Spokane Valley, Washington

 We drove 376 miles yesterday (give or take) and stayed at a KOA in Spokane Valley, Washington. Originally, we thought we might go all the way to Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, about 30 miles east. Then, we thought better of it. An extra 30 miles today sounded better than an extra 30 miles at the end of such a long haul the first day.

We drove out I-84 through the beautiful Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area. To our jaded eyes (having traveled this road approximately 3 million times), there is nothing to see except trees. However, I did hang my head out the window long enough to snap this image of Multnomah Falls. The image is not very impressive. You'll have to take my word for it, however, that the falls are definitely worth a trip should you ever find yourself in Portland.

Trees pretty much line the road on both sides until you reach Hood River, Oregon, where the landscape starts to clear out. There's a wide place in the river here that is well known for its windsurfing. 

You may recall images of John Kerry windsurfing here during the 2004 presidential campaign. Here's one of the more iconic images of Mr. Kerry.

When you get to The Dalles, Oregon, the landscape is almost devoid of trees, and becomes much more arid.

The Dalles has an interesting place in Oregon history. You can read more about it at that link I've given you.

There is a lot of wind power here too. With such flat land, the wind does blow.

We stopped at a rest stop here to give the kitties a skritch and stretch our legs. Gracie seemed pretty comfortable. We found her sleeping on the bed. Smitty was a little more freaked out and was hiding behind the bed. Recall that the last time he rode in the trailer, he got chased by some bad woofies when he jumped out of the door unexpectedly. Believe me, we're being super careful when we open the door this trip. (Smitty wrote a blog post about his excellent adventure there at that link I've given you.)

And because we're really roughing it when we go camping, we made ourselves some espresso while we were stopped,

and snacked on the pile of cherry tomatoes I picked just before we left.

We crossed the river into Washington around Umatilla, Oregon

The bridge is less than thrilling there,

but you can get a good view of McNary Dam as you cross over. There is lots of hydroelectric power being generated along the Columbia River.

You cross over again near Kennewick, Washington, although this is an area where the river sort of loops back on itself. It heads north in Washington, and ceases serving as the border between the two states.

From there you can look off in the distance and see this really swell modern bridge. (We like bridges as much as we like tunnels.)

From there we traveled up US 395/I-90, which is at the edge of The Palouse. (You can read about previous travels through the heart of The Palouse right here. We traveled along seeing idyllic little farms like the one in the image below.

I posted the image below to Facebook and told folks you'd have to be crackers to live here. Ha! (Sorry to put you through that again, Facebook people. I'll warn you to close your eyes next time by saying, "Caution: Bad Joke ahead." It was really too good not to say it again, you know.)

When we travel through these little towns, I like to pull out the AAA tour book to see if there's any information about the place. The town itself isn't all that remarkable except for the fact that it is just south of the area known as the Channeled Scablands. This is actually quite interesting (to me, at least). I watched a documentary program about it once. This is an area that was essentially denuded of all of its topsoil during the cataclysmic Missoula Floods that occurred when an ice dam burst during the last ice age. If you have any interest in geology, you'll enjoy reading more about this area at that link I've given you. 

When we started getting into the landscape more representative of the "scablands", we stopped at a rest stop to try to get a picture of it. It's an area better seen from the air, but I can show you what we saw. Look to the left, and you see this:

This is just below the town of Sprague, Washington. That's Sprague Lake in the picture. Look to the right and you see this:

I took a panorama of the area, but these end up fairly small. Remember that you can make the image larger by clicking on it.

What I really wanted you to know about the landscape is that it is yet another take on the shapes of valleys and how their formation determines their shape. Valleys formed by rivers are V-shaped, like the Grand Canyon. Perhaps you recall that when we traveled to Glacier National Park in Montana, I showed you how valleys formed by glaciers are U-shaped. Here's an image to demonstrate what I'm talking about:

They look a little as if they've been scooped out with an ice cream scoop. By contrast, in the scablands, the valleys are rectangular in shape, characterized by steep walls and deep flat floors.

We were fairly close to Spokane at that point, and we continued on to our the space we reserved at the KOA before we left home. And there, I was delighted to meet up with Kate, who blogs at Katie Mae Quilts. Kate and I met up just for fun. She was so helpful in giving me information about quilt shops and road conditions in the area, that I repaid her kindness with a jar of pasta sauce.

You can tell which one of us is Kate. She's the one who doesn't look like she's been sticking her head out of a moving car taking pictures of the landscape.

She brought along her two energetic little men, William and Russell (Russell is the one on the right). Russell is just about to start the 4th grade. William, at age 2, is the one who keeps Kate's days from ever being boring. Kate also gifted me with one of her NewFO's for August, this cute cat quilt. Take a look at that fabric that says "I love birds." She couldn't be referring to anyone in my family, could she?

It was great fun meeting up with one of my bloggy friends.

And after Kate & Company left, we had dinner and pretty much collapsed. It had been a long day, and we were hungry and tired.

Smitty wanted me to end by telling you that he wasn't "freaked out" as I reported earlier. In fact, he wanted everyone to know he'd been in Spokane, and so he snapped this selfie.

Oh yes, I included this picture of us traveling alongside the train (sorry about the glare) to remind myself to tell you that campgrounds tend to be built in one of two places: along the shoulder of the interstate, or along the shoulder of the railroad tracks.

During the evening, we could hear a far-away train whistle (horn...whatever), and we congratulated ourselves for choosing a park that wasn't too close to either the freeway or the train. Ha! Around 9:00 the real train experience came when a train rumbled through not 50 yards from where we are. And let me tell you, it was loud and long. Approximately one hour later, it went through again. We wondered if it was going to go through all night long, but we didn't hear it again. I'm not sure if that was because it didn't come along, or because we were so tired we were sleeping like logs. In any case, I just wanted you to know that the freeway/train track rule still applies.

Before the day is out, we will have traveled in three states. And with that, it's time to get moving.

September Progress Report and Goal Setting

Quilting and Flimsies

1. Quilt and bind Joseph's Quilt. I sandwiched this quilt months ago, and I'm determined to finish it in August. Complete!

2. Quilt and bind Happy Campers. I need to have it finished before we take off on our trip on August 31st. Complete!

3. Finish the quilt top for "Hello Moon". No Progress. HOWEVER, I changed my mind about this project mid-month. I started looking at my list of projects, and I've decided to work from the oldest forward. With that in mind, my oldest project was the Gardener's Journal. I've been feeling a yen to finish it, and so I set my sites on that project as my finished top for the month. And how did I do? Close, but no cigar. This one is In Progress. It'll have to wait until we get back from our trip. Here's how it looked when I had to stop for the month. Just the borders are left to do.

Monthly Challenges

4.  I'd still like to make the project I had planned for the monthly "Let's Book It" challenge last month.

 My goal from July was to make a project from this book:

And that goal is Complete! Here's my project:

5. Start a quilt for the August NewFO Challenge:

The quilt I listed as my July NewFO way back in December of last year was this "Sunny Trio" table runner from Patrick Lose. It's been on my list literally for years, and I'd still like to get started on it. Maybe I'll make it in August. No Progress on the Sunny Trio, but I did start something new when I attended the Association of Pacific West Quilters Symposium in Tacoma earlier this month. And so that means this goal is Complete!


6. It's tempting to end my list right there, but I'd really like to finish the next door for the Doors of Ireland quilt. It's been on my to-do list for a long time, and it's time to get it finished. No Progress.

* * * * *

As for my September goals...here's something new: NO GOALS!!!

I'll be traveling all month, and so there's no point. It can only serve to stress me out. I'm not taking my sewing machine, but I am taking some embroidery. I suppose I could set a goal to finish another embroidered quilt block, but I'm not even doing that. I'm just going to enjoy my vacation and pick up on my sewing when I get back. And by the time you read this, I'll already be on my way...somewhere in Montana, no doubt.

I'm blogging all the way, as I always do when we take a trip like this. I hope you'll follow along because we're going to have a good time. We're going to meet some good friends from Blogville along the way, and I'm looking forward to that. Have a good September!


August NewFO Linky Party and Giveaway

2014 NewFO Challenge

Well, I hate to point, but it's the last NewFO Challenge of the summer. Yep, I'm afraid it's winding down. If you've been following along, then you might know I'm on my way to the Great Lakes Region as you're reading this. But I'm never one to disappoint my favorite party-goers, and so I left the lights on for you. Just lock up when you leave, will ya'? Thanks.

So this month, we're playing for everybody's favorite (or everybody's favorite to hate), good ole Sunbonnet Sue.

If you win, and you're along the dusty trail, maybe I can even deliver her in person! What are the chances? Well, the chances are significantly higher if you link up to show us your new stuff for August. Here's what I did.

First, the Red Sunflower I made for Sharon's "Let's Book It" challenge. This was all done with the fancy stitches on my sewing machine. And that's a finish, unless you consider the fact that I forgot to put a backing fabric on it.

As some of you astutely pointed out, it's a wall hanging, so I guess the wall counts as a backing. It works for me!

Also, this abstract little marvel I made when I was attending the Association of Pacific West Quilters Symposium in Tacoma at the beginning of the month. I got my NewFO out of the way fast, when I made this little thing on August 2nd. If you're interested in reading the painful process I went through to get here, you can read my blog post about it right here.

And after I got this home, I decided I was looking at it all wrong. If you turn it this way,

it's a meteor crashing to earth...and those are green fields off to the right...and that's somebody's idea of a wonky rooftop and round chimney...or whatever. A bail of hay with a red ball on top? I don't know. It's abstract, what can I say? Feel free to chime in with your own ideas about what it is.

So that's it for me this month. I had high hopes for a table runner, but the tomatoes have had me on the run getting them cooked down and processed. Sewing has had to take a back seat to canning.

Now I'm ready to see what you started during the month of August. Here are my simple and friendly rules. (Yeah, rules, baby.)

1.  Please link-up with your newly started projects from August, finished or not.  If you feel like it, show us the progress you've made on any other previously posted NewFO projects.

2.  Please link back to this post from your blog.  Also, please link to your blog post, not your blog.  Links to entire blogs will be edited.  Links provided for the sole purpose of promoting other events or shopping experiences will be deleted without apology. Please do not link to your Etsy shops or other giveaways and/or promotions you have going on your own blog. To be clear, it is okay to link to other events, but I want to see your NewFO's as a part of your post. 

3.  Don't have a blog?  Upload an image to this FlickR group and link to that.  If you have questions about how to do that or about how to link up, please email me.  If you're having trouble posting your image, email it as an attachment, and I will be happy to post it for you.  Please know that it takes a bit for your thumbnail to appear, so don't despair.  It will appear eventually.  You might need to "refresh".

4.  Obviously, I need some way to contact you no matter how you link up.  No email address and no other way to contact you equals no entry in the giveaway.  Email me separately if you need to.

I'll leave this linky party open until one minute before midnight on Saturday, September 6, 2014. Winner of the Sunbonnet Sue lapel pin will be announced on Sunday, September 7, 2014!  We will ship anywhere in the known Universe, so everyone is welcome! (Fine print: Delivery not guaranteed to extraplanetary participants.)

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'Twas the Night Before...

The quilt was hung by the bedside with care,
In hopes we soon would be sleeping there!


A Day of Lasts

Today I canned the last of the tomatoes.

Thanks to Dasha who convinced me to try red tomato chutney for the last of this season's tomatoes. She sent me her recipe, but as a dumb American, I couldn't get comfortable making the conversion from metric measurements to whatever it is we use here. Even though I studied it and figured it, it ended up seeming like an awful lot of vinegar, and so I resorted to the recipe in one of my favorite preserving cookbooks, Marisa McClellan's Food in Jars.

The chutney is so delicious and sweet. I wondered if it wouldn't be so similar to salsa as to be indistinguishable, but it is completely different. It is thicker and sweeter. It should be good served over eggs or on sandwiches, but it would also be good just spread on toast, like jam. Yummy. I'm so glad I gave it a try. Of course that just means I'll need more tomatoes when I do my canning next year.

And I'll just say right here that I am terribly disappointed in the plums. They have not done their part, which was to ripen on time for canning. How difficult can that be, Plums? Huh? Sadly, I'm afraid we'll miss the plums this year; although, at the rate they're going, they may not be ripe before we get back.

Mike installed a fancy schmancy different kind of hitch on the fifth wheel last night, and so he drove it to work today just to make sure it went down the road okay. And that just meant there was no way for me to do any packing today. Boo. Hoo. (Not really.) It gave me a chance to work on the last block of the Gardener's Journal quilt. And I finished it!

(I didn't get it laid out very flat for its picture, did I?) Anyway...I sewed it to the rest of the quilt, and there it is...all the blocks are sewn together at last!

And that is the last sewing I'm going to do before we leave. That means the quilt still needs its borders, but I'll save that for when we get back.

Thanks to all of you who gave me your opinions about the inner border. When I went to the fair on Tuesday, I had time to stop off at a fabric store. And I should have known that the Universe would have the last word about what color it would be. When I went into the store, I was still undecided about what color to use, and you all were pretty evenly split on which blue was best. Armed with my swatches, I ended up with this pretty turquoise batik. 

There was no royal blue that I was happy with, and so I decided it was going to be turquoise. I've used this batik in a quilt before, and I was sorry I didn't have any left. I ended up buying some extra so that I can use it in some future quilt. It's such a pretty color.

And that would make this my last blog post before we leave. Tomorrow will be crazy busy with packing, and so the next time you hear from me, I'll be miles away from here.


Keep Calm and Pack On

Things are starting to get hairy around here...and I'm not talking about cats. Today felt a little like a rat race running around getting things done in time for our Sunday departure, while trying to stay sane at the same time. When it comes to sanity, I'm a terrible multi-tasker.

It was supposed to be a canning day, but I had an appointment for a pedicure at 11:00 a.m., and so there wasn't really enough time to do both. (Yes, a pedicure. A girl can't go off on a month-long trip without first getting her toes done, now can she?) So, instead, I made dinner for tonight. The recipe I made for Turkey and Artichoke Stuffed Pasta Shells in Arrabbiata Sauce makes enough for dinner tonight, but it also makes enough to freeze. We have out-of-town guests staying the night with us the week after we get home. Now, dinner is made for tonight, and for when they come! (I'm telling you, the woman is always thinking.)

And since none of what I'm about to tell you has any pictures attached to it, I decided to whet your appetite for the trip with some images from trips gone by. Consider this your picture interlude.

The Three Gossips, Arches National Park

After that, I took two king-sized comforters (one from our bed at home, and one from the bed in the trailer) to a laundromat and used their big 75-lb. capacity washers to wash both of them. Between washing and drying, that little task took me about an hour and a half. I've been collecting change from different pockets when I do the laundry at home, and I managed to find about $15 in quarters in my little change jar collected over a period of years. There was still a bunch of pennies, nickels, and dimes in the jar, and so I took the rest to the grocery store where they have a change counting machine. Now here's where it happened to be my lucky day.

So I've never used the change-counting machine before. I had a choice of getting a cash voucher, for which the machine would extract nearly 11% as a fee. Or, I could choose to take it in a gift card for no fee. I decided on an Amazon gift card, since Amazon is my shopping mall of choice these days. (I know I'm supposed to be mad at them over the whole e-book pricing thing, but they are so darned convenient for the recluses among us.) Anyway...the machine went through the process of counting the coins ($10.99 to be exact), and then I waited and waited and waited and waited while the machine was "processing my request". Finally, I asked one of the store employees how long it was supposed to take. Well, she didn't know, but not as long as I'd been standing there. She called over a manager who pushed a couple of buttons. Then the machine said "technical difficulties" and it gave me the cash voucher with NO FEE! Whoo Hoo! That's what I wanted all along! I needed a couple of things that I forgot to pick up yesterday, and so I paid for my groceries with my cash voucher and walked out with some change in my pocket. I think I actually had a spring in my step at that point! (But only in my left foot because it would make my right knee hurt to spring.)

Here's another picture interlude:

Jenny Lake, Grand Teton National Park

So then I needed to go pick up my car at the auto body place. Someone backed into me recently...not my fault, and a story not worth going into. I've been driving a rental car since Monday. That all went off without a hitch except that I left the garage door opener in the rental car when I turned it in. When I got home in my own car, I went looking for the garage door opener, and I was surprised when I couldn't find it. When I walked in the door, I was all set to call Mike to ask him where it was (since he took the car to the auto body shop to begin with) when I found a voice mail message on my phone from the car rental place. Yes, they had the garage door opener. Oy. Fortunately, Mike works right across the street, so he'll pick it up before he comes home.

As I'm writing this, I have some potatoes boiling for mashed potatoes. Since I don't have to make dinner for tonight, I'm making Cottage Pies for dinner tomorrow night. That makes enough so that we can have dinner tomorrow, and then I'll put the rest in the trailer to eat on our first night out. We always drive a long distance the first day and neither of us is up for cooking. Cottage Pies or else Macaroni & Cheese are our go-to first-night-on-the-dusty-trail dishes. Put it in the oven. Wait. Eat. Easy.

Tomorrow morning I'll can the rest of those tomatoes. I keep checking the plums, but they are still so hard and bitter that I'm starting to believe they won't be ready before we go. Oh well. Such is life. Our neighbors can enjoy them while we're gone.

So I'll give you one more picture, and then I'll leave you.

Crater Lake National Park (Yes, it's really that blue.)

Before I go, however, I just want to say that Smitty and Gracie are never very happy when they see the trailer up close to the house and mom and dad scurrying around. This never works out well for them.


Link-ups Galore

If I don't have time for any other blogging today, at least I have some time to join in the parties. There are lots of parties going on in Blogville this week.

First up:

Val's Quilting Studio

The first of this week's archive categories is "Flying Geese". I'm sharing the True Hope quilt that I made for my cousin Rebecca. It was inspired by a quote from Shakespeare: "True hope is swift and flies with swallow's wings."

You can read the blog post I wrote when I finished this quilt right here.

The second category is "Flowers". Well, I have just the right quilt for this, and it's been a long time since I showed this quilt on my blog. Thanks for the opportunity, Val. It's the Checkerboard Flowers quilt, a favorite of Blogvillians:

This quilt was entered in the first International Quilt Festival of Ireland. You can read the post from many moons ago when this quilt was finished right here.

So I'm trying not to get tipsy from all the drinking I'm doing at these parties...nah, you know I'm kidding don't you? I'm not really trying. The next party is:

When I attend a party, I bring dessert:

You can read the post where I bake up this yummy peachy goodness right here.

And after all that partying, I think it's time to relax with a good book right here:

For this month's challenge, I worked with the fancy stitches on my sewing machine to make this "Red Sunflower" quilt.

From this book:

And you can read the post I wrote about the process of making the quilt right here.

So, that's all the partying I'm up for. Time's awastin', although to quote the famous Sigmund Freud, "Time spent with cats [and all of you] is never wasted." Nevertheless, the tomatoes are calling to me: Come and fulfill our life-long dreams of becoming salsa! When the tomato calls, one answers.