Protect America!


Protect America

Originally uploaded by marymompics

I received an email from Planned Parenthood today. They are rallying those interested to send a condom to the Republican Convention to remind them that protecting the health of women is a non-partisan issue.

I like the vision of thousands of condoms arriving in St. Paul. If you’d like to send one (or many), here’s the link.

HOME AGAIN

 Just to wrap up, we left Teton Springs and drove to St. George where we stayed a couple of days.  It was really hot!  We arrived home on Aug. 15.  It was a great trip with new sights, some really good dinners out (even one in St. George), and some new knowledge gained about what works and what doesn’t.

What was best?  I think the Hoh Rain Forest in Olympic National Park was exceptional.  The Butchart Gardens were spectacular and a place one could visit all different times of the year.  The Connor Butler restaurant was a great experience -  great chef, great restaurant, great time.  Learning about the bridges in Oregon was quite interesting.  And, of course, taking this trip with John was the best of all.

So if I had to do it over again?  I’d book king-size beds only.  A working internet is a must.  I’d pack half or less of the clothes I brought.  Having a kitchen is a good thing.  Booking places with owners who manage their own properties is less of a good thing.  And I wouldn’t book places that boast of having a jacuzzi bathtub in the living area.  It’s stupid and takes up the space that a couch should go in (Best Western, Gardiner, MT.)  I’d always bring my own sheets to exchange for scratchy or pill-y ones.  I think I’d leave the chairs and table home next time because we were always able to find a picnic table.

So we are home for a while but we did book a vacation for March today!

Saturday, August 9, 2008 – Victor, Idaho


Idaho tennis

Originally uploaded by marymompics

Doesn’t John’s forehand look great? I gimped around the tennis court for a while and did hit a few balls but mostly John used the ball machine and I took a bunch of pictures. It’s tricky to time hitting the shutter on the camera to get the photo you actually want. I’ve got a lot of pictures of John getting ready to hit or being finished with his stroke.

After tennis we cleaned up and went over to the Teton Brewing Company to sample beer and have lunch. However, they were closed so we went to a local tavern in town, had some chicken wings and then came back and watched TV. Another pretty quiet day.

Friday, August 8, 2008 – Victor, Idaho




Tennis leg

Originally uploaded by marymompics

Not again! The very first time that John and I play tennis on our vacation and I pull/tear my calf tendon/muscle. This is the fourth time! So annoying. So painful. Luckily there is a ball machine here so John can still hit. And even I can hit with the ball machine because once it and I am set, I don’t have to move much. But rats!

In reference to yesterday’s entry about Nathan, he’s been to the dentist and it appears that he knocked the tooth clear out of his mouth – no breakage, no shoving the tooth up into his gum (like Jonathan did), so he’s basically fine except missing a tooth. He was trying to carry a stool down the stairs and fell with it. Ice cream and truck videos seem to have made him happy again.

Thursday, August 7, 2008 – Victor, Idaho


Teton Springs

Originally uploaded by marymompics

This is kind of a hack. The picture of the house we are staying at in Victor, Idaho at Teton Springs was actually taken last year. But we are staying in the same place and we really did almost nothing today so I thought I’d just stick this picture in.

This is a beautiful resort. I’d highly recommend it.

So, let’s see, we went to the Victor Market and bought some vegetables, took a little lie down in the afternoon, grilled steak and watched the results program for So You Think You Can Dance. Sometimes you just need a slow day.

Jonathan also called to say that Nathan fell down the stairs and knocked out his front tooth. We are so concerned. Jonathan didn’t have any details and we are hoping to hear more soon. Like father, like son – Jon knocked out his front tooth when he was two as well.

Wednesday afternoon, August 6, 2008 – Teton Springs


Grand Tetons

Originally uploaded by marymompics

After picnicking at Yellowstone NP, we made our way to Teton Springs. Along the way were many wonderful vistas of the Tetons as seen from the west (non-park) side. It seemed fitting that after seeing the Liberty Cap in the morning, that we would see Tetons in the afternoon.

When we passed through the town of Tetonia John broke into a chorus of “Hail, Tetonia!” Seriously, it’s like living in a town named Breastville.

We also passed miles and miles of potato plant fields. This area is the self-proclaimed “Seed potato capital of the world.” So before checking in we stopped to do some food shopping. When in Rome do as the Romans do, so we bought some potatoes.

Wednesday morning, August 6, 2008 – Yellowstone NP


Liberty Cap

Originally uploaded by marymompics

Last night we stayed at the Best Western at Mammoth Springs. It wasn’t the Best. Our room was next to the guest laundry, had no place to sit since they decided to put the bathtub in the bedroom area, had an air conditioner that worked intermittently and the internet was a joke. So we pulled the plug and decided we’d head to Teton Springs a couple of days early. On the way we visited the Mammoth Springs section of Yellowstone National Park. Here’s a picture of a dormant geyser named Liberty Cap. In the late 1800′s we were feeling more congenial about the French and some guy thought this looked like a cap worn during the French revolution. John made some crude remark about what it looked like and I suggested it might be called Le Cock du Liberte.

The Mammoth Springs area seems to have dried out since we were here last year. The underground water stops and starts due to earthquakes and mineral disposits. What may have been dormant can spring to life. We only visited the northern portion of the park today since we needed to get on to our next destination.

Tuesday afternoon, August 5, 2008 – Butte, MT


Berkeley Pit

Originally uploaded by marymompics

After having lunch at the Uptown Cafe, we searched for the Berkeley Pit. Not too hard to find since it is enormous! And while all the wealth taken out of Butte was a good thing for some people, the Berkeley Pit is now a bad thing for everyone.

It seems that drift mining was no longer economically feasible so in the early 70′s they started open pit mining. The pit got bigger and bigger. Whole neighborhoods were swallowed up by the growing mine. And then, after they decided they got all they were going to get, the mine operators shut the operation down. And they shut off the pumps that were keeping the groundwater out of the mine. In the last 20 years, water has been seeping into the pit and the mine shafts. It is dangerous water full of dissolved minerals. Once the water hits 5410 feet it will invade the water system of Butte. They’ve got about 200 feet left to go. It’s a pretty scary scenario.

Tuesday morning, August 5, 2008 – Butte, MT

 


Geode interior
Originally uploaded by marymompics

Life in our household is divided up. John is responsible for car things, meat and garbage. I am responsible for vegetables, day-to-day finances and planning stuff. So I am responsible for this vacation and activities. Today my planned activities included a trip to the Mineral Museum in Butte, MT at Montana Tech at UM. (The home of the Diggers.)

This was quite interesting. We’ve been reading our “Roadside Geology” as we’ve been traveling along. It makes me wonder what people do on the east coast while riding in the car. There’s no geology there. I guess they must listen to the radio or something. Anyway, Butte is known as the “richest hill in the world” for all the mineral wealth taken out of it – copper, zinc, molybdenum, silver and gold. So a trip to the Mineral Museum seemed an apt choice.

We spoke to a geologist there about the museum. We proudly told him how we read “Roadside Geology.” He seemed unimpressed. But he explained about the rock exhibits, the flourescent minerals dark room and mentioned that they also had an earthquake tracking station. As we were in a brick building, that made me a little nervous. We perused the exhibits and I took a picture of the inside of a giant geode. Good times!

Monday, August 4, 2008 – Missoula, MT

I have several days to catch up on.  The internet connection was abysmally slow in Missoula and then non-existent in Gardiner, MT.  However, I just got the pictures off my camera and find that I have none for August 4th.  So there’s not too much catching up to do.

First a comment on VRBO, Vacation Rentals by Owner.  I booked several of our accommodations through VRBO with the hopes of getting a little more space than the just the usual hotel room.  I’ve had mixed results.  The condo in Eureka was really nice and very clean, the house in Bandon and the one in Missoula were less so.  The condo was rented through a management agency who looks after the property and the others were managed by the owner.  The ones managed by the owners tended to be less clean and were missing vital essentials – like tissues, a hair dryer, or window coverings on all the bedroom windows! Good thing we brought our beach towels along.  Anyway, that’s my word of caution if you are planning on using VRBO for vacation rentals.

We spent the day doing laundry, food shopping, moseying about Missoula, having lunch, going to the Big Sky Brewery makers of Moose Drool, searching for postcards and going down Roller Coaster Road just because it had a good name.  Nothing too exciting so there are no pictures.

Sunday, August 3, 2008 – Sierra Silver Mine

 


Sierra Silver Mine
Originally uploaded by marymompics

Hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to vacation we go. Today we took the Sierra Silver Mine tour. Departing from the Center of the Universe (see next entry), we caught the old town trolley up to the silver mine. Silver mine, however, was a misnomer. This was, as our tour guide, Butch, said, a dud. They started digging it around 1890 when they found a vein of quartz in the rock. Quartz often leads to high grade lead and silver. This vein led not to lead of the high grade quality or silver but to low grade lead. Economically they considered this leaverite – as in leave ‘er right in the ground. Later it was used as a teaching mine for high school students wanting to become miners. (What I would consider a surprising career choice.) And finally a tour site.

Butch showed us lots about mining – putting up supports, drilling bore holes, setting dynamite, and mucking out. When asked if he liked mining, he said it was a job. And since they had no ear protection when he started as a young miner, a job that has caused him to lose most of hearing.

Saturday, August 2, 2008 – Grand Coulee Dam


Grand Coulee Dam

Originally uploaded by marymompics

Dam, that’s big! The Grand Coulee Dam generates more electricity than any other hydroelectric plant in the US. It was one of FDR’s NRA projects started in 1933 and completed in 1941 bringing electricity, irrigation and flood control to Washington. We saw a movie about the building of the dam and the politics behind trying to get it built. Apparently the private electric companies lobbied hard to squash the project (duh).

An interesting side note – in the film they showed the election campaigning of FDR. He was all about taking the country in a new direction and leading the country out of depression with new ideas and hope. It sounded a lot like Obama’s speeches.

Our perusal of the dam was not quite as thorough as we would have hoped. There is a tour that goes on the top of the dam and down an elevator to the generators. A lot of it is conducted outside. On the north side of the dam, though, there was a wildfire and the air was filled with smoke. After about 5 minutes I was coughing so that put the kabosh on doing anything outside.

Rats.

Friday, August 1, 2008 – Border Crossing

Oops, we overslept this morning. I thought I set the alarm for 6 but at 7:30 we were still in bed.  I am a really on time person. So I am feeling bad about the delay but we decide it’s not tragic. We can still get to Winthrop, Washington in plenty of time. Except, except, we didn’t count on the BORDER CROSSING.

Peace brothers

The Peace Arch shown in the picture reads, “Brethren dwelling together in unity.” Yes, dwelling in the unity of unending lanes of cars. We waited two hours to cross the border back into the U.S. Two hours! After spending time in Europe where you cross unimpeded from country to country, this was unbelievable. Crawling along and adding to the greenhouse effect, we were then questioned by the  dour border guy who seemed surprised that we were only bringing back a few presents for our kids. Really, where were the cheap drugs that I get spam about every day?  And seriously, these border guys?  Are they selected for their dourness?  John and I decided they must be put in a room where they are told jokes.  Anyone who laughs is out of contention for the job.

John was near to exploding which made me even more guilty for oversleeping. But we passed through without being searched and headed to our next destination.

But wait, what’s this? While stopping in Concrete, Washington to find a post office to mail Nathan’s postcard-of-the-day we spotted a mural. Check it out below – the tagline under Concrete says “center of the known universe!” Of course unlike the one in Victoria, this is only of the “known universe.” We are visiting one more center in Idaho. It’s really strange how the center of the universe keeps moving.  I guess it’s wherever we are.

Center of the Universe 2