Daily Miles: 0 Total Miles: 1,437
Every good journey requires a vacation, and we have had a wonderful one–four days at my Uncle Sterling, Aunt SuzAnne, cousins Ted and Mark’s place in Lolo, MT, otherwise known as Dunrovin. We have been to their place several times and have always enjoyed the magic of the bitterroot. Dunrovin is a truly special place, 13 acres right on the Bitterroot River. Although subdivisions have popped up between them and the highway, Dunrovin remains an isolated ranch, especially their back porch where we generally ate dinner and listened to the songbirds in the trees surrounding the house.
Wednesday, we handled logistics and ran errands with Ted in MIssoula more than anything, including giving Talula a well-earned bath. It was also Christmas, as we opened the multitude of boxes sent by my brother Sterling, my sister Keiko, our friend Meg, and Mike’s mom Judy. We found and devoured (but shared) the yummy treats inside. Thanks guys. Keiko’s brownies and Meg’s cookies were delicious, and they didn’t last long around us.
We also got all the spare supplies that Keiko and Sterling sent, including two new tires. Since we had just bought a new tire in Herminston, we decided to replace the front tire with a new tire, and carry the second new tire at least through the next mountain phase. . . more on that later. That night, after feasting on buffalo burgers (except for me), we piled into a couple of cars and headed out to a secret location where Uncle Sterling had been informed that a wolf den was. We hoped to build a fire and hang out at sunset in the hopes of hearing the wolves howl. The sunset was beautiful, the campfire magical, but the only howls heard were our own . . . and our howls were not really wolf-like. But we had a great time. Just minutes after we put out the fire and headed down the road, we ran into SuzAnne and Ted (who had stayed behind) bearing a warm home-made strawberry-rhubarb pie and vanilla ice cream. That was too much to pass up, so we turned around and got the chairs back out, and served it up right from the trunk of Ted’s car. YUM. If I were a wolf, I would have come for the pie.
Thursday, SuzAnne offered to take us out on a ride on her wonderful Tennessee Walking horses. She had a friend from Alaska who was also staying at Dunrovin, Colleen Matt, so we four–Mike, me, Colleen and SuzAnne–headed for the hills with four horses–Mickey, Flash, Charger and Power. SuzAnne is great with her horses; she has them really well-trained, and they can do this “running walk’ gait that is really smooth but very fast. It is a lot faster than walking, smoother than trotting, and less scary than a canter or gallop. We stopped a couple of miles in to have lunch in a grassy knoll, before heading back downhill to the horse trailer.
Friday, having gotten our ride in, Uncle Sterling suggested that we take a canoe down the BItterroot. Since I am a sucker for a canow trip–even a short one–I readily signed on. My trult accomodating cousin Ted shuttled to Chief Looking Glass point to put in and then Mike and I used our arms for the first time in weeks to paddle for a couple of hours. Paddling, however, was somewhat optional since the river was so high that we could have just floated almost as quickly. The panoramic views were incredible: blue skies, white clouds, dark black water sparking in the sunlight. There weren’t any rapids per se to navigate, so all we needed to do is make sure that we avoided the downed trees. We thought it would take a couple of hours to get back to Dunrvin, but an hour later, we found ourselves coming up to Lolo Creek, which is only a mile or so upstream from Dunrovin. Not ready to leave the water, we beached ourselves on a gravel bar and had a snack. It was a perfect rest day activity.
That night, Mike and I had dinner in MIssoula and then met up with Ted to see the indie movie Why We Fight, which is an interesting and thought-proving movie about the various reasons and rationales–both geniune and deceptive–for why we are involved in Iraq. It is definitely worth seeing, especially interesting is the historical footage of President Eisenhower’s farewell address in which he coins the term and warns of the dangers of the militay-industrial complex. We also saw a trailer for Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth, which looks like another must-see movie. Afterwards, we (plus Mark) all jumped into Dunrovin’s new hot tub and hung out nice and warm while it rained cold, refreshing rain on us.
Saturday, we hung out with our friends, James and Elizabeth McCubbbin, from Macalester College who have moved to Florence, a couple of miles south of Lolo. Their three boys are a lot of fun. Plus, James agreed to ride with us for a bit on our next leg. He’s training for a 150 mile rally around the Pioneers, so was up for a ride.
It was great fun, reconnecting with family and friends, in such a lovely place. We are lucky to have such a wonderful opportunity to do so and are very thankful for Sterling and SuzAnne’s wonderful hospitality. With so much family as I have, often it can be difficult to get quality time during the holiday gatherings and reunions. These intimate visits give us a chance to really talk and catch up on where we are in our lives. This time, Mike and I are clearly at a turning point, but so are they with SuzAnne starting a new business (an Equestrian Club, which is sort of like a private country club except that members have horse, rather than golf, privileges) and Ted on te verge of a trip to Japan and then moving away (to Hawaii). Both will bring big changes at Dunrovin, and we wish them the best of luck on both adventures.
Tomorrow, we are off again. Vacation over, time to ride some.