Wednesday, September 10, 2014



Yes, I know I just misspelled it but with the amount of wind swirling around out there, the spelling actually fits quite well.

It's one of those perfect pre-fall days. Sunny, high 60's, warm enough to get away with capris and a t-shirt, but the sun has moved just far enough from us to warrant a sweater for back up. Leaves have begun to depart from the trees, the golden hues of Autumn are starting to appear. The kids are back in school, the Halloween decor is showing up in stores (who am I kidding-- Christmas decor is showing up in stores!!) and Pumpkin Spiced everything is being pushed upon us.

But you know me... it's still summer as far as I'm concerned. Technically it IS summer until September 23rd. And while Autumn is my favorite season I am just not willing to let go of the notion of summer quite yet.

Even if the winds of change are a'blowing.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Living Simply; Simply Living

Living out of a suitcase for a couple of weeks can have a profound effect on one's life believe it or not.

Living with erratic cell service, cut off from the internet and relying on battery powered lighting can also do it. When you are traveling for several days and you need to keep the food on ice, you might prepare food and eat differently than normal too.

You find all kinds of ways to practice simplicity and you learn to not only get good at it, but you start to really like it. Love it even.

There's something to be said for waking up with the sun and going to sleep at dusk. There's a magic lull that happens when you eat by candle light or under the stars. When the only sound you hear at night is the lake gently lapping the shore or the hoot of an owl and come morning its the coo of a dove and the rustle of grass from a curious deer.

We lived simply for the two weeks we were on the road. I packed way more clothes than I ever needed and learned a lesson in that. I found what was comfortable and stuck with that, putting the rest at the bottom of the basket.

Taking sponge baths or dips in the lake made me realize how much I took hot showers for granted but I found I rather enjoyed the quaintness of heating water for my morning routine. I let my make up and hair product rest in the drawer and turned my face to the sun for color.

Coffee perked the old fashioned way never tasted so good. The smokey flavor of  grilled meat and the sizzle of eggs in a pan delighted me in ways a cappuccino machine can never do.

We lived simply and we ate simply. Yet we never felt deprived and we relished every meal. We developed a system for cooking and cleaning and the partnership it created was fun. I cook. He cleans. Likewise our traveling: he drives, I navigate. Setting up camp got easier each time as we both had our roles to play and didn't have to be reminded of it, we just did it.

We lived simply and we simply lived. Without the distractions of the world wide web we could sink back into the soft pillows of the hammock and get lost in a good book. We took hikes and enjoyed the sounds of rushing water over the creek bed. We saw wild life up close and struggled to breathe in altitudes we were not used to. We reveled in the majesty of God's Creation: mountains and crevices, rolling hills dotted with trees and brown grass. Snow capped mountain peaks, whistling marmots and chattering squirrels. The thrill of seeing a big black bear as it meandered in search of berries!

Curiosities in the form of road side attractions and tourist traps. Pulling over when the mood strikes and buying ice cold coke from a funky little store in the middle of nowhere. When your shopping list is as complicated as "eggs and milk" and your needs are whittled down to a shady place to park and water to cook with, you know you are living simply. Living simply but simply living. Rejoicing in the simplicity of life and how much pleasure it can bring if you just stop long enough to drink it in.

I've been in a bit of a post-vacation funk since we got home. Part of it I can probably blame on the rapid change in weather-- definitely feeling like that next beautiful season is fast approaching and wanting to stretch summer out for a few more weeks. But I think a great part of it has to do with the busyness of life rushing in to claim me once again. For two weeks we put our regular routine on hold but when you go to collect your mail after 2 weeks and start sorting through the bills, when you have meetings to attend and decisions to make and your calendar is full of activities.... all clamoring for your attention, all threatening to steal the peace you worked so hard to achieve while on vacation... well.... post vacation funk, plain and simple.

But the mantra that has been rolling over in my mind since our return is going to be the mantra I use to hold on to some of that vacation tranquility. Living Simply, Simply Living.

If I can live simple and find joy and peace and contentment in the practice of simplicity while on vacation, can't I find it here in my every day life? What changes would I need to make to live simply in order to simply live?

It's nice to know that as I explore this I have the Burke-Turque sitting right outside my front door. If push comes to shove I can always move out there for a day or two to remind myself of how to live simply and simply live.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Road Tripping; the Final Installment


How sweet the sound, and how good to be back in familiar territory. Yet it's bittersweet because it means a return to the regular busyness and responsibilities that can sometimes pull you down. Still, we milked that last day for all it was worth...

Puzzling over the huge rabbit population in the campground...

while there are only a few in the picture, trust me, there must have been over 100 scattered about the grounds!

Taking a lovely stroll along side the Omak River before breaking of camp...

a perfect place to walk along side of the river!

A leisurely picnic in a city park...

chicken and 'tater salad, limeaade and chips. what more could you as for?

A slow drive over one more mountain pass...

Cascade Hwy, Hart's Pass

Upon arrival we found a lawn in need of mowing, a near-neurotic and overjoyed cat, and an empty pantry that needed filling. And we wont even mention the piles and piles of laundry!

I often find that while I'm living in the moment and enjoying myself very much,  in the days and weeks that follow, the pleasure grows as the memories cache in my heart. I love pulling those memories out one by one to relive them and appreciate each nuance that I might not have fully taken in as it unfolded.

reflection is good for the soul.

It goes without saying that this 2 week road trip was full to overflowing with special moments. Time for family and friends. Getting to experience another section of God's majestic creation. Living simply and finding the joy in that. Playing. Resting. Exploring. Adventuring. Having quality time with my best friend and lover.

Life. Is. Good.

thank you Lord for the blessings you give us!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Road Tripping Part 6

Thursday pm- Sat am.: Lake Pend Oreille, Idaho
Destination: Sam Owen Campground
Purpose: chillaxing on the lake!

Two nights camping off the grid. No place to go. Nothing pressing to do.

The toughest decision to make all day is whether to lay in the hammock and read a book or lay in the hammock and watch the deer grazing in the campground.

A refreshing dip in the lake come midday takes the place of a shower. Simple suppers eaten by candlelight. Early to bed, early to rise. With no pressing need to do anything it was the perfect wind down to our vacation. A chance for Bruce to really really relax.

Perfect Bliss.

Saturday Morning: Departure
Destination: Washington State via Newport WA, Hwy 2
Purpose: to explore back roads and po-dunk towns we've not yet seen.

Keeping in mind that it was a holiday weekend and most good campsites have been scooped up by well planning vacationers, we ambled merrily across mountain passes and scenic backroads without a worry or a care. We'd find some place to bed down even if it was a wide spot on the side of the road, or, heaven help us, Walmart.

We came through Nespelem, located in the Colville Indian Reservation, and the location of Chief Joseph Memorial. A sad little cemetery on the side of a hill with a large white stone marker surrounded by other graves is all there is to mark the passing of this Indian Chief.

 If you are up on your history you may know his story. At the very least you would recognize this line from something he said on the day he surrendered:  I will fight no more forever.  It's an important piece of history and worth the time to acquaint yourself with it if you are not already familiar.

We wandered respectfully through the graveyard, as the sun passed behind clouds and a strange hot wind gusted around us.

We made it to Omak and found a nice quiet corner that backed up to the Omak River and the sight of the Omak Stampede. A campground with water and electric meant flushies and hot showers. Hallelujah.

Breaking camp this morning is slow in coming as it means we will head for home and arrive this evening. I know neither of us is eager for this trip to end. It's been a full and filling time of R&R for us both. A time of building both memories and relationships and a vacation we will treasure in our hearts.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Road Tripping Part 5

Thursday Morning: Departure from Sundance Campground
Destination: SamOwen Campground, Lake Pend Oreille, Idaho
Purpose: a couple days of doing nothing!!

We departed from Glacier National Park area on August 28th, with a full day of driving ahead of us. With the Labor Day weekend approaching and not having reservations anywhere, we didn't really know where we'd spend the night. We had plans to detour through Kalispell Mt to visit a friend there and other than that, we were intent on enjoying the scenery. Lee and Laura headed out about an hour before us and promised to keep us appraised of camping availability as they would undoubtedly arrive before us.

Under sunny skies and rising temperatures we didn't go far before we pulled over to investigate a tour attraction we'd spotted when we came in earlier in the week. Billed as "The house of Mystery & Montana Vortex" we'd been mildly curious. I was thinking about the mystery house of Knott's Berry Farm as we got out of the truck and came closer to check things out. It wasn't long however before some red flags were waving...

The first flag was a sign welcoming us, the cost of admission and some new-age/eastern religion language. This in and of itself wasn't bad, necessarily, just enough for me to say "hmm" and be alert. As we read the literature on the walls outside the storefront however a gnawing uncomfortable feeling began to  grow in the pit of my stomach. I shared my feelings with Bruce who listened with concern. While he appreciates my discerning nature and was not about to discount my apprehensions, he was still mighty curious. When I read more of the descriptions something struck a nerve and brought to mind a rather scary encounter I'd had several years ago. Without going into all those details, suffice it to say it was all the reminder I needed that this was not some place I was willing to plunk my money down on. Just as I finished murmuring this decision to Bruce, the third thing happened that literally made THE HAIR ON THE BACK OF MY NECK STAND ON END.

From out of seemingly nowhere, a man appeared. "Come in please" was all  he said but it made me jump. Honestly, we didn't hear or see a door open from the storefront-- he was just THERE. It was eerie but his voice was even more unnerving. "the next tour is about to begin folks."
I can't describe his voice but it was like something you'd expect from the bad guy in a Steven King novel. It was CREEPY. I tugged at Bruce's shirt and Bruce told the man we needed to get something from the truck first and we quickly scooted across the parking lot to the truck. We had no intention of returning and we climbed inside laughing a little nervously.

Let me clarify. We. as believers in Christ, need not be afraid of the supernatural. We have the Holy Spirit living inside of us and His Perfect Love casts out fear. But because of the Holy Spirit we have a realization of what we should or shouldn't wander into. This place, while on the surface sounded fun and family friendly, seemed to be capitalizing on something more and that was what we felt repelled by. While I don't think we would have been harmed by going in and exploring things, there was just enough of something 'off' in the presentation that warned us, that as Christians, we didn't need to go there.

Our next stop was to Lakeside and the Glacier Bible Camp where our friend is the director. We toured the grounds as we visited and while it was a short stop it was still good to connect.

Bruce chatting with friend Dave Saugen on the lake at the camp.

Glacier Camp, Lakeside MT

at Glacier Camp Lakeside MT

After this we had to make tracks if we were going to make it to our campsite by dark. We had communication with Lee and Laura and they were making camp just inside of Idaho and reported there were still available campsites. We decided we could make it and pushed on. As we came through the town of Libby MT, it was that time of day where the sun hangs in the western sky and blinds you. On a 4 lane highway in the middle of downtown Libby, that is when it happened.

With nothing in front of us, no one behind us, and scarce traffic in the east bound lane, we had a wide open view, except for that blinding sun. Suddenly BAM! from the driver's side The truck shook. "What the heck?" shouted Bruce. Just as he spoke I saw on my side a horrible sight. A deer.... tumbling through the air.... dear readers, it was awful! I cringe still as I recall this.... I cried out to Bruce "We hit a deer!" and he pulled over as soon as he could safely maneuver the truck and trailer off the road. We sat in the parking lot of an empty business center and caught our breath. I felt ill and got out of the truck, certain I was going to lose my lunch.

It was next to impossible to turn around given the lay of the highway and besides, there is nothing you can do for a deer that's just been hit by a one ton truck. Bruce hugged me as I moaned and shed a few tears, then with prayers of thanks that it had not resulted in injury to us, we got back in our vehicle.

With a keen alertness for the rest of our drive that day, we spotted probably 5 or 6 more deer as we pressed on. Thankfully they were seen with enough time to slow down and avoid any more accidents. We arrived at Samowen Campground just before dusk.

Lake Pend Oreille

to be continued...

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Road Tripping Part Four

Monday- Thursday: Sundance Campground (our base camp)
Destination: Glacier National Park
Purpose: Camping and Exploring

by the way...Sundance Campground, where we have settled for most of the week, was a good choice. Conveniently located just a few miles from West Glacier one direction and the town of Coram the other direction, it's proving to be excellent base camp. The price per night includes water, electric, Wifi, hot showers and the nicest owners/managers. The bathroom is sparkling clean and our campsites are thoughtfully laid out. We have some very nice 'neighbors' all around us.   While we are close to the highway, we don't really hear much of the traffic and it's actually the trains we hear most. 

Tuesday: We left soon after breakfast to spend the day inside the Park. Going to the Sun Road is not for the faint of heart! I am glad I wasn't driving but riding shotgun in order to take pictures, I found myself instinctively leaning to the left away from the view more than once. Yikes. Narrow road, hairpin curves one right after the other, and sheer drop offs... um, yah....

The highlight for me this day was reaching Logan's Pass-- the highest spot on the road AND the opportunity to stand on the Continental Divide! How beautiful... are the feet...

The parking lot at the Pass was crammed full and even though we drove around several times, there never was a spot that opened up so we had to just take turns hopping out of the truck and checking out the view while someone else drove around.

We went down the east side and came out by St. Mary's Lake and enjoyed ice cream in the berg of  St Mary's. We hopped on Hwy 2 and completed our day with dinner in Essex, a popular winter spot for cross country ski enthusiasts and anyone with a love of trains as the lodge and restaurant is right next to a very busy train station.

We returned to camp at dusk and enjoyed some quiet time around the campfire before retiring. Extra blankets have been needed the last couple of nights. It's been pleasantly warm during the day but this high altitude brings a nippy chill once the sun sets.

Wednesday we all slept in. I guess the days of hectic traveling caught up to us and we needed those extra Z's. With breakfast dishes done we laid our maps out on the picnic table and plotted a course for the day. With some online research we were able to find a hiking trail that met our criteria: short drive to the trail head, no more than 5 or 6 miles in length round trip, a moderate hike and preferably with shade. We discarded one hike because it came with the cautious advice to carry bear spray and bells. (later learning ALL the hikes in the park suggest bear spray!)

We settled on hiking to Avalanche Lake. 5 miles round trip and under the shade of massive cedar trees, with a alpine lake at the end of the trail, this hike packed the punch we were craving. Most of the hike was fairly easy. A few challenging uphill/downhill traversing but the path was wide and smooth. We were within earshot of the Avalanche River the whole time and able to view it often. The smell of the trees and water and earth was pleasing to our senses and despite some climb in altitude we all kept a fairly brisk pace.

As we came around one bend, we were rewarded with the sighting of a deer. Oh, not just a deer, a buck! And not just a buck but a 5 point buck, quite large and really indifferent to the presence of humans. A group of hikers coming down the trail and our group coming up were able to get in quite close range of this princely animal and he just kept grazing at the base of the trees, glancing our way once in awhile, totally unfazed by our close proximity.

We continued our way to the lake and by the time we arrived we were famished. Sandwiches never tasted so good. (I made my delicious peanut butter and bacon sandwiches. Truly to die for. Honest, you ought to try them!)

 We were visited by a few curious squirrels and chipmunks. They really are cute for rodents.

Then as we were finishing our lunch, Bruce calmly announced "Bear!"
Bear?? Where? Where?
Over there!

Sure enough, meandering his way down the edge of the lake, across from us, was a large black bear. Oh, my. I wanted to see a bear this trip so bad but only if it was a safe encounter. With a body of water between us, this felt quite safe and the zoom lens on my camera was as close as I needed to be. We watched and snapped photos till he moved into the brush and out of sight.

We lingered at the sandy shore of the lake, breathing in the fresh alpine air and delighting in waterfalls cascading down the mountain sides above us. When it was time to head down, we did so rather reluctantly. Downhill always sounds easier but in truth the impact can be hell on ones' knees. Still we made it back down in about half the time it took us to hike up.

The whole day was cloaked in  a perfect warm temperature with sweet breezes blowing in off the creek. Our fellow hikers both coming and going were just as happy to be there as we were and smiles and friendly greetings were exchanged each time we passed on the trail. It is truly an international tourist attraction and we heard many different accents and dialects spoken as we traversed.

We made it back to camp around 6, pleased with our day even as our bodies registered discomfort from the physically demanding excursion. Tomorrow we will break camp and begin the slow trip toward home. We will continue to travel together until we reach Washington and then likely go our separate ways for the remainder of the trip. We don't have specific plans for the next few days other than to take our time and enjoy the sights. With no reservations and a major holiday approaching, we may end up in a Walmart parking lot but I think we'll be more creative than that. Whatever our remaining travel days bring, "as long as we're together, it doesn't matter at all."