grandson mason

grandson mason

grandson jaxson

grandson jaxson

Saturday, June 30, 2012

22-30JUN12 - Sultan, WA

Our drive from Bonnie & Steve’s on 22JUN12 was through rain storms that continued all the next day; even knocking out power in the area. By Monday the 25th we finally got a break in the weather & began working on outdoor projects. Unfortunately Dan pushed his luck with the tractor & got it stuck all the way up to the rear axle! At least once or twice a year we get the tractor stuck (or hung up on a stump) & usually get it “free” by ourselves. No such luck this time, & we needed Marty our tractor guy to come by & winch us out the next day.

We spent 26-28JUN laying down a major portion of deck planks on our big front deck. At the same time Dan began building a “test” bench on our STD (small test deck). Remember being taught about the dangers of spontaneous combustion in school? We are using a natural rosewood oil to seal the deck. We left the oil soaked rag on the deck in the sunlight. Thirty minutes later Dan came outside & smelled smoke? He then barely noticed the rag giving off wisps of smoke. The outside of the rag looked “normal”. Only after he picked it up, did he realize how hot it was & the inside was charred black!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

18-21JUN12 - Kittitas, WA (via glasgow & missoula, mt)

Monday, 18JUN, somewhat recovered from all the wedding activities, we got an early start from Ed & Elaine’s for the trip back to Sultan, WA. Having experienced the pleasures of driving on the secondary roads in North Dakota destroyed by the thousands of semis supporting the oil drilling boom in ND, we decided to stay in Canada as long as possible before re-entering the USA. So we crossed the border at Ambrose, ND, & immediately got grilled about why we were crossing the border at such a remote location??? After explaining that we were looking to avoid oil field traffic, we were informed that we were going to be in the heart of heavy semi traffic & bad roads!!! Thankfully the Border Patrol agent was wrong & we sailed thru Williston, ND, without problems!

After surviving ND we overnighted in Glasgow, MT. As we set up camp we discovered that the right rear leveler wouldn’t go down or retract. This is the leveler that we had worked on at Camping World back on 16APR; obviously they didn’t fix the problem! Thanks to the poor economy there no longer is a RV shop in Glasgow anymore; so we made arrangements for a tow company to try & solve the problem at 0800, the next day. Dan mistakenly left all the wood blocks & steel pry bar under the leveler that night; & the air bags leaked air & settled on the wood & steel. But when we started the RV & the leveler mysteriously worked?

Tuesday was not pleasant drive thru rainstorms & wind; but we ended up safely at the same RV park outside Missoula that we stayed at on 02JUN on the drive to Canada. Wednesday was a much better weather & drive, arriving at cousin Bonnie & Steve’s by mid afternoon. But first we had to stop at 50,000 Silver $ in Haugen, MT (a Ryan family tradition described in our previous BLOG) for breakfast. We were pleasantly surprised to find gas prices had dropped 30 cents (!!!) in the ten days we had been out of WA state! Gumbo was extremely happy to be back on the Kiesel farm in eastern WA state & celebrated by rolling around in road apples. After setting up camp it was time for a great meal cooked over an open fire. See BLOG link for our last visit with Bonnie & Steve.

Late Thursday morning, 21JUN, we took Steve & Bonnie’s boat & headed to the Columbia River. After launching the boat the first stop was for lunch at a location called “sand bar” (that’s it, just a sandy beach with no amenities). While there we were treated to 25 or so Big Horn Sheep wandering down from the cliffs to eat the tender young foliage on the bushes & drink water. Cousin Steve being a licensed Master Hunter with WA state, said this was a very rare occurrence! Dan circled around the herd for photos & was treated to a young ram coming up to within 15 feet of him. A truly amazing sight for everyone!

Then we motored up the river to Crescent Bar. The below BLOG details how the long time residents of Crescent Bar are trying to keep their little slice of heaven from being swallowed up by high price condos. At the end of the day it was leisurely cruise back to the boat launch. When we got back to the RV we discovered Gumbo was not pleased about being left alone & had shredded several newspapers & magazines all over the floor!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

08-17JUN12 - Sprucewoods, MB, Canada (wedding bells are ringing)

Thursday afternoon, 07JUN, set up camp on Ed & Elaine’s after the “wonderful” drive we had thru the oil field activity of North Dakota detailed in our previous BLOG. Every couple of years we visit Corrie’s relatives in & around Brandon, Manitoba, Canada. Usually this is tied into a reunion or special event (like a wedding). This time its Corrie’s brother & wife’s, Ed & Elaine, marriage of son Jason Riesmeyer to Katelyn Miller. See below BLOG entries for our last visit to the Canadian side of the family back in SEP09.

Since Ed is now fully retired, he was available the next day, Friday, to help Dan make some repairs to the RV. First up was a more “permanent” temporary repair to the engine exhaust which almost caused the RV to catch on fire when we left Rebecca & Raymond’s back in MAR12. First they discovered the muffler shops in Brandon could not bend four inch exhaust pipe. Eventually they found a four inch tip that Ed could weld to a piece of four inch pipe he had in his shop. The last step was to attach both exhaust pieces with stainless steel pipe clamps that will outlast the engine. Next up was fixing the generator exhaust hanger that we fixed three years ago.
Later that evening the four of us headed to a neighbors house for impromptu party. Just like in the states there was plenty of good food & drink, along with good company. One thing that was different was the launching of fireworks after the sun set. Seems fireworks are sold all year in Manitoba, & it is not unusual to fire them off at parties, receptions, etc.

Saturday was a family surprise party for Alie, Corrie’s half sister. Most of the Riesmeyer family was there, including a couple of “new” nieces/nephews we hadn’t met previously. Again there was good food, drink & company; but since this was a daytime affair, there was no fireworks.

In between parties we assisted Ed & Elaine with preparations for the wedding on Saturday, 16JAN. On Tuesday, 12JUN, Tuesday, Ed took Dan to Shilo the Canadian Armed Forces base where Ed used to work to visit the RCA Museum, Canada’s National Artillery Museum. This is a very nice museum tracing the history of artillery corps in Canadian History from the first royal British units sent to Canada, to today’s modern mechanized Canadian units.

Trivia – what country had the third largest navy in the world at the end of WWII? What does the poppy flower & the poem “The Flanders Field” have to do with Canadian “Gunners”?

Meanwhile Corrie was running-around visiting various relatives who we hadn’t seen at Alie’s party and/or weren’t going to see at the wedding. Dan kept himself busy by helping Ed by trying to stay out of Ed’s way as he worked in his shop (more like a small industrial facility measuring 20ft by 40ft!).
Friday, 15JUN, was the wedding rehearsal, which we did not attend but Ed & Elaine had to. Since Ed & Elaine were hosting the wedding party for food & drink after the rehearsal, we assisted by heating & preparing the food, setting out drinks, setting up the buffet, etc, right before everyone arrived after rehearsal; more good food, drink & company; but no fireworks.

We forgot to mention the wedding was going to be an outdoor affair. The entire week since our arrival the weather had been pretty “iffy” for any outdoor event. Saturday, the day of the wedding, we awoke to a moderate rain; but one hour before the wedding the weather broke & the rain did not return until one hour after the wedding. The wedding was in the small town of Wawanesa, Manitoba, overlooking the Assiniboine River. Turns out Wawanesa was the birthplace of one of the largest Canadian insurance companies; & once a year there is a corporate meeting in town in the company’s old building.

The reception, dinner & dance were held at the Junior Ranks Club on the Shilo base. It was a great day & evening with lots more good food, drink & company; but again no fireworks! One interesting thing at the reception/dance was the serving of a midnight meal right before the party broke up. Apparently this is a Manitoba (Canadian?) law that requires the serving of food & coffee for late night functions that involved the serving of alcohol. We know food & coffee will not sober-up someone who is already drunk, but it can’t hurt. Besides you know Dan, he is always ready for more food!

Sunday, Father’s Day, we all recovered from the wedding & preparing for the wedding! But there was one more event – the opening of wedding gifts by Jason & Katelyn. So it was back to Wawanesa for the event; & more food, drink & good company, but still no fireworks. Finally it was back to Ed & Elaine’s to just relax & slowly get the RV ready for tomorrow’s departure.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

01-07JUN12 - Enroute Manitoba (with 2 days in great falls, mt)

Friday morning, 01JUN, we departed Sultan & start eastward on US 2 toward Sprucewood, MB, Canada, (eg right outside Brandon, MB). We were doing this because Corrie’s nephew, Jason Riesmeijer (or in English – Riesmeyer) was getting married & there was also a surprise 70th birthday party for Corrie’s half-sister Alie. So Dan’s plan was a “reasonable” drive with a two day stop in Great Falls, MT (more on this later). The first stop was Spokane, WA; staying at Fairchild AFB FamCamp where we had stayed back in JUN08 (see below BLOG entry). This time there was no sightseeing in Spokane.

Saturday morning we were on I-90E. During the drive we had to make a “traditional” Ryan family stop at the world famous 50,000 Silver Dollar Bar, Casino, Motel, Restaurant and all around tourist trap in Haugan, MT (Exit 16 on I-90). Four generations of Ryans have made it a point to stop at this establishment any time they were traveling on old US 10, now I-90. For some reason people have donated silver dollars to the bar & they are then displayed for as long as the donor leaves them there (the bar does not claim them, they belong to the donors forever?). Our last stop here was also in JUN08 & is detailed in the above BLOG entry. We then overnighted on the outskirts of Missoula.

Sunday was scenic drive on US12 to Helena then I-15 North to the FamCamp outside Malmstrom Air Force, Great Falls, MT. The AFB is where Dan & family lived for the better part of 1967/68. Entering Great Falls on 10th Ave S, Dan remembered this was where he had his first car accident on the last day of Driver’s Ed! After setting up camp it was on base to the Exchange & Commissary; & a quick tour to find 4110A Dogwood St; the Ryan’s old base house. Once again the old housing was being torn down & being replaced. It appeared that the Dan did not remember the numbering system correctly & we could not find a 4110, but we did find a 410?

Monday morning, 04JUN, it was off to the Post Office for our mail; & then a walkabout on Central Ave. Lunch was at the Top Notch Diner, in business since the late 1950s. Then it was a drive along River Dr (south bank of the Missouri River) back towards the AFB stopping for photo ops at Black Eagle Dam & Falls, Rainbow Dam & Falls, & Crooked Falls. There were five falls in close vicinity to what is now the city of Great Falls. The first “Europeans” to visit the area & document the falls were the Lewis & Clark Expedition (more on this later). Now there are five dams, but four of the falls still survive. Back in the day the river bed below the falls would run dry around August, & Dan & friends would hike down the river banks to go swimming in the remaining pools of water; ignoring the signs warning that water could be released from he dams at any time! Now the river is fenced off with warning signs that violators will be arrested. Next stop was Giant Springs State Park (used to be a city park) & the Roe River (Trivia – what river does Guinness list as the world’s shortest river?)
Last stop for the day was the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center. This is a fascinating museum dedicated to the entire three year history of the Expedition; not just their harrowing portage around the five falls of the Missouri River in what is now known as Great Falls, MT. Lewis & Clark had been told of a “great fall” by the Native Americas that they would face further up the Missouri River. They believed the warning & planned one day to portage around one great fall. They were very surprised to find four more falls upper river of the “great fall”! It took them over three weeks to portage 18 miles! Like we said the museum covers the entire history of the Expedition from its commissioning to their “recognition” by the US government upon their return. But as you follow their history chronologically thru the museum, the opposite walls depict the culture of the various Indian tribes they encountered & how these Native Americans viewed the Expedition (& why they didn’t rob them, take them prisoner, or even kill them). We returned to the RV for dinner & learned the local area was under tornado watch & therefore did not go out anymore.!ut/p/c4/04_SB8K8xLLM9MSSzPy8xBz9CP0os3gjAwhwtDDw9_AI8zPwhQoY6BdkOyoCAPkATlA!/?ss=110115&navtype=BROWSEBYSUBJECT&cid=FSE_003798&navid=150000000000000&pnavid=null&position=BROWSEBYSUBJECT&ttype=main&pname=Lewis%252

Tuesday morning it was off to THE Great Falls at the base of Ryan Dam, & Ryan Island Park. One interesting thing on Ryan Island was a small building with very old Magic Chef electric cook tops? Apparently the idea was for people to drive all the way out to the island (we’re talking ten miles on rough roads) to see the “latest” technology being demonstrated by the local public power utility. Then it was on to the Charles M Russell Museum complex. CM Russell is a very famous “western” artist, primarily known for his oil paintings; but he also has thousands of water colors, along with bronzes. He lived in St Louis until he was 16 & then headed west to be a cowboy. He was there to see the last of the great buffalo herds, the loss of Native American heritage & lands, & even the reduced role of cowboys as cars replaced horses. As in most art museum dedicated to one artist there were also many other “western” artist represented; some contemporaries, some modern. In additions were several galleries devoted to Native American artists; including a very moving gallery about the cultural significance & value of the buffalo to the many Native American tribes throughout America (buffalo used to roam all the way to New York state & almost to the Gulf Coast). Sadly the European attitude to the buffalo was expressed by Gen’l Sheridan – kill the buffalo, kill the Indian!

Then Dan took Corrie back to the RV to rest, & Dan went to the Malmstrom AFB Museum. While there the docent discovered Dan & family used to live on the base & gave him a copy of the 1968 base directory that showed that the Ryan family did live at 4110A Dogwood St. The museum is dedicated to the Minuteman missiles & control systems that have been the primary function of Malmstrom since the early sixties (in fact the runway has been decertified because there are no longer any AF squadrons assigned to Malmstrom). Dan’s father was a computer tech in BLDG 500 (still the major control center) known as SAGE (semi automated ground environment). Back in the day the entire first floor was a 650 ton computer that was the “largest” computer ever built! It had less computing power & memory than your cheapest digital watch! It took this computer over two minutes to determine altitude, course & speed of a radar contact!!!

After rejoining Corrie at the RV it was off to Eddie’s Supper Club in business since 1944 for dinner. The steaks were pretty good but don’t order the chicken liver. That night was more bad weather, but no tornado warnings.

We had planned on three days to drive from Great Falls to Sprucewood, Manitoba; but decided to driver further every day & get to her brother Ed’s & wife Elaine’s house in Canada in two days. So the plan was driving over 350 miles on Wednesday to get to Williston, ND. So we started in high winds on scenic Montana highway 200 heading for Williston. The high winds did die down, but unfortunately we did get a major crack in our window & someone missed a fork in the road adding one hour to the drive. For some reason Williston sounded familiar to Dan, but he couldn’t remember why? Turns out Williston is the center of major oil drilling going on in ND!!! There are literally thousands of semis carrying supplies to the hundreds of drilling rigs, & as a result, there are no overnight accommodations for RV’ers within a hundred miles of Williston. We even got kicked out of the WalMart parking lot!

So at 10PM we finally found a gas station that allowed us to park overnight, & got some sleep after 14 hours since getting on the road. The next day we then discovered that the thousands of semis have destroyed all the secondary roads in NW North Dakota. The state is trying to repair them as fast as they can, but with their harsh winters the construction season last only half the year. Anyway after almost losing our fillings, we finally made it to Corrie’s brother’s early afternoon on 07JUN!