Wednesday, July 30, 2014


Finally my Ghostrider owner friend, Paul, consulted a dealer friend of his in Calgary that had some software that could search dealers’ parts inventory all over the country.  He located two stators in Arizona, and one in Florida and New Jersey.  The next day we made arrangements with one in Chandler, AZ, to ship one up with next day UPS.  He wouldn’t do this at the dealer’s request but had to talk to me.  At the time it was in the afternoon and I was on a trail searching for some caches about a mile from the hostel.  He required me to send him a picture of my credit card, drivers license and a signed withdrawal authorization.  So I had to beat it back to the hostel where I had an internet connection to comply with his demand.

Raging Elk Hostel
Staying at the hostel was the highlight of my trip.  I met some great people and the next morning went on a hike with a couple from Toronto.  I had no roommate the second night but the third I was surprised to open my room door and find an attractive college girl from Pendleton, OR, in a top bunk.  The hostel furnished pancake batter and a kitchen.  Each morning the lady of the Toronto couple fixed me a pancake breakfast.  The second day which was a rainy one had nine mountain bikers on a trip stop by.  Fortunately for them it was their rest day.  They were a great bunch and I enjoyed them.  I played ping pong with one of the girls and watched some of the Tour de France with some of the guys.
Sign off of my deck

The folks I saw in Fernie for the most part seemed more fit than us Americans.  Few were overweight (Ryan, the tow truck driver being an exception).  However, many smoked, especially the younger ones.  Seemed strange to me.

Toronto friend on our hike

Ghostriders Paul & Bruno
The final cache
The plan was to ship my part to Eureka, MT, to avoid the problems of shipping to Canada and we would pick it up there.  Sure enough, according to UPS tracking the part arrived about noon the next day at the receiving station in Eureka.  However, my friends said that the station was so overrun that even though the package was there it might not be sorted and therefore, not available.  They wanted voice confirmation that it was ready but the receiving station would not answer the phone or return our calls.  Paul said he would send one of his employees down the next morning directly from home in hopes it would be available.  That’s what he did but the idiot in Arizona did not include an invoice and we could not get it across the border without one.  Then we had to call the dealer in AZ and have him email one to Paul who would in turn fax it to his employee at the border.  All that finally happened and it didn’t take Ghostriders long to install it and I was back on the road at 2:00 p.m.  Where’s the Easy Button? I’ve never had better service that what Ghostriders provided.  It was not cheap, however.

I now planned to do two day’s travel in less than a day and a half.  Things went well until I got on the Alberta plains and headed south.  I haven’t seen wind like that since I was in Nevada.  Fortunately when I got close to the border I turned east and it was a tailwind instead of a crosswind.  I really sailed.

There was a cache at the border I wanted but my GPS seemed to want me to cross the border around the border crossing.  So I crossed at the proper crossing and looped back for the cache which was at a cemetery.  As I was walking back to my bike from the cemetery I noticed two border patrol officers circling my bike.  Unbeknownst to me the cemetery was in Canada by about 50 feet and I had crossed back in illegally.  The boys weren’t real happy with me even though I thought it was funny.  They were very serious.

It was close to 8:00 p.m. when I got into Shelby and I was too tired and the wind blowing too hard to ride the 40 miles and back over to Chester.  I checked into the Crossroads (should have been named Crosswinds) Motel which was really nice.  The halls were decorated with old western movie posters with Montana in the name.  I saw lots of my old cowboy friends like Johnny Mack Brown, Jimmy Wakely and Alan Rocky Lane.

I was the only one at the 6:00 a.m. free breakfast and afterwards I gassed up and headed for Chester.  I located the cache at a cattle holding pen and then got another cache in Chester.  It just so happened that the owner of that cache was the same one who owned the state challenge so I got to meet him as it was located in his front yard.  He was a pleasant young fellow from Dayton, WA.

The rest of the day was hard and hot riding.  I must have had 20 miles of construction on highway 200 where I had to ride over rough gravel.  I got to Clarkston around 6:00 p.m. and I was so tired I didn’t got out of bed the next morning till 8:30. M/W

Tuesday, July 29, 2014


As you may know I have just completed logging geocaches in each county in Montana.  There is a master challenge cache that you have to find and log after you have done each county.  It is located in Chester in north central Montana. I thought logging this final cache would give me an opportunity to tour a little in B.C. and Alberta, Canada and get some caches up there.  In anticipation of this quest I had obtained a passport last winter.  So early Monday morning, July 21st I set out on that mission.

Rat's tail
And here he is
Lunch time
Super 8
It was a beautiful day, a little cool in the morning but very warm by the time I reached Bonners Ferry.  My first Canada geocache was a rubber rat hidden in a guardrail.  I stopped for lunch at a beautiful little lake near Moyie, B.C.  I arrived at the Fernie Super 8 around 4 p.m. and got settled.  Fernie is a beautiful little town of about 5,000.  It is a little different in that it is kind of a resort without the usual glitz.  It has fabulous ski areas and is also a mountain biking mecca.  The mountain biking probably limits the glitz, especially in the summer.

Down but not out
Ryan loads me up
The next morning was beautiful and I got an early start on the road north toward Sparwood.  Just past Sparwood the highway turns east over Crowsnest Pass.  I had just begun to ascend the pass when my low fuel light went on even though I had less than 45 miles on a full tank.  Shortly thereafter the engine quit.  When I turned it off and back on it acted like a dead battery.  I checked the fuse on the heated grips thinking that may have shorted something out (since I had installed them myself) but it was OK.  I had no idea what to do but fortunately I was in cell phone coverage.  So I called a Triumph shop in Caldwell, Idaho, because I knew and trusted some of the personnel there.  The mechanic said it sounded like a charging problem which was not encouraging.  As I was on a hill I followed his advice and tried to roll start it to no avail.  As I was rolling down the hill I noticed a sign that said “Rest Area 400m”.  What a lucky guy I am.  I rolled into the rest area and the first person I talked to had some jumper cables.  She gave me a jump and the bike started immediately and ran for about a minute.  It wasn’t a big surprise.  When the electrical output gets so low the fuel injection and other electrical components automatically shut down.

Crowsnest Pass Rest Area
Next I called my insurance company (Progressive).  What I’m about to tell doesn’t take much time to tell but it takes a lot of time to happen.  Of course, being in Canada did not make things easy for the insurance company.  They did some searching and found a shop in Pincer Creek, the direction I was heading, and Fernie, where I had been.  The Pincer Creek shop was backed up but the one in Fernie said they would give me some priority and try to help me.  The next mission was to find a tow back to Fernie.  The insurance finally located one in Fernie but they would pay for only 15 of the 40+ mile tow.  I had arrived at the Rest Area around 9:30 a.m. and got away around 1:30 p.m.

The good guys
I arrived at Ghostriders Motorsports about an hour later.  They are a Yamaha and Honda dealer but they treated me like a long lost uncle. First they checked the charging system and determined that the stator (like a magneto or alternator on a car) was bad which I suspected. Next began a phone search to locate one.  The closest Triumph dealer was in Calgary which they called and I called my pals in Caldwell.  We couldn’t find one anywhere and it looked we would have to get one shipped from England which could take two weeks. 

As it was getting late Bruno, the sales manager, got me to a hostel for about $31 per night as opposed to the $124 I had paid at the Super 8.  It was similar to a dormitory and there were three double bunks in my room.  I just had one roommate, Jesse, who was traveling west on a mountain bike trip from Lethbridge.

At this point I was thinking I would have to leave my bike there.  There was no transportation out of Fernie to the US.  I figured I could thumb the 30 miles or so to the border at Eureka, MT, and then on down to Kalispell to catch a bus.  However, my internet search could find no bus service out of Kalispell, Whitefish or Columbia Falls.  Kathy finally came to my aid and found a service out of Kalispell that would go to Missoula for a Greyhound connection.  You may not believe it but I was quite stressed.  [To be continued]


We are feeding the little birds on the front porch. They are so cute.  Two native pheasants come every day or so and feed in the service bushes on the buds. A band of 11 chinks are wintering here, too. It is so beautiful! A picture wherever you look! 

Ina Dobson, February 16, 1936

It’s hot again now, but last week we had a storm followed by a few cooler days. Son Clint said he was reminded of late September. I had the same thought – it just felt like fall. I was right at home working on my Halloween quilt. And, taking advantage of a cooler day, I also tried to make serviceberry jelly and baked cookies. The cookies turned out fine, but the jelly didn’t set.

The trouble with making jams and jellies from native berries is that concise recipes are difficult to come by. Things have changed a bit since Grandma’s day, and while online advice might be helpful, it isn’t always reliable. There just aren’t many of us making jams and jellies from native berries, such as service, elder, and hawthorn, and the process boils down to experimentation.
Serviceberry bush / tree

I read that serviceberries have a lot of natural pectin and thus the recommendation was to use powdered pectin sparingly. Proceeding on that basis, I ended up with syrup. I thought about recooking, but I’d rather sew. So okay – syrup it is. It was great on my French toast.

When it comes to living off the land, I don’t think all berries are created equal. The bushes are bound to be affected by the environment in which they grow. Bushes on river banks and in rainy, moist areas surely produce fruit that’s juicier than those growing in the dry upper country. It’s possible that my juice from pithy berries just wasn’t rich enough.
I read that those who pick serviceberries enjoy eating them like blueberries. Hmmm. They seem quite seedy to me. Nellie and Bess, however, just love to eat them off the ground. They have been great berrying companions.

There’s something comforting about jelly-making, even though I often think it’s useless. With the exception of elderberry, we use very little. But – since my parents made jams and jellies, the activity has nostalgic appeal. I didn’t think I was paying much attention, but I remember things. Mother strained her cooked fruit through a jelly bag which she hung from the clothesline in the basement so that it could drip into a stock pot carefully positioned on a stool. I remember her saying, “Squeezing the bag will cloud the jelly, but as it hangs, I just touch it and that starts it dripping again.” I’ll bet she never thought I’d remember that. (I’m a little surprised myself.)
Orofino, Idaho, from the Gilbert Grade, 7-18-2014

I always thought that by the time I got to be – okay, 65 – I would be good at things. Instead, I’m still a learner. Some things work; some things don’t. Sometimes I know why; sometimes I don’t.

Well, I hear the hummingbirds squeaking, which could mean the feeders are about empty. I’ll make some fresh nectar. That’s something I can do. (But don’t cut back on the sugar. They take exception to that.) KW

[I know -- it's strange to illustrate a summer post with a winter caption, but it indicates that my grandmother had a serviceberry bush in the yard. I would love that! And an elderberry bush, too.

With the exception of the picture of Orofino and the quilt top, the others were taken on today's morning walk.]

Sunday, July 27, 2014


I refer to it as “The Great Fernie Debacle.” The story is a cross between “Charlie on the MTA” (Did he ever return?) and Gilligan’s Island (a 3-hour, i.e. short, cruise).

One of the Montana geocaches required that Mike return to complete a certain part, so he planned the trip as a short adventure. Leaving Monday (July 21), he would travel into Canada through north Idaho, spend Monday night in Fernie, BC, then re-enter the States and spend Tuesday night at Great Falls, returning to the town house Wednesday evening. That was the plan. I/we tried to think it through and cover all the bases. We learned that cellphone calls from Canada would be 85 cents a minute – and that’s over budget -- so of course, I didn’t expect to hear from him until he reached Great Falls.

“No news is good news,” we always say, whether it’s true or not. Tuesday evening, just as I was picturing Mike in Great Falls, he sent a succinct message from Fernie. The motorcycle had “conked out” Tuesday morning, he said, and had to be towed back to Fernie for repairs. Getting parts was a problem. He would call in the morning.

In communication Wednesday morning, I learned that he was stranded in Fernie until the Triumph was fixed, hopefully by Friday. Not many people really needed to know about this development, but I did call Mike’s hunting / fishing buddy Ken to tell him that Mike would not be available to fish on Friday as planned. Ken immediately offered to go to Mike’s aid, but I pointed out that if he left the motorcycle behind, he would just have to go back and get it. As we discussed the details, a tiny chortle escaped to my hearing.

“I’m sorry,” said Ken.

“Don’t apologize,” I said. “No one was hurt. No one died. It’s just inconvenient -- and even a little funny.”

So we laughed. I felt a little guilty knowing that Mike wasn’t laughing – that he was really stressed and upset, but I also knew that one day he would laugh, too.

Even though I was low on basic provisions, like bread and milk, I stayed at the farm where the dogs and I were content. I started layering my Halloween quilt, and I was glad to have the time to leave it on the dining room table and cogitate over it – spreading it out, taking it up, and starting the process all over again. No one was asking when I’d be finished or feeling sorry for me. I know it’s a much better “sandwich” than if I’d had to hurry. 

And so, we met in town last night. The dogs were s-o-o-o-o glad to see Mike ride in. Okay -- I was glad, too. He was hot, tired, and hungry.

So, as we settled on grilled pork chops for supper tonight, I remarked that that’s what we had last Sunday. “That was eons ago!” said Mike. It seems so to me, too. KW

Thursday, July 24, 2014


I knew it would be hot yesterday (Wednesday, July 23), so we went for a long walk in the morning. By 2:00 p.m. it was 95 and a strong wind was blowing – not one of those lovely cool summer breezes but a hot wind. Regional thunderstorms were predicted.

At 4:00 we decided for an afternoon walk. Yes, it was windy, but still hot. I thought we could beat the storm. We sprayed water on the dogs to keep them cool.

But – at the top of Plank’s Pitch, things changed. Suddenly the wind was blowing fiercely and I felt chilled. I gathered my group and we quickly marched toward home. The force of the wind was frightening. Nellie stayed at my knee and even Bess, who seems to bounce through life, bounded up to me with her tail down and her ears in a question mark. I could hardly wait to get to the low point at the bottom of our lane. And I was right – in the protection of that low place, our fight against the wind was manageable again.

Nellie was right with me until we got to the yard. Then she disappeared like a ghost. One moment she was there, the next she was gone. Storms make her inconsolably nervous and she will hide where she thinks it’s safe. So be it, I said to myself. The young Bess was in the house.

At 5:10, we lost electricity. It was only off for half an hour, but of course, I didn’t know what to expect. I pondered Grandma Ina’s freedom from that worry since her house was never wired. Perhaps she even appreciated the fact that she could manage perfectly well without it.

At 6:00, as the storm abated, I set out to find Nellie. I put on a light jacket – the temperature had dropped 20 degrees in an hour and the wind was cool – and headed toward the pond. I hadn’t gone far when she came out of her hiding place in the grass between the pond and the field. She seemed frightened and I had to coax her to the house. I resolved to ignore her fear and just make the evening appear normal. She eventually ate and then dozed on her pillow.

Bess in the wind
 [The pictures here were taken with our old Nikon P60 – very temperamental now, only coming on when it feels like it. I’m thinking a good staycation prize would be a camera that takes better landscape shots. Yes, that would be a good reward.] KW