Sunday, October 26, 2014

Return To Missoula, 2014

So as the sun began to set behind the mountains, October 9th, we pulled into Missoula, first our storage unit in East Missoula, and then Kim and Dave's up in the south hills. They are letting us stay with them while we get and move into the camper; and then letting us camp in their drive-way while we get all the other things squared away...which will take a couple weeks. We are fortunate to have such good friends here.
Our first morning back in Missoula, first snow on Lolo Peak
greets us with the reminder that the days will be getting shorter,
darker, colder...

Before anything else, and with the truck still unladen, we drove
up to our old house on Horseback Ridge

We lived in it from 1997, sold it in 2007; it was lived in for two
years, but then has sat empty the last five, on the market but
without a sale; so sad...

First sight of our new home...inspection, demonstration, etc...

Truck meets camper

Finally, after the bank, a couple days of me installing the tie-
downs, the steps, other truck improvements, truck and camper
are together, here in the parking lot at Bretz', one of Missoula's
several large RV dealerships; the first of several trips to Bretz,
and others, for hoses, levelers, "household" goods; much other
stuff purchased mail-order; our chief purchasing officer seems
to be enjoying herself; the big challenge will be getting the
solar power up and going, but we will have some considerable
help with that on a trip to Roundup, MT

Parked at Kim and Dave's; we're really enjoying the camper,
after a week, relatively spacious (for us), quite well insulated,
a galley twice the size of what we were earlier planning on, huge
comfortable bed, storage we haven't begun to utilize...

Typical Missoula residential scene; you'll occasionally see
them downtown, too

Most of our time has been out at the storage unit, reorganizing,
repacking, selling a few things, donating box after box to
Goodwill; here Vicki poses by what we think was our first piece
of furniture, a pine bookcase purchased in Boston in 1970 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Washington, DC To Missoula, MT

Rachel and Will drove us to Virginia to pick up the new truck on Sunday, October 5th, and we drove it gingerly, on secondary roads even, back to their house for packing and an afternoon departure. Destination: our old home town of Missoula, Montana, where our stuff is, and where a Bigfoot camper awaits mounting on the new truck. The highlights of the trip actually were visits with Sandy and Rhett in Frederick, MD, and, the next night, with Joey, Jodi, and Joseph, in Indianapolis. So much good food, drink, and conversation that I forgot to take any pix. Oh well. Our third night was in Charles City, IA, and our fourth was in Spearfish, SD. Over the years, I've traveled between Missoula and DC probably 30-40 times, entirely by air, except for 2003, when we moved Rachel to The Hill. As is our habit, we drove almost always by daylight and rarely approached the posted speed limits. Result: no incidents and 19.3 mpg for our new lightly-laden 6.4L/one-ton truck.
Not the Delaware Water Gap 

Passing through our old home town of Columbus, Ohio; in
the center is the State Office Tower, where I worked my first
permanent, full-time job, at the Ohio Board of Regents

Across the wide Mississippi, we entered Iowa and visited the
world's largest truck stop, on I-80

It was indeed large; this is just a portion of the retail showroom


Ditto again; obviously, we were pretty impressed

Anemic blood moon over Charles City, IA

Pretty pedestrian mall in Mason City, IA; moving cash around
for our two big purchases this week required a stop in Mason
City, the last Bank of America branch on our route; little did
we know, but we now do, that Mason City is really River City,
of Music Man fame; Meredith Wilson was born and grew
up in Mason City, and many of the famous musical's characters
were drawn from his life here

Marian the Librarian poses in the city's central park; "Trouble,
right here in River City," is one of her favorite expressions

Driving past someone's sculpture garden astride I-90 in SD;
slightly reminiscent of Spain...

Outside an utterly classic Montana general store in Broadus

Only in Montana...

A double rainbow welcomes us back to western Montana

Drive time, the old-fashioned way

The aspens and cottonwoods were at their autumn peak in the
valleys; later I'll post a pic of the golden larches higher up
around Missoula

19.3 mpg over 2,400 highway miles (and mostly gaining
altitude and mostly with a head-wind); we were impressed with
the Ram's 6.4L gas engine, more than twice the displacement
of any engine we've had before, plenty of power yet surprisingly 
good fuel efficiency

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

National Gallery of Art, Again

We visited the National Gallery late in 2013, but saw rather more of grand-daughter Penelope than the collection (see For our last day in DC this year, Vicki wanted to see at least one of the sights, and we settled on a more leisurely visit to the National Gallery. It's a museum of which Americans can be proud, particularly its Impressionist collection. Below are a variety of highlights, mostly by artists we've come especially to like. It made us a bit homesick for Europe (!), but we were ready now for a new American adventure to begin.
National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC

Mosaic from Roman Tunisia

Abbot Suger's chalice from Saint Denis

Giotto's Smirking Madonna and Hobbit

Van Eyck's Annunciation

Durer's Lot and His Daughters

Cranach's Crucifixion and Centurion

Tilman Riemenschneider's Bishop of Wurzburg

Bosch's Death of a Miser

Arcimboldo's Four Seasons in One Head (a

Titian's Dannae

A small Claude Lorrain Judgment of Paris

Watteau's Italian Comedians

From the impressive Degas/Cassatt special exhibit, the
American Mary Cassatt's Little Girl on a Blue Armchair

And last, a great archival exhibit on the
"Monuments Men" and the NGA

One of the Monuments Men with the rescued Velasquez
Infanta, which we've seen many times in Vienna, but never
fully appreciated...

Thursday, October 16, 2014

DC Report

Largely because of Vicki's foot issue and the need let it heal, we did not get out much during our 6 weeks in DC. We were not idle, however. In addition to the hours upon hours of research about solar power for RVs, exterior storage arrangements, TV and wifi while on the road, and so on, we also painted and repainted Rachel and Will's downstairs suite...a large great room, galley, bedroom, and bathroom...hard work, especially all the woodwork and doors. But it's done, and we feel pretty good about having made some improvements. As usual, I went for a number of walks in the area, and we also went through the things we had previously stored at their house.

Then, just at the end of September, we got a call from the company that was building our new camper, a Provan Tiger, telling us of yet another delay, this time until early November. It was first scheduled for delivery in early August. Not all the delays were Provan's fault, but, by this time, we had waited long enough, were faced with missing the early autumn time we needed in Montana, and we therefore exercised our option of backing out of the deal with a full refund. No hard feelings--we enjoyed working with Mark Guild and really looked forward to joining the Tiger club--but too much time was being lost.

All this occasioned more priority-setting, planning, research, still more planning and research, and then shopping. Ultimately, we decided on a truck camper set-up, still wanting something that will go off-pavement and in all seasons...a 2014 Ram 3500 4WD crew cab with a 2008 Bigfoot camper mounted aboard. Interestingly, the Bigfoot was in Missoula, MT, precisely where we wanted to be in October (and September)...
The galley in the downstairs apartment became the painters'
studio for a couple weeks

Picking up our new truck in VA; the contrast between working
with honest, straightforward Provan and a car dealership could
not have been more complete