St. Helena Cathedral (Helena, MT)

07/27/17 Wednesday in Spokane Valley, WA (HOME)

When we first got a glimpse of this cathedral I told John it sure looked like Notre Dame, a smaller version of course. When we began our tour we learned that it’s in Gothic style. That’s what Notre Dame and Chartres are too, so I was on the right track.

Built on a hill, it stands with great dignity and a lovely view. The property was purchased in 1905 but the cathedral wasn’t ready for the congregation until 1924. The most phenomenal sights are the stained glass windows. In the early days of the church those windows were how the faithful were taught. I loved how these have the scriptures written in the glass, in English. It’s rare to see any words, much less than they are in English.

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Central Aisle with Baptismal font near, main altar far.

 

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Central Altar. Note the organ and organ pipes behind it. There is seating there as well.

 

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Side altar to Mary (left of main altar).

 

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Side altar (right of main altar) to St. Joseph.

 

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Cross above main altar.

Stunningly beautiful.  We also attended their noon Mass, with our priest concelebrating. That was lovely as well.

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Our Lady of the Rockies (Butte, MT)

07/26/17 Wednesday in Spokane Valley, WA (HOME)

Our Lady of the Rockies is this amazing 90’ iron statue of Mary. It sits on the Continental Divide, at over 8,000 feet. It’s the 4th tallest statue in the US. Most amazing is the story of the individuals who made it happen: all volunteers. In short, Bob O’Bill’s wife got cancer. He prayed that if she got well he would build a 5 ft statue of Mary in thanks. Once that happened, several friends felt that it would be better to build something bigger, maybe a statue for the Continental Divide, where the rain that fell on her front would flow to the Pacific Ocean and what fell on her back would flow to the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico. Eventually they talked Leroy (Laurien Eugene Riehl) into building an iron structure of the statue. As each part that he attempted (hand, then face) was met with enthusiasm among those excited about the project, he felt guided, that he might actually manage to engineer it. The volunteers even managed to get rights to the property they wanted her to sit on, visible from the 2 freeways that reach all the way across the US: I-90 (E-W) and I-15 (N-S). They even got free space vehicle paint for her white color.

She is near Butte, MT. Because the property leading up to her is private you must get a school bus ride from the Butte Mall (Our Lady of the Rockies Gift Shop) to go up and down the mountain.

Roc 1

Once there Fr. Joe Bell (our parish priest) celebrated Mass for us in the chapel/activity building there.

Roc 2

Then we made our way to “the Lady”, entering her from the rear, then we posed at her front. Our dear school bus driver lay on a bench to take our photo in front of her (along with anyone else who wanted it).  Those fibrous looking rectangles in her robe (wings) are there to allow the wind to flow through, not knocking her down.

Then we enjoyed the view. The third image is of the City of Butte, the fourth is of the Berkely Pit, where toxins left from prior mining operations still exist and an open pit mine where they mined copper, silver and molybdenum mostly.

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St. Ignatius Mission (St. Ignatius, MT)

07/25/17 Tuesday in Spokane Valley, WA (HOME)

On our pilgrimage to Montana Catholic sites, we first saw the St. Ignatius Mission on the Flathead Indian reservation.

This church, named after St. Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Jesuits, was built in 1891. This happened only after 4 separate delegations of Indians went to Father Peter DeSmet pleading for missionaries. In response, he sent educational and religious help for the Salish and Kootenai tribes. Within 35 years this mission included a large school, a sawmill, a printing press, flour mill, hospital, farm and the present church.

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The murals in this church (stunning when you first enter) were painted by Brother Joseph Carignano, SJ, the mission cook.

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I loved the “shell” piece they placed over the speaker’s podium. Note the area marked for repairs on the painting of Mary. Considering how old this building is, they’ve done a great job of trying to keep it in shape.

There were paintings of many saints, including St. Francis of Assisi and St. Gonzaga.

The Ursuline sisters who arrived in 1890, began the first kindergarten, then later staffed a boarding school and a day school. By 1972 all were closed.

Providence sisters were the first Catholic nuns in Montana. They came from Canada in 1864, running the first Catholic boarding school in Montana until it burned in 1919. These sisters also ran a hospital until 1914, when real doctors and nurses came to staff it. In 1977, due to a shortage of personnel, the hospital was given to the community of St. Ignatius.

This building was the first home of the Providence sisters. Inside are historical explanations and a lovely painting by Brother Carignano.

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Palouse Falls State Park with Grandchildren

6/20/17 Tuesday in Spokane Valley, WA (HOME!)

Palouse Falls is a place we’ve wanted to visit for some time but it is 2 hours away from home. So we chose to bring our grandchildren there to enjoy the experience with us.

This amazing gorge was formed millions of years ago by a glacier. Now we have the joy of watching water flow over into that gorge.

After we were home we found out that the next day (Wednesday) the road into that park was closed due to fire nearby. Whew!!! That would have been rough traveling all that way with the grand kids only to be disappointed.

A week later we took them to our Thousand Trail campground, Little Diamond, for a fun hike in the morning followed by a picnic lunch, then swim time in their pool.

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We all had a grand time. On the way home John noticed a card stuck in our windshield. It was a business card from RV friends that were camping there and inviting us over to visit. So we came the next day (without the grandchildren) to play Fast Track with Roger, Diane, Scott and Lois. We had lots more fun that day as well.

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We Sold Miss Journey

We sold Miss Journey May 14th, receiving the $100,000 and a Report of Sale on June 2nd. It was on consignment here in Spokane-taking only 10 days to sell. Note: PPL will keep 10% of the sale price and give you 90%. Here in Spokane the procedure is to TELL you what they would guarantee you in dollars, keeping all the money they “made” above that amount. Naturally the salesperson couldn’t tell me what it sold for. PPL said it would sell for $118,000 to $130,000. We would have done much better with PPL, but it would have been later (October) when we’d get it to them plus it would have had added mileage, so we’d decided to just try Spokane first.

UPDATE:  After I mentioned our recommendation to use PPL for selling your RV, I got an email from an RV friend who had a personal experience with them.  He was not happy:

Hi, I forgot to tell you that I took a travel trailer to PPL to sell for me. They priced it high and then kept reducing the price. By the time they got the price down to where it would sell everyone that was interested had moved on. I ended up going to get it and selling it myself. So don’t feel too bad about what you did. It was probably the right thing to do. My brother bought his motor home through them and got a really good price, which means the seller didn’t.”

 Below is Miss Journey on May 3rd, the day before we took her to Freedom RV.

We’re staying in Spokane for the summer. We’ve been very busy with getting household and house to our liking plus getting involved in the many activities available in a large city: senior center, gym classes, shows, along with fun times with our grandchildren. After Labor Day we’ll drive our CRV (stopping at motels) to South Dakota (visit a friend), with some National Parks along the way, then stay a week at our WorldMark condo in Tuscon (dropping in to see our Mexican dentist), then head for more Utah National Parks that we haven’t seen, then home in November for the winter holidays. We’ll see how we take to winters at home…. Below is Lily at her Crossing Over Ceremony where she became a Junior Girl Scout.  

 

Below is Gabe with his soccer team.  They won 1st place in their age bracket in the Final Tournament.

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I’m considering continuing my Blog on those occasions when we travel, like this Fall.

I’m sure this all comes as a shock, but way back when we were planning our retirement we knew that John wanted to see our country in an RV and I wanted to see other countries using other methods (cruises, car, planes, trains). He won me with “we should see our country first”, so that’s what we did. We’d planned to continue RVing until 2020, but as we got talking, it seemed a good idea to stop now. Some of the reasons: Miss Journey is 5 years old – a prime time for buyers’ interest, our grandchildren are turning 7 and 11 this summer so they’d be closing in on teenager attitudes by 2020 and John’s mom is 93 so any time we could get a call to come – that’s not so easy with an RV to store or drive.

It is with heavy hearts that we do this. We loved our Miss Journey and all our wonderful RV friends, not to mention all those enriching experiences of that lifestyle, but you just can’t have everything. We are looking forward to traveling lots more, just in different ways.

Safe travels to you all and may the best experiences of RV life come your way.

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Moving on – from Quincy, WA to HOME! Happy May Day

5/1/17 Monday in Spokane Valley, WA (HOME!)

Oh, happy day, we’ve headed home, around 7:50. Here are some images looking out from the Crescent Bar campground – right on the Columbia River.

An interesting thing happened last night. John was in bed and as I was getting ready for bed I noticed orange flashing lights on our washer. Strange since we haven’t used it in over a week. Still, I didn’t feel good leaving the blinking all night, nor enjoy the thought of trying to fix the issue before we left in the morning. So I got out the manual. It said to unplug the machine, wait a minute, then plug it back in. So I called on John to get to the plug. Lots of unscrewing ensued, he got to the plug, unplugged the wrong one (for the dryer), then got the right one. Sure enough, after we’d waited our minute then plugged it back in, I checked and the washer gave it’s normal indications. Poor John had to put everything back before crawling back into bed. Just about then I realized that our power had been out, right about the time the flashing signal came on. Oh well, we were fine now.

In the morning all our departure procedures went smoothly. John loves that he knows these roads like the back of his hand, so I didn’t bother with Sygic.

We’ll be home for the next 4 months, so I’m not likely to post during that time. Just the same, we have some big news to share. After much discussion we’ve decided to sell our Miss Journey. This may come as a shock for many, so I’ll give an explanation.

About 20 years ago we bought a tent trailer, thoroughly enjoying how comfortable it was compared to tent camping. We got the boys to join us a few times but they were teenagers and disinclined to enjoy that time with us. Wouldn’t you know, just when we could afford a better way to camp, they weren’t so interested. After a year or so we joined Thousand Trails, getting access to many northwest campgrounds (they like to call them preserves), with nature as the priority. There we met “fulltimers” who told us about a lifestyle of living on the road. We were enthralled, knew that we loved traveling and nature so we saved and planned for our retirement as Rvers. Note: I wanted to travel to far away countries while John preferred traveling on the ground, in an RV, throughout our country. He felt that should be done first. So I agreed.

Financially we were close to ready and found the perfect (we thought) RV: Miss Zanzibar, buying her in 2010, using our next 2 years to get her ready and ourselves accustomed to life in a diesel pusher motor home. Memorial Day, 2012, we took off in Miss Zanzibar, sharing our experiences in this blog. We’d planned to travel through all the contiguous states within the next 4 years. We missed a couple on the East coast and decided it wasn’t worth the terrible weather (tornadoes, floods, high winds) to see the plain states (Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa…). In 2014 we admitted that there were problems with Miss Zanzibar that couldn’t be solved (the slides didn’t fit in their openings well) that created constant struggles with using our slides. So we found Miss Journey, purchasing her in December 2014. Overall, she’s been a dream; to drive, to live in, to keep maintained.

A couple years ago we figured it would work well to shift from RV travel to other forms of travel in 2020. We would use a car, plane, ship or train to explore places we didn’t get to in the USA as well as far away countries. As the months went by we found ourselves seriously considering making this shift sooner. John’s mom is 93, so any time we could get the call to be at her side. Getting our RV into storage or driving her for a great many miles swiftly would be hard. Meanwhile, our grandchildren will be 7 and 11 this summer. We don’t have many more years before they’ll be teenagers and wanting to spend time with their friends instead of Grandma and Grandpa. We’ve been on the West coast a good deal now, so there’s more often the feeling of “been there, done that”. Added to these is the reality that you don’t really escape the very cold/hot weather in an RV. You try, but it can catch you just the same. When you’re in a home, it’s so well insulated you hardly notice the weather outside and can control how much you are in that weather when you’re retired. Living in an RV you feel the effects of weather far more. The RV holds outside temperature more like a car than a house: they’re not so well insulated. When it’s 95 degrees and above (as it was for 3 weeks in Mesa, AZ), the RV’s heat pumps/air conditioners struggle, getting lucky if they can cool you by 10 degrees. When it’s below freezing you need to bring in your water filter and unhook your water line. We don’t heat during the night because it’s loud, so we burrow under covers and dread getting out in the morning. It takes a good while to warm up then and because our power is limited often to 30 amps (compared to 200+ amps in a home), so often we need to turn off our heaters while cooking breakfast, to stay within our amperage. Brrr. Lastly, our Miss Journey is 5 years old this year. Recommendations are to buy an RV that’s from 2-5 years old; old enough to lessen the depreciation loss and new enough so you’ll have many years of enjoyment before appliances and the like break down.

So above are our reasons for shifting to other forms of travel now. It’s not easy, because we also feel SO comfortable with this lifestyle and this RV compared to those first years. Really wish we’d had Miss Journey in the first place, but you could say we learned LOTS with Miss Zanzibar. Anyway, the challenges seem so much fewer with our 5 years of experience, thus the RV life is more enjoyable. Also we’ve made so many special friends in this RV world that we’re far less likely to see again. Very hard to contemplate that. You could say we’re torn. As John once said, we could just as easily make a case for waiting longer before making this shift as for doing it now.

Currently, we plan to put Miss Journey for sale on consignment in Spokane this summer. If she doesn’t sell, then this fall we’ll drive her (visiting friends and places along the way) to PPL in Texas, letting them put her up for sale on consignment. They have a really large base of possible customers – Texas sells the most RV’s in the country.

I’ll keep y’all posted. If you “follow” my blog you’ll get at email when I post and won’t need to check the blog for postings.

Our trip to Spokane was uneventful, arriving at 11:00. Good time for unloading all the food and whatever else we have the time and energy for.

Spokane

UPDATE: I intended to post this blog on Monday, but we were too exhausted after spending the whole day hauling our stuff from the RV to our home. We barely managed lunch and dinner.

Tuesday: Grocery shopping (discount day at Fred Meyer), then continued moving items from the RV to our now crowded-with-piles home. Treated ourselves to dinner out at Red Robin (buy one burger get one half off). We did get to see a bit of Joe then, as he was our server. Afterwards, John soaked in our Jacuzzi.

Wednesday: With most of the items out of the top, we took the morning for errands: among them stopping at the fire station for a bolt cutter, to get a stubborn lock off our tow equipment. The last stop was at Freedom RV, to see what they had to offer in the way of consignment. They don’t operate like PPL (in Texas) which will keep 10% of the sales price and give you the rest. In Spokane the simply say we’ll guarantee selling your RV for, in our case, $100,000. Whatever they make over that is theirs. Bummer. We paid $149,000 for Miss Journey only 2.5 years ago. The percentages these people take is worse than realtors take to sell your home. The guy in charge of consignments said that this was a good time since their stock of used diesel RV’s was low now due to a big sale they’d just completed. He also noted that it would be very helpful if we brought ours in before the weekend. We also realized that, after much rain and cold, the next few days would be the warmest yet. Just when people would get excited about purchasing an RV. So as soon as we got home I got busy washing out the cupboards, treating the wood, using Scotch Brite on the Corian, cleaning sinks and toilet and floors. By the end of the day my arms were so sore. I also called a competitor of Freedom RV, asking for their consignment figures. They’d only guarantee $95,000. So we decided to stay with Freedom. John worked at emptying the basement and vacuuming it out. Our older shop vac died, but he had a smaller one (we’d carried in the RV) to carry on. After supper we each spent time in our whirlpool tub.

Thursday: Time to wash Miss Journey. John did the majority of it, which I was extremely grateful for. Unfortunately he discovered that 2 (radio?) antennas on the roof had been knocked over by the tree we had to drive under for our Crescent Bar site. We should have taken the not so level but clear of trees site. Oh well. By 2 pm he drove it (I followed) to Freedom RV, where we signed the paperwork to let them sell it for us. Other than that they just needed a copy of our title (it’s paid for). We only had a couple hours to rest before Joe arrived. This is his birthday, so we took him to “HuHot” for an all you can eat Mongolian BBQ. Boy, was that ever tasty. The rest of the evening we tried to tackle the various piles we’d been negotiating around. We’d also contacted Waste Management (we’d signed up for garbage service Tuesday) to find out about the garbage and recycle carts they were to deliver. They said it was likely we wouldn’t get them before the trucks came to pick up our garbage/recycling, but we could use other containers. So before retiring, we got that out to the curb. Whew-we have so much trash from cleaning out Miss Journey it was a relief to learn we could get rid of much of it so soon.

Friday: John went to Justin’s to mow his lawn (it’s huge and, because of all the rain, hadn’t been mown yet). He loves riding that lawn mower! I stayed home to tackle this blog and end of the month computer jobs.

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Moving on – from Chehalis, WA

4/29/17 Saturday in Quincy, WA (Crescent Bar-TT)

This was a longer than normal trip for us, 251 miles, so we were glad to be on our way before 8. All went smoothly thanks to our reliable Miss Journey and our 5 years of experience. It feels like our departing and arriving  process is going really well these days. It was cloudy but no rain, so a great day to drive, mostly on familiar roads.

trip 1

As we approached Snoqualmie Pass

trip 2

At the Summit of Snoqualmie Pass

We arrived around 12:30. The road into the campground (Crescent Bar Rd) starts near Trinidad Store, where we like to unhook, because after that it is steep and curvy although very navigable for a big rig. This campground is well maintained. Beautiful bathrooms. Nice swimming pool and adult only spa. The gravel sites are mostly level, many with a tree or two, 30 amp service, plus water and sewer, even grass and a picnic table for your patio area. You might even snag a site that faces the Columbia River. We had good Verizon cell service and TV satellite reception. Nice in the Spring/Fall, really hot in the summer. Not a lot of trees – mostly you are on the Columbia River so it’s great for fishing and lake activities. Be warned, it’s generally VERY windy, so don’t think about putting your big awning out.

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