Speak, Dude!

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Most of us have them, want them or have had them… pets!

Right, we know – “a mans best friend.” There is no doubt or question, Dude IS my best friend and will go down in the history books as such. However, sometimes I am certain I am not his. What kind of a friend leaves you alone for hours, feeds you the same food every day, constantly asks you to stop talking (barking), doesn’t walk with you nearly as long as you like, (or too long) and can’t read your mind? A human friend, that’s who!

Recently and for the first time in Dude’s life of thirteen years, I have been working in an environment twelve hours a day and he can’t go with…I have however arranged a friend to come and hang with Dude for a couple of hours a day, and then I come home for lunch and we hang out. Trust me – it’s an adjustment for us both. I’m laden with guilt and Dude is sad and doesn’t quite understand.

Here’s a frustrating scenario that occurred this week, but let me first preface by stating it was already a tough week for me and Dude; I left for a needed road and hiking adventure out west for two weeks and this was the first adventure Dude was not able to go on due to his age. In addition, Dude lost another good friend, Shelby (beautiful Yellow Lab, due to old age of thirteen), I lost a friend (due to cancer), and I also started this temporary work leaving me stressed out!

Well, I get home from work and I can’t wait to hang outside on this beautiful afternoon with Dude and he was equally excited, pinning me down, giving me hugs and sprinting around the yard. We walked down to the deck for a few minutes, and upon calling Dude to come up and follow me to the house, he wouldn’t budge. He did however hold up his right paw and I could visibly see that he was trembling. Damn, bur in his fur again – so I thought. Upon realising that there were no burs, spurs, or other, I became concerned. I carried him up and into the house, inspected and inspected and couldn’t find a thing. By this time he was panting, wouldn’t hydrate and was obviously in pain. “SPEAK, Dude”. Where does it hurt and what’s going on?” I have to leave for work before the veterinarian’s office opens tomorrow morning, and they close in thirty minutes. Dude is a pretty tough dog – he rarely complains, and has not required an emergency visit to the doctor EVER. Arg – off we go to the doctor. While driving, I kept wondering, “could this be a bee sting, did he break a bone?” There was no yelp.

At the doctor: Fever, still not hydrating, miserable and clearly in pain, occasional tail wag.

Later at home: Eating, playing, hydrating, constant tail wag.

Speak, Dude! Had I known it was a bee sting you wouldn’t have been stressed by my stress, had to ride in the hot car, we could have hung outside longer and I would have saved $100 bucks!

I love you Dude…

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Texas Town Runs Out Of Water – Fracking

Yes, I’m a tree hugger, star lover and I respect my earth. Yes, my earth. All of us that live on it and use it – it belongs to us and we should respect it and care.

While traveling in states that are heavy in fracking, I constantly hear, ‘it is good for the State as it brings in billions of dollars.’ It does, but the people don’t receive billions or even hundreds. The towns are filthy, the general public are poor and the night sky is illuminated with fire and smoke. The housing dates back to slavery days, and like the slaves, nearly all of their money pays rent. (Back to the oil companies)

Be ashamed Texas, North Dakota and so many other states.

Texas town runs out of water due to fracking.

Native Indians, Bears and Capitalism

Fake teepees and brochures with fierce looking Grizzly Bears – as John Stossel would proclaim, ‘give me a break!’ While I thoroughly enjoyed my hikes and the GNP along with the amazing majestic beauty, there wasn’t a day and more often when I didn’t feel for those that were/are kicked to the curb for greed and financial benefit.

Really? The brochures advertising a fierce bear, yet they kill them when the bears, (who have more right to this land than we do), come into contact with humans. If they don’t kill them, they shoot them with rubber pellets. Seriously? Does anyone else see a paradox here? And the natives? Yes, there are fake teepees all around. It must make the natives disgusted and sad as well. Sure, the White people preserved the park but they could also preserve human dignity and integrity.

That is all…or, I’ll be ranting. :(.

Reference: Canadians, Indian Children, Orphanage, Genocide

Ptarmigan Tunnel Hike

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Wowza! Strenuous with a little moderation. Wooo hooo! Switchback heaven OR hell depending on your perspective. Unimaginable beauty, and a defining point would be the totally different vista when you exit the tunnel on the other side. This hike rates right up there as one of my favs because you have an immediate kick your butt elevation gain and then you have an immediate kick your butt elevation gain and THEN you have Lake Ptarmigan for a nice ‘soak your feet in a cold pristine alpine lake and rinse you head wrap.’ After that? Yah, the switch back with a major kick your butt elevation gain, for a total of 2500 feet.

Coming down the mountain is far more arduous than going up for a couple of reasons; The trail is very narow, steep, and dry rocks make it unstable. Bring your sticks! The other reason; as you can imagine the descent is steep and it’s hard not to run. 😉

Bears concerned Kevin the most on this hike because two miles of trail were lined with Grizzly dessert – berries. Numerous campgrounds, trail heads and park sections were closed due to the high volume of Grizzlies this year. Yes, we saw four Grizzlies and three were close. Hind feet close. Check out this article of a Griz in Glacier sleeping on a tent AND stealing a pillow. 🙂

Warm up for Ptarmigan Tunnel with the Iceberg Lake hike.

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Iceberg Lake Trail

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Iceberg Lake Hike – Glacier National Park

Unbelievable beauty. Forever instilled…

Just do it!

Moderate elevation gain. Iceberg Trail ends at the Lake. If you’re there in August, you’ll likely see Grizzlies due to two miles of berry lined trails. No worries, they could care less about you. It’s the delicious Huckle and Blueberries they’re after. Do make much noise as not to alarm them and put them on the defensive.

More floating icebergs than in years past.

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Banff Canada in a Day – No Thank You Lake Louise

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Fifteen hours of driving (not riding) and here we are at Daisy May Campground – Fort Macleod, Canada. Roughly one hundred miles back to the USA border, which btw we were called off to the side for investigation early this morning. OF COURSE!

Banff NP in Canada is breathtaking and it reminds me of regions of what I imagine Alaska to be, however, Lake Louise? NO Thank you. Upon arrival it was clear that Lake Louise had become yet another HUGE tourist attraction. There were more cars than people in all of Glacier so it seemed. We didn’t even park, well we couldn’t, as they didn’t have RV parking for the Stream, but I wouldn’t have anyway. Regardless of the beauty of the lake, somehow more than a thousand people crowed together to look at it, left me very sad.

Only six hours south of Banff in Glacier, my purpose was to check it out for a future adventure and so shall it be…right after I climb Half Dome. We intended two days at Banff (which btw isn’t nearly enough time), but we were diggin’ the hikes and Many Glacier so much, we unanimously decided to stay at GNP. Our campsite was not lacking SPECTACULAR viewage!

Reference my blog; Native Indians, Bears and Capitalism.

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Holy Crap!

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Big Joe and his wife Linda, (our neighbours at the first campground in Glacier) are celebrating their four year engagement anniversary today and because Joe has been so helpful with the Stream and Linda is an absolute blast, I offered to have Linda’s Mom, Gertie for the afternoon while they enjoy and have lunch where Joe proposed; The Prince of Whales in Canada.

Gertie is unintentionally funny, eighty five years old with moderate to advanced Alzheimer’s disease so you might imagine the stories she tells and the things that come out of her mouth…and elsewhere. Read on.

Cute nuances began immediately; Gertie saved a few of her French Fries for their dog, but the dog is 1700 miles away in Wisconsin. That’s okay, let her think the doggie is here in Glacier. We then drive to our new campsite, Many Glacier and quickly get settled. Remembering Linda’s words, ‘Mom needs to be reminded to go to the bathroom’. I quickly suggested we head to the restroom. THAT trip went great, it wasn’t until thirty minutes later when Gertie rose from the camp chair and announced, ‘I have to go to the bathroom’, that I realised she may already have… ‘Keevinnnnn’ I shouted up to the front of the Airstream, ‘Gertie has to go to the bathroom’. I was bent over laughing. Kevin wasn’t very excited regarding this task but I’m the only one of the two that knows how to hook and unhook the Airstream and I was conveniently in the middle of unhooking it. 🙂

Minutes passed, like twenty and still no Gertie or Kevin. I thought, ‘what the heck is going on’, so I headed up and saw Kevin outside of the ladies room on a bench. After inquiring, Kevin thought Gertie must be done, so in I walked and nearly vomited. How the heck can a cute elderly woman stink so bad. I then noticed it on the floor and well, let’s just say the second trip to the restroom was a rather crappy one. Oh yah, when I asked Gertie where her extra change of clothes were? ‘In the trash, I don’t need them.’ Sure enough, there they were.

It doesn’t stop here friends. After gag me cleanup, we walk back to the campsite with Gertie and I was actually feeling sad for her. It’s hell having Alzheimer’s Disease and I sympathized. Immediately upon arrival at the Stream, I quickly grab my hand sanitizer and say. ‘Here Mama, we need to get this on your hands’, Gertie stabilizes herself with her walker and extends her right palm. I squirt a quarter size dollop in her hand and without hesitation, lickity split, (literally lickity, with lickity being the operative word), Gertie sucks the sanitizer off her hand. Omygosh!!! Again, ‘Kevinnnnn’…he walked to the ranger station where he explained the situation. The Ranger seriously asked, why did she do that?’ I had JUST asked Gertie the same question. Stupid question for me to ask an amazing elder with Alzheimer’s Disease. More accurately my response when Gertie sucked up the hand sanitizer was, ‘oh my gosh, did you just really do that?’

In the end, the sanitizer was not harmful and Linda and Joe showed up prior to another bathroom incident.

Gertie. You made our day. We’re still laughing all the way back to Michigan. Xox

For all of those Caretakers out there, hat’s off to YOU!

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Big Joe and the Incident.

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It’s our first day at Glacier NP and the Airstream is as level as it’s going to get at this campsite. (I may feel as though I’m going to roll out of bed but it’s doubtful.) 🙂 We’re stoked to get out on the hiking trails tomorrow but first, drive the Going to the Sun Road and also scope out the trail heads,

Back at the campsite, we’re hungry and tired. I made basil pesto pasta and a huge mixed green salad with fresh beets, walnuts and blue cheese.

As you might imagine, food preparation and clean up in a small space such as the Stream requires organization and efficiency. I love the efficiency aspect as it’s challenging and rewarding. I’m also quite good at it being a backpacker. I appreciate that the Stream has more counter space along with a larger bathroom than most campers not to mention the Stream is also equipped with a furnace and a water heater.

While I’ve washed plenty of dishes with sand and lake water, being a backpacker, hot water is never taken for granted while preparing non dehydrated foods.

I wish I had a video of what occurred next; As I’m at the kitchen sink, running hot water to wash and rinse our dishes, I notice something out of the corner of my eye. I quickly turn around toward the sight and sound to see water gushing from an area under the shower. As quick as I can, I shut off the water pump, yell for Kevin (to do what, I have no idea as I had no idea what to do myself), let out an expletive or two and then study the source of gushing water. BTW, if you weren’t aware, RV’s and boats REALLY SHOULD NOT get wet on the interior. Yah, seriously. :). Well, I discover the source, the water hose was an after market and was not intended for hot water. ‘It’s impressive that it lasted as long as it did’, according to our new friend Big Joe.

Our camping neighbors, Joe and Linda, invited us over to their campfire and I explained the explosion of water. Do know that they have had their share of problems with vehicles and such this week as well. Big Joe kindly extended an offer to look at the problem. Hours later, we determined it would require a three-hour round trip drive into the closet town that had a hardware store and we would have to leave at daybreak as we are moving to Many Glacier Campground and need to make this transition by 11am. Joe measured and remeasured the plumbing pipe that I would need and I felt quite confident I could replace the piece myself once back with the part.

Seven HOURS later, down the narrow mountain, up the narrow mountain and around the huge Glacier from east to west and west to east we were back, and while the tubing I purchased wasn’t ideal, big Joe and I did our best. After we had it all fitted, we turned on the water and GUSH! Here we go again!

Ugh! Ugh! Ugh!

Okay, a few more adjustments and many hours later with Big Joe’s head stuck in a 12″ x 18″ cabinet and fitting a hose and clamp in a 4″ area, it’ll do and I’ll simply use the water conservatively.

Love Big Joe and his wife Linda. I’m looking forward to their visit to Michigan this fall.

You’ll want to read about Linda’s Mom, Gertie in an upcoming blog. 🙂

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Blueberry Blues

The warm sunshine in just the right place on my body was feelin’ pretty good this chilly Montana morning at Fort Peck. It’s remarkable how cooking blueberry pancakes and brewing coffee not only warms the Stream but the aroma makes it that much more cozy.

I handed Kevin the blueberry pancakes along with the coffee to set at the picnic table and grabbed my phone, thinking I would catch up on emails, text, social media and all the usual…

I read that my ‘young’ friend, after finding out only weeks ago that she had pancreatic cancer (that also invaded her liver), had passed. Having worked with her daughter at my former bookstore, I felt overwhelmed with grief wondering how at age twenty three, you learn your mom has a few weeks to live and you have to say goodbye.

How the hell do I enjoy blueberry pancakes when my friend is heart broken and I am too?

RIP my friend.

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Mostly Cloudy With a 100% Chance of Fracking

Mostly Cloudy With 100 Percent Chance of Fracking.

Late start out of Apostle Islands – like 1:00 pm late start. Organic blueberries from home and organic flour along with fresh eggs right out of the chicken’s butt, made for an awesome breakfast, with Lake Superior just a few feet from us.

Staying in Crookston, MN tonight and blowing through North Dakota tomorrow due to the fracking. NO desire to get caught up in the traffic, trying to find a place for the Stream or mass numbers of people. I hope to be amused for at least ten minutes.

We met a part time RV’er that solo travels around the USA named Linda, and she carries a motorcycle on the back of her 35 foot RV. Very independent and cool lady. Never married, no children (other than the two cats, Whiskey and one that I call Shy Guy. I made Linda blueberry pancakes also.

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Good bye ND, I know you MUST have beautiful landscape, I just didn’t see it. Helllooo Montana!

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