The Day the Sun Went Out…

…is also known as the day of America’s solar eclipse. We didn’t plan it this way, but when I saw we were going to be in the path of the solar eclipse, I was tickled. I can remember years and years ago as a kid making the tricky cardboard viewer and watching the shadow of the moon cover more and more of the sun. It was disappointing, but no less memorable.

This time, with the handy-dandy solar glasses, we would get to watch the real thing from eastern Oregon. From our side yard (when you’re full-timing, the yard moves around, you know). We had our specs, Bob made his famouns french-pressed organic, free-trade coffee with Ghiradelli cocoa and a touch of honey, we had the TV on, we were ready!

This Portland TV station carried the eclipse live, and we knew we were a few minutes behind, so we could watch the fun on TV and know what was coming (sort of… more about that later):

Remember, we’d been over on the Oregon coast just a week or so before, so we had heard all the hype, seen all of the reports about the prices of hotel rooms and RV park spaces. We were glad we were going to be out of the craziness. As it turned out, they raised the prices out there and nobody came (serves them right, eh?).

In our side yard, I tried to find a great way to capture the fading sunlight. Maybe photographing this pinecone as the shadow faded would work…

What do you think? Here’s the same pinecone, 21 minutes later:

And here it is, 40 minutes after the first photo (and about 6 minutes before the “best time to view” for this area):

We were not in the path of the total eclipse, but experienced a “98.6% obscuration,” which was like being in a bright place and having the lights dimmed. I got chilly enough I went back inside the rig to put my sweater on.

Pardon the awning arm in this shot, but it shows how dim things got, and if you look really closely, you can see that the lights in the lodge across the street came on.

It wasn’t as dramatic as the total eclipse must have been, but it was nonetheless an amazing experience to see the world get a little dimmer, despite the cloudless sky.

Most of the locals didn’t seem affected by it at all.

Wherever you were for the eclipse, I hope you got to see at least an edge of it!

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Allowing for Wallowa

This past August we spent a few weeks just outside Joseph, Oregon, at Wallowa Lake, our second visit to this spot. It would have been our third except we cancelled reservations one year when wildfires kept air quality at lousy levels. Nestled into a canyon at the edge of the Eagle Cap Wilderness with mountains on three sides and a gorgeous lake on the fourth, this spot has been a popular seasonal getaway for decades.

The odd combination of very old summer cabins that have been in families for generations mixed with new log cabin-styled houses and lodges used mostly for rentals make for a varied neighborhood. Toss in miniature golf, a few ice cream stands, several souvenir shops, a horse riding outfit, a go-cart track, and the Wallowa Tramway, which takes you up in a metal bucket to the top of Mount Howard (which we did a couple of years ago when we last stayed here) and you have all the necessary ingredients of a bonafide tourist spot.

Other than shopping in a few of the stores, we prefer to head out of town to hike. Continue reading

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From Hill to Hill

By mid-August the smoke in western Montana had gotten bad enough we stopped hiking, which always means it’s time to go someplace else. Though it wasn’t much better to the West, we had reservations in Joseph, Oregon, so we steered in that direction and hoped for the best.

Wild turkeys and deer dodged the RV as we drove the backroads, but there was no dodging the road work delays or the tricky detour in Clarkston-Lewiston (with signs that confused the easily-befuddled navigator, Ellen). But as we traveled from hilly country across the rolling grasslands, we relished the open space:

We stopped for lunch In the tiny Idaho town of Potlatch — a place called Dad’s Diner has to be good, right?

And it was! From their homemade soup…

…to Bob’s salisbury steak…

…to my bacon cheeseburger on their homemade bread:

Sadly, Dad’s Diner is on the market… if it’s sold, we’re hoping the friendliness of the staff, the delicious recipes, and the care that went into each order stays the same.

Our bellies full, it was back to the RV for more thrills and chills along this winding, hilly, stunning road:

We were thrilled to see blue skies over Wallowa Lake!

We’d swapped the smokey hills of Montana for the blue-sky hills of Oregon. Ah!

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Huckleberry Found

We’d heard for years about the Trout Creek, Montana, Huckleberry Festival (Trout Creek being the official Huckleberry Capitol of Montana), but 2017 was the first year we were in town for it. It was a big deal. The three-day festival on the second weekend in August is the eventof the year for the town — and probably the county.

We walked through the many vendor booths set up Friday…

…where the entertainment on the stage had already started… Continue reading

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Road Trip!

It’s funny to think of taking a road trip when you already live and travel full-time in an RV, but sometimes that’s exactly what we do. In the previous post, I described a day trip we took to Sandpoint, Idaho, while staying in Trout Creek, Montana. On another day, we headed north to Kalispell, over 120 miles away.

Smoke from the increasing number of wildfires in the northwest hung all around us:

Even Flathead Lake suffered, though we did see some intrepid boaters on the water: Continue reading

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Playing in Sandpoint

Can you believe this is our NINTH summer as full-time RVers?!? Me neither! We started back in the late spring/early summer of 2009 and have covered a lot of miles, seen more amazing things than I can ever describe here, and have gotten to know America (and parts of Canada) in ways we never would have if we’d flown in, stayed in a motel for a few days, then flown back.

A few places have become special to us, and we’ve gravitated back to them in the last few years. And every time we return, we find something new, or take a different day trip to explore a little further.

This past August, staying in far western Montana, we spent a day in Sandpoint, Idaho. Continue reading

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Purple Mountains Majesty

As much as we were enjoying the ocean breezes along the Pacific Coast, it was time, by late July, for a change of scenery. We RVers like to call it getting the “hitch itch.” And the only way to scratch it is to move. Get new neighbors. Change the view out the windows. Explore unfamiliar ground.

Time to head for the hills. The mountains of far western Montana.

There’s so much to love about the tucked-away areas of Montana (of which there are many… it’s the fourth largest state, land-wise, but it’s also 44th in population). So many ways for people to live the way they want, collect what they want, display it where they want:

We’ve been returning to the tiny town of Trout Creek for a few years now. But, like every place we go back to, we seek — and usually find — places we haven’t been before. This time, hidden right in the middle of Thompson Falls, we found Island Park. Continue reading

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