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July 30, 2007

Arrival in Seattle or is it Sleepin Good in Seattle

     July 28, 29, & 30th  We arrived at our son Bill's late morning on the 28th.  Everyone was waiting our arrival including all four grand kids.  Scott was flying the line Saturday and Sunday and we would not see him till Monday the 30th.

     We had been wondering for months if our motor coach would be able to make it up the hill to Bill's house and then in to his driveway.  The angle where the two streets converge is rather acute (sharp).  The long and the short of it is, we could not make it.  Either the front or the back of the coach would scrape if we persisted so we reluctantly gave it up.  For one of those rare times in my life, I did not have a plan "B", so a scramble was on to decide what to do.

     Our daughter-in-law Angela suggested a couple possibilities and to this date they have both worked out very well.  Within hours of arriving at Bill's house we decided to park in the RV area at Mukkelshoot Casino, a short 20 minute drive from Bill's.  We spent Saturday and Sunday night in the Casino RV parking area and moved this morning to the beautiful Saltwater State Park on Puget Sound.  It is a relatively short commute for the Boy's and their families to come visit us and the same for us to go visit them.  We are enjoying having most of the park to ourselves as there was apparently a bridge closure that prevented this park from opening until the previous Wednesday so not a lot of people are aware that it is now open.  How lucky is that?

     The Saltwater State Park, as does all Washington State Parks, has an eleven day limit on one's stay.  The rule is in place I assume to keep rif-raf from setting up long term squatting.  That fits for us as we will be leaving within that time frame to head for the Rallies that we are signed up for in Oregon starting August 7th.

     I don't want to make anyone in the Mid-West feel bad but the temperatures since we arrived here on the Western slope of the Cascades have been ideal.  Perfect mid 70's during the day and low to mid 50's at night.  We have put an extra blanket on for tonight as it seems like it will be quite cool.

     I am going to throw a few pictures up here and a description will not be necessary.  They will all tell their own story if you put your pointer over the picture!


Clearwater River

















Lewis and Clark Trail

















Precious Hug

















Precious Hug

















How Lucky Can I Be ?

















Garnet Ghost Town


July 25, 2007 – Picture this:

     Dusk, the moon has just appeared above the eastern peaks of the Bear Claw Mountains. The sun is about to disappear, as it sinks into the shadows of the western horizon. George and Kathleen have completed a long day of travel. Their RV is parked beside the Clark Fork River in western Montana.

     After treating themselves to an excellent Mexican supper at the Bear Claw Restaurant next to the RV Camp Ground, they have decided to take a little drive. Kathleen spots a small sign. Garnet Ghost Town with an arrow pointing the way. The two decide to find the town and explore a bit before dark. The road winds along the meandering river. Interstate 90 winds west through the deep canyon pass. Semi-trucks speed along as the setting sun illuminates their reds and blues. The two adventurers enjoy the drive. Soon a sign directs the way to the little ghost town.

     Turning away from the river, the jeep follows the paved road into another canyon. Kathleen remembers that a couple days earlier she and George notice that the jeep is in need of refueling. She mentions this to George. The gauge indeed is very close to the E mark. They continue their journey thinking their destination was just up ahead. Soon another sign appears: Road turns to gravel soon, one lane only, no motor homes allowed, slippery when wet, watch for wild animals. They continue. Another sign: Garnet Ghost Town – 10 miles. “Oh we can make it, I think,” George says.

     “OK,” is Kathleen’s reply. “Do you really think so?”

     “Here’s the deal,” George says, “ When the jeep signals us that she’s close to empty, we’ll turn back.”

     Kathleen is happy at that and is eager to keep going. The road soon narrows and turns to gravel. The canyon grows darker, as the small trail begins to wind deeper into the mountain. Occasionally a dwelling is spotted among the thick foliage. No life is evident and dust covered pick-up trucks sit abandoned nearby.

     George says, "If we hear banjo music, we're outta here."

     They drive on. The road narrows yet again. All of a sudden a Mule Deer appears in front of them. George hits the breaks and the doe freezes. Kathleen grabs the camera, as something catches her eye beyond the brush, at the edge of the forest. There two fawns peek out at the strange object on the road. Their big ears straight, listening for danger. Kathleen aims her camera and shoots a few photos before they leap into protective cover. The last sighting of their mother is of her hopping back into the thick foliage to join her twins.

     The jeep chugs along. Further and higher they travel. Small signs stating 8 miles to go, 5, 3 are noticed along the trail. The canyon is deep, full of tall conifers and deciduous trees and brush. High jagged, protruding rocks, are ready to break and tumble down onto the winding path. Kathleen imagines what could happen if things did not go in their favor. Could they walk out? Would anyone be at the lonely cabins they had passed? Would the owners of these reclusive homes welcome strangers? Were there wild animals? Bear, Cougar? Big Foot?

     George, obviously thinking the same thoughts, quietly says, “I am losing my nerve. I think it would be best if we turned around.”

     Kathleen agrees. The jeep does not complain when the brakes call for a halt. At this point, the jeep’s computer dongs. A signal that tells the occupants that fuel is very low. They had made the decision in the nick of time. Only one mile to go to experience one of their most intriguing adventures: A ghost town, at twilight, with real ghosts, and haunting shadows, and lost stories of those who once lived there.

     Disappointed, they make the right decision. Go back to civilization, now. The next thing is to get turned around on this narrow path, a jutting, crumbling rock wall on one side and a steep bank, thick with brush on the other. George’s expert skills manage the task and they soon face the way home. George wants to check for damage and exits the jeep. Kathleen follows, curious of their surroundings. All is still but for the soft breeze moving the leaves in the trees. A bubbling brook can be heard. Over the bank a stream is playfully finding its way to the river far below. The jeep is covered with dust, George’s scooter, hanging on for dear life behind the jeep is caked in thick dust. No damage is found and the trip home begins.

     Promising that they will indeed return to finish their adventure, the two adventurers follow the winding dirty road back out of the canyon and onto a smoother, brighter highway. Soon they are turning into the campground. The thin gravel road leading to Garnet Ghost Town seems long and far away now that they are home. They remind each other that this is only the beginning. There will be other roads that will lead them to more adventures, they are sure. Kathleen makes a list of supplies to stock the jeep with.

Lets see:

 10 gauge shot gun.
 Gas can, filled.   


     When the gas tank is filled the next day, ½ a gallon of gas is in it. What would it have been like to spend the night in a ghost town?



no damage












dirty scooter

July 29, 2007

A Beautiful Drive

     July 26th & 27th, 2007  Having completed our minor service at Bretz RV in Missoula, Montana it was time to move on and there was plenty of time Thursday afternoon to start on our way.  We decided to get off the Interstate and take highway 12 from Missoula to Lewiston, Idaho and then on eventually to reconnect with Interstate 90 at Vantage, Washington.

     It was a great decision as this route was the Lewis and Clark Trail.  What spectacular scenery as we followed the Clearwater River for mile after mile.  I can't ever recall in my life, including my cross country trucking life a more beautiful drive.  We both agree that we were in too much of a hurry to get to our Son's in Seattle to enjoy this area and we vow to return at some time in the future.

     We spent one night in the Lewis and Clark RV Resort and although somewhat rundown, we enjoyed a great meal in the restaurant and a very peaceful sleep.

     Leaving Lewiston, Idaho the landscape changes from that beautiful river canyon drive to one of sage brush, rolling hills, and miles and miles of narrow winding roads as we head on to Vantage, and the reconnect with Interstate 90.

     After joining Interstate 90 it was only a short drive to Easton, Washington where we stayed in another Coast to Coast RV Park.  This would be the last stay at a park before we would arrive at our Son Bill's place the next day.  I spent what free time I had cleaning the exterior of the coach and washing windows as Kathleen cleaned house getting things ready for our daughters-in-law to inspect as they had not ever seen the coach.  All done with much enthusiasm as we were so anxious for our arrival at our kids places.

July 24, 2007

A moment of "Cool"

     July 24th, 2007  We actually got a pretty early start from Hart Ranch RV Park this morning.  Stopped at the Rapid City Department of Motor Vehicles and both got our new drivers licenses in about 20 minutes.  We now have it all.  SD drivers licenses, plates on the car and scooter, and my Sea Eagle boat SD licensed.  We are also registered to vote.  In spite of the heat our new domicile is pretty nice.

     Pulling out of Rapid City at 8:30 it was already 84 degree's.  Our plan was to drive a fair distance today hoping to find some cooler weather.  At 3:00 p.m. coming through Billings Montana it was 114 degree's.  We decided to jump off the interstate and take some back roads, hoping to find a nice RV park for the night.  We drove till 6:00 p.m. and as we did so the temperature continued to fall, the further west we got.  On arrival at the Conestoga RV Park, here in White Sulfer Springs, Montana the temperature was 64.  Now that's more like it.

     We have an appointment Thursday afternoon to get some minor work done on the coach at Bretz RV in Missoula, Montana (where we bought the coach).  We are fairly close to there so may move from this campground tomorrow only because there is some beautiful country between here and there and we might as well explore it a little.

     We plan to stay overnight in the area of Missoula after our service is completed.  Our Son Scott will be flying and laying over in Missoula Thursday night and has offered to meet us Friday morning and buy breakfast.  Now that's an offer that would be hard to pass up.  If all plans work out we should then arrive some time Saturday at our Son Bill's house.  Cool  Life is good.

July 23, 2007

Hello, we are from Rapid City

     Monday July 23:  A lot of errands had to be taken care of this morning. When we left the RV park at 8:30 AM, it was in the high 90s by 10:30 AM it was past 100 degrees. A hot day for running around town. Rapid City is big and like all municiple offices, it seems, they are spread out across the metropolitan area. We were sent here and there to file this and pay that. Finally we finished and were heading back to the RV Park. Did I mention that after driving way out of town to find the Division of Motor Vehicle Dept., a sign on the door said closed on Mondays. We were bewildered but will be there by 8:00 AM tomorrow to get our South Dakota drivers licenses.

     The RV park has a beautiful swimming pool. After our busy morning, George wanted to hang out in the motor home where it is nicely air conditioned. I decided to go over and cool off at the pool. the water was refreshing and the sun was hot but I stayed for a couple of hours. On driving back to the coach, I noticed that the gentleman who, "watches over" the park, was following me in his golf cart. Finally he motioned for me to pull over. He gently told me that he had clocked me at going 13 miles an hour. The speed limit is 10 miles an hour. Well, I apologized. He did not ticket me but did write down our license plate number. We shook hands he went on his way. I felt foolish and criminalish. Is that a word? I did wonder to myself, why not give a person a few miles an hour over you know like on the big road. I warned George, as we later left for dinner. He laughed and told me that while I was getting ready to go, he installed the new South Dakota license plates so the license number on the hit list will never be found.     

     We had dinner at the Fire House, a suggestion by an old friend. Thanks Barb. This is Rapid City's first Fire Station, I beleive. The interior is as it was in the 1920s with old ladders and hoses hanging on the walls and ceiling. A very interesting place with great food, as well. Another interesting attraction to the old part of the city is that on several corners are bronze statues of USA Presidents. I recognized a few. The artist is working on placing all of our presidents' statues on corners of this area. So far George Washington to John F. Kennedy are represented. We also visited a wonderful store on the same street as the Fire House. It is called Prairie Edge and is filled with Native American art work, as well as other beautiful treasures. Living in a motor home prevents one from collecting lots of stuff. I did pick up a few trinkets for our kids. Tomorrow we will again attempt to get our drivers licenses, then head out towards Seattle. Hopefully we'll leave the heat and enter the cool moutains of Montana and then the Emerald City by week's end.                                                      

July 22, 2007

Up to Date: June 12th to July 19th '07

     Pool!!!  Kathleen is off to the pool but I promised myself that I would get with bringing our adventures & blog up to date so here I sit. Don't feel too bad for me as it is currently 105 degrees here in Rapid City, SD and climbing and of note, it is only 10:30 a.m. !  Rapid City is to be our new Domicile (home). Tomorrow we will begin all the changes to make that happen and all that will be the topic for the next blog, but for now let's go back and get brought up to date with a little time line.

     April 5th, Kathleen completed Chemo and although her immune system was extremely low, she was feeling pretty good and anxious to get on with the next phase of treatment. At this point the doctors were having a hard time finding the lump on palpation and were very encouraged by the results of the Chemo. We are missing our Seattle families, especially the little ones.

     April 30th, Kathleen has her surgery.  Scheduled to be a lumpectomy, with lymph node sampling. A critical time for us to await the results and especially for me who would get the visit from the surgeon following the surgery. Special to me was being surprised by my sister Barb who drove from their home in Cary, Ill. to be by my side. The surgeon's visit to me in the waiting room was one I will never forget. He was extremely upbeat and one could detect in his voice a very positive slant to what he was about to tell me. "The Chemo had indeed done its job. 95% of the tumor had been destroyed. A very minimally invasive lumpectomy was performed and more importantly all of the lymph node samplings taken were negative for any cancer cells."  These are the kind of results one hopes and prays for!

     May 10th - 17th, Kathleen's immune system finally recovers enough that our medical care givers decide it is safe for us to travel and as long as Kathleen is feeling OK from the surgery, we are allowed to take off for a visit to Seattle. I wrote about "They Didn't Forget", in a previous blog and if you missed it, you might want to click on it on the right of this page. Our boys and their wives always make us feel so special when we visit their homes and this trip was no exception. It was good to just get away from what we had been experiencing and have the opportunity to get hugged and laugh when we wanted to.

     May 23rd, Radiation treatments begin.  A total of 33 "zaps" are to be given, one each work day, with week-ends and holidays excluded. That would take us to July 10th. During this time we moved our home from Goose Island, to Black hawk Park, and back to Goose Island again. We had a fair amount of free time on our hands now and continued to prepare for our departure and eventual beginning of our adventures. During this time we are anxiously awaiting the arrival and visit of our special full timing Internet friends, Norm and Linda Payne. I have written many times of our relationship with them so won't go in to a lot of detail here, but suffice it to say, Kathleen and Norm established a special bond during her ordeal, as Norm is a cancer survivor, and he offered numerous e-mails with advise and encouragement. Norm and Linda kept us in their prayers as we did them years back when Norm was going through his encounter with the "enemy."  Norm and Linda are expected to arrive at Black hawk Park on or about July 7th as they are making the great Mississippi River Journey from where the River empties into the Gulf to it's beginning in Minnesota.  See their web-site:  www.seeya-downtheroad.com

     July 6th, Norm and Linda need to arrive in Black hawk Park a day earlier than expected as the park they were in had no room for them as reservations had the park full for the July 4th week-end.  Norm, Linda, and their traveling companions, Don & Gloria Martin, arrived right on cue and the hugs were so welcomed. We were planning to have about 5 days camped together, with fishing for Norm, Don, and I to take center stage and the girls to enjoy R&R, crafting, and conversation, not in any specific order.  Prior to their arrival I had been Bass Fishing from my little Sea Eagle boat and just knocking the "snot." (excuse my french),out of the big Bass. I was hoping like heck that the fishing would continue to remain good for their arrival but as is so often the case, the weather changed and so did the fish. Not catching as many fish didn't seem to bother the three of us as we were able to fish together out of one boat and it was a great time for conversation. (Long time friend, Brian Lee, loaned us his "beater boat"). Evenings for the most part were spent going out to dinner and one evening in particular will be memorable for us all. On July 10th, Kathleen had her last Radiation treatment, which signaled the end to the whole ordeal and the true beginnings to the next faze of our adventures. I had gone in to LaCrosse earlier in the day and got a couple of bottles of champagne and the 10 of us having dinner together toasted the end to our 8 months or so of dealing with the "enemy." (There were 10 of us as we were joined by Jerry and Sharon, camp hosts, at Black hawk Park). One evening we all gathered at our coach and had a fish fry, (yes we caught enough). Being together for those 5 days with Norm and Linda and getting to meet Don and Gloria is and will always be very special to us. We thank Norm and Linda for the beautiful "T" shirts, and Don and Gloria for the neck lanyards. We parted company on July 11th as it was time for them to continue their North bound River trip and for us to move to Goose Island and begin the visits and goodbys with friends and family as our departure was drawing near.

     Memorial Day Weekend and July 4th Weekend,  We are new at this motor home living and soon learned that RV parks quickly fill up on holiday weekends. We had to "get out of town" for these two weekends but chose the best place in the Midwest to stay. Kathleen's brother, Jim, and Alyce his bride  as Jim calls her, have a great home between Waukon and Decorah, Iowa. Our coach fit perfectly in thier back yard and looked out over the green fields of Iowa. Jim and Alyce have three strappin' boys who have brides of thier own, plus a couple of the cutest grandbabies you'd ever see. We had two of the best weekends just hanging out with them. Big old bon fires, picnics, just plain visiting. Thanks Jim and Alyce. We'll be back.

     July 11 -20,  We had very little time to relax at Goose Island as we were in preparation mode for a planned trip to Door County Wisconsin with my mom for a few days. We departed for Door County on the 13th. Spent the first night in a Coast to Coast Park in Gresham Wisconsin. After getting set up in the park it was off to a local casino for some fun and to give their buffet a try. Mom won a small amount at a slot machine and we walked as winners from the black jack tables. Not enough to buy dinner but enough to cover the dessert! The next two nights were spent at a C to C park in Door County. We returned to the LaCrosse area on the 16th having had a very enjoyable trip with my mom to a special part of the country that we always look forward to visiting. The 16th, 17th, and 18th were spent bidding farewell (till spring), to many of our friends, neighbors, and family. Although we will be returning in October for Kathleen's follow up medical appointments, we probably won't have time to touch base with everyone we would like to see, as our trip back will be a short one. 

     Having a farewell dinner with my mom on the evening of July 18th was especially tough and emotional. Mom had been such a center of focus for us for so many years, especially after her moving to the LaCrosse area, from Iowa. That time of her being so close to us allowed us to always include her in whatever we were doing and unfortunately it allowed for her to become very dependant on our presence. It is with much bitter sweet emotion that we begin this new faze of our lives. Leaving mom to have to contemplate changes in her life, and us to be excited about our upcoming adventures makes for a strange mix. We will miss her a great deal but we will look forward to the phone calls and return visits for many years to come. 

     Now the Adventure has truly begun!!!!  We are in Rapid City, SD.  It is Sunday July 22nd 2007.  We begin our domicile change in the morning.  Kathleen just returned from the pool and you should see the sunburn!


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