August 2, 2006-Reedpoint, MT to Newport, WA

After leaving Reedpoint, we drove through some more of this glorious country. The rock structures we keep passing remind me of so many movies I've seen, it's kind of surreal. Looking at this rock wall, I was reminded of the Rock Man in a wonderful little animated film called the Point. Featuring the music of Harry Nillson, this story and it's accompanying music has stayed with me for years. It's a real charmer and if you've never seen it, I suggest you give it a look.

Further down the road, the rock formations changed once again and they were standing up like sentinals. I'll ask you to forgive the quality of some of these photos and remember that they were shot from a moving motorhome!

Finally, we pulled into Florence, Montana to visit my Nephew and his lovely wife, Inge. Inge's parents, Jerry and Yvonne were kind enough to let us park on their land in Florence, about 20 miles south of Missoula.

They live in a wonderful log house, the likes of which I've never seen. It was so warm and homey as to almost inspire me back into the idea of a stick house, but I'm still not ready.

The house was built to be energy efficient and contains a lot of features that, if we ever built a home, we would definitely use. We particularly liked the solar room with skylights and full length windows that open and close for passive heating and cooling.

While visiting, we were lucky enough to be present for a special event. After dinner, Yvonne asked if we wanted to see something really special. Well, of course we said yes. She led us upstairs and showed us her Night Blooming Cereus. I had never heard of this beauty, but what a delight! This plant spends most of its time just looking very ordinary, but once a year, for just one night it presents a spectacular bloom with a heavenly scent. This flower is also known as the Queen of the Night.

While researching this plant on the internet, I found this site, which describes an event called "Bloom Night" in which over eleven hundred people came out when word got out that these beauties would be blooming for just one night! You can read the entire story here.

Terry took these pictures, and we felt lucky indeed! Imagine that we would be there on the one night a year that this plants springs forth with this bloom! Everyone always comments on how lucky we are, and we believe it!

We spent several days in and around Missoula. I was impressed with the architecture of the town. Not only is there a lovely college campus, but much of the downtown area is made up of old buildings (which regular readers of thos site know I love!).

I really liked the back of this old store, with its' remnants of old fashioned painted on Coca-Cola signs.

And it would seem they've continued with the idea of painted murals in the newer parts of Missoula also. This lovely piece is one of a series we saw while walking around the downtrown area.

A good portion of downtown Missoula seems tho be in a state of flux, with many beautiful old homes falling into disrepair and being sold "as is" (but not cheap . . .). We particllary liked this one, which is currently being rented as apartments, while it awaits a new owner.

After our time in Missoula, we decided to spend a week at the Skookum RV Resort. We were still sort of moseying over to Oregon, awaiting our appointment with AM Solar and our friends Michael and Joanne had seen an offer for a free week up on the Pend Oreille River (pronounced Pon De Ray) river, so we decided to check it out.

While we figured that the free week would turn out to be a lot of hard sell, once again, our luck held. It seems there was some kind of legal hold up with Area Two of the development and Area One was all sold out, so after a five minute tour, we were off the hook for a week!

While the park wasn't really to our taste (spaces WAY too close together), it was a nice place with a GREAT laundromat as well as golf carts that you could check out and drive for free! What fun they are to drive. Another nice asset was that the RV Park was right next to the Kalispell Indian Reservation.

After a bit of poking around, we read about an old Holy Spot called the Manresa Grotto, right up the road, so we decided to give it a look see. We took a beautiful drive with the mountains on one side and the river on the other and we reached the grotto. here's a shot of the opening from the road.

We took the short hike up the hill to the grotto, and what a lovely surprise. The caves are large and feature natural air conditioning, as so many of these cliffs do. Apparently, this grotto has been a holy place for hundreds of years, starting with the Native Americans. In the mid 1800s, a Spanish missionary named Father DeSmet named them after a similar cave located in Spain, and the spot has been called Manresa Grotto ever since.

Here's a shot taken from the inside of the grotto looking out at the Pend Oreille River.

The inside of the caves are covered with various sized pock marks, apparently caused by variations in the composition of the rock. The colors of the caves are varied, unlike any I've seen in our travels.

The grotto consists of a small labyrinth of interconnecting caves. We only visited the lower ones, but they kept us fascinated, taking lots of photos.

At one point, we found this set of holes. But for the fact that it was five feet up on the side of a wall, we might have thought that it was an actual animal footprint.

I know I'm showing too many photos of the grotto, but it was just so beatiful, I couldn't resist. The patterns and colors were so unique and fascinating, we truly haven't seen anything else like it.

Here's a shot looking into the main room. Further back, there are stone ledges in front of a small stone altar, where ceremonies were held.

Here's a shot of the other side of the main room.

And here's a final shot, once again looking out at the river. Apparently the whole area was formed by glaciers eons ago. It was certainly unlike anything else we've seen in our travels. If you get to this area, you might want to give it a look.

One thing that made this spot so special was that it's located on a small road in a beautiful setting. It's pretty inconspicuous and chances are, like us, you'll have the place completely to yourself.

As we were heading back to the rig, we spotted this herd of buffalo. The Kalispell Indians raise these on their reservation. While we've seen quite a few of them, they never fail to get my attention.

While we were staying in Usk, we were contacted by fellow Lazy Daze owners, Bob and Joan Phillips, who invited us to join them and a group of friends for an outing at Diamond Lake. Isn't the internet amazing? We broke camp and drove the thirty miles to join them, and what a delightful time we had.

While the actual Diamond Lake is really beautiful, we stayed at a small Thousand Trails Campground called Little Diamond. They had a group facility, hidden away from the main campgrounds with over FIVE HUNDRED spots, all with water and electricity. As there were only five or six of us, we certainly had plenty of space.

I got up early the first morning and drove down to Little Diamond Lake for an incredible morning of shooting photos. I was the only one there and it was just amazingly calm and beautiful.

Here's a photo of everyone at dinner. The campground also included this huge gazebo with power and grills, it was quite nice. This was a great group and we counted ourselves lucky to be included. You'll notice a beautiful young girl to the left (in a purple tank top). She's only fourteen years old, but what a delight. She's bright, curious and most respectful. I have to admit, she was a breath of fresh air from some of the teens we've run into!

It turned out that Stephanie was interested in photography and had just gotten a new digital camera, so I spent some time playing on the computer, showing her a bit of photo manipulation. I told her I liked to get up just before sunrise and go out to shoot, and she said she wanted to come along, so the next morning, thats what we did.

Here's a shot of the meadow at Little Diamond Lake just as the moon was setting and the sun was rising.

The water here is so still, I just couldn't resist taking reflection shots. The sky was just perfect.

And here's a shot I really love of the morning mist rising off the lake.

After a few days, rich with the warmth of new friends and great memories, we headed down the road. We were now leaving eastern Washington and heading towards Eugene, Oregon.

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