Darby, Montana, state #43. Rock Creek Camp. Another big delay…


My sister reported a dream that she had to me. I had a very very tall handsome boyfriend. We were there with mom who was in bed and very frail. He shook her hand and pulled her out of bed onto the floor. My immediate response was, it was God taking her to heaven. God is my very very tall handsome boyfriend!! What more could a girl ask for.

The vet called back last night but my phone didn’t ring. I got the message this morning. He was willing to come at 11pm…darn. I spoke to him this morning, he’s on his way to do “cow work” but can come by this afternoon. So I’ll stay another night, no big deal. The overnight texted me, then called. She is on a cruise in Alaska but there are people at her place and she has room for me. She told me to ask the vet about a life time brand inspection (mine is annual). She said Montana is very tough about paperwork so its good I am not trying to go today. She told me a lengthy story about how the brand inspection is a bunch of junk. One of her horses got mixed up with a neighbor’s since they looked similar so she thought it was missing. The neighbor’s horse got shot and for a while she thought it was her’s that was dead until she saw that it was shod (her’s are barefoot)…anyway, her horse went to a sale barn but couldn’t be sold cuz the brand inspection didn’t match, but they never called her to say her horse had been seen even tho she had reported it missing to them. Anyway, that was the jist of the story then her cell phone battery died so I’m not sure how it all turned out.

So today we went to the cafe for lattes and breakfast burritos (which were awesome). It will be a leisure, paint, rest day now and my back says whewww. Tomorrow will be the long haul. I’d like to drive around and get a feel for the town itself here, maybe drive by some of the real estate listings. It would be so nice to get a place and rent it out for the next couple years before I am ready to move here. But I really can’t buy anything until my divorce is settled. I wonder how long I am supposed to accept this financial limbo…one of the first things I am doing back in CA is having a heart to heart with my lawyer. I have come to believe that he just doesn’t want my case so hasn’t done anything.

2 of my wonderful kids looked at house rentals today (in CA) with a realtor that I set up. They found a 3 bedroom that they liked and I spent the rest of the day filling out forms for it. In triplicate (CA law says you have to fill out all this info for any resident living there over 18 whether or not they are financially dependent). It involves a major credit check as if I am going for a big mortgage, just rediculous I think. And since the divorce is still pending I am considered married to someone who has a horrible credit rating plus I got stuck with two household debts after I left him that went into collections. My rating probably sucks now too. What ever happens happens, but I was getting almost giddy thinking of the prospects, looking at the photos of the house and imagining me living in it with my 2 angels. It is very exciting. I needed this year break (and healing) to realize that everything that I really needed was right under my nose and that God will take care of me even when the future looks black to me.

I now see that the day delay because of my vet papers expiring was a good thing, I needed the day set in one place to take care of this stuff quickly. Everything happens for a reason.

I finished the SD painting and started the MT one. We went over the route for tomorrow and got ready to leave in the morning. The very nice vet came and did my health papers.


Man it was a long day. 300 miles took almost 8 hours. We had a 1/2 hr horse break half way and stopped for gas and Walmart groceries a little later. Most of it was country highways, some on I-90 (which is under construction and was annoying and slow) and the last part on a gravel kind of washboard road. It was a pretty drive once we got in MT.  But the rest of WY was disappointing, very flat and dry. The owner of the overnight is on a cruise in Alaska and I spoke to her a few times on the phone. She said she wishes she was here to meet me. After meeting her ranch hands and hearing about her I wish she was here too. What a colorful woman she must be. Raised in WA, moved to MT, a trainer/farrier/hunter and I don’t know what else but a real adventurous sort it seems. She now has a disease that has slowed her down considerably and the place is showing signs of unuse. There are a lot of animals here, 5 dogs and quite a few horses and mules including 2 foals and a shetland pony. Many pens and a few barns. The view is expansive and mountains line the horizon on all sides.

On the way here Liza called dad. He sounds bad, but it may be the pain meds doing that I hope. He asked us to both come. I called him when we arrived so I could speak to him too but he didn’t answer or return my calls.  I am less than 300 miles from the ranch in Idaho where I am leaving my mares when I finish the trip. We could go there tomorrow and drive to Boise for a flight to FL Tuesday. I don’t know if its that urgent or not and its causing us both anxiety. Its not like him to request our visiting. We have no info from the doctor or him other than him saying a few weeks ago that he could have 1-2 years left. This is a big change in attitude. But if he wants me there I will go. SHLEP can wait. The kids can move into the rental with out me being there. Its not how I planned it but nothing has been for some time now in my life. Surprisingly I am pretty calm thru all this up and down. I have a very strong sense of peace, that I am in God’s hands, that everything happens for a reason, that I will be ok.

My back was beyond sore when I got here. I took a pain pill, 2 advil, iced it and just laid down moaning for a while. I’m ok now tho. The mares seem fine. One of the hands, Ace (unusual looking but handsome I must say), attended to them very sweetly. He helped me turn around in a difficult situation and cleaned out my trailer too. He lives 90 miles away in a place called Annaconda (why would they name a town this??!!) but stays here in the summer. There is also a dog sitter here who is a yoga instructor I think. And a few others. Ace offered to take me to the riding on state land here if I wanted to ride. Most likely we will continue on to the camp in Darby tomorrow but its tempting to just stay here and bag Darby (its primitive and no trail maps and no running water “nearby” after Sunday, oh, that’s today, when they shut it off).

I ate some fried chicken that we got at Walmart (its getting to be a regular haul day dinner and I love fried chicken), showered and am going to bed. I really wish I knew how dad was, I am ready to abort the SHLEP but I wish I knew more about what is going on…

Tomorrow my oldest son turns 24. Wow, time flies. It was such a different life, I had so many dreams then…


Happy Birthday Brad!! I love you so much and miss you too. Its been almost 10 months since I saw you, way too long for me. I am so proud of the young man you have become.

First thing I did this morning was text Brad. Most of my communications with all my children is by texting. I miss talking to them but this is how they do it now…

We left the MT overnight at 9:30 after finally speaking with Yvonne, dad’s caregiver. It is not “urgent”, I think he just misses us, is scared and lonely. Not “just”, I know that’s a lot, its just that he is not going to leave us any time very soon. Liza will fly from Seattle next weekend there. I can finish my SHLEP, take the mares to Idaho, drive to CA and set up the rental home for us, then go to FL. That will be the end of October.

Honestly, the thought of aborting the trip was appealing. I have had several moments in time along this journey where I wanted to abort. Whether I was just too scared or insecure or thought it was just stupid to continue, what’s the point? It was a dumb idea…My back was killing me lately and it would be a reasonable reason to quit, or postpone the completion till spring. But that is not happening.

We are in  Montana camp and I am so glad we came (even tho I had serious 2nd thoughts about it). Every state we go to I like better and better. We are on Lake Como that (as Liza said) looks like one of those cheezy poster prints. The mountains climb steeply and super high out of the sides of the lake. It is surreal looking, with jagged tops. The lake is 7 miles long. At our end is a stone dam and a sandy beach on one side and a boat launch on our side. It is mostly shallow at the edges and Tommy had a blast in the water. Once back in camp he commenced digging to China and has gone from a super clean dog to a filthy one again. I’m sleeping in my sleeping bag tonight cuz he’ll get the bed all dirty. The only amenities here are a outhouse and a huge handicapped mounting block. And the tie rails which are really nice double bar ones. Some sites have standing hay racks too and all sites have a picnic table and fire rings. The camp is set in the woods so there is plenty of shade and most are pull thru sites which I had no trouble getting into (I am 50’ long bumper to bumper).

We met a couple camping here. They moved over here from the regular camp which closed today. They said it had been full till they shut off the water and electric and closed it yesterday. They live 15 minutes from here, lucky ducks. They come here all the time. I picked up a real estate magazine at our rest stop in Wisdom (population 100) and we browsed thru it. Montana is reasonable and you can get a lot of land for your buck. Liza is talking about getting a rv and spending the next 2 years investigating where we will get something and maybe live together after my children are launched.

There are 2 horse trailers here but no sign of life over there, either day riders or they went into the backcountry packing. Another truck came by that was leaving and gave us their firewood so we made I think my 3rd fire. I found a half burned log where there must of been either a huge bonfire or an old slash fire and threw it in on top. It still has not caught fire. I am out in the dark around the dying fire, Tommy is at my feet snoring. Liza has gone to bed early. The drive wasn’t too long so I am feeling ok (back wise), I finished the WY painting today too.

The mares started the weed free hay that I bought for MT. They seem to like it a lot. I started out tying them to the metal tie rails but decided to put up the electric fence after a few hours. They were just fine tied, but WF likes to roam around a lot and Dreamy’s legs will be better off if she walks around more. Plus I will sleep better…Tomorrow I will do 2 rides, taking them out separately. I only have one ride day. I decided to shorten this stay instead of calling all the follow up camps to add the day I lost waiting to do my health papers (which no one has even looked at, not a single MT crossing weight station was open and there is no ranger here at all to look at them or inspect my hay bale strings). Oh well, better safe than sorry, right?


I woke up at 3am, ugh. I just wasn’t tired any more. I laid in bed enjoying where I was and cuddling with Tommy. At 5 I got up and tried to make coffee without waking Liza, but she did wake up and didn’t complain. It was a relaxing morning, eventually the sun came up and I worked on Wildflower’s feet. I am frustrated again with her feet. The hairline crack at 12:00 is threatening to appear again and I thought I had it under control. The Easy Boot gloves just do not fit her right now, that’s why we ripped 2 at our last ride. I ended up booting her with the Epics instead and we took off to the other end of Lake Como at 10. We took a wrong turn for a bit and backtracked to the right way. Its a lovely ride, pretty rocky, cut into the side of the pretty big steep slope of the lake. We went down to a beach (the water is way down this time of year, its used for irrigation of ranches, which creates sandy beaches on the shoreline). We crossed a stream leading into the lake that was coming off the hillside over big boulders. Eventually we got to the very other end. There is a waterfall there! I love waterfalls. I had heard from a camper here that one side of the lake is for horses but the other side is not. I wasn’t sure if the bridge over the waterfall was safe for horses so I turned around there. It was a long way down and not worth an accident. We were out for 3 hours.

I am having a pb&j sandwich and am going to saddle up Dreamy in a minute for her ride. I think I’ll go a different way. Its a long day of riding but we leave tomorrow and I want to ride both of them here, its so beautiful. And its a tradition at this point too. Her feet are looking so good it won’t take me as long to get her ready and she is such a dream to ride.

Now I know I have said this before…but I want to live here. How am I ever going to make up my mind? There are so many great places to live and ride in the USA. Too many choices.

I took Dreamy out the back way and ended up on the other side of the lake, the non-horse side. It was pretty along the way to the beach, we crossed a nearby stream which I didn’t know was there (it would be good for watering horses here, there is no running water at the horse camp). It has gotten quite warm, in the 80’s. The trail turned into a paved path which was ok for a while, she had boots on and once in a while this is actually good for her legs to walk on. Then it got to be a dirt path that kept crossing some big rock slide areas. She was stumbling some, but I think it is her normal buddy sour going out stumble. Tommy was with us and he seemed pooped. So we turned around after 1-1/2 hours and came back a similar way. She wasn’t stumbling coming home at all…so her ride was shorter, 3 hours but she did a lot of trotting and a little cantering. She seems fine but a little tired and hot. The altitude is around 4500’ here too.

I have no cell service obviously and am anxious to find out if we got the house in Pasadena. I really hope so…

Tomorrow we have an overnight in northern Idaho, then Washington where Liza will leave me again in Seattle.


Today was an intense day. I ran out of horse water overnight. I filled a bucket by lugging teapots from the living quarters out to them. It took a lot of trips since they drank it as I poured it. So then I took them to the stream not far from us. I loaded them up and pulled out of camp at 9:30. The last turn was about 90 degrees and there was not much room to swing wide. I was preoccupied with not hitting a tree on the right side and felt a bump. I said Whats that and looked in my left mirror…to my horror I saw the trailer tires ON TOP of a 2-1/2’ high boulder at the corner. There was no time to stop and that wouldn’t of helped anyways…BAMM. The amazing thing is the tires did not blow. The bad news is that it had ripped off everything in its path including the septic valves and pipes, the aluminum protective trim covering the generator conduit and of course the conduit was shredded in several places. The back “c” frame corner was crunched too. That had been replaced last year from the gas station apron incident. I couldn’t believe it, how could I have let this happen. I was so mad at myself. The horses seemed fine and all the doors opened. The support “T” beams had dog-eared corners now but the axel didn’t appear touched. A ranger came by and helped me by breaking off the remaining aluminum strips and told me where there was a feed & tack store in the next town who would know where to go to get it fixed.  I drove very slowly there with my flashers on. They gave me the name of a trailer repair place in town. Liza also called the campers we met that live here and they told us the same place and that we could put the horses at the fairgrounds.

The owner of S&S Body Shop inspected the damage and said the floor was not compromised and that it was travel worthy. He couldn’t touch it for at least 2 weeks. I mulled over my options. I could go on without a generator or using any water or toilet in the LQ. My next stop, an overnight in ID had no hook ups. I was 150 miles from Challis, ID where I have a friend that boards my daughter’s retired horses on a 200 acre ranch. This is where I was planning on bringing the mares in 3 weeks. (I can’t afford to keep them in CA where I am heading when SHLEP ends. I am going back to CA to spend the next couple of years with my college aged children. Then I want to find my country home for my horses and other critters and me).

We got to Challis in a few hours, and Keith helped me unload stuff and get them settled in. Jack, the owner, is out of town which explains why he didn’t return my paniced calls all day. I unhitched the trailer in the school bus turn around on the dirt road and headed to town to a B&B I had stayed at before. No one was here but the door was open. I called the number, left a message and waited in the pretty yard playing with her kittens.  She let me keep my dog in the elegant room. She is at base camp right now (they run an outfitting business as well) but will be back late tonight.

And the day ended amazingly! I got a call from the Pasadena house owner (the one I am trying to rent) and after a long chat she said I have the place! I am on cloud 9 with anticipation and we can move in in a week.

You can wake up and think its going to be a normal day and BAM…your life can change so fast when you least expect it. I am trying to shift gears from camping and all that planning and physical working and driving and dirt and doing without and sweating and living in a 12 x 8 space (and riding in some spectacular places and meeting some wonderful folks too) to making a loving home for my children (without my horses sadly tho). It is overwhelming, but I am so eternally grateful for the loving care that God has provided for me. Finally. I feel like a whole person again. Thank you, thank you, thank you. What a wild ride it has been.


The last 48 hours have been a whirlwind of activity and haven’t given me a moment to get upset. I am in a Motel 6 with my sister, dog and cat. The mares are at Jack’s place in Challis. They can join the herd on 200 acres after 2 weeks quarantine. The trailer is at Bish’s in Idaho Falls awaiting an estimate and insurance adjustor visit. I am dropping Liza at the Salt Lake City airport today to go visit dad who is doing poorly. I then drive towards southern CA where I will stay at a friend’s house until I can get into the rental in Pasadena. The moving company will move my stored stuff in later this week. Everything I could fit in the truck bed that was in the living quarters is in big black trash bags under a tarp.

Last night I could not fall asleep. I cried for a long time. I miss my horses already. A lot.

overnight stop

overnight stop

overnight babies checking out Wildflower over the fence

overnight babies checking out Wildflower over the fence

IMG_9148 IMG_9149

Lake Como is a little smokey from an ID fire

Lake Como is a little smokey from an ID fire

IMG_9158 IMG_9162

WF on a beach

WF on a beach

a log foot bridge

a log foot bridge

big waterfall, this is just the top of it

big waterfall, this is just the top of it

WY painting

WY painting


on Dreamy

on Dreamy


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