Our Trip North (Spring 2022)

We decided to take a slow trip north, mostly up US Hwy 93 which we entered just outside of Wickenberg, Arizona, and left at Ravalli, Montana, for US Hwy 200!

93 took us through Kingman, where we stayed at a Wal-Mart! On to Las Vegas for a special stop at Dutch Bros. Coffee as it was “Drink One for Dane” day, one day a year where the proceeds go to ALS research. Northward to Paranghat Wildlife Preserve (North of Las Vegas, near Alamo, Nevada), an oasis we had passed several times over the years and vowed one day to stay at! It was well worth it!

Northward, we stopped just north of Mackay, Idaho at the reservoir, another gem of a campground!

Beautiful country heading north, just beautiful, snow capped peaks, blue skies, can’t wait to get home! We stopped for a couple of days in Hamilton, Montana, ‘boondocked’ at Ravalli Fun Center a Harvest Host location with wonderful hosts! In Hamilton we got to spend some good time with Kristin and Steve, a great dinner at the Bitterroot Brewery and an in person tour of Kristin’s new massage therapy studio “Take Flight Massage”.

Home to Hot Springs! We arrived back in Hot Springs, happy to be home, happy to see Jim and Paula, and of course, Sonny Chisolm! Just to name a few!

Jim and Paula Stobie, graciously kept us safe, sound and well fed! Thank you dear friends!

Next installment, Summertime 2022!

WELCOME BACK! (The Blog is back as we roll on)

Our last blog post was November 2021! We had arrived in Wenden Arizona for another winter, spending our time side by side riding, visiting Joanette’s nephew Brien and family in Scottsdale, John and Bill for Christmas in Palm Springs, and Joanette’s cousins who winter just 25 miles down the road in Brenda Arizona!

MP Trail Riders, Chief loves canyons and Burros

Joanette made a trip alone up to Washington to see her brother Dave. This was special to her, he is her oldest sibling, and she got to spend his final days with him, good visits, good stories, and great memories. It was with a heavy heart that she returned to Palm Springs just in time for Christmas.

Christmas 2021 was in Palm Springs with John and Bill, a few pics of the Christmas morning celebration:

Christmas time at the Palm Springs Air Museum (above).

We drove to San Diego during the holidays and spent a day touring the USS Midway, the aircraft carrier that John was on when it was forward deployed to Japan in October 1973 and Keith was on when it was brought back “home” to San Diego in August 1991.

January 2022 Keith and I travelled back to Whidbey Island to say our final goodbyes to brother David, spend time with his four boys, David Lynn, Jesse, Don and Rob. We gathered for a simple, beautiful service at Sunnyside Cemetery in Coupeville, then gathered again at Dave’s favorite hang out!

Jaime and James traveled to Wenden over Spring Break, what a treat for us, and the warmer weather didn’t seem to bother them either!

April 2022, we travelled to Palm Springs to house/Mouse sit! We had fun entertaining Mouse, keeping Mouse and Chief apart, and BIKE RIDING! We rode all over Palm Springs, Rancho Mirage and Cathedral City! A few pics, Carey Grant’s estate, Frank Sinatra’s estate, lots of colorful images and of course, US!

We spent an evening with Cousins (Joanette’s Wells Cousins) having supper and good conversation.

Wells Cousins – Joanette, Kathy, Cheryl, Jan and friend Karol These gals are all from the Clearwater Valley / Lewiston area!

May 18 we began the journey home, to see family and friends, to see Montana!

Another blog, the trip north to follow soon!

Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas

First stop (after Brown Sheep Yarn of course) McConnell Air Force Base. We checked into the FamCamp on base to spend a few days in the Wichita Kansas area. After having been involved with the B-47 event we wanted to meet Myrna Fair. Myrna lost her husband, Captain Bill Faulconer in the 1962 plane crash. She had been unable to make the trips to Montana, so Montana came to her! She and husband, Bud met us for dinner at Longhorn Steak House. And what a fun time we had!

We said good bye to our new friends, Myrna and Bud, and spent the next morning at the Kansas Aviation Museum in Wichita. We took pictures of a B-47 at the museum and another of a B-47 positioned behind a KC-135 simulating the in-flight refueling position.

From Wichita we travelled to the eastern side of Kansas, beyond Coffeyville to near Bartlett, home of Jeanne and Hershel Eck (Keith’s Cousin Jeanne) and their wonderful family! We tried not to be ‘underfoot’ so we stayed at a county campground about 20 minutes away (Idle Hour Campground near Altamont, Kansas), but we did spend two evenings with the clan, some music, memories and lots of good food! Joanette and the youngest son, Dakota, played ‘football’ at the table, with the iconic triangular folded paper football! Those two had fun while listening to the family play and sing!

On to Tulsa, where we are familiar with the Army COE campgrounds on Keystone Lake. Our trusted Brush Creek campground was closed so we stayed at Washington Irving South. From here we drove to Edmond, OK (north of OKC) to visit Aunt Maxine, her daughter Sarah and Granddaughter Ashley and Great grandsons, Levi and Rowan. It was a great visit, an afternoon we will cherish. Before leaving central Oklahoma we headed to Summit View Cemetery in Guthrie where generations of Keith’s maternal relatives are buried.

Sarah, Ashley and Aunt Maxine
Chief Posing Next to Keith’s Mom Doris’ Headstone in Guthrie, Oklahoma

We were able to have dinner with Keith’s step-siblings, the children of his step-mom Janet Gaddis Joiner, Danny, Ericka and Avery, Robyn, Amy and Aaron and Laura and Samantha. There were a couple of teenagers missing, Sydney and Aiden (Friday Night/High School Homecoming weekend) and Robbie and Jacob (Football — Bixby Spartans)! No pictures to be had – we have got to improve on that skill!

We only had two nights at Washington Irving South but needed to spend another day in the area, so we moved to Lake Sahoma a City of Sapulpa campground on a cute little reservoir. From here we travelled to Beggs Oklahoma for an Invitational Marching Band competition. Joanette’s first ever, and Keith’s second! Needless to say, the band we were there supporting came in 1st in the competition! Keith’s junior high friend Harley Thomas had a big part in making the band program at Broken Bow High School the success that it is today, and that tradition has been carried on by his son, Harley Jr, the current band instructor and his wife Kim. They were very impressive! Our pictures, with no sound, do not do justice to the event, the band, or their talent.

Broken Bow Marching Band Champions!

On to Prattsville, Arkansas to spend not nearly enough time with Keith’s cousin Charissa and her family. Charissa is Aunt Maxine’s oldest daughter, she is married to Mark Bennings and has daughter Shannon, son-in-law, Timmy and grandson Cannon Culp. Charissa’s family was getting back from a few days down on the gulf coast when we arrived, so we didn’t stay nearly as long as we should have, or wish we could have!

Keith and Charissa in her beautiful Kitchen!

Our parting comment was that we would be back next time for three weeks! What a beautiful area, just a little southwest of Little Rock, very rural, green, yet close to some great exploring. We had a blast watching Mark and Timmy load up Timmy’s race cars in the car hauler.

Bennings Heating and Air Conditioning, owned by Mark and Charissa, is the main sponsor of Timmy Culp’s #8 race car. Timmy was the 2019 Comp Cams Super Dirt Series Champion! Even little Cannon Culp has a race car!

From Prattsville, Arkansas we head to Louisiana. #1 reason, to see Keith’s dad’s headstone, which we didn’t get to see in place last year due to a hurricane. This year’s hurricane, Ida, happened, caused flooding and property loss, which was still evident, but everything had dried up before we arrived. The headstone is beautiful! We are thankful that there was no damage to Keith’s dad and grandparents headstones. A large oak tree was blown over by Ida and surely there were many stones damaged or destroyed.

We were able to have a short visit with cousins Arlette Elston and Wesley Williamson. It was definitely nice to see them. The day before we went to Loranger, we had checked in at Chicot State Park on Chicot Bayou, just a bit south west of Alexandria. We got up early, traveled to Loranger, and when we got back friends Harley and Kerry had checked into a cabin they rented for two days there at Chicot State Park. So, cool, these cabins, are built out over the lake, on stilts, each has a screened in porch, and are definitely large enough to live in! From the deck we watched a little alligator, who apparently knows where to come for a free meal!

The Joiners sign, a gift from Harley and Kerry, the little alligator lurking in the water and the four of us (taken at Avery Island)

After an evening of hot dogs, with chili, sauerkraut, onions and chips, we got a good nights rest and in the morning headed to Avery Island, in Southern Louisiana, the home of Tabasco factory owned for an awful lot of years by the McIlhenney Family! This is a tour extraordinairre! Chief spent some time with the ladies from the gift shop, they had a kennel for him, in the back, air conditioned and he was well taken care of! We went on the self guided tour, reading about the history of the island, and the natural salt mine that is instrumental in the curing process of the peppers.

On to the Jungle Gardens on Avery Island. What a beautiful place. You drive through, but there are lots of places to stop, walk and take pictures. We quickly figured out we were not alone, and caution was the word of the day!

There’s always that one guy!
Louisiana is Enchanting

We were going to head to the Houston area and visit Keith’s cousin Lorene, but sadly, Lorene’s in laws were stricken by covid and tragically the both passed the same day. We instead, went to Corsicana Texas and spend two days with old Navy friends, Jim and Karen Pelzel. We had a great spot on Lake Halbert and went to the Russell Stover Candy Factory and to the Corsicana Air Show!

Down to Waco to see Uncle Leland and Aunt Barbara and another great few days at Airport Park Army Corps of Engineers Campground on Waco Lake. We enjoyed Barbara and Leland’s company as always and Keith and Leland did some strumming and singing! Keith and I had a nice five mile bike ride along the Brazos River, sadly the Bridge across the Brazos (Famous for the Cattledrives of the Chisholm Trail) was closed for repairs!

DOG DAYS OF SUMMER 2021

One last trip while in the Northwest (Inland Northwest), we met John and Bill at Spokane Airport and spent a weekend with them in Moscow, Idaho, Pullman and Palouse, Washington.

Back to Hot Springs to say good bye . Good bye is always so hard and saying good bye to Jim and Paula; Randy, Justin and the kids and the Hot Springs Community was no exception. We’d had a long, lovely, fun summer with them. But we did it, we headed out on September 11 and our first stop was Philipsburg Bay Campground (again) on Georgetown Lake, Granite County, Montana. We moved campsites twice while at Philipsburg Bay and then a third time, we headed closer to Jaime’s house up in Piney Campground. There we had more sun (less trees and the evenings were getting into the 30s). We spent a few days with Jaime, Bob and James. We did some porch sitting and Bob and Keith did some guitar strumming! So good to see James having a good time with his dirt bike and see his sense of humor blossom! We had a nice dinner with Tyler in Anaconda. Wow, hard to believe he just turned 18! He is doing well with his studies and preparing for his future!

While in the Philipsburg area, we did a little road trip out to Moose Lake, what a beautiful crystal clear lake, lots of old buildings and a fairly good selfie!

Heading east – – Back to Emigrant! We can just never resist seeing Bryan and Sally in Old Chico. Emigrant Gulch calls our names! We took a little excursion into Yellowstone, over to Cooke City for lunch and back. We saw tons of bison, but no bears or moose, elk at Mammoth Hot Springs!

Emigrant Peak

A different drive, we explored the Mill Creek basin still in the Paradise Valley. Wow! Some stunning scenery and a wonderful walk!

It was like our fourth trip up to Tom Miner Basin, but we couldn’t resist the possibility of seeing more grizzlies! Yup, they were there, out foraging in the pastures for the wild caraway root! Alas, they were too far away for a decent photo!

We did a good grandparent deed, and from Emigrant we drove back to Missoula and picked up this little gem:

Bailey’s Pretty Blue Car

After a long day on the road, we made it back to Old Chico with the granddaughter’s new car, that she bought all by herself! One more night then we said good bye to Bryan and Sally, Hobbs, Pepper and Trump, their dogs. See you next summer!

Onward to Columbus, Montana! Joanette driving the little blue gem, Keith driving Coach and pulling Toad! Columbus has a beautiful campground, Itch-Kep-Pe, right on the Yellowstone River offered free of charge by the town and the local Kiwanis Chapter.

We didn’t spend a lot of time at Itch-Kep-Pe, as we had a granddaughter to deliver a car to in Roscoe, Montana. Just where is Roscoe? One might ask. Don’t blink or you will miss the sign where you are supposed to turn, and if you do make the turn you might miss the Grizzly Bar, which is the only business in town, o.k., that’s a lie, there is a pottery shop. But it’s a beautiful town about 1/2 hour north of Red Lodge, and south of Absarokee. The road out of Roscoe takes you by Bailey’s little log cabin, several large ranches and ultimately into the Beartooths ending at Rosebud Lake. Some stunning, rugged beauty right there!

East Rosebud Lake (Isn’t that spectacular?)

While in the area (south central Montana), we went to Fishtail then on to Nye, near where the Sweetwater Mine is. All we saw was beauty and seclusion!

Red Lodge! We spent a bit of time in Red Lodge. Both Bailey and Keegan work in town and we were able to do some walking in town, eating in the Great Room at Bailey’s work and Keith and Keegan played some music. That was FUN! Also, very cool, Keegan took us to the job site where he and a crew are doing a major remodel of a 100+ year old mansion. The extent of this project and the attention to detail where amazing. We are saddened that we took no pictures!

From Red Lodge and Columbus, we head to Billings for some supplies, fuel and a bath for Coach. While waiting for the bath for Coach we took a little walk and discovered the cutest coffee shop, especially for people who like to paint, on canvas, or on ceramics! You can paint while you enjoy coffee, you can take lessons, it was wonderful!

Leaving Montana near the end of September, spending one night at the County Fairgrounds in Sheridan, Wyoming and then one night in Scotts Bluff, Nebraska

One last stop before September comes to an end. Near Scotts Bluff is Mitchell, Nebraska home to the Brown Sheep Yarn Company. Had we asked perhaps we would have gotten a tour of the entire woolen mill, but instead the owner and Joanette talked knitting and yarn! Another of Joanette’s favorites, painting and knitting!

HAZY, LAZY DAYS OF SUMMER

We begin the month of August with lots of summer activities! A day at Flathead Lake with great friend Lara Aldridge, her parents, Jim and Cheri, and her children, Lauryn, Ben and Kylie. This was a reunion of sorts with the three gals from the clinic, Nurse Paula and receptionists, Joanette and Lara! We had a great lunch of sandwiches, chips and drinks and good conversation, catching up a year’s worth of news! Then Captain Kyle Lawson piloted us gals around Flathead Lake! The day was way too short, but the at the end we were joined by our Granddaughter Bailey and her boyfriend, Keegan! The day came to an end but Bailey and Keegan spent another whole day with us. The had fun playing on the trampoline with Paula’s Grands, Audrey and Kason. Not your first pick in summertime activities, but Coach got two new tires. See the picture of Coach jacked up and ready for the Les Schwab guy to put ’em on!

FLATHEAD LAKE and BAILEY AND KEEGAN, NEW FRONT TIRES

On to riding the Hiawatha! Not the train, but the biking trail that follows the former route of the Hiawatha. It was quite a little drive, about an hour and half, but that too was fun, we were traveling with Jim and Paula Stobie, what’s not to be fun. The four of us can laugh it up! We exited the interstate at the Taft exit near Lookout Pass. Wound our way through the mountains to the trailhead of the Hiawatha! Donning our helmets and jackets we headed out. Stunning! What amazing views on a wonderfully maintained trail and…… No, smoke! The State of Montana had quite a summer filled with smoke from nearby fires in California, Oregon, Washington and Idaho. But today, for us, there was no smoke, just blue, clear skies, and train trestles.

We picked up grandson James to spend some time with us before we headed to Whidbey Island, and we spent a wonderful couple of hours at the Miracle of America Museum in Polson, Montana. A must see if you are in the area. It can keep you entertained for hours! Just a few of our pictures:

Another Miracle of America Museum photo:

James finally took a photo of US and our new motorhome!!! (Joking)

Last summer we spent a great couple of weeks with three of our grandsons and we were excited about carrying on that new tradition! Grandson James confirmed at our annual Lake Mary Ronan weekend that he was looking forward to going with us again, this time all the way to Whidbey Island to spend quality time with Gracen and Lincoln, and to celebrate Joanette’s brother David’s 78th Birthday! We began the journey from Hot Springs in our new (Used) Chevy Trailblazer, a much more comfortable ride than in Toad! Just as we crested the Cascade Mountains at about Snoqualmie Pass we received the news… COVID! Gracen and Lincoln’s parents had been stricken!

So, with that being the case, the three disappointed travellers, delivered a birthday package for Tina and two Dixon Melons for the Joiner Family! We visited through the window of the car and did not remember to take any pictures! It was sad, James wasn’t going to get to play with his cousins, he had to hang with us two old fuddy duddies!

We had a great time visiting with Joanette’s brother David, his two sons, David Lynn and Jesse and Jesse’s beautiful wife and two beautiful daughters! A small birthday celebration with David Lynn’s fantastic band, Recollections, food (lots) cake and ice cream! Following here are the culminating photos of what we believe were James’ best memory of the trip — Fort Casey State Park and Admiralty Head Lighthouse! On another note, Fort Casey is where Joanette’s Dad was stationed in WWII and near Coupeville, where he met her mom, Bonnie Alexander!

Pictures of our Montana kid enjoying the beaches and water of Whidbey Island!

Last but not least of the pictures of our trip to Whidbey Island, a picture of Joanette’s childhood home, the rafts of Penn Cove Mussels, and James in the Flintstone mobile in Oak Harbor that Joanette’s dad built back in the late 60’s and an EA6-B at NAS Whidbey Island!

Trip number three to the Bison Range in 2021 was with Kristin and Steve who came up from Hamilton to soak, visit, eat and tour with us. After living in Montana for the better part of two decades we finally got Kristin to the Bison Range! An afternoon and evening enjoyed by us all!

We were supposed to do another bike ride this summer with John and Bill, but covid reared its ugly head and sidelined John for the summer. So, Keith and I took it upon ourselves to ‘do the Olympian’ ourselves. We drove both vehicles to St. Regis, parked the Trailblazer, drove the bikes to the Hiawatha trailhead, and rode ourselves 33 miles back to St. Regis. This was not as enjoyable as we had hoped, the road surface was not nicely maintained and bike ready as the Hiawatha. We finished it! (Had to, both vehicles were at either end of the 33 miles!). It was a beautiful day, the scenery was great, and we stopped in Haugen for a chocolate malt!

The month of August ended with the Sanders County Fair. We met Paula, Randi, Audrey and Kason at the fair the evening we finished with the 33 miles bike ride. We were famished, enjoyed a Hope for Harlee Foundation burger, saw all the animals and headed home to bed.

On Saturday we went back to the fair to watch the steer showing and meet up with lots of kids from Hot Springs, their parents and grandparents. Good times!

Well, it was hard, and we were shooting for the end of August, we drug our feet, but finally departed Hot Springs in early September, knowing that we wouldn’t return until spring!

Next installment, the Dog Days of Summer, and perhaps we’ll get caught up!

Mid-Summers Dream (Part Two)

July 23, 2021 Emigrant Montana B-47 Ridge

B-47 Memorial Plaque at Chico Cemetery with Emigrant Peak in Background

Mr. Bryan Wells of Emigrant Montana, Joanette’s Cousin, invited Keith to help him five years ago in locating the family members of the aircrew of Fido – 15 that perished on the side of Emigrant Peak on July 23, 1962. Keith did his part and located each of the families and on July 23, 2016 a memorial was established in the Chico Cemetery in the Paradise Valley. A gazebo was built housing a 3′ x 4′ memorial plague facing Emigrant Peak. Old Glory flies above the memorial 24 hours a days, 365 days a year.

Senator Steve Daines speaking from the gazebo at Chico Cemetery with Emigrant Peak in the background

At the time of the original memorial dedication twenty three members of the aircrews’ families attended and it was discussed among them and with Bryan and Senator Steve Daines about putting a plaque at the crash site. All were told that it would take an act of congress to do something like that on public land. Well, thanks to Senator Steve Daines, then Representative Greg Gianforte and Senator Jon Tester, the bipartison bill designating that area of Emigrant Peak as B-47 Ridge was signed into law on October 13, 2020 by President Donald J. Trump.

On July 24, 2021 thirty five members of the aircrews’ families again traveled from all over the country to the small town of Emigrant Montana, and the even smaller town of Old Chico to celebrate the naming of B-47 Ridge. A hike was planned to the crash site for those who felt up to hiking 3.5 miles with an elevation gain of 3,000ft. Keith was originally planning on making the hike but begged out at the last minute due to an ongoing foot problem. Thirty six hardy individuals started out for the crash site at 6:00am. A total of thirty four of the hikers made it all the way to the crash site, many saying it was the hardest thing they had ever done.

Cousin Bryan was greatly relieved by Keith’s not making the hike as he would be able to coordinate all of the efforts at the cemetery. The main thing that needed coordination was the helicopter! Rocky Mountain Rotors donated their time, state of the art equipment, fuel and their amazing pilot, Mark Taylor. The first two trips to the crash site were to haul up 12 60lb. bags of concrete and 15 gallons of water for making the pad for the marker to rest on. As it turned out all of those who cared to were able to board the helo for an amazing flyover of Emigrant Peak, the crash site and debris field. Keith and Joanette were among the last to make the flight. What a beautiful yet somber experience.

With the hikers back down from the mountain at 2:00pm, a little ahead of schedule, we all gathered again at the Chico Cemetery for a ceremony honoring Capt. Faulconer, 1st LT Sawyers, 1st LT Sutton and 1st LT Hixenbaugh and the official naming of B-47 Ridge. As in the 2016 memorial dedication, Keith was once again the Master of Ceremonies and, after the invocation and National Anthem, had the privilege of introducing our guest speakers. The list of speakers included U.S. Senator Steve Daines, U.S. Congressman Matt Rosendale, Montana Governor Greg Gianforte and former Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke.

There were many who donated their time and resources to make this event happen, not the least of which were Franzen-Davis Funeral Home of Livingston Montana, Chico Hot Springs, Park County Sheriff’s Office, Paradise Valley Fire and EMS, again Rocky Mountain Rotors and last but certainly not lease, Bryan and Sally Wells of Emigrant/Pray (Old Chico) Montana.

Footnote and Additional Thanks —

About two weeks after the dedication of B-47 Ridge, for the second time this summer, 67 year old Bryan, his son Josh and his 72 year old friend Kirk Baltrusch, made the hike to the crash site. This time Bryan’s two pack goats, Nip and Tuck hauled up additional items needed for mixing the concrete in preparation for the final resting place for the monument. I’m thinking that Bryan and Josh will be making another hike up that mountain to place the monument with the help once again of Rocky Mountain Rotors. Amazing.

Bryan and Josh Wells preparing the pad for the placement of the monument

Mid-Summer Dreams (Part One)

Joiners Journey -Summer 2021 we are breaking up into four blogs. The first was our previous blog “Good Ol’ Summertime”. We are notariously bad at timely blogs, or we are just so busy, no, probably just notariously bad! This is Mid-Summer Dreams (Part One) to be followed by Part Two (B-47 Ridge) and then closing with “The Dog Days of Summer” (August through our departure). This is the plan (plans are made to be deviated from!!!).

It seems like June is turning into being our ‘doctoring’ days we put off until we got back ‘home’. Now, with clean bills of health we could move forward!

June 2021 — Camp Tuffitt! Our annual trip to spend a weekend at Camp Tuffitt was a blast! We had beautiful weather (sometimes it is HOT, sometimes it is WET! This year it was perfect!) We walked, talked, ate and played music. It was all it was supposed to be. Thank you Jim, Paula, Randi, and Justin for including us once again. Thank you Jaime & James and Kristin & Steve for coming up and spending time with us. Another event we can look forward to next year!

Early July 2021 — The Brisket – 3 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. — an all day event and worth the wait!!

July 2021 Wendy’s Open Heart Surgery — Joanette’s little sister, Wendy, inherited the bad aorta valve from our dad, she was in great shape to begin with knowing that an aortic valve replacement would probably happen in her lifetime, she was an eager patient, but to help the healing process, she asked her big sister to come and spend some time with her during her early recovery days. It was a great week, she was very little trouble, other than making her understand she couldn’t be too independent yet. I cooked good food under her direction, they had great air conditioning (It gets really hot in Brewster, Washington) and because of the annual summer forest fires it was super smoky. We watched some crime dramas, watched the fishermen in the river, tried our hand at painting a picture of Wendy’s garden and garden shed. Slowly we are able to laugh without causing her too much pain.

We had an exciting committment coming up in Emigrant Montana so as Joanette headed west to be with her sister, Keith headed east! First to spend a few days with the Scott and Ericka Grieco Family near Deer Lodge then on to Emigrant.

July 2021 – Grieco Family — From the sounds of it, Keith had an excellent time with Scott, Ericka, Caleb and Maddy. There is always a lot of laughter and adventure with that clan! They did a side by side ride or two, almost to Butte and played games. Joanette was a tad envious so we will be stopping there again so we can all have a good time!

July 23 and 24, 2021 — Emigrant Montana — B-47 Ridge — the next episode of Joiners Journey, Mid-Summer Dream (Part Two)

Good Ol’ Summertime! (April and May 2021)

It’s been a terrific summer so far and today is only the last day of spring! We’ve been back in Montana since early May, and it is a happy place! We swung into Anaconda, Montana and spent a couple of days in early May in the snow and rain, but boy is Washoe Park a pretty place.

You just gotta love small towns with a place to park your RV while you spend some time enjoying the community. We were able to spend some time with James and Jaime. Good food, games, a sleep over and a walk or two in the rain, and on to Hot Springs. It’s just like getting back home! We’re enjoying spending great time with Jim and Paula, and of course, with Audrey and Kason and their Mom and Dad, Randi and Justin. We so appreciate that they have a spot for us and seem to enjoy our company too. We also have a million dollar view!

Our Million Dollar View in Wildlife Wonderland!

Best of all about being back in the Northwest, we took a trip to Whidbey Island to see Joanette’s brother Dave and his clan, son’s David Lynn and Jesse as well as Jesse’s wife Alison and their girls . We were able to stay with Dave for a few days while enjoying a span of terrific weather and quality time with Jason, Tina, Gracen, Lincoln and Jackson, our Whidbey Island Family.

On a hike we discovered some lesser known remains of Fort Casey, the Army Fortification erected in 1897, whose disappearing guns were installed in 1901. Joanette’s Dad was stationed at Fort Casey during WWII. A great photo op!

We had one day all to ourselves with Grandson Lincoln. We took him to Mt. Erie, a local landmark. The pictures of those views are so amazing. The pictures of photogenic Lincoln are precious!

The views from Mt. Erie, Fidalgo Island

We treated him to lunch at McDonald’s in Anacortes which, of course, was a hit! We took him to Flintstone Park in Oak Harbor and told him the story of Joanette’s Dad making the Flintstone Mobile, back in the day. Dad worked at Everett Bros. Construction (cement construction) which provided our family of 7 a good life, from the time he got out of the Army in 1945 until he passed away in March of 1976, my senior year in high school and just before his 58th birthday. Happy Father’s Day Dad.

One last photo of our day with Lincoln – an ice cream from what used to be The Wet Whiskers and a walk on the Coupeville Wharf!

While on Whidbey Keith and I took a trip to the local Meerkerk Gardens, a springtime attraction that neither one of us had ever taken the time to see. The rhododendrons were in full bloom and we had a great time, a nice walk and dogs were welcome!

We enjoyed a drive by our old home on 9th Street in Coupeville. It never ceases to amaze us the size of the two trees we planted back in 1996! A Giant Sequoia (that turned out to be two trees) and a Deodar Cedar!

These two trees are just 25 years old. We planted them back in 1996!

Mother’s Day 2021 was spent with Jason, Tina and the boys, a visit to Sunnyside Cemetery to see Mom, Dad, Grandma, Sister, Aunts and Uncles and our latest, Joanette’s Cousin Bonnie . We were born three weeks apart, walked at Coupeville High School 1976 Graduation together and sadly Bonnie spent most of the 9 the last Covid months in the hospital, alone, battling her latest round of cancer. After some quiet moments there, we headed to the bluff overlooking Ebey’s Landing, a nice walk on a beautiful day with stunning views.

Time to return home, saw this beautiful black bear on the banks of the Skagit River between Marblemount and Newhalem. We’ve never seen a bear on that side of the Cascades and this was in the general vicinity where the child Joanette would go camping with her family and sleep on the ground outside in sleeping bags! Yikes!

Skagit River Black Bear

Good to be back home again, our next summer adventure in the blog following this one! In a more timely manner!

Time to Head North!

Well, what a winter, our second as retirees, snow birds, full timers, vagabonds, bums, whatever you want to call it. We had hoped we could take advantage of the Traveling Vet program with the VA Medical system and maybe get Keith’s knee replaced and that cataract that fired up last winter removed. Well, the VA Traveling Vet program worked and he had his knee replaced in January. He was not a happy camper the first two weeks, but soon found he was on the road to recovery, finished his physical therapy, met all the requirements to earn the tee shirt and get discharged! We loved Champion Physical Therapy in Wickenberg! Then the Traveling Vets called and it was a green light on the cataract removal. That also was successful and he is so happy with his ability to see again.

We thought we would begin the trek north after that was done, however, those Traveling Vets surprised us again, and we got the go-ahead to remove cataract number two on April 15!! So there we were, we had lots of alternate plans and were ready to move on, but instead moved to Luke Air Force Base on April 13, daughter Jaime’s birthday! We would be closer to the eye surgery hospital and eye doctor office. That would make two much shorter trips into Phoenix. We thought we would be able to head north on Sunday the 18th, but alas, like good law abiding citizens we had checked our firearms at the Armory and had a heck of a time getting them released back to us! But that only delayed us by two days, they found the answers they must have needed on our “checkered pasts” (!) and we headed north on Tuesday!

We were both really looking forward to the trip north, and to seeing friends in Montana, Eastern Washington and Family in Western Washington. Lots of summer plans and as it starts to really heat up down here, we are looking forward to cooler weather again. But, we’ve already made plans to be here again next winter, moving to Site 20 instead of Site 2. More enclosed with shrubbery and oriented in a better direction.

We have had a great time here in Arizona, spent time with brother’s John and Bill, both here at camp, and there at their oasis in Palm Springs. Granddaughter Bailey and her boyfriend Keegan joined us at Christmas. That is memory we will always treasure. The final treasured memory of this winter in Arizona was when son Jason and grandson Gracen came down and spent a weekend with us. We went on a 51 mile RZR ride on Saturday. Then on Sunday we drove up to Williams and spent the night and then on to the Grand Canyon on Monday. They returned to Whidbey Island on Tuesday, both smiling, I think they enjoyed their time with us also!

Palm Springs — Living Desert Zoo and Gardens, The Oasis in full bloom, Berries at a Farmer’s Market and Joanette and John walked (alot)

Bailey and Keegan, Joanette’s new haircut, highway 60 litter pick up day, the aftermath, Keith’s bruises and incision.

Oh my word, one more moment to treasure! We got to spend the day with Joanette’s “new” nephew, Brien Kedish, his wife Taralee, and two of his three boys, Oliver and Fletcher. Denver was away, but we will connect with this wonderful family again and again. They live in Scottsdale, although they are both from the Olympic Peninsula, just a ferry ride from Whidbey Island, we only met for the first time back in 2006 and hadn’t seen each other for, sad to say, about 12 years. We now have a great reason to go back to Arizona and look forward to spending lots of time together, going over family photo albums and Keith’s passion, Ancestry.com!

So we head north, up the Highway of Hope, US 89 to Page Arizona where we gawked at the beauty of the Colorado River, Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Powell, hoping to one day spend some time on that sapphire blue lake. We spent one night at a lovely campground there, Walmart and then on to Ephraim Utah and another Walmart. Now, staying at a Walmart parking lot is not bad at all, surprisingly! Close to shopping, and in Ephraim we were right across the street from a beautiful cemetery which we took advantage of for a nice long evening stroll. Chief thought it was a like a dog park with a maze! He had a good time. We discovered there were lots of Scandanavian settlers in Ephraim Utah!

Then on to Pocatello, Idaho were we opted for a RV park behind the Shoshone-Bannock Casino. Like that so much we stayed two days! We did a nice walk along the Snake River and took advantage of having electricity and water, for heat and showers — we’ve noticed the temperature dropping as we head north. We also noticed the weather report for our next destination (Anaconda, Montana) had snow and 21 degree overnight temperature in the forecast which is why we stayed the second day! From Pocatello to Anaconda an easy, scenic drive and into Washoe Park along the banks of Warm Springs Creek, no electricity or water — we are boondocking — relying on our solar system! Jaime and James came for supper, games and then James spent the night with us. Lots of blankets, set the furnace on 65 and survived the night. We woke up to drizzle, rain and then snow. We had a great time with James and Jaime, dinner at our place, dinner at their place, but alas, we took no pictures as proof of the visit. We’ll stay one more night then it’s on to Hamilton to see daughter Kristin, and Steve, before making our way to Hot Springs!

The view of the Bitterroots from “up Skalkaho Road”! Stunning!

We made it “north”.