Friday, April 27, 2012

mental clarity

We could all use a little more of that, right?  And with the big FIVE O approaching, I need all of the help in that department that I can get.

As I reached into my mailbox today, my hands grasped a package mixed in with the bills and junk.  Oh joy!  An unexpected package is even more delightful than a hand addressed envelope or a glossy new magazine.

My sweet cousin (you can find her blog here: had sent me a bottle of Peppermint Essential Oil from Young Living!  Oh my, it smells SO GOOD, and I swear I instantly felt a little more focused.   According to the accompanying information, Peppermint oil can boost my mood and reduce fatigue.  I can put it on my neck and shoulders to boost my energy levels.  I can add a drop to tea to help aid digestion.  I have already put it to use!

My cousin has started her own business, called Cottage Essentials. (here is a link to her Facebook page: ) You can find a wide range of all natural essential oils to enhance nearly every aspect of your life.  Here is the website where you can learn more:

I have a little experience with oils, I keep lavender on hand for calming, and eucalyptus that I use in a steam facial when I get sinus infections.  I can't wait to learn more, and add to my collection from the Young Living offerings.  The toughest part will be choosing them, but I see they offer assortment packages, that may be the way I need to go.

Do you use essential oils at all?  If so, which ones and what do you use them for?

And to my sweet cousin, thank you so much for making my day!  Hugs to you for the love you sent my way.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

time flies, part XXI

His chubby little hand clutched my fingers as we pushed open the doors of Horace Mann Elementary.  His eyes were everywhere, taking in the people and the rooms.

I couldn't believe that the little boy who had been my world for five years was going to be heading off to kindergarten. I knew I would be fine, since he had been in preschool a couple of mornings a week since he turned four, and kindergarten was only half a day, so I figured I could handle the transition.

Our neighborhood was one of the few neighborhood schools that still had a half day kindergarten program, and I was so happy and relieved that it was OUR school.  I had been prepping Charlie for weeks, letting him know that he would only be gone half a day, and he would have so much FUN!

Charlie was ready, eager to be with other kids and explore a whole new world.  Far more ready to be away from me, than I was to have him gone.  When you have an only child, every milestone seems so much bigger.

We gathered with the other families, smaller children running around the tables in all of the excitement.  The principal took the stage, and welcomed us all to the big night.  He then proceeded to tell us that there had been a big change at the school, and they would now have mandatory all day kindergarten, rather than the half day program they had offered the last few years.

My eyes opened wide in terror, and I looked across the table at Mike, and I had to pull it together to stop myself from bursting into tears.

Charlie was coloring a picture, and when the presentation finished I sat him down and explained that he would now be going to school all day, rather than half a day, as we had talked about.  He looked up at me, and shrugged his shoulders, and said "Okay mom!"

Clearly a bigger deal for me than him.

Fast forward to last night, and we went on-line to register for HIGH SCHOOL.

It was a lot easier.

But I found myself thinking back to that night, and how much has happened since then.  And how the time accelerates each year, moving faster than I could have possibly imagined.  I miss those eager young days, but I am so proud of the young man my son is becoming.

And hoping that High School will be a time for him to shine!

Speaking of shining, if you are not on Facebook I wanted to share a movie that Charlie made after our vacation.  Here is a link:

Sunday, April 22, 2012

busy as a bee

Three weeks from right now, it will all be over.  At this time on Sunday night, I will hopefully have my feet up, a glass of wine in my hand, and a big smile on my face from a successful weekend.

You may remember my post last May, when I went to the Shepherd's Harvest Sheep and Wool Festival, for the first time ever.  (photos are from last year)

It was a delightfully unique day, and I thoroughly enjoyed each wool filled minute.  I spent a big portion of my allowance that day, and the gorgeous colors and textures at every turn made my little knitting heart so happy.  Not to mention the adorable llamas, sheep, goats, and bunnies!

Late last year, I learned from my dear friend Helen (who accompanied me that day, and introduced me to all of the fun) that we had an opportunity to reserve a space, and become vendors at the show.  I only debated for a short time before I agreed, as Helen works like I do.  She is very organized, and always on time, and is so friendly with customers.  And did I mention she is an incredible knitter/spinner, beekeeper, master gardener, and all around amazing woman?

When I agreed, I put it on my calendar and knew I would have many months to prepare.  It is now three weeks away, and I have reached stress level 3 out of 5 (5 being unable to sleep as I feel I have too much to do).  We are quite busy with a big project for our store right now as well, so time is at a premium.  Fortunately Mike is managing most of that work load, and I can spend my free minutes making things that sheep and wool lovers might enjoy.

The festival is located at the Washington County Fairgrounds, in Lake Elmo, and will take place on Saturday, May 12th from 9-5 and Sunday, May 13th from 10-4.  Admission and parking are free, here is the link to find out about all of the activities that will be taking place.  It is quite an event!  There is a lot more than just shopping....

Part of my stress is that I am creating many new things that I have not crafted before, so there is a lot of creative time needed before I can hit production.  And then I need to come up with the perfect packaging, and a unique display, and of course some kind of clever sign...

So far I have created some pretty jeweled knitting markers, charm necklaces on leather cord that feature gems, natural stones, and knitting/sheep related charms, and some new button bracelets.  I have crafted earrings out of adorable sheep buttons, and plan to have more earrings with other themes to round out the assortment.  I have taken industrial size thread spools, covered them in white burlap and vintage crocheted flowers and trim; the cones will make pretty packaging for a Mother's Day gift.  I still hope to craft some cards and a few other things I have in mind, time permitting....

I will be posting some pictures when I get a chance to take them!  If this sounds like something you might be interested in, mark your calendar for the second weekend in May and perhaps I will see you there.  (I don't know yet which of the four vendor buildings I will be in, look for the up north cabin themed spot!)

Friday, April 20, 2012

family phone calls

You know you dread it.  That call from someone in your family that brings bad news.

Sometimes it happens in the middle of the night, and you instantly know something is wrong.  That was the kind of call I got when my sister called to tell me my father was being transported by helicopter to a hospital,  just two Aprils ago.

But sometimes it comes during the day.  When my sister called me on Thursday around dinner time, I didn't think much of it, until she said "Well, we have had an interesting afternoon here.."

My sweet brother fell off a ladder at his construction site.  He is a self employed home builder, and was working on a cabin out in the woods by himself.  Fortunately he didn't get knocked out, and was able to find his phone, and call my parents.  A frantic drive ensued, with them not really knowing his full condition, he simply told them he had fallen off a ladder and smashed his face.  My dad pushed his truck, going nearly 100 miles an hour, to a remote spot on the way to Red Lake in northern Minnesota.

Twenty eight stitches later, Kelly has a broken nose, a cracked occipital bone, a broken jaw bone, and a cracked rib.  Based on circumstances, it could have been so much worse.  He fell 14 feet, and his face landed on a stump, which caused the most damage.  He could have knocked himself out, and been unable to call anyone, and would not have been found until hours later when he didn't come home.  He could have been paralyzed, and unable to move.  We are just so lucky in our family, as the only people who even knew the isolated spot he was working in were my dad and his son.

I can really feel his pain, as I had a bad facial wound 15 years ago, that required 23 stitches.  But I didn't break any bones, so I can't imagine the depth of his pain.  He is being sent to Fargo on Tuesday, for further testing, as they can do more than Bemidji can.  I talked to him Thursday evening, Kelly never complains but it was obvious he was in great pain.  He just said "Kris, it hurts.  It hurts a lot."  If only I could wave a magic wand and take his pain away, back to happier times!

My poor little brother.  Please send good healing thoughts northward.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

recipe box Wednesday

The Pioneer Woman's second cookbook has been sitting on my coffee table for a couple of weeks now.
I started going through it one Saturday morning, while watching her show on the Food Network, and found all kinds of things I wanted to make.  Now!

And in real time-I just got around to it last night.

But oh my, the first recipe was a winner.  One of the things where my guys took second helpings, and then their forks found their way back into the serving dish, just needing one more taste.  And I didn't even yell at them for double dipping, as I found myself doing the same thing.  Again, and again....Mike and Charlie both enthusiastically requested that I make this again, and often.

And thank goodness Ree has posted this on her website, so rather than typing it out for you I can just give you the link!

First off, be forewarned that this recipe has a pretty spicy kick.  We love that in our family, but if you have family members who are not a fan, this may not be for them.


Ree did not specify the size of the roast to be used, mine was about 4 lbs, I am guessing by the pictures in her cookbook that her's was probably closer to 8 lbs.  Accordingly, I used a 7 oz. can of chiles in adobo sauce, rather than the 11 oz. can she called for.   I was out of whole onions, so instead I dumped about a cup and a half of frozen chopped onions in the bottom of my pot in the second step.  I used the same amount of Dr. Pepper and brown sugar.  Mine cooked for about 7 hours, it probably didn't need quite that long but a 300 degree oven is pretty forgiving.  Once I took it out of the oven and did a taste test, I did add a couple of tablespoons of honey into the mix, it sat for about 30 minutes before I served it, and the flavor was PERFECT.  Enough talking about it, here's the link!  (or page 158 if you have her new book)

I decided her Crash Hot Potatoes would be a good side with the pork, and they were.  The three of us downed nearly all of them (so since it was supposed to make 6 servings, I guess we over indulged...)
Here is that link (page 217 in the cookbook) :

She is so right, they were golden brown, and crisp, and absolutely irresistible!

But since none of us did any ranch work today, we are feeling the need for some exercise this evening-Charlie is mowing the lawn and I am considering a walk.  But that second helping of potatoes was totally worth it!

(All images borrowed from Pioneer Woman's blog, I am hoping since I am promoting her wonderful new cookbook that she won't mind!  I was too busy eating to take pictures of our food...)

Thanks Ree, for another great meal!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

lovely lilacs

I picked a bunch of freshly blooming lilacs on Sunday afternoon.

Saturday was a picture perfect spring day:  blue skies, fresh green leaves on the trees, everyone outside enjoying the 70 degree temperatures and a nearly ideal weather day.  I had to keep pinching myself, after looking at the date on the calendar.

Sunday we woke to rain, which we sorely need.  While those states south of us suffered through horrific tornadoes and storms, we were warned of approaching storms coming our way Sunday night.

Even though it was incredibly warm and muggy, we were warned of cold temperatures arriving soon, so I went out to see what flowers I needed to bring in or cover up.  And I was hit with a blast of lilac scented air, the muggy temperatures sending the sweet aroma throughout my back yard.  I hadn't been paying attention, and was thrilled to see that I could pick some and bring them in to enjoy.  And a good thing I did, as Monday morning they were assaulted by snow.  Thank goodness it didn't stick around long!  Lilacs generally don't have to put up with snow....

The lilac bloom is short, but full of memories.  I recall a friend bringing me a bunch wrapped in a wet paper towel for my birthday, I think I was a junior in high school, and I remember feeling really special.  My birthday is later in May, which is more about the time that lilacs bloom in Bemidji!

I remember the lilac bushes that lined my grandmother's yard, and the scent that would fill the air when we would stop by for a Sunday visit, perhaps bringing a pint of fresh Dairy Queen with us.

Lilac bushes could also be found at my grandparent's house out on the river, and the scent would fill the air.

I remember trolling alleys when I was in college, looking for some lilacs that I could pick without being caught, as I wanted to fill my little room with their heady scent.

Even though I didn't realize it when we bought our house on a cold December day, our back yard is lined with lilacs and I look forward to their bloom each year.

Do you have a favorite flower that is not only beautiful, but full of memories?

(all images borrowed from various plant sites)

Monday, April 16, 2012

boys in the house

In the winter, it's stinky ski gear.

In the summer, it's odiferous dirt bike gear.

Needless to say, my house occasionally needs more than just a good air out.

My dear friend Tracy introduced me to Glade's newest scents, and currently my home smells like Pineapple and Mangosteen, which is far preferable to the aroma of old sweat and mud.  I am using their new diffuser, and even though initially it seemed a little overpowering, it now is just right.  Here is a link:

I knew I had made an impact when Charlie came home Saturday night from riding his dirt bike all day, and walked in the living room, and said "Mom, it smells so good in here!"

Mark down one mom win for me.

Disclaimer:  I did receive free product from Glade to review, and I do indeed enjoy it!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

facing fears

While our spring break trip is now a distant memory, part of that trip has stuck with me.  (warning, my last long post about our trip).

I am not afraid of too many things.  I don't mind flying, I have come to accept that mice live in the world (and sometimes get in people's homes), I can kill and get rid of spiders.  Fortunately I don't have much contact with snakes, other than the garter snake I accidentally stepped on one summer, but they only creep me out in large numbers (as in the Indiana Jones movie scene).

But heights have always given me a bit of pause.  I will stand away from the railings on the third floor of the Mall of America, that look down into the rotunda.  I get a little light headed.  This will all relate, eventually.

Tuesday of our break dawned brilliantly blue and sunny, a perfect day in Whitefish.  The guys had been asking if I was interested in joining them at the mountain, for part of the day, and even though I don't ski I really wanted to go.  So I packed a big lunch for everyone, and my knitting, and we were out the door by 8 am.

Rick drove the twisty road up to Whitefish Mountain Resort, my head was on a swivel taking in the views.  We arrived at the Base Lodge, and the guys got ready to ski.  I went outside to attempt to take pictures of them as they hit a run that ended at the lodge, and then I packed up my things and took a shuttle to another part of the mountain.  This resort is huge, you are only seeing a tiny part of it here.  They have 98 runs!

I watched them from that spot for a few runs, and then they told me it was time to take Chair One to the very top of the mountain.  It was all so new and fresh and exciting that I never even thought about declining the offer.

The four of us jumped on the chair lift (the ski less me on the end) and I was glad I had chair lift practice from the Sky Ride at the State Fair, so they didn't have to pause it for me.  It was a gorgeous ride up the mountain, fresh snow sparkling on the pine trees, untouched snow on the slope well below us.

I gracefully stepped off at the top (at least I didn't fall) and just looked around me in wonder.

What a breathtaking view, from every angle.  It was almost more than my brain could handle.

After some photos, the guys headed down for some runs and I went in to the lodge for some coffee and knitting.

Let's just say I didn't get much knitting done, it was just too beautiful to be looking at yarn, and I spent most of my time looking out at the view.

Soon it was time for the guys to take a break, and have some lunch, and before I knew it, it was time for me to head down the mountain to catch the Snow Bus back into town.

In all of the excitement, I hadn't really thought about how I would get DOWN the mountain.

Rick patted me on the back and said they could always stop the lift if I had trouble getting on.  I was determined that would not happen, so with sweaty palms I clutched my cooler and jumped right on.

And then I realized I was in a chair lift, GOING DOWN.  My heart literally stopped as I looked around me, and I knew I could not look down, or I would simply stop breathing.  When a chair lift is going up, you are staring at the side of the mountain.  When it is going down, you are looking out at the entire world, from thousands of feet up from sea level.

It was so beautiful, and so completely terrifying, all at the same time.  I could see for miles, sparkling lakes, views of Glacier Park, I felt like I could see into other states all the way around me.

Wanting to seem cool and unruffled, I didn't put the safety bar down, and used my pageant wave as the guys skied underneath me.  But I was having trouble taking full breaths, and I was pretty sure the people going by me (some of them laughing at a 'downloader' ) could see my heart beating outside of my chest.

About 8 minutes after it started, I landed on firm ground and felt like perhaps I had just completed a ski dive.  I was completely exhilarated, and happy, and proud, and I could not stop smiling.  And I was breathing again.

I left the guys, and they spent the rest of the day on the slopes.  Here are some of their shots-they took turns taking pictures!

The lesson I take from that day, is that if I had been thinking ahead of time of what going up that mountain would really entail, I would have never have gone up.  But I had no choice, and faced my fear, and realized that I can pretty much do anything.  That piece of it has stayed with me, and I now have this little extra bit of confidence in my heart that makes me feel strong.

Have you faced some fears?  If so, how did you do it, and how do you feel now?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

recipe box Wednesday

As of March, we have lived in our 'starter home' for twenty years.  I meant to do a long post with photos and such, perhaps one of these days I will have time to pull them from the attic and do a nice story.

Our neighborhood has seen change, as well as continuity.  We still have our neighborhood grocery store, barber shop, and restaurant.  The Nook has had different names and different owners, but it has always been a place for a burger and beer.  Ranham lanes is still here, spiffed up and ready for a good old fashioned game of bowling.

But this week?  This week we are getting a real treasure.  A true old fashioned Soda Fountain!  I have always wanted to try an egg cream, and now I will have the chance.  Here is a photo of the front of the shop, as they were getting ready:


I peek inside every time I walk by, and love the marble countertop, the glass jars waiting to be filled with candy, and the true old fashioned flavor of it all.  Here is a link to their website, I am sure there is more info to come:

Here is a shot from their Facebook page, maybe Charlie can get a job as a soda jerk someday!

Can't wait for my first trip there, I will be sure to let you know more!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

oh glorious spring!

(sorry, this post was written a week ago but I couldn't post as we have been having Picassa issues...grrr)

Today we take a break from vacation memories, spring keeps tapping on my door and telling me to come outside and play!

Our historically early (it's official, we just had our warmest March ever in the history of weather record keeping) spring continues to play out each day, with more birds, more buds, more green things popping through the earth, and more tulips bursting into bloom.

I don't ever recall an Easter where we could actually pick tulips for our tables, rather than buying them at the store!  And to look out the windows and see bright green grass everywhere, rather than melting sludge, is a delight to the eyes. (I have already started buying things to plant, I will be hauling them in out and for a bit...)

I have thrown caution to the wind and uncovered all of my flower beds, I had so many perennials trying to pop through I felt they needed to lose their winter blankets.  Considering the drought we had last fall, and our lack of snow through the winter, I was quite concerned that many plants would not survive.  But so far, so good.  I am sure I will lose some things, those darn delphiniums that I plant every year and never come back, I have just started buying them as if they are annuals.

The bleeding hearts are particularly lush this spring, already sporting tiny hearts that will soon blossom!

My perennial geraniums continue to spread like crazy, and will be one of the first things in my garden to bloom.  I have bought several kinds of salad greens to put in the ground, haven't done that quite yet, but I did get some spinach planted.

Fortunately pansies are readily available, and I greedily purchased several kinds to tuck in window boxes.  Is there anything more cheerful than a sweet pansy?  I have already picked up a very mature 'Tiramisu' heuchara and gently planted it in the ground, my collection grows as I just couldn't resist.  I also added a new columbine to the mix, as they are such a delicate way to greet the season.

I can't wait for the lady's mantle leaves to display the morning dew, one of my favorite plants.

Oh what joy to be able to enjoy our gardens early, and all of the delight and wonder they hold for us in the weeks to come!

(post scrpit:  let's hope all of these plants survive the cold temps this week!)

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Loving the Lodge

When I was a little girl, we did not take regular family trips.  Our vacation each year was when my dad pulled our camper trailer out to Midge Lake for a week.  We joined other families-the dads drove in to Bemidji to work each day, the moms would gather for coffee every morning, and the kids ran free.  I loved that break from chores and everyday life.

The only 'trip' we took was when I was 14, and the five of us drove in our 2 door Monte Carlo out to Idaho.  It was summer, the car did not have air conditioning, and my sister was still in diapers.  Let your mind wander....

When I would read books or hear about families who took ski vacations, I imagined that they were very wealthy, and that it was something I would never do.

Fast forward to 2012, and both my husband and son are avid skiers, and a ski vacation does not have to be crazy expensive!  I did my research, and figured out how to do a week long ski vacation on a budget.

First off, the train is a pretty good deal.  If you don't need to be somewhere in a matter of hours, it is a very viable option.  And they don't charge you for your bags!  I found a deal on-line to Whitefish, since I started shopping early.  When it came time to find a place to stay, the options in Whitefish were endless.  And believe it or not, March is actually their 'value season', as that area's prime time is summer, when everyone wants to check out Glacier park.  Rather than picking a condo at the ski hill, we went with a suite at the Lodge on Whitefish Lake.  Since I wasn't going to be skiing, I needed to have a place to spread out my jewelry, enjoy a coffee shop, or be able to walk into town.

When we walked into our room late on Sunday night, I was blown away.  You can look at photos on-line, but nothing had prepared us for our fabulous room.  It had a full kitchen with stainless steel appliances, gorgeous dishes and glassware, and really great pots and pans.  It even had a separate wine fridge!  Right up my alley....and the view?  This was our view every morning:

I think our room may have had more square footage than our house.

It had a full dining room, two separate balconies, a big living room with a stone fireplace, and the loft upstairs was our bedroom with a down comforter and fabulous bathroom.  The downstairs bathroom had a soaking tub, which I enjoyed several times with my wine and a book.  Charlie loved using it after a long day skiing.  It also had a washer and dryer, which was useful when the guys came back with wet ski clothes.

I made a big dinner one night, complete with pasta, salad, wine, bread, and fresh berries for dessert.  It is fun cooking in a different kitchen!  I made breakfast a couple of times, and packed a ski lunch too.  So having a kitchen was definitely a plus, and a way to save some cash.  On top of that, I love shopping in grocery stores in new places!

Mike and Charlie were out the door by 8 am every morning, they wanted to make sure they were able to ski every minute of the day that was available to them.  I have a show coming up Mother's Day weekend, and so I spent several days working on jewelry and things for the show.  I visited the Lodge's coffee shop in the mornings, with a gorgeous view of the lake and mountains, and read the local newspaper.  I rarely had a wifi connection, so no time was wasted surfing the net.

I read books, and took naps, did some knitting, and watched Season 3 of Northern Exposure.  I walked into town and visited their unique stores (no chains here), finding an adorable yarn shop, cute bookstore/chocolate shop (isn't that the perfect combo?), antiques, and fun clothing.  Someone from the Lodge came to get me when I was done, talk about service!

When the guys returned each night, they were spent and exhilerated at the same time.  They took lots of movies and pictures each day on the hill, they loaded them into my laptop each night and spent a big part of the night watching what they did all day.  I guess you can never really get enough of skiing.

Each day was so full of moments and memories, I know this is a trip Charlie will never forget.  A wonderful addition to our collection of vacation fun.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

all aboard !

(FYI-rather than keeping a paper journal of our trip, which I have done in the past, I am documenting our trip this time through my blog.  There will be three rather lengthy posts, just warning you!)

Train travel is something I have always wanted to try.  From "Murder on the Orient Express" to the final scene in "North by Northwest", train travel has always intrigued me.  Modern day train travel is not quite so romantic, no burled wood panels or plush sleeping cars, but it definitely has an appeal.

We boarded the Empire Builder very late on a Saturday evening, and pulled out of the station after 11 pm.  Charlie and I were seated on the lower bunk of our 'roomette', noses pressed against the glass, watching the world slip by outside our window.  As the train slowly left the station, it was whisper soft and so smooth, you hardly felt like you were moving.  I was thrilled, but soon realized that feeling only lasted until the train got up to speed, then the rocking and rolling began.

Buildings and houses rolled by, we peeked in lighted windows and were enthralled by the glimpses of life by the tracks.  Once the train hit the countryside the excitement had worn off, and we settled in to our bunks, Charlie climbing to the one on top.  While it is private with your door and curtain closed, the walls are still quite thin, so we had to temper our conversations so as not to disturb other passengers in adjoining sleeping cars. We quietly chatted well into the night, so excited to be on the road and having a new adventure.  The first time a train passed us on the track next to us (incredibly close!) we let out a little yelp of surprise, but soon became accustomed to the sounds and movements.  The sleeping car we were in was on the lower level of the train, you go upstairs to walk through the other cars.  Our car was the very last one on the train, so we had to walk through six cars to get to the dining car.

Mike had settled in, on the upper level of a coach car, the price difference between a sleeping car for two and the next size up, which could sleep 5 people, was astronomical.  The coach seats are actually quite roomy, nothing like an airplane.  They are wide, and recline with foot rests, and Mike ended up with two seats all to himself.

Morning found us groggy (you don't really sleep on a train, merely doze), and learning how to walk through the cars. You eventually develop your train legs, but always have to be mindful of the train's movements, and be ready to grab a seat back. The few steps in between the cars always feels like surviving a little bit of danger.  Mike and I headed down to the dining car for breakfast, Charlie elected to sleep in.

The dining car is full of windows and light, and the smell of coffee and eggs sorely tempted us.  The kitchen is located in the lower level, and food is transported through a mini elevator.  Here are the chefs, taking a break at a later stop.

We were soon seated, and our table mates were teachers from Illinois, headed out to Seattle and then heading south to visit their son who works for Google in San Francisco.  Lively conversation ensued, as we ate our eggs and enjoyed the views out the window of the prairie rolling by.

We then picked a spot in the Observation Car, with comfy chairs and booths surrounded by windows.  I settled in to do some sewing,

while Mike used our laptop and prepared camera equipment. He used his GoPro camera to take time lapse photos of the train trip, which he will turn into a video.  I will be sure to post it here when he is done.

Charlie finally joined us, and chose a breakfast sandwich from the Lounge Car to start his day.  He loved our little roomette, and spent most of his day there, reading and napping.  It was kind of like a very modern fort, all to himself.  We ordered our lunch to go, from Charles, our wonderful car attendant. Here he is picking up newspapers at a morning stop, he was in charge of the sleeping car and took great care of us.

The world rolled by our window, field after lonely field.

We swept through North Dakota, stopping at the boom town of Williston

and seeing the 'man camps' that filled the prairies near there.

We spied deserted farmsteads,

oil derricks,

dozens of deer running through the fields, and wind turbines standing as sentinels as far as the eye could see.  We stopped in tiny towns along the way, picking up passengers here and there.

We had an extended stop in Havre, Montana, where we got out and stretched our legs.  The conductors really do holler "All Aboard!" when it is time for the train to get moving again, it felt a little bit like I was having a dream.

Reservations were required for dinner in the dining car, and we chose a later time.  We were well rewarded, as by then the train had hit the mountains, and the sun was beginning to set.  It was breathtakingly beautiful, and we watched the beginning of Glacier Park roll by us as we enjoyed our wine and salmon and beer and steak.  Our table mate this time was from near Seattle, he lives on Vashon Island and works as a homeless advocate for a nonprofit.  He had taken the train south from Seatlle, then east from Los Angeles and ended up in New Orleans for a meeting, then taken the train north to Chicago, and was on the last leg taking the Empire Builder back to Seattle.  A very interesting man.

Back to the observation car, to enjoy the scenery until the last light of day had gone behind the peaks.  We only had a few hours left to fill before the train hit Whitefish around 9 pm, as we gathered all of our things and waited in great anticipation for our destination.

We quietly rolled into the adorable train station at Whitefish, antique streetlamps lining the way, and what appeared to be the original depot, well maintained.  Our friend Rick Adams was there waiting to greet us, so wonderful to see a familiar face after our 22 hour adventure.  Our baggage was eventually rolled out on a vintage cart-I imagined the bags it had carried through the years and the people who collected those valises and worn leather suitcases, so different from our modern rolling luggage with it's nylon exteriors and vibrant colors.  Many ski bags were pulled off by people dreaming of hitting the snow in the morning.

Rick stowed all of our bags and gave us a little tour of the town, lit by streetlamps, before bringing us to the Lodge at Whitefish Lake.  It was the perfect spot for us to spend the next few days, and we quickly unpacked to rest up for everything Monday would bring us.

Stay tuned!


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