Took a four-day trip to the Coast – well to the Portland area, which is very close to the coast when thought of relative to where we are when home. The purpose of this trip was to attend a karate seminar and tournament for J.
The seminar was with George Kataka, a two-time world champion at sparring in the karate school of martial arts. He was amazing working with the kids, and super fun to watch.
It was a great trip: visited with a nephew who goes to college in the area; visited with a college friend of mine that I hadn’t seen in over a decade; and visited with a college friend of Andy’s we hadn’t seen in about 8 years. The weather was beautiful, no rain. And the meals were really good! All went very well!
Except of course for the concussion that J picked up at the end of the tournament. Now, over a week later, he’s just about back to normal, and hasn’t complained about a headache all day. We learned a lot about concussion and how to manage life while recovering from one. Some surprises in that, but generally, just don’t do anything – no physical or cognitive activity. Makes for some long boring days!
Now we are doing all the catch up at school and looking forward to clearance from the doctor for J to get back to physical activity, including karate.
Because, you see, prior to getting concussed, J qualified for the national tournament in July, and he has work to do to prepare!
Despite the fact that White Sulphur Springs had the worst breakfast in the world – all I can described is powdered eggs over cooked and grape jelly as the only option on toast – we stuck around for a little exploring before heading West. This deer was following his friends through the fresh snow, and we thought he was a bit friendly.
Once we hit the road it was ranch land everywhere. We were headed into the Big Belt mountains, but there was some flat land along the way.
Once in awhile we’d catch some color besides white brown and blue (see below) but really it was a very simple, uncomplicated looking landscape – and beautiful too!
After we crossed the Big Belts we dropped into Townsend and then followed the Missouri River into Toston – practically a ghost town, but not quite one yet. The bridge over the Missouri into Toston is an old one, and this is the spot where Tank fell into the Missouri last winter.
The water moves pretty fast, and there are ice islands floating throughout. But what really caught my attention was that it appeared that the structures under the water were actually covered with ice. Don’t have a photo to share of that, but it did amaze me – the idea of ice under water just doesn’t seem quite right. It looked like moss covering the rocks, only it was greenish white and smooth like ice.
As soon as I saw Toston from across the river I knew I’d be outside of the car and Andy would be waiting awhile. It was just building after building of decay and disrepair – all of the type that makes for some of the most interesting photos in my book. But the funny thing was that half the buildings showed evidence of still being occupied – smoke coming from the ceiling, dogs tied in the yard, that type of stuff. To honor the privacy of those folks, I tried not to point my lens directly at them. But my heart was heavy to think that someone was in those structures when the temps were in the lower single digits because they just didn’t look weather worthy.
This one is right on the “main drag” which is a dirt road running parallel to the railroad tracks, which in turn run parallel to the Missouri.
A side view of that same building (couldn’t take the other side, which had like an old porch on the second floor, because it appeared occupied).
This little window in a small building next to the previous one, mystified me. It looks so old and so abandon, but how do those curtains, fully exposed to the elements, retain their colors? Is it recently abandon? Where the colors once even brighter? Did someone try to create privacy in there more recently than the rest of the decline in the building? There is a story in there somewhere, but not one that I will ever know.
Now doesn’t this look like it was once a real nice place? Trees in the yard, still standing straight, right on that main drag I described earlier – beautiful views of the river by the way. Another story I just won’t know.
This beauty is actually right on the Missouri (across the road and the railroad tracks from the others. Looks like it once ws very stately. Probably not that long ago either – notice the light fixture on the pole on the left side, and the cross-hatch lattice boards along the foundation. So sad that it is now in such disrepair. Wonder if it flooded and that is why it was abandon – you can see there river there behind the shrubs on the right side.
The we left Toston and headed towards home.
those horses aren’t real – sculptures. The sign calls them Bleu Horses (http://www.bleuhorses.com/) and they are by Jim Dolan who I think resides in our own Gallatin Valley. You can click on the link to see one up close. Unfortunately, I think last month one or more of them were stolen, but recovered. Wish I could have hiked up there to get a closer look, but at that point Andy was just ready to get home, and I didn’t have good hiking-through-drifted-snow boots with me.
And that was our trip. There are lots more photos that might show up someday, but these past few posts just give you a taste of the travel part of it.
One of the stops we made on our California travels was at the home of my cousin and her husband and their six kids and the home of my aunt and uncle. It was all one stop as they live on adjoining properties in the little Sierra foothill town of Oakhurst. Just saying “We’re going to Oakhurst” brings a joy and excitement to members of my family – my siblings all know exactly what I’m talking about.
Beautiful properties that through my aunt and uncle and grandparents I grew up visiting as often as I could. It is a special place for me with many fond memories and a sense of peace.
Maybe it is made more special in that my mom, sister of my aunt, daughter of my grandparents, passed away, my dad is remarried to a wonderful woman and they have their own spot, so my sense of “home” as I knew it growing up remains only at this place.
We spent our Christmases here year after year.
As a young mom, I brought my toddler here and stayed to help care for my grandmother when my aunt and uncle needed a break to travel and see friends.
We listened to music here, watched sunsets, held kittens, petted donkeys, swam in the pool, launched backpack trips into the high sierra, all in this very special place.
It has changed over the years, trees have grown in my 40+ years of memory. Houses have been built – I still have a distinct memory of my grandfather meeting us at the property when he brought down cabinets he built at another location to install into the retirement house he was building for he and my grandmother. I was young, but I remember him telling my mom not to bring paper towels for washing windows because they left lint, but to bring old news paper instead – no streaks that way.
It has a smell of oaks – and of oak wood burning in the winter. There is a familiar buzz of bugs in the summer, and a wonderful breeze in the shady spaces.
It is a place where my cousin-in-law can have his business in a building that was first a craft room, and then a “doll house” guest room occupied by some pretty special people over the years, with wood enough to get through a winter or two stored underneath. Now two professional men can talk a bout business and professional matters while watching children at play out the open door.
Even the rake is romantic in this place.
My mom’s ashes are buried here not far from the “doll house.” My grandparents too – they are under one of the big oaks.
It is a place of inspiration for J and his budding adventure into raising chickens and ducks for their eggs just like his cousin is doing.
This place is not far from Yosemite, where my uncle worked several seasons doing repair work to a water flume (or out-right building it, I can’t remember). While there he had access to old worn out signs from the park, and the property is decorated with those, many of which are places I’ve hiked to – like Burro Pass, the location of a back pack trip with my dad and 7 boys from my church youth group during the summer between my freshman and sophomore years in high school.
Even the ground in this place is beautiful – so full of life coming and going in such an expression of nature and creation wrapped into one great big opportunity to praise God for the way he makes it all work.
Sometimes you do funny things here – don’t use the power between noon and 4 because it cost more during those hours – get that laundry done early. You hang clothes on the line and they look beautiful fluttering in the wind.
Adults make bedrooms out under the oaks here – and sleep in them all year round, rain or snow. Just follow the path to the open bedroom and you will know the magic!
Patriotism is expressed with honor and excitement here – including the excitement of a good hot political discussion from time to time – free speech for all!
Food is grown right on the trees and in the garden. My grandfather used to have the biggest garden I had ever seen, and he grew enough to give it to the senior center and sell it at the farmers market – and it made him happy to be out in that garden. Once he even had a heart attack out there – went in, took a shower and drove himself down to the clinic, waving to my grandmother driving back up the mountain on his way down to town. Yep, it is a place of character!
And a place where beautiful things find their home. I don’t know how to explain it, but other people’s cast-offs and weeds just blossom into eye candy here.
Old ceramic power parts abound – my uncle once worked for the power company as a lineman, and he brought them home as he replaced them. They are pieces with stunning glazes and simple design that just fit right in among the branches and leaves.
It is the place where this summer my boy had a water balloon fight with an 89-year-old man – and the 89-year-old man got the best of it with a coffee can filled with water. It is the place where stories of printing presses from Detroit to San Francisco are legend, and cooking is an art, and money is just not necessary in order to be richly blessed and wealthy beyond measure.
Frugality rules here, and the result is joyful living without the distractions of keeping up with the Jones or anyone else.
Hymns and old 33 albums play all day long. Music has been played and sung by folks of all ages here – if you played an instrument you brought it when you came to visit because there would be a chance to share what you learned and hear what others have learned.
Sit and enjoy books, recipes, photo albums of times gone by. Apple sauce, “secret fudge recipes,” venison steaks for breakfast always hit the spot. Roosters crowing, fires crackling, finding Venus on the horizon at sunset. Lively discussion, hugs and laughter. These things all decorate this special place.
Obviously, I could go on and on, and it wouldn’t mean a thing to most of my readers, but it sure does mean a lot to my heart.
Most people don’t know where it is or how to get there – except the photos show it is obviously on the south side of the valley and way high up.
You can see El Capitan and Yosemite falls from up there – you’re looking down on them.
There aren’t a lot of safety bars, so it is not a place for the faint of heart or children who are not well under control – a complement to my cousin’s family as we took young children up there and they all behaved very well. And it is a good thing they were so well-behaved, because the adults were all going to have heart attacks and die right there if any of them didn’t obey and got too close to the edge or didn’t step back when told to do so.
Apparently Andy is willing to get up off his belly and lean over, creating two good views – the valley and, well, you know.
There is a bit of wild life up there as well – saw this guy hanging on the edge – literally, and was amazed he didn’t fall off.
Hope you enjoy the view!