Montana trip – epilogue

My flight was scheduled to leave Butte at 11:45. Hank and Marcia took me and my bags and we enjoyed a farewell breakfast at the Montana inn. The food there, as everywhere, was really good. My last meal in Montana was a veggie scramble with cream cheese, a mess of hash browns, and some rye toast.

 My flight home was uneventful, and when I stepped off the plane I was greeted by the familiar wall of Houston humidity! My hair curled immediately!  It was wonderful to be greeted by my dear Robert, I did miss him a lot. It will be a while before I go off without him! We are planning a three week road trip in New England in the fall, which will be wonderful!
I am so very glad I made the trip. Marcia and I found that we are kindred spirits in so many ways. She is open-minded and nonjudgmental, and I loved hearing her talk about her hikes with her father, her journey through relationships, and her daughter Leah, who I hope to meet sometime. Her husband Hank was a joy to spend time with in conversation.
 Until we meet again.

A Walk in the Wilderness

The last day of my vacation I experienced a tiny piece of Montana in a very big way. Marcia had planned the day hike for my last day, so I would have time to become accustomed to the altitude. I think I did pretty well, and at the end of the day was only limping a little!
It was an unseasonably hot morning, but  it felt great with the low humidity and the smell of the pines. As we walked the five miles into Twin Lakes, Marcia told me the names of some of the flowers growing along the path, and I noticed some elk tracks. We crossed a fast moving stream several times, the sound and sight of it bringing memories of Colorado camping as a child. I was pleased to find that in spite of living at sea level, I was having no problem at 7000+ feet!
Wild Strawberries
marsh marigolds
Shooting stars
elk track
We arrived at the lake around 1, happy to be able to take a break and eat our lunch of rice cakes, hummus, and apples. The mosquitos were very happy to see us, too! but we warded them off with the OFF wipes Marcia had packed. I was glad she was an experienced hiker and had was well prepared. We even had bear bells, and I was not unhappy that no bears seemed to be in the vicinity.
I stuck my feet in the lake as we ate, and we could see fish swimming in the clear water. It was so lovely and peaceful. Before returning to civilization, we sat and meditated for a little while. For just a moment, I felt oneness with even the flies that buzzed gently around my head.
We took the old trail back, which was not kept up and a little more challenging, but shorter before it joined with the new. Mosquitos swarmed, water rushed, then the wind picked up a bit as it became overcast. We were quieter as we walked downhill, and I was grateful for the walking stick as weariness began to set in. We saw no creatures except for a mother grouse who kept a careful eye on us as we passed.
For about the last two miles I focused on my feet, mindfully aware of each step, grateful for my two legs, and thankful for the cool fresh air. I turned around for my last view of the beautiful mountains, and we could see the rain coming down.
I was very happy to see the jeep and set my body down! We were out on the main road before the rain came. It was a wonderful day.

A ghost town, sapphires, and drumming

After a leisurely early morning enjoying coffee and steel cut oats with hand-picked huckleberries (thank you Marcia) and visiting with Hank a bit, the two of us set off for the next adventure.  We took her jeep this time, and after stopping to get water at the local spring, we headed up narrow unpaved road to see the remains of a once thriving mining town high up on the mountain.

The weather was beautiful and unseasonably warm, and being up that high on the mountain and looking at the crumbling mine buildings, I imagined the work that went on there and the hardships faced. Some of the stone and brick buildings remain standing, a tribute to the amazing courage and skill of the pioneers of our nation.

We went to Phillipsburg for lunch, and had a delicious lunch at Sunshine Station.
241d2-20150608_152000-animationThen we went to Gem Mountain and spent an interesting couple of hours digging through a bucket of dirt looking for sapphires, and found quite a few.sapphires I decided to spend a little money to have the best ones heat treated. I can expect to get them in 3 to 6 months.
 In the evening we went to the drumming circle. Marcia has connected with an amazing group of women. She had tried to convey to me what this is about, but there is nothing like the experience. We went outside the town to Barbara’s house, where she and her husband live in a beautiful house “off the grid” – sustained with solar and wind power, and delicious well water. Their two friendly dogs greeted us and their horses grazed nearby.
I was warmly welcomed by Barbara, who makes drums and has a connection to the earth and to the animals whose skins are used. She told me to choose a drum and I was immediately drawn to one which was made from buffalo skin. She has a brochure which told me that:
The buffalo, Tatanka, is a symbol of abundeance and manifestation. The massive head implies a need to combine our efforts with the divine Creator, and is a symbol of the heavens and the divine. The messge of the buffalo is that both the mundane and the spiritual are necessary for manifesting what we are seeking. Tantaka usually follow the easiest path. When we joint the right action with the right prayers, the path opens and flows easily. The buffalo energy may indicate opportunities to manifest or for you to manifest abundance in some area of your life. Buffalo energy implies that the law of synchronicity is operating in your universe. 
 We did four rounds of drumming, and during the last one I felt very connected to the other people in the room and to the earth. I heard, very faintly, Native American chanting in the distance. It was an energizing spiritual experience. Afterwards, we stayed around and talked for a while, and a lady named Marlene, obviously intuitive, told me that amazing things were happening in my life. This is an affirmation for me.
And she gave me a tourmaline stone, said “It wants to go with you.” She said it will dispel negative energy around me, that she had been wearing it in a medicine bag.
It was an amazing end to another wonder full day in Montana.

A detour, a good night’s rest, and the rest of Yellowstone

No matter what you read or hear or see in pictures or movies, nothing compares to actually being there. The mountains, lakes, waterfalls, hot springs – all amazing natural beauty. (Picture gallery after text below)
While we were at the Old Faithful visitors center, we found that the direct route to Moran, where our room was reserved, was closed for a bridge repair. The way we would have to go was to retrace part of our route and make a circular path back to the road we needed beyond the bridge. It would only take about an hour longer, we were informed, so, still cheerful, off we went. It was about 7 by then, and we expected at least two more hours of daylight.
It had started raining off and on by then, but the beauty of our surroundings kept our spirits up. We had a lot to talk about, sharing stories from our adult lives, lessons learned, spiritual experiences, just everything. I was very happy I wasn’t driving, and that we were in a four wheel drive truck, because when the sun went down and it was still raining, the winding roads with wisps of fog made visibility challenging. Marcia was up for it and got us to our destination at about 11 pm. It wasn’t until the next morning that she confessed that she was feeling very challenged!
Our room and our beds at the Hatchet Resort were perfect! I think I slept pretty well, and in the morning we ate at the restaurant there and I got a tall stack of huckleberry pancakes. They were so delicious! I have never had huckleberries before. Marcia says they grow wild and she picks them every summer.
The day was beautiful, and as we headed north we immediately could see the Grand Teton mountain range. What an imposing sight that was. We leisurely wound our way through the mountains and stopped frequently along the way to take pictures and enjoy the views. The pictures tell the story.
Wild Bison
Beautiful Elk
Grand Tetons
Yellowstone Lake
Wilderness beauty
Lewis Falls
Another view of the lake and mountains
Upper falls – Grand Canyon of Yellowstone
Lower falls – Grand Canyon of Yellowstone
Grand Canyon of Yellowstone
Snow – upper elevation
Glacier Lilies
Volkswagon van camper
This is how to travel!
Mammoth Hot springs
Amazing natural sculpting
Mammoth hot springs
Mammoth hot springs terraces
Sunset Pintler Mountains through bug flecked windshield
We got back to Marcia’s as the sun was setting. It was a wonderful two days.

The best laid plans… and Old Faithful

(Yellowstone adventure, part 1)

Happiness is a choice you make ahead of time.

I read that on a sign at the Summit Restaurant in Ennis, Montana, where Marcia and I found ourselves after her truck broke down on the way to Yellowstone.

I’ll back up a bit. The flight up was uneventful, no running to catch the next plane or anything crazy. It got a little rough coming over the mountains, but I got to see the sun set over the Great Salt Lake. I was warmly greeted in Butte by Marcia and her husband Hank, in spite of the late hour. I had a good night’s sleep in a comfy bed and the next morning, Saturday, Marcia made a wonderful breakfast of eggs and morel mushrooms. What a treat!


The plan for the day was to drive down through Yellowstone Park to where Marcia had reserved a room for us near the Tetons. In spite of making reservations three months in advance, there were no rooms available in Yellowstone! We set off before 9:30, intending to arrive at our destination well before dark. We had been on the road about two hours, enjoying the beautiful day and beautiful mountains and catching up on 40 years of life when suddenly the truck started making a noise. We pulled over and peered under the hood, and discovered that there was an oily liquid sprayed all over the engine. Neither one of us knew what was up, so she pulled out her phone to call her husband for advice. Oh dear, no cell phone signal!

We decided it was safe to drive back to the nearest town, which turned out to be Ennis. A nice lady at the gas station directed us to the Napa parts store. By this time, the alternator gauge had come on, and there was a whole lot of noise going on!  The young man inside came out to look at it, and declared it to be the water pump. Right about then all the coolant dumped on the ground!

To make this long story a little shorter, he and his boss fixed it on the spot, and we ate lunch and hung out in the restaurant, where I got a fabulous veggie wrap and fries and a cup of tea. Ennis is a great little town with very friendly people. We were heading to Old Faithful by three, feeling very grateful.

We started seeing steam rising from the ground alongside the road and stopped at one place to get out and look. Very cool. We arrived at Old Faithful in plenty of time to find a good spot for the next show, expected at around 6:30. I truly didn’t know what to expect, and my anticipation built as the steam would increase and then water would bubble up. Finally, it happened, and the energy that I felt as the water shot up into the sky brought tears of joy to my eyes. I completely understood why people from all over the world come to see this amazing phenomenon.

Old Faithful June 6, 2015