Florida bound

When I left my home in Montana I couldn’t see the mountains five miles away, the sun was red until midday and set in a haze of smoke that made for spectacularly red sunsets.  The ever present smoke made being outside for any length of time an assault on the lungs. Being inside was not much better, the smoke permeated living spaces mixing with the heat to create a damned if you do and a damned if you don’t situation. Most homes in my area of Montana are without whole house air conditioning that would filter out some of the smoke.  Our summers are usually mild with the temperatures in the upper 80’s and lower 90’s for several days in August rarely topping the 100 mark for more than a day  with the evening and night’s plummeting to the high 40’s and 50’s.  This year the whole of western Montana and it’s neighbors to the north in Canada and west  Idaho was burning. Northern California and Washington and Oregon  was on fire. We have been in drought condition for a long while and temperatures getting warmer, making for  a dangerous mix for fire.

I was on a pilgrimage to deliver this car and escape the foul air that was forcing evacuations all over the region due to air quality concerns and fire danger. Yet in the southern part of the United States Hurricane Harvey had dumped enormous amounts of water in a very short period of time threatening to breach dams and cause more damage to an already insulted population. [If only we could redistribute the excess.]  In western South Dakota there was a smoke haze, I felt somewhat guilty that we were sharing our bad air with our neighbors but so relieved to not smell the fires.

North Dakota, a land of  beauty and surreal landscapes. I wanted to drop down to see Devil’s Tower. But first, I had a clanking under the car which upon inspection was a broken torsion bar on the back axle. Joy, I am several hundred miles from a town of any size and my 25 year old car is falling apart one piece at a time. Duct Tape to the rescue!!!! I crawled under the car and wrapped [not really, no room to wrap properly] the bar to the axle.

What a site, I can only imagine. This little old chunky graying woman crawling under the back end of an ageing vehicle with duct tape muttering expletives at the unfairness of rocks and old bones.

That repaired, I was off again with out the clunk of metal on metal.

On the way to Devils tower are small towns sprinkled along the rail road track and in each town an icon of the past was standing in proud glory . The grain elevator a symbol of prosperity were placed in farming communities to gather the crops and send on to the plants to process into a final products. These are slowly disappearing from the landscape making way for larger structures or being removed completely, I find them a beautiful reminder of a time when the family was on the land working for a common cause against a common enemy.

Devils tower is a large lava appendage sticking strait up out of the ground with no apparent purpose. It is unique in it’s environment.  The first night in South Dakota was spent in the campground at the foot of this monolith.



Grand Adventures

I just completed a cross-country trip of about 2300 miles on my own. The reason?, I had a 1992 Chrysler New Yorker that belonged to my father that had sat in my driveway moldering for about 4 years, It is a beautiful car and needs to be used. Since his death I have used it a lot, but now have a 2014 Ford Escape that is fun to drive and goes where I need it to. The Chrysler is low slung made more for town driving. I live in the hills and do a lot of back road touring. I am going to miss the roominess, the Ford is made for one person [me] and my gear not much more will fit.
My daughter has moved to Florida with her husband and two of her children, the oldest will be 16 soon and where they are there is no public transportation. circumstances left them with only one car and a second was needed to get jobs and transport children to school. You can’t buy a car without a job – strange as that may seem, that is the rule.
I had planned to drive to Florida in October when the storm season was winding down and the south starts to get dryer, cooler and the annoyances – like free range bugs – diminish. Now the second car became critical to them completing their plans.
Then Hurricane Irma made her debut. My thought process, Hurricane Harvey just decimated Texas, this hurricane will probably fizzle after it makes it’s initial land fall and “no worries” it will be a week before I get there, I’m not hurrying to meet a hurricane.
I didn’t know if I would enjoy traveling alone, I have always had a companion that I don’t have now. I wanted….. no, needed to do this to find my place as a solo traveler. It was so empowering, I can’t wait for the next adventure.  I was impressed, there are a lot of us – female and alone that are traveling and enjoying their solo status. I tented part of the way [my intent was the whole way, I’ll get to it] I still love the tenting way of life and wanted to experience it again. So with, A new Ozark Trails 3 Person (not politically correct to be 3 man) popup tent, a Static V inflatable sleeping pad [my bones do not like rocks anymore] and a borrowed sleeping bag with the assorted camping gear I stared off on this great adventure. my first stop, was Hardin Montana. Where after setting up camp I just sat in my temporary home of grey and blue nylon supported by 1/4″ fiberglass poles and marveled at the improvements over the years to tents. My childhood family of five spent several months camping on the Green River in a canvas cabin tent. This was NOT my parents tent, in a lot of ways the improvements are monumental. Anyway that is a different story for a different time.
The first pictures I wanted to take for this trip were of the pretty yellow sunflowers on the side of the road, This is the first time I took the time to stop [I am waiting for a hurricane after all] But the first picture is of a weed seed head, they are so interesting and the Sunflowers are too.