Sunday, August 30, 2020

Mosaic Monday #94: Family Fun

Hello everyone - thanks for returning after a week's break from Mosaic Monday! The visit from #1 Daughter and her boyfriend was memorable, and extra special since #1 Son is already here and joined in the frolic when he wasn't occupied with job search activities.  On their first day, it was already mid-afternoon by the time we got home from the airport, so we made no plans other than showing The Boyfriend around the house and property.  Vacation calorie intake began in earnest with a afternoon snack of huckleberry pie and ice cream.  (And of course, Head Chef prepared a dinner fit for kings - ribs, smoked turkey, cornbread, salad.)

As we planned the activities for their visit, the duo asked us to challenge them physically.  "Wear us out," The Boyfriend said.  So, the next day, the Montana workout began.  Kayaking on the river sounds simple enough, but it requires logistics such as dropping off one vehicle at the takeout point, and ensuring that the right gear is in the correct vehicle.  We managed to get all five of us out of the house on time, but the takeout point was not well-marked, and we arrived at our first destination, Polebridge, with 2 rigs.  Oh well.  Not the end of the world.  We snagged some home-made baked goods from the famous Polebridge Mercantile, settled all of us into one vehicle and drove the short six miles to Bowman Lake.  Its spectacular surroundings never get old.

We backtracked to the put-in point near Polebridge, and left the "kids" to inflate the kayaks and pack raft while Spousal Unit and I took his truck to the takeout at Coal Creek.  A Mercantile member of staff gave us directions, and in no time we had returned to inspect the boats and were ready to float nine miles of the North Fork of the Flathead River.  At this time of year, low water means rocks and log jams are nearer to the surface, requiring vigilance and carefully chosen channels.  Early in the trip, Spousal Unit and #1 Daughter collided with a tree and tipped over, but in such shallow water that it was not a major event.  It was a warm, blue-sky day and we made one stop to swim.  
We had hoped for smoke-free skies during their stay, and we got our wish.  Haze can make for interesting sunsets, but I would prefer my air without particulate!  That night we enjoyed tasty lasagne on the deck, with an ever-changing sky for entertainment.

On Day 2, Spousal Unit and The Boyfriend went fishing while #1 Daughter and I engaged in retail therapy followed by a picnic at the beach.  In keeping with the "workout" theme, fishing entailed a 2.5 mile hike (one way) to Lupine Lake, and paddling a pack raft as needed throughout the day.  Lifting a margarita at the beach was a little less strenuous!!!  The Boyfriend caught a half-dozen fish, and perhaps more importantly (from my perspective), he saw a bull moose on the way to the trailhead.  We call that visitor's luck!!!

Now, Day 3 would be the true test.  Destination: the Highline Trail in Glacier National Park.   13.4 miles and 2700 feet elevation gain.  I have written about this hike in a previous post, in which I note that we left the house at 6.45 AM in order to secure a parking spot at the Loop and catch a shuttle.  That was 2017 and this is 2020 - departure was advanced to 5.30 AM.  Glacier has become an extremely popular place, and the fact that half of the Park is closed has exacerbated parking issues.  Even with 45 extra minutes, we still experienced parking challenges!  But, as always, it was worth the anxiety. 

It was lightly raining as we began our adventure; later in the day, with the hot sun and dusty trail conditions, we would have welcomed that precipitation!  Immediately, the hike began to deliver on our expectations, with a mountain goat, massive cliffs, and abundant flowers along the Garden Wall.  It had been at least 10 years since #1 Daughter had done this hike, so both members of the duo could be heard exclaiming over the beauty, or shaking their heads at the wonder of the views.

Although this was my fourth time experiencing the Highline, we typically go earlier in the summer.  I was fascinated by the difference in the flowers one month later in the season. 

This hike offered another first for all of us - the Grinnell Glacier Overlook.  After seven miles, intrepid explorers have the "opportunity" to ascend more than 900 feet in less than nine-tenths of a mile.  In keeping with the challenge to "wear us out", it was a no-brainer.  The climb is mostly steady, but there are sections that are very steep.  I am pretty sure that we were pausing to catch our breath rather than letting other people have the right-of-way as they descended the narrow path that pitches straight down if you take a wrong step!  And here is the reward!

You may have already noticed the lack of other people in my photos.  Trust me, that requires some patience and some camera agility.  The Highline Trail is an incredibly popular hike; I would guess that we shared it with at least 250 people that day.  And yet, you can still reliably see wildlife - goats, marmots, bighorn sheep.  And this time, we saw a new animal for me - a pika.  No picture, but so adorable!

Shortly after our descent from the Grinnell Glacier Overlook Trail, we arrived at the Granite Park Chalet.  The west side of the building offered the only shade, and we sank onto the benches for a well-earned break.  Built 1914-1915 by the Great Northern Railway to provide comfortable back country accommodations, it was the last chalet constructed by the railroad.  Listed as a National Historic Landmark, it is one of only two back country chalets that have survived and it continues to provide lodging to adventurers from around the world.

Are you still with me?  Yep, now you know how the duo felt.  Four miles of down, down, down still remained to close out this hike.  But along the way, you earn fabulous views of the terrain that we had already traversed.  Can you see the faint line in the center of the picture below?  That is the trail to Grinnell Glacier Overlook.

Would a close-up help?

The switchbacks seemed endless and only the thought of the creek at the end kept the team moving.  Upon arrival, all of us threw off our boots and socks and plunged knee-deep into the glacier-cold water.  Aaahhh.  The Boyfriend didn't hesitate to go all the way in - after all, ice baths are de rigueur for athletes!  He was smiling even as he professed that the trail had "kicked his patootie".   Mission accomplished!  
Even pro athletes need rest days, and as master vacation planners, we had the forethought to schedule nothing for Day 4.  Some folks caught up on podcasts, or read a book.  The kids raided the toy closet and we played Scattergories, Sequence and Euchre.  I recently began a new cross-stitch project that will become a throw pillow for #1 Daughter and The Boyfriend.  What a treat to sit on the deck and stitch!  We closed out the evening around the firepit, with s'mores to boot.  
And suddenly, we only had one full day remaining.  Day 5 began with a short (2.7 miles one way) but technical hike to Leigh Lake.  Steep sections and rock scrambles keep your focus sharp!  (Spousal Unit and I completed this trail on May 9 and it was covered with snow.  So watch for a future post with comparison shots.)  For this post, I will just show you the family shot at the lake, courtesy of a fellow hiker.

From there, it's a short ride down the road to Kootenai Falls and the Swinging Bridge.  Once again, it was a warm day and the cool waters of the river were a welcome respite.  We marveled at the falls, once the site of filming for the River Wild.  The water flow seemed higher than normal, and I said the same, reflecting that it is odd for the time of year.  Upon further thought, it must mean that they are releasing more water from the dam upstream.  Check out the video.

#1 Daughter and I enjoyed ice creams as Spousal Unit drove home.  Ah, summer!  The duo treated us to dinner that night at the Kila Pub, and everyone was sleepy by the time we pulled into our driveway.  Sigh, the end of another family visit.  My only consolation is that I am sure the mountains will soon be calling them back!

Welcome to Mosaic Monday, a weekly meme where we get together to share our photo mosaics and collages.
Please include at least one photo mosaic/collage in your post.
The link will be open from 1 p.m. Sunday until 11 p.m. Tuesday (U.S. Mountain time). 
Remember to add the link to your Mosaic Monday post and not the one to your blog. 
Please link back to this post so that your readers will be able to visit and enjoy more wonderful mosaics; taking the MM blog button from my sidebar is an easy way to link back. 
As host I will visit every participant and leave a comment so that you know I stopped by. 
Please try and visit as many other blogs as you can, especially those that join in later, so that everyone's creativity can be appreciated fully. 
Thank you for joining in today and sharing your mosaics with us. 

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Hazy Lazy Days

A thin veil of haze softens the hills beyond the lake. The sun barely brushes them now, at this time of night, as the days shorten inexorably toward autumn.  A touch of coolness is in the air, as occasionally the wind ripples the still-green aspen leaves.  I revel in the fact that I am here on the deck, today's task list crumpled before me, with time yet to spare before the downy comfort of the bed calls to me.  What a treat it is to have the opportunity to write a post that I can link up to my favorite linky parties!

(My Corner of the World is hosted by Betty.  It opens on Wednesdays at 12 am New Zealand time and is open for a week.  In this era of armchair travel, it is a fine way to tour the world!)

August has delivered many blessings, and yes, you will have to sit through all of them!  If my list isn't enough, I am sure you can find more positive news and inspiration at Thankful Thursday and I Like Thursday.  (Thankful Thursday is hosted by Brian's Home, and opens on Thursdays for 7 days.  I Like Thursday is hosted by Lee Anna.  Let her know if you want to participate and she'll include a link to your blog!)

Blessing One: welcoming #1 Son home!

Blessing Two: 29th anniversary with Spousal Unit

Blessing Three: picnic at the lake

Blessing Four: new runner for our dining room table - found during an antique shopping trip with a friend

Blessing Five: fresh vegies from the garden of a friend

I suppose I could have included critters in my list of blessings, but I have so many to include in this post that I think they deserve a category of their own!  Please check out Saturday's Critters, hosted by Eileen.  You're sure to find a critter that you like!!!

Friday used to be my favorite day of the week, but now that I am retired, one day runs into the next.  But there are four great linky parties on Friday, which give me another reason to love this day of the week!  Floral Friday Fotos is available every Thursday and remains open until the next Wednesday.

Tom The Backroads Traveller hosts Willy Nilly Friday.  If you need distraction, this is the linky for you!  During antique shopping with my friend, a couple of items caught my eye, and yes, I managed to resist the temptation to add to things that need dusting.  But at least I can share them with you!

Skywatch Friday is hosted by Yogi's Den; it opens on Fridays and remains available for seven days.  If you are wont to look to the heavens, this is the linky for you!  The picture to the right is one of many taken during our hike on the Highline Trail with #1 Daughter and her boyfriend during their recent visit.  A full re-cap of our activities will be the subject of my next Mosaic Monday post, so come on back, y'all!

Last but not least, I am linking to Friday Bliss, hosted by Riitta.  It is open from Friday at 7 am until the following Tuesday at 4, Helsinki time.  Many of the bloggers who join Friday Bliss focus on nature photography, so this is a must-visit for gardeners and nature lovers everywhere!

I hope this post has brought you a glimmer of joy, a cup of cheer, a dollop of delight.  For those of you in the Northern Hemisphere, savor the remaining days of summer.  Chase down an ice cream truck.  Pick your own fruit at a local orchard.  Stay up 'til dawn. Run through sprinklers.  Blow bubbles.  Make popsicles.  Build a birdhouse.  Fly a kite.  Tie-dye shirts.  Stargaze.  Sing in the car with the windows down.  Do yoga at sunrise.  Have a water balloon fight.  

Or you can just find a sun puddle, like our Maggie, and melt into it.

Saturday, August 15, 2020

Mosaic Monday #93: Wide Open Spaces (A.K.A. "The Little Rav That Could")

2,124 miles and six days later, and my two "boys" arrived safely in Kila, Montana on August 9!  The 2005 Rav was dusty, somewhat bug-splattered and sporting a taped-up windshield, but it handled the epic road trip in fine style. 

As I mentioned in my August 1 post, #1 Son has moved home to continue his job search post-college graduation.  Spousal Unit needed no further excuse to join him for a cross-country summer road trip, commencing in Columbus, Ohio.  Here are the details that are fit to print!

Q: What was your favorite thing about the trip?

#1 Son: The nuclear silo.  The mine with the physics experiments.

The Minuteman Missile National Historic Site in Philip, South Dakota protects two facilities that were once part of a Minuteman Missile Field that covered the far western portion of South Dakota from 1963 through the early 1990s.  

The Homestake Mine was an extensive underground gold mine, and until it closed in 2002, it was the largest and deepest gold mine in North America.  The Homestake Mine is famous in scientific circles because of the work of a deep subterranean laboratory that was set up there in the 1960s.  This was the site where the solar neutrino problem was first discovered.  On July 10, 2007, the mine was selected by the National Science Foundation as the location for the Deep Underground Science and Engineering Laboratory.  Experiments on neutrinos and dark matter particles often require an environment with limited radiation, a feature brought about by the depth of the mine.  You can begin to get a sense for why this might thrill an Engineering Physics major with a specialization in nuclear engineering!

Q: Dad, what was your favorite?

Dad: #1 Son getting his geek on at the missile silo.  The park (Minuteman Missile National Historic Site) was unexpected and well done.  Devil's Tower.  Driving across country with my son.

Devils Tower was the first national monument in the US, a full ten years before the formation of the National Park Service.  An astounding geologic feature that protrudes out of the prairie surrounding the Black Hills, it is considered sacred by Northern Plains Indians and indigenous people.  Hundreds of parallel cracks make it one of the finest crack climbing areas in North America, and climbers could be seen on the day that my husband and son visited.  (Devils Tower may appear as if it thrust up through the ground, but this dramatic formation was exposed gradually through the processes of weathering and erosion.)

Q: What was your least favorite thing about the trip?

(Both answered in unison): Driving across Iowa (laughter).

Iowa was an eight-hour day.  They didn't even take any pictures until Day 3, in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.  (I hope this does not offend any of my friends in Iowa.)

Q: What was the best meal you had? 

#1 Son: beef tips at the Longhorn Steakhouse in Sundance, Wyoming.

Dad: best overall dining experience was the Livingston Bar and Grille in Livingston, Montana.

Q: What was the best place you stayed?

Both: Bear Lodge in Sundance (not to be confused with the Bear Motel - laughter).  Custom built cottages.

Q: What was the strangest thing you saw?

Dad: outside Sturgis, a motorbike was adorned with a bison skin and hide, making it appear that the rider was astride a bison.  Oh, and the rattlesnake in the drain.

#1 Son: the whole town of Wall, which was essentially the drugstore and 5 other shops/bars.  Many of the walls of the store were decorated with plaques, identical in size and style, featuring the name of someone/an organization, and emblazoned with a unique brand like you might have seen on an animal.  I suppose there was somewhere in the store that you could purchase one, but I didn't see it.

Dad: 200 miles before you arrived, the billboards began for Wall Drug Store.  "Free Water".  "5 cent coffee".   "Boots, Buckles and Belts - Cowboy Up".  "Homemade Donuts."  "Six Foot Rabbit".  In the store, there were hundreds of historical photographs, too.  

#1 Son: and the animated T-Rex.

Dad: Pure American kitsch.  And a great selection of socks!

Q: Do you have any recommendations for someone making the same journey?

#1 Son: Start at the Visitor Center for the Missile exhibit.  Then take the northern loop through the Badlands. Visit the nuclear launch silo.  Visit Wall.  And you will still have time to drive part of the way to your destination.

Dad: Skip Mt. Rushmore or go when it is less busy.

#1 Son: if you have time, walk around Deadwood.  We didn't get to, and it looked interesting.

And that, folks, is the end of the trail!  

#1 Daughter and her boyfriend arrive today for a week of vacation, so many good times lie ahead.  I will comment as normal on all links to today's post, but then I will be taking a week break from Mosaic Monday; please come back and link up to my August 30 post! 

Welcome to Mosaic Monday, a weekly meme where we get together to share our photo mosaics and collages.
Please include at least one photo mosaic/collage in your post.
The link will be open from 1 p.m. Sunday until 11 p.m. Tuesday (U.S. Mountain time). 
Remember to add the link to your Mosaic Monday post and not the one to your blog. 
Please link back to this post so that your readers will be able to visit and enjoy more wonderful mosaics; taking the MM blog button from my sidebar is an easy way to link back. 
As host I will visit every participant and leave a comment so that you know I stopped by. 
Please try and visit as many other blogs as you can, especially those that join in later, so that everyone's creativity can be appreciated fully. 
Thank you for joining in today and sharing your mosaics with us. 

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter
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