In the ongoing quest for museums to visit, #1 Son and I drove 90 minutes one way to the Miracle of America Museum in February. (I wrote about our shared love of museums in my post on October 24, 2020.) It was worth the distance! We spent over 3 hours there, and could have used even more time. If you click on the link above, the overhead shot at the top of the webpage shows that the "museum" is more akin to a campus. The grounds contain outbuildings that have been moved from other locations; many of them are historic pieces in their own right. And each of them contains extensive collections. It is impressive in the magnitude of individual items, and the concept that one man (with the help of his wife), collected and displayed all of it!
The museum has an extensive assortment of motorcycles. The Welbike was British built for their airborne forces. It could be folded up, put in a special container and airdropped by parachute. In under 40 seconds, a soldier could remove it from the container, raise and lock the seat in ride position, raise and lock the handlebars, start it by pushing and be on his way. They were capable of speeds around 30 MPH. Many of these were used in the D-Day invasion and carried off the naval landing vessels.
It's interesting what draws one's attention in a museum. The Welbike stood out to me because I had never seen one before. On the other hand, the contraption to the right brought back a strong and deep family memory - riding a Flexible Flyer sled! Did you have one when you were growing up? Initially, I thought someone had built a motorcycle from a Flyer, but it turns out that Briggs and Stratton Flyer Buckboards were produced from 1919 to 1923 in Milwaukee, WI and were intended as basic, short-distance, economical transportation. They were not toys!
I was impressed with the diner set-up you see below. It was so realistic, I was dying to plop down on one of the stools and order a milkshake! Preferably mint-chocolate chip. Do you have a favorite flavor of milkshake?
I was enthralled by the vintage children's toys/items in a small room.
Do you remember the 1971-72 hit "Brand New Key" by Melanie?
I couldn't get the tune out of my head after I saw these skates! Notice the two "keys" in the lower right-hand corner?
We had a set of these wooden alphabet blocks. I remember them so distinctly, down to the ribbed surfaces behind the painted letters. Funny how certain things stick with you!
I have written in the past about a vintage card game called Touring - May 3, 2020. I was thrilled to see a version of it in the museum. I have not done exhaustive research on the topic, but I am fairly certain that the edition I have is older than the one you see below.
I am uncertain if the vintage Valentines were a temporary display. In any event, they were numerous, and took me back to elementary school. I remember we used to make heart "baskets" out of construction paper; the heart would hang on the front of a desk, ready to receive all those Valentines!!!
The museum certainly had a serious side, with extensive military displays inside and out. Below, #1 Son poses with two helicopters - look carefully for the one of the roof behind him. (Originally, we had planned to visit this museum earlier in February, but we delayed our timing due to the deep freeze. As it was, we dealt with boot-high snow around the outdoor displays!)
# means pounds
But humor could also be found in numerous places throughout the museum. This was my favorite.
I will be out of WiFi range Monday through Wednesday, and will be slow to comment. Thanks for your patience!
Well, it's happened. Retirement has become so engrained that I have not written a retirement post for a whole year. My retirement anniversary (March 3, 2017) even passed me by without a second thought. Well. This will not do!!! I will have to throw my own little party, in my own little way. Hmmm ...
A party is not a party without some music. How about some songs to represent the last four years? And maybe a few photos for eye candy?
Reflecting on my retirement, the first word I wrote was FREEDOM. Despite the passage of four years, I can recall my desperation to be free as if it were yesterday. What does freedom mean to you? For me, it means setting my own agenda, and in a way that is consistent with my beliefs. As I have learned these last four years, it doesn't mean I won't work. It doesn't mean I won't have obligations. But it does mean I get to make those choices!
"Roam" by the B-52s is a song that reverberates with joy and abandon. When Spousal Unit and I first started dating, this song was an anthem for us. We dreamed about "rocking through the wilderness ... roam around the world ... without anything but the love we feel." We live that dream every day.
Since we have moved to Montana, we have been blessed to make many new friends. Neighbors. Mountain Ambassadors. Fellow volunteers. And, of course, I have "met" many new blogging buddies!
Man with Hat haying with Dear Neighbor Friend
Four years ago, I could never have imagined that I would find my best friend in Montana, and yet that is exactly what happened. I am grateful every day for Dear Neighbor Friend. Whether it's kayaking, cross-country skiing or just chatting over coffee, each moment is a blessing.
The way I feel about this place and the people is expressed well in the Zac Brown song, "Homegrown". "Why would I ever leave? Cause I know, I got some good friends that live down the street ... Live in a small town where it feels like home, I've got everything I need, and nothin' that I don't"
One of things I love about Montana is its history. It is everywhere you look. Vintage buildings. Rusting farm implements. And the people. If you ask, you will hear their stories. And sometimes, those stories come to you in unexpected moments. When I visited the Whitefish Historical Museum in October 2017, I had no idea that a spur-of-the-moment notion to volunteer there would bring so many unanticipated outcomes. Such as the day I took a call from Janet Monk, a member of a long-time Montana family, who told me about the train that used to run within 1.5 miles of our house. I have since visited the unused railway grade with my Dear Neighbor Friend. The things you learn when you start to ask questions!
In the "Canadian Railroad Trilogy", Gordon Lightfoot captures my sentiment so completely. This landscape before the trains came. The vision and enterprise of the men who built the railroads and the industries to support them. The blood, sweat and tears of the laborers who were the true conquerors.
The Museum was also my bridge to the Whitefish Winter Carnival since the director recommended me to the board. A blessing and a curse of my personality is that I see lots about our world that could benefit from my help. But if I want to have that freedom I wrote about at the beginning of this post, I have to choose carefully where I invest my time. I am sure my thinking on this will continue to evolve, but at the moment, I give my precious hours to PRESERVING THE EARTH, PRESERVING TRADITIONS and ENCOURAGING A FOCUS ON RESPECT FOR OUR FELLOW MAN. I have thoroughly enjoyed finding a new niche and a voice in the world of retirement.
Here I have included just a few photos that represent these themes. Winter Carnival is about traditions. The trash pick-up is just one of several activities that I hope will preserve our environment for future generations.
I have written before about the Violet Protest (August 1, 2020), (May 31, 2020), (March 8, 2020), a public effort to support core American values such as respect for the other, citizenship, compromise, courage, compassion, candor, creativity, and country over party and corporate influence.
I was thrilled to contribute two cross-stitch squares, while my Mom crocheted two squares. "Whether we knit, crochet, quilt, or embroider these squares — through this social action, and from every corner of America; we as makers of all political persuasions, believe we can employ our willing spirit and our talents to contribute to healing divisions that threaten our country." Ann Morton, founder The Phoenix Art Museum will display 9,000 of the squares from March 10 through September 5. It is not too late to send in squares - go to this link for more information.
The song "Stand Up" by Sugarland speaks to me about our collective responsibility to be there for others - 'light a fire for the silent and the brokenhearted'.
If you've been reading my blog for a while, you are probably surprised that I have not mentioned nature yet. Have no doubt, it was the second word I wrote down during my musings about retirement! I only have to look out my window to see nature - plants, wildlife, the clouds in the sky, the wind blowing in the pines. I relish this aspect of retirement, and I try hard not to take it for granted. In my moments of deeper reflection, it has dawned on me that I am seeking NEW EXPERIENCES. And for that, there are not enough hours in the day for all the things I want to do. We keep learning about other opportunities, such as forest service cabins we can rent. And we are certainly looking forward to the return of international travel -- we have not been to the UK to visit my in-laws since the pandemic started, and we also owe #1 Son his graduation trip to Grand Cayman!
"What we live for" by American Authors is a bouncy song that embodies that going-on-a-road-trip, family vacation vibe. Yep, this is what we live for!
I hope you have enjoyed my little retirement anniversary party! Maybe next year I can tell you about a real-life gathering - wouldn't it be fun to mark my five years with food and music and beverages and actual PEOPLE?!?
It's been a busy week, folks. Not in a bad way, mind you. No regrets. It just means I haven't had much time to compose a post. So, it's going to be a simple one this week! I am sure some of you will celebrate this moment - not quite as much to read!
Simple pleasures are joyful, right? Who needs more complexity in life? What are your ordinary delights? I have so MANY!
Fritos, skiing, cooking by the Head Chef, puffy clouds, jigsaw puzzles, stuffed animals, wild animals and PEEPS! Peeps - 5 squishy-soft, sugar-coated moments of sheer bliss!!!
Spending time with people we love are some of the best occasions of our lives. For several weeks, Dear Neighbor Friend and I had been planning a trip to Blacktail for cross-country skiing. On the day we went, the skies were blue, the snow in perfect condition and the company entertaining. And I only fell twice! Downhill skiers don't adapt well to snow-plowing with a pair of skinny skis that have no edges!!!
I am one of the most blessed women on earth -- to have a hubby who is also Head Chef in our house. I think sometimes he is surprised when I thank him for a simple meal, but I genuinely enjoy each and every morsel. I love food, and it doesn't have to be fancy to make me happy.
#1 Daughter and I started a jigsaw puzzle over Christmas, and I am delighted to say that I finally finished it this week. It didn't take long, really, but somehow it always fell to the bottom of my list. What a great sense of satisfaction to put in the final piece! And to text our daughter that it is done!
I derive deep contentment from walking the back forty at any time of year. Sometimes, I can just sit and observe the cloud formations as they skate across an imaginary ice rink in the sky.
I am easily amused, so a "ski ramp" built by the lift attendants at the top of Chair 7 (Whitefish Mountain Resort), and populated by skiing/boarding stuffed animals, tickled my funny bone.
And then there are the real animals who continually amaze and fascinate me. I have written in the past about otters (March 1, 2020) (October 10, 2020), and you can imagine my glee to discover otter photos on my trail cam recently. One (or perhaps more) has returned to the spring at the lake below our property. This is the same spring where the eagles have been feasting (see post February 7, 2021). The collage below has just a few photos - the playful personality shines through, don't you think?
And yes, it's carrying a fish! Looks quite sassy, doesn't it?
Farewell until next week. I am praying that life brings you abundant, everyday, simple joys!
Here in Montana, locals flaunt shorts, with tans faded by winter's shadows. The red-winged blackbirds call "o-ka-leee" from the reed beds down at the lake. The first motorcycles of spring are gunning along the highway, clean chrome glinting in the sun. I can feel the surging desire to hit the open road, the sun-roof cracked wide and the wind whipping my hair. Well, it might be a BIT too soon for that, but we can imagine, right? For now, I will take you back to another segment of our October road trip.
At this point, we still found ourselves in Idaho. What comes to mind when someone says "Idaho" to you? Probably "potatoes". Me too. So, it was a no-brainer to visit the Idaho Potato Museum.
Idaho has a climate (short summers with hot days and cool nights) and soil (windblown volcanic, a light soil) suited to growing spuds. Since Idaho receives less than 9 inches of rain annually, irrigation is required, and the Eastern Snake River Plain Aquifer satisfies that need.
The following two pictures outline the potato growing cycle. Click on the pictures to enlarge. I was fascinated to learn that potatoes are planted from the potatoes grown the previous season. Small potatoes are used whole and larger ones are cut into seed pieces about the size of a golf ball. (I am sure we have all had a potato that started to grown from the "eye" of the spud - that's exactly what happens, on a VERY LARGE scale!)
94% of the potatoes grown in this region are Russet; 6% are niche varieties such as Golds, Reds and Fingerlings. And some of them go to make vodka!!! ***Did you know??? Less than 1% of the vodka sold in the U.S. is made from potatoes. While a far superior alcohol can be crafted from potatoes, grain has replaced it over the last century as a more readily available crop.
By far, the most incredible part of the cycle, for me, was the harvest. Depending on the equipment used, 4 to 12 rows are harvested at one time, and directly into a truck. Most potatoes are stored in climate-controlled facilities referred to as cellars. Check out this video - you will be amazed! Of course, you can't have a Potato Museum without Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head. Well, they had many!!!
We skedaddled on north to Idaho Falls, our resting place for the night. Although the sun was shining in a sapphire sky, a lazy wind let you know it was bitterly cold. But we didn't let it stop us from briskly walking the Greenbelt along the Snake River.
The Idaho Falls Temple shines like a beacon along this stretch of the river - it is impossible to miss. It was the first temple constructed by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Idaho. Construction began in 1939 and was completed in 1945. Its general design and individual details create a unique blend of two architectural styles -- Art Deco and Mid-Century Modern. "The temple's soaring tower draws the eye upward, reminding people of the building's heavenly purpose - to bring people closer to God." (from a plaque near the temple)
As impressive as the temple, but in a different way, is the namesake of Idaho Falls. The Idaho Falls waterfalls are created by the diversion dam for a hydroelectric power project. The original dam was constructed in 1909. The dam you see today was built in 1982 as part of a $55.3 million hydroelectric power project. The citizens of Idaho Falls voted to invest $48 million in their future and the US Department of Energy provided $7.3 million through its Small Hydropower Demonstration Program. This and 3 other hydroelectric plants help the City of Idaho Falls generate approximately 50% of its own electric power needs.
These single photos cannot capture the scale of the Falls; check out this short video to get a sense of the SIZE (and sound)!
If not for the cold, we probably would have walked further, or certainly would have lingered to absorb the picturesque Snake River. As the map below indicates, the Greenbelt is extensive; we only traversed 2.3 miles of it. (We brought our bikes specifically for the Greenbelt, but the glacial temperatures precluded that.) A number of restaurants sport outside decks along the river; I can easily imagine a pleasurable dinner there, in warmer, post-pandemic days! Watch this space!