but as we were finishing up the hike, Paul noticed the wind had picked up and the storm cell was right over us. (That’s the kind of cell coverage we don’t like!) The rain came pouring down as we raced to the trailer.  We rolled up the back window shade and spent the evening listening to the rain and thunder, and watching the lightning outside. Better than anything we could have watched on TV that night.

 

More to come on Waterton Lakes and our Montana adventures. Signing off from Massacre Rocks State Park, in American Falls, ID. We’re here to visit the Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve tomorrow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two Months on the Road… and Remembering

September 11, 2016

It’s hard to believe we’ve been on the road two months. We left San Diego on July 10 and here we are in Missoula, MT on Sept. 11. I’m so far behind on blog posts before I even get started, but it seems like as good a day as any to start. As I’m writing this, we’re driving on Highway 464 from St. Mary’s on the east side of Glacier National Park down to Missoula, MT. It’s cloudy, rainy and 36 degrees according to the truck’s temperature reading. Miles of prairie and farmland stretch out on both sides of us. riving

Driving on Highway 464 in Montana.

Driving on Highway 464 in Montana.

It’s peaceful and the cows we’ve passed don’t seem to mind the weather. I’m glad to be inside the truck sitting on heated, leather seats in our 2015 Chevrolet Silverado 3500 HD Dually diesel. (The seats can be cooled, too, but not today.)

We named the truck Brutus, because he’s big and strong enough to pull our 39-foot 5th wheel (Redwood 36FB) that we named Betsy. She’s our new home. Having sold, given away, or donated to charity most of what we owned, it’s hard to believe we still have too much stuff in the trailer. The thing we really need right now and don’t have enough of with us is cold-weather clothing. It’s in storage back in San Diego.

Here it is September 11 and I’m wishing for wool sweaters, hats and mittens. Who woulda thunk it? We figured we wouldn’t need that kind of stuff until this winter. Fortunately, as a knitter, I was able to remedy that and knit myself a hat several weeks ago. It’s come in very handy. But I digress. Which I’m sure will happen a lot as a I continue with this blog.

 

Embarking on this journey during the National Parks Service Centennial year has been pretty great. In the last two months we’ve visited five National Parks, two State Parks, and several RV parks in five states. We’ve visited with friends and family along the way, met lots of great people and made new friends. As this blog continues, I’ll go back and revisit the places we’ve been, share some thoughts and reviews, write about how we got here, and what we’ve learned. One of the things we’re learning is how to stay connected. We use Facebook a lot. I text with friends, and only recently realized I could also have phone conversations with them. We have the technology… lots of it onboard, but not using our calling plan as much as we could.

On most days we don’t have television. A lot of the places we’ve been don’t have cable hook-up or “over the air” network television. Sure, we can stream Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime/STARZ (thank goodness, or I would have missed the end of Season 2 of Outlander), and we’ve got loads of DVDs onboard, but we didn’t really get to see the Olympics, and we haven’t been able to see any of the 9/11 remembrances this morning. I feel a bit disconnected from the national remembering, though I haven’t forgotten that morning 15 years ago. Paul and I had been dating about three months when the planes hit the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon. He was at work and I watched horrified as the scenes in NYC, Washington, DC and Pennsylvania unfolded. My biggest fear wasn’t that terrorists would strike San Diego. My biggest fear was that Paul, and his federal firefighter colleagues at North Island Naval Air Station would be deployed to help with the rescue. Now I know how ridiculous that sounds, but then I was truly afraid. I cannot fathom what it must be like for the people who lost loved ones that day. It was heartbreaking then; it’s heartbreaking now. I’m thankful for the first responders I know and love… those men and women who run into burning and crumbling buildings when everyone else is running out, and put their lives on the line to help others. They are salt of the earth/shirts off their backs kinds of people, much as the ranchers and farmers of these plains in Montana, and the staff and volunteers of the National Parks.

It’s the people I miss the most. We’re seeing this beautiful country and meeting the people who make it great. But today, of all days, I miss my friends and family and wish we were closer to hug each other and remember.

Weaving Life Together Reboot

January 29, 2016
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I wrote this post originally in May 2012 after my mom passed away on Mother’s Day that year. For some reason I never posted it, but since I’m getting this blog going again, I figure I’ll start with this one.

 

I’m starting to think I should change the name of this blog to Weaving Death Together.

My mom passed away on Sunday. I’m still in shock. She had been in the hospital since early April due to complications to remove a blood clot in her leg (apparently there’s a problem with the contrast dye having a tendency to shut down kidneys… dialysis was no fun for Mom). But we were making plans for her transfer to a skilled nursing facility with the goal of going back home in about 3 weeks. So it was quite a shock to walk into the hospital on Saturday and see her having so much trouble breathing that it led to a coma. I was so glad I could be there to comfort her, but the look of panic in her eyes will haunt me. Her friend of 40+ years, Gloria, was there, too. My heart breaks for her to know that she has lost such a dear friend.

Dad and my brother came to the hospital right away, and my parents friends, Larry and Carolyn joined us soon after.  I called her friends and relatives on my cell and held the phone to Mom’s ear so she could hear them tell her good-bye. She’d straighten her arm or squeeze my hand when she heard each special voice.

I won’t go into the battle we had with the hospital to remove the bi-PAP machine; that is for another day. Suffice it to say that hospital procedure needs to be changed if only one doctor can sign a form and noone else. And my not-idle threat of calling the local news media if we didn’t have action within 45 minutes (afer waiting 6 hours) didn’t hurt either. The doctor met the deadline.

It was a long afternoon and night, and my dear friend, Julie, texted in the evening to ask if I needed anything. (It’s good to have a girlfriend close when your mommy is dying.) CHOCOLATE was the one and only response. She was on it and arrived with the treasures for all of us. Dad and my brother left to get some sleep and others were gone, too. Julie stayed with me and we called the 24/7 prayer tower at Silent Unity in Missouri. We put them on speaker phone and the 3 of us prayed with Mom. It was beautiful.

Mom's favorite picture of herself. She told the hospital staff that this is how she saw herself and not to treat her like "an old lady."

Mom’s favorite picture of herself. She told the hospital staff that this is how she saw herself and not to treat her like “an old lady.”

Around 4 a.m. I asked the nurses how Mom was doing and they said that, based on her breathing, she may pass around 7 a.m. I set my phone alarm for 5:30, but woke before it to call Dad and Keith and ask them to come back to the hospital. They arrived soon after and she passed peacefully at 8:37 a.m. after the final dose of “comfort care” morphine. (Mom loved morphine from her first stay in the hospital 6 years ago when complications from a stent and infection required her left leg to be amputated. She said she wanted a t-shirt that said “Give me my morphine.”)

 

The funny thing is, the thing that has always brought comfort to me (yarn, knitting and weaving) are virtually unavailable to me right now. It’s impossible to knit when you’re holding the hand of a loved one who’s dying and I can’t do the math to figure out how to wind the warp for my next project. It’s all I can do to put one foot in front of the other right now. Making plans for the memorial/wake on Sunday, notify everyone, comfort my father, deal with the mortuary and assorted paperwork are about all I can handle right now. Thank goodness I have an understanding boss and work colleagues who told me to take the time I needed.

 

Fiber Festival… and I’m not talking bran

May 4, 2012

All week when I tell people I’m participating in my first fiber festival, they immediately think I’m talking about something health related, like bran or oats. It’s hysterical. I guess our national consciousness is now so aware of the importance of fiber in our daily diet that people have forgotten about other kinds of fiber… like YARN!

It’s true. Daily doses of fiber are important to our daily lives… whether we’re talking bran or knitting and weaving. If you need a daily does of fiber this weekend, please visit the Fiber/Dance 2012 festival in Santa Ysabel this weekend (May 5 & 6, 2012 from 10am-4pm each day). If you print out this blog post and bring it with you, you’ll get 25% off any Artsy Feltsy woven shawl purchase (discount does not apply to hand-knitted items).

The festival kicks off tonight with a belly bance gala at Wynola Pizza. For more information about the festival, visit the website at http://weaverslink.com/fiberdance-festival-2012/.

 

First fiber festival

May 2, 2012

I’m so excited! I am going to be a vendor at my very first fiber festival this weekend!

I’ll  have a table at the Fiber/Dance Festival in Santa Ysabel on May 5 & 6, 2012. I’ll be selling my Artsy Feltsy shawls (www.artsyfeltsy.com) and hand-knitting, and hopefully demonstrating weaving. Beryl Warnes, the owner and fiber artist of Julian Weaving Works, is my mentor (I’ve been mentoring with her since last summer), and she organized the festival. The festival features everything from sheep to shawl, as well as belly dancing, and other art forms (jewelry, goat-milk soap,).

If you’re in the area, please join us. The festival schedule and more information is available at http://weaverslink.com/fiberdance-festival-2012/ (keep checking back for updates).

And guess what? This was the kick in the butt I needed to get my business license, seller’s permit, mailing address and fictitious business name all set up. Two days and I’m done! I might procrastinate, but when I have a deadline I can crank it out!

 

Selling my art

April 1, 2012

Close-up of shawl from the Fields Collection

It’s really interesting going through the creative process and then pricing it. I’ve been weaving for about 9 months now and have a great mentor, Beryl Warnes. She’s teaching me how to combine all different kinds of yarn into unique shawls and other kinds of one-of-a-king wearable art.

A week ago, I sold the first shawl to my friend, Kyle, at a dinner party (he thought his wife, Jean, would look beautiful in it), and my confidence soared. Not only did he literally buy the shawl off my back, but he didn’t hesitate at the price, even saying “you’re not charging enough.”

Setting the price of a piece of art is so subjective, but after his comment I reevaluated my pricing strategy. I know that creative people rarely charge what their work is worth. I was no exception. My original price for the first three shawls I made didn’t even cover the cost of the yarns I used. I told myself these were my “learning shawls.” But they aren’t. They are works of art, each one of them.

Autumn Sunrise shawl

The yarn I’m using is high quality… hand-painted kid mohair, baby alpaca, merino, pima cotton, wool blends, acrylic blends, and sparkly, fancy yarns, too. None of these yarns could ever go through an automated loom. You’ll never find one of these shawls in a department store or manufactured overseas. The slubs or bumps in the thick and thin yarn and mohair get sticky and have to be hand combed every time I advance the loom. These are yarns I was going to knit with, but they create such beautiful woven pieces of wearable art, I’m turning my “stash” into the shawls.

The “learning” part of the price is in my time. Right now, my labor is about 50-cents an hour for the time it takes me to wind the warp (1-2 hours to pick the yarn and wind), dress the loom for each collection (2-6 hours), weave each shawl (2-4 hours), tie the fringe and fix the “floats” (1-2 hours per shawl).

Peggy's Earth "Kezzy Metal" shawl

It’s all done by hand. And that’s why it’s art. And that’s why it costs a little more than what you’ll find in a department store.

Three separate collections of one-of-a-kind shawls are available on (www.artsyfeltsy.com). The Autumn collection is primarily oranges, with pinks, teals, blues and tan depending on which shawl you pick (Autumn Sunrise,   Autumn Sunset, Autumn Midnight). The Fields collection is primarily greens and blues. The Peggy’s Earth collection is primarily browns. There are moebius and “kezzy metal” (or Quechquemitl) shawls as well as straight shawls that would also make beautiful wall hangings or table runners. Fifty percent of the proceeds from sales of Peggy’s Earth collection shawls will be donated to Kaiser Permanente Hospice Agency in honor of Peggy Hughs. She and her husband, Jerry, gave me the loom when she was diagnosed with cancer two years ago, and I was weaving these shawls when she passed away about a month ago.And in case you’re wondering, Jean does look beautiful in the shawl.