Monday, September 14, 2009

Eastern Idaho State Fair

It's probably been about 20 years since I entered anything at the Fair . . . it was sometime in the late '80 when I was showing horses with my Dad. In the horse show events I usually did pretty good, in fact I'd even won a few blue ribbons. But like I said that was 20 years ago.

Even though I've sewn just about all my life, I just started quilting about 5 years ago. And now I'm really hooked! I really love the challenge of learning new techniques and trying to improve my skills. I feel like I've made a lot of progress when I look back at some of my earlier projects.

I joined a quilt quild three years ago and being involved with so many creative woman has really taught me a lot. It was pretty intimidating when I first joined the quild, but everyone has been so helpful. Each year we've had a different project and my piecing and quilting abilities have improved with each project. I gained a lot of confidence and my skills have improved. It's been an enjoyable experience to be able to make so many new friends and I've learned a lot from them.

This year when it came time for the Eastern Idaho State Fair, I was encouraged by some of my quilting friends to enter some of my projects. I was real nervous about doing that because I'd seen the quality of quilts and needlework at the Fair. But I decided I'd give it a try so I entered four of my favorite items. . . the ones I felt were a good representation of my handwork.

I've been wanting to learn to applique, so I made this pillow to learn the technique. The center flowers, stems and leaves are needle turned applique, then I pieced the outside blocks and hand quilted the whole thing. I felt pretty good about how it turned out, so I decided I'd enter this pillow along with a table runner, a wall hanging and a quilt.
When I got to the Fair, you can imagine my surprise when I found out my pillow had not only gotten a blue ribbon, but was judged best in class. I was so surprised and thrilled.
When I found out my pillow had not only gotten a blue ribbon, but was judged "Best in Class", I counldn't believe it! All the "Best in Class" needlecraft items were displayed together in a separate section. There was a variety of quilts, crocheted items, clothing, rugs . . . and among it all was my pillow!

And then as I walked around, I found my table runner. It was my foundation piecing project called "Praire Land Village", and it had also gotten a blue ribbon.

I had loved making this table runner. It was my first really big foundation piecing project and I loved the variety of houses and building. It was also one of the first things I did stippling on . . so the whole thing was a real learning experience. I guess the judges also liked it!

About a week before the deadline to have items entered in the Fair, I decided I'd enter the quilt I made out of tee shirts that Kristi had given me. I worked hard to get it quilted and bound so I could enter it in the Fair.

And look at that . . .it got a red ribbon! There were quite a few other "memory quilts", and each one was so different. It was another fun project and it probably won't be the last memory quilt that I make. . . no two will ever be alike.
And finally, my favorite "Country Roads" wall hanging got a pink ribbon (4th place). It probably has been my favorite project just because I loved all the country elements on the quilt . . . the horse and carriage, the covered bridge and pig pulling a cart. I was pleased to get a ribbon at all because the wall hanging division was really big this year. It was nice to place when you have some really good competition and there were so many to choose from.

So all in all, it was a good "first time" experience for me at the Fair. It's a good experience to have someone judge your work because you learn what you need to improve on. The display of beautiful quilts and needlework was so awesome. I was inspired with lots of ideas for projects I may try to do during the coming year. . . . and then who knows, I may do it again next year!

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Harrison Idaho

This is the Osprey Inn, the Bed and Breakfast we stayed in for the two nights we spent in Harrison. It was a pretty Inn overlooking Couer d'Alene Lake. It was built in 1915 and over the years it's had many uses. Originally it was a boarding house for lumberjacks, then in the 1930's and 40's the ground floor served as the local hospital. It was right on the trail so it was very convenient for us and apparently gets booked by lots of others who enjoy riding the different sections of the trail. While we were staying there we met two other couples who had also brought their bikes to ride the trail; one couple from Washington, the other from Montana.

We had breakfast every morning in this sunny little dining room. As we ate our breakfast we could watch the osprey outside the window. It was a pretty view and a nice way to start the day. I got kind of spoiled having someone else fix such delicious meals each morning and being in such beautiful surroundings. It's always so fun to go new places and meet interesting people from around the country. Over the years, we've had some great times staying in B&B's . . . it's a nice way to get a feel for an area, besides meeting some very nice people.

Here's a few photos of some of the buildings in Harrison. When it was founded in 1891, Harrison was a bustling town of 2000 people and 11 lumber mills. A big part of it's life and industry centered around a busy steamboat trade that traveled throughout the Couer d'Alene Lake region. But that era died out with the coming of the railroad when the steamboat buisness could no longer compete with the railroads. In 1917, a fire swept through Harrison destroying much of the town. Over the years, fewer trees to harvest meant less industry and the population has dwindled now to only 280 residents.

We walked around town and I took a few pictures of some of the quaint old buildings.

There are 3 churches in Harrison . I thought this one was pretty cute, besides I'd never seen a church with a blue roof and doors.

This big old red building on the corner houses at least 3 different business. A coffee shop, a restaurant and a tackle shop.

Several restaurants, a market, bike shop, a marina and a post office and a few other shops and buildings make up the rest of the town. Even though it's not a big place, it's ideal location near the lake attracts a lot of travelers who use the trail. It's also a scencic spot for families with trailers or campers to come enjoy the lake.

The Creamery is the local ice cream shop. Besides lots of ice cream choices, they made homemade fudge and other goodies. I loved it's stripped awnings and table and chairs on the sidewalk. It seemed to be a popular spot in this scenic little town.
After dinner Friday night at a local restaurant overlooking the lake, we stopped for an ice cream to eat on our way back to the Osprey Inn.

Our stay in Harrison was very pleasant. Sitting on the front porch at the Inn after our long ride, enjoying a cold drink and enjoying the scenery was so nice. The unhurried pace was just right for us . It's nice to be able to take it easy and discover new places. There's sure a lot of great things to see and do all over this great country. We feel so fortunate that occasionally we are able to enjoy some of them.

Biking around the Lake

Saturday morning we got up early, had a delicous breakfast and went for another bike ride. We had 15 more miles to ride so that we could say we'd ridden all the Trail of the Couer d'Alene's. We decided to save this part of the trail for Saturday rather than adding it to our long ride on Friday. I'm glad we did it that way because we were well rested and we could really appreciate what a beautiful ride it was. The trail was right along the Lake Couer d'Alene. This part of the trail was much busier with riders than our ride on Friday. Families with their kids and dogs, people walking, fisherman . . . all of them were out enjoying the beautiful area. There are some beautiful homes all along the Lake and the riding that section of trail allows you to go by some awesome properties. It was fun to imagine what it might be like to have a home on the Lake. You couldn't ask for a prettier view. I was kind of surprised to see lots of apple trees along the trail and near the lake . . and they were loaded with ripe fruit. In the background you can see the bridge that cross the Lake. It's an awesome bridge with long spans on both ends. The ride to the bridge is 7.5 miles.

Randy's on the bridge looking pretty pleased. It's a great view from the top because it's high enough to allow large ships to pass under it.

The trail leading up to the bridge kind of goes in a stair stepping fashion - it's flat, then it goes up, then it flattens out again - all the way to the top. I'd never seen anything like it before and it was kind of fun to ride on it. You can see by looking at the rails how it makes gradual steps down the sides.
On the top of the bridge was a nest with Ospreys. This one flew off the nest onto this pole and sat there watching us the whole time we were on the bridge. They are beautiful birds and they have an ideal spot for fishing. There were a lot of Osprey on nests in some of the marshy areas and it was fun to watch them as they tried to catch fish on the Lake.

We had to stop on our way back to Harrison
to take a picture by this strange creature someone had made. It was made out of old motorcycle parts and who knows what else. It looked kind of like a preying mantis. Anyway, this critter was pretty clever and gave us something else to talk about.

By the time we got back to Harrison, we had ridden another 15 miles. By doing that we'd ridden all of the "Trails of the Couer d'Alene's". Friday and Saturdays ride was a total of 72 miles, plus Thursday's ride on the Hiawatha Trail of 30 miles. That gave us a three day total of riding 102 miles! I'm not sure we'll ever have conditions to ride that distance again, but I'm so glad we did it. If someone told me I'd have to ride a hundred miles I'd tell them there's not way I could do it. . . but we did!
I feel like one reasons we were able to do it was there was some downhill on both trails, a lot of flat land, great paved trails, perfect temperatures, miles of tree lined trails - so we were riding in the shade and we broke it up into very "do-able" size chunks. It was a wonderful experience and an accomplishment I think we can be pretty proud of . . . especially for a couple of old guys. It definitely was a memorable trip.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Trail of the Couer d' Alenes

We had heard about the Trail of the Couer d' Alenes several years ago. We enjoy riding our bikes so much we thought it would be something we'd enjoy doing. So we decided that we'd not let another summer go by without making the trip to Northern Idaho to ride the trail. The trail goes 72 miles across the panhandle of Northern Idaho from Mullen, near the Montana border, to Plummer, on Idaho/Washington border.

Randy is standing at the Trailhead in Mullan where we started our ride Friday morning. We found a woman (that's a whole other story) who would drive with us to Mullan, drop us and our bikes off at the trailhead, and then drive our car back to our Bed and Breakfast in Harrison. So on Friday morning, we left our B&B and drove to Mullan to begin our ride on the Trail of the Couer d'Alenes. We started our ride at about 9:30 a.m., it was a cool 65 degrees, the sun was shining and we headed off ready for a long, beautiful ride.
Here we are at Wallace, just 8 or 9 miles into our ride. The trail for about the first 20 miles was a gentle downgrade. Even though it was next to the interstate you didn't even really notice it because the trail winds through the trees and except for a few open places you never even see the interstate. It was a beautiful paved trail and a very easy ride.
We stopped for a little break near Osburn at this little roadside garden.
This sunny little hillside garden was planted by a woman who obviously loves to garden and just wanted to beautify the trail. There were birdhouses, a wishing well, and a mailbox and a lots of other stuff. If you wanted to take some of her free seeds you could leave a note in the mailbox. I helped myself to a couple of seed packets and then we were on our way again down the trail.
(I'll plant the seeds somewhere in my garden and they'll be nice reminder of fun trip)

Our next stop was at the old train depot at Kellogg. We stopped just long enough to go inside and get a map and then we were on our way again. At this point we were about a third of the way.

The area near Smelterville was the most open area of the whole ride. Like many of the old towns in Northern Idaho, it was an old mining town. We stopped long enough to take a picture and were on our way again.

About every 8 to 10 miles we'd stop and get off our bikes and take a little break. Every few miles all along the trail there are nice benches and restrooms. Our legs weren't tired but we got tired of sitting so we took advantage of some of these nice rest stops. Taking a few minutes to walk around, drink some water or eat a little snack was all we needed to keep us energized so we were ready to go again.

After we'd ridden about 25 miles, we stopped for lunch in Enaville. The locals said if you're anywhere near Enaville you had to stop at the Snake Pit. It's THE PLACE to eat. And they were right! It was a big ole log building that looked like it had been around for a long time. It was one of those places that had lots of character and served really good food. It was very convenient because it was just off the trail so anyone who ridden the trail knew about this place and so it was a good rest stop. It was nice to take about an hour to eat lunch, take a little break and feel refreshed ready to go again.

After we left Enaville, to trail left the little towns and headed out through the countryside. From here on the trail was mostly flat instead of being downhill. We were always is the woods and the colors were just starting to change. It was so pretty. It was perfect weather for a bike ride. Randy saw a fisherman on this bridge so he had to stop to visit for a minute to see if the fish were biting. The trail followed either along a river or a lake much of the time. We saw a lot of waterfowl as well as fishermen in boats and pleasure boats. It's such a pretty area.

This view of the trail shows a stretch where we were leaving some of the wooded areas and going out through some marshland. Even the colors in the marshes were beautiful. The grasses and reeds were different shades of reds, greens, and golds so even in the open there was beauty all around us.

The trail just kept on going and going . . . . and going. And so did we!

For several miles as we rode along, we kept noticing muddy tracks coming up out of the marshes, crossing the trail, then leaving the trail again. We could tell they were moose tracks but we rode for miles and miles and never saw anything.
After following all those muddy tracks, I had just said, "I can't believe we haven't seen a moose". We hadn't gone another 200 yards when a moose came out of the trees and stood on the trail. We couldn't believe it! She just stood there eating the leaves off the trees. Of course we had to stop and just watch. We heard more noise and then . . . .
. . . out came twins following their mother. It was an amazing sight! We were glad to see one moose, but we never expected to get to see a mother with twins! Twins are pretty rare and to be able to see them up close was really special. We wondered, if one is a moose . . . what are three? Mices - Moosen - Moose and Micen - - who knows? But whatever you called it, it was really something to see. The three of them just wondered back and forth across the trail eating from the trees and not at all concerned about the bikers standing there watching them. They stood there for over 10 minutes until finally they moved off the trail and down a slope until they were a safe distance from the trail. A moose is pretty unpredictable in any circumstances, but a mother with youngens is even more so. It's better to be safe than sorry, just because they're a big clumsy looking animal doesn't mean they can't move fast. We were so lucky to be able to see them!
Randy is on the home stretch now. He's coming down the last part of the trail. From here we only had another 5 or 6 miles to our Bed and Breakfast. We were like a couple of horses headed for the barn . . . there was no stopping us now!
We finally made it to Harrison . . . 57 miles from where we'd started at Mullen. It had been the longest ride we'd ever attempted but we did great! We had started our ride that morning and seven hours later we had reached our destination. We were tired of sitting but we'd made it in good shape and still felt pretty good. I wouldn't have ever believed we could have ridden that far in a day, but we didn't try to hurry. . . we made lots of rest stops . . . just really enjoyed our adventure together. And the fact that we'd ridden 30 miles the day before made it even a greater accomplishment. It's amazing what you can do when you put your mind to it. And when you can travel that distance riding next to your best friend, enjoying the beautiful scenery and having a new adventure together, how can you help but have a terrific time? It had been a beautiful day, we'd seen some awesome countryside. We'd throughly enjoyed the day we'd spend together - - making great memories all along the way!

Hiawatha Trail

Hiawatha Trail is a trail that runs 15 miles from Montana into northern Idaho. The trail winds through 10 tunnels and over 7 high steel trestles. It's a spectacular trail with beautiful scenery all along the way. Up until 1977 it was part of the railroad system run by the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railroads until they went bankrupt. One of the engines on the Milwaukee Railroad was called "the Hiawatha" so that's how the trail got it's name. Now this scenic stretch of trail is open for bicyclists and hikers to enjoy. About midway through this first tunnel is the Montana-Idaho state line.

Randy is entering the "big tunnel" which is 1.7 miles long. The first tunnel is right at the trailhead and headlights or flashlights are required because it's REAL dark in the tunnels. It was very unsettling to me when we first went into the tunnel. My flashlight and headlight weren't that great and it took a few moments for your eyes to adjust to the total darkness. And besides that, it was hard to get used to not being able to look ahead to see where you were going like you normally do as you ride along on your bike. But after a few scary moments, I adjusted to just watching the spot that was lite up and riding along in that spot. It was only about 35 degrees in the tunnel and you could hear water running along the edges and dripping from the ceiling and ocassionally a drop or two of water would hit you on the top of your head. It was definitely a new experience!
I was very relieved to make it through that first tunnel . . . only 9 more to go, and none of them were as long as the Taft Tunnel, but you still needed good lighting to be able to ride through them safely. Even though it was a little frightening because I'd never ridden anywhere like that before, it was so awesome!
You can see off in the distance one of the 7 high steel trestles we rode over. From this distance I couldn't tell if the trestles have any sides on them. I was pretty worried because I don't like heights and I was pretty intimidated not knowing exactly what to expect.

Randy is on one of the trestles (and even though you can barely see them in the photo) there are good sides on the trestle . . . which was a great relief to me. This is the longest of the trestles being 850 feet long and 230 feet high. I can't imagine how they were built but they're pretty awesome structures and the view from up there was unbelievable!

This is what the trail looked like. It was a compacted gravel trail and a gentle 2% grade so it was very easy riding. Not much work, you just had to pay attention to not get into loose gravel. The forest and the wildflowers everywhere were beautiful. Riding through the woods on such a beautiful trail was an awesome experience.
Along the trail were beautiful ferns . . . and the forest smelled so good. It was such a pretty setting to have an amazing experience.

Coming out of the tunnels into the bright sunlight took a moment for your eyes to adjust but when they did there was a beautiful sight to behold.

Here is another view from the trestles. Randy wasn't nervous like I was about being near the edge so I took several pictures of him enjoying the view. All along the route there were interpretive signs that told of the colorful history of the railroad and the old mining towns. It was very interesting. And here we are at the end of the trail. The sign says, "You made it!" We felt great having spent about 2 and a half hours enjoying some of the most beautiful country you'll ever see. And the fact that we were able to do it together, sharing in this new adventure on our bikes made it all the more special. It was a wonderful ride!
And when we got to the end of the trail, we started talking about how much fun it had been and what an awesome experience it was, so we got on the shuttle bus and road up the mountain to the start of the trail and did IT ALL AGAIN! The second ride down the mountain only took us an hour because we didn't stop. It was so much fun and a pretty easy 30 mile ride. Not too bad for a couple of 60 year olds! The Hiawatha Trail was such an adventure and definitely worth the trip! Anyone who likes to ride bikes needs to put it on their list on trail to ride!

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Our Montana Adventure

Wednesday morning we left home to begin our little getaway. . . our Anniversary vacation. We decided to drive to Salmon for a little change of scenery instead of driving up the interstate towards Montana. It was a pretty fall morning and the drive to Salmon was very enjoyable. From Salmon, we drove over the Lost Trail Pass into Montana. The drive through the pass was beautiful. Coming into Montana, we drove near the Big Hole National Battlefield site and since we'd never been there before, we decided to stop for awhile and find out about the area. We spent about an hour watching a video and discovering what tragic events happened in this beautiful valley.

The Battle at Big Hole had the highest number of casualties during the Nez Perce War of 1877. Five bands of Nez Perce Indians consisting of 800 people and about 2,000 horses arrived in the lush Big Hole valley in August of 1877. Chief Looking Glass chose the old camp site to set up their tipis believing they were far enough ahead of the soldier's to be out of danger. The soldiers were trying to round up all the Nez Perce and remove them from their homelands in Montana and put them on smaller reservation in Idaho (1/10th the size of the original reservation agreement). However, scouts spotted the tipis and were hiding in the willows waiting to attack the Nez Perce. In the early morning hours, a warrior stumbled onto the concealed soldiers on his way to check on the horses. The warrior was shot and killed and the battle began. The troops crossed the river and fired into the village. Some of the Nez Perce scattered quickly, while others were slow to awaken. In the confusion, men, women, and children were shot. The figthing lasted over the next 24 hours and in the end, 90 members of the tribe were killed, - -30 warriors; the rest were women, children and old people. Those who were able to escape were pursued by the troops over the next several months. Finally after many battles, Chief Joseph finally surrendered near the Canadian border. Of the nearly 800 Nez Perce who had started the trek towards the reservation, only 431 remained to surrender. The rest, including four chiefs had been killed in battles. Over that period of time, the Nez Perce had traveled over 1,100 miles. It was such a sad story . . . such a needless and tragic event in our history.

From the battlefield, we drove to Anaconda and then on to Phillipsburg, Montana. Randy had booked a sweet little B&B called the Quigley Cottage.

Quigley Cottage was a charming little house filled with antiques and surrounded by trees, three gardens and two patios . . . just a pretty place to spend a few summer days.

We arrived about 6 0'clock, just in time to unload our bikes, get settled in our room and then go for a little ride around Phillipsburg.

After a little dinner and a ride around town, we came back to the cottage and spent a pleasant evening in the parlor reading and listening to music. Various comfortable chairs were set around in the parlor so we moved from one to another until we found ones that suited us. It was a very pleasant way to spend an hour or so before turning in for the evening.

Here we are in the dining room where we had breakfast Thursday morning. It was a sunny room filled with plants, chairs and more books and interesting antiques. The dining room overlooked a pretty little patio filled with hanging baskets and flower beds. We had a delicious breakfast of fruit, a ham, cheese and pear panini, and fried potatoes. It was so delicious - and so pretty on the blue china.

Dave and Davee Letford are the owners of the cottage and such a nice couple. Over several years they had totally remodeled the cottage, doubling it's original size and adding an upper floor. Then they filled it with antiques and books they'd collected over the years. They did a beautiful job and turned a plain little house into a charming country cottage. As we ate our breakfast, we visited and got a little better acquainted. Dave had worked in Alaska for over 25 years in the oil fields and Davee had a owned a business downtown - a tea room and shop. They we so nice and friendly . . we really enjoyed getting acquainted.Here's the room we stayed in. It was a pretty little bedroom with lace curtains and shutters on the windows, and a very high sleigh bed. Such a pretty room!

Phillipsburg's downtown area wasn't very big, but every building was a different style of architecture and all of them were so cute. I love old towns where they make an effort to restore their old buildings instead of tearing them down and building something new. At one time Phillipsburg was a bustling mining town, just like many other mining towns throughout the west. Now it's a little quaint town of just over 200 people who are trying hard to restore the old buildings and make it an interesting little oasis.

We'll definitely make an effort to go back to Phillipsburg for another stay at the Quigley Cottage. A charming cottage, delicious food and great company made it a great little getaway destination.