Glacier National Park

We finally made it to Glacier, it’s been a few years since we found out about a national park near us.  We first heard about Glacier watching 20/20 In An Instant on ABC about a father and daughter being attacked by a bear.  It was a riveting story and thankfully they survived and we were amazed to find out there was such a beautiful place nearby.

 

Mitch at the wheel while I try to be the best co-pilot and picture taker I can


This is the sign at St. Mary’s Campground, which is located on the eastern side of the park


There were fields covered with these strange  white flowers

Come to find out it’s called bear grass


We’d reserved A site at St. Mary Campground just to make sure we had a spot the first night.

When I first got out of the RV and stopped to smell the flowers this guy was staring me in the face!

The campground itself was just ok, not much of a view and I felt a bit claustrophobic.

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But… the surrounding areas and views were amazing!

We made plans to hike to St. Mary Falls the next day and wanted to capture the sunrise so we decided we’d get up around 4 a.m. After driving for 8 hours it wasn’t a problem falling asleep while the sun was still shining, we were spent.

Bright yellow patch along our drive that you just cant miss

We headed west up on the Going to the Sun Road and saw a moose who stayed long enough for us to get a quick grainy picture.

The morning was so peaceful, there was a slight breeze and on occasion the scent of wildflowers would ecompass my senses.

hello sunrise, see you soon moon


on our way up the Going to The Sun Road

 

Yes, the water really is that blue

The hike was a mile long and we did our best to make sure if there were any bears around they heard us coming.  Hey bear, hey bear, hey bear was our hiking mantra.

the trail towards St. Mary Waterfall


All the burnt trees stand stoic defying the fire from 2015


The vibrancy of the colors are mezmerizing, it’s amazing

We did encounter a deer that was more than happy to keep us company along our walk.

looks like we aren’t the only one who uses the trails



Sunrise on St. Mary Falls


Taking in the scenery


Wildflower with the waterfall


View from opposite the falls


the charred remains remind of the past as the beauty holds the promise of tomorrow


Wild flowers everywhere


just breathe


St. Mary Lake

This area is quite famous, Forest Gump “was running” through this area.

Wild Goose Island

Wild Goose Island is featured in the beginning of the Shining as is Going to The Sun Road.

Two Medicine Lake campground

Wonderful campsite, highly recommend.  we rode our bikes to the visitor center, had a snack, looked at the souvenirs and skipped some rocks in the lake.

Note the bench, it’ll soon be the epiphany bench


There’s a storm a brewing


A quick easy hike


we got a ways up the mountain


We were able to get a great view of the campsite and spotted Harvy


Now it’s really starting to rain


Now it’s pouring and we direct our attention to some fun out of the sun


We played multiple games while waiting for the storm to pass


Yes, we played all those games


So we didn’t see any bears, but what do you know, there’s a tiger!

After the storm passes we take a walk to the epiphany bench and have a real heart to heart. Although we paid to stay the night at Two Medicine Campground we were both restless and ready to head home. Neither one of us wanted to just stay and relax. It was as if we were trying to do the norm of the camping world and we’ve never been the norm.  So, we said, so what, lets go! It was around 4pm and on our way out we stopped to see another fall.

This is Running Eagle Falls right near Two medicine campground


More wildflowers

We drove for a couple of hours to make it to Lake McDonald on the West side of the park just in time to capture the sun setting.

West Glacier, Lake McDonald


These are the amazing colorful rocks seen on the shore of Lake McDonald

We decided that we’d drive for a few more hours towards home until we made it to the 50,000 silver dollar store and just sleep in the lot like old times with the semi trucks. Mitch finds something soothing about sleeping with the sounds of the semi trucks running through the night, and I love to get some gas station coffee bright and early in the morning. It’s a win-win.

So we learned that we don’t really want to stay at the campsites, we want to see the sights. 

Also, we realized that just because we can make food in Harvy, we don’t really want to. We are on vacation! We want to eat the gas station nacho cheese, get iced coffees, try out the local food and just enjoy the journey.

Glacier is a hikers paradise, a picture-takin haven and a place you just gotta see to see!

The Doctor Deficiency

For years I’ve struggled with muscle aches and pains, feeling overly tired and completely drained of a desire to do much of anything. I’d seen my doctor about it and she’d referred me to a rheumatologist. The specialist was, to say the least… lacking in his profession, he was completely indifferent and dismissive of my ailments. I decided to let it go and just get on with life. A couple of years later, still feeling “off” my new doctor sent me back to the same specialist.  When I entered the room he remembered me quite clearly and joked about what could be wrong with me, stating, “You again, what could be wrong with you, you’re young and healthy. Why are you here?” I quickly replied back, “well ok then, I don’t know, guess I’ll be on my way.”  He said something to the effect of since I was there lets see what’s “wrong” with me. He did an assessment and said he couldn’t really say, I had some symptoms similar to that of fibromyalgia and some hypermobility in my joints but nothing that is definitive.  He then stated it could just be the body getting older and that I’d gained some weight over the last couple years (20 lbs in 3 years) and that could be the problem. Feeling defeated and helpless about my situation tears began welling up in my eyes.  When he noticed my emotional state, he said, “We also have mental health available if you need someone to talk to.”  I was beside myself with disbelief.

I know what you’re saying to yourself, you’re saying, “No he didn’t!” but yes, yes he did! crazy right! I headed straight down to the patient advocate and addressed the situation. First time shame on you, second time shame on you and I’m sayin somethin!

Another couple of years pass and I’m taking anti-inflamitories, muscle relaxers and a couple other things just to help me manage my discomfort of the “fibromyalgia”. Taking care of Pops was my priority, so when I was feeling completely drained, loopy in the head and numb to all of life’s experiences I assumed it was from taking care of my dad and knowing soon he wouldn’t be with us anymore.

About a month after Pops had passed I decided it was about time that I start to take care of myself and get things addressed that I’d been putting off.  I recall so vividly the moment I’d made the decision to get things checked out, I was walking into the front bathroom thinking how enough is enough, and it has to be addressed and I felt a poke in my backside. Seriously, just a little poke, plain as day.  I looked behind me, I was alone…I knew in that moment my Mom and Dad’s spirits were telling me to just do it already.

I emailed my doctor that day, stating I wanted a second opinion about my fibromyalgia. Since it’s the VA, they wouldn’t pay for a visit to an outside provider if their doctor was available. I said schedule it anyway because he would be booked too far out and I would be able to use the Choice Program to get my second opinion outside of the VA.  To my surprise I was called the next day and they could get me in next week. My heart sank and I asked, “whom will the appointment be with?”  and from his mouth came the most beautiful words, “We have a new Rheumatologist, her name is Dr. Woe” I  said with great joy and relief, “Woe? Really? Wahoo! Wonderful news!”

Short end to a long story…. I had a vitamin D deficiency! It wasn’t fibromyalgia. All this time, all that time, all along… are you kidding me! All those years and it was a vitamin, one little blood test and there was the answer. Sigh, big long sigh. I’m grateful for an answer, and to know that it’s an easy fix, what a relief.  But also, I’m sad for the me in the past that struggled for all those years and felt like a hypochondriac because of a doctor who didn’t care enough to even try figuring out what was wrong.

My vitamin D level was at 17; the acceptable range is between 30-70.  My Doctor said that 50 is the ideal number. I would like to share all the symptoms I experienced, just in case you or someone you know may be experiencing the same things.

  • tired when I woke up, and never felt rested, constant fatigue
  • everything seemed challenging physically, even having conversations
  • felt as if I couldn’t really focus, like in a dream state (thought it was fibro fog)
  • muscle weakness and aches
  • random joint pain
  • horrible awful night sweats
  • feeling mentally numb and emotionally detached

So many times over the years my friends would ask me if I wanted to do things with them and I wanted to want to… but I just didn’t want to. My  body  didn’t want to do anything either and when we would get together I felt unable to engage in meaningful conversation. I was confused about my own self, not having a desire to all the things I used to enjoy, but I made myself accept that my life was just going to be like this.  Until I finally decided to be my own advocate, and fight to get some real answers.

I’m now on 10,000 D3 IU a day for a couple of months to get my levels up to where they need to be before reducing the amount. I’m feeling better, I wake up rested, no more night sweats, I can think more clearly, the aches and weakness are dissipating, but am still waiting for the tiredness to subside. Overall though I’m starting to feel like the old me, up for doing more things, and being able to actually enjoy my life again.

I sincerely hope that this story inspires you to be your own best friend. It’s your body and you know it best. If something feels wrong, go seek help and if that doctor doesn’t help you, or there’s just something that is still nagging at you about it, get a second opinion. Please don’t go through years of blah like I did because of someone else’s inadequacies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here Comes the Sun

Let me start out by saying, “Trees are Terrific!” I love, love, love trees, but with that being said, they can really cause some issues.  We have 3 huge, beautiful, thick maple trees in our front yard.

Our place with the trees in the front

The trees are so big that Avista (our power company) has to come in and cut a huge L shape out of them every few years because they get too close to the power lines.

The L in the trees from the power company

It’s hard to imagine when you are planting a little bitty tree that it will grow sooo big that it almost covers half the house, and goes halfway into the street.

The side street next to our house and our trees halfway in the middle

The trees over our roof

Also, the amount of leaves it produces every year is beautiful and back-breaking! I remember one year, Mitch was working the swing shift and I was outside in the dark with a flood light because it was going to snow the next day,  I just remember telling myself, “Power through the pain, you can do this, just power through the pain.”

The start of fall with our maple trees last year

Grass refuses to grow

We had to put a fence between the front and back yard because the dogs would always have dirty paws.

Honeydew on my car, sprinkled with pollen.

Did you know honeydew is actually aphid poop!

Some aphids up close and icky!

The leaves were so thick getting any sunlight in the house was rare.

Such a cute little house, nestled behind the trees.

Mitch and I were talking about how much work the trees are, all year-long and how when we get older it’s just going to get harder and harder to keep up with the work. Not to mention the little helicopters (seed pods) that stain the vehicles when it rains and as they decay they release a dye known as tannins.

The conversation wasn’t interesting enough for Milo and Zoey, but Charlie pretended to care.

I started thinking…If Avista trims the trees because of their power lines, I wonder if they would just cut them down for us for free!?  I googled it, I got their number and made a call.  I was just kind of inquiring and the lady said that someone would go by the house and they would get back to us in probably a week.  Not even two days later on a Tuesday, they called me back and had an opening to cut them down on Thursday.  It was that quick!  We decided the pro’s to cut them down really outweighed the con’s and said, “let’s do it.”

One last photo for the photo book before they’re gone

 

Avista setting up before starting to cut down the trees

 

They said they only cut them, and we will be responsible for the clean up

The pile just kept getting bigger

and bigger

Until the house was barely visible from the street!

Zoey had some reservations about the trees being removed, but we told her she’s not the one who has to do all the work.

She said, “Fine my human pets, just get me a snack and bring me my Charlie to cuddle with.”

Zoey’s favorite spot

Avista sprayed something on the stumps so they wouldn’t begin to grow again and we are hoping to use them for flower planters.

The blue circle is now gone and soaked into the stump

We took 15 truck loads of branches over a 5 day period, so needless to say we were pretty sore and had some battle wounds to show for it.

I looked for my long sleeve work shirt but things surprisingly get lost in a such a small house.

Mitch’s gotten good use out of his chain saw.

The front part of the roof was in shock since it’d never had the summer sun shine on it before.

Hello little house, here comes the sun, do-do-do-d0 (me trying to write the tune of that song)

So how did we move all those branches you ask? We used our trusty ol’ girl aka, the truck. She also got a battle wound from the work.  Mitch’s sister Annette, the sweetest soul in the world, was helping us load branches and didn’t know her own strength. haha.

One of the pieces of wood went straight into the back windshield, made a hole and next thing you know the whole window starting cracking.

Mitch got so busy cleaning it up, he forgot that I’d want pictures for stories sake.

“Wait Nettie, don’t throw that stick for Milo, it may hit the little yellow house! just kiddin sis! you’re the best.”

So now we have a blank canvas for our front yard, and have learned what type of trees we can plant up front so they don’t interfere with the power lines. I am now in search for the most beautiful dogwood tree, yipppeee.

But for now, all that wood is going to keep us warm this winter, since now the trees are gone we can get a wood stove (a life saver for around here when the power goes out in the winter time.)

The neighborhood has been surprisingly appreciative of the tree removal because it created a large blind spot for traffic.

 The best part is that house isn’t any hotter!  We thought for sure there would be a huge difference because of all the shade they produced, but that isn’t the case.  Extremely grateful to now have sunshine in our home.

Ugh Is An Understatement

Not even two days after pops had passed away; Mitch was sick as a dog, body aches, fever and just miserable.  I felt for him and I tried my best to give him attention and care, but honestly I was in a such a daze of my own I wasn’t much help. I was taking care of all the things one must do after a death and was just trying to come to terms with losing pops.

Pops service was super special, just like him

Two days later and I was experiencing first hand the misery of Mitch’s sickness!  The aches were awful, the fever and chills, just debilitating!  It was horrible and all I wanted to do was sleep, but I figured I’d just take some Tylenol, pull up my boots and go to work.  Three days later and I still wasn’t feeling any better.  Mitch was on the mend after day three, so I figured I needed to just wait it out. Finally after 5 days of having a fever I gave in and decided I needed to go to the doctor.  The reason for having a fever for so long, an ear infection and probably some kind of virus, maybe the flu.  They wouldn’t be able to know for sure if it was the flu unless they did a flu test, and asked if I wanted to be tested.  I said, “sure why not, I’d like to know if we really did have the flu.”  The doctor said, “well, you’re probably not going to like the test though, they need to swab your nose.”  I thought to myself, ok, no big deal, I’ve put q-tips in my nose before; and then he came in with it.  It was thin, and long… way too long for just going up my nose, and they had to put it waaaaayy up there, like 5 inches up my nose!  I asked if he could just do one nostril and that was a big fat no, it had to be both. I decided to take one for the team and just go for it.  He had me tip my head back, and ugh, the burning and stinging and instant pain was shocking, and then he was done with one.  Phew, ok I can do this… I shake off the feeling and get ready for the other side, it wasn’t as bad, maybe because I knew what was coming, but eeeekkks the burning in the back of my head.  Wow, it seriously sucked!  Thankfully it was over and we were going to be on our way to get antibiotics and the doctor said they’d call if the results came back as the flu.   Suddenly I felt warm, really warm, then super hot, burning up, so I take off my sweater and I think I might get sick, oh wait everything is getting dark and muffled in my ears. Mitch looks at me and says, “are you ok? you look so pale? are you going to pass out?” my whole body leans to the left and I can’t shake the feeling, I …am….about….to…….faint. So I let go and just melt onto Mitch while I try to come back into reality.   Finally, things begin returning to focus and I need water, water, I need water.  I go over to the sink, put my head under the faucet and drink as if I’d been walking in the desert for days.  Phew, now that was crazy.  I almost pass out from getting a flu test. ha! I’m such a silly girl.

all turned upside down

I got a call the next morning from the doctor and yes, it was the flu.

There’s a name for our experience, it’s called “the let-down effect”, and basically once you make it through a really stressful time in life your body comes down from all the stress and pressure and then you get sick. There are studies about this phenomenon but I think the good Lord knows that during hard times its just too much to get sick, so he helps you wait till you have time and can handle it.

Then I got this weird circle spot on my chin!

I put PRID on it, and it stopped the itching and seemed to help it heal

First I thought it was a spider bite, then someone said maybe it’s from the stress, someone else thought it could be from my ear infection or an allergic reaction….but when someone mentioned it could be the possibility of RING WORM, it was time to go back to the doctor.  She said my ear infection was gone and it’s not ring worm, she thinks it was probably a spider bite. So now it’s been three weeks, we both still have a cough, but everyday we are getting a little better, physically and emotionally. Healing takes time, and we aren’t rushing ourselves to be better. We’re just learning to live again, so we go into each day with love and acceptance of life as it is now.

 

Forever Ago February

I wrote this post almost two months ago but with all that was going on, I just haven’t gotten around to posting it until now.  Thank you all for your love and support during this difficult time!

February was a busy month for us, of course there’s Valentines day, my birthday and our 5th year of wedded bliss, so I decided we needed to try something out of our comfort zone.  We tried a day of culture and culinary first. First we went to the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture and saw the exhibition, The Titans of the Ice Age. While we were there we also got a guided tour of the Campbell House.

waiting for the tour to start

It was informative and interesting enough, if you like that sort of thing.

Mitch and I having some fun on our cultural date

The start of the tour

Now that we’ve been officially cultured, we checked that off the list and went onto our culinary first. I made us reservations at a restaurant on the South Hill called Casper Fry, and luckily it was restaurant week so we got a appetizer, entree and desert for a set price.

The water was delicious

The lighting and layout was warm and inviting, it had a good ambiance.

I got a squash risotto

We watch cooking shows and neither of us had ever eaten risotto and this was a perfect opportunity to finally try some.  It tasted good, except they topped it with a pickled mushroom!  I had to look at the picture an hour later to remind my stomach that I’d eaten.  But hey, that’s the world of fancy food right, small portions at high costs. We did it, we changed things up and tried something new.  Probably wouldn’t do it again, but glad we did it, none the less. Next year I might schedule our date on the other side of the spectrum and do some dollar store crafting and go eat at the Golden Corral!

Mitch got me a fiberoptic light for my Birthday, I love it and so does Zoey

A girlfriend brought me flowers!

and Stacey got me a delicious birthday dinner. Waiting for the restaurant to open we decided to make the most of our time and cruised around the mall in style!

all smiles before the race started

kisses of bliss

The cold weather has kept us in, but hasn’t kept us down.  I’m not giving up on my bread making and finally tried it again.

Hello bread maker, I’m sorry it’s been so long

Looking like it might come together

Best one yet…but I can do better. I’ll try again in another year or so

Mitch learned to sew… thank you youtube!

The most delicious artichoke and spinach dip made by my sweetie and almost all of it eaten by me!

 

Seriously, that dip is AMAZING! If i could, I’d dip into that picture right now and have me a bite!

 

 

 

Until We Meet Again

Papa went to be with the Lord on March 31, 2017 at 6:04 p.m.  He was at home with us, just as he would’ve wanted it.  Pneumonia had its hold and wouldn’t let go, but a stroke on Wednesday March 29th, helped him get to heaven a little sooner.

Now he’s hanging out with Mitch’s dad, back with mom and everyone else that went before him.

But I know he still loves me this much

soaking up all the love in heaven

No longer in the prison of his dementia

Charlie is trying to adjust

Them being besties

and back seat napping buddies

Charlie hasn’t eaten in a few days but is starting to come back around

The man who was always up for almost anything made some great memories with us.

whether he was kittening around

or pretending to be grumpy cat

he was always drinking in the goodness of life

Even when he was tired, he was willing to keep me company

And aways had a smile on his face

When we traveled the country

and things got tough, he’d have a profound moment of deep thought and say just the right thing… like, “it is what it is, we’ll manage.”

I loved being his pride and joy

and Mitch loved being his son

Boy did the three of us have some fun!

The joy of a good breakfast

and coming over for pie

my daddy

was a wonderful guy

Now he’s in the mansion in the sky!

We’ll remember the good times

cherishing what we had

but for now

we’ll wrap our loving arms around the memory of you

and say “goodbye Dad”

 

Services will be held at the Washington State Veterans Cemetary on April 14, 2017 at 10:30 a.m.

Good Intentions

Years ago I made a friend when I really needed one, but we weren’t meant to remain friends for the long haul. Looking back with a healthy perspective I see she came into my life to teach me a lesson and to help guide me at a time when I felt lost.  We were alike in many ways at the time, always with good intentions, yet occasionally coming across as pushy instead of helpful. Sometimes too needy, expecting more from someone than they were willing to give.  I can see my 20 something self swirling in a coldren of emotions, lost in a world of self created solitude. I was stuck between the free spirited person I once knew and the authenitc self I would become, but at the time I felt like a shell of a woman grasping for meaning and purpose. I’m so glad I’m not in my 20’s anymore, talk about emotional growing pains!

The lesson she taught me was this… Sometimes in life it’s not about doing what you want, it’s about doing what’s right for someone else.  I lived at Edwards AFB, California at the time, (the twilight zone of my life expereinces)  and my parents lived in Oklahoma.  I was on the phone with this friend when I was talking about how I didn’t want to travel all the way to Oklahoma for Christmas, but with my mom’s cancer back that year it could be her last.  Without hesitation she said to me, “it’s not about what you want, it’s about what’s right.”  She flipped a switch in my heart and set me straight.  I went, it was wonderful and it was my mom’s last Christmas on earth. Thankfully she gave me that clarity, and showed me the error of my ways.  I still think of her often, beyond grateful for her guidance and love, I hope she is nothing but happy.

Doing what’s right for the sake of another isn’t always what we might want for ourselves, but in those situations it’s not about us, it’s about them.  Case in point our little Happy dog. When Mitch brought him home we had such good intentions, helping him to overcome his past and keeping him forever.

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He needed more from us that we could give, from the beginning he would nip at me if I tried to trim his feet or remove a knot from his belly.  He also developed what is called trick knee that wasn’t getting better with medicine, and probably needed surgery. He needed a home where his people had time to work with him and for those around him to know and remember that he’s had a rough past and required more attention and work.

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He’d become protective of things and was quick to nip. Unfortunaely, even being cautious of my actions resulted in a nip that broke the skin and we knew we had to make a change.

Not an enviroment we could provide for him with our current living situation.

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We tried to keep him away from Zoey in the house because all he wanted to do was run and play, and that was making his leg worse, so he hung out in the little place.  Unfortuantely knowing that he was unpredictable, it wasn’t safe either.

Thankfully I know someone who knows all about the world of animal rescue.  After my 5th text to her in a few months time frame she said, “Shawna, take him to the Humane Society, he’ll get all the care he needs and he will find a home that fits his needs, it’s the right thing to do.”

 

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Putting the needs of Happy and the safety of family first, we made an appt and took Happy to the Humane Society. Just a few days after he’d been there trying another medicine that didn’t work for him, my friend updated me that they gave him the surgery he needed and he would soon be available for adoptions.  Not even a week later he was on the news and days after that he got adopted! It all worked out for the best. I hope and pray that whoever was lucky enough to adopt him knows what a gem that boy is.

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Happy reminded me that sometimes friendships aren’t supposed to last forever, even though love will.

We love you Happy.