Archive for June, 2010

Across Wyoming and Home

June 29, 2010

On the road again
Just can’t wait to get on the road again

Well, we’d better be. It’s 12:30 PM Thursday, June 3. We’re pulling ourselves away from Ben’s house in Boulder, Colorado, with a 600-mile trek ahead of us (most of it across Wyoming) to make it home to Idaho Falls.

It’s about an 11-hour drive, depending on who’s driving. Which, in our case, it should be under a ten-hour drive, since David is driving.

We’re on our way:

Yay! Woming border, five miles ahead:

Hey! Up on that hill. It’s a giant beetle! It’s a camel! No,

It’s a buffalo.

We’ve entered the great state of Wyoming.

Here we have Wyoming tax dollars (or is it federal stimulus money?) at work,

while oil wells churn out more Wyoming State revenues.

Oil is transported in trucks

on roads

to nowhere.

Oil contained in parts unknown.

A hopeful thought. Unless you’re trying to keep your mind off oil, and spills:

Oil spills? I don’t know. Ask my iphone.

We pass Happy Jack Road.

which makes us feel … happy.

Then climb a mountain pass, reach the summit

and head down, down, down …

We’re Smokin’! again

past an oversized … cigarette? –

on our approach

into Laramie.

Hey – what’s that sign ahead supposed to mean?

The curly Q’s get a Paul Simon song playing in my head :

Slip sliding away, slip sliding away
You know the nearer your destination, the more you slip sliding away

Whoah and I know a man, he came from my hometown
He wore his passion for his woman like a thorny crown

Now, I don’t know how his passion, that woman, and the thorny crowns played out, but I’m sure glad we don’t have to worry about slip sliding off the road on account of a blizzard, or any combination of slick roads and high winds.

So, where are we? Oh yeah,

96 miles from Rawlins, which make us, uh, about 470 miles from home.

Sigh.

Hypnotized by endless snow fences

going ‘zip’ zip’ ‘zip’ ‘zip’ (space) ‘zip’ ‘zip’ across our vision as we zoom past the landscape.

Into close-ups of

conglomerated trucks.

Butting up against

high winds, that jolt the 4-Runner, rattle David, and gobble up the engine’s gas with the mouth of its resistant force.

Windmills poke out of the landscape like earth’s one-day stubble.

Now entering an area

with patchy snow? ARRRGh!

Those clouds above make me wonder …

Does Wyoming have a tornado season? Does it look like a tornado could spring from those clouds? How would you know unless it happens?

Outside the city of scenic Sinclair

lives an oil refinery. Hmmm. Does this explain the origin of Sinclair gas stations?

Oh boy. Another wind warning. As if we didn’t know.

Where across southern Wyoming is it not a high wind area? That wind sock is a nice touch, all puffy and cutesy, pointing in our direction. Okay so we know we are driving into a strong head wind. The 4-Runner would be jumping all over the road like a bronco buck if David weren’t controlling it at all times with both hands in a vise grip on the wheel.

Entering Rawlins, Wyoming, now.

With its own definition of ‘scenic’.

Home of the Wyoming State Penitentiary.

Which, I suppose it’s not a bad thing that we can’t think of any reason to stop here. Ask if we could get lunch in their cafeteria?

We zoom on over the Continental Divide:

Which, shouldn’t you feel a ‘bump’ or see a crack or something when you cross the Continental Divide?

Pay attention!

See – someone’s paying the price!

Keep on truckin’

Through Rock Springs

and Eden:

That must be Adam’s cabin.

We drive on, through the threat of leaping deer,

under ominous skies

that gather up rays of hope

and rain them back to earth as a promise.

Past clueless cows

into Pinedale.

Population 1412. We pull over and dine at the

Wind River Brewing Company Brew Pub and Grill, which, to our immitigable surprise, provides excellent food in a jovial, elegant atmosphere jammed with people abuzz in activity and conversation.

Who would have thought that such a place could exist in Pinedale, Wyoming?

We exit the restaurant all sated and happy as Happy Jacks, and jump in the truck to finish the trek home.

It’s approaching dusk.

And now we have to watch for

leaping, dark, blurry deer.

Which causes chaos

in the front seat.

We pull over to let an ambulance pass

and then follow it for the next 70 miles. And we wonder, can you pass an ambulance with flashing lights if it’s traveling too slow? We chuckle as three other cars zoom past us only to pile up in front of us, behind the ambulance, which finally turns off toward Jackson, Wyoming, while we speed on into Idaho.

It’s dark now. My iphone is pretty much kaput. So are we. You are also, you say, with this long, strung out account of the last leg of our trip? Hey! It was a long, freakin’ drive, man.

Wyoming is a gigantic state to cross.

We arrive home about 11 PM. The next morning, June 4, I’m out in the back yard experiencing a miracle.

The miracle of our flowering crab, which has finally flowered.

Our lilacs are blooming too.

I plant some flowers in pots.

And will plant the rest of the gardens when it stops raining.

June in Idaho. It can be windy here, too, but not like Wyoming.

To Boulder

June 20, 2010

So where are we? Oh yeah – in Hermosa, South Dakota, visiting friends. It’s now Sunday, three days into our road trip. Gees, at this rate summer will be over before I get us home again.

We had left Idaho Falls on Friday, May 28, spent Friday night in Cody, Wyoming, and driven to Hermosa, South Dakota, just south of Rapid City, on Saturday. My last blog ended with us taking over the whole bottom floor of the Langerman’s house, which is built up into the side of a steep wooded hill. A flock of wild turkeys regularly gobble-gobble and peck at the dirt on the hill that continues to ascend just beyond the Langerman’s back door. But I’m in such relaxed vacation mode I don’t have my act together to take a photo of the turkeys. I do, however, photograph some wild lilacs at the bottom of the Langerman’s hill:

Today, Sunday, May 30, we visit the Journey Museum in Rapid City, which is several museums in one. (Check out this link) It has a large Geology and Paleontology display and a stellar collection of Sioux (or Lakota) Indian artifacts. Here you see a couple of photos I take inside the museum.

There’s Megan peering out the Indian lodge or Tepee, which the Indian women were responsible for dismantling, transporting, and setting up again whenever the tribe uprooted and moved to new land.

On Tuesday morning, June 1, we load up the car and say good-bye to the Langerman’s. We’re headed to Boulder, Colorado, to visit our son, Ben. It’s about a five-hour drive. David drives, Megan dozes, and I take photos. Except the landscape doesn’t offer much photo fodder – we head south toward Cheyenne through some pretty barren terrain.

Take this little forest, for example…

Does it have a name? Total Wreck National Forest? Maybe these trees were growing fast and fine along Dead Tree Creek until the creek turned venomous and killed them. We had already passed Dead Horse Creek Road:

There’s probably some dead horses around somewhere.

Fodder for photos?

We’re roaring along down the highway at a pretty good clip when Megan starts freaking out over a fly that had gotten into the car – I guess while we were loading up – it was buzzing around and ricocheting off the 4-Runner’s back window.

“AAAAAAAAH! Get the fly!” She yells in my ear from the back seat. I crank my head around to scope out the little bugger.

“Megan, it’s just a fly, for heaven’s sake. It’s completely harmless.” I say, trying to calm what I consider to be her irrational fear of bugs, any and all bugs, dead or alive.

“It’s just a baby fly, Megan.” (Which it was) “It’s just hatched and is exploring its world.”

“Get it out!” AAAAAHHHH!”

“Megan, with warmer weather and summer and all, comes bugs. Not to worry. The fly won’t hurt you. Here’s a newspaper you can arm yourself with, to kill it, if you must.” I tell her.

Twenty seconds later, I’m out of my seat belt and leaping around the back seat swinging the rolled up newspaper at the fly. I kill it.

Whew!

We drive through Lusk, South Dakota. Population 1447.

One of the bigger towns.

We sail past a train with about 50 freight cars carrying coal.

Through vast nothingness.

“Aaaaaaaah! There’s a moth back here!” Megan yells in my ear again, flailing the rolled up newspaper through the air as the moth flits around and then settles on the floor by her feet.

“Megan, it’s just a harmless tiny moth.” I tell her. “But you can just step on it and kill it if it bothers you.”

Which she does. Whew!

The bugs ARE getting thicker and bigger…

I’m going to have what looks like a small tornado descending into every scene I photograph through our front windshield.

Entering Cheyenne, Wyoming now.

It’s becoming more scenic.

Past Loveland, Colorado.

Where did that camel come from?

Here you see the Rocky Mountains that run along the west side of Denver.

We’re in Boulder, Colorado, now – just northeast of Denver.

The ‘Flatirons’ hover in plain view just to the west. So called, because of their huge rock faces, each resembling the flat end of an iron.

We pull into Ben’s driveway. We will stay with him for a couple of nights. Megan and I are getting stuff out of the front of the 4-Runner, while David and Ben are hauling bags out of the back. Suddenly David and Ben back away from the truck, and away from the bag they had just dropped on the ground. Did they break something? Was there a bottle of liquid spilling?

“Whoaaooooow!” They exclaim in unison. I run back there to see what the fracas is all about.

There scurrying on the ground behind the truck is a gigantic hairy spider.

“It crawled out the top of the food bag through an opening in the zipper as I was lifting it out of the car,” said David. “It must have crawled into the bag back in Hermosa. It rode the whole way with us.”

My God! You’re kidding! What if that thing had gotten loose in the back while we were driving! What if it had crawled up the back of Megan’s seat and suddenly popped up, say, near her shoulder? Holy #$%@&*!!

By this time the spider had jumped up on the back wheel of the 4-Runner. I capture a picture of it with my iphone:

No kidding! Oh, and did I fail to mention that its legs were striped? Nice touch. Anyway, we just leave it alone and go into the house and not speak another word about it, or bugs.

It’s Tuesday evening and we are heading now to the Pearl Street Outdoor Mall in Boulder:

To meet Ben for dinner. We walk to one end of Pearl Street (don’t know which end, there is so much to process) and I shoot this photo:

Pearl Street Mall offers great places to eat, shop, and people watch, while you’re entertained by off-beat sidewalk musicians. One grungy homeless-looking group bangs out vocals to the banging of what looks like large pots and pans.

On Wednesday we all visit my sister, Susan and her husband Jim, who live in Westminster, just a few miles from Ben. Meeting up with them proves tricky, as their first grandchild, ‘Olivia’ had been born the day before, and Sue and Jim are busy visiting their older son, wife and grandbaby. They host a nice dinner at their house and we hang out there for several hours with them and their younger son, Greg, and his fiance, Tess. Here you see a picture of them:

Greg and Tess.

It’s now Thursday, June 3rd and we’re planning to hit the road for home. But not until after Ben takes us on a drive up Flagstaff Mountain, in that range of the Rockies that runs west of Denver. I capture this view with my iphone:

David and Ben are too courageous for my comfort with their boisterous rock climbing:

I had to yell at them, “DON”T FALL! HEY, DO YOU FEEL SMALL?”

Ben regularly goes ‘bouldering’ up here on Flagstaff Mountain. He points out some of the hand holds on this boulder.

Shall we climb this one? –

Ben climbs it – and captures this photo:

We’re driving back down Flagstaff mountain now, looking over Boulder:

You can see Highway 36 from Boulder to Denver shooting off in the distance toward the right.

Here you see a closer view of Boulder:

and closer still, where you can clearly see the campus of the University of Colorado:

We come down off Flagstaff mountain into Boulder and Ben takes us on a driving tour through the University of Colorado campus.

It is 12:30 p.m. now on Thursday – June 3rd. We are back at Ben’s house, and ready to say goodbye to Ben and his roommate, Nate. I get them to pose for a picture on their back porch with Megan:

It’s time to hit the road now, for our 11-hour drive back to Idaho. Of course, David and Megan are in the 4-Runner, with the engine running, waiting to go, while I … use the bathroom, find my purse, fill my water bottle, change my shoes, check the premises one more time for left items, say goodbye to the kitty, and

snap a photo with my iphone of the poppies and irises that are blooming along the walk in front of Ben’s house.

Okay, so I snap two photos because there’s two different kinds of poppies blooming – both of them stunning. Plus, they are the first poppies I have seen all year.

“Are we going?” David calls to me from the front driver’s window.

I hop into the truck. I think we have everything. Well, everything sans the spider. Hopefully. Which does beg the question – where, at this juncture, perchance would that big, creepy crawly, hairy thing be? (Ben, if you are reading this, you might want to check your bed.)

At least we’re headed north back into colder weather, where there’s fewer and smaller bugs. Now, who would have thought I’d mention colder weather with even a hint of cheerfulness. Maybe it’s relief in my voice – I’m not fond of meeting up with giant bugs or hairy, striped, tarantula-like spiders.

Onward to So-Dak

June 12, 2010

Saturday, May 29. We wake up at the Holiday Inn in Cody – one day into our trip. Today we are headed to Hermosa, South Dakota, a small town just outside Rapid City, to visit old best friends, the Langerman’s. Here you see the rest of those nifty no-sew window treatments in the motel lobby –

“Hey, let’s go! What are you doing photographing the curtains in the lobby when we have a six hour drive ahead?” David says, anxious to hit the road. I’m, admittedly, firing on about two cylinders, being deprived of my usual dose of strong morning coffee.

Here’s another photo I took of Wild Bill Cody in statue form in front of the Museum.

The base of the statue has his birth and death dates.

We’re on the road now. We pass a bumper sticker that says:

Wag more
Bark Less

Which seems do-able, at least for the moment, as I gaze at the scenery …

What reason do I have to be cranky? Even if I am coffee-deprived.

The clouds have their story to tell.

Mother Earth meets Father Sky.

Which keeps resonating with me as we drive. ‘Mother Earth’ and ‘Father Sky’ are honored and revered by the Plains Indians – which I had learned much about at the W.F. Cody Museum.

We’re rolling along, listening to The song, “We’ve only Just Begun” by the Carpenters:

We’ve only just begun to live
White lace and promises
A kiss for luck and we’re on our way.

I’m wagging.

Before the rising sun we fly
So many roads to choose …

Of which, we apparently chose the road

to Dirty Annie’s. (????)

We’re now entering the Big Horn Scenic Byway…

It’s scenic all right. Are you kidding? Buses and outbuildings?

Entering Greybull now.

Even this tiny town has an interminably long stop light.

We turn left on 14 toward Sheridan.

94 miles. No problem.

Oh boy …

Rain.

Entering Shell now.

Population 50. Where?

Who is putting on more of a show? Mother Earth?

or Father Sky?

The clouds greet us

as we ascend into Bighorn National Forest.

Through rock cliffs …

Hey! How did that car get there?

We keep climbing

until we reach the snow line.

And a warning:

Did you see it flashing? I’m not exactly hot on the idea of spending the night back in Greybull.

Didn’t think to bring our skis.

Good thing we didn’t make this trip any earlier this year.

We’ve reached the Granite summit.

Elevation 9033 feet.

We’re heading back down now.

Oh boy. It was inevitable:

Road construction.

Yeah, pay attention because fines are doubled in work zones.

Going down, down, down, uh, how many miles?

Smokin!

Watch for fallen rock? Great. I suppose we should watch for falling rocks, too?

Clouds add an element of mystery

as we reach Bighorn Overlook.

We look down into the valley toward Sheridan.

Headed down … .

Through rock cliffs

that are 280-325 million years old.

Descending fast

into greener pastures.

Past drowsy horses.

June Earth meets June Sky.

How many June Earth-Sky scenes can you process at once?

We pull into Dayton now.

It’s a quaint little town.

Home of the Crazy Woman Saloon.

In the heartland of America.

We head on to I-90 with the pedal to the metal;

Toward Buffalo and Gillette.

Buffalo just ahead now.

We can tell we’re there because, uh,

of that herd of buffalo in the median?

Well it sure looks like it.

Ancient petrified buffalo? Guess that makes sense. In ‘Buffalo’.

We finally arrive in Gillette. Starving. With our food stuffs depleted.

There’s nothing but empty wrappers and garbage left in the food bag up front by my feet. Okay, so, maybe I’m not as starving as David and Megan.

We pull off the freeway into the Flying J, where we gas up and enter the restaurant.

“Hey Megan!” I say. “Sit across from me in the booth and I’ll take your picture.”

“What are you doing, mom?”

“Well, I wouldn’t turn around and look just now, but there is a whole baseball team of strapping young men just about your age sitting in the four booths behind you. Pose for a picture with them!”

“Mom! Stop taking pictures! You’re embarrassing me.”

“Yeah, well I just got that young man’s attention.”

David intercedes: “Settle yourself down, Jody. Maybe we should have dropped you off back there at the Crazy Woman’s Saloon.”

Not to worry. I am able to settle myself down with some comfort food from the menu.

and some comfort dessert.

I refrain from taking more photos. Well, except for this one.

During which, at this point, Megan is obviously ignoring me.

We order and eat. Along with the team.

The team is the Rapid City Stars. An American Legion team. Are they on their way to a game or had they just finished? Judging from their exhuberance I’d guess they have just won a game.

They are leaving now, I know, because my iphone captures them in abstract.

They pile into that dark van and speed away.

Time for us to speed away too.

On the rest of our trek to Rapid City we pass trains, oil wells, road construction, cows, deer crossings, and the threat of icy bridges. I know because I captured them all in the next 30 photos on my iphone.

We enter South Dakota

into more awe-inspiring landscapes.

Something in the front seat is gnawing on my leg.

We finally arrive in Hermosa, a hilly, wooded community about fifteen miles south of Rapid City. The Langerman’s greet us with their usual generosity and let us take over the newly completed bottom story of their three-story home. We enjoy their 5-star accommodations for the next three nights.

Here is Megan in vacation mode, sitting opposite a big screen HD TV.

Life is good.

Oh, did I tell you that from here we head to Boulder, Colorado?

Trekkin’ to Cody

June 6, 2010

Friday, May 28. Spring has finally sprung in our great city of Idaho Falls. Here you see the giant May tree in our front yard blooming in its full glory.

Our tulips are blooming too.

Stunning trees decorate the town.

Albeit, admittedly, this tree looks in dire need of a shave or something there on its lower extremities.

But anyway, no time to smell the trees and flowers – we’re headed out on another road trip, this time to visit old friends in South Dakota. Today our destination is Cody, Wyoming, to our estimation, about a six-hour drive. Our route goes north on I-20, through Yellowstone Park and the Absaroka mountains.

Good thing we’re wearing layers and have our coats on hand in the back seat.

Because it’s chilly – and wet – as we pass through Island Park. We might be grateful for our 4-wheel drive vehicle through mountain passes.

We’re at the west entrance to Yellowstone now. We’ve already been to Yellowstone several times and are just passing through today. We’re interested in making the 83-mile trek across Yellowstone Park as quickly and smoothly as possible. No pulling over to gawk at distant animals, or standing by Old Faithful waiting for it to blow, or hiking through geyser basins and such.

No. We’re thinking, FAST. Our minds are on Cody.

Except the speed limit throughout Yellowstone Park is 45 miles per hour. Which is fine, and necessary, because you really don’t want to maim or kill any wildlife with your vehicle,

or fly past so quickly, you don’t realize you’ve passed a herd of animals to your left, what were they, anyway?

We are enjoying the scenery

amidst the line of cars.

“Honey, I don’t recommend passing five cars at once.” I say to David, who is driving.

“Uh, well, okay, so it’s possible.” Hold on to your seats …

Oh, oh. Road work next 11 miles.

The traffic has come to a complete stop.

Which, road construction, I’m sure, is necessary, albeit, it doesn’t mesh that well with our ‘fast and smooth’ plan of passage through Yellowstone.

Speaking of which, are we next in line to be hassled by that crow?

This is where my iphone shoots an abstract.

Which captures the mood and colors of the sky and holds its own in the chaos category, I’d say, too. But I’m no critic.

Anyway, the roadside is geysery.

Mmmmm … sulfur

Oh boy, rough road ahead.

It’s rough all right.

This drive through Yellowstone is taking longer than we had anticipated.

We spot several herds of buffalo.

The forests are looking a little thin. And significantly dead.

Yellowstone is obviously still recovering from the ravaging fires of 1988.

And, obviously, several more recent fires.

Some scenery reeks of violence and chaos.

There are healthy forests in Yellowstone.

Statuesque lodgepole pines accompany us on our drive along the highway.

Ushering us up to higher ground

into snow. Great. Like we just can’t get enough of it. We can’t get away from it! Well, at least the road is clear.

Yellowstone lake is still frozen.

As we wend our way through the southeast end of the park we spot the majestic Absaroka mountains awaiting us in the distance.

We have reached the east entrance…

and exit the park.

Here’s where things get a little squirrelly. We’re out of the park now. Who knows what the speed limit is? We’ve got some time and distance to make up.

Gees! Now we’re churning upward at a 60-degree angle. Honey, you might try driving a little slower.

We’ve entered the Absarokas now.

More wondrous terrain.

What an awesome drive!

The landscape is painted in June hues.

We enter Buffalo Bill State Park and reservoir.

Where we tunnel through rock,

exit back into daylight …

then tunnel again,

and emerge into more magnificence.

We’re entering Cody now –

named after the one-and-only William F. Cody, alias, ‘Buffalo Bill.’

This is a pretty cool statue of William F. Cody

outside near the Buffalo Bill Historical Center. We grab the couple of hours left of our day to visit the Historical Center before checking into our motel.

It’s a gigantic museum that you could spend three days in. Check out this link. We spend half of our visit in the Firearms section of the museum, driven by David’s curiosity. We snap some photos in the ‘Western Art’ section.

Here you see Megan posing with some buffalo, which,

she’s looking positively buff, wouldn’t you say?

David gets his head scratched

and is oh so happy to be relieved of his gargantuan scalp itch.

There is a huge section on the Plains Indians that is really fascinating and, well, you’ll just have to add Cody to your ‘must visit’ list and go see that museum.

We check into our motel for the night. Which, good thing, because the Holiday Inn in Cody is completely booked. We pass swarms of perky adults in the hallways, gathered in groups, wearing name tags, engaged in boisterous conversation and such. As it turns out, there is an Alcoholics Anonymous Convention going on at the motel. One guy passes us wearing a t-shirt, which, splayed on the front it says,

I’m a defect
in search of
character.

On that note, guess I’ll put a wrap on this. Oh. I also took a picture of the stunning window treatments in the motel lobby.

Granted they aren’t so stunning in this picture. But what is so stunning besides the color is that they are just bolts of fabric draped over hooks. Well, that’s what they look like. I’m not going to try and reproduce that no-sew treatment in my living room just yet.

I’ve got a bunch of flowers to plant.

And, uh, about 400 more photos on my iphone to sift through so I can tell you about the rest of our trip.

No? You’d prefer watching a real movie you rented from Netflix? AWWWWWW….