An Idaho Summer

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My Idaho summer is coming to a close. Summer in a home surrounded by water and mountains, what more could I ask for? I knew very little about this state before I arrived. Although I have only explored a small section of a rather large state, I now know it is a place I will return to again.

I have relished my stationary time. I was able to nest and relax. I did not feel like I needed to be on the go every minute. There were many benefits to being here. An outstanding benefit-getting to know Linda better,strengthening our friendship and enjoying her company. It was delightful.

I became part of a community, if only for a short time. It doesn’t take long in a small town for the major players to take notice of a new person. The post office in Donnelly, by the time I left, knew me by name. They also told me they would see me next summer.😁 I have enjoyed becoming part of  a community even it was temporary.

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Elsie bathing in the late Afternoon Sun

Elsie also enjoyed the larger digs. I think she was glad to be left behind to nap at will. She enjoyed having space to run. It was hard for me to have to move her again. It was me being emotional, she really hasn’t seemed to mind.

We are in Boise this week. I am, once again, house sitting for Misty the Invisible Cat. When Linda asked me if I could help them out while they are off on vacation, how could I say no? They gave me their second home without hesitation. This is what friends do for friends.

I am, temporarily,  going to become an advertisement for Idaho as I create one of my list about why Idaho is truly the “Gem State”.

  • It is called the “Gem State”, because nearly every known type of gemstone has been found in the state of Idaho. More than 72 different precious and semi-precious gemstones are mined from Idaho.
  • Idaho’s state seal is the only one in the U.S. designed by a woman. In 1890, Emma Edwards Green submitted the design for the State Seal competition sponsored by the First Legislature for the State of Idaho.
  • The drivers give wide berth to bicyclists. As a cyclist,  I noticed this again and again. It is greatly appreciated.
  • The lakes are beautiful and become warm enough in the summer to swim in. I really appreciate this, as I grew up on a lake in northern NJ and love swimming in fresh water.
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Cascade Lake

  • Outdoor activity is everywhere. Hiking? Yep. Biking? Yep. There are a lot of off the road bike paths, that are well maintained. I didn’t have to worry as much about traffic. Kayaking or Paddle Boarding? Yep.
  • Summer is full of special events. I spent one three-day weekend at the Roseberry annual Music Festival. There were three nights of great music. It was very much a family affair. Young children ran among the adults. I brought my folding chair, set it in place and wandered. The entertainment included local and nationally known bands. fullsizeoutput_80a9It was a great way to spend the weekend. The person who was in charge of parking gave me my favorite spot every night. Small towns are fun that way.
  • Wildlife abounds. I enjoyed all of it. The Sandhill Cranes called to me several times, early in the morning hours. I loved the fox that lived over near Roseberry and am happy that I got to take photos of her.

 

  • There were reminders that I was in the west. A favorite of my time here, was the day my friends and I came upon a herd of sheep, being herded by sheepdogs and people to the high country for the summer.
  • I looked forward to the drive across Cascade Lake every time I needed to go somewhere.
  • There were so many nicely graded dirt roads to venture off on.
  • Wildflowers abound. When one season is done the next one is coming into full bloom. Beautiful, just beautiful.
  • Have I mentioned the people? Everyone was welcoming. I could always find someone to aid me when I needed it. I walked into a dentist office, in McCall, and asked if I could make an appointment for a dental cleaning. No problem. They didn’t need x-rays, they didn’t contact my dentist they just got me in.
  • Water abounds. Lakes, rivers, streams, waterfalls and all were running wild and well above normal this past spring.
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    Sawtooth Mts & Stanley Lake

    I love water.

  • Idaho is home to beautiful mountain ranges. I loved the short time I spent at the edges of the Sawtooth Wilderness. It was stunning.
  • Boise is known for it’s Greenbelt. It was off-limits to me this spring (too much water) yet now I am able to get out and bike distance with little interference. It rides along the Boise River where a late summer past time appears to be floating the river in rafts and inner tubes.

I will treasure my Idaho summer for a long time to come. It has given me time to be introspective, have fun out there in the wilds and be reminded of the importance of community.

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Next stop, Oregon and the Eclipse.

 

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Life is an Adventure

Sometimes I try to get creative when I write a new post. After leaving it for a few days, I come back, review it and am amazed that it sounds awful and pretentious. I delete it and start over.

When I first started this blog, I sat in front of my computer and tried to think creatively and I was an utter failure. I could think of nothing to say. Then this little voice inside me said “write from your heart”. I have been doing this ever since.

I just deleted a post I started a few days ago. What makes me think I can write as an expert or an authority on anything? I am mucking through my existence like most others. Each day I can look at what I have accomplished or not accomplished and realize I am still trying to figure “it” out. Some days I feel like I am a bit closer to knowing and some days it feels like I am just starting out.

 

Life is an adventure. When I was single, back in my 20’s and 30’s, I explored and questioned and found amazing things. Many topics helped me stretch my boundaries and grow in ways I would have never imagined. I traveled to exotic and not so exotic places. I studied with teachers. Everything I did shaped me into who I am today.

So the real question becomes, who am I today? I know I am an accumulation of my life experiences, which seems like a pat answer, with no definition at all. Over the past few months I have had time to reflect on this question and, guess what?, I still have no answer.

I like to think of myself as an honest and kind person. Most of the time I am there, yet, not always. I keep learning from others. Linda who, along with her husband, loaned me their “cabin” in northern Idaho has been a good example for me. We have had some long and interesting talks. I realized that I would like to follow her example of taking a situation and looking at it from many perspectives. There is no black and white, not really, in this world we humans inhabit. I realize that I do not have the whole picture in any situation I walk into. It is good to step back and observe more, create less opinions or judgement too early. By doing this I have met and developed some very good and loving friendships. I have grown in my own person and feel I am the better for it.

It is hard to acknowledge that I am full of human frailty, like most others. What I choose to do with this knowledge leads me in repeated and new directions. It helps me to grow and change and I would like to think become more bendable, like trees blowing in the wind. It is OK to be frail because within that is strength, determination, growth and kindness. I don’t mind bending like the wind, as long as I come back up straight, sure and strong and enjoying life as it is, in this moment.

 

 

Elsie Follow-up—-Because many of you asked.

Elsie asked me to let you know about her gear. Here it goes.

Elsie is chipped. She has been since she was a kitten.

She also wears two locators on her collar. The one I have had the longest is the Loc8tor. It is a small beacon that is on her halter. It can track her up to 400 feet. When I lived in San Diego and she had free run of the yard, all I had to do was turn on the handset and she knew her time was up. She would appear from wherever she was resting. I have this on my car keys as well. I tend to lose them. 😁

The Loc8tor has come in handy on the road. She has gotten out on me a couple of times, due to human error. I have found her each time. It is really handy with the car keys. I have lost them more than I like to admit.

The second one is called The Nut. It is that greenish round thing hanging from her collar in some of her photos. That one works with my iPhone.After you buy this you download a free App. It takes a little time to set it up. What I like about this one is that I can share the nut app with others, who house sit for her. Then they can find her as well. It is a little big but she doesn’t seem to mind it.

The hardest thing I have to remember with these locators is to carry extra batteries with me. The batteries last about 6-7 months.

Elsie is also command trained. Jim and I started training her when she was small. She is very responsive to commands. The first command she learned was “Elsie, Come!” along with three claps. One night while we were in Tennessee, I was trying out a different type of halter and she slipped out of it. It was pitch dark, trees from the bottom of the mountain to the top and thickly forested. I was a bit panicked. I said the above command and there was this little dark shape running into the RV. Whew! The other commands are:

  • “Collar”-to remove her halter when she comes inside.
  • “Outsie?”-If she wants to go out, this command is her cue to head to the door.
  • “Elsie Wait” accompanied by showing her my flat hand or a finger. She doesn’t always like this one and cringes sometimes as if I am going to hurt her. Like I ever would. She will stop and wait, though. It might be worth the effort to go back and re-enforce this one again so she doesn’t get so anxious. I trained her to this command by putting her on a short leash, and gently pulling up and saying wait, like I meant it. When I trained her she would sit down and wait. I chose this one because when I first began introducing her to the RV, she would sometime spring for the side door when I would open it. This is the one command she learned after Jim died. I figured if she was going to travel with me, I would need her to pay attention. She is a very good kitty and although a scaredy cat, aims to please.

She has some interesting dog-like behaviors. I can walk her on a leash with ease. I can take her to my friend, Nancy’s house for dinner or an evening. She really likes Nancy and has stayed with her. She walks in for the evening like she owns the place. I don’t have to bring her litter pan in. She is good at waiting. I bring her short leash with me in case I need to take her for a trip outside.

Her adaptability is what amazes me most. Then again my adaptability, since I was diagnosed with breast cancer,then Jim’s death has pretty much surprised me as well. 

Elsie is such a delightful traveling companion. I am glad I have her along for the ride. We are a team, all the way. I believe we have saved each other time and time again.

Elsie Steals the Computer

Whew it is hard to get this computer to myself. Janet puts it away or takes it with her and I have been wondering how to let my fans know about my adventurous life.

I know not many cats get to do what I am doing. I understand the owners and their own hesitancy. Here is what I want to tell all you cat people out there “Cats are Adapatable”!! I know, I am the world’s worst scaredy cat, yet I like to explore new places and see new things, as long as I have a home to return to when I want security, comfort and a good nap.

I have been to many places since I last posted here. Janet, me and the Roadtrek spent the winter in Arizona, I guess that makes us official snowbirds. I like the idea of Snowcats better. We returned to San Diego in the early spring. Janet says she needed more dental stuff done. I know dental means teeth. I keep trying to tell her that if she ate dry crunchies her teeth would be OK. I don’t know why she doesn’t listen.

Dharma the Dog

Finally in mid-April we left. Since then I have stayed in many interesting places. First stop was to visit a long time friend of Janet’s, Sharon. She lives in a place with “biggggggg…..” rocks everywhere. I had to get used to Dharma the dog. Whew it was hard. Dharma is big and I am small. I am not so sure about dogs but there she was. We stayed inside in a secluded bedroom. Every time I wanted to go somewhere Janet had to carry me. Who would be sniffing right behind? You guessed it Dharma the dog. During the day I would go to the RV so I could look outside and be curious. Who would be outside looking in, you guessed it? Dharma the dog. If we had stayed long enough Dharma may have worn me down and I would have become friends, of sorts, with her. Well maybe.

Since then I have been to the desert, the mountains, the ocean and more. We have camped, rallied (Roadtrek Rally, Monterey) and stayed in people’s homes. I like going back to homes I have been in before. For a while we stayed with Mary, a friend of Janet’s and mine in Medford, Oregon. I remember this house. I have been there before. I love the stairs. I haven’t seen many houses with stairs. They are so much fun to run up and down, over and over again. Janet calls it the rip and tears. I may be older but I love a good run as much as the next cat.

Me groveling with Andrew

For about three weeks we stayed with Linda and Steve and their son Andrew. First Janet was there, then she left, then she came back again. Where does she go? I am not sure. All these other people took good care of me, making sure that I got fed and skritched and loved. I really like Andrew. I am not much of a “guy” cat. Andrew is an exception to that rule. He would come in the room they had set up for me and visit. I admit I kind of ended up groveling a bit when he was around. A cat has to make the best of every situation, right?

These people had other animals. Poncho the dog, kind of ignored me. He didn’t seem to care about me at all. What is wrong with that dog? I am all nervous around him and he pretends I don’t exist. Dogs, go figure. Janet says, Poncho is such a dog. I am not sure what that means but I agree with it. The other animal was Misty the Cat. We didn’t see eye to eye. Whenever we met there was growling and hissing. Setting up territory is hard work.

When Janet returned we arrived at this lovely home that we have been in for about 3 weeks. I like it because, once again, I am the solo pet. I like it when I have Janet to myself. this place has birds and other animals to entertain me when she is out and about. It is nice that she brought my own personal sheepskin inside. I love “making bread” on it and resting in the window where I can watch the world go by. I dream of humming birds. Those swallows make me weary. The just seem to never stop, flitting here and there. I am not sure what birds are about but I like to watch their quickness. It keeps me entertained. Wouldn’t it be interesting to catch one?

Exploring

Janet says we are here to regroup. We have been traveling a lot for the past year. I like stopping for a while. I like the big house. This one has stairs too. I like being able to stretch. I love to rip and tear through this house. All my toys are here, so I can look at them with disdain when someone is looking. Late at night when no one is up I play with them and carry them around the house. They are fun. I pretend they are birds and mice and lizards. I love lizards.

I am not sure how long we are here. I will enjoy all the time I get wherever I am. Life is too short. When things get stressful I will retreat to a time out under the blankets. And when I want to explore the big wide world I will come out from under them and go off and check things out. It helps to have Janet here. She is my rock. I know she will always take care of my base needs. Once in a while when I want her to she will always be there to scratch, love and feed me. We are a team.

The Life of a Swamper

As many of you may know, I am spending a part of my summer in Donnelly, Idaho. It is up in the mountains and is, simply, a delightful place to be. I came into the area late in May and have been spending time, first, in Boise (a great medium size town) and now here in Donnelly.

I interrupted my stay for two weeks, so I could travel to northern Montana and join a group of people and raft down the North Fork of the Flathead River. I have never been on a private multi-day raft trip before. It has a very different flavor than a commercial trip. It is work!!! The rafts have to be hauled to the put in, blown up and outfitted. It takes approximately 3 hours to complete this project. It is not easy work. Many items are heavy.  Team effort is a definite must and this group of sixteen excelled in helping others.

I was the swamper of my friend, Mary’s, raft. What, you may ask, is a swamper? Originally the term was used in the logging industry but when it comes to rafting, well, it is a whole different story. Swampers help with everything. Loading the raft?  Yep. Unloading the raft? Yep. Hauling stuff from point A to point B? Yep. Now those tasks sound easy but there is a lot involved. Each item on a raft has a certain place. Everything is double checked to be sure it is strapped down and locks, locked. Does the raft need to be pumped up? Here, let me do that. If anyone needs help in and around the campsite, well there is another job to be done. I decided early on I wanted to make Mary’s and my life easier. I chose to learn quickly so she had less to do with the boat as each day progressed. She could, then, focus on other tasks. By the end of the week, I was pretty much responsible for packing the raft for the day. Mary and I worked well together and made quite a team. I am proud to be called a swamper.  Next trip, if there is one,  I want to learn to row.

At the end of the floating day, my fun began. I set up my tent and took off exploring with my camera. We camped mainly on sand or rock bars on the non-National Park side of the river. Glacier National Park was our east river backdrop. Each day was a beautiful ride. There was always something interesting to explore. I found bear tracks, Sandhill Crane tracks, and we think, wolf tracks. Now how cool is that? One night I camped near a Spotted Sandpiper’s nest. We made good room-mates for a night. I felt honored.

 

I found that the moments of alone time, helped me balance living for a week with sixteen other people. For those of you who have been following my blog, you may recall that being around large groups of people has been an issue for me since Jim’s death from cancer. I enjoyed all of the people I traveled with for the week. It was interesting and fun to watch the group dynamics unfold. Please remember that the majority of this group had already been traveling together for about a week. Some of these folks have been traveling together for many years. They were like one big happy family with all their quirks and fun. I enjoyed getting to know all of them. I enjoyed the stories and laughter. It was fun to join in.

Beaver

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now I am back in Donnelly, Idaho. I am recovering. I am healing sun burned lips. I have an infection in my big toe. It has given me the opportunity to soak my foot and relax a little. It is a good time to write blog posts.✍🏻 Soak and Write.

I am getting to know the area I am staying in for the next month plus. I take long walks, am hoping to rent a kayak and explore the lakes. I am also catching up on some much needed chores. Daily chores do not go away just because I am leading a gypsy kind of life.

My closest lake.

Sunset not too far from my door.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As this swamper rests and heals, I can look out the door at the mountains and get ready to hike. Life is an adventure I am glad to take on.

 

What to do Next

Have you ever read a seemingly light fiction book, only to discover it is exactly what you needed to read? I have just finished “The Undomestic Goddess”. It is a delightful little read, a great summer book.

“Sometimes you don’t need a goal in life. I reply, lifting my chin. You don’t need to know the big picture. You just need to know what you are going to do next.”                                                                  The Undomestic Goddess, Sophie Kinsella

For close to five years I have been trying to figure “it” out. When I was finished with the treatment for breast cancer, I tried to figure out how this changed my life and what I should do next. When Jim was diagnosed with cancer, I wondered why this happened. What do I do with this information? After he was diagnosed with metastasis from the original cancer, I started to plan what my life would look like without him. What if the worse happened? What do I do then?

After Jim’s death over five and a half years ago, I once again asked myself “What do I do next?”. What is the plan? How do I figure this out? Grief took over for a while, then I realized hard grief is not a place to stay for very long. It is overwhelming and all consuming and not much fun. There is no reward in grief.

Once the first couple of years was done I began to ask myself, what is next. What do I do now? I have been waiting for someone or something to come along and say this is it. This is next. I have been waiting for the great “Aha Moment”. So far that has not happened. My goal of “figuring it out” is still an illusion or a distant desire, yet to be fulfilled.

When I read the quote above, on some level, I got it. I don’t have to figure everything out. I just need to know what I am going to do next. That is it, no more-no less. I know, many of my friends and some strangers, as well, have been saying things like this to me for quite some time. Until I read that quote, I didn’t get it. I kept waiting for my life to fall into order, like magic.

Why I feel like my life should fall into order now, is beyond me. My life has never fallen into order. I have made my life happen. We all make our lives happen. Sometimes I trip and stumble and that is where friends and family come into play. They listen and sometimes advise and continue to support me, no matter what. Then I pick myself up and go off to explore the next adventure. The next edition of my life.

So for now I am going to work on what I am going to do next. And I know, that the big picture will fall into place. I don’t know when or where and that is OK. It will fall into place. In the meanwhile I hope I can catch the magic of the small moments and not be just waiting for the “Aha Moment”

My Adventure Two Weeks Ago. Rafting in Montanna

to happen.

Being Sick, Getting Better, Ready to Adventure On.

being sick

At the end of my pet and house sitting gig in Boise, earlier this month, I headed north to McCall, ID hoping to spend the major part of my summer hiking, biking and kayaking and practicing photography.  The same people I house sat for have very generously offered me their second home in the mountains.  Linda accompanied me with plans to spend a week, before returning to her family in Boise. We both got sick. We were both sick for the full time she was there. Arrgh!! This is not how I wanted to spend our time together. I was hoping for hikes and ample time to take photos. Instead we were sick.

I don’t spend much time around large groups of people. I should go out and expose myself more, so that I don’t catch the latest thing that is “going around”. When I worked as a nurse and a tour manager the “bug” exposure was always there and usually one illness  a year would do it. After I started to annually receive the flu shot, even that went away.

Since Jim’s death I have been healthy. With that stressor, I would not have been surprised if I had gotten sick. Stress can do that to a person. It just did not happen. I did have other physical events like a broken ankle but that is not getting sick. That is one of those oops moments that the Arnold girls are prone to. 🙄

Although I love my tiny home, I was very glad to be in a real sticks & bricks house. There was a great deal of comfort, being able to curl up in a firm, double bed with Elsie, my sidekick, curled up next to me. During the day I sat in a comfy chair and watched the weather play out it’s agenda. When I wore out, back to bed I would go. I wonder what I would do if I became sick while traveling in my cute little Roadtrek. One time a few years back I developed a really bad headache and I retreated to a hotel. If I got really sick while on-the-road I think I would retreat to a hotel until I felt better. Maybe I wouldn’t, yet I think my inclination would be to nestle in somewhere.

Except for the cough, I am better. And why is it, that the cough is the last thing to go? I don’t know. Usually for the better part of the day I am fine but when I get weary the cough shows up. Sigh.

After the REI Garage Sale on Saturday, early the next morning I began driving north. Since I still feel in recovery mode I find that if I travel four to five hours in a day, that is enough. I have found wonderful national forest campgrounds each night with nice short or long walks right at the edge of the campground. Tonight I have upgraded to a State Park Campground on the edge of Flathead Lake.

Thursday, I am meeting up with friends in Columbia Falls, MT. We are doing a six day river raft trip on the Flathead River starting near the border of Canada. I am excited to be out and doing.

 

The country I have been exploring has been amazingly beautiful. In the high country it is spring and there are fields of flowers in bloom. Mosquitos abound. A good snowy winter means a lot of standing water this spring. Water=Mosquitos. At one point, I pulled off the road to get a photo from the RT, rolled down the window and within a matter of moments there were mosquitos everywhere. I spent the next twenty minutes chasing the little buggers and, despite bad karma, killed every single one. I have no regrets. After that little fiasco, I had to clean the interior of the front windows. Sigh. I am not a fan of mosquitos. 

Spending the majority outside means that bugs are part of my life. I just like the ones that do not bite or sting. Why can’t we have a mutual agreement to not bother each other? Life is not like that and I have to accept that there will be the infrequent close encounters.

Hmm, I wonder if this could be applied to the rest of my life as well. It is the end of my day and I cannot go to that deep thought place right now.

Montanna

I am looking forward to being on the river. We will be floating near Glacier National Park. It will be stunning country. This type of adventure is one Jim would have enjoyed. This time I will have to enjoy it for both of us. Ready to adventure on.