July 9- 13, 2002
We spent a wonderful week with Karla and boys. Brian was in Provo
at a volleyball camp. The week was a nice mix of do and just 'hangin'.
We did something special every day - either in the morning or the afternoon
- and spent the rest of the day letting the kids play and get acquainted.
We spent one afternoon at Bear Lake. The kids loved the shallow water.
They could walk out almost 50 feet before the water got too deep for them.
They buried Dave in the sand and all played together well. I was
devastated by the condition of the lake. We had been there four years
ago and I could not BELIEVE how low the lake was. I am not familiar
with western Wyoming geology and climate, so perhaps dramatic fluctuations
in water level are normal, but I was horrified by the loss of water in
the area. The water seemed clean enough (though a rancher had walked
his herd through the beach and it was full of green cow pies) and you kids
loved it. Another afternoon, we drove up into Bridger forest and
went fishing. Dad and you two caught a little brown trout.
You had more fun exploring the stream and running in the water (COOOOOOOLD).
One day Karla watched all the kids and Dad and I went into Montpelier,
ID. We went to the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center (well done) and
hung out at some bar down town. Another day Dad and I took all the
kids except Seth and went to Fossil Butte. The Ranger was excellent
and talked quite a bit with all you. You made fossil prints and smelled
oil shale. We had a snack on the trail and saw a moose and a deer
in the meadow!! One day we just played in the shade and tried to
stay cool. It was hot, but not humid, so I thought it was totally
bearable. One evening I went to the LDS church for Karla (who was
at a town meeting) and learned how to bake bread with the young women's
group. Dave stayed at home and watched all the kids. It was
a fun week.
Wild game abounded
July 13 - 14 - 15
We left Cokeville about nap time and drove to the south-western side of
the Tetons. You two napped most of the way. We camped in a
remote state park in Idaho near Palisades Reservoir . The drive there
had been lovely. Much to our surprise, a family reunion was being held
in the park. While surprised and annoyed at first, we had to admit
they kept to themselves and went to bed early. Dad took you guys
to the pier while I set up camp and, later, we threw about one hundred
rocks into the Lake. That night, Alea had to go to the bathroom and
even I - in my blinded no contact state - could see the Milky Way Galaxy.
It was amazing how 'banded' and bright I could see and feel it was.
The next morning we drove on toward southern MT.
Beautiful mountains met us all across the USA
We thought the view of the
Tetons was pretty weak on the SW side, but once we cleared the foothills
and hit the NW corner, we thought the view was stunning. This side
of the Tetons is much less developed than the other side (by Jackson Hole),
but was could see Realtor's signs everywhere. At some point in time,
Dave thought he might like to retire in Sheridan, MT, so our goal was to
drive through that town and figure why he had been so impressed with it.
You kids didn't make it that far, though, and lunch break brought us to
Ennis in Madison Valley, MT. We stopped at a beautiful little park
with a fishin' hole and eating area. We had a yummy picnic lunch
and Dad threw the line in a couple times (though why I don't know since
it was HOT and high noon). The drive there had been un-eventful.
We were surprised at the changing geography of the area: mountains to arid
plains to fertile potato farms. Sheridan was not memorable (though
we stopped at the local grocery store for pop, beer, ice and water - nice
people) and we drove through to the Georgetown Lake area just west of Butte,
MT. We found a campground there called Lodgepole Pine campsite.
If we had KNOWN what was down the road 1 mile we would have driven on:
a perfect camping spot by a creek with beach access and wonderful privacy.
We discovered it the next morning on route to Missoula. But…we didn't
know. Our campsite was fine, though crowded and sterile.
The kids loved playing at
the pier by the lake. The damselflies were hatching, so we spent
a good two hours watching the larvae swim to shore, dry, shed and fly away.
That night brought the first rain of our trip. It had been two years
since we last water-proofed the tent, and we had a few leaks. I thought
we might end up packing up and out, but Dave prevailed and we stayed put.
The deluge lasted a short time and the rest of the night was cool - though
dry. We had a wet take-down the next morning!! We hung out
in the morning and took a leisurely drive into Missoula. We stopped
at McDonald's for lunch and you guys got energy out in the ball pit.
We arrived at Blanche and Rob's around 4:00 pm. You remembered Boyd
and were thrilled to be at his home with his toys. Rob has a dog
named Brauny and you both loved him, too.
July 15 - 19, 2002 -
We spent this week in Missoula getting to know Blanche and Boyd.
Although we 'knew' Blanche, we'd not ever spent time with her. It was a
wonderful week. Boyd was always full of fun and laughter and Brauny
kept the kids busy playing 'hunt-it-up'. As in Cokeville, we did
something special each day, but reserved large blocks of time for hanging
out, chatting, playing and getting to know the newest Stutz family members.
As always, the kids wanted to ride the carousel, so we walked there and
played in the park afterwards. The kids hit Tuesday Farmer's Market,
as well. Dave and I had a 'date' at a Mexican restaurant one night
while Rob and Blanche watched you two. You made X-wing fighters out
of the couch cushions and did Ben Kenobi moves with adult t-shirts.
You must have gotten energy out because you slept soundly that, and every,
night. One day Blanche took us to a river and we all splashed and
played. The rocks were lovely and we picked out several for our garden
in MN. Dad had to show off and 'swim across the river just to prove
he was a man'. Breck threw a temper tantrum because he wanted to,
as well. Another day we went to garage sales and got the 'garden
tour' of Missoula. We were treated to lunch at a wonderful place
up the canyon (full flower garden area for you three) with a beautiful
river walk afterward to work off our lunch. Dad built a mini-dam
in the river and you two stripped naked and jumped right in. Boyd settled
for putting his toes in.
Boyd and Brauny made us feel very welcome in Missoula
Alea and Breck loved Uncle Rob's moped
Another day we went to Fort
Missoula. We had been there two years ago and things hadn't changed
much. You both loved (no surprise) the train station and played restaurant
with the brochures and old coal stove. One day, mom took the
morning off and walked around downtown all by herself for some peace and
quiet. Dad and Blanche took the kids to the pool and swam.
Boyd had a baby pool in the yard, so we played in that a bit, too.
We were amazed at how much rain there was. Missoula in July has always
been dry, but we had rain almost every day we were there: a real change
from the fire-prone areas farther south. Blanche is a great cook
and we had wonderful meals at their home: salads, grilled steak and chicken,
and sandwiches with horseradish cheese to name a few. Dad and Rob had some
quality time, too, as they walked the dog every night.
July 20-21, 2002 - Rob
had called us while in Cokeville asking if we'd like to rent an old fire-support
station way up in the Kootenai mountains in NW Montana. We thought
that would be interesting, so we did. We drove north out on I90 and
went through Paradise, MT to get to Thompson Falls, MT. It was a
great little area with a lots of boats and fishing recreation. We
drove an hour up a tiny gravel road to the VERY top of a mountain.
Cougar Peak was waiting for us. It was a little cabin about 14 x 14 with
glass all the way around. It had a cat-walk on the outside.
It sat on a bunch of rock that had been blasted from the top of the mountain.
Many of these rocks had been carved with pictures from people who had visited
previously. The oldest we saw was 1934. All the older fire
location equipment was still there. It had one bed, a table, an older
wood burning stove and a few chairs. It was perfect for the weekend.
Sunset from Cougar Peak
We hiked, watched for wildlife,
played and did the campfire routine for a long weekend. It was cold
at night, but clear and starry. The only bad part was that I didn't
bring any diet pop, so was ready to leave Monday morning and hit a store
post haste: mom's only vice hit hard. It was a unique experience
and I am glad Rob suggested it. Boyd camped well and we enjoyed his
company. Blanche knows a great deal about the environment and shared
all kinds of stories and facts with Alea. We picked several flowers
and dried them for art project at home. The drive down was much easier
than the haul up. Dave and I both commented on the stomach and sphincter
squeezing hairpins we had to navigate.
July 22, 2002 - We hit
the road for Oregon. We had five days to get to Eugene and had no
idea how we were going to get there. Dad had let me plan the week
of the 4th July, but he insisted on keeping the rest open so we could 'go
with the wind'. It worked out well to have flexibility. We
decided to drive across the Idaho panhandle and northern Washington via
2/23/20. We decided it was a good decision and enjoyed our five days
on the road. We left Monday and took an hour to get down the mountain.
We stopped for gas, pop, ice etc. and hit the historic route through NW
Montana. The mountains were beautiful and the views were lovely.
We crossed into Idaho and made it to Pend Oreille before we hit our first
CONSTRUCTION. We laughed: 30 hours into our 36 hour drive and we
finally hit construction. We could hardly complain since we had it
so lucky to that point. We stopped at Arby's for lunch and the attendant
told us about a park by the lake just down the street.
What a great time with Boyd
It turned into a wonderful
afternoon. The little town of Sand Point, ID is lovely. Dad
watched you two at the beach/park/dock (great mountain views) while I cruised
the Coldwater Creek store in town. The town is smaller than Missoula,
but reminiscent of it with its 'enviro-espresso' attitude. We ended
up staying about three hours. The water was so clear and the breeze
was wonderfully cool. The area was fun and you guys were in seventh
heaven running between the beach and the playground. You were
tuckered after that, so we tucked you into the truck for a nap and we made
time to Lake Roosevelt National Park in eastern Washington.
We decided that was a good place to camp for the night. It is a part
of the Columbia River just north of the Grand Coulee Dam. The water
was clear, though full of small weeds and fish. There was a little
dock by our campground. You guys jumped off the dock and swam around
with the other little fish. You loved it. There were two other
groups at the site, so it was nice and quiet. We spent a peaceful
July 23, 2002 - Dad hauled
you down to the river the next morning for a 'bath'. I took down
tent and hoped for a campsite with a shower for the next night. We
drove for a bit in the morning and stopped in Twisp, WA for lunch.
Their town park was right by a beautiful stream. We immediately threw
off your clothes and jumped into dam and stream building with all the rocks
next to the shore. The river was just fast enough to be exciting
and just deep enough to be thrilling. We ended up there almost two
hours. The scenery was lovely and the weather was perfect.
Ready for nap, we hit the road and headed to the Cascade National Forest
while you slept. I remember telling dad that I have never seen mountains
so similar to the ranges we saw in Pakistan: raw jagged edges and beautiful
ice flows. The water was so turquoise it hurt my eyes. The
flowers were lovely and it was a jolt to see them right next to snow.
Dad wanted to wake you guys up to play in the snow, but you were so tired,
I said it wouldn't be any fun. We'll have lots of time in life to
play in the snow in July. I didn't want crabbiness to spoil the beauty
of the ride. It took us about 2 1/2 hours to ride through the park.
Surprisingly, there were very few camp spots.
The Cascades are Awesome!
Finally - playing on the beach
There were many hike-in places,
but only one for people like us with a truck. We decided to haul
on and hit a state park on Whidbey Island in Puget Sound by the Ocean.
Although a typical family-oriented state park (not the hard-core stuff
we had been doing), it was nice to have showers and flush toilets.
We were right on the beach, too. The beach was littered with huge
driftwood. We crawled and played around on it while Dad set up tent.
There was one tree that was caught perfectly in another tree to make a
teeter-totter. You rode on that with other friends we met.
We collected a lot of rocks and enjoyed the low tide wildlife on the rocks.
The beach drew us all that evening, as did the foghorns and boat traffic.