Friday, December 26, 2014

2014 in Review, Part II

American Bison (bison bison) on the National Bison Range
Moiese, Montana
July 6, 2014

July was a month for entertaining friends at home, viewing wildlife around the state, and not an insignificant amount of in-state travel.  In addition to the bison shown above, I managed to get pictures of antelope also at the Bison Range, ducks in Missoula, and even a cow and calf moose on our own property near Plains.  My dahlias brightened the deck with their red, pink, lavendar, and yellow blossoms, and one of the large orchids given me by my friend Hank deigned to bloom--one small, solitary bloom, but one I could photograph, none-the-less.  I got some wonderful shots of Glacier National Park, taken from the backseat of Kevin's big red Ford.  Not having to drive Going-to-the-Sun, I was able to see (and capture) scenes that have always eluded me when driving that narrow, twisting road.

Canadian Pacific Railway Water Tower
Cranbrook, British Columbia, Canada
August 6, 2014

August brought us another WarmShowers guest.  WarmShowers is an on-line community of bicycle tourists and people who can host them, offering them a warm shower, as it were.  We have hosted many such guests over the past couple of years as Montana Highway 200 is one of only two roads into the state from the west that don't involve crossing a mountain pass.  The day after our guest left, we took a day trip up to Cranbrook, British Columbia, the first time I had been out of the country in three years.  I was able to find a few geocaches while there, which allowed me to add a foreign "souvenir" to my geocaching statistics.  We went to Trout Creek for their annual Huckleberry Festival.  A Scottish pipe band was visiting from Sandpoint, and I recalled the day, some thirty or more years back, when our Scottish Country Dance group from Missoula performed in Trout Creek. We also traveled to Butte for one day of the Montana Folklore Festival, and spent a great day near Sheridan with friends from Butte and our gracious host Jim Schwindt.  August also brought lots of blooms in the guise of my dahlias, my hibiscus, some lovely and quite different petunias, and the patch of wildflowers that grew like crazy around the pond in our front yard.  (Ok, they're not really wild.  We bought a packet of wildflower seeds and spread them in the dirt around the pond.)

Two Medicine Lake
Glacier National Park, Montana
September 21, 2014

The beginning of September brought my dear friend Ken to visit from Fairbanks.  I've known Ken since the early 1970s when he was my first Scottish Country Dance teacher in Berkeley.  I traveled to Turkey with Ken in October, 2000, and it was great fun getting to act as his tour guide this time around.  Together we drove through the Mission Valley and around Flathead Lake, we took another day trip to Cranbrook, this time to visit the Canadian Museum of Rail Travel, and we spent a couple of days in Glacier. Our garden started producing peppers, tomatoes and cucumbers, more tomatoes that we could use, actually, but we do have quite a few jars of home made tomato sauce and tomato juice in the pantry now.  Our one and only CouchSurfing guest visited from southern California, and during the week that he stayed with us, I got to play tour guide all over again, including another two days in Glacier.  We drove Going-to-the-Sun on the last day it was open for the season, and a few days later rode our bikes down the Hiawatha Trail on the last day it was open for the season.  In between, we hiked into Cabin Lake, a four mile hike (one-way) from the trailhead along the West Fork of the Thompson River.  We also made another trip to the Ross Creek Cedars.  All in all, September was a great month for being outdoors.

Bowman Lake
Glacier National Park, Montana
October 13, 2014

October started with a hike up Spring Creek, a few miles west of home, and ended with a four-day down and back trip to Phoenix, Arizona, a trip I've already recounted in this blog.  In between I turned that magic age, 65, and went on Medicare, which dropped my medical insurance costs significantly.  Another visit to the Ross Creek Cedars, and yet one more to Glacier, this time to the western side of the park, where we visited Polebridge and then Kintla and Bowman Lakes.  A week later we drove up Going-to-the Sun one last time (the road was closed at Logan Pass), and I got some beautiful photos of the fog in the McDonald Valley.  I spent more time in Glacier Park in 2014 than any other year in my life.  It's a beautiful place to visit, and I look forward to many more exploratory trips.  Having a Federal Senior Pass means that I don't have to pay entrance fees, nor do any of the people traveling with me.  Come for a visit and I'll show you the Park as well.

Loaf Shaped Como Bread, Fresh From the Oven
November 11, 2014

It's been an unusual year, weather-wise.  I still had flowers blooming on November 1st.  Most of the photos I took during November were loaves of bread I baked.  I pulled out my stone mill and ground my own wheat berries to make what has become our favorite bread, a version of Como Bread that calls for both sourdough starter and yeast, as well as both whole wheat flour and white bread flower.  I have made it free-form and in loaf pans, and have used primarily the home-ground flour with just a touch of white, as well as two-thirds white to one-third home-ground.  It doesn't seem to matter, we love this bread.  With Thanksgiving, my "Christmas" cactus bloomed yet again, but by the end of the month, the only flowers we had blooming were the occasional hibiscus which I had moved to the family room downstairs.

Mount Baldy
Sanders County, Montana
December 25, 2014

December brought snow, then rain, and on the night before Christmas, more snow.  We did have a white Christmas, at least at 12 Kay Wood Drive, if not in the town of Plains itself.  December also saw me say good-bye to my trusty 1989 Ford F-250 and the 11' Lance camper that rode on its back.  We haven't used the rig in the two plus years we've been here, so it was time for it to find a new home.  More bread, more hibiscus blooms, and an early Christmas present.  In the Spring, I had the opportunity to try a new GPS unit, and while I found it somewhat frustrating to use without proper instructions, I knew that I could learn it given time, so I asked for a Garmin Montana 650t for Christmas.  Kevin found one on-line and ordered it.  I showed up a week or so before Christmas, and after asking my Facebook friends for advice, I decided that life is short.  I was able to use the unit for several geocaching jaunts, most of which I've written about earlier in this blog.  I love it, and I'm so grateful to Kevin for buying it for me.  We have one week left in 2014, and who knows what mischief I can get into in that time.  I hope you have enjoyed spending the year with me, and I look forward to chatting with you through the new year.  Please feel free to leave any comments you might have on the blog site.  I know people are looking at the site, I see the number of visitors.  But almost no one ever leaves me any messages.  Go on, I promise I won't bite.

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