Waldport-Burns-Twin Falls-Ely-Kanab-Home

We had some interesting experiences on the final days in the Pacific Northwest and the trip back to Arizona. One final blog should document these few days.

Miles of pies were advertised by the Yachats Ladies Club for their Fourth of July extravaganza and they were able to deliver. There was a considerable wait in line but we made it to the pie line-up.  First were the sugar free and gluten free pies, mostly fruit kinds as I remember. Then came the regular fruit varieties, so many kinds. What to choose? Maybe a custard pie or a cream pie or just a brownie. One or two scoops of ice cream? Coffee? You bet! Pie, pie, we like pie!

After the pie parade came the real parade. It was billed as the La-Di-Da Parade and it was a doozie. The first entry were folks dressed interestingly and riding in a manure spreader. 

Following this was the traditional rainbow umbrella marching unit who did some snappy routines. 

The leader was dressed to the hilt and called out the maneuvers. 

Not to be outdone by those in the parade, this fine family tooted away from the sidelines on kelp instruments. The mom said that teen daughter declined to perform or even sit near them. 

Three ladies dressed alike and belting out familiar tunes came next.

No horses in this parade but there were plenty of dogs in various costumes.

Families with grass skirts. 

Rubber duckies. 

Unusual costumes. 

Bagpipes and a marching band.

The fire department was present at the end of the parade inviting all to join them for a barbecue. 

The following day we were headed back to Arizona. We got onto US Highway 20 in Newport, OR. Highway 20 goes across the country to Boston, MA and goes through our “hometown” of Atkinson, NE.  Away from the cool and windy coast we began to feel the warmer summer temperatures and see farming country. 

Across Willamette National Forest and through the small town of Sisters, Oregon made famous nationally for hosting possibly the worlds largest outdoor quilt show. There are three sister mountain peaks nearby, all above 10,000 feet. Tonight we sleep in an RV park in Burns, Oregon. Continuing on highway 20 east across the border into Idaho at Ontario and onto Interstate 84. We are definitely in farming country now with fruit orchards, hayfields and potato fields. We are following the Snake river east to Twin Falls, Idaho, our stop for the night. Another busy RV park catering to summer travelers. Now we get to go south and are soon into Nevada at Jackpot. Hurrying south we note the little town of Currie and remember a funny story that Jake Jakob’s told us about stopping nearby. This is basin and range country with mountains all around capped with snow still in July. 

Down through the Steptoe valley and early into our spot in Ely, Nevada. We have time to set up camp and explore the area a little. Ely has a nice museum and railroad ride and we are in time to take the train.  Ely had the worlds largest copper mine at one time. It is now closed and when it closed, the company just left its offices intact and this is now a museum which we toured. Vintage railroad related items are on view and records of the mine going back to its inception. 

Dave bought tickets for boarding the train which were punched encounter by the conductor who wore an authentic conductor outfit. 

The train ride was from Ely depot to the copper mine and back. A narrator gave a running commentary on the train, the terrain, the mine, etc. He encouraged us to duck our heads, pick up our feet and call out “Woo, woo!” as we went through two tunnels. Silly, but we did it. 

Dave always enjoys a good train ride. So do I. 

Here is a small segment of the mountain of mine tailings.

The next day we continued going south on Nevada highway 93 then turned east toward Utah at Panaca, Nevada. As we neared Cedar City, Utah, I began looking on my phone for a lunch place. A recommended place popped up which would be right along our route and not in the center of town. It was called the Market Place so we decided to stop. Turns out it was the cafe for the Cedar City Livestock Market. 

The food was good and it was the cheapest lunch we ate on the entire trip! Booths just like I remember with advertisements laminated to the tabletop. 

Continuing east from Cedar City we climb into the Dixie National Forest. Here we encountered the first rain since Stevens Pass in Washington State. 

Steep canyons and beautiful rock formations remind us of previous visits to Utah.

South on Utah 89 along the Virgin River to Kanab. 

Scenic Utah contains a good bit of Lava from an ancient flow. The dark mass you see in the photo above is all lava. The lake in the picture above is called lava lake. Flow tubes in the bottom of the lake drain water and carry it to sudden springs elsewhere. There is a dike made by CCC workers that bisects the lake and keeps the lake at acceptable levels for recreation.  On into Kanab, our last stop on our two month tour. The Kanab KOA had a nice level back in space for us with full hookups and a swimming pool next door! Lovely on a hot day. We had to run our AC twice on this trip and Kanab was one of them. 

A catalpa tree gave good shade but it was still hot. The showers were spotless and felt great. 

The next day we headed west up onto the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and down through beautiful vistas to Page, AZ. 

We cross on the bridge above Glen Canyon Dam which forms Lake Powell. So beautiful! Lots of folks out this Sunday with their boats headed for a cruise on the water. South on highway 89 through more marvelous scenery onto the Navajo Reservation. 

We can just barely see Mount Humphreys in the distance with a little bit of snow on top. 

We stop for coffee at a Starbucks and are on the road through Flagstaff on Interstate 40 and south onto Interstate 17. Nearing the Verde Valley we see some smoke to the east. An electronic sign warns os of possible visibility problems but we didn’t see or smell any smoke as we passed through. Later we heard that the Interstate was closed for hours because of dense smoke. Whew! 

Down and down in elevation from 6000 feet and pine forests. 

4000 feet and piñon pine. 

Cactus more prevalent. 

 We see Saguaro cactus as we near Black Canyon City. 

Getting nearer to Phoenix more desert flora appears. Loop 303 takes us around the city to the north then El Mirage street gets us south to Bell Road. We are watching the temperature readout on our mirror. Finally Sun Village back gate and home. 

It’s a Dry Heat as they say, but it is darned hot. All the same, we are glad to be home. 

Luci’s 2017 Journey North and West: The Final Leg; Idaho, Washington and Oregon

With Montana in the rear view mirror, we zig and zag through pine forests and down into Couer d’ Alene, Idaho on the bank of Coeur d’ Alene Lake. We lucked into finding a great restaurant for lunch with parking on the street. After lunch we drove through the downtown (cute) with baskets of flowers on the lampposts for extra ambiance. On to the campground just a little way off Interstate 90. The RV park was on the lake with full hookups and gravel pads. A very busy campground, it had its own dock and beach, free showers and a laundry. The next day we went back downtown to a lovely park that borders the lake. It was a nice day, a bit on the cool side but that didn’t stop some young folks from paddle boarding in their bathing suits. I was just glad for my jacket as a stiff wind blew off the lake. Dave and I walked around the park where families were picnicking. A flowing waterfall lead down to a pier where cruise boats and two seaplanes were docked, both giving rides to see the lake.

We chose to take our first seaplane ride in a Beaver seaplane. There were four of us and it was interesting and not at all scary. We saw the length of the big lake with the pilot pointing out features and properties of the rich and famous before bringing us back to the dock. 
The next day we were again headed west and in a few miles were in Spokane, WA. The I 90 corridor between the two cities was built up with commercial properties so that it was difficult to tell where the division line was.  On the west side of Spokane we picked up Highway 2 which would take us to our destination in Wenatchee. Across rolling plains with agricultural fields growing right up to the highway, no ditches!  Through Coulee City and on west until we reached the Columbia River. 

We drove through some of  the channeled scablands which were scoured to bedrock by an ancient flood when a Glacial dam burst. Turning south at Orondo along the Columbia, we soon saw orchards of cherry trees all the way into Wenatchee. In the downtown along the rail line we found parking for our rig and a lunch place with outdoor seating. We visited the Prybus market, an indoor marketplace. The market had produce, food vendors, wine, olive oil, vinegars, cheeses and meats plus clothing and candy stalls. Confluence State Park in Wenatchee was our destination. It had expansive RV sites with full hookups near the confluence of the Columbia and Wenatchee Rivers. Chickadees greeted us from the pine tree in the lush grass of the park. A walking path around the park gave me an opportunity to do some birdwatching. I spotted a pair of catbirds and a Westerm wood pewee. Dave and I hiked another trail in a preserve on an island in the park. Tall grasses and shrubs around a pond and marsh was great habitat for a Canada geese family, mallard ducks and swallows.  A snake that I couldn’t identify crossed our path slowly. We waited politely and patiently. 

We also visited Ohme Gardens. Built on the side of a hill by hand by the Ohme family who brought in dirt, trees, shrubs and flowers. They installed irrigation and made ponds, paths and benches. They turned it over to the city when they became unable to take care of it. Because of the terrain, it would not be possible for the physically challenged but it was magical for Dave and me. 

The Wenatchee River Bluegrass Festival was the reason we came to this part of Washington State. It is held at the Chelan County Fairgrounds in Cashmere, WA. Getting to the fairgrounds early in the week guaranteed us a spot with full hookups along a paved road with grass and a picnic table to share with neighbors. RV’s were parked pretty close together with just enough space to deploy awnings and slide-outs. In the non-electric area were lots of folks in tents. There were more younger folks at this festival than most we visit and that was good. It is odd for us to go to a festival not knowing anyone there but Dave soon found some pickers from British Columbia and some members of the Rusty Hinges band that performed at the Sunday gospel show. Chilly and windy finally gave way to partly sunny and tolerable by Saturday. Acquaintances Joe and Arlene (snowbirds in winter in Arizona) were at the festival as well as the Fadelys who we met at the Montana Fiddle Camp.  Dave was able to visit and play some tunes with both couples.  Before the festival started, we explored downtown Cashmere with its covered sidewalks on Main Street. There was a good bakery where we purchased sweet Crispies just like the hometown bakery of our childhood. I was able to drop off laundry and pick it up all fresh and folded after having a pedicure and foot massage. We also made a trip up the highway to visit the Bavarian inspired town of Leavenworth, WA. Schnitzel and Rouladen were our lunch choices at a German resturant not far from the town maypole. Flower baskets were everywhere in this town. The bluegrass festival was held in the afternoon and evening on Friday and Saturday with a gospel performance on Sunday morning. Featured bands were; North Country, Downtown Mountain Boys, Cedar Hill, Kenny and Amanda Smith and Balsam Range. We really enjoyed the sets by Balsam Range but all the bands were good. There was a two day instrument workshop for kids and a band scramble and workshops for adults. It was a good festival and we were glad to be able to be there. 

My friends, nursing school classmates and former roommates, Linda Taulbee and Cheryl Linder live on the coast of Washington in the city of Everett. I was delighted that they were going to be home as we were passing through and we made plans to meet for lunch.  Dave then made reservations at a county RV park near Snohomish, WA which was a short distance from Everett. After the Bluegrass Festival we headed west again on Highway 2 across the Cascade mountains. The road was winding and the scenery was beautiful with a light mist of rain. 

We climbed up and over Stevens Pass then down towards the coast. As we approached the Snohomish area, the trees got taller and the forest denser almost making a tunnel over the road. Thanking heavens for GPS, we found Flowing Lake County Park and our RV site for the next two nights. The park is situated on a lake and has dense, almost rainforest-like trees and huge ferns with many types of mosses. I could hear birds but saw few. Our RV site had water and electricity but the area was so damp we couldn’t help but get mud on everything. I was glad when it was time to relocate. 

The lunch with our friends and their husbands was at Anthony’s Homeport, a seafood restaurant on the Everett harbor. We had a great visit and all hope to be able to make it to Lincoln, Nebraska for our 50th year class reunion in 2019. 

Dave at the Everett, WA Marina. 

Cheryl Linder, Myself, Linda Taulbee. Classmates at Bryan Hospital School of Nursing and roomies after graduation. I wished our fourth roomie, Jan Butler, could have been there. 

The next adventure was getting to Whidbey Island where we had reservations at Fort Ebey State Park. North on Interstate 5 and west across a land bridge to the island. Sunny days were a welcome sight. Our camp site was in a less dense wooded area than the previous spot. We had full hookups and were a short walk to bluffs above the shore of the Straits of San Juan de Fuca. Whidbey Island is a beautiful rural island with small towns and farms and some beautiful homes plus two State Parks which are heavily used in the summer. Dave had made reservations for all our RV sites back in April. It was nice to be assured of a place to stay. Fort Ebey State Park has a WWII gun battery and machine gun emplacement. We explored the trails and smelled the ocean smell for the first time. I walked a birding trail seeing chickadees, nuthatches and swallows. We saw lots of birds on Whidbey; eagles, song sparrows, white crowned sparrows, robins, spotted towhees, flicker, double crested cormorants, gulls, blue heron, thrush, Canada geese, green wing teal and goldfinches. Whidbey has rose hedges and the preserved historic Ebey farm and preserved (from development) agricultural lands. Lunch one day in the town of Coupeville on Penn Cove was Penn Cove Mussels with linguine and in seafood stew. We had a pile of shells when we were done!

We drove down to the Ferry Landing to see how the ferry worked and stopped at Meerkert Gardens to look at the rhododendrons. 

The view from the bluffs on Whidbey was spectacular. Dave saw a deer one morning and we watched paragliders and huge ships out on the ocean. The Olympic Peninsula was visible across the Strait, our next stop. 

To cross from Whidbey Island to Port Townsend, we took the Ferry. It’s a good idea to have reservations if you are crossing with an RV as we did. The ferry people checked us in and assigned us to a loading lane and when the ferry was loading, a worker beckoned us forward and we drove aboard, parked where directed and went upstairs to watch the crossing from on deck. All amenities were available including a snack bar and enclosed seating in various areas. The crossing took only 45 minutes with smooth seas. The dock was located in downtown Port Townsend on Port Townsend Bay. Our RV site was just around the corner at Point Hudson Marina and RV Park.

Our RV park was right on the beach and part of the Port Townsend Marina. The sunshine was abundant. We got laundry done, explored the town and had time to sit in the sun. 

I saw my first black oystercatcher, lots of gulls and purple martins. We watched the ferry from Whidbey Island come and go, ocean going ships and fast ferries heading for Seattle, and many boats and sailing ships going in and out of the Marina. 

Next stop, the acerage of good friends Jake and Jeanne Jacobs! Jake and Jeanne live on Sequim Bay on six lush wooded acres. They cut acres of timber and used the logs to build their house. Tall firs, pines, cedars and madrona trees abounded as did rhododendron, honeysuckle, huckleberry and raspberry vines and salal shrubs. 

Jake used his 1969 Chevrolet K20 Truck to haul and transfer logs to the mill. It is parked up the hill next to a tool shed he built. 

Jeanne (and Jake) have a nice garden with vegetables and herbs and fruit trees. We had wonderful salad greens with herbs for dinner and in sandwiches. Our Luci enjoyed a sunny spot with water and electricity in a central location near the house. The weather was perfect for visiting outdoors in the sun around their Jake-made picnic table. I saw robins, song and white crowned sparrows, eagles, spotted towhee, goldfinch, yellow rumped warbler, wilsons warbler, rufous hummingbirds, wrens, violet green swallow, thrush, many butterflies, deer and one shy brown hare. Evidently the winter is long and unpleasant so they leave this paradise for Arizona.

One day we all went hiking to Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park with snow capped peaks in a panorama around us. Dave commented that the Trail was uphill both ways. Our picnic lunch and beer was extra tasty after the hike. Jake regaled us with stories of them skiing down this mountain and camping overnight then hiking back up and skiing down again. Later, fiddle tunes were played at their house, including Dave’s new tune Here Comes Jake.  We slept well. 

The next day another picnic lunch was made and we again climbed into their venerable Volvo sedan for a short trip to the John Wayne Marina on Sequim Bay where we sat under the shade trees and played tunes. I was watching out for birds and along with the usual assortment of gulls and ravens, I saw a red breasted sapsucker. A first for me. The sapsucker had drilled hazelnut sized holes in a circular pattern around the circumference of the trees near us. At first I thought an acorn woodpecker had made the holes. Other folks were out on the tidal flats digging clams, some were swimming and others just walking about. 

After our picnic, we watched a S’Klallam tribal canoe enter and navigate around the bay. As it left, another unusual looking tribal vessel came into view and followed the canoe into the marina. Jeanne had read an announcement explaining that the tribe would be seeding certain areas with shellfish using what was called a “Flupsy”.  Jake wondered if the tribal vessel was carrying this device so he and Jeanne proceeded down into the Marina to find out. 

They talked to the native man in charge, had a good visit and came back carrying a one pound Geoduck , a fairly rare member of the clam family. The tribe was indeed harvesting these clams and gifted Jake with one. An uglier looking mollusk you will never see. Installed in the cooler, we proceeded back home to use The Google to find out the proper way to clean and prepare this delicacy. The fisherman had told Jake that he sold Geoduck (pronounced gooey-duck) for $15 a pound. Google told us it retailed for around $30 a pound and could bring $300 a pound in China where it is a rare delicacy. So Jeanne rinsed it off, blanched it for thirty seconds or so and shocked it in ice water. Then Jake cut the shell off one side of the clam and peeled it off the other side. The next step was to skin the siphon tube. We laughed a lot but the mollusk was skinned, cleaned and cut into pieces as instructed. Jake put the skin outside on the trellis to dry, possibly to use for a hatband. Ha,ha. Cut on the bias in thin slices and sauteed  in browned butter and white wine, it was delicious. We also tried it raw cut thinly on the bias with a dipping sauce. Delicious. We will probably never experience this shellfish again but are so glad we did. 

Needing to use the internet, the next day we went to the Jamestown S’Klallam library in Blyn which was also on Sequim Bay. The tribe has several well appointed buildings including administration facilities and an art gallery as well as a casino and reference library dedicated to all things Native American. Many beautiful totem poles grace the grounds. Almost all were carved by an artist friend of Jake. Jake painted parts of the totem figures. The totems were truly impressive. That afternoon Eric Prust, a great picker and banjo maker came to pick some tunes with us. 

The following day, the Volvo (sporting American flags to designate our diplomatic mission into Canada) drove us to Port Angeles to the Black Ball Ferry terminal to catch the ferry to Victoria. We were just walking on but had gotten reservations anyway.  We had to show our passports and declare that we were going on a short trip for personal reasons. The trip was an uneventful ninety minutes into the sunny harbor of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. 

We walked along the beautiful waterfront which had hanging baskets of flowers, buskers of various types and tourists speaking in many languages. This year is Canada’s 150th anniversary on July first. Special music and events were scheduled this week before the first and we were able to take in a bit of a free concert on the wharf as we walked around in the evening. The harbor is packed with fancy hotels including the venerable Emperess Hotel, a stately structure on manicured grounds. It is supposedly the place to go for high tea in the afternoon. We visited the impressive capital building of the province of BC which was located just above the harbor. Legislature was in session so we listened from the visitors gallery for a few minutes. Canada takes security seriously in their capital building. We walked through a scanner as our bags were screened as we entered and our bags were checked and impounded while we watched the legislature. 

In the afternoon we took a bus out to Butchart Gardens, a 100 year old garden started by Jennie Butchart in an attempt to beautify a limestone quarry that had supplied her husband’s Portland cement plant. It grew as she added rare and exotic trees, shrubs and flowers that they collected on their world travels. The limestone quarry became a sunken garden that now sports a dancing fountain. Other features of this vast estate are Japanese, Rose, Italian and Mediterranean gardens. In 2004 the Gardens were designated a National Historic Site of Canada. Today the Gardens remain under the control of the Butchart family who are actively involved in the day to day business. They employ 50 gardeners in the high summer seaso and change displays according to the season of the year, adding a skating rink in winter. The Gardens are visited by over a million people annually.

We were amazed by the beauty and diversity of the flowers, trees and shrubs. The rose garden was spectacular with roses from every possible country in every possible color, size and type. 

The carousel was enclosed in a rotunda so it can be enjoyed year round. This is a menagerie carousel with 30 hand-carved wooden animals and two chariots. 

Various fountains were featured in the Gardens, some were presented to the Butchart family as gifts from other countries. The historic home of the Butchart family is now a fine dining restaurant, their conservatory is a cafeteria-style restaurant. A visitor center and gift shop is found there also and coffee, snacks and ice cream can be found on the garden grounds.  

After the bus ride back into Victoria, we checked into a boutique hotel the Magnolia. Located only a few blocks from the wharf, they had kept our bags while we toured. The king bed and huge soaking tub were a beautiful sight. Dinner was seafood (what else?) at the nearby 10 Acres Kitchen.  The next day, the Magnolia again kept our bags after we checked out so we could sightsee unencumbered. We were headed for the wharf and a three hour whale-watching excursion. The boat with maybe thirty watchers sailed out into the Straits into only slightly choppy seas with two crewmen and the skipper to guide us. There were several sightings of hump backed whales, nothing spectacular, and a swing by some islands gave us the opportunity to spot seals, sea otters, eagles and guillemots (another first sighting).

Back in the harbor we ate lunch and people-watched, retrieved our bags, briefly visited the Bay Center mall and waited for the ferry back to the USA. Our passports were looked at and we were asked if we bought anything in Canada as we passed through Customs. Jake and Jeanne met us and we went out for a fine meal at the local Kokapelli resturant in Port Angeles. 

The next day we said goodbye and “see you in Salome” to Jake and Jeanne and headed west for the Olympic rainforest on the Hoh river. 

The rainforest is truly unique with huge trees, upright and hundreds of feet tall, supine and decaying with new vegetation growing on top, a maple grove covered in moss and ferns of all kinds. The Hoh rainforest is several miles inland from the coast road. I was surprised at the numbers of people who were there hiking the trails. 

Our destination was the Kalaloch Campground in Olympic National Park. Being right on the coast, it was full and we were glad for our reservation. Our site was just a widened edge of the pavement on the loop around the park. There was a fire ring and flush toilets nearby. We hiked down to the beach to watch the surf and the gulls and ravens. 

The wind and water erosion make for fantastic sights along the shoreline. 

There was a great hike along a trail away from the campground and into more rainforest. We could hear birds as we approached a creek near the trail. Kingfishers were sounding the alarm about something. Peering around, we saw the cause of the uproar. Sitting on branches in a large pine tree were three owls. I think they were screech owls. Here is a photo of the one that didn’t fly away. 

Farther along the trail, we could hear an unusual bird call and I finally got my binoculars on the bird, a varied thrush. That is another first bird for me. This was a magical trail for us, such a beautiful spot. 

On the road again going south along the Pacific coast and finally to the Columbia River and over the bridge into Oregon. 

The Oregon coast has wonderful sandy beaches and lots of commercial activity. Small towns built along route 101 slowed our progress but after a long day we made it to Waldport, Oregon and the KOA camp that is our stay for the next few days. We explored the nearby towns, beaches and nature areas. Rays grocery store in Waldport was a resupply stop and laundry was done and trailer cleaned a bit in preparation for the final push back to Arizona. 

These signs were prevalent all along the coast as well as signs designating the route to take to evacuate in the event of a tsunami. Being from the interior, these were interesting to us. 

We will have good memories of our 2017 western tour. We’re looking forward to being home as well. 

Luci’s 2017 Journey North and West; Montana Fiddle Camp Photos

Here are some photos and maybe even a video of our week at camp.

Fiddle Camp memorabilia. 

My lanyard for meals and concerts. 

Brochure info on instructors. 

Lupine and chokecherries were in bloom. You can just see Luci peeking out above the lupine. 

Buckley family concert. Taylor, Fred, Ried, Jeanne and Katelyn. Behind them Isaac Callender and Mark Leslie. 

Upper photo; Chirps Smith and Warrie Means. Lower photo; Blaine Sprouse and April Verch. 

Isaac Callender on bass, Mark Leslie on banjo, Katelyn Buckley singing and Greg Blake also singing. 

Mark Leslie, Marty from Cody, WY, Dave and Taylor Buckley 

Warrie Means and Blaine Sprouse

Katelyn Buckley; head chef, artist, bass player and singer!

Luci’s 2017 Journey North and West: Wyoming and Montana

The first stop in Wyoming was to have lunch in Casper with Al Kalbfleisch. We needed to catch up on his music adventures and get news of his wife Mary who lives in a care home. We had a good visit. He and Dave posed for a picture.

Our next stay was near Frannie,Wyoming at the country home of good friend and fiddler, Kelly Wells. She had reserved a wonderful grassy area in her yard with valley and mountain views. It was a pleasant and peaceful spot with an irrigation canal gurgling in the background and lots of birds for me to watch. Kelly and Dave got out their fiddles for lots of tunes, alternating on fiddle and guitar, sharing licks and stories. The second day, friends came over in the afternoon to play fiddle and visit. I listened with one ear, read my book and watched for birds. I saw robin, magpie, yellow warbler, kingbird, goldfinch, pheasant, western wood pewee, meadowlark, starling and bullocks oriole. 

Kelly Wells

The next day, after a few tunes on a perfect sunny morning, we were on the road to Big Timber, Montana. Diane and Arn Berg welcomed us with big hugs and a “sweet grass” (county name for Big Timber and environs) spot for Luci on their acreage on Meadowlark Circle.  Diane and Arn winter in Arizona. We met them while we were boondocking in the desert with other musicians and snowbirds. Arn took us for a drive around the town, pointing out local landmarks. Diane invited me to do laundry which I was glad to do. Hanging the linen on the clothesline was a treat.  Winston, their granddog, accompanied my outdoor efforts and guarded the clothes as they flapped in the Montana wind. We visited the Pioneer meat shop of Brian Engle, the son of good friend and Surprise neighbor Susie Pangle. If you are ever in Big Timber, go there and get some of his wonderful hand made sausages, bratwurst and other tasty meat. Susie is a sister to Diane. 

Good pickers and singers, Steve and Cheryl joined us on our last afternoon. Many new and old tunes were shared on the Berg’s deck and in the living room after dinner. 
Diane and Arn have a beautiful yard with trees and shrubs, flowers and gardens and a flowing waterfall that the birds enjoyed as much as we did. In their yard and nearby ponds, I spotted chickadee, blue heron, killdeer,western and eastern kingbird, robin, meadowlark, yellow warbler and kingfisher. 

 North and west from Big Timber we turned onto the grounds of the Montana Fiddle Camp beside the swift flowing Belt River in the Little Belt Mountains near Monarch. People were arriving from near and far. Cars and trucks pulling big and little trailers.  Dorms and houses filled with people and instruments.

 Tents and hammocks were strung among the pines. Men, women, young and old were gathering to learn or to teach fiddle, banjo, mandolin and guitar. The atmosphere is electric with anticipation of the good time we would have. Summer camp! This is a beautiful, verdant place of pine-covered mountains rising above the camp with the river singing a constant accompaniment to the instruments and voices.  The Buckley and Flikkema families welcomed us on Sunday and introduced all the others who will make the camp run and be fun. There was an impressive line up of musician instructors to teach the Sunday to Friday camp. An equally impressive squad kept us fed and entertained. What’s not to like? Three meals and snacks and all the music you can imagine. In my case, birds to watch, two books to read, a blog to write and no meals to cook! Each day was filled with group lessons, workshops, informal sharing of tunes, evening concerts and dancing. All instructors and students gathered in the lodge on the first day. The instructors said a few words about their teaching style and aims for the week and played their instrument.  The students choose which class seemed to fit them best with the understanding that they could switch groups if needed. Each group would perform in concert at the end of the week. Wednesday evening after the evening concert, a raucous live auction was held. The proceeds defray costs and keep tuition as low as is possible. A silent auction was also underway. Donated items were artfully displayed around the lodge with bid sheets alongside. Bidders watched their special items to see if their bid was still good and settled up as the auction was completed the final night of camp.

Dave taught 16 students of all ages in Level Two fiddle. They met twice a day for an hour and worked on four tunes. The class performed Dave’s original tunes; Bluegrass Bounce, January Waltz and Going to Montana. He also taught them the Animus Valley Waltz. 
Everyone agreed that the weather had been as excellent as any in recent memory. Everything turned out well. Teaching, learning, picking, grinning, eating, sleeping, basking in the sun, carefully wading in the river, hiking, visiting, making friends and  making plans for next year. 

My special treat was a pencil drawing for my birthday present commissioned by Dave. Katelyn Buckley Swanson was the artist. She was extremely busy planning and executing the meals at camp but found time to frame and wrap my present. Thank you Katelyn, for the Great Blue Heron drawing. 

Luci’s 2017 Journey North, and West: Arizona to Nebraska

Our trip began with a quick side trip to Montezuma Castle ruins just off I-17 near Camp Verde. Historians say Southern Sinagua farmers built this five story, twenty room dwelling between 1100 and 1300 AD. Nearby was a 45 room castle like structure which is now in ruin. The Verde river is close by providing irrigation for corn, beans, squash and cotton. No one knows why these people left this area to migrate north to other villages or if they returned to a hunter-gatherer lifestyle. 

Proving the “small world” theory, we saw music friends LuAnn and John Roos who just happened to be visiting this National Monument on their way to a Verde Valley Railroad excursion. 

Camping this first night after a swing through Winslow to see the “Standing on a Corner” statue, was at Homolovi State Park. North of Interstate 40 near Winslow Arizona, this park was established to protect the ruins of the Hisat’sinom (Anasazi) who lived here and farmed. They built Pueblos using stone and adobe construction. Today the Hopi people claim these people as ancestors and were instrumental in encouraging Arizona to preserve the area. The campsites had small trees, electricity and water and was perfect for our one night stay. We toured the ruins and I watched for birds. 

Onward through Arizona on I-40 to our destination KOA in Bernallilo New Mexico. It is Mothers Day, a perfect time to eat an early dinner at the Range Cafe. Yummy New Mexican style Mexican food and Lavender Cake for dessert. Lavender seeds top the cake. It looks like mice may have been gnawing but….just us. We took it home in a box and enjoyed it several times. 

The next night was spent at Clayton Lake State Park in New Mexico. The scenery changes that happen between Phoenix and the eastern plains of New Mexico are major in elevation, geology and ecology. Clayton Lake State park was built at the edge of a man made reservoir on the high plains where farming and cattle feeding are prominent. The wind was blowing, making us think about the dust bowl days. Our campsite had a gravel pad with electricity and water. Facilities included a large shelter for group meals with a sand volleyball court. The information cabin had a birding guide and information about dinosaur tracks that were found when the dam was built. I watched birds and Dave hiked over to the dam to see the tracks. I saw turkey vulture, cliff swallow, robin, lark sparrow, meadowlark, western kingbird, horned lark and canyon towhee. Here are the tracks!

One night and away we go again across the plains of a small part of Oklahoma and most all of Kansas. Our destination for this night is Chautauqua Park on the Solomon river. Electric hookups and water a picnic shade with a table and grass to park on. It was a warm day and humid! Old friends from teaching days at Sandy Creek, Wyatt and Vickie Frohling welcomed us. Their daughter has a nice bistro downtown Beloit called “Kettle” where we joined them for dinner. As we were eating a rain storm dumped three inches of rain. Consequently, we were stuck when we tried to leave the next morning.  A tow truck made short work of getting us back onto the pavement. A lesson learned? We’ll see.

Mary, Dave, Vickie, Wyatt and their grandson Wakefield at Kettle cafe. We ate breakfast there after getting unstuck. 

A fairly short drive north into Nebraska and to a spot for Luci at Camp Away just minutes from our kids in Lincoln. This is an opportunity to see the kids and grandkids, do our laundry and take a good shower. Daniel is just finishing seventh grade and has his last performance in Boys Choir of Lincoln this evening. Katie is taking end of year tests as a sophomore at Lincoln High.  Matt is at work at Nelnet and Jennifer at Tetrad. Dave and I get our chores done and are ready for the Choir performance and dinner at the Oven. 

The Brinkman guys at the Choir venue in Lincoln. 

Daniel and Katie on last day of classes. 

The next day we pick Katie up from school and take her to piano. The evening is spent cooking dinner and visiting. Katie and Daniel played their recital pieces and amazed us with their talent. The family is up and off to school and work. We are on the road again heading west to Hastings where we park in our son Ross’ apartment parking lot and stay in his guest room.  He has reservations for dinner this evening at Odyssey a nice resturant in downtown Hastings. We had a lovely meal and a good visit. Two nights catch us up. So good to see our kids and know they are doing well and hug the grandkids and find out their summer plans. We are lucky to have Face Time to be able to see them at any time. 

Riverside Park in Neligh is the next campsite. Green grass, electricity and water plus a shower house/restroom and wifi are the amenities. We are invited for dinner by Gloria and Brian Christiansen. Fried chicken with all the trimmings and pumpkin dessert. Can’t be beat. Jerry Schrader comes later to visit. It is good to see our friends from teaching days in Neligh and playing with Sweet Corn band. Lots of memories are shared and we get caught up on everyone and their kids. 

Brian and Gloria Christiansen. 

Two nights in Neligh and on west to Atkinson, our home town. My sister lives here and brother lives nearby in O’Neill. Luci has a nice gravel pad and full hook-ups at the Wheel In RV Park. Next to us is a park like lawn with bird feeders and lots of birds. Sandy’s house is our headquarters. We hang out there, cook and eat, pet cats, sort fabric, rearrange furniture and just relax. Dinner out with brother Robb and Sandy at the Flat Iron grill downtown Atkinson.  The next few days are spent catching up, sightseeing in the country where Sandy and I pick wild asparagus in lush green meadows in the misty rain with songbirds all around. Memories from childhood surround us. We are on property that once was owned by our grandparents and now belongs to a cousin. Meanwhile, Dave is playing fiddle tunes with friend Jay Kelly and getting ready for a reunion of his high school class of 1967. A side trip to Springview NE was made to see and play music with a bunch of friends at the Senior Center. 

LaVern Billingsley from Douglas WY and Jay Kelly from Atkinson. 

Vanessa Kenaston in above photo. Sharon Kenaston on bass, Roger Kenaston on dobro and Mary Channer Paul singing. 

Class of 1967 got together for dinner and lunch the next day. Some even made it to the Alumni Banquet! The class graduated 35; two are deceased and 19 attended the 50th class reunion. 

Memorial Day the Legion men are out early placing flags along the city highway and Legion women placing flags on veteran’s graves. Sandy, Dave and I take flowers to family graves in Atkinson and Stuart. 

After a last coffee with Sandy and a brief hug and visit with Uncle Lawrence, the last surviving Slaymaker of our father’s family, we took off across the sand hills for our last night in Nebraska at Fort Robinson State Park near Crawford NE.  Beautiful green hills and meadows, Angus, Hereford, Charlois cattle in pasture alongside Highway 20 and the vacated railroad now a walking/biking trail. Goodbye Nebraska and the first leg of our summer trip.

Bluegrass and Fiddle Season in AZ



As I write this blog in March, the desert is blooming. California poppies cover the hillsides and blue lupine are profuse along the roadsides.   

The AZ Season always starts for us with the State Fiddle Contest in September in Payson.  Dave fiddled and played guitar for other fiddlers. A special treat was seeing Katie Glassman perform with her excellent group.

In October the fiddlers, pickers and grinners gathered at Salome for a weekend of enjoyment. Performances were held on stage at the Lions Club house with fiddlers and other performers taking turns entertaining an appreciative audience.

The Wickenberg Bluegrass Festival begins the bluegrass season.  The November festival is held at the fairgrounds and the events are on a stage in the arena. A highlight for many is the “Ragtime Annie Joke Telling Contest” sponsored by Laura Barry and Corrine Garey. Impartial judges are appointed and hilarious jokes ensue.


Thanksgiving found us in the desert near Bouse AZ with Susie and Harold Pangle (turkey griller extraordinaire) and others. Meals were held out of doors in the warmest part of the day. Picking and fiddling were indoors in Pangle’s big fifth wheel trailer.


We made it to Nebraska to see our family in mid December. Matt and Jennifer were great hosts. Sandy and Ross were able to be with us as we celebrated Matt’s Birthday, Christmas and Jennifer winning a seat as Lancaster County commissioner.

Another December event was to join Pangle’s, Denny and Elaine Carlson, Jim and Juany Dixon, Harold’s daughter and family for Christmas in the desert on American Girl Mine Road near Yuma AZ. More picking and fiddling and petting Charly the poodle.


Back to Yuma we go as the new year rolls around. The first fiddle contest of 2017 is held at the Jaycee clubhouse. For Yumans, it is the kickoff of the rodeo week. The truck gardens in this lush valley are overflowing with produce; the salad basket of the USA. Camping alongside us are Denny and Elaine Carlson, Laura Barry and Tom Rude.

After the contest we follow the Carlson’s trailer to the Dome Valley of southwest Arizona and back our little Luci trailer into a sweet spot in Larry and Pat Rose’s yard. Electric hookup and fresh water are a plus! Already in place are the trailers of the Pangles, Diane and Arn Berg have made it from Montana, Jim and Juany Dixon from Idaho, Tom and Katie Bonn, also from Idaho. Evening meals are taken in a very well appointed “Chicken Coop.” Chairs are set in a circle and jamming happens. A grand piano sits in a corner. To the enjoyment of all, Susie plays the piano, Charly keeps her company near her feet and Dave plays the fiddle.

From the Dome Valley we head to Blythe California, just across the border from Arizona. Friends, Gary and Millie Vannoy have saved us a spot near their jam tent. Cool weather makes jamming inside the tent with propane heaters a good thing. This is a big festival. Jake and Jeannie Jacobs, friends from Washington state, always work here helping folks find a good spot to camp. Lots of good bands are performing on two stages and inside when the weather turned nasty. We enjoyed the Boxcars, Big Mill, Flint Hill Special, Flatt Lonesome, Old Blue Band, The Sonoran Dogs, John Reischman and the Jaybirds, Chris Jones and the Night Drivers and Justin Sherfey and Rye River. Three full days of music.

Back home in Surprise we welcomed Sandy for several days in February. We put a 2000 piece puzzle together, went shopping and cooked meals. She accompanied us camping in the desert on the mine loop road near Ajo AZ. We hiked and loved the desert views and sunsets and meals with all our friends who were camped there too.


We relocated to the Ajo Country Club for the fiddle contest. Dave and Katie competed in separate divisions and together in twin fiddling. Laura Barry’s kids and grandkids also competed. Lots of other good fiddlers were there too. Watching the resident Great Horned Owls was a treat for Sandy and me. She and I spent a day at the Sonoran Desert Museum near Tucson enjoying flora and fauna and especially the hummingbird pavilion. I found a very nice Navajo wedding basket at the gift shop.


We dropped Sandy off at Mesa Gateway Airport on our way to Safford Fiddle contest She made it back to Nebraska about the time we made it to our hotel in Safford. More good fiddling and fun watching Jess Barry and his three kids fiddle. Listening to Jess Barry and Jesse Stockman tear it up on their fiddles and guitars was a treat. John Kennedy was there from Mayer AZ, a smooth fiddler. Lots of competition made for a good contest.

Our son Ross flew down from Nebraska the third week of February. It was good to see him. He got in some golf, helped us shop for a new car and helped cook. We all took in a college baseball game that the Nebraska team was in. We also visited Taliesin West built by Frank Lloyd Wright.

As Ross was returning to Nebraska, we were heading for the fiddle contest at Tucson. This is a one day only contest that Dave had never been to.  We went early and had lunch with Tom and Katie who had parked their trailer at Billie’s place just west of the city. Laura Barry invited us to stay with her for the contest and had a great meal fixed. Sue and Bill Elsclager came over and pretty soon Jess and kids came plus Jesse Stockman and his son. The place was rocking.

The contest was held in a school gym  with a good amount of young fiddlers attending.  In the evening we went to Sue’s house and had pizza and a jam. Back at Laura’s house the band Crucial County was practicing. The place was still rocking and rollicking. Sunday Laura fixed a great breakfast, the menagerie departed and Laura suggested we visit San Xavier Del Bac mission. We piled into the big white truck with Tom driving and motored a few miles south of Tucson to see this white mission compound. The parking area was packed with church goers and sight seeing tourists. Food vendors were selling to everyone. The mission was spectacular. Beautifully restored and historically curated. It was stunning.


Now March is here and the days are longer and warmer. No need for two blankets on the bed in the trailer at the Lake Havasu Bluegrass on the Beach festival. Denny and Elaine had saved us a spot near them and Jake and Jeannie. The stage sat at one end of a lovely green lawn with the white sand beach and lake to one side. Great parking lot picking went on all hours. The Boxcars, Country Current, Kevin Prater band, Wayne Taylor, Bluegrass Etc. and more were on stage. Many of our snowbird friends said goodby and were heading home. We hope to see them all next year.

Dave will play with Nehemiah band and Jerry Dunnaway at the Glendale AZ Folkfest and the last festival will take place in Marana AZ at the end of March. Dave will be playing there with the Side of Grits band.  We look forward to hearing Crucial County there too.