Fall has always been one of my favorite times of year. (I say that about every season!) The crisp cool air and the vibrant yellows, oranges and reds of the season are so beautiful. The days are beginning to get colder now and the leaves are almost gone. This picture is to remind you of the glory of fall in full bloom.
A we were driving through Custer State Park, there were several donkeys standing around in the road and many people out taking pictures.
This little cutie brought a smile to my face! He or she, just seemed too tired to carry on or to even care that people were out taking pictures.
This guy was a bit shy, don’t you think?
No words for this fellow, except he seemed mellow.
Find joy in the simple things! (even my goofy rhymes!)
Today, I am reminded of the journey home from Portland, Oregon where my sister passed away back to Stillwater, Oklahoma where I lived until two years ago. When I went to Portland to help care for my sister as she was dying, my husband and I decided he would come get me and we would drive home taking our time and visit places we have never been. It was also very helpful to me in the grieving process. My sister loved to travel and go places she had never been before and it seemed to help me to do the same. The difference is that my sister loved to travel around the world and I have not had the opportunity to do that. My travels have been limited to the United States, the Bahamas, and Mexico. It really doesn’t matter . . . . traveling anywhere, soaking in the culture of the places you visit, and seeing new things is basically the desire of those filled with wanderlust. We took many detours along the way home. Two places we stopped were the Crazy Horse Memorial and Mount Rushmore. Both places were incredibly amazing. Here a few of pictures from those places.
I like this photo because it shows what the Crazy Horse Memorial will look like when it is completely finished. It is not expected to be finished during my life time because it is a work in progress. Work stops periodically when they run out of funds.
July 8 &9, 2011
Yellowstone! Today we left Bozeman and headed to Yellowstone National Park. I didn’t think there could be more OH MY GOSH DAY’s but OH MY GOSH! Daily I am amazed at the splendor and beauty of the world that God has given us to enjoy. Today the “oh my goshes” were in relation to the beauty of the view and not the scariness of the roads! (refer to the 7/07/11 post)
One of my favorite things about Yellowstone was the random animal sightings. When we first entered the stone gates and drove to the lodge there were elk everywhere, in the parking lots, on the roads, lying on the grass, everywhere! They were so cocky! As we drove along through the parking lot they would stare at us and then walk right in front of the car looking as if they were saying “ha! Can’t touch me!”
They are interesting looking creatures.
The other animal which totally amazed me were the bison. Being from Oklahoma, I have seen many of these creatures in my life time. I have never been close enough to one that I could reach out and touch it if I so desired. (Well, once . . . when my sister was in college. The school mascot was a bison and on the campus there was a bison in a cage. I was young, in first grade, and since it was behind a fence, decided I could pet it. I did. It just stood there. I do not recommend doing this to a bison in the wild that is not caged!) We pulled up to a four way stop and I did a double take. What I thought was a big rock was a bison chillin’ by the stop sign watching the cars go by. Bison are incredible animals. They are huge and in some ways rather ugly, but, they have such kind faces and eyes. Although they look fairly gentle, they are wild animals therefore it is important to keep your distance.
She followed us all over the park. As strange as it may seem the crow has become my symbol of peace.
There are the beautiful snowcapped mountains,
the roaring rivers,
the hot springs and of course,
Old Faithful. We sat on the boardwalk for at least thirty minutes before Old Faithful blew making snide comments about how the wait better be worth it. IT WAS! What an amazing sight! Who would have thought watching steaming hot water blow up into the air would be so breathtakingly beautiful? More than anything, knowing how consistently it blows is amazing. Nature is so incredible!
The last day as we were driving out of the park, we enjoyed the beauty of a huge lake with mountains in the distance. The wind was so strong it made very large waves which blew over the roadway. The two days spent at Yellowstone were such wonderful “OH MY GOSH!” days. This was our first visit to Yellowstone but hopefully it will not be our last. On another note, if you are ever in the area I highly recommend checking out Big Sky Lodge. It is about an hour away from the park and is a very nice, reasonably priced place to stay. We saw this moose as we were driving to the Big Sky Lodge.
Here are some pictures of our “OH MY GOSH! OH MY GOSH! OH MY GOSH!” drive. Unfortunately, there are not pictures looking down the side of the mountain because I was too busy saying “OH MY GOSH!” and “don’t go off the edge of the road, it is straight down! If you go off the edge we will die and no one will even know we are up here!” For most of the pictures just scroll over the top and you will see a caption. Enjoy.
I hope you have enjoyed looking at the pictures of our Ghost Town Adventure. I will try really hard NOT to post too many pictures of our journey.
7/07/11 – I’ll add pictures tomorrow evening! Please check back.
Today will forever be known as the “OH MY GOSH, OH MY GOSH, OH MY GOSH!” day. To say it correctly you must say “OH MY GOSH” three times in a row as quickly and loudly as possible. This must be done approximately every thirty to forty-five seconds. Today shortly after we left Missoula I noticed a sign that said “Ghost Town.” I convinced Dave that we should turn around and go check it out. I must point out again; we enjoy taking the road less traveled. We found the exit although, I must add that the sign was VERY small and difficult to see, and then headed toward the ghost town. The sign indicated it was ten miles which didn’t seem like such a big detour. We headed down the paved, two-lane road. As we continued the road became more of a paved, one and a half- lane road that started heading up the mountain. Before long, it became a dirt road and it kept spiraling upward. The view was spectacular . . . mountains, trees, blue skies. We came to a fork in the road and a sign that said “road closed” and stopped to evaluate which direction we should travel.
It really wasn’t a fork – there were three choices and I’ve always thought that a fork in the road meant there were only two directions to travel. One road had a sign which said “Ghost Town” but it was the closed road. Actually, it didn’t look like such a bad road and we wondered why it was closed. Of course, we couldn’t see very far because it curved not too far from where we stood. Another road also had a Ghost Town sign. This road looked OK but it didn’t look as good as the road that said closed and again, we wondered why the other road was closed. The last road had a little sign with a number on it that we assumed was a highway number. Of the three roads, it looked the best. We discussed our situation and decided that we had driven this far so why turn around now? Therefore, we decided to forge ahead. “OH MY GOSH! OH MY GOSH! OH MY GOSH!”
Looking out the window there were mountains and trees; mostly, the tops of trees. Then, we came around a curve and the road became a one lane dirt road which had grass growing up in the middle of it. There was no shoulder and occasionally, actually, frequently, the edge of the road was only four to six inches away from where the mountain dropped off. It was a steep drop off, not like a bar ditch, and I was looking at the TOPS of the trees. In some places it was almost straight down. “OH MY GOSH! OH MY GOSH! OH MY GOSH!” On the other side, the car was hugging the mountain, literally. There were a couple places where the driver’s side of the car was close enough to the mountain you could reach out and touch it. Occasionally, we would come to a place that was rather flattish and we didn’t feel we were going to fall off the edge. We would think we had finally made it to the top of the mountain, then the road would curve and suddenly we would be going back up. This continued for about forty-five minutes or so with “OH MY GOSH!” being said over and over. I have to admit it was a beautiful drive, albeit a bit scary. We wondered several times what would happen if we were to meet another vehicle. There was no place to pull over to let someone go past. We decided that one of us would have to drive backwards and I was hoping it would have to be the other car! Fortunately, we didn’t meet anyone as we were driving. It was very isolated and almost eerie. It made me wonder if we were being set up for disaster. Would someone be up ahead with a shot gun wanting our money, jewelry and credit cards? (A bit melodramatic but sometimes my thoughts go a bit crazy!) Then, I thought, hmm, we haven’t seen tire tracks of any sort so we’ll probably be safe. We continued spiraling upward, went around another curve, and suddenly there was a large paved parking lot with eight or ten cars in it! Where did all these people come from? There was no evidence that anyone had driven up the road we had been driving upon. As we parked we noticed another road, a paved one. Hmm, wonder where it went? I wasn’t too excited about going back down the side of the mountain on the road we just came up.
We parked and took the path down (literally) toward the Ghost Town. We walked through the ghost town and found a little building that housed a tiny little visitor’s center. We discovered the building used to be a saloon. We purchased some postcards and began talking to the people that worked there. She asked where we were from and where we were headed. When we told her we had driven there from Missoula and talked about the road we were on, she said “oh, that was the good road. The road that was closed was even worse although, it is a shorter drive. Much of it has washed out.” Then she gave us a very sympathetic look. I was thinking “OH MY GOSH! How could a road be worse than what we drove on?” She told us the paved road going the other direction from the parking lot was a much better road and it would lead us to a highway which would take us to Helena. Dave thanked her for the information and then we spent thirty or forty-five minutes walking through the other buildings.
The town was started around 1896 during the boom of gold mining. There is a quite a bit of very interesting history related to the gold rush years. In the early 1900’s many veins had disappeared and the population of Garnet diminished greatly. In 1934 there was another short-lived boom and when the war started in Europe in 1939 the population grew smaller yet again. By 1945 the post office closed and by 1947 no one was left. Much of the area is publicly owned and managed by the Bureau of Land management. Several of the buildings are privately owned but you are able to see all of the buildings from the publicly owned areas. Something that fascinated me was there were cabins which could be rented during the winter months. If you are outdoorsy, don’t mind being without electricity, running water, and cell service this would be the place for you. I prefer to have all those things so I will pass! Going back up the mountain to the car was not an easy task. It was hot and steep. Fortunately, there were benches along the way to stop and rest. When we left, we took the paved road. The lady was right . . . it was a better road and it didn’t take even half the time to get to the highway as the adventure we took to get there! I had to giggle as we were driving away thinking about the time Dave and I went to see my grandmother in Cassville, MO. We were driving through the National Forest which is just a few miles away from Cassville and saw a sign that said something or other “hollow” and decided to take the road less traveled. Let me just say, we ended up in Eureka Springs, Arkansas after driving through someone’s pasture! Oh the adventures! My sister and my dad for would be so proud!
So, we left Garnet Ghost town and headed to Helena, MT. to find the hospital where Dave was born. The drive to Helena was very uneventful! We found the hospital, took a picture and forged onward. We ended our day in Bozeman, MT. home of Montana State University. We ate dinner at “Famous Dave’s” simply because it is my husband’s name. The food was good.
Our day started out with “OH MY GOSH! OH MY GOSH! OH MY GOSH!” because of the scary road and the beautiful scenery. It will be a detour I shall never forget. Our day ended very uneventfully but I’m not sure I could have handled any more “OH MY GOSH” moments!
The road less traveled . . . you never know what you will find or what adventures await you . . . it is always worth the detour, even if it takes an hour to go only ten miles! My father and my sister would have both loved the adventure we had today. I end my day thinking of them, remembering times when we took the road less traveled. The tears begin to flow yet again. I miss them both.
After eating we were ready to forge ahead and continued driving. We stopped for the night in Missoula, Mt. home of the University of Montana. It is situated in a valley surrounded by mountains, quite beautiful.
Driving around in the area around our hotel we found The Historical Museum at Fort Missoula. The museum itself was closed for the day but we were able to look at some of the buildings on the grounds and read a little of the history. We spent a little time looking at headstones in the cemetery. Dave is interested in genealogy so often when we travel we end up in cemeteries looking at grave stones.
Although most of our day was spent driving, it was pleasant. Occasionally, my thoughts would drift to my sister and my eyes would get misty, but today, I did not feel as much sadness as I have in the past week.
Who would have thought leaving Portland would be so difficult? I certainly didn’t. Telling Kelly good-bye before he left for work, I started to cry. I thanked him for his hospitality, told him how thankful I was to have the opportunity to get to know him better as an adult, told him that I didn’t want to leave, said I would miss him terribly, and told him how proud I was of him for bringing his mother to live with he and Krista during her last few months of life. I told him that he and Krista would always be welcome in our home and we would come see them again when we could. As I hugged him I began sobbing, a deep from the inside, shaking sob. (As I am writing this, the tears are starting again!) It was so terribly hard for me. After he drove away, we finished getting ready and loaded the car. Before we left, we told Krista good-bye. The whole process started over again. I started crying again as I told Krista the same things I had said to Kelly. Krista was so good to my sister. It was quite obvious she loved her as much as Kelly and I. She welcomed her mother-in-law into her home and took care of her and she did it with love, gentleness and kindness. Again, as I hugged her I began sobbing, the deep from the inside shaking kind of sob. We got in the car and began our journey home.
As we left their house, the sobbing continued for at least thirty plus minutes as we drove down the highway. It felt as if I was leaving my sister. Kelly was and is my connection to her . . . to her life’s belongings, which really are not her nor are they important, but they are a connection . . . to her. I felt such a deep sadness and emptiness. Finally, I gained my composure and was able to begin to enjoy the beautiful scenery. Off and on during the day as we drove toward Selah to see Uncle Bobby, I would quietly cry. Dave was so wonderful . . . he would just reach over and hold my hand or squeeze my shoulder or leg. No words needed to be exchanged.
As we were driving along heading toward Selah, there was a scenic drive exit. Since we enjoy the scenic routes and roads less traveled, we chose to change our plans of staying on the interstate and head in the direction of the scenic route. We had no idea that it would add several extra hours to our drive! Maybe if we didn’t feel the need to stop and look at things along the way it would have been shorter but nature beckoned us with her beauty. The road took us into the higher elevations of the mountains; in fact, there were some roads that were still closed because of the snow. It was absolutely gorgeous, a feast for the eyes. There was snow, very deep snow; waterfalls; rushing rivers; and beautiful trees and flowers. The majesty and splendor of the mountains truly calmed my soul. This sign made me laugh out loud! Seriously! Who needs a sign to be able to see the mountain?
This is Mount St. Helens.
We arrived at Uncle Bobby’s in Selah about three hours later than we had planned because of our detour through the mountains. I had tried to call him but couldn’t get a cell phone signal in the higher elevations. He was a bit annoyed with me . . . he is such an “Andrews”! (Andrews is the last name on the matriarch side of my family. Many of them tend to be a bit, shall I say, easily annoyed and short tempered.) Once he shared his irritation with us being so late, I had to go through the whole story of Carol’s illness and death all over again. He and Aunt Candy hung on to every word. They were both visibly upset over her death. They both made comments about how good it was that I could be there with her and that I had done “such good thing”. One of the highlights of our visit was looking at Uncle Bobby’s scrapbook of his days as a country singer in Nashville. He had several pictures of himself with famous country singers of the 50’s and early 60’s. Who knew? It’s always fun to learn new things about family members. We visited with them for a few hours and then much to their chagrin, headed on down the road.
As we left Selah, I had feelings of sadness yet again. Once we were headed on down the road they subsided for a while. We took another little detour along the way and stopped at a memorial for wild stallions which was basically statues of stallions on top of a flat mountain. (Would that be a mesa?) This picture does not do it justice. It really was quite an incredible sight to see. It was something that we noticed in the distance and as we got closer the horses became bigger and bigger. There was not a way to get very close to it but we got as close as we could to take pictures.
This picture is from where we had just been . . . over the bridge and mountains. What a day. Everything was so beautiful.
As nightfall came, we were hoping to make it further on down the road because we were heading to Helena, MT where Dave was born. We only made it to Moses Lake, Washington because of our earlier delay. It is OK though, because the journey to get where we are going is more than half the fun!
Why does everyone keep telling me what a great thing I did by going to my sister? All I did was go there and be with her and take care of her when she needed it, something I would like to think anyone else would do in the same situation. Was it easy? NO, it was the most difficult thing I have ever experienced. Did I enjoy being away from my husband that long? NO, I missed him terribly. Did I miss my friends? Yes. Do I regret being there for her? NO. Would I do it again? In a heartbeat!!! There was a connection between my sister and me. We were totally different in so many ways, but very alike in so many as well. As strange as it sounds, when I wear her jewelry or clothes, I feel like I’m wearing her. I’ll always have that part of her – that and the crows. (Check out my earlier posts for the story of the crows.) For the rest of my life, when I see a crow, I will think of my sister! AND, I will miss her.