Happy Birthday Joy! 14 Years!


Joy when she was a few months old.

When my last Golden Girl, Bonnie , passed away, I said ‘No more.  I can’t go through this pain again’.  Then 3 weeks later I was searching….

And  eventually I found Joy.


First Christmas.  Just over 3 months old. Picture was taken while she was asleep.

I have often called her ‘the most joyful person I know’ and ‘my wild child’, and ‘my wild and crazy girl’.  She has been all of the above.


This was her first sighting of the ocean.  Sand dunes, Sand City, California.  The beach below these dunes turned out to be one of her Favorite Places.

Her excitable, extraordinary, extreme exuberance has been a problem at times, mostly with her ‘obsessive-compulsive greeting disorder’ as I call it.  The thing is, for her it’s all about love-beyond-measure for everyone and everything that touches her life.


Same beach, so many years later.

So at age 14, she is 98 in human years.  She has various physical problems now, but that strong Joyful spirit is still able to overcome them.


I love her and her ‘brother’ so much!


We will be celebrating all week. 😀

Today we leave St Regis and head south….well south east, but eventually just south.  The going will be slow, to avoid heat.  Looks like instead we will be cold, with 30 degrees at night, and rain and snow in the forecast coming up soon!  This is great news for Montana with its raging fires.

Next is Missoula, Butte, and Dillon Montana, before we head into Idaho, Utah, and Arizona.

Again, Happy Birthday my sweet Joy Bell!


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Why Did The Turkey Cross The Road?


I don’t really know.  She didn’t tell me.  Maybe the same reason the chicken did?

Food?  Water?  Safety?

Wild turkeys are smart, contrary to what I’ve always heard.  And they can fly.  I saw one fly up to roost in a tree just yesterday.  (Turkeys that are bred to be eaten can’t fly because they are bred to be so unnaturally large that their wings can’t support them.)


These turkeys crossed the road to eat!  Someone put cracked corn out for them.


There are the adults, and two sizes of babies.  This mom has the smallest chicks, and she has 6.  I hope they grow large soon.  Winter is coming!


All the other chicks are larger.  Shiloh was interested but never barked.  Joy was all, ‘Shiloh, they are birds, you could never catch them even if you weren’t wearing that leash.  Give it a rest!’

But then…..


When the deer came by, Joy got interested too.  This is mom and her twin fawns.


They still have their spots.

This morning while we were walking, we saw this guy.


You can hardly see his antlers in this picture.  They are not large.  He must be young.

And then…what’s this??


Mama bear and two cubs??


Naa.  Just a wooden facsimile thereof!  But Joy and Shiloh had to make sure.

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Repairs And More Plan Changes

Wednesday, September 6, we leave Ronan, but not before stopping at Les Schwab for WS’s wheel bearing appointment.  It’s past the time for them to be checked.  Way past time.  While at the rally I find that Casita recommends checks every 12,000 miles.  I thought it was supposed to be every 15,000 miles, and it’s actually been closer to 16,000 since mine were last serviced.  Oops!

Usually  they just need to be cleaned, repacked with grease, and new seals applied.  But no.  Probably due to waiting too long, WS’s bearings need to be replaced.  Don shows me lots of silver flakes in the grease, which are flakes off the bearings.  He also shows me the worn bearings.  Yikes.


For most of my life I’ve know a big fat 0 about wheel bearings.  What would happen if they stopped working properly?  Well, apparently that’s when the wheels fly off….and then the axel breaks….all while you’re driving down the highway.  So be aware!


So, 2 hours and close to $200 later, off we go with new bearings, new grease, and new seals.

Who knew?

Don at Lee Schwab recommends having them checked yearly or every 10,000 miles.  Makes sense to me.

It’s  a beautiful drive to St Regis along route 200 and the Flathead River, and then 135, along the Clark Fork River.  Well, except for the smoke shrouding the rivers and mountains.

Since we won’t be going to Glacier National Park due to the devastating fires, I’ve chosen The Nugget RV Park for a week because they have a huge unfenced  open area with meadow and trails, where dogs are allowed, unleashed.  I’m talking acres….though I have no idea how many.


Shiloh is happy about that!


And Joy is joyful.


There is still smoke, but not as bad as it was in Ronan before we left.


We walk the paths in the woods every day.


The trees are watching us!


Better behave!


Waiting for Mommy to catch up.


The deer are watching us too.


We find the water trough in the same place it was last year.  It’s supposed to be for turkeys and deer….but….


Joy takes a moment to refresh.

There are new owners here this year.  The people who owned it before were huge dog lovers, which is why they designated all this open space for dogs.  The new owners plan to keep it this way, but at the same time are showing some frustration about people not picking up after their pets.  I hope this doesn’t ruin it for everyone.  Please carry poop bags, and use them!

Walking the trails we find Diggers grave.  Digger belonged to the previous owners.


He was a damn good dog.


Joy with her little white face…still enjoying life.


From here I had planned to go on to Birdland Bay, in place of our 2nd week in Glacier.  There are lots of trails there too, and river access for the dogs.  But now, I’ve changed plans again because it’s located near Thompson Falls, where the air quality is at the ‘dangerous’ level, due to the smoke.  Instead, at that point we will start heading mostly south.  We will have to make it through heavy smoke near Missoula to do that, but there aren’t a whole lot of options.  Actually no options that I can see.

Next post will be dedicated to us Turkeys!

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Glacier Is A No-Go

Last year when I went to the east side of Glacier National Park is when I injured my back, so really saw very little.  This year I thought I’d try the west side and hope for some fall color, but the fires are so bad there now that all the facilities at McDonald lake have been closed for the season, most of the west side of Going To The Sun Road is closed, and parts of the town of West Glacier is on alert for evacuation.  As bad as the smoke is here, apparently there it’s worse.  Not only is there no point in going, it would be dangerous.


This is across the street from Diamond S RV Park in Ronan.  The mountains are still there but the smoke is so thick you can’t see them.


Looking down the road.


This isn’t daytime!  The sun is trying to shine!

Hopefully I’ll get back to Glacier another time.  About 25 years ago I did get to see it in late spring and it was wonderful….one of my favorite places.

So I’ve rearranged my plans and tomorrow we will be heading for St Regis, Montana.    There will still be smoke, but hopefully not this bad.  Before we leave Ronan, I have an appointment for WS at Les Schwab, to have the wheel bearings serviced.  I think it means I’ll get new ones, and have them greased.  Casita recommends this for every 12,000 miles, and it’s actually been about 15,000 since WS’s were last done at Little House Customs, AZ.

The Casita Rally has been nice, but I’ll tell you what…I’m on socialization overload!



I’ve met some really nice people and this is so not about them…it’s me.  I do better with very small gatherings….2 or 3 or 4 is pretty ok.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad to have been here and met everyone, but I will also be glad to be the off on my own for awhile.

I was invited to go to the Ninepipes Museum with Carolyn and Imogene the other day, so Joy and Shiloh stayed in the AC while I took off for a couple of hours.  I thought it was great when I was at the museum last year, but this time it was even better because they now give you a headset and remote control thingie, and you can listen to stories about the displays, narrated by the man who collected all the items in the museum, Bud Cheff, Jr.

The museum was named in honor of Chief Joseph Ninepipes, of the Bitterroot Salish.


This is the museum.  I used a picture of it from the internet.

I’ve wondered for awhile now….why is this called the Flathead Indian Reservation?  Who are the Flatheads??  This reservation is home to the Bitterroot Salish Tribe, the Kootenai (pronounced KOOT nee) Tribe, and the Pend d’Oreilles (pronounced PAWN-doh-RAY, believe it or not) Tribe.

So I remembered to ask one of the women at the museum.

It seems that when Lewis and Clark were here, and they encountered the natives that lived here, the sign that the Indians used for ‘hello’ was described in their notes as ‘ touching the fingers to the flat of the head’.  (They were meaning the forehead).  Because of this written description, these three tribes, the lake, the river and the reservation were all called ‘Flathead’, yet there is really no tribe by that name. She showed me the sign they used and it reminded me of a salute but different.


From the museum.  The shirt hanging on the wall was used in the movie ‘Dances With Wolves’.  Not made for it, but used in it.


This picture of Lucy Moses reminds me of ‘Grandma’ in the movie ‘Thunderheart’.


Peter and Mary Ronan, whom this town was named after.  Peter was an Indian Agent, and one of the rare good ones, apparently.  The Natives loved Mary’s long red hair.  There is a small lake nearby, named after her.


Lots of beadwork in the museum.


Back at the RV Park….Hollyhocks and Casita.


Joy and Shiloh have had fun at the rally, greeting lots of new people and a few dogs too!

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Smokin’ Casita Rally!

I don’t know HOW it can be September already, but sure-nuff, the calander says September 1.  Time marches….skips…runs…streaks…on.

The Casita Rally here in Ronan, Montana officially kicks off today.  Casita people have been arriving since Tuesday, except for me, the early bird, who arrived a week ago Wednesday.


Here are a few of the cute little Casita butts present at the rally.


Here we are, and you can see more Casitas beyond us, too.

Would you believe…..

Dear  friends Laura and Joel (creator of the Joel Pole, my internet antenna), paid us a visit yesterday!  When Laura and I were talking on the phone quite awhile back, we discovered that our paths were going to cross here in Montana, completely unplanned, so we arranged for a day together, and it turned out to be really nice.  We visited, and Joel, computer guru that he is, updated some important stuff on my computer-type toys.  Later we went out for dinner at the restaurant in the Ninepipes Lodge while Joy and Shiloh lounged in WS under the air conditioning.

So far since we’ve been on the road, Laura and Joel have been able to meet up with us at the Salton Sea in CA, at Gilbert Ray Campground near Tucson, AZ, where we camped side by side for their first RV experience, at Yosemite National Park, and now in Ronan, Montana.  (Have I missed any Laura?) They are literally world travelers, but have been experiencing more of the USA in recent years.

The temperature since we arrived here has reached into the 80’s daily, which I know you probably like but Joy, Shiloh and I think it’s too warm.  Days have been lazy and if we go somewhere it’s in the mornings.  The rest of the day is spent either in the A/C or visiting with other Casita folks in the shade.

One morning we went to St Ignatius Mission, about 15 miles south of Ronan.  The present church itself was built in 1891, and it is famous for the beautiful murals all over the inside.  They were painted by Br. Joseph Carignano, S.J., the mission COOK!!





Amazing!!  The stained glass windows were beautiful too.  Mostly the colors in the windows weren’t showing up in my little IPhone camera, but in the above picture they showed up fine.

The smoke in the air from the many fires burning in western Montana varies from day to day, but is ever present.  I still haven’t been able to smell it, but I can see it.  Makes for some interesting pictures….





By the way, my truck, Joy Ride (JR), is doing great.  Now that I’m not towing, mileage looks like this:



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Ronan, Montana

Ten days after leaving Michigan, crossing Minnesota, North Dakota, getting the truck repaired, crossing most of Montana and the great divide at 6393 feet, we reach our destination of Ronan, Montana.


There has been a lot of smoke in the air since we reached Western Montana…so many fires.  I can sure see it, but oddly enough, I haven’t been able to smell it at all.

I have marveled at the constantly changing scenery, gosh this country is so diverse there is something for everyone.  Sure I’ve always known that, but seeing this variety of natures beauty just never gets old.

Driving/towing does though, and I’m relieved to reach sweet little Diamond S RV Park where I can just settle for awhile.


We were here twice last summer, the second time for a number of weeks while I was trying to recover from a back injury.  During that time, ‘Arizona Eileen’  dropped by.  She is the author of the must have Casita Manual called ‘Casita A-Z Owners Guide’.  It was due for an update (you get it on line), so she decided to stay here too, where she could get her work done in peace.  She liked this RV park so much that she arranged a Casita Rally here, which is finally coming up next week over Labor Day.  That’s why we are here…I just decided to come a bit early.


The views here are of the Mission Mountain Range.  The elevation of Ronan is 3,048 feet, and the mountains in this range run in the 8,000’s up to McDonald Peak at 9,820 feet.


Not quite so smoked today.  See the glacier up there?  This is in view of Diamond S.

This all sits on the Flathead Indian Reservation.  This reservation is 1,938 square miles and was set aside in 1855 with a treaty for the Bitterroot Salish, Kooteanai and Pend d’Oreilles tribes.


It’s hay bailin’ time.

Now however, with a population of 28,324 at last count, non-Indians outnumber Indians 2:1.  How this came about is a long and painful story and you can learn more about it if you wish, on Wikipedia by researching Flathead Indian Reservation.  Slowly though, the Native Americans are buying their land back.


If you travel, I highly recommend a visit to this beautiful area.  Some points of interest:


Flathead Lake.  It’s huge, this is a small bit of it.

Flathead Lake State Park

Flathead Indian Museum in St. Ignatius

The National Bison Range

Ninepipes National Wildlife Refuge

Ninepipes Museum

St. Ignatius Mission

The People’s Center in Pablo

Today we went to the Farmers Market in Polson, about 11 miles north of Ronan.


It is a thriving market with nice fruits and veggies, also art work, jewelry, soaps, flowers, etc.  I bought a beautiful Honeydew melon, Flathead Cherries, juicy just picked peaches, basil, a bag of salad greens, and some ripe red tomatoes!

I just finished a salad of the basil and a big tomato, EVOO and some black cherry balsamic vinegar (from Monterey CA).  That along with a hunk of good bread for dipping in the excess O&V…holy moley…food doesn’t get any better than this!


A smokey sunrise over the Mission Mountains.

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I’m being Followed By A Moon Shadow…

Not really, since the eclipse was headed south east and I’m headed west, but I’ve been singing that song by Cat Stevens in my head for a few days now.  When the eclipse reached its max of about 89% where I was near Billings, Montana was about the time I stopped for gas.  I think I just wanted to connect with others in those moments.  I listened to public radio while they tracked it across the US, getting reactions, and you know, it was the scientists they spoke with that seemed the most affected and the most awed. Or at least they had words to describe how they felt.  It’s hard to explain how it makes you feel, isn’t it?  It reminds us that it’s all so much bigger than…our lives…our problems.  The universe is a big….clock.  A big time piece…running…always running with perfection, and the next eclipses are already scheduled on into infinity….

We have little to no understanding of it….why it’s there, how it works…who’s out there….

wow.          This is amazing stuff…

But anyway….the truck….Joy Ride…is doing FINE!  Over the past three days we have been gradually rising in elevation and there has been no sign of a problem.  She’s riding smoothly and there has been no misfires, knocks, chokes, coughs, or sneezes.  Not even a sniffle.  We are over 4000 feet now, in Big Timber, Montana, and I’m beginning to relax a bit.

I’ve written 2 five star reviews for the Bismarck KOA, one on the KOA site and one on the Google Maps site.

Meanwhile, the changing terrain never fails to amaze me.


In our travels, we have quickly ( in my turtle sort of way), gone from water wonderland, with green everywhere, to the North Dakota and east Montana bad lands and plains, open or farmed land, with hay just bailed for the most part, where trees are a rarity.


The stubble that is left after the hay is cut.

Now we are in the mountains, that rise higher and higher….it all just takes my breath away!   What an amazing land we live in!

America the diverse and beautiful.


Silos…not so beautiful, but they have a lot to do with that line about the amber waves of grain.


Shiloh, sees someone….couple of someones actually…..


Curious friends we meet on our walk this morning at Forsyth, Montana.


Our campsite just for tonight, at Big Timber KOA in umm, yes, Big Timber, Montana.

What’s this, trees and grass!  And shade! Like an oasis.

Tomorrow the plan is for Anaconda.  Yes thats a Montana town.  Then finally, Wednesday we reach Ronan, where we are going for the Casita Rally!


Bye beautiful horsies!

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