August 31, 2010

Snow on the Mountains

Tonight we are just east of Bozeman, making our way to Billings. We deliver just south of town in the morning and then take the truck to the shop. Because of the holiday weekend, Malcolm told our broker we'll just stay home till Tuesday, seeing as how many places close and we'd chance sitting around out on the road anyway.

I ran across these when I was loading tonight's pictures. This was at Winnemucca, NV about two weeks ago, where we loaded wheat. It was very dry and dusty.

I think with the breakdown, I forgot to post them, so I'll just put them up now.

And please excuse the bug splatter. As I've said before, it's just part of the package this time of year in my photographs.

We won't be dealing with the bug splatters too much longer up here in the northern country. As I was coming across Nevada last night on I-80 the temperature went down as low as 41. I was thrilled. I actually had the floor heater cranked up. Paris was in heaven. She wasted no time re-inhabiting her winter co-pilot seat...in the floor of the passenger side, soaking in the heat.

Today we loaded fertilizer in Conda, ID which is in the southeastern part of the state. Its beautiful out there!

I LOVE that picture!

Despite the beauty of the day, it was kind of touch and go for a while. The truck was VERY out of kilter. We were worried we weren't going to make it.
But even with the truck issues, I couldn't help but enjoy the beautiful fall weather, and being back in the northwest. And as an added treat, the MTDOT re-opened US191 to trucks after having closed it to us for almost two years during construction. This means that we can once again drive up the western edge of Yellowstone! And as luck would have it (for you) Malcolm woke up and took over driving just as I was getting to the really good part! So I was able to take a few pictures.

Its been overcast all evening and up in the mountains the temperature dropped as low as 49. On came the floor heater again and Paris wasted no time claiming her spot.

The western side of the park is where that big fire took place back in the 1980's. It still hasn't even begun to recover! It's clearly evident that there was a bad fire here years ago.
Despite that, its still beautiful! I love driving this road.

I kept my eyes peeled for wildlife, but didn't see any. In the winter its common to see tons of elk and deer, and even have to wait for them to get off the road. And we've had to wait on buffalo a time or two as well. I imagine we'll see more of these animals in the weeks to come. Despite the lack of wildlife, I did see one exciting thing. Take a close look...

You might need to click to enlarge the picture and check out that peak. I was working at getting a decent picture of these high mountains for evidence, when we rounded a corner and I found a better specimen.

There is snow on the mountains in Montana!

August 30, 2010


I was just "cleaning out" my camera and realized I never finished up with my home time post. So, let me do that now!Recently there were two kinds of hoppers in my life.
This kind....
and this kind...

When we got home after a long absence, we discovered that indeed the yard needed mowing..badly. And that we had been infested with grasshoppers. I have seriously never seen that many grasshoppers in one place at one time. And it wasn't necessarily just our yard. It was the entire area all the way into Billings. It made me think of the Biblical plagues in Egypt. I can now imagine how truely horrible that must have been!

Just walking across the yard would stir up a cloud of the crunchy things, dozens of them trying to escape our feet. I know they are crunchy because they were all over the porch and side walk and you could hardly walk without stepping on them.  What's even more gross....Ella and Paris loved making a game of hunting them, which was fine, until they also decided to snack on them once the hoppers were caught.
They were also all over my flowers. I was delighted to discover that I had three hollyhocks and three sunflowers volunteer to come back this year, even though they knew from last summer they'd be on their own.

Unfortunately the grasshoppers were delighted with them too. Their lower leaves were nothing but stems, and during the cool mornings, my poor sunflower was weighted down with hoppers.

Normally I don't mind grasshoppers, even enjoy them to some extent, but this was a little extreme.

And let me just go ahead and tell you, mowing the yard...well I had more than one take a giant leap to escape the lawn mower and land down the neck of my shirt. There was quite a bit of squirming and frantic flapping of my shirt while I got the back yard mowed.

Amazingly they didn't come in the house with us, except for a handful that got a free ride. I repotted a plant, sprayed it off with the hose b/c it was dusty, and left it on the porch to dry, foolishly forgetting the hoppers. Later that evening, after I had returned the plant to my kitchen floor, I was fixing dinner and I noticed Paris and Ella staring into the plant with a hypnotized kind of glaze in their eyes. At first I was going to fuss because they have been known to snack on this plant a bit, but then I suddenly had a horrible vision in my mind, and ran to the plant....and sure enough. It was full of grasshoppers. I whisked it back out onto the porch as quickly as possible, and thought I'd managed to prevent any escapes, but the next morning I found one of the beasts on the hallway wall. He found himself quickly tossed out the back door.

I'm hoping they will be gone when we get home for our next break, and I imagine that will be the case. Its certainly cooling off out here, and I saw on the radar this morning that NW Washington will be getting some snow in their mountains over the next couple days. Yep...summer is over in our part of the country. Its time for our two weeks of fall and then the snow will fly! Well that's a bit of an exaggeration...but not much of one.

Have you picked up your copy of the Pioneer Woman's cookbook yet?
I swear I've only run into two recipe's that were just so-so instead of fabulous, and I've tried quite a few of them. This time home I made this one...

...and loved it. This is her pizza crust recipe with her tomato basil pizza. I won't share the recipe because its hers, but I will tell you it uses pesto instead of pizza sauce and Malcolm and I both loved it! No more boxed pizza for me! You need to get her cookbook because as the title suggests. The Pioneer Woman Cooks!

Amidst the cleaning and straightening frenzy preparing to list the house for sale, I did get a little relaxing done. I caught up on all my So You Think You Can Dance episodes that I had DVR'd. I am so addicted to that show! Love it!

And I also did a little porch sitting/nature watching. I do love my songbirds.

Its already been 2 weeks since we left the house and returned to work. It will be a few more till we return home again, but with the coming of fall and the anticipation of winter, I'm enjoying my time out on the road this time around...well what little time we've actually been on the road! The hotel time wasn't so cool!
One evening at home we had a spectacular sunset...

...the kind you usually see in fall and winter. Somehow the sunsets have different looks seasonally, or at least it seems so to me. And so I think that started me on this "its fall....yippee!" kick. I never get tired of a Montana sunset!!!

We're in Helm, CA this morning and just finished unloading our load of feather meal. We're supposedly reloading in Livingston and heading over to Ogden, UT. But Malcolm plans to talk to our broker this morning and see if he can send us through Billings somehow or if he wants us to go to Ogden and then put our truck in the shop in Salt Lake City. Its not feeling well, and we're still loosing power and it was making weird sputtering noises this morning. Cross your fingers that its a quick find and a quick fix!

August 29, 2010

Sunday Stills: Statues and Figurines...and an Update on the truck

This weeks challenge was "statues and figurines." 

After our engine issues of this week, I didn't get much time to work on this weeks challenge. So I'm using a couple of oldies but goodies again, and I am promising you and myself that I'll do a better job this week. Promise!

Here's what I got...
The hood ornament on our truck

The same hood ornament after driving through freezing fog in North Dakota last winter

and this is a statue of a bronc rider at the Metra in Billings, MT after it was hit by a tornado on June 20th. Everything around it was destroyed, trees splintered, the roof torn off the arena, but the statue stood proud and tall, undisturbed and untouched by all appearances. Funny how tornadoes are so random like that.

To view other amazing work by the rest of the Sunday Stills participants, click here!

Ok, now for a little update. We finally got out of the shop on Wednesday afternoon. After they replaced the ECM (that the computer), the lift pump (which is related to the fuel pumping), and the turbo. Our bill was $250. It cost Cummins $6000. I was happy with our half of the bill.

We loaded in Wyoming and went to Waco, TX, and sadly, as we crossed Elk Mountain in Wyoming, it came to our attention that the truck was NOT fixed! Yes that's right. After all that, we're still not right. And then yesterday, as we left Mount Pleasant, TX on our way to CA, we thought we were done for again. The stop engine light and buzzer were going off and it was SO deflating! Malcolm spent some time on the phone with our guys in Billings and after discussing some options they think they narrowed it down now to another part that needs replaced. We got the alarms to go off, and so we're still rollin and almost to California now. But Monday we have to talk to the broker and see if he can get us to Billings. Otherwise, we'll be putting her in the shop at Salt Lake City after we deliver in Ogden on Tuesday morning.
Its enough to make one want to throw in the towel, but I'm holding out till after this next repair to see if its really time to go screaming and pulling my hair out yet!

I'll be back with the results, and hopefully more interesting and upbeat travel experiences to share! Till then, hope you have a  happy Monday!

August 24, 2010

Still Waiting in Saint George

We're still sittin in Saint George. We thought the truck was going to be done this afternoon, but when Malcolm got over there to pick it up, they had found something else they were suspicious of, and since it was under warranty, and since this shop just got opened and they need work, they wanted to fix it. Figured might as well let them have a go at it since its not an expense for us, other than being another day behind in work.
So its should be done tomorrow around 2:00 and I sure hope so. This hotel room is getting smaller everyday.

Last week, before all this came down around our heads, we drove some pretty routes, one in particular was out of Portland going east. We hopped off I-84 and headed southeast across country and around the base of Mt. Hood. It was getting to be dusk, but I still got a few pictures before it got to be too dark.

And these are actually from the same area, on the Columbia River, but taken the week before we went home. I just never got around to posting them. I've seen wind surfers on the river before, but NEVER this many at once!

The river was just full of them at this one spot, and then further down the river was another spot full of...I don't know what its called, but its along the same lines only they were using parachutes to catch the wind instead of sails. It was really neat!

The girls are getting kind of tired of being here I think. They don't mind so long as we stay in the room with them, but I think the first time we went to eat and left them in the room they were a little unsettled about being where they were and left alone. I can only imagine what they thought when the tow truck pulled the truck to the shop. Malcolm and I had to ride in the tow truck of course, but the girls were in the truck. Oh to have been a fly on the wall when the truck started rolling down the road without their people in it! I wonder if they sat in the front seats and stood on the steering wheel like they do when we leave them in there to go eat or something. Wouldn't that have been a site!

Hope you are all having a great week. If this has caused nothing else, it has given me a renewed interest in working. For the first time in quite a while, I can not WAIT to get back to work!!!

August 22, 2010

Sunday Stills: Metal

This weeks Sunday Stills challenge is: Metal.
It was a broad subject, but the challenge was to photograph metal in a form that might not be photographed by others.
I had planed to do more work on this this weekend, as we've had one hell of a week, running our tires off! But then yesterday, the day that things finally cooled off a little and I was going to have time and energy to get creative, we broke down in the desert and that pretty much wiped out my motivation and energy for anything. For the scoop on the breakdown that has left us stranded in Saint George, UT for at least 5 days, check out the post after this one.
In the mean time, I ended up using what I had. These are grain bins, something we see a lot of in our line of trucking. I love grain bins and grain elevators. I always see them as works of art and beauty. (almost always, but there are exceptions)


For more Sunday Stills, visit this link.

August 21, 2010

Its Getting Hot in Here

There was a song that came out several years ago and the lyrics went something like this...
"Its getting hot in here, so take off all your clothes..." and I don't know the rest cause I don't really follow that type of music.
Still, those are the lyrics that have been running through my mind since yesterday afternoon.
We were en route to Green River,WY (doesn't that sound like a cool refreshing place?) and I was driving up through the Virgin River Canyon in Arizona. We were less than 15 miles from the Utah state line when the check engine light came on...again!
So I pulled off the road and we did a re-gen for the emissions thing a ma gig that we've been having issues with the last few months. Well...what haven't we been having issues with really, but anyway we thought we'd try that first.
About an hour later the re-gen finished and we went to pull back on the road and the truck just shut off. Dead, no engine, and more importantly to me at the time...no AC!!!!

Yes you are reading that right! It was 115 degrees and there we sat on the side of the road for THREE HOURS while Malcolm and I tried all the little tricks he could think of to no avail.                    

Now do you understand why I had those song lyrics in my head?
"Its getting hot in here, so take off all your clothes..." At that temperature it was almost tempting! My jeans and boots were a little much.
You know its HOT when a Chinese Crested pants. They are not prone to panting, so its kind of a rare thing.

It was hot! They were all three panting with their tongues hanging to the floor. An exaggeration really, but it was about that bad. And lucky them...they didn't have to wear any clothes! I'm sure they were cooler than me but they still were obviously overly warm.

It was hard to appreciate the scenery outside the window. I was wishing we were about 140 miles back south in the California desert. It was only 88 degrees there, and we would have been taken to a shop in Las Vegas, which could have been entertaining.

Instead we're at a hotel in Saint George, UT. The guys at the shop came in this morning, after we agreed to pay overtime charges, to look at it. They said that if it was a quick fix, they'd have us on the road today, but if not they wouldn't work on it till Monday to save us the overtime.

They picked Malcolm up this morning at the hotel and went to the shop to plug the truck into the computer to see what the problem is.

As it turns out...the truck is loosing its mind. Yeah...I could have told them that, though I would have been being sarcastic. We've had electrical and "brain" issues all along and no one could say what was wrong. Well now they can...the brain died!

So here we sit in Saint George, UT till at least WEDNESDAY! They have to order a computer for the truck, and it will arrive on Tuesday, and then they have to install it and so on. Hopefully we'll be on the road by Wednesday evening.

This after an incredibly exhausting but incredibly profitable week...or at least it was going to be. We were on our way to pick up in Wyoming and then go to North Carolina. By the time we delivered there on Monday afternoon we would have racked up over 6000 miles for the week, an amazing total when you consider we shoot for an average of 4000 a week.

We still got around 4300 miles but I think that last 300 were empty that were going to get the Wyoming load. Now they are just an added fuel expense that we have to eat.

If there is any silver lining to this (and you know me...I always find at least one) its this...
1. we got rest and that was nice b/c we were pooped after this week.
2. the truck computer, Thank the GOOD LORD!, is considered an engine component and so is still covered by the warranty, as well as our tow bill which was $300 for 20 miles! Can I say Thank You Lord! again!
3. Hopefully now after this mess, the truck will preform like its supposed to and we won't have any more "issues" that have been so incredibly angering to us!
4. Paris was for the first time in her life, wonderfully and completely warm!
I think she was the only one who truly enjoyed sitting in the desert in the heat. My little sun and fire worshiper asked if we could move there. The other four of us answered with a resounding NO!

August 17, 2010

A Name for Sky

Back on the road after a week at home. It was...not very relaxing...but still nice to be there. The majority of the time was spent cleaning and fixing up the house to get it ready to sell. The realtor came on Saturday and it should go up online today! So we'll see what happens!

The first three days of our break were spent at the ranch where Malcolm used his dozer to fix a creek crossing and also helped out a little with haying.
Its been one of those years where the weather hasn't cooperated with haying. It keeps raining, making it hard to get the hay cut and baled. The weather was nice while we were there, so the third person was handy to have. Malcolm cut hay, while his mom and dad raked and baled.
And I sat at the house feeling completely useless and lazy and not happy about it at all! But I don't know how to run any of the equipment and there were only three jobs to be done anyway. So I entertained myself by making sandwiches and running them to the workers, reading, and playing with my colt, all while trying not to feel guilty over not being a help.

Remember Sky?

He was introduced to you several weeks ago. I have been pondering what to name him, for a registered name anyway. I knew I was going to call him Sky due to his blue eyes and the possibility that he would turn gray and white like a cloudy day, taking after his sire.

I'm no good at fancy names, so I decided to wait till I got his papers from my sister-in-law and then see if I could come up with anything. They were waiting for me at the ranch where they had come in the mail a few days earlier.  You can't imagine my delight when I opened them and learned the registered names of the dam and sire. Sky's mother's name is
 "A Unique Dawn"
 and the sire is named
 "Cody's Blue Merle."
 It couldn't have been more perfect! So Sky's name (providing I can get him registered as this) is
A Unique Blue Sky

That's about the best name I ever came up with and I'm rather proud of it!

He's gotten huge since I saw him the last week of May!
He's definitely going to have his sire's gray and white coloring. You can see that his black coloring is fading to gray in some places already.

And he has his mom's white butt and blue eyes.

He's been running around free for the past two months, so he's gotten a little shy.

He didn't want to get too close to me. But after a couple days, right before I turned him and his mom back out, he did walk up and sniff my head while I sat in the grass in the round pen. And later he took a cautious nibble of grain from my hand.

I won't be feeding him many treats like that, but I wanted to see if he had gotten braver since he'd been around me a little.
The mare is supposed to be broke to ride, but I don't know how broke she is, and since Rachelle hadn't had the chance to climb on and see before she moved, and because I know less about her than Rachelle did, I opted to wait before climbing in the saddle. She is very calm and trusting though, lets you pick her feet up, lean on her, and catches fairly easily...so long has you have a peace offering. Her previous owner, and conveniently the owner of the stud also, lives down the road from me, so I plan to try and get in touch with her at some point and have a little visit. I'd like to  know what the stud is like and also find out what kind of training Dawn has had.
In the mean time, they are running free at the ranch and its going to be that way for a while. Sky is getting a "natural" childhood, romping through the grass, sunning himself under the Montana sky, and exploring his world without much human interruption or interaction. I know that might work against me later on, but there isn't any help for it. I have to be here, and he has to be there. Hopefully his mother's good natured and kind and gentle spirit will be a part of his genetics as well so that when I have time to be with him, we'll able to become friends quickly and with as little pain and stress possible (to either one of us)!

We're back on the road. Left yesterday afternoon, delivered in Nebraska this morning and are heading to a reload before hitting the trail for Oregon country. Hoping this round of trucking will prove more profitable than the last, because our motivation is super low and being successful is probably the only thing that's going to keep us going this time around!

Before I go...I need some input. I am, for all my years of love and obsession, pretty horse illiterate.
What is up with Dawn's nose?
She came in with her nose like this. Its like dried up blisters and its cracking and raw in the cracks. Is it a fungus, or sunburn, or what? Does something need done, or will it just heal on its own?  I've not seen this before in my limited experience. She had a pretty nasty cut on her flank back in May and I know that Rachelle had gotten antibiotics and stuff for her, as she was really favoring it for a while. Malcolm suggested that this might be a result of a fever due to her cut. He said the other animals often have similar reactions after a fever. I was curious what your thoughts were, since so many of my blogging friends are horse enthusiasts. Should I be taking action, or just letting it heal in its own time?