Monday, December 23, 2013

Office Move

Two weeks ago I was moved from my third floor corner office to the main floor of the Courthouse.  This move was in the works for about a year, at least that was the talking stage.  About 5 months ago it was going to be a done deal.

This is a move of three offices.  The Dept. of Revenue moved up to my old office space, we moved to the old Elections space and the back of the Dept. of Revenue and Elections moved into the Dept. of Revenue space.

While all the planning went on, we looked at where things would be and mapped out where all the office furniture would be.  We were told by the commissioners to work things out, which we did( at least we thought).

Sandy and I spent a month weeding out old stuff and packing up our stuff.  Moving day arrived on Dec. 9th. 

That was a day from hell for me.  First Sandy ended up having surgery on the Friday before and she would be out of work for about 10 days.  It wasn't anything serious but it was something that she needed to have done right away.  That left me to move our office by myself.

We moved to smaller space.  Before we had two offices, a conference room and two closets (one was used for my DUI Task Force stuff).  Our conference room had about 12 book cases to put all of our stuff on.  We have moved to two offices and one closet.

The county got the road crew to move all the heavy stuff and it was organized chaos at best.  It was not easy moving all of us in an orderly fashion.  The poor elevator got more use in that one day than it has ever had.

It was a day from hell for me.  I was physically and emotionally drained by the end of the day.  I had to move all of our stuff by myself, which was in essence three offices.  Not to mention that at the last minute the powers to be changed  how the layout of our office was going to be.  I called Sandy to tell her about the change and she came in to try to stop it.  That didn't work.  The day ended with me being bullied and intimidated by the higher powers.  Sandy had to leave after being here a couple hours, she was not supposed to be here in the first place.  That left me catching the brunt of everything and I sure caught it. 

It has been two weeks and the flow of the office has changed and in my opinion not for the better.  I am stuffed away in the corner where it is hard to find me, but since I'm shared with the elections office, I'm in the middle.  The public is having a hard time finding us, but I guess that will get easier.

I have to remind myself that I have just over 21 more months.  Unless I win the lottery first.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Instructor Of The Year

We went to our Tae Kwon Do Christmas Party and Awards Banquet on the 7th.  Jennifer took the day off from McDonald's to go to the party.

Jennifer and I bought new dresses for the occasion.  This is the one time of the year where we get to dress up.  I enjoy this party but Gary hates wearing his suit since he retired 13 years ago.  I keep telling him that one night won't kill him.

It never fails, that when Grand Master Park schedules this party in a year advance we always have bad weather.  This year the storm came earlier in the week, but is was bitter cold on Saturday and the roads were very icy once we hit Arrow Creek and into Billings.

Despite the weather there was quite a few people at the party.  Most were Billings people but us out of towners showed up too.  At our table we sat with Gary & Annette Hart.  Gary's mother is our neighbor and Annette was a couple years ahead of me in school.  Annette is the superintendent in Judith Gap and they are hosting two foreign exchange students.  Both are boys and were from Taiwan and Thailand.  Those boys were having a hard time adjusting to the cold.  They come from huge cities and I bet they had a huge culture shock when they went to Judith Gap.  It was fun watching them interact and participate in the dancing.

This year I received my 4th degree black belt certificate and a surprise Gary received Instructor of the Year. 

Our dinner was delicious, we had assorted salads, mashed potatoes and gravy, roast beef, turkey with stuffing, sea food alfredo and assorted desserts.  It was announced to the children that they only get one dessert.

We didn't win any prizes this year.  Guess I used up my chances for a while since I won the tv last year.  I was close to winning again this year.  The winning ticket number was 501 and my tickets started at 504-509. 

We had a good time.  I have a photo of me and Jennifer dressed up at the house.  Gary wouldn't get in the photo.  I put it on facebook and got quite a lot of nice compliments on it.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Winter Storm

Mother Nature is striking us with a vengeance.  I like her hot flashes better than her cold freezes.  We are not going to warm up until next week some time.

It had been a long time since we have had a storm this early in the winter season, usually our big snow will arrive in January and stay until February.  This year we have had a couple small storms where the snow only stayed a day or two, this one is going to last quite a while.

It rained all morning and afternoon on Monday, which turned to snow that night.  The temperatures dropped quick which made for icy roads with all the rain.  The wind came and caused blowing and drifted snow on Monday night.

Yesterday it snowed all day and windy, our temperatures were in the low teens and fell to single digits above zero during the night. I was supposed to go to Billings for our HOG Officer meeting last night, but stayed home.  Was not going to drive on the icy roads with poor visibility due to blowing snow.   We got a good two feet of snow since Monday night.  We got home from work yesterday and Gary got our snow blower out to clear the driveway and sidewalks.  Jennifer and I went to class to teach, I didn't think I would get many kids as most schools in the county except Hardin were closed.  I ended up with a full house.

As I was getting ready to go, I got stuck in the alleyway to get onto the street.  It doesn't help that the snow plows come along during the day and plow the snow into huge heaps.  I would have been fine if I didn't have to stop, but a car was coming.  As soon as I stopped, the car slid into the deep snow and I was stuck, couldn't get out.  Gary and to come and shovel a bit then managed to push me out.  He got me onto the main street, but had to wait for some traffic.  I was late getting to class.  I was glad to see that the landlord has hired someone to clear the snow at my school.  I had to get out my rock salt for the sidewalk in front of the door with some ice.

I got home ok, Gary had blown the snow away from the entrance to the driveway.  I sure do miss my Subaru with all wheel drive during this kind of weather.  My new car just doesn't do well in this deep snow.  I have been driving our pickup, at least I can get around.  The side streets are horrible and main streets are too keen either.  Doesn't help that people will shovel or blow their snow back into the streets.  I really hate winter.

Today still snowing but it is very light.  I have been driving the pickup today, at least I can get around but we have more snow to get rid of on our sidewalk tonight.  The plows came through and plowed that snow right back.  We can never win.

It is not going to get better soon, the temperature is going to drop, it is 2 above today and we are to get down to -12, tomorrow our high is going to be -2 with a low of -20.  We won't see warm temperatures until next week.  Good thing both our vehicles have head bolt heaters, at least one will run.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Thanksgiving 2013

We had a nice and quiet Thanksgiving.  It was only the three of us at home, Jason and his bunch went out for dinner in Billings.  I was worried on how I was going to get everyone in my little house,  there would have been 8 of us.

Jeni & Susan would have had to make some extra dishes, I really wasn't expecting them to be here this soon.  The last time I had talked to Jeni, she said that it would probably be after the holidays before their move, but things moved fast.

They aren't settled in their new home yet, still sorting out boxes and trying to figure out where to put things.  They bought a new stove, said the old one was just horrible, and it hadn't arrived as of yet.  We will try to all get together for Christmas dinner and they want to host it.  Not sure I will be able to handle that with my allergies, they have 5 cats and 5 dogs.

We just stayed home, I fixed a small dinner with all our favorite dishes and then we watched football all day.

I took Friday off from work, the courthouse is usually so boring on Friday and my office is not busy with schools out for the holiday.  I don't do the Black Friday shopping, no way am I going to get involved in all that chaos.   Gary and I did go to Billings later Friday afternoon and it was still crazy.  The traffic was horrible and people needed to be patient.  We witnessed a near accident right in front of us by the mall.  I was in the right hand lane, a lady in the left wanted to get over she had her blinkers on.  I gave her some room after all she was driving a Dodge Dart.  Once I made that gap, an older lady who was trying to turn onto 27th  decided to turn and she didn't see the dodge getting into the lane.  The older lady ended up on the sidewalk.  Fortunate that there weren't any pedestrians on that corner.

We met our friends the Breckenridge's and Davis's to make plans for our summer motorcycle trip to Newport Oregon.  The guys want to go deep sea fishing, while us ladies will have a leisure morning drinking mimosa's.  We haven't figured out anything beyond the mimosa's.  Pat Breckenridge is our map guru and he planned out a perfect route.  Gary's job is to call the fishing excursion places and get prices and all the information needed for them to fish.  Vickie Davis will be gathering information on the motels/hotels and she will make all the reservations.

There is another couple that wants to go.  We are going to give the information out to our other friends and if they want to tag along that is fine but they will have to make their own reservations.  We will all be getting together in January to finalize the trip.  We will be going at the end of August just before Labor Day.  It will be fun.

After all the planning, we all ate dinner at the Rib & Chop House.  On Black Friday they had a special on gift cards.  If you bought a gift card for the Rib & Chop you got another gift card for Rio Sabinas for the same amount.  Basically you are getting a free meal out of the deal.  The same people who own Rib & Chop own Rio Sabinas.  I got $100 worth of gift cards for $50.

While we were eating dinner Pat & Sandi told us that they are leaving on their annual winter vacation and will be celebrating their 45th wedding anniversary on Dec. 28.  We got to talking and we are going out to dinner at Rio Sabinas on Dec. 14 to celebrate their anniversary.  It is my job to make the reservations for this.  We are all going to use our gift cards.

The rest of the weekend was spent just relaxing.  Having a 4 day weekend was nice and I wish all my weekends were 4 days.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Jason Moved Back To Hardin

My son has moved back to Hardin.  He has been living in Oxnard California for the past six years with his bride Jeni of six years.  This move was Jason with all his in laws, well most of them.

In September, Jeni, her aunt Susan and grandfather Tom made the two day trip up to Hardin so that they could look at houses to buy.  This was a very impromptu drive, all of them were tired of living in California with all the hustle and bustle and just trying to make ends meet.  They found a house in Hardin that would fit their needs, 4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and the price was decent.  I think it was too much for Hardin.  They were here for three days looking at a couple houses, Gary and I went with them.  They said we would know what to look for living up here.  In fact it was Grandpa who bought the house.  The one they settled on is at 420 W. 5th St.  It's a real nice older home, has a full basement, the main floor and a second floor.  A good sized fenced yard for their dogs and a single car garage. The basement has two rooms that can be made into bedrooms.  There are two bedrooms on the main floor and two bedrooms upstairs.  It is a very charming house.

It took a while to get their loan approved, but they got it.  Five of them made the two day trip to Hardin with 10 pets, 5 cats and 5 dogs.  The ones who moved up here are Jason, Jeni, Susan, Grandpa and Jeni's uncle Tommy.  They sure had a hard time getting here with troubles with the moving van.

They had the big moving van pulling Grandpa's car, Susan's suburban pulling a small U-Haul trailer.  They left on a Wednesday. They got to Vegas when the troubles started.  The front alignment on the moving van was out of whack, so they ended up spending their first night in Vegas.  Didn't get as far as they wanted but at least they were able to get it fixed there.

I warned them about weather, because we were having the first snow storm of the season and it was a bugger.  Blowing snow, freezing roads and driving was a bit hazardous.  I was a bit worried about them heading up here in this stuff because they have no experience at all.

Thursday they got off to a good start but in Southern Utah they ran into high winds which rocked the moving van so had to go slow, then around Salt Lake they ran into the snow storm that we had the day before.  According to Jeni it was a hellacious storm.  They ended up spending the night in Salt Lake, they wanted to make it as far as Idaho.

Friday they got off to another good start, it was sunny and roads were melting.  Roads up here were dry by this time.  We picked up the keys to their house but with their delays they didn't get here when I was home.  I had to go to my tae kwon do class in Billings, but Jennifer was home to give them the keys.

I got a phone call from Jeni around 7:30 pm on Friday, the moving van had a tire blow out on the car trailer by Columbus, Jason and Uncle Tommy were in the moving van, the others were in Susan's car.  Help was on the way.  Nothing I could do anyway.  Was glad to hear that they had heat, nothing wrong with the moving van. 

We got to town around 9:30 pm.  Jeni had sent me a text wondering if they could borrow our air mattress, the other one they needed was in the moving van.  No problem took it over to them.  Jeni was surprised that the guys weren't in Hardin yet.  I told her that where they were help was about an hour away, then time to change a tire and then about a 1 1/2 hour drive to Hardin, it would be late.

Jason and Uncle Tommy got to Hardin around 12:30 am.  Jason said it took 3 hours before help arrived.  But they all made it safe and sound.

They have been here for a week now and getting settled in.  They are still unpacking boxes and figuring out where they want things.  They are a bit cold, but wait until next week when temperatures dip below zero.

They are in the process of getting their license plates, driver's license and their pet licensed here.  They had to buy a washer & dryer and a new stove which will be delivered on Monday.

We had lunch with Jason and Grandpa Tom on Tuesday with Mom, Susan and Jeni were on their way to Cheyenne to return the moving van.  They rented from Penske as it was $2000 cheaper than U-Haul.  Cheyenne was the closest town to return the Penske.  It would have been cheaper to rent the U-Haul, at least more convenient.

So far everyone in enjoying living in Hardin, but I'm sure that will wear off when winter really sets in.  I think Grandpa will adjust just fine, but I think the others will have a harder time. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Health Insurance

Jennifer is loosing her employer health insurance at McDonald's.  I was shocked when she got all the notifications in the mail.  It was a bit confusing as it said that McDonald's was no longer offering franchisee insurance, but it depended on the restaurant if you got to keep insurance or not.

This McDonald's is not going to offer health insurance to their employees, now she has to find health insurance by year's end.  She is at least covered until December 31.

Looks like her best bet is to buy in the exchange.  We got on the Montana state web site and got information.  At least on the state site she was able to compare the different plans.  She was even able to put in her income information without signing up and she was given three different plans to choose from and compare.

She qualifies for the subsidy, so in order for her to get these plans she has to go on the federal site. She won't do that until that gets fixed and is more secure.  Her premiums have gone up compared to her employer insurance.

Her insurance through McDonald's was very comparable to what I have here at the county, she only had to pay $35 per month for premiums, now she will be paying $103 per month.  It's an increase but really not that bad.

She can get on my plan at work but that is expensive, will cost $644 per month but then she would only be on it for two months, so that is not an option.

I couldn't figure out how a corporation like McDonald's could not offer health insurance to employees so I did some research.

The health insurance company for McDonald's corporation said that they are just not going to comply with the new laws and dropped.  McDonald's apparently is not going to try to find insurance for employees so they are on their own.

Not fun, but it is what it is and she will adjust.  We can't find any dental or vision with these plans, which she has now.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Veterans Day

Veterans Day is a national holiday meaning that I have a day off.  Gary had to work, so I spent a wonderful day at home to myself.  Got caught up on some reading that I have neglected.  I also worked on my photo project for the class that I'm taking in the afternoon. 

The weather didn't cooperate to drive to Billings for the day, besides Jennifer had to work.

We didn't know about the ceremonies that the schools put on for veteran's.  I think I read it in the brief's a while back but nothing was printed in the paper.  After lunch I dropped Gary back to work and on my way home, I saw all the students from the Primary School walking around the park and waving their little flags.  I didn't want to get caught with the crossing guard so went around the block.  Again I didn't think anything of the ceremonies that the school did.  I didn't see any veterans walking with the kids.

Gary called me later and asked if I wanted to go to the Veterans Dinner sponsored by the American Legion and VFW.  It was going to be held at Bob Hardt's place (across from Library) at 6:00.  We didn't have anything planned anyway so we went, especially when Gary was invited.  We were told to be early because the place would fill up fast.

We got there at 5:30 and didn't see a soul around.  We drove the loop thinking that there should be someone soon.  Got back and still didn't see anyone, we waited and finally people started to come.  Introductions were made, then we found a seat.  Pretty soon we had to put our name on a piece of paper for the door prize drawings.  Only veterans names were allowed to be drawn. 

They didn't get the crowd that they were expecting, must have been about 30 people in all.  The dinner was pot luck, I felt bad because I didn't bring anything.  Of course nothing was said about it being pot luck.

It still was a nice gathering, ate some good food and got some visiting in.  Then it came time for the door prize drawings.  Ended up that each veteran got 2 prizes and half of us got a 3rd prize.  Gary and I ended up winning 3 prizes each. 

There was a lady who came to the dinner, she is a different character.  She used to come into my office and talk to me about education and then she would get some clippings of my plants. 

I was the only woman veteran, and she couldn't figure out why her name wasn't being called.  Someone told her that only veteran's could win the prizes, she was a bit confused.  At the end as I was leaving she cornered me and asked if I was a veteran and what branch.  She seemed a bit surprised.

I won a free oil change to Hardin Chevrolet, a large pizza at Little Big Man and a free taco to Taco Johns.  Gary won a $15 gift certificate to True Value, a large pizza at Little Big Man and also a free taco to Taco Johns.

Gary and I both think that the names of the spouses should have been drawn as there were more than enough prizes. We are going to renew our membership to the American Legion, we figured since we ate their food we better be members.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013


November 5th I had to work in the wonderful world of elections.  This was the local city elections for mayor and alderman.  We not only ran the city election for Hardin, but also for Lodge Grass and the Fort Smith Water & Sewer Board.  This year all three elections were by mail ballot.

There are only two of us working in the elections office.  In October we stuffed and labeled about 3000 ballots and got them in the mail on October 10.  In each envelope sent to the voters was the ballot, secrecy envelope, affirmation envelope and instructions.  I had the idea to color code the secrecy envelopes for sorting.  Hardin has three wards and an alderman in each was up, then we had Lodge Grass and the Water & Sewer, this would make it easier for sorting when ballots came in.  One less thing to do on election night.

This year it was only the two of us for the day.  We did have some judges come in to help count ballots, we got enough to run two tables for counting.  There is a lot to do on elections, a lot of prep work to do the day before, not to mention getting people registered and people picking up their ballots.  Dulcie (the elections administrator) got sick on Monday (a touch of food poisoning).  I sent her home on Monday afternoon, she wasn't any help to me at all.  She ended up in the emergency room Monday night so that she could work on Tuesday.  I was so glad.

Tuesday was a long day.  We had to have the elections office open as if it were a poll election, which meant 7:00 am.  Tuesday we had quite a bit of people coming in to register and vote, mostly because they moved and didn't change their address.  I am not a fan of same day registration, but for a local city it wasn't bad at all.  We did have 6 people come to register in the last hour from 7:00-8:00 pm to vote.  I wanted so bad to slap them on the side of their heads and say really. 

Once 8:00 pm rolled then we were allowed by law to open up the ballot boxes and start counting.  The judges were so glad that I thought up of color coding.  It made the counting of ballot so easy.

We had all the ballots counted and results done by 10:30 pm, Dulcie and I didn't get done until 11:00 pm as we had to do our last minute stuff, sealing up envelopes with the tally books, voted ballots, unvoted ballots.  We put in a 16 hour day, has been along time since I have worked those kind of hours, but will be doing more since I now work part time elections.

With the results there were a few surprises but not many.  In the Lodge Grass alderman race there was one person who was an undeclared write in who almost won, lost by 2 votes.  I wonder if this person knew if they were running for the office.  I asked about that and was told that if this person did win, would have the option to accept or decline.  If accepted would then need to fill out all the proper paperwork and pay filing fees.

Now we get to get ready for the federal election in 2014.  I am excited because we have a new ballot counting machine which will be getting training on in January, then in February will be going to a conference in Billings on election laws and such.  Not looking forward to it because it is all the local county offices that are up but one.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Vegas Trip

This is our annual trip to Vegas for vacation.  Gary and I just love going to Vegas and we always have a great time.  This year Jennifer went with us.  We decided to drive down, this way if we wanted to go somewhere we could. 

It took us two days of driving.  We left Hardin when Gary got off work on Wednesday the 9th and we made it as far as Dillon.  We chose to drive I-15 all the way due to the storms east of us.  We had great weather. 

We got into Dillon around 8:30 pm, found a motel got a room and slept.  The plan was to leave bright and early in the morning and make our way to Vegas.  We did, but it sure was a long day.  It helped that Gary and I switched about every 3 hours.  Somehow I ended up driving in the cities.  In Salt Lake we ran into a very heavy down pour and that was the worst weather we got.

We arrived in Vegas about 3:30 pm their time.  It was very easy finding our way to the Excalibur, however I ran into very heavy traffic.  The GPS on my phone was very handy.

Last year Gary and I bought a timeshare in Vegas, so this was a great opportunity to stay there, we could only check in on Friday, Saturday or Sunday, that's why we stayed at the Excalibur for one night.  This also gave Jennifer a chance to visit the strip. 

We were so tired from driving 12 hours that we didn't visit the strip for very long, we all just wanted to get some good sleep.  The next morning we ate breakfast in the Rainforest CafĂ© in the MGM Grand and that was fun, then we made our way to the Grandview by South Point Casino.

Getting onto the interstate is not easy from the Excalibur, even though it looked easy we were not able to make a left hand turn.  Followed the GPS to get to the Grandview, but the GPS did not recognized where the Grandview is, off of Silverado Road.  We went a couple blocks and was told that our destination was to our left.  That was an empty lot fenced in.  We at least had an idea where to go, managed to get onto the Interstate and made our way.

Got checked in, found where we needed to go.  The clerk who checked us in told us that we could get a free breakfast on Saturday, we would be taken to the Silverton Casino which is the next exit over, get to tour the new building and take a quick survey.  We said sure why not, we also got $100 worth of meal vouchers to use at the South Point Casino.  At check in we were given coupon books for all of us to use each day we were in Vegas.  The most important one was a free cocktail, which we had every day.

We spent the rest of the day wandering around and checking things out.  Got in touch with Ed and he met up with us at the South Point later that evening.  Took him out for dinner then we went to the lounge for some drinks and visiting.  It was a very nice evening.
Saturday morning Gary and I got up early, got a workout in the little gym at the condo complex, then we got cleaned up and down to the reception area to meet with people for our "free" breakfast after we placed our bets on the college football games.  I had a sneaking suspicion that we got conned into listening to another sales pitch.  The sales person came out and greeted us and sure enough we were in a sales pitch.  Gary was a bit rude with her at first, which made me mad.  Told him that it wasn't her fault.  Anyway we went out on our "free" breakfast to the Silverton Casino.  This time it was one on one with her.  We didn't go with a big group.  We qualified for this as being first time owners and being within one year.  In the end we upgraded to a two bedroom condo getting 80,000 points every other year and two free weeks every year.  Before we got one free week every year and 49,000 points every other year with a one bedroom.
Jennifer had a horrible night trying to sleep on the pull out couch that Gary managed to get her her own room in the complex.  The unit right next to ours was empty but they put her on a different floor but in the same building as us.  She got her own space.  We also learned that we use our free weeks to Vegas and use the points to stay else where. 
On this trip I used points to stay in Vegas and now we have a free week to use.  We are thinking about going to Deadwood for a long weekend in December.  Otherwise we will have to eat our free week.  We have until February to use this free week.
Gary did apologize to the lady for his rude behavior earlier.  Our whole morning was shot so we made the best of it.  We are happy upgrading and with Gary retiring again in April will have more of an opportunity to travel.  I told him that I want to take one week for our annual girls trip.
We did get our $100 dinner vouchers to use at the South Point Casino, so we ate at the Mexican restaurant, only used $50 worth and paid $2 for the rest of the bill.  Our dinner for 3 ended up costing us $10 out of our pocket, this included the tip.
Later that night we met Ed at Fremont Street.  He had Eden and it didn't make sense for him to drive all the way south to pick us up then head up north.  While we were at the sales pitch, told the gal what we were doing, she told us parking is a premium down there.  She had a key to the Golden Nugget Casino, told us that we could park in their garage all we had to do was show them the key.  I just had to make sure that she got the key back.  That worked like a charm.  There was a guy at the entrance to the garage and told me that only guests could park inside, I showed him the key and in I got to go.  It was crowded, ended up parking on the top of the garage.  Glad he didn't ask what room we were in.
Found Ed and we enjoyed ourselves people watching.  I took a picture of the Fremont Street Experience, it was an experience all right.  We must have spent a couple hours there.  Watching the light show was the highlight.


Getting back onto the Interstate to get us back to The Grandview, I just followed the GPS.  It took me through an area that was very dark and was not a place where we should have been, but there was the turn off to get onto the Interstate.  Whew!! 

The rest of our time was spent lazing around the pools at the condo complex or gambling in the casino.  Gary and I both lost on the sports betting but I won probably about $200 on the machines.  Jennifer played the machines as well and she won around $200 too.  She was pretty happy.  There were three games that she liked the best.

Gary and I went to the MNF party at the casino.  It was free and they were giving $250 after every quarter along with some other prizes.  Jennifer didn't go with us to this, instead her friend Arthur met her while he was headed to his family home in Palm Springs.  They got to visit for a couple hours.  Gary and I didn't win any prizes, which went right along with our luck this year.

Before we knew it, it was time to get ready to head for home.  We took I-15 all the way, this time there was no rush.  We made it to Pocatello for the night.  Then got back home around 4:00 in the afternoon on Wednesday the 16th.  It worked so much better breaking up the drive into two 8 hour days.

All in all we had a good time and are already planning for our next trip to Vegas in April.


Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Cody Tae Kwon Do Tournament

Last Saturday we had a tae kwon do tournament in Cody.  A great opportunity to visit the Grandma's in Meeteetse and check out Mom's new house.  I was excited to be her first guest to spend the night.

Jennifer went with me, she had a rough two weeks at work.  She had to work 10 days straight and each day she worked 1-2 hours overtime.  She really needed a break and this would give her a chance to get out of town for the weekend.

We had to be in Cody by 9:00 so that meant leaving Hardin by 6:30 am.  I had every intention of getting an early start, but the tires on my car had other ideas.  I had low air pressure in a tire and needed to get it filled.  There went my extra time and now I'm running late.  The tournaments never get started on time anyway.

We got into Cody right at 9:00 am, it didn't take me long to find the school, it is easy to find.  All my students were there before me.  I had five students competing and it was a short tournament.  Jennifer and I both work the tournament, helps make the time go fast.  Three of my students were high enough in rank to help too and we get a free lunch.  We were done with the tournament by 3:30 pm, my students did well.  Had 5 students compete in 12 events and they all medaled in all their events, coming home with 4 gold, 5 silver and 3 bronze medals.

After the tournament Jennifer and I went to get a drink, then we looked over paperwork and brochures on the next trip that Grand Master Park is hosting.  This trip will be going to Las Vegas in June.  It's a 5 day trip and we would be touring the National Parks (Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, Bryce & Zion).  We both want to go on this trip.  The price is $1068 per person and that includes air, hotels, transportation, meals and entrance into the National Parks.

I told Mom that I would buy her some new bedding for her house, so we bought two new bedding sets for her beds in the new house.  She had some bedding but I wanted to get her a gift for her new house.  We got to Meeteetse around 5:00, visited for a bit then went out for dinner at The Elk Horn.

Before dinner, we stopped at the new house and got a tour.  It is a very beautiful home and Mom will have fun with it.  I am amazed at the size of the garage, she could easily get 4 cars inside, it is huge.  She has plenty of storage space.  After dinner went back to the house for more visiting, then Jennifer and I went back to town.

I was amazed that the old owners left the two bedroom furniture sets, it is very nice.  In the queen/antique room they left a queen sized bed, two dressers and two night stands.  In the king/western room they left the king sized bed, dresser and table at the foot of the bed.  The man made this furniture.  Jennifer and I already call dibs on the antique dresser with the mirror.  Mom already has set rules to the new house, mainly I have to leave that dresser in Meeteetse.  It wouldn't fit in my car anyway.

Mom doesn't have furniture in the house yet and no internet or tv yet, that will come later.  I packed a couple camping chairs for us to sit on, but we were so tired that we just got ready for bed. The beds are very comfortable and we got a good nights sleep.  I got better sleep than I would have if we stayed in the trailer.  We are going to have so much fun staying at Helen's Hotel.

Sunday morning I woke up early, walked to the Wee Market to get a cup of coffee and some little donuts for a quick bite to eat before church.  We had to be at church by 8:30.  After church we went back to the new house to pack up our stuff and I was told to take some zucchini, squash, cucumbers and tomatoes.  I only took some zucchini (4 huge ones) and one tomato (the rest are tiny).  We don't eat squash, but I do make zucchini bread.

More visiting with the Grandma's, they fed us lunch then we had to get back to Hardin.  I told Gary that we would be home for supper.  Besides I had received a weather alert for high winds in the Cody area later in the afternoon.  I got home before the winds.

Had a good time visiting, came home with 4 huge zucchini and a bottle of white wine.  What more could I ask for.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Surprise In Law Visit

This past weekend we had a surprise visit with the in laws.  About a month ago Jason sent me an e-mail asking about Mom's house and if she is interested in selling it as they were interested in buying it.  At the time I haven't told my children that their grandmother bought a house in Meeteetse.

He said that things are pretty tough out in California and that they are looking to move to Hardin.  I tried to talk some sense into them, that moving to Montana is fine but not Hardin, there is nothing here.  Billings would be a better fit for them.  Anyway, I told Jason that I would relay the message to his grandmother and she could contact Jeni's aunt Susan, this way I am not the middle man.

Jeni called me on the 14th and asked if I would look at a house in Hardin that they are interested in buying.  I talked to Susan and got the particulars on the house.  The address is 420 W 5th St.  The listing said 4 bedrooms 2 bathrooms, a two story house but there was no information about the bedrooms with size and location.  Susan said that her dad would be moving with them and he needs a bedroom on the main floor. Grandpa would be buying the house anyway.  No problem I could call the realtor for them and make an arrangement it would have to be on Saturday.  My counter tops were getting installed on Monday and I have to work the rest of the week.  That would be no problem.

On Monday the 16th Jeni called and said that she and Susan are coming out to Hardin to look at the house, would I have room for them in my house.  My spare bedroom is in shambles, still have quite a bit of my kitchen in there.  I asked Mom if they could stay at her house, but that wouldn't work as Mom's house is organized chaos. She doesn't have any dishes or bedding in her house.

It was decided to make a motel reservation for them and Mom and I would pay for it.  I called Jeni back and told her, now her grandfather is coming too.  Jeni said that they would arrive in Hardin on Thursday and be leaving on Monday.  I made the motel reservation for them, got two rooms for four nights.  I put them in the Rodeway Inn (American Inn).  Since it is under new ownership, prices have gone up a bit.  The guy gave me a 5% discount on the rooms, which just paid for the taxes.  I had to fill out a credit card authorization to pay for the rooms.  Yikes when I tallied up how much it would be I about died, $728 for the motel. 

Jason didn't come with them, someone had to stay and take care of their animals.  It was just Jeni, Susan and Grandpa.  They arrived on Thursday and had no problems checking in.  It turned out that they stayed three nights as Grandpa had to be back in Oxnard by Tuesday. 

It was a bad weekend to spring this on me, we had class on Thursday and on Friday we had the HOG Chapter appreciation at the dealership.  Wouldn't be spending too much time with them.  I did take Friday afternoon off to spend some time.

Their appointment with the realtor was for Friday at 2:00 pm.  Gary and I were invited to look at the house with them, they ended up looking at two houses.  Gary and I met them for lunch at McDonald's on Friday (Susan treated).  Grandpa had already made up his mind that he was going to buy this house.

It is a nice house and very well kept for an older home.  I didn't like the kitchen, it is very tiny and no dishwasher.  The house had two bedrooms on the main floor and two upstairs.  There is a full basement with two rooms that can be made into bedrooms.  Has a fenced back yard and a two car detached garage. The asking price on this house is $159,900.  The address is 420 W. 5th St.

The other house they looked at was on the other side of the block, a large brick house on the corner of 4th & Crawford.  I didn't like this house, rooms were long and narrow and I did not like the basement at all.  Grandpa didn't like the house, too hard for him going up the stairs with his walker.

It was decided on the blue house, they went with the realtor to wheel & deal, Gary and I got ready for our thing in Billings.

Saturday Jeni and her family went to the Battlefield.  I didn't go as my allergies kicked in and I wasn't feeling well anyway.  I had a throbbing headache and I don't think the brats I ate at the appreciation were agreeing with me.  I told Jeni for Grandpa to check into getting a park pass.  Since he is a senior it would cost him $10 and I think because he is handicapped it would be free.  He qualified for the free pass.

Their offer was accepted, the current owners will pay for the closing costs and will install handrails in the stairway heading to the basement.  Grandpa has to get the inspection done by Oct. 1, the realtor gave him a name and then they need to get approved for financing.  Jeni is excited.

Jennifer and I met them for supper on Saturday and we ate at Pizza Hut (Susan treated).  It was nice visiting with them and I apologized for not being able to be a good hostess.  Grandpa said I helped out quite a bit, especially with the motel rooms.  Susan said that she is going to send me money to help pay for the rooms. We said our goodbyes here as they were leaving bright and early in the morning.  Susan wanted to be on the road by 5:00 am, Grandpa wanted to make it as far as Mesquite NV.

I have my reservations about this move.  1). They have always lived in the city and moving to small town Hardin they are going to be quite bored.  I think Grandpa & Susan will adjust fine, but Jason & Jeni are going to be bored.  2).  They have never experienced winter and will be in for a treat when winter does come and have to heat that house.  It is a large house.   3)  Jobs are hard to find here and there are not that many.  4) Grandpa qualities for VA Health Care and the closest ones are either 50 miles away in Billings or 85 miles away in Sheridan.  Think about driving the roads in winter.  5) I think they are paying way too much for the house in Hardin.

I am happy for them and it would be nice to have the kids closer.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Kitchen Remodel Part II

I finally got my counter tops installed last Monday, had to wait 9 weeks for them.  I started this project on Memorial Day, that was when I ordered everything.  It took 5 weeks for my cabinets to arrive, which I knew that.

We did our own demo of the kitchen, figured that would save time for the contractor.  I had hired a contractor in May to install the cabinets.  I kept him informed on when the cabinets would be at the house and everything, just had to wait for him to call me back.  Every time I called him he would put me off, so I found another one.  I'm still waiting for the phone call from the first contractor. 

I hired Clayton Fortune to install the cabinets and he got them done in two days.  He had help his son was his helper.  Once I got the cabinets installed, then the counter top people came down to measure.  That was on July 16th when he measured.  Clayton was over to finish up some work by putting up the molding on the cabinets.  I asked the counter top guy how long it would take and he told me about 6 weeks, could be sooner.

They don't keep the material there, don't know why, they have at least the ball park figure when I ordered the cabinets.  Well, my 6 weeks turned into 9 weeks which I wasn't happy with at all.  Got irritated with the counter top people but they finally got them installed.  The material didn't arrive in Billings until Sept. 5 and then it took them the 10 days to cut it.  I had to pay for everything up front even the mileage for two trips from Billings to Hardin.

I got tired real quick of washing dishes in the bathroom, silverware and glasses in the bathroom sink, pots and pans in the bathtub.  I never take a kitchen sink for granted anymore.  Also got tired real quick eating off of paper plates and bowls.

The counter tops got installed last Monday the 16th, the guys were only here for an hour, didn't take them long at all.  Jennifer and I installed the faucet and sink baskets. Had to buy the water hose and we got those installed too.  We had to wait for Gary to get home to get all the plumbing done.  Jennifer and I weren't much help in this department, our neighbor came over to help. 

Had a few leaks at first until things got tightened up, but it all works.  We just have to install the fill spacers around the dishwasher and get it anchored.  I did run it one day to check for leaks and it ran smooth, no leaks.

All that is left to do is paint and put up the backsplash, I just haven't figured out what color I want.  I love my new kitchen and it is all thanks to Spuddie & Roy, so everyone needs to plan a trip to Hardin to have a cup of coffee in my new kitchen.

I will never do another kitchen remodel in my life time, this will stay forever.

Here are some before & after photos:
Old Along the window wall

New, hickory cabinets with quarts counter tops, we extended the length along this wall.

Old by the stove

I didn't put new above the fridge, wasted space, got a built in micro wave to give me more counter space.


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

9-11 Remembrance Ride

Sunday Gary and I rode in the 9-11 Remembrance Ride sponsored by the BASTARDS Motorcycle Club from Laurel.  This was their 8th year for this ride.  It is a short poker run and all the proceeds go to the Laurel Home Town Group.  This group sends out care packages to Montana service men and women serving in the wars.

Robert had received care packages from them so Gary and I do our part to help out.  It is always fun and a lot of bikers show up.  We start in Laurel and ride to the Courthouse in Billings for a short ceremony.  This year they had all the veterans and active military step up to the front.  There were only 3 women in the group.  Most were veterans and some came forward to give a short talk on what 9-11 meant to them.  Most were younger, veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

Gary said I should have stepped forward with my history.  Daughter of a WWII vet, wife of a Viet Nam vet, mother of an Iraq War vet and being a vet myself.  Not to mention that when 9-11 struck I was working as a 9-1-1 Operator for the Sheriff's Office and was in Kalispell attending 9-1-1 school at the time.  Food for thought.

After the ceremony it was on to the next poker stop at BugZ's bar in the Heights, then we went to the final destination at Tiny's Tavern.  There were only 3 stops on this poker run, so two cards were drawn in Laurel.  I had a good hand going until the last stop.  I had a pair of 4's and Queens.  Just needed one more of either one at the last stop.  I drew a 3.  Figures.

Tiny's Tavern put on a good feed for us, we had burgers and hot dogs with baked beans, chili, cole slaw and potato salad.  It was announced that Tiny's didn't charge the BASTARDS for the food, it was their donation. We met in the outside patio at Tiny's, very nice.  We estimated that there were about 500 people that started on the poker run, not everyone ended up at Tiny's, must have been about 200 there.

We are going to have to make a point of going to Tiny's again.  We have heard that they do have good dinners.

This ride was also on the same day as our HOG Chapter Mystery Ride and meeting.  Gary refuses to go on any more mystery rides since the fiasco two years ago. 

All in all we had a fun day, spent with our good friends.  We can honestly say that we went the whole riding season without getting wet.  That's right, no riding in rain storms this year.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Yellowstone Park & Chico

This past weekend was the HOG Chapter's annual Yellowstone Park Ride with an over night stay in Chico Hot Springs.  This is always a fun ride and we thoroughly enjoy ourselves.

This year we spent Friday night in Billings, we met our friends Marty & Vickie Davis in Billings for breakfast at 7:00 am.  This meant that we would have to leave Hardin bright and early, getting an extra hour of sleep won.  Besides we didn't have that cool ride to Billings.

We ate a good breakfast, not knowing what route we would be taking as it can change from year to year.  We met everyone at the dealership around 8:00 am.  We milled around and visited.  The host for this ride is Gary & Dawn Squires and they said we were leaving at 9:00 am sharp. 

Had a good turnout for this ride this year, I counted 20 bikes and about 34 people.  This year we went to Cody for a brunch this way we could spend more time riding in the Park.  Looking forward to next year when Gary will get his Senior's Pass for the National Parks. 

We had brunch at Grannies in Cody.  They do a real good job about getting our large group in and out fast.  Not everyone will get to sit together but we are usually in groups of 4.  Since we had a big breakfast in Billings, we just shared a caramel roll.  Good thing because they are huge, it was all I could do just to eat half.

Had a very nice ride to the East Gate at the Park.  The ranger had all of us get into one line, then she took our money and passes, as we rode through the gate she then gave us all our receipts and maps.  We pulled over in a small parking lot to regroup and take a break.

From the East Gate we then make our way to Old Faithful, it seems to take forever to get to Old Faithful with the speed limit of 45 and traffic.  Traffic is usually not a problem this time of year in the Park.  We got to Old Faithful and had about a 25 minute wait for the eruption.  We remembered the mess up from last year when we got separated, so we stayed with the main group this year. 

We went into the Old Faithful Inn and got a drink from the cafeteria then we sat out on the porch to watch the geyser erupt.  It was very nice.  I wonder if this is the same cafeteria where Mom & Dad worked in the Park. 

As we were leaving Old Faithful, we saw the storm clouds south of us and it didn't look good, those clouds followed us all the way to Chico, we didn't get wet but it sure threatened to. 

About Gibson Meadows there were buffalo on the side of the road, no problem as long as they stay on the side.  One old buffalo was lumbering along the road.  Naturally traffic was stopped for pictures.  It didn't take long before the buffalo decided he wanted on the other side of the road, he split our group in half.  We were the second bike stopped.  Things went well until some jackass from California decided he didn't want to get caught in a buffalo jam.  The jackass drove on and when he did, he herded that buffalo right into our path.  The rider in front of us had to get off his bike, that buffalo sure was close, almost on top of his bike. It could have been a disaster if that old buffalo turned his head, would have knocked that rider down.  We all managed to get around the buffalo and the rider in front of us was safe and able to get back on the road.  Our friends were the last bike and couldn't figure out why the motorists were taking pictures of us.

A bit further up the road there was more buffalo and one was lumbering on the road straight towards us, Gary was able to get around and we all got by without any problems.

We stopped in Mammoth for a short break, then in Gardiner for gas.  The storm clouds were right over us and it didn't look good.  I put my rain gear on to guarantee no rain.  It worked we didn't get wet, but it sure did get cold.  We could see the huge storm clouds by Livingston.  We arrived at Chico dry around 6:00 pm.

We got checked in and settled in our room, met everyone for supper in the bar.  Every weekend Chico has live music and this weekend was a band from Cody called Honky Tonk Heroes.  They were good.  We drank a lot, ate good ribs(not as good as Big Jim's), played shuffleboard.  We didn't get into the pool as our friends Marty & Vickie don't do the water thing.  It was in the bar when we heard about the bad storm that hit Billings.  Gary called Jennifer and all Hardin got was some wind and rain, nothing like what  hit Billings.

On Sunday morning we left around 8:30 and ate breakfast in Livingston.  The original plan was to eat at Chico for their Sunday brunch, then ride back into the Park and over Beartooth into Red Lodge.  With the storm and road construction Gary and Marty were not going to ride this way.  Marty & Vickie were worried and wanted to get home to see if there was any damage to their home.  They live by a creek and was worried about flooding.

The price for the Sunday brunch at Chico was $16 per person, there is no way that we can eat that much.  Marty & Vickie really wanted to get home and check on their house.  Fortunately they didn't have any damage at all, just some tree limbs in their yard.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

MDA Poker Run

Last Sunday we rode in the MDA Poker Run.  This was the 24th year that our chapter has hosted this event for MDA.  It used to coincide with the telethon, but since they stopped airing that we just ride. 

We met our friends for breakfast at the Muzzleloader, sign up for the poker run was at the Powder Horn bar which is right next door.  We only played one poker had, it can get rather pricey at $20 per hand. 

This year the route took us to Huntley, Worden, Custer, Hardin and then back to Billings at Montana Chad's.  We made it to the first poker stop in Huntley, that is where our friend Marty's bike broke down.  It just wouldn't start.  On nice thing about being a biker is that he had plenty of help.  No go.  Fortunately the Harley shop was open but only until 3:00pm. 

Gary and Dale Butterfield flipped a coin to see who would run and get their pickup and trailer.  Huntley is about the half way for each, Dale won.  We stayed with Marty & Vickie at the bar.   It was fortunate that they broke down here instead of on the side of a highway somewhere.  We only had to wait for about 2 hours for Dale to get back.

Wouldn't you know it, once Dale came with his truck and trailer, Marty's bike started.  But who knew for how long.  Marty & Vickie are going with us on the Yellowstone Ride with an overnight in Chico this weekend.  The Harley shop was able to get him fixed up before the Yellowstone trip.

We arrived at the dealership and his bike still started, naturally we are at the Harley shop.  By this time we just made our way to Montana Chad's, we were all able to finish playing our poker hands.  Ate a good lunch  and just enjoyed our time visiting.

No one in our group won the poker hands, but Dale did win a hat in a drawing.  We had a good time, Marty & Vickie felt bad about ruining everyone's ride.  No problem, better to have this problem now instead of this weekend while we are in the Park.

Turned out that the staters in Marty's bike went out.  All I know about this is that they are part of the charging system on the bike, sort of like an alternator for a car.  Marty does have his bike, the Harley shop had it finished on Tuesday.

I felt that we had a low turn out for this ride this year.  A vote was taken of the group this year and it was decided to keep the ride on Sunday instead of changing it to Monday.  It was reminded that not everyone has the holiday off, some people have to work on Monday.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Party & Presentation

Another busy and fun weekend is in the books.  Saturday we went to our friends the Butterfields for their annual end of summer party at their house.  I had to bring an appetizer and our overnight bag and booze.  They invited 16 people.  For my appetizers I made Catonese Meatballs.  They are made just like Swedish Meatballs only with sweet and sour sauce.  They turned out pretty good, not much was left.

We always have a good time when we get together with our friends, this party was bittersweet as Kitty's father passed away on Wednesday in Arizona.  We were surprised that she was still having her party, but she didn't want it any other way.  She made all of us a Cuba Libre (rum & coke) her dad's favorite drink as we made a toast to him.

Before going to the party, Gary dropped the bike off at the dealership for it's 10,000 mile service, he was actually a bit over but that is how it goes.  We left it overnight and they had it ready for his poker run ride on Sunday.

I didn't ride in the poker run, instead I went to the presentation in Hardin.  One of my tae kwon do students went to Panama for the summer and she was giving a presentation for people who supported her.  We were the only non-church people who gave her money.

The program was a youth ministries that was sponsored through her church.  In fact her dad is the pastor of their church.  This was a program that both her parents did and she wanted to follow in their footsteps.

She did a good job with her presentation and she had a good time.  They were genuinely pleased that I came and I'm glad that I did.  I felt out of place in their church but then it wasn't a regular service that day anyway.  They did invite me to stay for lunch but I had to get home.

With Gary gone, I was able to get some housework done.  He got home around 3:00.  He had a good time and all the proceeds on this poker run went to the Montana History Flight for WWII vets.  The run was just through Billings. 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Dentist & Therapy

Tuesday I had a dentist appointment for a cleaning, Jennifer went with me as she had the day off so we made a shopping day out of it.  I do need my therapy.

I had written down that my appointment was at 10:00 am, so we got our lattes and headed to Billings, dropped Jennifer off at the mall.  She doesn't like to sit around the dentist office waiting for me.  I got to the dentist's office and I was an hour early.

No problem I can just come back.  Didn't want to wait for an hour anyways.  Sent Jennifer a message, she had to get some banking done, so we took care of that.  She had received a sizeable refund back from her credit card and she couldn't figure out why.  Didn't want to cash that check to find out that she somehow received a loan.  It was a legitimate refund, she somehow paid a bill three times.  Not sure how that happened but she did.  She was lucky that the credit card company was honest.  However it did take them several months to issue her the refund.  That was good news.

Time to get back to my dentist appointment, so dropped Jen off at the mall again, this time I had the time right.  Found out that the 10:00 never showed so I could have gotten in anyway.  Oh well.  My teeth are doing great since my accident.  It has been 5 years since I fell and I have healed up very nicely.  It has helped that I am keeping to my regular dentist appointments.  I am not going through all of that again.

My appointment took an hour, so picked up Jennifer.  I had some shopping to do at the mall anyway.  Back in June I won a $50 gift card to Scheels from work for logging in my walking.  I bought a new pair of running shoes.  Since I have turned 50 I have decided to become a runner.  That is the challenge to myself.  Actually the challenge is to run the 2 miles in next year's Montana Women's Run, so I'm getting in my practice now.  I have a 3.1 mile loop that I do through town, I walk the first 10 minutes which is about a half mile, then I run the rest.  I say run, Gary says jog.  Either way it is faster than my walking pace.  Got my new shoes, ran into a sale.  My shoes were originally priced at $100, but marked down to $80 because of a back to school sale, with my $50 gift card I only paid $30 for the shoes.

We then went to lunch and Jennifer wanted to upgrade her phone.  We have her on our plan she just pays her share.  Two weeks ago we talked to the cell phone people about upgrading.  Right now Jennifer and I have unlimited data plans on our smart phones.  I was told that if we bought a new phone outright we could keep the unlimited data plan.  Not so easy.  We would be able to keep the unlimited if we bought another 3G phone, the only problem they don't make 3G anymore, only the 4G.  With a 4G phone we are changing our plan so then we would be limited to 2 GB a month for internet.  Most people don't use that much, only if you stream a lot like watching movies or listening to a radio app.  They checked our usage and we don't use that much, I come close a couple times.  Things to think about.

Jennifer decided she wanted to upgrade, no sense in buying a new phone outright because no matter what we do we are going to be limited.  She decided to get the phone she wanted for $50 with a 2 year contract.  We went to Best Buy as that is where she found the phone she wanted.  The Verizon Store is more pricier for the same phone.

We talked to the salesman, got all the information.  The problem we ran into is that I was not authorized to make any updates to our account, only Gary could do this.  We went through this about 4 years ago and Gary called Verizon to get me authorized.  Well they didn't get me authorized.  I was upset, but understood.  Told the little salesman that I wasn't mad at him, just made at Verizon because silly me thought this problem was taken care of.  Had to wait to get home so that Gary could call.

Jennifer and I finished up our shopping then headed for home.  Jennifer took us out for supper then Gary called Verizon to get me authorized.  That in itself is quite a process and not an easy one.  I don't know how many prompts he had to go through, then he makes progress but had to call from a different phone.  He used mine and again went through several prompts.  I was getting frustrated and said I just want to talk to a live person.  Next thing I knew I had a live person on the line.  Handed the phone to Gary so that he could get me authorized, I couldn't do it.  This is Verizon's policy to cut down on fraud issues.  I can understand that.

According to Verizon I am now authorized to make changes to our account, I called Verizon this afternoon and was told that I am good to go.  We will find out tomorrow when Jennifer and I go back up to upgrade her phone.  We are going when I get off work.

I told Verizon that it sure is funny that I am authorized to make a payment, but can't upgrade.  What would have happened if Gary died.  Verizon told me that we would have to go through court.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Dean Montana

Yesterday we had a chapter meeting in Dean Montana.  When I saw this on our ride cards I had to look up where Dean was.  It is not on the map.  I did the next best thing and asked if anyone knew where Dean Montana was.  Found out that it is between Fishtail and Nye on Highway 419.  Highway 419 is a tiny gray road on the map and depending on which one you look at Fishtail is not listed.

We had to be at the dealership by 10:00 am, we left Hardin a little after 8:00 am.  This gave us time to wander through the dealership, look at stuff and visit.

We had quite a group going to Dean, at least 20 bikes and 30 people.  Our route took us on the back roads, went through Laurel then on to Park City and Columbus.  A nice day for a ride.

There was a snake on the highway between Park City and Columbus that was alive, Gary ran over it and killed it I hope, we could see that it was coiled and ready to strike.  Think it was run over by the bike in front of us, we just made sure.  I asked Gary if the snake flew up in the air and landed in the lap of the biker behind us. It didn't. That happened on the first year we went to Jackson, Gary ran over a rabbit and it flipped in the air and almost hit our friend Marty who was behind us.

We arrived in Dean around noon time.  All that is in Dean is a bar and a couple houses.  The people in the bar were ready for us, had a special limited menu for us and they had some musicians performing.  Our choices on the menu were a buffalo cheeseburger, biscuits and gravy or a BLT.  Gary and I shared a buffalo burger.  It was pretty good.  Our table was the first one served so we got our food pretty fast.

After we ate, we went outside and had a short meeting.  Gary won a hat as a ride prize which was good because he forgot to pack his when we left the house.  He will keep this one in the bike.

Right after the meeting we left for home.  It was nice and cool in the mountains but as we got closer to Billings it sure got hot.  We stopped at the dealership so that Gary could make an appointment to get the bike scheduled for it's 10,000 mile service on Saturday.

It was a very nice day and I would like to take a drive back someday and go all the way to Nye.  I was told that there is a campground called Woodbine at the end of the road which is pretty.  You take a little hike and there is a beautiful waterfall up there.

Monday, August 12, 2013

2013 Nation of Patriots

This was the 4th year that we rode on this ride.  It is a national event that starts and ends in Wisconsin, the American flag is escorted through the 50 states.  Our friend Dale Butterfield is the leader for our two legs, Billings to Cody to Jackson.

We didn't plan on going on this ride this year as we were planning a 4 day trip to Canada over Labor Day but that trip didn't pan out.  We decided to go on this ride this year.  I enjoy the ride but it is an expensive one.  We stay the night at the Rawhide Motel in Jackson at $150 per night (a discount) not to mention meals and gas.

Friday we went to Billings and we stay the night at the Butterfields house since we have to be at the dealership by 8:00 am and on the road.  Dale & Kitty just have us spend the night.  Secretly they have adopted us.

We met at the dealership in Billings at 7:30 am.  The dealership opened early for us so that we were able to get coffee and they had donuts out.  Normally the dealership doesn't open un 9:00 am.  We took a group picture in Billings and another one in Cody.

There were 11 people who left Billings for the Cody leg, we got into Cody around 10:00.  We made our way to the dealership, usually this time of year the shops in Cody will have their sidewalk sales but not this year.  After we did our little ceremony three people left to head back to Billings, while eight of us made our way to Jackson.

This leg had us, Dale & Kitty Butterfield, Marty & Vickie Davis, Wes & Denise Lambert.  We ate lunch at Pahaska Teepee, which is always a nice stop.  We arrived in Jackson around 4:00 pm, got checked in to the motel. The Butterfields, Davis's and us are the originals for this event.  We are the only ones who have done this all four years.

This year the man who we pass the flag to wanted to do the exchange on Saturday night, which was perfect for us.  We met him at 6:00 at the dealership in Jackson and did the exchange.  This gave us an earlier time to get on the road home.  In the past we did the exchange on Sunday morning at 9:00.

Kitty had received some very sad news about her dad on this trip.  Her dad had been admitted to the hospital in Arizona and was not expected to make it through the night. 

Sunday we ate breakfast at Bubba's and then made our way home.  Dale & Kitty needed to get home as soon as possible so that Kitty could make arrangements to get to Arizona, so it was a quick trip home.  We went our usual route, over Teton Pass into Driggs Idaho, made our way to West Yellowstone then Bozeman then home.

The weather was beautiful this year, we didn't get rained on. This might be the last year for this event, we heard that the flag is being retired this year.  Besides, Dale is looking for someone to take over the reins on these two legs.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Aussie Weekend

We spent a fun filled weekend in Meeteetse and Cody.  My sister Bonnie Bley and her family were coming to Meeteetse at the end a June and it was a perfect time to run down and get in a visit with them.

I had made reservations to stay at the Oasis motel for Friday & Saturday night back in June, this would give me plenty of time to visit and then I could come home on Sunday afternoon. 

The timing was perfect.  Gary had been in touch with a gentleman from Australia that was planning an American vacation with some of his friends, this man Phil has posted a question on the HOG chapter website about riding over the Bear Tooth Pass.  He wanted to know when was the best time, Gary answered him.  This was a year ago.

About a month ago, Gary received an e-mail from Phil that his group would be in Cody on July 28 and asked if Gary would guide them over the Bear Tooth Pass.  No problem, we were going to be in Meeteetse anyway what was another day. I made a reservation at the same hotel where they were staying, the Holiday Inn.

Friday afternoon we loaded up the bike and headed down to Meeteetse.  We stopped in Eidelweiss for a beer, Gary has wanted to stop there for a long time and it never happened.  For a small bar in the middle of nowhere Wyoming, it was full of people.  We had our drink, then made our way to Meeteetse.

Got checked in then went to Grandma's house.  It was nice to see David & Karen Bain there, so got a short visit with them.  Didn't get to visit much with Grandma on this day, she was pretty tired and wasn't feeling well.

Gary and I went into town to get some dinner and then we waited for the Bley's to go to the Cowboy, the Bley family went fishing for a bit on the Lower Sunshine Lake.  We met up with Mom and Bley crew at the Cowboy.  A lot of fun.  We got locked inside the bar which was a first for us.

The girls in the Cowboy.  Mom got Sam to join in the photo
Saturday was spent just visiting and spending time with family. Our first order of business was eating dinner at the Cowboy for Jim's delicious ribs.  Gary and I got our yearly fix on ribs.  The Chocolatier was hosting author night with Craig Johnson, author of the Walt Longmire series which is now a tv show on the A&E Channel.  It was fun listening to him. Very interesting hearing how he gets his ideas for his books.  After talking with Craig Johnson and getting our books autographed, back to the Cowboy we went.  Again we were locked inside the bar.

Sunday was spent getting the last visiting in before we went to Cody, got photos with my nephews who are growing by leaps and bounds.  Gary received his phone call from Phil so we headed to meet up with the Aussies.

We spent a wonderful time with the Aussies, there were six in all.  We had drinks in the bar, then dinner.  They were kind enough to buy our dinner.  They were easy to understand, but some of the terminology was different.  The ladies told me that they were excited when they saw hamburger and chips on the menu.  They got potato chips.  They call French fries chips, and potato chips crisps.  They had an awful time with tipping wait staff.  In Australia you don't tip.  Also some of the terminology for food was different.  Our appetizers are entrees for them, our entrees are the main meal.  They found it funny that we eat waffles for breakfast, waffles are dessert.

Monday morning we guided them over the Chief Joseph Highway and Bear Tooth Pass, our friend Dale Butterfield came down to ride with us.  It was a cold morning but a very fun time.  We pulled out at our favorite stops, Dead Indian Hill, the River Gorge, Top Of The World Store and Vista Point.

They were very pleased with everything.  I fed the chipmunks at Dead Indian and Vista Point which they found amazing.  We made our way into Red Lodge for lunch and a bit of shopping, then we said our goodbyes.  Their original plan was to ride back over the pass, but they ran out of time.  They had to get back to Cody so they could watch the shoot out at the Irma then go to the rodeo.  We took them over Bear Creek.

Phil gave Gary a very nice belt buckle in Red Lodge and his wife said that they are going to buy t-shirts for Gary and Dale.  We are going to send them a canvas photo of all of us at Dead Indian and then we will go to Red Lodge and buy them the t-shirts that they really liked.  The store didn't have their sizes.

I told Gary that I was very glad he wrote that little blog, they have invited us to Australia and I would really love to go in a couple years.
At Dead Indian: Roxie & Chris Fagan; Rosie & Phil Wilson; me & Gary; John & Leonie Hickey; Dale Butterfield

At Vista Point: John & Leonie Hickey; Phil & Rosie Wilson; me; Roxie & Chris Fagan

Monday, July 22, 2013

Iron Horse Rally in Red Lodge

Over the weekend, Gary and I went to Red Lodge to check out the Iron Horse Rally activities.  On Saturday we met our friends Marty & Vickie Davis and Dale & Kitty Butterfield at the dealership in Billings, then made our way to Red Lodge.

All of us are Patriot Guard Rider members and it so happened that the Montana Patriot Guard Riders would be leading the parade.  The parade was organized as a fund raiser for the Montana Honor Flights.  These take veterans to Washington DC to see the memorials.  Right now they are organizing flights for the WWII vets and then will make their way to the other war veterans.  They will take a veteran who is terminal so that they all can get a chance.

We left Billings at 1:00 pm and arrived in Red Lodge a little after 2:00 pm.  Wandered the streets of Red Lodge, checked out the vendors and people watched.  The main street of Red Lodge was nothing but wall to wall bikes.  We heard that there were 10,000 bikes in and out of Red Lodge for the weekend.

Got to the staging area for the parade at 4:30 pm, the parade started at 6:00 pm.  The Budweiser Clydesdale horses were behind us.  We were able to watch them get the horses ready and hitched to the wagon.  The horses would pose for photos and were not shy at all around people.  Pretty impressive to watch all that goes on to getting these horses parade ready.  The Budweiser dalmation was running around and posing for photos with the children.

There were sure a lot of people out on the street to watch the parade, right after the parade we all left for Billings.  We wanted to leave before the deer came out and also with the traffic.

We had a fun night in Billings, Gary & I stayed at the Butterfield hotel.  We stayed up visiting and drinking until around 1:00 am.  Let me tell you, crown royal whiskey and club soda is a very refreshing drink for summer and they go down smooth.  Needless to say that I was not in any condition to do anything.

We woke up bright and early on Sunday morning to head back to Red Lodge.  Sunday was a chapter event, we hosted the Belgrade chapter for a lunch.  We had to be in Red Lodge by 11:00, left Billings at 9:30 for a very nice ride to Red Lodge.  The Belgrade chapter arrived and we all had a nice lunch of pizza at the Red Lodge dealership.  A fun time.  Belgrade hosted us a lunch back in June.

It was too early to go home, so the Davis's and us rode over the Bear Tooth Pass and Chief Joseph Highway, heard that there was road construction so Gary wanted to check it out before we meet with the Australians next week.

There is road construction by Long Lake, but you are only delayed for at the most 30 minutes and it is a mile long with hard packed dirt.  We stopped at the Top Of The World store for a bit.  I saw people looking across the highway and then I spotted the black bear with her two cubs.  Glad I brought my big Nikon camera with my zoom lens.  I got a few shots of the bears.  A nice treat, hope they will be here next weekend.

It was cold on top of the mountain, but as we made our way down it got hot again. It was 65 degrees on the top and warmed up to 95 on the bottom.  It was a very fun weekend, now we get a bit of a rest and back at it next weekend.

Here are some photos of the weekend.
posing from the trailer

Black bears at Top of the World

Chip the Budweiser dog

Looking pretty for the parade.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Kitchen Remodel

Remodeling a kitchen is a huge undertaking and a huge process.  We went to Lowes on Memorial Day weekend to look and talk to them about new kitchen cabinets and countertops.  We have talked for months about this project and what we wanted.

Looked through several catalogs, watched a lot of home improvement shows and we finally figured out what we wanted.  I have extended my countertop and cabinets along the sink wall and at the end I put a pantry, we wanted a built in dishwasher and I wanted an over the range microwave.  I made an appointment at Lowes.

That took over 2 hours, in the end I bought cabinet and countertops.  I have hickory cabinets and went with quartz countertops.  Since it was Memorial Day, Lowes was having a sale on cabinets and countertops.  With this purchase I got a free sink, a free base cabinet, all the hardware for cabinets free and I qualified for a 10% gift card which was $332.  The countertops were on sale and the price included installation.  I just had to pay for mileage for countertops.  I managed to get the cabinets and countertops for around $5500.

With the gift card we bought the microwave, dishwasher and faucet for the sink.  The total cost for the appliances was $800 and I paid just over $400.

When I placed the order for the kitchen on Memorial Day, I also called a local contractor.  Told him that my cabinets would be here at the end of June and that I wanted to hire him to install them.  He said he would do it and he charged $35 per hour.  We figured that was very reasonable and we didn't have to pay mileage.  He said that if he needed to go to Billings for anything he would just charge his hourly rate, no mileage.  I just needed to call him when the cabinets were in.

I called him on June 21 to let him know that the cabinets would be here on June 29.  Gary and I had to pick them up.  Lowes would have delivered them to the house but would have charged us $250.  We could do that cheaper, we have a little utility trailer and we will use that.  When I called the contractor he told me that he would be out of town June 27 and would be back around the 1st of July.  Just give him a call on the 1st and he would let me know when he would be here.  In the meantime, Gary and I started the demolition of the old cabinets.  It wasn't that hard.  We left the cabinet with the range hood on it and also the base cabinets with the sink.  That was dealing with electricity and plumbing and neither one of us was going to touch that.

It didn't take long to tear down and I chipped off all the old ceramic tile that I hated. Going to put something else up but not sure what I want yet.  My house is in chaos, have dishes and utensils stuffed in boxes stored throughout the house.  Our dining table and chairs is in the living room.  I would stand in the kitchen visualizing the new look.

I called the contractor on July 1 and he was still out of town.  He said he  would call me on Wednesday to work on the arrangement to install and that he would have them done by the end of the week.  Wednesday came and no phone call, I didn't call him on Thursday due to the holiday.  I took Friday off anyway, no phone call from him on Friday morning so I called him in the afternoon to find out when he would be here to install.

I asked him when he would be here to install my cabinets, he just laughed at me said that he couldn't pinpoint a date because he was busy with other projects.  That made me mad.  I have been dealing with this guy for a month and he would never return a phone call.  I personally think he forgets, Gary said that our kitchen project is too small for him.  After his call, I then called Clayton Fortune.  Clayton couldn't get to it right away, but would call me on Wednesday. 

Clayton called and he started working yesterday morning.  He and his son got 8 cabinets installed yesterday and Clayton is back today with Jim Kuntz to finish up.  Clayton got all the upper cabinets, the pantry and one base installed.  Today he is finishing up with the rest and he will get the microwave going.

First he has to fill in the floor where the old base cabinets are.  Once he gets that done, then things will move quickly.  This afternoon I will call the countertop people and have them come Monday for the template and hopefully it won't be long before they install.  We then will need to get a plumber over for the sink and dishwasher.  Clayton is recommending Adam Ketterling.

To this day I still have not received a phone call from the first contractor and I'm not going to call him.  I am also not going to recommend him if anyone asks.  I'm sure he does good work, but getting him to commit to do the work is a chore.

I can now see why people do their own projects at home.  We never thought it would be this hard to get them installed especially when I had called. 

I have been taking photos and will get them posted soon.  I want to wait until everything is finished.  Mom will come over today to get a sneak peak.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

All Class Reunion

This last weekend, Hardin had an all class reunion.  Big Horn County is celebrating it's centennial this year and this was one of the big celebrations.

I didn't register for this event, our class just had our 30th two years ago.  Our friend Kitty Butterfield graduated from Hardin and she had signed up, so she talked us into joining the festivities.

The only festivities we did were the street dances on Friday and Saturday night.  Friday night was a DJ and on Saturday a live band.  Local one called Exit 53. 

The town was crowded with a lot of people and it was fun seeing old classmates.  The only classmates from my class were the local ones, but I did see a lot of Mary's.  They said I could be Mary's proxy.  I talked with Lisa Contway, Rhonda Clark and Joann Braaton.  Lisa's youngest sister Wendy was with them too.  I didn't recognize her at all, of course she was just a little kid when I saw her.  Didn't see too many from Bonnie's class, but then I probably wouldn't have recognized them anyway.

We ate dinner at the 4 Aces both nights and it was packed.  The city blocked off the 200 block on Center for the dances and we could have open containers in just that area.  Weather cooperated both nights.  It did rain hard on Saturday night at midnight.  We just walked in the door to the house when the rain hit.

All in all a fun weekend. 

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

New Glasses

Picked up my new glasses last night and it is going to take a bit to get used to.  I had to have a stronger prescription this time and progressive bifocals.  I had bifocals with my old prescription but the lens were no line bifocals.  I also went with a new frame style, instead of the oval I usually wear, I went with a rectangle frame. 

It was funny during the exam, the dr. must have told me about 10 times that I am 50 years old.  My eyes are older too.  Eyes sort of work like a zoom lens on a camera when you look from close to far, mine don't zoom because I'm 50.  Seems like when a person turns 50 things fall apart, but not at 49.

I didn't get the transition lenses this time, I had spent time going back and forth from the exam room to the vision center that getting transition lenses wasn't in the order.  No problem I bought clip on sun glasses that so far are working just fine.  I liked the transitions because they would darken up right away when I got outside, but the down side was they would not lighten up as fast when I came inside. 

It took only a week for these new ones to come in, when I picked them up last night I was told to give it about a week to get used to them as the progressive is different from what I had before.  If things don't focus right after a week, I'm to go back and they will fix it.

It is taking a while to focus on the bifocal part, seems like things are very fuzzy.  Right now it is hard to see the computer screen unless I cock my head a certain way.  Reading a book, I can read better without the glasses then with.  I will do as told and wait a week.

My insurance paid 100% on the frames and lenses and all but $4 on the eye exam.  Beginning this year, insurance will pay for sunglasses.  Since I got these in the last insurance year, I can get sunglasses this year.  Going to wait and see how I focus with this prescription first.  If I decide to get the sunglasses, then will talk to them about getting the no line bifocals.