From Helena, Mont., we drove to Orofino, Idaho to spend a few days with Niece Lee and husband Paul Pippenger. After revisiting several of their favorite spots in Orofino, we followed them to their vacation home in McCall, Idaho. McCall is a popular year-round recreation area with a large lake and nearby skiing mountains. Lee and Paul have a beautiful “cottage” there with all the desired amenities. In her recent visits there Lee has befriended a family of wild red foxes. She has a feeding station on top of a concrete wall outside the kitchen window where she places hot dogs and raw (the foxes will not touch hard boiled) eggs. In our single evening and morning there we saw at least three different foxes, who kept returning for food, which Lee kept replacing. Paul showed us photos he had taken where a fox came to the open kitchen door about three feet from where Lee sat at the kitchen table eating breakfast!
After breakfast we departed on our two-day drive to Colorado to visit Dean, Sam and twins, Ryan and Amanda. On two occasions when Mona was driving through Wyoming, we experienced two close calls. On the first, I was snoozing when a Chevy pickup truck passed on our left as we cruised at about 60 mph down the interstate. I was startled awake by Mona applying the brakes, in time to see a pickup stirring a cloud of dust as it spun to a stop in the median strip to our left. Mona said the truck first passed us and then drifted left into the median, then swung back right and completed two complete 360-degree revolutions on the pavement in front of us before swerving back into the median! I had awakened just in time to see the end of the performance.
The next day, Mona was again driving about 60 mph in the right lane, when a large semi-tractor trailer started passing on our left. Just ahead, a highway worker in the median reached out into the edge of the left lane and yanked one of those rubber construction marker barrels off the edge of the traffic lane. By this time, the semi was about half way past our pickup and camper trailer, when it swerved to the right into our lane, forcing Mona to brake and swerve onto the shoulder! Luckily, the shoulder was wide enough that we avoided any damage, aside from our pounding hearts.
The remainder of our trip was pretty uneventful. We stopped in Illinois to visit Cheryl again and pick up my chainsaw, which I had left in her garage when we were there on our way west. We had planned to spend only one night there and head home first thing in the morning Saturday. Mark surprised me after supper when he said he had decided I should cut down one more nearly dead tree in the back yard. By this time, it was pretty dusky and getting darker all the time. I figured this tree would be easy because it leaned heavily away from the lawn and could be quickly felled into the space between other trees. No sweat. I could do this before dark. I got the saw out and began trimming some small bushes away from the tree trunk. A flash of sparks suddenly from the saw. I then found a tangle of rusty, barbed wire wrapped around the saw bar! By the time I had removed and replaced the bar, it was too dark to continue. First thing in the morning, I felled the tree, which broke unexpectedly when I had cut only about two inches into the side opposite the notch. It fell precisely where I had planned, only a little quicker. It was rotted almost all the way through. We departed for home only about an hour later than I wanted, leaving Mark the mess to clean up.
We arrived home this Monday evening after driving nearly 7,300 miles and spending about $2,300 for gas!