July 26, Seattle to Black Hills

The last time I wrote a travelogue we were in Albuquerque visiting my daughter Shannon. While there Riley and Dresden took a ride in a hot air balloon and Alyssa visited for a week.

Riley & Dresden go for balloon ride

Alyssa at Japanese Gardens, Albuquerque

Since then we have visited in Tucson with Randy and Ginny, and spent some time in the Phoenix area where Keith was living. He and Riley took a week's motorcycle trip up to the Mogollon Ridge while I stayed in town. I got to spend a day with my granddaughter Channie, who lives in a nearby town, which is always a pleasure.

Ginny & Randy on Mt. Lemon

Riley & Margie

Keith at Mogollon Ridge

Keith at Carlsbad, CA, beach

We then went through California visiting Lara and her family in Escondido, grandson Sean in Tehachapi, and Eric in Aptos. Keith joined us in both Escondido and Aptos. [Aside from Riley: While in Escondido, Keith and I wanted to go flying so we went over to the Palomar Airport and I got my biennial flight review from an instructor, making me legal to fly as pilot in command again for the first time since 2001. I'm hoping to get checked out in a two-place airplane when we return to Escondido (see below) so that Margie and I can go flying again.] When we left Aptos, Keith settled into an RV park in nearby Santa Cruz and hasn't left. Looks like he plans to stay in the area a while since he likes the weather there better than Phoenix.

Captain Cleric driving the boat on Dixon Lake

Ashley enjoying the ride

Keith & Eric at Seacliff State Beach

Eric with new grandson Jacen

Our next stop was Seattle for what we thought was going to be a fairly brief visit, but my doctors changed all that. Turns out my right retina had begun to detach which meant immediate eye surgery to reattach it, and my orthopedic surgeon said it was finally time to fix my back and set that surgery up too. Between the two, there was no leaving town. Both surgeries went well and follow-up visits showed I was healing well. During the seven weeks we were there, we stayed at Roxanne's. After the back surgery, we moved from our RV into her downstairs bedroom so I wouldn't have to climb in and out of the RV bed (over the cab). It also meant I didn't have to attempt stairs for the first week or two, but provided stairs that I could practice on as my physical therapy progressed. Staying with Roxanne was a real help and it was very nice to have that option. Roxie is a good sister, as is my sister Gaynell, who also provided me with a lot of much needed emotional support. Gaynell had a birthday party for Thad and we had a pleasant time visiting them, Alex and Gabe & Jenefer and their children. The only person we missed was Alex's wife Olivia. After spending as much time with Roxie and Gaynell as we did, we have really missed them now that we are traveling again.

Julian, Jenefer & Aubrey

Alex & Gabe in Gaynell's backyard

Even though we spent almost two months in Seattle, we seemed to spend most of our time on my recovery. I found the best place to walk was at the mall--no rain, always pleasant temperature, with smooth and flat terrain. We ate a lot of lunches there too. Although Riley and I are back to doing some outside walking, I still prefer the mall for both longer distances and times.

After Seattle, we took off to the east, coming through Idaho on one of our favorite highways--Highway 12 from Lewiston through Lolo Pass to Missoula, Montana. Such a beautiful road and such beautiful rivers--the Clearwater and the Lochsa. We then stayed in Glacier National Park for almost a week, before heading for the Black Hills of South Dakota, where we are now. We stopped at Devil's Tower National Monument campground for one night, taking the hike around the base the next morning, while it was still cool. As we entered South Dakota, we came through the Spearfish Canyon, always scenic and with surprising weather this time. It was 90 degrees while we hiked around at Roughlock Falls, then as we left a hail storm passed through and temperatures dropped to about 65 degrees; a little further down the road and temps were back up to 90. We've taken two motorcycles rides since getting here, near Custer and Custer State Park. One up through the Needles Highway and one up the Iron Mountain Road to Keystone. We were happy to find that my back could tolerate riding on the motorcycle, though the trip to Keystone was about my limit. (I don't think we'll try to use the motorcycle to go to Rapid City as we have done in the past.) Both these rides are through beautiful country, and of course, going to Keystone we got lots of views of Mount Rushmore. I'm not sure what it is, but the Black Hills have a very energizing effect on me and Riley too. We both love it here and wish we could stay longer. We had originally planned to stay here a month, but with the long stay in Seattle that option was out as we need to be gone by the first of August. One, we don't want to be here during the annual Sturgis motorcycle Rally when RV park prices go up, and two, we need to be in L.A. by August 18 for Riley's 50th high school reunion. On our way to the reunion we'll pass through northern California to visit friends (in Penn Valley) and family (in the greater SF Bay area).

Two Medicine Lake, Glacier NP

Devil's Tower, Wyoming

Shortly after the reunion, we plan to settle down in Escondido until it's time to go to Albuquerque to share Christmas with Shannon and Dresden. We are even planning to look for an apartment in Escondido and quit our full-time traveling. We picked Escondido to start with as we have so many grandchildren in the area.

Back when we were last in Houston, I put my house there on the market. It has taken some time but I finally have a contract with a buyer for closing on September 10th. I hope nothing happens to make it fall through. With this sale, Riley and I will be totally out of the business of owning homes and are both glad for it.

Love to all,
Margie & Riley

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