Saturday, October 25, 2014

The Art of Puppy Scooping

Odometer: 75,352.2

Good evening! We are back in Bozeman, or still in Bozeman depending on how you look at it, and we love it here! The weather is beautiful; the views are spectacular, with mountains on almost every side; and we love the feel of the place as well.

First of all, Bozeman is home of Montana State University, the state Agricultural school, so the college here has a similar feel to Davis. Second, with half the population of Davis, Bozeman has twice the square mileage. What does that translate too? Everything is spread out, with plenty of space, and there are mini-parks everywhere.

The people here are very nice, too, on average, and, as I said, the weather is awesome!

So, what has been happening recently? Well, we took a trip up into Hyalite Canyon, where we stayed for several days. The first night we made soup over our fire pit, and got back into the RV just as it began to snow.

It was a brisk night, but not unpleasant, and we woke to a light dusting of snow across the forest. It was pretty amazing. That first day, we wanted to hike up to the nearby Palisade Falls, so we packed our backpacks, as well as our lunch, and took off.

Now, you have to understand that we are 12-14 miles down a forest road, the last half of which is gravel, so when we arrive at the trail-head, and find it paved, imagine our surprise! The hike turned out to only be ¾ of a mile. We decided that that was not nearly enough, so we scouted around, and found a deer trail leading away from the falls, and around back to get above them.

The ascent was almost rock-climbing, though it was varied enough to make the puppies traversal quite easy.

At the top, we were greeted with fabulous views that our cameras refused to capture adequately.

We, then, decided to follow the river/creek which fed the falls up further into the mountains. We followed it for nearly a mile past many mini-waterfalls before deciding to head back.

By that point we had forded the river a couple of times, and found that the deer trail scaled many a muddy slope that people would do better to go around.

The trek back down the river/creek was uneventful, and once we reached the falls we turned to begin our reverse climb down the steep grade; herein lies the art of puppy scooping.

You see, with Naga well ahead and moving easily, I was in the lead of the three beings following. What that meant was that when Cal would get too ambitious and start running down the mountain, unable to stop, a look of panic on his face, I had to reach out, and scoop him from the mini-avalanche he was perpetuating.

This resulted in a series of scoops that went something like this:

Calcifer makes eye contact with me, his ears back, his eyes sorrowful, as if asking, “Must we do this again?”

I would smile and say, “It’s ok, buddy, I got you.” And he would lower his head, let out a little breath and dive down the mountain. Inevitably, he would choose a bad path, and his speed would increase past the point of his control, so I would reach out, palming his chest and directing him to the side.

Then, safely at my feet, he would look up at me, excited and glowing with happiness, before looking down the mountain and grinning, almost asking, “Again! Again!”

When the hike was at an end, and all scooping behind us, we returned to the RV with no injuries and enjoyed the rest of our time in the National forest without significant event.

After another day or so in said forest, we realized that we really like Bozeman, and if we are to truly see if this is the place for us, we must actually spend time in the city.

Back down the mountain!

Thus, we have spent the past couple of days in Bozeman proper, exploring, walking the streets, meeting random people, and in general getting a feel for the culture and environment here.

We love it! We have not found a single thing that turns us off of here, and there is so much to love. We haven’t fully decided yet, but we are ever so close to making a decision; please be praying that God leads us to the best choice! :-)

So, with that in mind, we have chosen a church to try out tomorrow, and are excitedly seeking out more and more info about this place. Who knows, our next post might name Bozeman home. ;-)

May your mountains be snow covered, and your roads clear and dry. Good night, and God bless.

Monday, October 20, 2014


Odometer: 75,264.5

        So, since the last post, we have had a whirlwind journey. We went north, back up the 15 and found that, on second pass through, the area was very lovely, but didn’t grab us in the same way. After spending some time there, we decided that it was not where we were to be, so we were off south, to Butte!

        Now, Butte is an old mining town, high up in the Rockies, and…not for us. Though it was pretty in its own way, we were not enticed to stay on. Thus, on to Bozeman!

        Bozeman, now that’s a city. Here we are, nestled between 3 mountain ranges (or so). Snow topped peaks tempt us in every direction; there are parks around every bend; trees are everywhere! At this very moment, we are parked in a Wal-Mart parking lot, directly next to a park. It is pretty amazing, actually.

        Bozeman is a college town, home to Montana State University, and full of modern amenities which we are accustomed to and spoiled by. We managed to fit in several errands before stopping for the night, including Costco, Lowe’s, and the Gallatin National Forest Office. We spoke for a while with a very nice forest ranger, who pointed out some great camping spots in a canyon by some trailheads leading to waterfalls. We are at around 5,000 feet elevation, and the cool, brisk evening air is so refreshing!

        So, what’s the plan? We are heading up into the Rockies to the south, and will likely be out of communication range for the next few days. (Don’t expect to hear from us before Friday, at the earliest.)

        Did anything interesting happen? Aside from beautiful mountains and sweeping vistas, not really.


        So, with no further ado, I bid you all a fond goodnight. May your plans coalesce into bright happy things before you!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Unusual Montanans and a Change in Plan

Odometer: 74,981.5

So, we aren't in Missoula anymore. We have, in fact, ventured forth, traveled through the Great Falls and trickled on down to Helena...Well, I guess trickled up to Helena, as we are up river, now.

We have passed through our absolutely favorite part of Montana (and the US) so far, in the stretch of interstate 15 in the middle 1/3 of the journey from Great Falls to Helena. The Missouri River was beautiful; the oaks, aspens, and other not-pines were gorgeous. The mountains were rocky (pun intended), jutting, and stupendous! Both Morgan and I felt like we could live among that landscape. Thus, starting tomorrow, we will be venturing back north to explore that region further. :-D

Now, the odd Montanans:
1. Whilst still in Missoula, we were parked at a Pilot Gas station for the night, and a gentlemen walked up to the bush/bark/grass bed beside our RV. He made eye contact and nodded to me, I assume, though what happened next makes me doubt this is the case.
     After said suspect eye contact, he turned, undid his fly and relieved himself on one of the bushes. I quietly put up the privacy screen, using it, for the first time, to keep private things out.

2. This very evening, but moments ago, whilst parked in a Wal-Mart parking lot, a bus labeled "Bozeman Health and Rehabilitation Center" pulled up next to us, but we think nothing of it. When the occupants begin to return from their run to Burger King, we realize that they look perfectly healthy and young. It was, in fact, a bus rented for a 21st birthday party, and, as such, we had the following conversation through the windows, accompanied by their hip-hop beats, making our RV a "mini," remote sub-woofer.

"Hey! Theirs a guy in there, and he's cool."
Other guy: "What?"
"There's a guy in there"-points to us-"and he waves!" He waves enthusiastically, and I wave back. "SEE!!!!!"
I smile and go back to what I was doing.
"Hey! WHERE ARE YOU FROM? SPELL IT OUT WITH YOUR HANDS - oh, he's opening the window."

We had a short conversation, during which I learned about the Birthday nature of their venture, and wished said celebrator a happy birthday. The one I was speaking to temporarily got his head stuck in the small bus window, but, thereafter, went back to party with his "crew."

A little while later, they kindly left us two beers on our front step, knocking to let us know of the gift, and my new friend loudly proclaimed his affection for me, as they drove off.

Now, you may think that this turned us off of parking lots: heck no! Both of these unusual experiences will provide laughter to my wife and I for years.

That is all I have, for now, but I couldn't pass the day without telling you how wrong I was about our time-frame in Missoula, and how much we are enjoying our stay to the east of that fair city.

May your random encounters be entertaining, and the scenery which backdrops your life be a showcase of wonder and excitement.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014


Well, hello!

We are, in fact, still in Missoula. We have met some very nice people, one of which told us that it would be a very strange thing for Thanksgiving to come around, and not have snow on the ground.

This is, in point of fact, a place of snow. February 2014, there was a day that got 3' (yes, feet) of snow in one night. :-D In 1996, there was a 48hr period in which it snowed 6'! That's crazy, but cool. ;)

Also, due to the shape of the valley in which Missoula rests, winter is apparently almost entirely sunless. (Another tidbit from friendly locals.)

So, what do we think, could this be our permanent home? Probably not, though 9-ski resorts in the area makes it more than tempting, for the winter activities as well as the holiday rental market. :-P

Is it on the short list? Well, technically, yes. It is the most appealing place we have visited so far (with regard to long term potential). Still, it doesn't feel quite right. We will be in this area another few days before heading on to Helena, then to Bozeman!

God is taking us on a rollercoaster, and I have definitely found myself alternately elated and stressed over the last couple of days. But He is good, all the time, and we are both excitedly looking forward to what He has next for us.

That is all for now. May your wanderings yield fruit and the strangers in your life be kind, interesting, and memorable.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Fear Not; We are Alive! :-D

Odometer: 74656.7

Hello! We have been having a whirlwind adventure over the past few days, and service has been sparse, so I have much to convey. (Hurray!)

First, I was able to add an accumulator to our water system, and it has increased its usefulness, while decreasing the water pump’s on-off cycles, tremendously.

In addition, we have found a car charger for the laptop, which avoids the 12V to 120V to 20V process, which was required before. Now, we simply get to go 12V to 20V. It charges our laptop ridiculously quickly, and with sooo little power, it’s amazing!

On our way to Glacier, we passed a beautiful, little lake, which I cannot remember the name of:

We spent time in Kalispell and Whitefish, and learned that, since Glacier is a huge tourist destination, things that are free in most places (fresh water, dump stations, etc.) are, for the most part, not free in that region.

We have had some great camp sites:

Camped near a pretty little lake:

We took the Going to the Sun Road (the first half, at least). Sadly, the road was closed from Logan Pass down to the east side of the park for road work. Nevertheless, we were greeted with amazing vistas (Photos by Morgan):

Tons of mini-waterfalls:

And kind strangers who took our picture:

After Glacier, we headed down to Missoula, taking most of the day on a scenic route beside the Rocky Mountains. That night, we accidently parked next to a golf course, and were asked by a very kind officer to move several more miles down the road. Early the next day, we were able to run a bunch of micro errands and still visit the Ranger Station to inquire about good dispersed sites. They informed us that Rock Creek was riddled with dispersed camping sites, as well as many “closed” campgrounds. Apparently, in this neck of the woods, when a campground is closed, but not gated, it is free to use! :-D

So, thus informed, we headed off to Rock Creek:

After much investigation, we found a great, nearly private site at which we cooked dinner over a campfire!

And over coals. ;)

We have learned that Naga loves the feel of river currents. (At least, this is what we assume, as he jumped back in, several times, allowing the river to carry him a couple hundred yards before easily navigating back to the shore, running back towards us, and repeating the process.) And we have found ourselves more and more enchanted with Montana.

Both Morgan and I have realized that we greatly prefer what we have come to call “Not-pines.” In this, we generally include aspens, oaks, maples, etc. On the other side, we somewhat ignorantly lump all conifers into the “Its another pine” category. :P

Morgan really wants a tree identification book for Christmas. Perhaps something that has detailed pictures of leaves and bark, as well as maps of where they grow, and paragraphs about their life-cycles… Or something like that. ;)

The sunrises over the Rockies are spectacular. Sadly, where we have watched ours have been gorgeous, but not technically picturesque. i.e. it wouldn't have been a good picture.

All this to say: we are happy, healthy, and believe that we are narrowing in on where God wants us to be. :)

What does the future hold? Well, once we have found our new home town, I am seriously considering getting a teaching credential, hopefully to teach Physics as I have quite a fascination with the subject. I will continue writing, and working towards a career, whether full or part time, in that industry.

And Morgan? Well, she is considering working for a short time, but I think that we both want to start our family as soon as it makes geographic and financial sense and, more importantly, as soon as God wants us to. So, who knows?

God has been, and continues to be, good all the time, through that is amazing as well as stressful.

May God bless your adventures in the coming days, and may He stress you just enough to bring out your best.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Happy Sunday!

Odometer: 74,264.0

We are just outside of Whitefish, and have been for a couple of days. We have been hiking forest roads, playing with our dogs, and spending time together. For various reasons, Morgan and I hadn’t been taking the time we want to together: just talking, playing games, laughing, and enjoying each other’s company. God has given us the time and desire to dive back into our relationship, which, sadly, we had allowed to take a backseat to other concerns. No more!

So, aside from reveling in each others’ company, and enjoying the beauty of God’s creation, we haven’t been up to much. We will be heading into Glacier, tomorrow, hopefully missing any weekend surge from locals.

We had a funny thing happen, Friday. As we were working around our campsite, a strange dog came wandering up the road. He was an older yellow lab. I went outside to see what I could discover, and he immediately started jumping around, wagging his tail, and loving having a person about. He had a collar, which named him Titus (a pretty cool name, actually). We were going to call the number on the tags, but there wasn’t an area code, and we have no idea what the area code around here is.

So, I whipped out my handy dandy phone and plugged in the address that was also on the tags. It turns out it was just at the head of the forest road we camped on. Thus, we ventured forth, new puppy in tow.

We arrived at the house, which seemed to be undergoing a remodel, and found it vacant. Music playing in the shop next door led us that direction, but, alas, nothing. We knocked on doors, looked about, and called: “Hello?” but to no avail. There wasn't anyone around.

So, we leave Titus at the house, hoping he will stay, and head back to the campsite. As we go, I hear a weed-eater off in the foliage, so I walk that way. The source of the noise was a rough, but kindly, old man, working away.

I told him that we had found his dog, and he said that they often walk around in the National Forest, so Titus probably considers it part of his home. I informed him that I left his dog at his house, he thanked me, and we parted ways. Thus, our little adventure ends.

Funny added note: We were sitting in the RV yesterday, when the man with his wife, and Titus in the back, drove by. We had our windows, open, and so did they. So, after I waved, and the man waved back, I was able to hear him say, “That’s the guy who brought Titus home.”

It wasn’t a big thing, but it was entertaining to me. :-P

Well, that is all, for now, good reader. The lack of truly revolutionary, or entertaining, tales might explain the long expanse between posts. We are enjoying life, and settling into the new normal.

May the little adventures of your day leave a smile on your face and warmth in your heart.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

A Wonderful Morning

Good Morning!

We are still near Libby Montana, and still having a blast. We took a couple lovely hikes, ate a small picnic, and had a lovely day of rest, during which both Morgan and I got over little bugs. (Nothing major was wrong;we were just a little under the weather.)

Thus, when this morning dawned a brisk 39°F, you can imagine, we were ecstatic! Cold is our bread and butter! (It was 51°F inside our rig.)

Calcifer and Naga shot out the door to do their morning business and were happy outside for a couple of hours .Then, our little one came back and wanted in; he had gotten wet and was chilled to the bone. :-( After a short time with the towel, and a longer time in front of our furnace vent, he was as good as new.

So, with nothing truly novel, or humorous, to share, I will take this short post to update you, fair reader, on the Almond wonder as a whole.

A non-renovated, empty Sunrader weighs in between 7k-8k lbs, depending on the model and year. This is humorous, as the axles are only rated for about 6k lbs (4k before ’85). Thankfully, starting our year (’85) they upped the back axle to a 1.5 ton, thus reaching the combined rating of 6k. All this is to give context to the following:

We, fully loaded and fully renovated(basically), went through a scale(well, two, to ensure accuracy) and found our weight to be a wonderful 6850lbs! :-D All our work improved the beast and dropped our full weight to less than an unmodified Sunrader’s empty! :-) (Keep in mind this is with 500lbs of person, dog, and dog food in the mix, not to mention our “dirty” tanks being on the full side.) ;-)

So, needless to say, we are excited about that. :)

As a side note, I was sitting near our furnace (which can raise the internal temp from 50 to 60 in 20ish min while it is 39 outside) and realized that it works in a really clever fashion. It lights a fire, and heats up a plate which air passes over to, in turn, heat the camper. So, it heats the plate until it is very hot, then puts out the flame, allowing the air to pull all the heat from the plate, only then relighting the flame and beginning the process once more.

Now, I am not that familiar with furnaces, so this might be common place, but it seemed really clever to me, and a very efficient way to not have a constant flame.

Anywho, those are just the latest things we have learned about our little camper that could.

We pray that your discoveries, this day, are exciting, and may your work prove fruitful beyond all hopes.