At the end of the month, Alberto and Lidia came from the Dominican Republic to visit Jessi and family. They were her host family for a few months when she first lived in the DR. Alberto is also the superintendent/principal at the school where Jessi served for 4 years as a nurse/missionary. It was fun having them to our house for a visit.
We only were able to see them the first few days of their visit because John and I had plans to head out to visit his sisters in Idaho and his brother in Montana. Along the way we stopped and saw a few friends too.
First stop was at my friend Marvel's place. I met Marvel when my kids were in grade school. Her crazy sense of humor helped me keep my sanity as my boys were 'being boys' at school. One day, I showed up at the school ready for the usual pounce from the principal or one of their teachers...Marvel greeted me with some Groucho Marx glasses, complete with a black mustache. She said it would disguise me so we could get our volunteer work done without them interrupting me. We were the PTA moms and a group of us met regularly and even went on trips together for a few years. So many memories of some pretty funny times. Even though it has been a long time since we have seen each other, we have kept up on each other's lives over the phone. Marvel and Scott are loving retirement as much as we are and as soon as we left they headed out for a grandkids soccer game and then on to the beach.
Our next stop was to visit my Uncle Mick, his wife Nettie and two of my cousins Michelle and Darla. Once again it was a great visit! Even though we had told them we would not have lunch, Nettie had lunch ready and waiting for us. Pulled pork tacos. Yum! So glad that we had not had time to get lunch before we arrived!
Normally, we just race on past Smith Rock, always saying that NEXT time we will make it a plan to stop and hike around. Well, this time we didn't just fly on past, we stopped to take a look around to see if we want to go back sometime. For sure we will! It looks like a great place to hike.
I was really looking forward to stopping in at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. Spring is best to see birdlife, but from what I read, fall is second best, especially for the Sandhill cranes. The headquarters was still closed since the occupation last winter when militants took over in protest of some farmers being jailed, but we were able to drive the refuge in search of birds. To my disappointment, we saw nothing! no sandhill cranes, no swans, no herons, no ducks...which are supposed to many varieties, nothing...nothing but a lonely vulture watching out over the refuge with me as I searched and searched. Oh well, maybe I will go back in the spring some year.
We knew we were not in our Pacific Northwest when we stopped for lunch and all the men but John had on a cowboy hat. And as we looked around, every group of people bowed their heads in prayer as their food was delivered. Hanging in the bathroom was a plaque with the 10 commandments on it. Not sure if that would be my choice of rooms to hang them, but just not the normal thing to see hanging in public around here.
It was confirmed even more when we pulled up to buy gas and in rolled a huge tractor for a fill up.
We drove on to Payette, Idaho and went to Sheila, Ruth and Ann's place.
I love that Sheila lets Ruth do the decorating. Ruth loves cats. She buys everything with cats that she can find at the local thrift store. Sheila pointed to the hubcaps on the wall. She said that one day she came home and Ruth had added them to the decor.
We ended up that day at Mary and Jim's place. A group of quail make the trip across their lawn every morning and evening.
The next morning Mary and Jim took us for a drive up to Owyhee Reservoir. It was a beautiful drive, full of scenery that I don't normally see.
The water was so calm, it made a perfect mirror for my photos.
Mary and Jim
Jennifer and Kenzlee
Then next morning we were back on the road again, headed to Boise to meet up with our friends Kelly and Sue in time for lunch. Kelly was the meat dept manager when John first went to work for Winco. We have hung out with them for years, then he was promoted and they moved first to Sacramento and now to Boise where they are now retired.
Not the best of shots, but pretty good for drive-bys. John used to make fun of me for shooting while the truck was moving, but some of them actually turn out. In spite of a buggy windshield and going 80mph.
We headed out towards the Tetons. The fall colors were so amazing.
I caught a glimpse of the Tetons and made John stop so I could capture the clouds lifting.
We stopped in Jackson Hole to get a photo of the famous arches.
Before we left, I asked people how we would find the Tetons. Everyone just said...'Drive towards Yellowstone, you can't miss them.' Well, that might be true...unless you have fog. Yep, we almost missed them! As we drove along, suddenly a few clouds lifted and I yelled for John to stop. I took a few shots and then they went back into hiding.
So well ahead of schedule, we headed on north to Yellowstone. The fall leaves did not disappoint!
If you look closely at the photo below, you will see that there are stairs going all the way down to view the waterfall from that side. Of course we didn't climb that side. haha.
This is the shot I was hoping for. Well, maybe a rainbow would have topped it off. But I think its a keeper.
When we first arrived at Old Faithful, there was nobody around. The sign said that it would erupt in about 1/2 hour. Just before time, I looked around and saw we were no longer alone.
I was pretty pleased that we actually saw the buffalo.
and a pair of Big Horn Sheep!
but no bears...
The next day we arrived to Mark and Terri's in Montana. They took us about 8 miles from their place to where there is the only remaining physical evidence of Lewis and Clark's expedition. Clark's signature was carved into the sandstone rock pillar called Pomeys Pillar. Clark's signature is among many others that are signed and dated. A while back some vandals decided to carve their names in too, destroying some of the old names there. Now Clark's signature is covered with a framed plexiglass.
As you hike up to the rock, along the trail the Clark and his team took, there are Indian teepees.
That evening Lauri, her husband Andy and their 3 kids, Parker, Paige, and Preston came to visit.
Lauri was about the same age as Paige when they moved from across the street from us to Montana.
The next morning, we took off with Mark and Terri to see the Montana Badlands to the north east of Montana.
I snuck in a selfie in John's glasses.
The badlands were incredible...not the colors of the Grand Canyon, but still so full of contrasts.
From the Badlands we traveled north to Fort Peck, the longest dam, to Fort Benton and then to Great Falls. It was pouring rain, so we just moved right along. The night before we had lightning that hit the hotel, knocking out the internet and tv.
I doubt this hay will be making it to the barn.
This was at Ft. Benton
and then to Great Falls.
I found a chimp!
From there...the rain turned to snow.
but we ended up with a beautiful sunset. And then we were only inches away from hitting a deer that was standing in the middle of the road. Mark did great avoiding it, not knowing which way it was going to go.
We left their place and headed towards Idaho.
I loved the snow in the hills with the fall leaves below.
We made it as far as Spokane for the night. We didn't know that the Chinese lantern festival was going on. The main park was all set up with displays that made pretty reflections in the pond.
Not very many cities have waterfalls going right through them. My Mom was born in Spokane.
They have the most unique slide I have ever seen. A huge wagon, with the handle as the slide.
We drove through the Palouse area. I knew ahead of time that it would not look like the photos I have seen of this area. Springtime shots are the ones everyone goes for. I didn't expect to get much, but only to scope it out for a possible trip back in the spring. Well, to my surprise, it was still gorgeous, but in a different way than it is normally shot. For sure it is on my list as a do-over in the spring! I can just imagine these full of green.
And then we met up with my cousin Sandy and her husband Rick. She is one of those cousins that you grow up with and spend so much time with that it seems like almost a sister. We even went to the same high school.
Last stop for us was to Palouse Falls. It is way off the beaten path, but so worth the drive!
And then we headed for home...
I spotted some pelicans on the Columbia just after we crossed over into Oregon from Washington.