U of M

We stayed one night in Missoula, on our way North to the Flathead Valley.



UM Forestry. Anyone know what this contraption is for?


The last ten words tell you why you’ve never heard of her.


Every university campus must have a few buildings that remind us of the 20th century period of American architecture dedicated to ugliness. You think this is bad, you should see my old high school, and jr. high. and elementary. 

Right- early 20th century. Center- early 1970s. Left- late 1990s attempt to return to beauty. 


Four years ago I came here with my daughter and older son, and we hiked up to the M. The weather is clearing…maybe I’ll take the twins up too.

Now the sun is shining on Mt. Sentinel!



Looking south down the Bitterroot Valley, where we did the workaways with our 2 nice host families. 

While we’re on the subject of tough women- this lady was made of iron. We were coming back down from the top, still above the M (which is about a third of the way up to the top of the hill), and up comes this mom with her daughter in front, and son on her back. The daughter looked about 7 and the son 9 or 10. He was a cute, smiling kid, who I’m pretty sure had a disability and couldn’t hike himself. This is a steep hill- good workout. It’s hard enough even without a backpack, let alone a big, unwieldy nine year old. She was struggling with the load but super determined. A mother’s love. Good going, lady!

Part of UofM campus, airport and train tracks heading west. 

Next: Flathead

Painted Rocks

Thank you Terwilligers for a fantastic time!

Time to head north to the Flathead Valley, via Missoula!

Gotta say goodbye to Clint, too. 


Clint is a character. I gave him one of my books and he came back again and again until he had the whole set. Only 8 yrs. old but he talk, walks, and drives around his 4-wheeler like an old hand on the ranch. He likes to pop in in the morning at the T’s goat ranch for breakfast. Mr. T has a special place in his heart for Clint. I said, “Pretty young to be driving that 4 wheeler.”  Clint said, “Yep,” nodding “and I’m only 8 yrs. old.” 

Then Mr. T said, “You started driving that thing when you were seven!”

Clint put his elbows on the table, clasped his hands, rested his chin on his hands, looked wistfully out the window, and deep in thought said, “You’re right. I did start driving this when I was seven.”

Can this kid pose or what?

Out at the lake. Some fathers fish with their kids.

Others make them do homework.



Spillway to the west fork of the Bitterroot river. Lots of good ol’ boys float down this river and fish. Beautiful country.

Next: pit stop in Missoula and a nice hike.

wifi connection

…is too slow to upload pictures.

We had a nice hike in Missoula.

We’re at a campground near Flathead Lake.

I’ve been offered a summer job- night shift at the gas-n-go! Free coffee I’m assuming.

Prospects for the lads, too! Minimum working age out here is 14, so O and A are overjoyed.

I’m gonna stop promising future posts. If I get the unlimited wireless package on my smart phone, or miraculously find decent wifi amid the endless shutdown, I’ll post pictures and commentary. People are a little more touchy around here than they were in the Bitterroot. We stopped along the road to admire a beautiful sunset at Flathead Lake. “HEY! WHO ARE YOU GUYS? WHATTYA DOIN’ DOWN THERE!” shouted a guy on a huge porch from his mansion on the bluff. We could only hear each other if we screamed.




Long pause as Homer up on the bluff had to think a bit.



Then the greeter at the Wallmart. “ARE YOU GUYS GOING THROUGH THAT DOOR?!” (the exit door)

“No, we’re headed for the entrance.”


“And then the SWAT team would have emerged?”


“Which door?”


“What? Is there something in that door?”


She had me there. Don’t mess with the Wallmart greeters; they’ll outwit you every time!

Last days at the goat ranch


Allen milks.


Me and Daisy


Allen thinking, do I want to shovel poo or play with the chickens?


…opts to play with the chickens. (Where’s yur jeans and boots, city boy? Note cut on right leg– when he failed to wear his jeans the other day. 14 yr. olds! Yes, he had his tetanus shots.)

If you are planning on going somewhere and your car door or hatchback is open, Daisy will jump in and claim her normal position in the cockpit. She may be a Montana mountain dog, but she’s not picky- she’ll ride shotgun with you, even in a Prius with California plates!


Terwiliger Mess Hall. It is here where I made my taco dinner twice, a Mexican chicken/lime soup, and an unbeatable Waldorf salad (I go for the easy stuff.)


The day before we leave, Allen and Owen finally graduate to the 357 Magnum. The hills and dales echo with a joyful sound.


I think local farmers put up the cash to make a real nice library in downtown Darby. If we’re in the area in winter, I plan on doing a little fireside reading. Something region-appropriate like Zane Grey or Noam Chomsky.


Darby Library


It aint the old West if you don’t have a wanted sign up (dead or alive will be just fine with Wil Wilkins).

Spotty internet for the foreseeable future- sorry! I’ll do my best to find connections (presently at the Arby’s where my two for 6 bucks sandwiches are getting cold).

Next: camping by the lake which feeds the west fork of the Bitterroot river. 


My kids’ grandfather, Hideo Tomaru, died just the other day. He was a hard-working air-conditioning and refrigeration mechanic/installer. Loved baseball- nightly devotee of the Yomiuri Giants. After a hard day of work he loved to come home, plop down to dinner and a couple Kirin Lagers and watch the ‘kyojin’. Salt of the earth type working man. I’d say he was a little skeptical when he found out his second son-in-law would be an American, like his first! but he was always good to me, and in his last, difficult months at the old-folks center he seemed pretty excited to see us when the grandkids, Fumie and I showed up. He was very good to Una and Keenan when they were little ones, and he enjoyed hearing about Owen and Allen’s soccer, basketball and judo exploits. 

Fumie says he was a pretty good athlete when he was young. “Very strong and fast.” I can see Hideo’s speed in Owen, and his strength in Allen. 

Rest in Peace, Jiji! 

fond farewell

Allen’s packing was delayed by the cat.

The Hollingsworth kids (minus the youngest, who was busy), came out to say goodbye. Great kids! Dig that tree.


The day before our departure, it was cold and rainy. There was new snow in the hills. As I write today it’s supposed to get up to 85. Montana weather!



Fog coming out of the misty mountains. A couple good ol’ Bitterroot Boys looking down from the woodpile at the California Prius parked on Irony Lane. 

We’re returning to the Terwiligers for a second stay. We’ll be putting up a ceiling in the camper van, shoveling poo out of the goat n’ chicken barn, and doing various stuff in the yard and garden. I love the Bitterroot! From Missoula to Sula, it’s supa!

Next- the promised day trip to Salmon, Idaho. (Idaho and Montana vie for mountain beauty bragging rights! 

blog break

Hi y’all. The news is we shoveled multiple layers of poo today, both petrified and still-gooey, and spread around some nice, dry hay. The barn smells much better. Other than that we put a ceiling panel up in the trailer- working against gravity while hammering nails and holding up a heavy board is a pain, but we got that job done too. Then I made a waldorf salad (pro tip- forget the mayo- just use greek yogurt).

Can’t upload photos so stay tuned for more posts soon.


Hollingsworths 2…

and the joys of disconnectivity


Sorry, missed yesterday’s post, because actually we’re back down at the Terwiligers for a second stay after a second stay at the Hollingsworths! The H family has super fast wifi (for these parts anyway), and the T’s have internet too, but not fast enough to upload photos, which leaves me without easy prompts and motivators for commentary. I’m not writing a book here- too busy.

Also, I’m getting no phone reception out here in these hills around Sula. This means little contact with outside world while at the Ts. Suits us fine, though. We’ll get back in contact with the world and catch up on all the news about our terminally ill nation when we get back to the metropoles of Hamilton and Missoula. 

meanwhile, a couple pics of us back at Hollingsworth’s. (I uploaded these photos out on a drive, in site of a surveillance cell-phone tower.)


The H’s have all the tools you need to put up wire fencing. Especially handy is the fence-puller whatchamajig (standing next to the post to the right of Owen) and the 4-wheeler buggy with winch. 

Downtown Victor on a rainy day. It got cold, too, with snow in the foothills (you never know in the Montana springtime). Why is it that nothing modern matches the classic, attractive and stately architecture of years gone by? Gehry and Roark can go jump in a lake. And check out the clock and telephone booth on corner. I bet the local hoodlums wouldn’t think of vandalizing or graffitiing this building- maybe those who graffiti the local 7/11 side wall are in part making a silent protest against ugliness. 

That’s all the photos I have today. We had another splendid time at the H’s. Good food. Moderately hard work. Cards and conversation in the evening. Thank you, kind Hollingsworths!


Next: Sula farm life and a fantastic hike outside of Salmon, Idaho.