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The next two days were some of the busies and most amazing of the entire trip!

May 20th – Day 3 – Watkin’s Mill Campground to St Louis, MO

Mile 959.4 – I took a wrong turn and as I was looking for a place to turn around I stumbled into a beautiful park.  It was a Civil War Soldier Memorial and was so beautiful with huge trees and flowers blooming everywhere.  There were people fishing in a large pond and others out for their morning strolls.  One older gentleman stopped me and we visited for a short time.  He was very interested in my camper as he had restored a 1969 Airstream.  As I said goodbye he told me “You’re living my dream!”

Sometimes the best experiences you have are the unplanned ones – you get lost, you find a friend.  His words were a boost to my confidence and I think of him and the beautiful park often.

Since I was supposed to be at my campground in Eureka, MO at noon to meet up with friends Wanda & Jon I had little time for getting lost and had to keep going.  I did miss out on a few things I had planned to see – like Watkin’s Mill but that’s OK – it just means I need to go back someday.

Mile 970.0 – OK, I gave in and got on interstate

Mile 980.0 – Bailed off the interstate – I can’t handle the traffic. 

Mile 1027.4 – Into Morgan County.  I miss my kids.  There are turtles everywhere – even in a large puddle at a road intersection – I saw 2 turtles who look like they live there, right in the middle of the road.  Hwy 50 is such a beautiful road!

By noon I had pulled into Robertsville State Park – my home for the next 2 days.  I made 2 passes around the campground as I missed my campsite the first time around and saw 2 little girls who were drawing pictures on the pavement with chalk As I passed the 2nd little girl, the 2nd time around she told me “You’ve already been here!”  I laughed and told her she was right.  She obviously thought I was insane.

I finally found my site and had just backed Nadine into the wonderful wooded site when Wanda and Jon and their dog, Bud pulled up.  Since the campground host was in the one right next to mine I quickly checked in, then popped a couple cold pills, filled my pockets with Kleenex, grabbed my camera & purse, and we hit the town!!!!

St Louis is a wonderful city and that’s saying a lot for someone like me who has never lived in a city – nor had the desire to.  But St Louis has a wonderful feel to it and there is so much to see that one lifetime would only scratch the surface.  It helped that I had 2 wonderful friends to show me around.

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Wanda and Jon are incredible people who love St Louis and want to share it. I was still sick with my cold and should have probably been holed up in my camper sipping hot soup and sleeping but there was no way I was going to let all the wonders of St Louis pass me by.

The first stop was Ted Drewes for one of their world famous frozen custards (known as ‘concrete’ because it’s sooo thick and rich).  Loved it!!!!  Bud does too.  Then we were headed downtown to the Old Courthouse and Arch.

The Gateway Arch visitor center was under major construction (aka – tore to hell) but the Old Courthouse had several of the exhibits set up for us to see.  The courthouse is spectacular in itself but was made more famous for the historic Dred Scott case that was held there in 1856 – 1857 where Scott and his wife Harriet, two enslaved African Americans who had lived for a time in free territory, sued for their freedom.  This case brought national attention on slavery.

We stopped long enough to get my National Parks passport stamped and bought souvenirs, post cards and of course another medallion for the doorframe of my camper.

The Arch is amazing!  Wanda took me to see the movie about it’s construction which was great as I was wondering how on earth people could build something like this.  They started construction in 1962 and finished on Oct 28, 1965.  It was built with cranes that crawled up the sides as they went.

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I don’t know about you but there is no way in Hell I would work up there – 630 feet off the ground.  Unbelievably, no one was hurt or killed in the process even though it appears to be one of the most dangerous jobs in the world.  Do you suppose the men who designed this and built it spent the whole time with their fingers crossed, hoping they had measured right when they laid out the bases?  They must have because the final piece at the very top fit right in.  They even though they had to place it when the temperature was just right – before the sun could heat up the stainless steel sides causing it to expand.

The view from the top including the Old Courthouse.

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I’m such a tourist!  Hahahahaha!

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Hooked together like a string of pearls you can travel to the top (inside) the arch.  Each pod holds 5 people and when full are rather ‘cozy’ so there is no room to freak out and go nuts.  As they travel to the top you could feel the pods adjusting to the curve as they go.  It was great!  And when you get out at the top, even though you can stand upright you see and feel the curve of the room and can look out windows along both sides to see the river and city spread out below.

 

The next stop was the Chain of Rocks Bridge.  This bridge is known for several things:  First – it was/is part of Route 66 just like Ted Drewers frozen custard stand.  Second, it was built with a bend in the middle – probably because the ground on the far side wasn’t stable enough where they had planned to finish it and finally, it was the site of a horrible murder of 2 sisters – aged 19 & 21 which happened in the ’90’s.  It is also close to Ferguson where the riots were going on not so many years ago.

The bridge was set to be torn down after the murders but the people of St Louis rallied to save it.  Even though there is a hitch in purchasing the land on one end of the bridge it is hooked onto a bike and walking path that follows the river and is a beautiful old bridge.  You can almost image vintage cars crossing the river as they traveled Route 66.

From there it was back into the city where I got a tour of Wanda and Jon’s beautiful house then off to ‘the Hill’ which is a wonderful old Italian neighborhood full of sweet brick homes and fantastic Italian Restaurants.  I can’t remember the name of the one we ate at but the shrimp scampi was the best I’ve ever eaten.  The waiter was kind of a gruff old guy who reminded me of my husband (who I could never imagine being a waiter).  He walked up to the table and barked out “What do you want?”.  We had a good laugh over that… after he left.

It was time to head back to my little camper where I took more cold medicine and fell asleep to the sound of rain on my roof.  I woke up shortly after when something hit me in the head.  It didn’t take long to track down a rather large black beetle that was flying around inside Nadine, bouncing off walls in the dark.  We were both glad when he went out the door.

And then it was morning and another fun day filled with things to see and do.

May 21, 2017 – Day 4 – St Louis – 9:00 am Wanda picked me up and took me back to their house where Jon cooked us breakfast.  Then we were off to Busch Stadium and the Cardinals & Giants game.  Jon works for Edward Jones and he was hosting their box that day so we got to sit in some of the best seats in the stadium which has spoiled me for ever going to another game.  Which is too bad as this is the first professional ball game I’ve ever been to.

There was all kinds of food and drinks and you could sit inside, outside or even in between as one wall of windows opened. We ate, we drank, and we cheered our hearts out and we met many fun people from all walks of life.  Wanda also gave me a tour of the stadium where we saw bars, gift shops, kids activities and so much more. We watched the celebration as one of the Cardinals scored a home run and most importantly, we enjoyed the heck out of the game which the Cardinals won  8-3.  Yippeee!  We were given free Cardinals hats when we entered the stadium and Wanda had given me a Cardinals shirt too so I wouldn’t stand out like a sore thumb both of which I proudly wore on the rest of the trip.

And before we knew it, it was 3:00 and we still needed to squeeze in the Missouri Botanic Gardens.

There was no possible way for us to see it all but we did our best.  The Climatron (a very large tropical greenhouse) was hosting an exhibit of blown glass sculptures which were amazing and looked so beautiful with all the exotic plants such as the Carrion Flower (pictured above) that was just beginning to form it’s flower blossom.  which would eventually reach amazing heights and smell like rotting meat.  Here’s a photo I found on-line.  Incredible, isn’t it?

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I can only imagine the smell.

It was so beautiful.  If I lived in St Louis, I would pester these people till they gave me a job.  I would live here if they would let me.  I’m sure we could find room inside one of the greenhouses for my little camper.

The funniest thing was when Wanda pointed to a bright green and blue lizard who was on a metal pole inside the greenhouse.  We were sure it wasn’t real as “it would really freak out the guests” if it was.  As soon as Wanda said that the thing wiggled up the pipe and out of sight.  She was right – it did freak us out.  Ha!!!

I loved the Botanic gardens!

Before taking me back to my camper we toured some of the beautiful neighborhoods of St Louis.  The grand old mansions are spectacular and some can trace their history back to the days of the 1904 World’s Fair when foreign royalty and dignitaries built most of them so they could travel to America and live in the lifestyle they were accustomed to while visiting the fair.  Must be rough, right?  Eventually, the houses were sold and are still amazing – at least from what I saw from the street.  It was growing dark so I didn’t take photos but rather just sat back and enjoyed the view.

We ohhed and awed till it was time to head back:

to my humble little camper where I feel like a Queen & sleep like a log.

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Painted Buffalo robe at Agate Fossil Beds National Monument

And the saga continues…

Day 2 started early.  In the night, I had woke up to the sound of rain on the tin roof but I was warm and dry so I rolled over and closed my eyes.  By morning the skies had begun to clear.

“March 19, 2017 – Friday – 6:00am – I left the campground after a stop at the outhouse.  Everything is so wet here that the toilet paper was like a roll of Wet Wipes!”

I was still feeling lousy but at least the thought of turning around and heading home was no longer as appealing as the night before.  It’s funny how a little sunshine can change your whole attitude.  I tried to turn onto interstate by the campground but after a 10 mile detour through a twisty, residential area I realized two things. 

#1 – the people who live here must not get many flashy campers like mine in their neighborhood.

and #2 – there wasn’t an on-ramp for the east bound lane anyway.  So I turned back onto Hwy 30 until I could find one. 

I usually don’t mind driving on interstate but for some reason that day it felt wild and out of control.  Maybe it was because a semi blew past me causing the cubby door on the side of the camper to pop open and flap like a broken wing till I got pulled over to close it.  Or, it might be because 50 miles down the road the check engine light came on and glowed like a neon bar sign on my dash.  Dang! 

This had happened a couple of months earlier and our son, Morgan had checked it out for me.  He said it was nothing to worry about but 500 miles from home that’s all I could do – worry about it.  So I pulled over, googled mechanics and found Kearney Ag & Auto Repair.  Of course they were totally swamped when I arrived but a very nice man grabbed a hand-held tester and came out to see what my pickup’s computer had to say about the whole thing.  It turned out it was a small problem with the emission system.  The very nice man said the exact same things Morgan had said,  “Don’t worry about it…  It won’t leave you stranded on the side of the road…  It’s a common thing for Chevy’s.” and finally, “Stay out of California because they will make you fix it right away which will cost over $600”.  Then he smiled and said “No Charge.  Have a nice day!” and waved as I pulled out of his lot.  So, if you’re ever in Kearney, NE with engine problems, I would highly recommend this place! 

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I have this photo in my camper – I took it one evening on my way home from work.  There were 2 newborn antelopes that dropped and hid right in the middle of our driveway and I happened to have a camera.

Since interstate travel hadn’t gone well earlier, I decided to stick to smaller roads where I could putz along at my own speed.  My next stop was for gas in a little town on the edge of Nebraska. 

“Mileage 626.7 – There were 2 gals running the gas station I stopped at and they were fascinated with my camper.  I think I saw their noses pressed against the window while I was gassing up.  I went inside to buy some lunch and they dropped everything and sprinted out the door when I offered to let them see it.  They did ask one of the customers who was eating lunch if he would keep an eye on the place while they checked out Nadine though – which he seemed surprised at.”  

I hope he didn’t rob them blind while they were oohing and aweing over my camper.  Nadine was a mess as there were wet clothes and blankets draped everywhere to dry but these gals were so excited by the thought of having a little camper of their own that I wouldn’t surprised to hear that they were the proud owners of their own campers before the end of the week.

By mile 633.0 I was in Kansas.  Kansas is a very friendly state.  I got waved at more in the short time I was there than any other state I traveled through.  It always amazes me how many times you cross a state line, visible only on a map and suddenly, the whole landscape changes.  You’d swear sometimes, that you’d crossed into a whole new world.  That happened on the Nebraska/Kansas line.  One of the first things I noticed were the irises in the ditches.  All of them were a beautiful cream color and I must have hit during the peak of the bloom.  I rolled past one huge clump after another then began to think that these were probably very old plantings as most were in front of old farm houses.  I imagined homesteaders planting the irises as they moved west, settling in this beautiful country far from the loved ones whose gardens the rhizomes probably came from.  It’s a romantic thought and I don’t know if it’s true but you can bet your bottom dollar I’ll be planting cream colored irises in our ditch next spring.

From the sand hills in Nebraska I drove into the rolling hills of Kansas. They were especially beautiful in spring with the huge old trees sending out new leaves and the wide sweeping furrows in the fields showing new shoots – most about 6″ tall.  Kansas farmers are experts at planting every inch possible in their fields while still following the contour of the hills to slow water runoff.  They were beautiful fields with curving furrows that ran in all directions but never once crossed another row.  I would have stopped to take pictures but the roads didn’t have shoulders to pull off on so I tried to be content with enjoying the views that appeared over every hill.  Several times I considered slamming on the brakes and screeching to a halt right there at the top of a hill to snap photos like a crazy woman but I didn’t – not even when I started seeing barns with painted ‘quilts’ on them.  It was great.  There were so many patterns and colors to see.  And then I noticed the spectacular home gardens everywhere.  In South Dakota I wouldn’t dare plant the outside garden till June but here they were well on their way.   And Marysville, Kansas – you people got style!  I loved the large, painted squirrels.  They are everywhere – on street corners and in front of businesses.  They were great, I’m just sorry I didn’t get a photo!

Things were finally looking up, but it didn’t last.  Before long I was back into drizzle and eventually rain.  Since I still had the leak on Nadine’s front windows to contend with I found a hardware store and stocked up on weather stripping and Great Stuff – just incase the weather stripping didn’t work, then spent 15 minutes sealing up the leaky windows.

“Mile 845.0 – Atchison, KS – I was going to stop here for the night but I feel like driving further to see if I can get out of this rain.  I was getting desperate for gas as well but entered town through a residential area that didn’t seem to have many gas stations.  The one I saw was so tight I didn’t think I could wiggle Nadine in.  I decided to pull over and Google one when I saw my sister had sent me a message.  It was still raining hard and the only place I found to pull into was a curb with at least 6″ of water running down it.  I was lost in suburbia hell in the middle of a flooded city, nearly out of gas and afraid I would be washed away!  I was about to panic when I read her message asking if I was OK.  Somehow she knew I wasn’t.  I didn’t have a very strong signal so we messaged back and forth and she started navigating for me – from 800 miles away, which was just what I needed.”

She led me to the nearest gas station where I put over 23 gallons of gas in my 25 gallon tank.  We eventually did get to talk and she had me laughing before we hung up.  As it turned out, the station she sent me to was right at the intersection for the road I needed to turn onto for the next leg of my journey – even though she didn’t know that at the time.  She’s a pretty good navigator – maybe next time I should take her with me!

I had planned to see Emilia Earhart’s house in Atchison but it was so hard getting around on the narrow streets in a downpour during rush hour that I headed out of town, crossed a huge bridge and somehow managed to find Missouri.  I never saw a single sign saying it was the Missouri river I had crossed or that I had entered the state of Missouri but I knew I had.  

Once again, crossing a state line changed the scenery completely.  

“Instantly, I was in heavily wooded country with small hills.  The trees and shrubs are so thick I’m not sure you could even walk cross country.  The roads are crazy – up, down, twists, turns – it’s like driving on a roller coaster.  I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore, Toto.”

“Mile 864.0 – Dear Lord,  I just barely missed running over the biggest damn toad I’ve ever seen.  He was huge and sitting in the road.  At first I thought it was a rock but right before I went over it, it turned it’s head and looked at me!!!!!!!  It was as big as my hiking boot!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

If their toads are that big I can only imagine the size of the insects they eat.  From there it was a veritable Who’s Who of roadkill wildlife – muskrats, opossums, snapping turtles and armadillos flashed before my eyes.  I don’t know if it was because it was spring and the animals were more active or if this ‘Roadkill Armageddon’ was normal but after a few miles it appeared the local drivers may have had something to do with it.  I didn’t know that ‘No Passing Zones’ were just a suggestion but apparently in Missouri they are.  Somehow, after a few new gray hairs I made it to Watkins Mill State Park where I got one of the last camp sites available and managed to back my camper in without mishap. 

I don’t know if it was my hair standing on end, my wild, bloodshot eyes or my never-ending nose blowing that made the manager take pity on me but I got the  better of the 2 remaining sites for half the price.  You should have seen the couple that showed up 15 minutes later and got the last site.  That site was a nightmare.  It was on a hill, turned sharply off the road and it didn’t help that the rig that pulled up was at least 35′ long.  But the old guy driving it was obviously a professional.  His wife stepped out, waved her hand a couple of times (possibly at insects) and the fifth-wheel camper slipped into the angled, narrow, twisted, hillside site like it had angels guiding it.  I swear the trees lifted their branches as it passed.  I was impressed  but exhausted so I was thrilled to get a hot shower, a little supper and into bed early.

Tomorrow…  St Louis.

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  Spring is here.  The bees are buzzing, the pastures are full of new calves and the trees are blooming.  Spring also means it will soon be time to get my campers hitched up and out on the road again and I can’t wait.  If you’ve read my previous post (Sept 2016 – yes, it’s been awhile) you will have seen photos of the major parts of the ’72 Nomad (Nadine’s) overhaul.  But since there are always lots of ‘little things’ to finish I have been working on her most of last winter – whenever the weather was nice enough to be outside.

I have added additional cabinets, hooked up the water tank which is now mounted on the trailer hitch, found her an adorable kitchen sink, finished the cabinet front under the bed and added shelves and storage everywhere I could.  Just when I feel like I’m getting close to finishing I come up with something new to add.

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A home for the fly fishing rods and reels.

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A galvanized sink.

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And the storage space under the bed.

But all of that will come to a screeching halt soon, because in one short month I will be hitting the road to join the Sisters On The Fly for the biggest camping trip I have ever done.  We will be following the Lewis and Clark Trail from St Louis, MO to Astoria, OR.  The trip will take us about 4 weeks to complete and it will take me an additional 3 days to get to St. Louis and probably 4 days to return home from Astoria.  Round trip, I will travel over 4,400 miles but some of the Sisters will have many mores miles than that.  There are 59 Sisters planning on doing the whole trip with more joining for parts of it so it should be quite an adventure.

It’s freaking me out a little bit that there is so much to do before I leave – the work on the camper & the planning and packing.  And of course sometimes I have to wake up in the middle of the night to worry and wonder “What the hell was I thinking?”  But the sun rises and my worries evaporate in the daylight and I remind myself to take it one day at a time.   The important stuff will get done and if I forget something it can be replaced.

There are 13 stops along the way where we will spend 1 to 3 days & nights before moving on and our biggest day of travel is still under 400 miles so I know I can do that.   And if the worst happens and I have to pull out the trip part way I will find my way home with wonderful memories of the part I did see.

We have an amazing lady in charge of the trip and she has lined up hostesses for each of the stops.  These gals have been hard at work setting up fun and interesting things for us to see and do such as a paddle wheel cruise at St Louis, campfire entertainment, social events, catered meals, museums and historic sites, a chance to see the original journals of Lewis & Clark and lots of fun (and sometimes unusual sites along the way) such as Ladies night at the Sip & Dip Lounge in Great Falls, MT where mermaids and mermen swim in the pool behind the bar.  OK, I admit I am really looking forward to this stop not only for the mermen but also for their signature drink – ‘The Fish Bowl’.  I’m not sure what’s in it but I’ll let you know how it is, if I can remember.  Ha!

For now, it’s back to the camper to see what else I can work on.

Happy Trails!

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Hello everyone.  I am sorry for such a long delay between posts but my computer suddenly didn’t like my Word Press blog.  I’m not sure what happened but I put off purchasing a new computer until a well placed lightning strike finished off the old computer and forced me to do something.  Now things are back up and running so lets see what you’ve missed.

First off I quit my job.  It wasn’t what I had planned when I went to work that morning last January but things had been going bad for almost 9 months and it was time to say “enough.”   I was being blamed for everything – even the mistakes my boss was making so it was time to go.  I didn’t realize how stressed I was until I quit and slept for almost 2 months.  But life is good and I am much happier now.

Especially since the birth of our first grandbaby in June.

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Dierk arrived on a very special day – it was my mother’s birthday (and her twin brothers as well) and also our daughter-in-laws grandmother’s birthday.  He’s almost 6 months old now and is full of smiles and moving around more every day.

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Of course the summer wouldn’t have been complete without several trips across the state to see our grandson and even a couple of camping trips with the girlfriends.

The Sisters On The Fly had a big campout at Deadwood this year with almost 100 Sisters attending and 90 campers – some new & some really old.  We rented the entire Fish N Fry campground just outside of town and had a blast.  The campground owners and staff were wonderful and their beautiful campground (with a creek running through it) was fantastic.  I had set up a scavenger hunt in some of Deadwood’s haunted buildings and shared some of the history and stories of this small town.  The Sisters also picked up charms for a bracelet at each stop and when finished had a great keepsake of their trip to the Hills.

There was also a camper tour and poker run where we dressed up as some of Deadwood’s famous Soiled Doves.

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Of course I released my inner slut and bought her a drink.  It was a lot of fun.

I also camped with the local gals a couple of times this year.

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We camped at the Rapid City KOA and attended the Kountry Junking sale at the fair grounds last spring then went to Sheridan in September for “Born in a Barn” antique/repurposed sale.  I bought several fun things and saw lots of stuff I could do with the ‘junk’ we have around the ranch – if only I took the time to do it.

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The bees have also had an interesting summer.  Last winter I failed to put on the mouse guards I had purchased and last spring found 4 hives killed and destroyed by mice.  Dirty buggers!!!  They eat the bees and also make a mess of the honey comb (and honey) in the process.

I have since revamped my hives to include hardware cloth at the entrances so hopefully there will be no more mice problems.  I split one of the remaining 2 hives and the other hive swarmed while we were gone to see our new grandbaby.  Morgan happened to see it resting on the fence and sent me a message.  With a quick phone call that included a lot of begging and pleading on my part he finally agreed to put on my bee suit and try to capture the swarm.  He is about 6 inches taller than me so it sounds like the suit was a little snug.  Morgan did great job but he says he will never do that again!  We passed that swarm onto a friend near Newcastle who had lost both colonies she ordered so she was grateful to Morgan as well.

Even with all the problems we still ended the summer with 3 strong hives and harvested one box of honey – roughly 2 1/2 gals of golden goodness.

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I also met the 2015 American Honey Queen at Bee College in Cheyenne this year.

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It’s been a great (and busy) year and it’s nearly time to start a new year filled with more adventures but for now I better get the Christmas decorations out!!!

Hope your enjoying the winter.

JoAnn

 

 

 

 

 

 

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It has been a very eventful weekend in my little apiary!

Matillda and half of her hive decided Sunday was a good day to swarm.

In the spring it’s common for bee hives to split when they become overcrowded.  The worker bees will prepare for this split by raising a new queen.  They will choose around a dozen eggs which will be fed Royal Jelly exclusively.  This special diet will allow the eggs to grow into fully formed females complete with all the reproductive parts needed to mother a whole colony of bees.  It will take 16 days for the queens to mature in their specially built honeycomb cells which are large and look something like a peanut.  When the first queen hatches she will start making a piping noise which makes all the other possible queen candidates start piping too.  Hearing the un-hatched queens in their cells, the first queen will make her rounds – killing the other queens before they can hatch or fighting to the death of any others that may have hatched before she could get to them.  Common belief is that each colony will only have one queen but it appears that is not always the case.  Studies have shown hives can have 2 or more queens.  Survival of the fittest at its best.  But before all the power struggle for the crown starts the old queen (Matillda) and half of the worker bees will just pick up and leave.  They will form a cluster or swarm somewhere as the scouts venture out looking for possible nesting sites.

Fascinating, don’t you think?

I knew this would be a possibility since both the hives had survived the winter so I had split my first hive – Bee-A-Trix and was getting ready to split the 2nd one when the bees got tired of waiting for me.  So after a morning spent rooting around in the garden, I was in the process of getting cleaned up to go to a wedding – blissfully ignorant of what was going on outside.  At least until I glanced out the window and saw something caught in the fence.

I had just stepped out of the shower and didn’t have my glasses on so at first I thought it looked like one of my poor hens hanging upside down in the fence.  This type of thing has happened before.  Thomas, our turkey tried to fly over the fence one day and somehow managed to get his feet caught in the wire.  He was hanging upside down like Thanksgiving dinner ready to pluck when I saw him.  I’m not sure how long he had hung there but by the time I found him he was totally exhausted and a little ‘loopier’ than normal.  Of course seeing a brown mass caught in the fence – I panicked.  Shoving my bare feet into my fuzzy slippers I ran out into the back yard.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – It’s a good thing we don’t live in town!  I did mention I had just stepped out of the shower, right?

By the time I got close enough to see that it wasn’t a chicken I realized it was a beautiful swarm of honeybees clustered onto the boards and wire of the fence.

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It was exciting and beautiful!!!  I stood there in awe – my jaw slack and agape till I realized I had way too much exposed skin to be dealing with something like this.  I high-tailed it back to the house in a mad dash.

You should have seen the chaos that ensued – a buck naked blur of glow-in-the dark white ranch wife flesh which hadn’t seen sunlight for the last 8 months of the longest winter in recent history!

There was no time to waste.  I was throwing on clothes and gathering bee gear as fast as I could before the bees decided to move on.  Of course this was a long, three-day weekend so all the kids and their dogs were home but thankfully it was only me and the dogs at the house while all of this was going on.

I’m not sure if the dogs will ever recover…

They still look at me funny.

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But at least I’m not writing this from a padded cell which I would be if the kids had been home (or the dogs could talk).

Any-hoo.  I managed to get dressed and find everything I needed before whipping the table-cloth off the dining room table and running out the back door to the shed where I grabbed extra hive parts which I tossed into the back of the pickup.

Since the cluster was mainly on the outside of the fence I had to drive out of the yard and around to the other side of the fence.

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I misted them with a couple squirts of sugar-water from my handy-dandy spray bottle and right away their hum dropped down a notch as they went to work cleaning the sticky substance off each other.  I snapped a few pictures and then just knelt there beside them – watching as two bees waggle-danced in the mass.  I assume they were giving detailed location information for possible new housing they had found.

Right then Hubby and our son, Morgan showed up so I ran to them and asked them to keep an eye on me while I tried to gather the bees – you know – for safety purposes.  Needless to say they were less than thrilled and failed to see how they would be able to help if things went wrong.  It appears I might be willing to run into a swarm of wild bees to save them but I’m pretty much on my own if I’m dumb enough to venture in on my own.  Finally, I talked them into keeping an eye on me (from a safe distance of 1/4 mile) and calling 911 if things went bad.  But I shouldn’t have worried as the swarm seemed very calm.  Even the one bee that found its way inside my shirt didn’t even sting me.

 I tucked the table-cloth over the bottom board and gave them another light spray of sugar-water then using my bee brush I swept the cluster of bees onto the cloth.  Some remained on the boards but the majority of them came off in about 3 swipes.

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Using the cloth, I flipped the ball of bees into the box and then opened one corner so they could find their way in.

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Worked like a charm!!!  It didn’t take them long to figure it out.

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A little bit of wild, gaudy canvas and a box of sawdust on top for insulation and the bees seemed happy to move in.  As it turned out it was just in the nick of time.  I added the top cover as the last of the bees found the entrance & the heavens opened and rain poured down on us.

Matillda and her subjects spent the night right there on the soggy ground but early the next morning I was able to move it to the other side of the greenhouse where it will probably remain.  I think I should add the cover with Matillda’s name on it as this is the old queen from the original hive and I will have to come up with a name for the new queen which will hatch out shortly.

Oh, what will it bee?

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Well, it’s official.  Summer must be here because the fire season has started – right in our ‘back yard’.

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This was the view from our front porch earlier today.  We had heard the lightning hit close by but didn’t even know we were on fire until our neighbor John stopped by to let us know.

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I had to drive down toward my in-laws house before I could get a good look at it.  The lightning had lit up an old snag – a dead tree that had already burned once several years ago when the mountain burned off in one of the previous fires.   It always amazes me that Elk Mt continues to burn even though there isn’t much left to burn.

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Thankfully, it appears every fire department for miles around are ready and just waiting for a call.  We were very lucky to have trucks and firefighters from Elk Mt Volunteer Fire Dept., the Forest Service and the Weston County Volunteer Fire Dept. – they even brought out a dozer (which I failed to get a picture of) just in case things got out of hand.

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But the guys were quick to put the flames out.  Even the horses were impressed.

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Thank you to all our friends and neighbors for coming to help.  We know this isn’t the easiest country to fight fire in and we really appreciate it!

And just check out the four-legged firefighter in this photo…

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That’s Hubby’s horse Smokey earning his name with a chain saw strapped to the back of his saddle.

Thank you all!!!!!

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Merry Christmas

I only have a minute to wish one and all a very merry Christmas! I hope you are spending this holiday season with the ones you love and are able to eat delicious food till they have to roll you away from the table… just like me!
Merry Christmas and all the best for the new year.

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