A little slice of heaven

On July 27th we left the house at 7:00 a.m. Destination? Yaak, Montana. Why? My husband wanted to return to the place where he’d spent the summer 49 years prior. What could possibly lure him back to the middle of no where, that many years later? Stay with me; it won’t disappoint.

Fast forward to this summer. We arranged to stay in Yaak–there are very few options–but we were not disappointed in our lodging. In fact, the area has quite the history. More on that; stay tuned (it won’t disappoint, either).

Day #1: Arrival at the Yaak River Lodge, 10 hours from home. After a snack we moseyed down to the river behind the lodge. This is the first sign I saw. Suddenly it was hard to swallow. That’s when I heard: “Be aware, Karen, not scared!” OK, “I can do this,” I thought. Wait…are those bullet holes in that sign?! “Don’t ask!” I heard. Breathe. And again….

Who said that?!

Yaak River Lodge_Yaak MTWe saw no bears, but it was breath-taking and serene and calming and quiet and amazing. It was still. I felt peace. It refreshed me and as I stood along the bank, I felt inwardly energized and uplifted. I am forever amazed how nature and all its creations can be so empowering (if not a little scary). I guess they know how tempting it is to stay right there in that spot; other than the ground, there was no place to sit.

Yaak River Lodge_Yaak MT (2)
the captivating Yaak River

A short walk along the river, watching the deer dart away, standing in the cool breeze…it was the perfect treat to end a long day in the car.

bee on flower_Yaak riverbDay #2: We set out to find the Yaak River Falls and the Kootenai River Falls. It’s really hard to describe this area, to find accurately descriptive words. It was so still and serene that as I stood right here, below, the tears flowed. I was mesmerized. I didn’t want to move.

Yaak River_Yaak Montana July 2017
Yaak River, on our way to the Falls

Here’s what it looked like in 1968 when my husband caught sight of mama moose and her calf:

What was fun was watching my husband take it all in, to see this wondrous place once again.

Bruce along the Yaak River Falls area

Yaak River Falls, then and now:

Yaak River falls_1969

Yaak River Falls_July 2017
He thinks we are standing in the same spot 49 years later

Up the road we found the Kootenai Falls. What we didn’t know was what we’d have to do in order to get there.

Kootenai River falls_swinging bridge (11)
Looks easy enough

The trail led to this walkway that crossed over train tracks below. As we approached, so did a train. I froze as it zoomed below. I could not bring myself to stand directly above a moving train; I stood to the side (I’m guessing that’s when my legs locked). We bounced to the rumble below, and I clung to the fence wall. Others stood directly above effortlessly taking photos. I stood aside, trying not to throw up. I blurted out, “This thing is bouncing!” and the lady next to me said, “Wait till you see the other one.

My husband, taking the photos in the slide show

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Once the train passed and I could unlock my legs, we continued along the “trail.” Once over and down the other side, this is what we saw:

Kootenai River falls_swinging bridgeTake a look at those stairs. I heard, “Don’t look down!” Right. I just finished BoUnCiNg up there and they say ‘don’t look down’? Are they ballerinas? You can see the ground…not good for the weenies faint of heart. Oh, well; onward. At least I had the sense to wear good shoes. Sensible shoes. With my brand new inserts. As the mother of two Eagle Scouts and the wife of a former Scout Master, I was prepared. On second thought, for females (who have given birth) who dare cross, Burlington Northern should provide a box of Depends. There should be warning signs. I might have to write them a letter.

Finally, the Falls. We could go left, or left. Got it.

Kootenai River falls_swinging bridge (9)Huh? Left or left? Right. I mean left. We veered left.

And, what’s this about a Swinging Bridge? I just bounced and now they want me to swing? Someone around here has been smoking funny cigarettes. As one with a healthy fear of heights, I was feeling pretty darned proud of myself for having just crossed bounced over a moving train. I was beginning to feel a little bit invincible….

…until I saw the teenage boy who, on his way back, began jumping up and down, right in the middle. That’s him, below. I’d considered crossing until his antics blew that to H E  double match sticks (God BLESS you, young man!).

Kootenai River falls_swinging bridge (16)
wise lady waits until aerobics mid-bridge have stopped

Kootenai River falls_swinging bridgeBut, oh, what a view. I took this shot from 20 feet out. It took me 30 minutes to get there, but, whatev. I pivoted left and snapped a shot; I pivoted right and snapped another. I quickly turned and knocked over the lady behind me headed for the entrance.

Backtracking along the same trail (are you confused? You should be), we veered left (or was that right?) and found a better view of the Falls.

kootenai-river-falls_swinging-bridge-25Gorgeous, fabulous, peaceful, beautiful, amazing, breath-taking…none of which adequately describe this area. Maybe they all do. Either way, guests stood silent, watching, studying, taking it all in. It was a little slice of heaven.

Kootenai River falls_KarenGiven it was in the low 90s, we headed back to the trail head for a cool one:

Kootenai Falls_huckleberry lemonade
Huckleberry lemonade

And that was the end of our first full day in our little slice of heaven.

Next post I’ll show you our lodging, the “area” where we stayed for three nights, and share a bit of local history. There’s a reason they don’t tell you BEFORE you arrive…but, when in Rome…I mean, Yaak.

What do you think of the scenery?

If eyes were made for seeing

On Being Asked Whence Is the Flower

~May 1834


It isn’t May, and these aren’t rhodies, but they are beautiful. I had to share. Enjoy!

The rest of the poem is at the end.

first lily

morning poppy

blooming rosemary

bachelor buttons

queen anne at dusk
Some call Queen Anne lace a weed; I think they are beautiful.
queen anne
The blossoms can grow the length of a hand. Those are BIG weeds (according to the husband).
queen anne purple center
Ever notice the centers? Tiny purple blossoms. 🙂
high above the cabbage
Oh, fine! It’s a weed. But, look at that moon and the colors of the sky! I had to include this one.
seeds grown from the green house
Grown from seed in my tiny greenhouse.
poppy in bloom
In full bloom.

volunteers in the garden


daisies from last year
Volunteers from last year take up a full bed.
This year’s hanging baskets brighten both porches.

This is where we sit each night, to regroup, share a meal, and always a few laughs. This is my haven, my preferred place in all the world. Right here. Outside. Breathing in the fresh air (when the farmer next door hasn’t just spread manure).

new deck and remodel of garden
Our newly, about 98% finished deck, surrounded by all of the above flowers.
garden remodel
Current project: to redo the back yard, in progress. I am supervisory personnel. 

Sometimes, when tractors have stilled and farmers have quit the day, we hear a different kind of music:

I hope you are lucky as well in that you have beauty in your life, each and every day.

The Rhodora

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

In May, when sea-winds pierced our solitudes,
I found the fresh Rhodora in the woods,
Spreading its leafless blooms in a damp nook,
To please the desert and the sluggish brook.
The purple petals, fallen in the pool,
Made the black water with their beauty gay;
Here might the red-bird come his plumes to cool,
And court the flower that cheapens his array.
Rhodora! if the sages ask thee why
This charm is wasted on the earth and sky,
Tell them, dear, that if eyes were made for seeing,
Then Beauty is its own excuse for being:
Why thou wert there, O rival of the rose!
I never thought to ask, I never knew:
But, in my simple ignorance, suppose
The self-same Power that brought me there brought you

Be the change

“I’m convinced of this: Good done anywhere is good done everywhere. For a change, start by speaking to people rather than walking by them like they’re stones that don’t matter. As long as you’re breathing, it’s never too late to do some good.”

~ Maya Angelou

From my yard to yours:

spring flowers_may 2017 (4)
spring flowers_may 2017 (11)
Pink Bloomers
spring flowers_may 2017 (15)
Lavender cascade
spring flowers_may 2017 (17)
For drying and holiday decorating
rhodie and the bee_may 2017
Hard at work, helping
spring foxglove
Speckled bells
spring flowers_may 2017 (16)
Burst of sunshine

And, some not from my yard:

spring flowers_may 2017 (7)
Lavender and coral beauties
spring flowers_may 2017 (5)
Feast for the eyes

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

~ Gandhi