Monday, December 31, 2012

a little catch-up

I am a little bit lacking in blog updates lately, and this morning seems finally like the time to do something about it.  I woke early and the house is quiet.  Bob is in Whitefish, MT, this morning, soon boarding the train to head back to St. Paul.  So it is appropriate that I am now showing some of the pictures from our trip to Whitefish about 4 weeks ago!

We decided to try something new for us, and we booked our travel on Amtrak.  This also accomplishes something from my bucket list!  We have traveled by train in Europe, but never here at home.  So when I realized that the Amtrak route runs right from St. Paul to Whitefish (and points beyond), I investigated.  The price was about comparable to airfare.  On the way westward we booked regular coach seats, which as you can see, are a lot more comfortable than an airplane coach seat.  They do recline a lot, allowing for sleep on our 20+ hour trip.  On the way back home we switched to a "roomette", which was a 2 person sleeper room.  That turned out to be way more comfortable.

The train was not full, so we had some liberty with taking up space in adjacent seats if we wanted.  Also made good use of the observation car and dining car.  It was a fun experience.

After reaching Whitefish and reuniting with Dan, we hauled our baggage to our timeshare condo for the week.  One thing about train travel is that you have a lot more leeway with luggage, meaning you don't have to pay for any of it and you can basically take whatever you can haul along.  Which is dangerous when packing because I tend to pack way too much when there is no limit!

Although most of Glacier Park is closed at this time of year, we were able to drive to Lake McDonald for some sightseeing.  It was a beautiful day and only about 6 other people to be found!

The lake below is Flathead Lake, which lies south of Whitefish.  We drove along it on our excursion to Missoula.  I would love to return there in the spring, because along the east side of the lake there are cherry and apple orchards, which would be so beautiful.

I loved the town of Whitefish, it has succeeded in preserving and maintaining a small town feeling while still being a major destination for visitors.  They have a thriving main street, complete with quaint Christmas decorations. 

At the far end of this street, not really visible in this picture, is the train depot.  And the backdrop of Big Mountain with the ski resort is perfect.  I think part of the key to the success of the town is the fact that almost all of the businesses are local, specialty, non-chainstore enterprises.  All of the "big box stores" can be found 12 miles south in Kalispell, so still convenient but not right in your backyard.  Dan's apartment is located just 2 blocks from main street, so very handy to walk to shops, restaurants, taverns, brewery, coffee shop, bakery, etc.  I was impressed by the fact that there were no empty storefronts on either side of the 3-block-long main street.

One really big plus factor in the use of the train system rather than the highway system was very evident on our return home.  It had started snowing in Whitefish the night before we were to leave, and continued snowing all night, all day as we progressed east across Montana, part of North Dakota, and was even snowing when we pulled into St. Paul.  Driving those roads would have been less than ideal, and we probably would have had to change our plans and dates.  But sitting in the comfort of the train and watching the snowy scene pass by the windows was a pleasure!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

fun to look

I have just spent some time looking at a new ezine that you might be interested in.  (Ezine=electronic magazine).  My sister, Jan, seems to have become an online scout for good stuff like this and the video I posted on a previous day.  Thank you!

This is a new endeavor by Amy Butler, one of the most successful, if not the most successful, designers of fabric and fashion for the home sewer.  This is a free look at the ezine, full of many (270) pages of beautiful photography, very few ads, numerous projects to make--some instructions towards the end of the magazine, some instructions to download for a small fee, some others to link to.  Go ahead, take a look!

Click here to visit the ezine!  You can flip through all of the pages and enlarge.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

just a fun fact

Did you know? - On December 13th (that's today!), 1577, the English sea captain Sir Francis Drake set sail from Plymouth, England to become the first Englishman to successfully circumnavigate the globe. Six ships carrying 164 men set out on the 10-month voyage. Sailing through the Strait of Magellan, two of the ships were battered against the rocks and sunk. Once safely reaching the Pacific, Drake found two different Spanish ships and looted them of over 80 pounds of gold, 13 chests of royal jewels, and 26 tons of silver. When he presented the Queen with her half share, it was worth more than the crown's income for that entire year.

Friday, December 7, 2012

out of town...

I have been occupied with blogging over on the Bear Patch blog lately, and enjoying some vacation time in Whitefish, MT.  A beautiful small mountain town, home to son, Dan.  We have so enjoyed our time here, which is ending soon.  And yesterday I wanted to put up some pictures here to show you the cool places we've visited, but I hit a snag with the Picassa web album that houses my blog pictures.  I wasn't even aware that the pictures were on a Picassa web album, but they say I have reached my limit unless I want to pay for some space!  So no vacation pictures to show you until I get that figured out, or maybe I should say until Dan helps me figure it out!  But I do have a video to share, thanks to a heads up from sis Jan--

I found it very interesting to see more about the process of making fabric.  And there is much more that goes into the artistic design, also.  So hope you like it, and hope I will have some photos to share soon! Going to put on my boots and go to the Christmas Stroll in downtown Whitefish tonight in new fallen snow!