Progress….

Tonight’s post will be brief, as most of what I did today involved sitting in one spot and fussy-cutting water. Good results, but tedious work.

Here’s a few shots of the quilt as it progressed today: ( and yes, the bears were just for giggles)

20130629-213208.jpg

20130629-213219.jpg

20130629-213228.jpg

I did take a break this afternoon to check out a craft fair here in town and to grab some dinner. I worked about 11 hours today. Whew!

On the way home, I was awestruck by the view to the east of here. The sunlight reflecting off of the clouds was simply gorgeous.

20130629-213510.jpg

20130629-213516.jpg

That’s it for a tonight. This writer is wiped out. More tomorrow!

Hitting the hay under western skies,
B.

Mini-Marathon

It was an intense, but productive day at the quilt shop today, I made it about 10 hours before I gave up and came home.

I knew I’d need fuel to get through this day, so I hit the road early to find breakfast. One of the most recommended places (according to TripAdvisor) is a place called The Forge.

20130628-215300.jpg

20130628-215307.jpg

The building is a National Historic building, having been a blacksmith’s shop back in the early 1900s. The food was good, but the ambience was excellent!

20130628-215644.jpg

20130628-215652.jpg

Fully charged, I headed to class with all of my clouds cut out. After the fiasco yesterday, I was determined to have the sky finished by lunchtime. I made it!

20130628-215606.jpg

I then spent the afternoon working on the green hills in the foreground. That cut actually went pretty well.

20130628-220014.jpg

20130628-220025.jpg

20130628-220033.jpg

I included a close up, in case you wondered what it really looked like.

I took a break, then dug back in. I got a little bit done on the water, but that’s my task for tomorrow…and the boats….

I thought I’d show you some of the other quilts, so you could see some of the talent in the class. It’s amazing!

20130628-220536.jpg

20130628-220546.jpg

20130628-220600.jpg

20130628-220610.jpg

20130628-220628.jpg

20130628-220640.jpg

On the way home, I treated myself to Sweet Peaks ice cream. They had a lot of interesting flavors, but I had a hankering for huckleberry. I can’t believe that I haven’t written about the huckleberry mania before now…it’s everywhere! You can buy almost anything with a huckleberry flavor or scent. I’ve seen soap, candles, candy, pies, ice cream, jams, jellies, lip balm, and even BBQ sauce. I like the flavor a lot, and the berries are a really intense purple color. So if you head to Montana, be sure to check out the huckleberry craze!

Tomorrow’s another long day at the quilt shop- but I feel good about it!

Fusing fabric under western skies,
B.

If at First You Don’t Succeed, Try Again! And Again!

Yep, I’m definitely challenging myself with this class. When I got home tonight, I was as frustrated and mentally exhausted as I’ve been in a long time. That said, I still really love what I’m learning to do…it’s just challenging.

The morning started off great! I made some dynam-o mountains and got them fused on easily. By 11:00, I was ready to work on clouds. Fast forward to 4:00- I was still working on clouds. I had remade a pattern piece, done some patching, and was still fussy cutting clouds. I brought those home for ” homework” tonight. It is really tedious work, but the end results are beautiful.

These are my instructor’s finished art quilts:

20130627-203802.jpg

20130627-203811.jpg

Here’s mine from beginning to stopping point today:

20130627-203853.jpg

20130627-203902.jpg

20130627-203910.jpg

The rest of the class’s designs are just as intricate…

20130627-204052.jpg

20130627-204101.jpg

20130627-204114.jpg

20130627-204124.jpg

The blog isn’t too full of action tonight- it’s a slow process. 🙂

Tomorrow, they want to work for 12 hours. I may not get to the blog. You’ll have to look and see.

Learning under western skies,
B.

In It Up To My Eyeballs

Today was the first day of my landscape quilt class here in Kalispell. All I can say is…wow. My brain tried to soak it all up, but, wow. This is so different than what I’ve done before. I love the concept of it. I love the technique. I love the fact that the finished pieces look like ART. But I feel like a fish out of water. I am easily the least experienced quilter there. But that’s okay, it’s a true learning experience.

We started the morning by doing the typical meet and greet. I was surprised to learn that half of the class is from Canada. The women in this class are die-hard quilters, and most have made several landscape quilts before. Intimidating? Maybe, but you know me…I’ll ask endless questions of those in the know. I’m shameless that way.

We listened to the presenters lecture and then watched her demo. My head felt like I was watching the demo in fast forward. So much information, presented so quickly! Luckily, she turned us loose to work and wandered around, answering questions.

The first part of this kind of quilting is selecting your picture and having it made into poster size. You then cover the picture with clear plastic.

20130626-213013.jpg

Then you trace the lines of the picture onto the plastic. I took some pics to help you see the process:

20130626-213116.jpg

You then trace the clear plastic design onto freezer paper;

20130626-213154.jpg

Then you trace the major lines of your picture onto your muslin.

20130626-213302.jpg

Finally, you start cutting your freezer paper pattern apart to make fusible pieces to make your art quilt. I’ll post some pics of that process tomorrow. I only got 3 pieces done today. But, it’s a start.

I spent the remainder all the day relaxing at the house. I started reading Dan Brown’s Inferno. It’s been awhile since I read a good thriller.

Another 8 hours of piecing awaits me tomorrow…excited to learn and practice!

Cross-eyed from all of those lines under western skies,
B.

“Bear” With Me While I Make Sure There Aren’t “Moose”takes…ha!

I know, I know…so punny! I couldn’t help it. Today was the trip to Canada, and my last chance to spot some of Glacier Park’s critters. It was a rich wildlife viewing day from the red bus. I finally got to see 3 bears, but no Goldilocks. I saw a moose, to whom I did NOT give a muffin, and a little fox. I was all excited about snapping pictures of these animals, but no one told the animals. Turns out, when you’re on a moving tour bus and the animals are in the wild, they don’t always cooperate to have their pictures taken. So, I have a picture of 2 grizzly bear backs, and a brown splotch in the middle of the forest that is a moose. Who knew they could hide behind trees? As for the baby bear, well, he was in the woods and I couldn’t get a shot of him. (By the time the fox came along, the camera battery was dead. That’s a story for later in the post.) But I saw them all!

20130625-210331.jpg

20130625-210345.jpg

20130625-210359.jpg

There is so much beautiful scenery on the east side of Glacier. From rolling hills and valleys to majestic moraines and mountains, it’s all amazing. Everywhere you go is like walking into a postcard. I find myself constantly in awe.

I visited 4 of the park’s lodges today. The tour left from Glacier Park Lodge, stopped at St. Mary’s Lodge, made another stop at Many Glacier Hotel, and had lunch at the Prince of Wales Hotel on the Canadian side of the peace park. Their design is lovely- they’re modeled after Swiss chalets. I’ll share pictures of Many Glacier and Prince of Wales.

20130625-211220.jpg

20130625-211502.jpg

After a few hours on the bus, we reached the border crossing. It turned out to be a simple process, even with 18 passports to scan. We were on our way to Waterton Lakes National Park.

Let me begin by saying that this is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. Even with all of the gorgeous landscapes I’ve seen this week, this one takes the cake.

I decided against having the afternoon tea, since I don’t actually like tea.

20130625-221739.jpg

I decided to have lunch in the Windsor Lounge. And my beverage of choice: the Glacier Summit martini. Hey, it has /tee/ in it! It was delightful- a mix of Malibu rum, Blue curaçao, and cranberry juice. Yumm- o!

20130625-222211.jpg

Strangely enough, the food at the restaurant was British, so I munched on fish and chips. , while looking at this glorious view:

20130625-222515.jpg

After lunch, we headed back, learning more about the history of the Blackfeet along the way. At right around 9 hours, it’s a long tour.

Tomorrow starts my quilting class…

Sleepy under western skies,

B.

Rain Delay- and I’m Not Talking Baseball

My grand plan for adventure got washed out today. No worries, though, I was able to find plenty to amuse myself.

I had scheduled my whitewater rafting trip for this morning, but I got a call from the rafting company that the rest of the group had cancelled. Bummer. Ever the adventure optimist, I headed out on a different path…to the fabric store I went.

There a few things more dangerous in the world than me in a fabric store with a coupon. I am super glad that no one was there with me as I wandered aimlessly through the store, adding items to my basket with reckless abandon. I made three separate trips to the cutting table alone. From start to finish, I was in there almost an hour and a half…eek. However, when I was finished, I had most of the fabrics I think I’ll need for the quilt class this week. Undoubtedly, I’ll find a few more to purchase…but I think I have the majority covered.

Next, I wandered out to the Quilt Gallery, the shop where I’ll be taking my class. It’s a fabric hoarder’s paradise. Be proud. I left with empty hands today.

Following some tips from TripAdvisor.com, I went to look for lunch. Two of the places I had in mind were closed on Monday, but the third place panned out. I took a seat at the counter of Norm’s News, a cool little newspaper stand/candy store/soda fountain. I had read online that the cheeseburgers were great. Contrary to the commercial on tv, in this case, you CAN believe what you read on the Internet. It was a great burger, served with way too many fries. But the best thing about it was their soda fountain offering. I’ll post the picture- you see if you can spot what made me smile:

20130624-204404.jpg

That’s right..a Roy Rogers on the menu! It made me think of dad. And yes, I had one.

Stuffed from the grease and sugar consumed joyously during lunch, I came back to the house and proceeded to take a 2-hour nap. Yep, rainy days are great for that. I headed out a bit later to see Iron Man 3, and have spent the evening at the house, relaxing. I think I needed this kind of low-key day.

Tomorrow finds me breaking out the passport to cross over into Canada on another Red Bus tour- we’ll see what kinds of adventure tomorrow brings, aye?

Relaxing under western skies,
B.

East Side Story- Exploring Two Medicine

Today was supposed to be a quiet day of lazing around the house, exploring Kalispell, and just taking it easy. However, I apparently have a good deal of my father in me- I sat here, relaxing and enjoying my breakfast, and I couldn’t help but think…”I’m in Montana! I can sit around and relax at home! I need to find something to do today.” Yep, reminded me immensely of Mr. Johnny. So I grabbed the iPad and started looking, and decided to take the drive along the south end of the park to the area known as Two Medicine. I figured it would be a good trial run for Tuesday, since the tour into Canada leaves from that side of the park.

The drive between the west side and the east side is beautiful. I spent the time meandering through curvy, hilly roads in National Forests and in Glacier National Park. Off to the left, I kept getting amazing views of the Flathead river and of the mountains. The only bummer was that there are 4 country music stations and nothing else. Don’t get me wrong- I can enjoy a few songs, but this girl likes her pop and rock! I ended up digging out the Zune, and felt better almost immediately.

Along the road, there’s an area marked as “Goat Lick,” where the goats often meander down from the mountains and lick the minerals from the rocks in this one particular location. My wildlife viewing enthusiasm was high…but there were no goats anywhere. I checked on the way there and the way back. It’s pretty, even without wild animals licking it.

20130623-214607.jpg

20130623-214614.jpg

I eventually got to Two Medicine, and was in luck: the tour boat and hike had space left. So I grabbed my backpack, water, and changed into my tennies.

20130623-215040.jpg

The tour was o.k. The girl leading it was very new and very nervous. She needed a public speaking fresher course, I think. But, the main purpose for going was the 1.8 mile hike to Twin Falls. It was nice, because the hike was guided. There were lots of other people, which made spotting a bear a lot less likely.

The falls were, of course, beautiful. I need another work for them…spectacular? Magnificent? Breathtaking? Yes to all of the above!

20130623-215312.jpg

20130623-215619.jpg

I have found that people here are really very friendly. I must have that look about me that says, “Please let me tell you about me…and why I’m traveling in a group of one.” Of course, it’s not all of the single men that ask, but the older men and women are really interested! I’ve talked with people from all over- Idaho, California, Montreal, of course, Montana, and even Finland. Once people find out that I’m a teacher, some of them really want to talk. Some have heard rumblings about Indiana, and lots want to ask about Common Core. So, it’s fun to find out what’s happening in other places, whether they love or hate the common core, and what their personal perspectives on education are.

I have no food stories to share today: I packed a lunch and cooked at the house when I got back. PB & J and tacos are hardly blog-worthy.

Maybe tomorrow. I have big plans for tomorrow….

I’ll close out tonight with some photos from today-

20130623-220536.jpg

20130623-220404.jpg

20130623-220604.jpg

20130623-220635.jpg

20130623-220712.jpg

Sun-kissed under western skies,

B.

Finally! A Peek at The Crown of the Continent!

Today I awoke with no real plan of action. I spent the morning puttering around the house…unpacking, doing some laundry, and making breakfast. I sat down with the guidebooks I have accumulated as I drove here, and decided to see if any of the red bus tours through Glacier National Park had any availability in the next couple of days. Turned out I could book my Canadian tour on Tuesday, and the “Western Alpine” tour today. So I grabbed my camera and headed out the door!

The guide picked me up at the Apgar Transit Center on the west end of the park, and away we went!

20130622-220117.jpg

We made stops at the Apgar store, where I got to hop out and snap a few lovely pictures of Lake McDonald. I’m thinking of using the one below for my first landscape quilt.

20130622-220722.jpg

Then it was off to Lake McDonald Lodge and on to the Going-the-Sun road. It was spectacular! We wound around rivers, forests, and climbed the hillside until we reached Logan Pass at 6,647 feet. It was cold up there..cold enough that they still had about 4 1/2 feet of snow on the ground! We saw some mountain goats frolicking on the peak of a mountain, and then to our surprise, we also saw a bighorn sheep wandering the parking lot!

As soon as we left the peak, we headed back down into the valley, hitting a patch of rain. While the view was somewhat limited, it was still lovely! The people on the bus were all very nice, and the driver, Rich, was phenomenal. Of course, he is Hoosier native!

Here are some pictures I took today…just a glimpse of why Glacier is known as The Crown of the Continent!

20130622-222850.jpg

20130622-222902.jpg

20130622-222910.jpg

20130622-222937.jpg

20130622-222959.jpg

20130622-223016.jpg

20130622-223223.jpg

20130622-223231.jpg

20130622-223238.jpg

20130622-223245.jpg

20130622-223254.jpg

On the way home tonight, I saw a rainbow right above the house I’m staying in. A perfect ending to a perfect day!

Loving the western skies,
B.

Into the Wild- Bison, Antelope, Elk, Deer, and Horses

Today’s mission involved finding the “wild” animals of Montana. I didn’t see bears or mountain lions, but I did uncover a whole host of other critters!

I left Missoula bright and early this morning, determined to see and tour the National Bison Range before meeting the guide at 10 a.m. for the tour to Wild Horse Island. I had a 90 mile drive plus the bison range…would I make it? Yeah, sort of. Late, but I did get there before they left me.

Let’s first discuss the National Bison Range. I’d love to fill you in on all of the history, but to be perfectly honest, I got there before the visitor’s center opened. As I looked at my map, it said, “Speed Limit 25 m.p.h.,” and it indicated that the driving path was 19 miles long. So do the math, and you come out to just under an hour, right? Well….it would be if at any point you COULD go 25 mph. The driving path was a gravel, single lane road that would literally around the side of a mini-mountain. The views from up there were breathtaking, but then again, so was the drive! I crept along at about 10 miles an hour, and felt like I was being the daredevil if the speedometer touched 15.

As I wound my way around, I saw mule deer, whitetail deer, elk, antelope, and finally,a the big guys- the bison. Right after I saw the first bison, I costed the hill, and was met my a sign no driver really wants to see. “Steep Downhill Grades Begin in 100 Feet.” Yeah, they weren’t kidding. So, I continued to creep along, at one point coming around a curve to find an antelope in my path. I slowed to a stop and waited for him to move. And waited. And waited. It became apparent that the antelope wasn’t going to move. So I crept as close to the inside of the hill as I could and passed the antelope…on a switchback. It didn’t phase him in the slightest. Eventually, I was able to drive 20 mph most of the way out.

20130622-101706.jpg

20130622-101725.jpg

20130622-101733.jpg

20130622-101743.jpg

20130622-101753.jpg

It was beautiful, but it did put me behind schedule. Luckily the people at Flathead Raft Company were understanding, so they waited a few extra minutes for me to get there!

The next part of the day found me cruising along the largest natural lake west of the Mississippi in a pontoon. It was wonderful, despite being really chilly. Flathead lake has several islands in it, including Wild Horse Island. It’s a state park now, but has a rich history of Native Americans, homesteaders, and even a prohibition era speak-easy. I made it through a two and a half mile exploration hike (lots and lots of hills), and managed to find the small herd of horses that the island is known for. Unfortunately, my camera battery died, so the pictures I do have were taken from my cell phone, and the quality isn’t so hot. It was a lovely hike and boat ride. In addition to being full of natural beauty, our guide, Chris, was able to fill in lots of interesting facts about the area. He’s a high school biology and gym teacher, so he added a lot of science background as well.

20130622-110340.jpg

20130622-110352.jpg

20130622-110402.jpg

20130622-110409.jpg

Rachael Ray always advised asking the locals about good places to eat. Following a tip from Chris, I found myself at the Tamarack Brewery. I’m not much for beer, but their house made draft root beer ( known as “training wheels”) was fabulous! The food was yummy, and I was happy to find that it was happy hour…so I saved a little money, too!

My last stop of the day was at my first rental house in Kalispell. I got settled in, made a quick run for groceries, and called it a day.

Happily under western skies,
B.

Westward, Ho!

20130620-171847.jpg

This was the view just south of where I stayed last night. Compared to the relative flatness of Indiana, it really is beautiful. As I headed out this morning, I was on a mission. I had read rave reviews of this place in Bozeman called “Granny’s Donuts.” Tucked away on a side street near the campus of Montana State University, I found it. What a gem! They had some of the best looking donuts I had ever seen, not to mention tasted. The people in the shop were really helpful and extremely friendly. I settled on a strawberry cam, a chocolate frosted cake, and an orange cream. I am happy to report that I only as one. At that moment. The chocolate frosted made it to just past Butte. And the orange cream still survives. I have a feeling that it will be sampled tomorrow. Best of all, each of these beauties @ only cost 75 cents.

The strawberry cream was so lovely, I took its picture!

20130620-193741.jpg

From Bozeman, I headed west through breathtaking scenery…rolling hills, sheer rock hillsides, and pine Forests. I will admit that the drive was really fun. The were lots of downhill curves, and it’s a rush to feel like you’re driving a race car!

On the other side of Butte, there’s a National Historic Site called Grant-Kohrs Ranch. It was interesting to look around and see what a real “wide open spaces” ranch would look like. I didn’t get to tour the ranch house, but I looked around the grounds and as always, admired the view! I got to talk to the blacksmith, and even made a new friend named Josie. Here are some pics from there:

20130620-201910.jpg

My new friend, Josie
20130620-195106.jpg

Mamas and babies lazing in the grass
20130620-195119.jpg

Can you imagine traveling and camping like this?? Not me!!
20130620-195132.jpg

I finally made it to Missoula, where I had a late lunch and made my way to the motel. I tried a couple of local eateries, even trying out pasties. Think empanadas, only not heavily spiced. The owner said they’re really popular in Butte and the U.P. in Michigan. I did a little research, and it turns out that these were favored by miners, particularly Irish miners. Both Butte and the U.P. have long mining histories, somI guess that makes sense. This isn’t meant to be a food blog, but I love sharing about local places!

Tomorrow’s another full day. Want to know what I’m up to? You’ll have to check another day and read the blog!

From firmly under western skies,
B.