Of course Scott is at the age where he wants to help with everything so he's helping grandma bake cookies. Like most 5 year-old bakers he's taste testing as he forms the raw cookie dough.
The van we purchased needs some things done (which we knew about before buying it). One job that needed to be done soon was to replace the front seal (in the timing cover) on the engine. Fortunately that's not a big job on the van so I drew the short straw on that one.
Susan is applying window tint to the rear windows on the van. From there she moved to the side windows.
One of the kids bought her a pizza stone for making pizza.
They're kind'a cool and work great. Scott and I voted to urge her to use it often!
One of our daughters and her family came for a visit. They have three kids and they all play well together.
Of course, water makes an excellent play medium.
We were going to grill some hamburgers and I happened to check the temperature of the grill before adding charcoal. Just a little more heat and we wouldn't need charcoal. We may have to try it out for some solar cooking ... or at least use it to warm up leftovers.
The hamburgers were great.
We had lots of catching up to do on the yard. Susan has been digging up thistle plants. If you look close at the photo of the kids playing in the water tank you'll see a patch of these behind and to the right of the tank. That's where these came from.
I've been playing with the string trimmer. I use my chain-saw chaps in order to keep my jeans cleaner.
This was a mixture of knee-high thistles and grass.
The red wheel barrow tire kept going flat so I took it off to see why.
It had a split along one of the seams. I patched it but I should get a new tire and tube before long.
I wanted to mount our 65 watt solar panel on the roof of the camper/van so I made some "Z" brackets out of some scrap aluminum angle bar I had laying around. I cut the pieces short then fastened two of them together for each bracket (I needed four brackets). I then attached them to the panel.
And then attached the panel to the roof rack on the van. I ran a cord down from the panel to the charge controller inside which feeds the battery we use for lights inside. The power needs are small since it has a propane refrigerator. We also put 12 volt LED bulbs in all of the light fixtures.
We were ready to go on election day so after we voted in the primaries we hit the road. It was a treat to see a full grown mountain lion cross the highway in front of us about fifteen miles into our trip.
A quick stop in Kalispell to see one of our daughters and grandson (Scott's brother) and then we hit the road in earnest.
Odie was thrilled to be going on the adventure and took up her spot between the front seats.
This is along Salmon Lake.
Our first night was spent at Clearwater Junction.
Scott can always find something to climb on while Susan works on supper.
She opened a jar of home-made, home-canned chicken soup. Scott was feeling left out and wanted to be in the picture too.
The next several days were spent travelling through parts of Montana, Idaho, Utah, Wyoming and Colorado.
I kept a journal but I don't have time to go through it and label each photo. It was all beautiful country with great people.
We bought some shower caps to put over the bicycle seats to protect them from sun, dirt, and rain. Scott wanted to try them on first though.
Just some of the scenery on the trip.
Our second night was spent camping along a creek. Susan and Scott went up the hill to take some photos.
And for Scott to climb on the "gate" across the old road.
He helped me start the fire but had other things to do when it was time to cut firewood.
Bananas are good camping food! The jug of tea is waiting beside him.
Pork chops and home-made pork-n-beans! The pork chops were cooked at home earlier then frozen so that we could take them with us. That way they can be eaten cold or warmed up.
More mountains and woods.
A lone antelope beside the fence.
Real cowboys (and girls) moving livestock.
We pulled off at a fishing access site for breakfast. We got an early start then had breakfast after we'd been on the road for a couple of hours.
The river was running bank full at the time.
Scott wanted to flip his own pancake.
Some interesting road signs we saw ... This one's for Sage Grouse.
This one's for Antelope.
Flaming Gorge on the Utah/Wyoming line.
Night number three was spent at a parking area on Highway 191 on the Daggett county line (Utah). We were near a summit as well (can't remember the name of it!). Here, Scott is climbing on the bicycle rack on the back of the van.
Scott was in his batman cape pretending to be a sleeping bat.
Scott with light stick mask. We like things like this because they are cheap and if he goes outside in the dark it's easy to keep track of him. Me playing my Indian flute.
Entrance to Dinosaur national Monument.
One of the rock ridges there ...
This has the shape and features of a head if you are at the right angle.
There are a lot of interesting stories about the lady (Josie) who once lived here (Depression era). I got the feeling you'd either love her or hate her depending whether you were on her good side ... or not! She was quite a character! (And resilient!)
The old chicken house she built. She was pretty much self-reliant as many were those days and grew her own food and ran a few head of cattle.
A canyon above her cabin.
Scott and Susan taking a break in the shade. Scott was barefoot (a condition he prefers most of the time) but the sand was so hot it was burning his feet. The shady spots were welcome relief.
More of the canyon.
If it's too hot to walk then have grandma carry you. He likes piggy-back, riding on shoulders, fireman's carry and even upside down.
Part of the national monument.
Scott and I at the end of the canyon. Josie used to keep her goats back here.
Ancient graffiti on the walls?
More of the DNM.
We left there and headed for Green River where we had lunch and mooched off the McDonalds WiFi.
We stopped at a playground near Craig, CO.
Flathead Lake above Polson. Only another 100 or so miles to home.
Lots of sail boats were out that day.
When we left we had planned on driving down to Kansas to see my mother but the AC didn't work in the van and it had never been converted to R134a so recharging it wasn't an option on the road. It was just too hot to keep going. We left Craig, CO and headed home. Once we got farther north the weather cooled down. We spent a few days at home and I got caught up on some business paperwork (IRS., SSA,. MT Department of Revenue, and the VA) and after a few days we headed back south again. That story will be in the next installment.