Sunday, October 14, 2012

Big Changes Acomin'...

...which accounts for my lack of posts. Bear with me; all will be revealed soon. It's pretty exciting, at least for me.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

And now what?

So now I am home after 3 months away, away from everything really that comprised normal life. As I lay in bed that first night, I did indeed ask, "And now what?" Do I pick up where I left off, difficult as that is for me to remember? Or do I start fresh?  We're thinking perhaps a bit of freshness. I feel subtly changed by my experience in Rochester and less attached to the way things were, and physical things in general since the lengthy break from them. But mostly, "and now what?" is geez, it's October already. My kitchen calendar gave me a lovely way of announcing that.

I appreciated the summer-like weather I returned to, a week or so of shorts weather before things got nippy.  Ample time for lunch on the deck, long walks at city beach, thorough airing out of the house. A few leaves were turning, but very palely so. I understand it was a very dry summer here and that may account for the paleness of the turning leaves.

I entered my studio with some trepidation. Really couldn't remember how I'd left it. Oh my - not good, very overwhelming. I think I need to stick with the fresh start idea and clear the decks of the clutter and unfinished projects. I gave it a few days and then remembered that I'd been on the road when my nephew's birthday came around in September. I make a block each year for him and this one would be late. But better late than never. He is very involved with his school music program so I pulled the school logo off the web and set to work. All fused applique with the exception of the background which is free-hand curve cutting followed by machine piecing. The hum of the machine was nearly as good for my well-being as the sound of that creek in Missoula and the lake lapping at city beach. Yeah, I think I'm ready to start creating again.

Saturday, October 06, 2012

The Trip Home - Last Leg

Before I headed down the road for my last day of travel, I spent some time with the creek behind my motel. You can just see it past the jacuzzi.

Step back behind the motel and it is as if you've stepped into the woods. I spent a lot of time on that bench.

It's not as if this motel is located in some rural setting. It is located along a main arterial into town with many other  motels, restaurants and casinos. Yet on the back sides of these businesses runs this creek and some undeveloped land. These shots look both up and down the creek from Ruby's Inn.

It was quite shady along here in the morning. The creek veered slightly to create a calm pool before continuing on.

For the most part, Northwest creeks run clear. I have always been fascinated by the rocks lining these creeks, how they look as water rushes over them.

But even more than the look of the creek, the sound of the creek is what made me linger so long. How long had it been since I'd heard the sound of water running that was not man-made? I spent a lot of time sitting near fountains in Rochester seeking escape and solace, but this sound was different, more soothing, assuring me I was pretty much home.

Also out back were some dancing trees.

And the obligatory squirrel.

Along the front of the building were some brilliant flowers.

Bushes loaded with berries, another reminder that summer had passed.

And the sign to the bead show...Turns out that this was not so much a show as a single vendor, Bend Beads, showing his wares, but what beautiful wares he had. I bought a strand of smokey quartz beads and one of paper jasper. I have a chance to spend more with him this month as he will be in Sandpoint.

At this point I was only 3 hours from home, but I was in no hurry to get there. This whole day would be one scenic sidetrip. While finally seeing the name of an Idaho town on a highway sign made me smile, I would not be continuing down the interstate to Coeur d'Alene; I'd be angling up highway 200 instead, through a part of Montana our family spent many weekends exploring on fishing trips.

As you can see, I am destined for another day of driving through wildfire smoke. I wondered if this would follow me all the way did. What you see in this picture is a wildlife overpass. You can view a video report about this overpass here.

It wasn't long before I was traveling beside the beautiful Clark Fork River, surrounded by the familiar mountains of Western Washington. This is looking east.

These are the vistas I grew up with. Now after not seeing them for 3 months, I found they were feeding my soul. So happy to be back in the Pacific Northwest.

Montana and Idaho share similar geology; along Hwy 200 you pass seamlessly from one state to the other without notice. The Clark Fork River empties into Pend Oreille Lake and there you are - back in Idaho again. I drove out into Hope Peninsula to better get my first view of the lake before proceeding to Sandpoint.

When I left back in June, the boating season had barely begun. Upon my return, I can see I missed it altogether.

Even so, there's always ways to enjoy the lake, even if it's just sitting on a dock in the late afternoon sun. City Beach beckoned, so I got back on the highway and completed the last of my journey - more than 3000 miles round trip - ending along the lake with a stroll and a sit in the sun.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

The Trip Home - Montana's Scenic Highway Sidetrip

I'm guessing you may have gotten as tired of looking at smoke-filled pictures as I got driving through those smoke-filled vistas. I wasn't sure if the trip along the Pintler Veterans' Memorial Scenic Highway would be a worthwhile sidetrip, very hard to tell from the map, but I was pretty desperate to see some different country. The highway led me through Anaconda and then up into the mountains where suddenly it popped out into an area that had not one but two beautiful lakes! This is the larger of the two, Georgetown Lake.

And large it is: 3000 acres (and yes, I was thinking "Take THAT, you pretend lakes of Rochester!"). Also high up - once again I was at over 6000 ft in elevation. It was such a delight to drive along its shores and dream of my Lake Pend Oreille that I'd be seeing soon.

I did wish the smoke wasn't still obscuring those mountains. I think this is the Pintler Range - and I'm still thinking monochromatic inspiration. To the north is another range of mountains that I couldn't see at all.

Once past the lake, I quickly started dropping down through a narrow canyon (my favorite kind you know!) and slammed on the brakes when I rounded a corner to this view. Luckily there was a turnout there.

Like I've said, I am such a sucker for rock slabs turned on end.

I could hear water, so crossed the road to find the outlet of the lake, tumbling down into the gorge below. Sadly, the pictures do not give you the proper idea of how much a drop this was from the road. But just the sound of it was music to my ears.

And then there were these big rocks that had been placed as a barrier along the turnout. Texture and line not to mention a wonderful color.

Once off the mountain, I was back to Montana range land, surrounded by mountains difficult to see through the haze. But this 68 mile loop had refreshed me, making the  miles of interstate to my next stop more bearable.  That stop would be Missoula and Ruby's Inn where unbeknownst to me there was a Bead & Gem Show going on. The only thing worse would have been a quilt show with vendors!  Hide my wallet!!

This motel has a creek that runs behind it - I lost no time checking it out and spent about 45 minutes just sitting by it before carrying my things into the room and hunting down some dinner. More about the creek in the next post.  The evening ended with a lovely sunset thanks to all that smoke in the air.

The Trip Home - Smokey Montana

Montana isn't called big sky country for nothing, and in order to have those big skies, the landscape needs to be pretty open. Back on the road with only the hint of mountains in the distance, mostly obscured by smoke.

There had been smokey haze in the distance since South Dakota, but once I left Billings, the smoke from wildfires became so thick that it obscured the mountain ranges I was so longing to see. If you click for larger pics you may be able to make out the mountains in the one above.

I stopped in Belgrade for lunch - I'd been driving with the air circulation feature running and the smoke just seemed to get thicker the farther I went. No sitting out in a nice park to enjoy my lunch.

I found this hard to believe and it was really getting to me. I started thinking about studies in  monochromatics. I later found out that most of the smoke was due to a fire in Idaho and another one in Montana.

I was headed up and over the continental divide, but there was no relief there either. The smoke simply hung along the slopes making picture taking challenging. I love the rock formations going through this area but there really aren't many places to pull off and get shots of them.  Again, it is the lure of granite slabs turned up on end that attracts me.

And of course, the occasional flash of turning leaves.

Down out of the mountains I came - will this smoke never end? No, it won't. I learned that the visibility along this whole stretch of interstate was 4-5 miles. I knew this leg of the trip would be basically powering through a long mostly boring stretch of Montana (which goes on forever btw) but this was ridiculous. 

I stopped at a rest stop near Anaconda and discovered that there was a scenic loop road if I was willing to put on a few extra miles.

Looking towards Anaconda

I studied the map and could see a pass, decided this had to be better than staying on the interstate in this pall. If you click on the pic above, you can see a smokestack that marks the town of Anaconda. Maybe I'd get out of the smoke, maybe not, but maybe there'd be something truly scenic worth the drive up into those mountains. And there was...