Three Months on the Road

Since starting our journey, we have done a monthly update on the things we have learned about living in an RV.  We are a little late on our third month installment, but better late than never, right?

Our summer workamping kept us jacks down for two months, but we did a lot of planning and preparation before leaving and then a few things since hitting the road again.  Here are a few of those things:

  1. Hitch Height.IMG_23582 Ideally, you want your rig to have an even ride.  That is, it should be level when hitched up to your tow vehicle.  Sean had noticed that our RV had a decidedly nose down appearance when hitched up.  There are two ways to adjust how the 5th wheel will ride when hitched.  On our rig, we can take out four bolts on the kingpin and raise or lower it OR take out four bolts on the hitch to raise or lower that setting.  Sean removed the bolts from the hitch and raised it one setting (about an inch or so).  That gave us a level look and ride (we checked with our levels).  Since the adjustment we have gone about 600 miles and all seems great.  Sean thinks it tows easier but….
  2. Cleaning the RV:  7992AF34-9025-4709-9F52-F11A82DD76C1We have gotten in the habit of doing a weekly deep clean inside the RV.  We do daily maintenance but once a week we scrub down the inside.  This probably isn’t ‘big news’ to anyone but it is an important point.  We both hate clutter and in a large house it is easy for even a small amount of clutter to spread out and not be noticeable.  In an RV, even a small amount is quickly noticeable.   The only issue with the weekly cleans is Sherry has to work to keep Sean from shoving everything into the ‘shit’ drawer or cabinet.  You know, the place where all the little odds and ends go that don’t have a permanent home.  Sean swears the cabinet makes a perfect ‘new’ home. 🙂  We also took the opportunity to scrub down the outside of the RV and apply wax to the front.  We had collected a bug lovers dream on the front of the Big Horn and had to spend a few days scrubbing and applying bug and tar remover.  Sean felt a layer of wax would at least help after our next encounter with the bugs.  We will let you know.
  3. Staying fit and healthy:  Despite all the hiking, we quickly realized that we were using some muscles and not others.  At home we stuck to a fairly regular routine of running, yoga and some weight training.  We didn’t want to bring weights with us in the RV so we got a set of weight bands instead.  This last month we have been especially conscious of doing some cardio work as well as stretching and Yoga.  We have a set of workout DVD’s we like to use for workouts -P90X.  Good stuff, especially the 30 minute workouts.  Sticking to a routine has been the toughest, but we have balanced ‘cardio’ hike days with yoga days.  Sherry has also done more healthy cooking.  The first two months of our trip we fell off the vegan and healthy food wagon (many times).   Since getting back into a healthier routine, we have both noticed a difference in how we feel.  OH, but there is always room for Huckleberry Pie!  (If you’re interested in any recipes, let us know and Sherry will give you details!)
  4. General RV maintenance:  We are very conscious of little things around the RV that could go wrong.  Sean will periodically walk the RV inside and out to check for loose fittings or other potential problems.  It is amazing the number of bolts and screws that loosen up after a day or two on the road.  Before leaving Montana, Sherry went through and checked caulk around seams, it had been months since we had the seams caulked and some areas were showing minor splits.
  5. IMG_23592Heating the RV and Propane use:  Amazing how fast we have gone from summer weather to mid fall… Well, we are also usually in areas 5,000 feet or higher now too.  Anyway, we thought about ways to conserve our propane long before we started traveling.  Both of us enjoy sleeping in a cool to cold room but it isn’t fun typing while trying to wear gloves.  To warm the inside we brought along a radiator we have had for several years.  It is a Honeywell electric/oil radiator.  Relatively economical to run and what we used at home to keep our bedroom at a comfortable temperature.  We have used it several times when the temps have dropped into the low 40’s and upper 30’s and have found it does a nice job maintaining a comfortable temp in both rooms of the RV.  We did fill our propane tanks up once, about a month ago, but that is the first time we have done that since October of last year.  Admittedly, we only had the RV out a few times before starting our adventure.  For the last two months we have used our shower (hot water) and have done a lot of cooking and some baking.  That said, it does seem like we have done well in propane use.  Any comments from fellow RV’rs?  What is normal propane use?
  6. Driving in windy conditions: A few months ago we did drive through some crazy storms in Western Missouri and again in South Dakota.  Maybe we didn’t notice the wind as much because of the rain and other issues.  We did notice it a lot when we hit Idaho and were driving down HWY 15.  Steady winds at 20 MPH and gusting over 30 MPH.  Question for everyone: When do you decide the winds are too high and call it a day?  In these conditions, we noticed very minor trailer sway.  Sean could see (in the rear view mirror) the bubble on the trailer level move from side to side.  We just kept our speed down and drove through.  Sean did say it was a bit unnerving from time to time. 🙂

IMG_2357In a previous post we had mentioned our slideout ‘preventative’ repair work.  So far all has been great.  We completed adding the fiberglass panels to the slides and after multiple uses everything is looking good.  Since that post, we have met one couple working through similar issues with their RV slideouts.  They stopped by our site a few weeks ago to compare notes and look at what we had done.  Their RV slideouts use small sleds and they were noticing wear on the wood the sleds slid on.  Their plan for a fix was to place a thin sheet of metal on the area the sled would use to help distribute the weight.  Since then, we have heard from several others with similar problems.  Which brings us to the next topic, the RV community.

Over the summer we met many full-time RV couples or those who were on the verge of going full time. In our last week at Timber Wolf, we also met several full-time RV families.  We have truly enjoyed sharing experiences with the people we have met.  One family (three children) shared several RV groups with us and were the encouragement we need to jump onto Instagram with our blog and photos.  Our screen name is Sean_and_Sherry

Final thought – Have fun:  Not a lesson we needed to learn but one to share.  We continue to love our time together as a family and the opportunity to explore together.  Now that we are back on the road, we are re-energized, if that is even possible, and excited to see the next stop. 🙂

In our next post – Yellowstone!!

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Workamping and Moving On

What’s Workamping, you say? We didn’t know what it was either until we started this whole adventure.  Workamping is really popular for full time travelers to be able to offset some of the costs of traveling.  We first talked to some people about this when we were in Florida.  We met two very nice couples who were working at the state park.  They told us about their experience, basically a few hours a day greeting people, spreading bug killer (for fire ants) and cleaning the restrooms.  For a few hours a day 5 days a week and in return they had a full hook up site.  Many campgrounds offer workamping jobs to long-term travelers.  The campers agree to work a certain amount of hours for the compensation of a free stay at the campground (they usually offer a FHU site and some have restrictions on what type of rig you can bring to their property).  They want to be sure if something is parked long term that it doesn’t look bad.  Some places even offer hourly wages as well as FHU sites.  You must be willing to stay somewhere for a lengthy amount of time because the minimum for most jobs is two months.  We found the site http://workampingjobs.com/ really helpful to look for campgrounds who were hiring.  After our trip back from Florida we decided to put in our resumes on the site and see what happened.  We had an option of targeting specific regions of the country.  So, we talked about areas of the country we would like to spend a few months exploring and came up with four regions.  If we had a request from one of those regions, we would jump at the opportunity.

Shortly after putting in our information, we received an e-mail from an RV site in Montana near Glacier NTL Park.  This was Sherry’s top region to visit!!

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Our ‘work’ vehicle. The campground is large, so we were grateful to have this baby to get us around!

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Sherry putting out the ‘closed’ sign – even though most people just ignored it and walked on in!

Timber Wolf Resort (http://www.timberwolfresort.com) is a really nice campground with RV sites, tent camping, and cabins.  FTer exchanging e-mails with the owners and a few phone calls we decided this was too perfect an opportunity for us to pass up.  Our ‘duties’ as workampers were to clean and restock bathrooms, housekeeping cabins, and watering flowers.  It was not difficult work, and we enjoyed getting out and having a job to do each day.  The days where the campground was busy and there were a lot of beds to make were not the most fun days, but like we said, the work was never hard or strenuous. IMG_2340 We also had some interesting ‘finds’ in some of the cabins…  Gave us pause to think why people would leave certain things…  We were occasionally thankful for rubber gloves.

The work gave us a chance to be out and about meeting people in the campground and getting a little exercise while we were at it.  But don’t get us wrong, we weren’t hauling stuff around on our backs.  The owners had some sweet toys that allowed us to maneuver around the campground easily.

OH, we also met a bear while on our duties.  At the end of August we saw a black bear moving through the woods near some of the campsites.  We CAREFULLY watched the bear from the doorway of the camp comfort station.  LOL  Wouldn’t you know, we didn’t have our cameras!!

The best part really is having the opportunity to explore an area and to take our time.  Most days, after we finished working, we would run out and hit one of the near trails (we were only 9 miles from West Glacier).  If we didn’t hike, we went in and looked at the sights in Whitefish, Columbia Falls or Kalispell.  It didn’t take us long to fall in love with this area.  We met some wonderful people and enjoyed the genuine friendliness of most of the locals.  If you are in the area, don’t forget to visit the Huckleberry Patch for some pie or other yummy treats.

After being at the campground for 2 1/2 months, it was hard to think about leaving.  It was long enough to feel like we were getting settled into a new home.  Christine and Phil, the owners of Timber Wolf, are really wonderful and treated us very well while we worked for them.  For our first experience in Workamping, we feel that we got really lucky to be able to work for them.  We would highly recommend Timber Wolf to anyone visiting the area.  The RV sites are shaded, and the park itself is very picturesque.

Now it is onward to the next adventure!  See you soon!

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The worst part of the job was putting the linen on the top bunk! Sherry always ended up with bruised knuckles and head!

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Watering the flowers! It was SO dry this season.

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Cleaning up a cabin…you never know what might be lurking under the covers! Beware of the left-behind undies!

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Sherry stripping a bed.

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Breaks are always good!

 

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These pretty babies are also on the property. NO, we did NOT have to clean up after them!

 

Stairway to Heaven????

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Heavens Peak. This was an amazing site with sun glinting off the icy snowfields.

Low Res-0948Our time near Glacier Park is drawing to a close, and we have had to put off a handful of our planned hikes due to the fires on the East side.  Still on our list to do was the Highline Trail and either start from Logan Pass or the Loop.  After looking at maps and listening to a few people, we decided to start from the Loop and walk up to Granite Chalet.  From there, we hoped to climb to the Grinnell Glacier overlook.

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Sherry feeling victorious making it to the Chalet. You can make reservations months in advance to eat here too. We once had to move off the trail on our way up because the pack horses were coming down from dropping off supplies.

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We wanted to do the Highline trail for weeks now.  We have a guide map that has the trails rated, and the highline trail is rated #1.  The guide said that starting at the Loop entrance to the Highline Trail is the steepest, but levels off if you want to get the incline out of the way first.  We thought that was a great idea!  Boy, were we in for a surprise!  Paying more attention to the map and the continuous yellow to red highlights might have made us change our mind.  LOL  The trail from The Loop entrance to the Granite Park Chalet is only 4.2 miles.  We thought it was the best way to get up there.  The Highline Trailhead begins at Logan Pass and goes 7.4 miles to the Chalet.

It was smarter to take the shorter distance, right?  We realized when we arrived at the Chalet and saw masses of people walking from the direction of Logan Pass that most people choose to start there.  We understand why.  The incline from the Loop to the Chalet is 2,353 feet in the 4.2 miles with at least four sections considered class 3 steep trail.  The elevation from Logan Pass to the Chalet is relatively nonexistent.  The elevation at Logan Pass is 6,646 and the Chalet is at 6,650 (The Loop trailhead starts at 4,297ft.  We kept wondering why we were essentially alone on the hike up from The Loop!  Most sane people start at Logan Pass and go the 11 mile loop to pick up a bus back to their car.  Flat and longer miles or straight up and shorter miles?  Shoulda, coulda, woulda.  We ended up with about 11 miles total anyway.

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Up, up, and up some more!

From the Chalet you can go another 1.4 miles and see the Grinnell Glacier overlook.

We were told this was worth it, and we were very interested to see it.  However, there’s another 900 or so feet to climb to get to the overlook.  We don’t consider ourselves out of shape, but we were running low on knee and leg strength.  We decided to go for it anyway!  We started our way up to the overlook on the STEEP incline.  It was scary at some points.  There’s really only enough space for one person to walk, but what happens when someone is coming the opposite way?  You climb yourself onto the ledge and let them pass, rocks crumbly beneath your feet and all.  All we kept thinking was about the trip DOWN.

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See the slight -U- shape on the right of the picture? That is the overlook and our destination.

Up was beginning to take a toll on both our joints.  Sean has knee trouble from years of soccer and a few accidents, and Sherry has hip and knee troubles.  We had to stop often and rest our weary legs, and at one point Sherry said she just couldn’t do any more.  Her hip was shooting pain down her leg, and she didn’t think it was a good idea to push it.  We were probably 1/4 mile or less to the summit, but still had a hill to climb to get there.  It wasn’t worth being injured when we knew we still had another 5 miles down to get back to the truck.  We bailed out and started heading back down.  We’re not sure which was worse, up or down.  Both are taxing for different reasons: up is hard on your heart and lungs, but down kills the knees and toes.

We did survive the journey and feel that it was well worth the effort to get up there.  The views are some we haven’t seen while here at the park.

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Heaven’s Peak

We understand why the trail is rated #1.  We are considering doing it again and starting at Logan Pass this time.  We think that if we didn’t abuse our joints going up that we might have more energy to get to the overlook.  There’s another trail called Swiftcurrent that starts in Many Glacier that overlooks Grinnell Glacier as well.  We may try that one instead; however, there’s another 1,700ft. elevation change on that 5 mile one-way hike.  Maybe we are stronger after this one and can manage it better.  Check the blog later to know if we tried it!  Lol.

We still have things we want to do here, but we are ready to move on.  We talked yesterday while driving through the park that with the drought people are not seeing the same park we saw almost two months ago.  Some of the rivers are almost nonexistent and the waterfalls are no longer flowing.  We talk about coming back in early June or late May to see the snow melt and more of the water flowing.

We took MANY amazing photos while we hiked this trail.  Go to our gallery of photos to view the rest:  http://www.loveyphotography.com/Traveling-Photography/The-Loop-TrailGranite-Park-Cha/

Moose, Massage and Fire

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The Spa – Whitefish, MT

We don’t want to turn our posts into advertisements, but we will pass on the names and locations of businesses we find on our travels that we enjoyed.  Basically, we wont say anything bad, but we do want to comment on the good. 🙂  As educators, we so often heard negative comments and cherished the positives when they would come along.  Sean often had parents tell him at the end of the year ceremony, ‘Mrs. ____ is such a wonderful teacher.  We should have said something to her sooner…”  Anyway, we believe in passing on good whenever we can.

We decided to treat ourselves today to a massage.  This is actually our second since arriving in the Glacier area nearly two months ago.  All the hiking, walking and carrying backpacks does take a toll, so it is nice to pamper ourselves every so often.  The place we found is called The Spa at Grouse Mountain Lodge in Whitefish.  It was well worth it and our tired, sore bodies appreciated the hour long session.  Many of you probably heard the long deep sighs around noon.  🙂

Since arriving in Montana, we have found so many great people and businesses.  It has been a real pleasure sitting and talking to people or standing in a line at a store and having a local just strike up a conversation.  This area has quickly moved up our list of places to live… If they only had a beach and good places to dive… that weren’t near freezing.

Since hitting this part of the country, Sherry has wanted to get a wood carved animal and sign for our RV site.  We have passed dozens of places and gone into dozens of places to check on work and prices.  So far, we haven’t found a place that didn’t have incredible pieces of functional art.  We love the carved wood furniture from beds to benches, each unique and beautiful.  Sean has even commented about getting a coffee table for the RV…  Nope, not yet.  On one of our explorations a few weeks ago, we stopped in a place called Log Furniture Chainsaw Carving ‘Anything else is just firewood’.  OK, we love the slogan!  We also enjoyed talking to the owner/artist and ordered a Moose with a sign for our RV lot.  We haven’t stopped with ‘Moose and Squirrel’ comments since ordering Bullwinkle.  If you don’t get the references you are probably too young or have lacked a well balanced education. 🙂

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Moose

Fire:  Another fire broke in the park, but this time it was south of the Two Medicine area on the east side of the park.  Driving back to our RV park we could see huge clouds of smoke pouring up over the mountains.  It is fascinating to see.  The fire caused a huge ‘thunderhead’ type cloud to form, white and towering, over the dirty brown smoke.

View from our truck.

View from our truck.

Sherry took a photo using her iPhone from the truck.  The shot from the truck and again from the RV park don’t do it justice.  Hopefully, this 1900 acre fire is contained soon.

From the entrance to our RV park.

From the entrance to our RV park.

We talked about how appreciative we are of the men and women who fight fires.  It is hard to imagine  being one of those brave people facing this massive act of nature.  Keep them in your thoughts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Slides and Slidouts

We haven’t been doing too much adventuring the past couple of weeks.  The fire on the east side of Glacier Park closed the main road and caused a lot of smoke cover (the Going-to-the-Sun road is currently open and people are allowed to travel sparingly through the east side of the park).  We avoided the area the last several weeks due to the congestion of tourists and low visibility.  Even though we haven’t ventured into the park, other than to jog the bike trail at Apgar a few times, we still have projects around the R.V. to keep us busy.

-Side note – Before we left on this adventure we had some work done on the R.V. to get it in tip-top shape.  One upgrade was our roof, and the other was the bedroom slideout.  We won’t get into the whole problem we’ve had with the dealership where we bought the R.V. and the “repairs” they said they made before we drove it off the lot.  There is still a bitter taste from that whole experience, so we won’t discuss what was SUPPOSED to be done and what were items we “didn’t need to worry about” when we got the R.V.

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Sean hanging out under the living room slide.

We periodically check the outside of the R.V. for any signs of wear and tear or damage, and we noticed recently that underneath the kitchen slide the material was wearing off where the rollers touched the surface.  This is the same problem we had on the bedroom slide we had repaired before we left.  The outer slide floor is particle board with a thin coating.  We’ve noticed many of the newer RV’s have a sheet of fiberglass over this to protect it from any moisture.  If we left it the way it is, the roller would eventually chew up the particle board under the slide and give us even more trouble.  The bedroom slide was fixed by applying a layer of fiberglass sheeting and reinforcing the edges with corner pieces.  Sean did some research and we decided we could take the project on as a DIY.  After all, he brought along most of his tools, they have to get some use.  We found sheets of fiberglass at Home Depot and Sean made a list of all the materials we would need.  http://www.homedepot.com/p/Unbranded-4-ft-x-8-ft-White-090-FRP-Wall-Board-MFTF12IXA480009600/100389836

We decided to do both the kitchen slide and the living room slide.  After we got all the material, we had to trim the pieces to fit (Sherry’s job).  We wanted the fiberglass to fit under the rubber weather striping, but not too close to where the floor lifted to slide.  That slide lifts up on a long plastic or pvc material.  The wood floor literally slides along the material until it is full in.  So, we wanted to make sure that the mechanism wouldn’t be obstructed when it started its sliding and checked several times to see where the lift actually occurred.  Sean wasn’t too worried as the fiberglass board is very thin and shouldn’t cause an obstruction.  The piece fit perfectly and all we had to do was screw it into the bottom of the slide.  THAT was a lot of work.  The sheet is 8 ft. long, so it wanted to bend and fold.  Sherry did her best using both arms and her head to keep it from dipping and holding it in place, while Sean held the other end with his head and put in screws with a drill attachment.  It was a sight to see!  Nevertheless, we got it all secured!  We were very careful to make sure the piece was even and secured along the edges with self tapping wood screws.  We had to use two pieces of fiberglass to fit the width of the entire slide.  The second piece was cut to 4 ft. and was much easier to hold in place.  We still have to caulk and add trim, but the slide moves beautifully in and out over the rollers.  In fact, it seems to slide easier, with much less friction than before.

Speaking of slides…

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Alpine Slide Whitefish, MT

We also had some fun the last week.  Sherry’s friend from high school came to Glacier to hike with her girlfriend, and we were all able to get together.  We have been wanting to go to Whitefish, MT to the ski resort and do the Alpine Slide they have there.  It is like a giant water slide with sleds and no water.  We had a fun time riding the sleds down the hill and then riding the ski lifts up the hill!

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Wheeee!!!

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Here we go!

We also took them to Glacier Distilling Company to have some refreshments.  IMG_2308

IMG_2305We are in love with some of the whiskeys at this particular distillery.  They are not big enough to ship or market nationwide, but when they do, the products will no doubt be popular!  We were incredibly disappointed that our favorite bourbon, Cabin Fever, was completely sold out.  It will be another year or TWO before they have another batch ready to bottle.  We had made up our minds to get several bottles for Christmas presents this year!  Needless to say, we were bummed and some people on our list are not getting presents.  Lol.  (Luckily for us, we have a little left of our own personal bottle that we will cherish.)

We are looking forward to our final weeks here in the Glacier area.  We have several more hikes planned now that the park has reopened the main road.  Our most exciting hike is going to be the Highline trail near Logan Pass.  It is highly rated, so we are excited to try it out.  We have our next several stops after here planned and are looking forward to moving on to what else this country has to offer.  To adventure!

P.S.  We realized that our post about togetherness and tattoos was missing a shout out to the tattoo artist and owner of Dancing Bones Ink in Columbia Falls, MT.  She was so wonderful to us and made us feel so comfortable.  We meant to give a shout out and realized after re-reading the post that we didn’t mention WHO did the tattoos!  So, Barb, thank you so much for your wonderful spirit and artistry!       http://www.dancingbonesinkinc.com/Home.html

 

Two Months, Togetherness and TATTOOS!

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Home Sweet traveling Home.

Two months?  Where does the time go?  We have already been on the road a couple of months and have acclimated to the lifestyle quite well.  It is hard to imagine that our educator friends head back to school this week.  Sean has been retired for a couple of years and doesn’t feel the back to school rush anymore.  This is Sherry’s first year not working, and we know, “boo-hoo”, but she’s feeling a little anxiety about not getting ready for another school year, or any job for that matter.  89c45d5c84a946a757d6f9067d911c8aWe do feel guilty about having a LONG ‘break’ away from the daily grind of work.  But, then we look around and stop feeling guilty and start feeling lucky!  🙂  Truly though, we wish the best to our friends in education starting back on the amazing path of enlightening youth and changing lives!  Good luck to you all this year!  You’ll surely need it!!  🙂

Now, back to the headline…

Ah, togethernesslow res-8469-2We still love it (no kidding – we would say that even if we weren’t writing this post together).  It is funny to wonder about people’s perceptions when we get the question if we are tired of each other, or ones who are aghast at the thought of spending 24/7 with their significant other.  If you truly love someone and he/she is your best friend, why is it hard to think about spending this much time together?  We aren’t guaranteed tomorrow, so we do as much as we can today.  Be a human DOING, not a human BEING.  We have not spent more than 15-20 minutes apart at a time for 60 consecutive days.   This has been the greatest part about the trip.  Our goal was to spend more time together, and we’ve definitely achieved that goal so far.  Our toughest times are when we talk about what we do after our year long adventure.  We may actually spend time apart!  Say it isn’t so!  It helps that we collaborate so well together.   For example, Sherry is the primary cook while Sean does the dishes… Most of the time.  We do occasionally switch that up, especially when Sean is baking!  This last week he made biscuits, and Sherry made vegan gravy for a nice country breakfast (the secret is using al dente lentils as the “sausage” bits in the gravy).  We cook vegetarian or vegan most of the time, but we have the occasional fish dinner (Sherry makes a killer fish taco with tequila lime sauce!).  Also out of the oven this week were some delicious blueberry scones – mostly vegan (we use real butter – no margarine or fake butter substitutes).   Despite a small galley, we have been able to coordinate cooking and cleaning.  Sherry often has to improvise while chopping vegetables or preparing food items – counter space is sparse in our little home on wheels.

Hi Res-9112-2Hi Res-8711We have also continued to do our photography business as we travel.  The magnetic signs on the truck help pass along the word.  Sean is usually the one behind the camera while Sherry directs people or edits photos.  We just completed engagement photos for a very happy and absolutely adorable couple who got engaged in Whitefish, MT.  We had so much fun with them and being together as we did that shoot.

 

 

When we aren’t out exploring, we have been playing with the dogs, reading, binge watching TV, and enjoying each other’s company.  What is the point of the first few paragraphs?  If you are going to spend a year (or more) in a 37′ RV, make sure the other person is someone you like being around.  😉  Oh, and don’t forget the other ones you love – like two furballs we call Maggie and Bates.

Maggie finding a freshly made bed and the best ray of sun on a chilly morning.

Maggie finding a freshly made bed and the best ray of sun on a chilly morning.

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Bates loves the dog park in Whitefish!

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Bates fetches (sort of) at the dog park.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tattoos – One of the bucket list items was to get matching tattoos to commemorate our adventure and life together.  While in MT we found a lovely shop where the owner made us feel very comfortable.  She reminded Sherry of a Shaman she knew in Illinois named Sandy Little Lizard.  She had a very comforting aura.  We knew after an hour talking to her that she would have to be the one that helped us create our little forever piece of body artwork.  Sherry researched a design, and we both discussed the words before we met with the tattoo artist.  The sailboat represents Tadaima, our sailboat where we were married, and the words are from a song we consider ours and that sums up this adventure perfectly…”…and then when we get to the ocean, we’re gonna take a boat to the end of the world…all the way to the end of the world.”  Feel free to let loose a few “Awwww’s” and “How adorable”.

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We have also tried to explore more of the west side of the park while the Going to the Sun road is still closed at Logan Pass.  Several days ago we went into the park to Apgar and ran the bike trail with Bates.  He loved it, but we were saddened to see the signs telling us there was an up to three hour delay just to get to the Pass.  We are still hopeful that the fire will be contained and we will be able to hike the Highline Trail – supposedly one of the best in the park.

Since we couldn’t explore more of Glacier, we decided to look into Hungry Horse Reservoir.  We had seen signs along HWY 2 about the reservoir and dam, but despite staying nearby, we had just overlooked it.  We finally decided it was time to drive back and see what we could see.  One of the main roads, paved, led back to the dam, a 600′ monstrosity holding back a beautiful lake.  The views are incredible and it is only a few miles from where we were staying!  After spending about a half an hour driving, we decided to make a dedicated trip back to the lake.  We had seen some wonderful hiking and swimming areas, and with the weather being so hot and dry, we thought it would be a perfect excursion.

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Not being bird watchers… We think this is a peregrine falcon. Any thoughts?

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The lake wasn’t as cold as others we’d been in but it was very refreshing on a hot day. There were several campers enjoying the water up and down the shore.

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Falcon???

On our return, we drove through the small town of Martin City to see the north end of the lake.  We had noticed several boat ramps and primitive campsites on that side of the lake as well as a few trails.  The road turned to a wide, but rough, dirt road a few miles outside of town.  Traveling along the road, we took the first road to the lake.  That turned out to be a very narrow and even rougher dirt road, but the view at the end was amazing.  We hiked along the lake shore for a mile then sat and enjoyed a quick snack and watched the birds in the area fish.

Sean took several photos of the lake and fishing birds.  He joked that this crazy supermodel kept popping into his shots.  LOL  He was actually frustrated that he hadn’t brought along one of his telephoto lenses to catch the birds fishing.  We saw one dive into the lake, but too far away to see if it caught a fish.

We still have time here in this beautiful part of the country and hope to explore more of the gems hidden here!  We will be heading south soon and have already begun making our plans for stops along the way.  So many of our fellow RV’rs have offered advice and suggestions.  This morning, a neighbor talked to us about several spots in Southern Utah and Arizona.  Since they are along our ‘planned’ course, we will try to add them into our stops.

More later!  Enjoy the last of the summer.

Two Medicine and St. Mary Lake

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We heard a lot about Two Medicine, and after driving past Lake St. Mary several times, we decided to make a day of it and visit both areas.

Two Medicine

Two Medicine

Two Medicine was a very pretty area with a few nice trails.  We hit the area early in the morning and took a short leisurely hike along the lake.

low res-8357We couldn’t stay long because we wanted to get to St. Mary Lake in time for one of the boat rides along the lake.

Two Medicine is another easy location to get to by car.  The trails, especially along the lake, are a great, easy hikes.

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Storms a brewin’!

Lake St. Mary has a gorgeous blue color, almost turquoise when the sun hits it right.  We arrived at the boat dock in time for a locally heavy shower.   Getting used to the weather in this area has been fun.  One section of the park can be sunny and warm while another just a few miles away might be much cooler and raining.  We have enjoyed watching clouds swirl around the mountains on many occasions since arriving at the park.  We also learned that the weather usually doesn’t last long.  When we boarded the boat for our tour, the rain had all but stopped, and we could already see the clouds breaking up.

One of the tour boats.  This one is at Two Medicine but is very similar to the rest of the lake boats at Glacier.

One of the tour boats. This one is at Two Medicine but is very similar to the rest of the lake boats at Glacier.

On our boat we lucked out and had a great driver and a Park Ranger along for the ride.  Between them, we learned a lot about the park and the region we were in.  For instance, the blues in the lakes are a result of minerals ground to a fine powder by the glaciers and then brought to the lakes in the runoff.  The powder is very fine and goes into suspension in the lakes, reflecting only blues.  Fun stuff!  We also heard there are currently less than 30 glaciers in the park, and at the current rate of melt, they will be gone within the next 15 years.  So, what makes a glacier?  Technically, they have to be a certain size and depth to be called a true glacier.  There are many areas in the park with year round snow fields, but they don’t meet the technical criteria to be called a glacier.

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A view from the boat of an island in the middle of St. Mary Lake

OK, enough of the science lesson.  🙂  At the end of our ride out, we docked at a trailhead to see some of the falls that feed the Lake.  St. Mary Falls is a short, five minute walk from the dock

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St Mary Falls
St Mary Falls

For more photos of this area:  http://www.loveyphotography.com/Traveling-Photography/Polebridge-Bowman-Lake-St-Mary/