Wednesday, July 24, 2013

More travels - From Alberta to Montana

I've been criticized of not posting anything at all about a past holiday.

"Oh, come on!  Of course I blogged about that trip to Yellowstone!"

"Nope.  Just a "We're back and here's my garden" post."

"I wouldn't do that.  I would have blogged all about the fun we had and the sights we saw."

Why would my sister lie to me though?  Surely she just remembered incorrectly.

I looked back and sure enough, nothing.  I launched right back into "real" life without any pictures or record of where we camped.  Nothing for my three readers to see.

Fine, lesson learned.  I'll record our trip to Montana this time so that I can look back and know what we did, where we stayed, what I'd do differently and what I still want to see in Butte next time.  There will be a next time.

We drove from Writing on Stone into the US without incident.  We gave up a few pieces of fruit at the border crossing and the officer emptied a tupperware of wilty cucumbers in the garbage for us, and we were off.  (For future reference, we crossed at the Sweetgrass crossing south of Milk River and there were only a couple of cars ahead of us and it took no time at all to get through).

The last time we went to the US, we were hoping to do some cheap American shopping.  I always hear of the inexpensive electronics, clothing and shoes, and all over blogland I read of the cheap groceries.  Well, that wasn't the case in Montana.  Maybe it's too close to Canada to make any difference, or maybe it's because there is no big city in the whole state and the whole concept of bulk purchasing can't be applied.  Nothing was any different than in Alberta, except that there was no GST.

This time we stopped in Great Falls to shop.  It's still a small city, but they just get smaller as you head south so we made time for it.  Just one stop into Shopko.  It was basically just like Walmart, a store I try not to shop in here in Canada.  While on holidays though, we through any ethical shopping ideas out the window and partook of cheap clothing.  And when I find jeans that fit and are long enough, I buy two!  We probably spent too long there, but we all got something out it, even Yvon.

On to Butte.  We arrived at our campground and set up.  Then the wind started and the rain began.  Now, our tent is starting to age.  We originally bought it because it fit a playpen in it, and all of our baggage without problem. Alice is now 9.  The seams are starting to leak in a couple of places, so we struggled in the wind with a tarp and covered the whole thing.  There is nothing worse that a drip on your forehead in the middle of the night.

For reference:  Deerhead Beaverlodge Campground, about 25 minutes out of Butte.  A little isolated and we didn't find the water pump until day three.  Other campers said it didn't exist at all.  When we did find it, the water was cold and tasted great.  The isolation was only a problem when someone made a mess of the outhouse and we had no Warden check in until our last night to clean it.  Whatever.  For $5/night, what kind of services did we expect?  

We took no pictures  of the campground or our setup.  It wasn't beautiful, being so dry and ravaged by pine beetles, but it wasn't bad.  Firewood lay all over the ground and was easy to start, and it was quiet.  We mostly just slept there anyway.  I think I'd want to look at the few other campgrounds next time, and continue to stay away from the KOA in town.  There was also camping in any public space in Butte during the festival, and in any forestry area apparently.  They called it "Dispersement Camping", although we saw no one doing that. Good to know in the future though so that we don't worry while at home about being unable to reserve anything ahead of time.

Okay.  First morning we went for a horseback ride.  We've been meaning to do this for a few years.  Laura particularly.  It was 2 hours of silent riding through this sort of land. 

 It was hot, dry and windy.  A bit boring, but also peaceful.  The lack of features in the terrain totally messed with my head and I had do idea where we were going or how far we went.  These ranches are big if you can ride for two hours and see virtually no sign of human life. 

There was this old abandoned saw mill, but that's all we saw. 

After that we spend some time in Butte touring a beautiful mansion and had a big of adventure before the start of the Folk Music Festival, the reason we were in Butte. 

But that's a whole 'nuther story for another day.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013


That's not really true, but it is fun to tell the stories afterwards. 

This is one is more true yet.  Travelling with teenage girls was fun.  The way wasn't short though.  It was still a long drive.  But we made stops along the way.

First stop:  Writing on Stone National Park.  This is the only dinosaur we saw, but the scenery was beautiful, and so was the weather, if slightly on the hot side of things.

We need to go there again and stay longer.


Nope, we had another destination in mind and many miles to go.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Morning Bliss

Oh my gosh.  Baked oatmeal makes me so happy! If my family doesn't wake soon, they may not all get some of this.

I can't be held responsible.

Baked Oatmeal

3 cups oats
1 1/2 c. milk (or 1/2 c powder milk, 1 1/2 c. water)
2 eggs
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 c. brown sugar, honey or sugar
1/4 c. butter
2 c. apples, apple sauce, or any canned fruit

Bake at 375 for 20 minutes.  

As a canner, one thing I love about this recipe is that I can throw any fruit or jam that isn't moving quickly in place of the apples.  This time I put in 1 c. of rhubarb marmalade and added the peaches on top after it baked.  Skip the apples and cinnamon and try ginger and pears.  Canned plums that turned out mushy, or that weird sauce you thought might be good over ice cream.  Or you can try sunflower seeds, almonds, raisins, cranberries, dried cherries -- be creative and resourceful.  

Every combination I've tried has been a success.  Even though I woke way too early this morning, I'm happy!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Early July Garden

Just an update on the garden.  The speed at which it fills out always amazes me.  Year after year I forget how full it gets and how far apart I should be planting things. 

Carrots going to seed.  I've never managed to overwinter carrots before.

The straw bale garden around the swing set

May 29 back garden...

...and now.
Climbing beans, some 5 ft. tall already

I'm so happy that it's summer. 

After years of thinking about it and looking around for a table and chairs to move outdoors, I found our table in the basement and just moved it outdoors.  As the plants grow, we'll feel less exposed to the neighbourhood, but I don't really care.  There's rarely anyone else outside, and if there are interested neighbours, they are welcome to join us in our meals and games.