Thursday, December 28, 2006

The News

Happy Holidays!
I have not been as good at posting on my blog in the last two months. Maybe I should make that a new year's resolution. The last month has gone by in a whirlwind of holiday fun. I have to admit that Christmas with small children is a lot of fun. Lizzy was so excited all day on Christmas... and the twins are just as cute as they can be... check out the latest snapshots

I had lots of plans to get projects done over the long weekend... but then I got a cold. Maybe next weekend.

I am still in search of a good part time job to help out with the pocket book. The best news is that God continues to provide for me. I have a house sitting job for 4-6 months starting this weekend. The camper is going to miss me... but it will be nice not to have to worry about the propane running out on the heater during cold snaps.

Oh yes, and my oh-so-generous sister and brother-in-law bought me a phone for Christmas... so I now have an Idaho number. I will hang onto the AK one for a little longer in transition. But it is a little sad to give up my AK number.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Checking In

Greetings readers, friends, family,
Just a note to update you on things. I have been working a couple of weeks for Young Life here in Boise. I am enjoying the office and working only part time... even if it doesn't pay quite enough. I did get the job offer, Friar, at the adoption agency but declined becasue I couldn't stack both part time jobs and stay sane. I am now looking for another part time job that I can work in the evenings and weekends.

Things are starting to become festive around here. The Christmas tree is up the house smells of pine. I am still unsure as to what my plans will be for the holiday... I long to go to Alaska, but money is restrictive. So most likely I will end up here with my sister's family. Which is not a bad option.

Hope this finds you all well!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006


I have been told that I need to post a new blog so that there is something new to read on the internet.

What's up in my life? We had a delicious Thanksgiving. Misty and I cooked dinner for her in-laws and it was great, if I do say so myself. Then Misty talked me into getting up for the crack-of-dawn sales on Friday. So 6am rolled around and we went out into the cold. We had a good time. Fortunately there wasn't much to tempt me. But people watching is always entertaining.
This week it is back to work. I am working on finding a second job for the evenings and weekends. I will keep you posted...

Monday, November 20, 2006

It's Been a Busy Week

I accepted the job at YoungLife and started working on Thursday. Friday I jumped in with both feet and went on their fall retreat. Ahhh youth ministry, I have missed it. I went up as work crew in the kitchen, take photos, and get to know everyone.

But before I headed up to the retreat I had an interview with and adoption and foster care organization. They basically offered me the job by the end of the interview and asked me to think about it over the weekend. So it was also a good weekend to process. And I had some time to pray and think. I came to the conclusion that I couldn't do both office jobs and do them well... so I declined the job offer at the adoption agency.

So it is on to other options for the second job... we will just have to see what God has next.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Moving Forward

After nearly 5 months of being unemployed (except for the week in August, which I don't really feel like I was employed) I have been offered a job. I interviewed last Thursday with YoungLife Boise for a part time administrative assistant for their youth program. Yesterday they called and offered me the job. It isn't enough to live on so I get the joy of juggling two jobs at some point. But I am excited to be able to work in ministry once again... and feel like I am moving forward instead of being in neutral. I also have an interview on Friday with the CASI Fountation for Children, a nonprofit adoption agency, as a part time administrative assistant for their international adoption program. So I may have two jobs before long... and then there is always Starbucks where I would be able to get my americano fix at least ;-)

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Reflections on Road Kill

After traveling around 6000 miles (I will let you know my exact total in another blog) I have seen more than my fair share of road kill. At the beginning of my trip I did as many, I assume do, grimace and try to put the unpleasant vision out of my mind. But as the miles rolled by, I couldn’t help but do a little reflecting on the roadside carnage. I blame the raccoons. There were just so many of them after awhile I couldn’t help myself. They were arranged in several positions and almost entirely on the right side of the road where I had a good view of them. The modest ones were curled up as if sleeping (my favorite if I had to have one) to the gory pinks smear with only a tail to identify the species. There was the front leg splay, the full splay, the back sleeper, and the smudge. Occasionally I came across the black and white road kill that left a lingering scent for the next few miles so you couldn’t forget quite so quickly. On my return trip the rabbits, antelope and deer decided to join in. Fortunately I didn’t hit anything live except the bugs that smeared my windshield. But my heart has stopped a half a dozen times with the sight of a deer inches from the road. I didn’t take the time to stop and photograph any scenic road kill for you… so no pictures on this one.

And the Journey Comes to an End

On Monday morning I lingered in my cozy little cabin in the mountains. My last morning of my journey. I didn't want to rush the end. I spent a little extra time getting ready, packing my bag and having breakfast with God. Then drove very slowly down the icy mountain into the rain. I stopped along the way to take some soggy pictures of a rainbow... a promise of hope that I wanted to capture for the next step in my life journey. I wound my way through Alpine Canyon and the memories of rafting there while growing up. It had stopped raining but it was a grey day. Grey as I drove through my childhood town of Idaho Falls and along the interstate of southern Idaho. I made it back to my starting point about 5pm with a sigh, a heart filled with warm memories, and a computer filled with new photos .

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Driving Across Wyoming

I planned to leave early to try to make it across most of Wyoming and my host assured me that that was no problem, he was getting up to go deer hunting at 5:30 and would be back around 7 to make me waffles. I, not wanting to insult my host, agreed that waffles would be an excellent way to start my journey. And when I went to the kitchen this morning before 7 I watched the deer walking across his yard and up the hillside behind his house. And true to his word, he made me waffles before I left. He also gave me some advice on scenic back roads to Devil’s Tower. I was most grateful as the drive was a beautiful one. Actually the whole day has been so amazingly beautiful. Truly a gift from God. Over the Big Horns, through Wind River Canyon and across the plains. I doubted myself when I got into some snow in the dark after Dubois… I didn’t know if I should stop there or not… but found a lodge on the other side of the pass and have a cozy little cabin nestled in the trees and frosted with snow in which to begin writing the end of my great journey with a cup of hot chocolate to keep me and my reflections company.

This is the scene that I awoke to on Monday morning. I do have more reflections to come, but will give you a break and fill you in the the rest in the next day or so.

A Week in South Dakota

South Dakota was a week of rest and visiting.

There is nothing like driving across the plains. While driving from the ranch (grandma and grandpa’s) to my aunt Beth’s I would see herds of antelope an a hillside and then go over another hill and see a herd of deer… the words from Home on the Range were always on the tip of my tongue. I attempted to photograph some of each. The antelope, however, were not very cooperative. During my time in SD I saw everything from the back of pickups loaded with neon orange clad pheasant hunters, to Harley-riding bikers. But my favorite has to be the skies that take your breath away. I have attempted to capture them and hope that I can do them justice.

Tuesday Grandma and Grandpa went to town for a doctor’s appointment and I stayed home part of the day doing laundry, blogging, and reading a little. Then I drove over to spend the rest of the day with Beth and Terry. Grandma and Grandpa came home that evening with an appointment to be at the hospital the next morning for Grandpa to get hernia surgery. So my plans to leave the next day suddenly changed. I picked up Beth the next morning and we headed in a little after Grandpa and Grandma. We spent the day at the hospital as moral support for Grandma as well as Grandpa. His surgery went well and he opted to stay the night in the hospital instead of make the hour + drive home. He claimed it felt like a horse kicked him with both feet. And he would probably know… I took Beth home and I went back to the ranch. They made it home early the next afternoon and I was surprised to see Grandpa walking so well. He took it easy for the next couple of days. Saturday was a beautiful 60 degree day and I could tell he was getting a bit stir crazy. I packed up to leave and said my goodbyes to Grandma and Grandpa. I then drove over to Beth and Terry’s for lunch and to tell them goodbye as well. I finally headed out about 2.

My one goal was to get my oil changed in Sturgis. With that accomplished I decided to see if I could buzz up to Mt Rushmore or Crazy Horse. The sun was setting behind the Black Hills as I was getting out of Rapid City and I found a church parking lot to indulge in my photo habit. It was getting dark, but I decided to continue toward the Mt Rushmore since it was closest. As I wound around in the mountains it was an awesome site to come around a corner and see the presidential faces lit up. However, I opted not to spend the $8 to park for 15 minutes while I took quick pictures before heading toward Spearfish and my bed for the night. They did have a pullout so you could see Washington’s profile so I drug out my tripod and attempted some night shots. I couldn’t resist getting the entire monument so I found a wide shoulder on the way down the mountain that I could see the whole monument and pulled the tripod out again. I buzzed down the mountain and back toward Rapid because I knew I was being rude if I didn’t check in with my host for the night (one of Mom’s cousins) and had no signal until Rapid City. Once I called I learned that they planned to eat dinner in 20 minutes and I was at least 45 minutes away. They promised it was no problem to wait for me, but I felt sheepish anyway. I hurried as much as I could (which isn’t hard when the speed limit is 75). I made it in time to jump in my host’s truck and go a couple of miles to his son’s house… who incidentally brought his bride to Shady Acres B&B in Alaska a year ago for their honeymoon. We had a fun evening of chatting and catching up.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

A Week in Review

It is amazing to think that I haven't updated my blog for a week. I am sure that you have all been on the edge of your seats awaiting the travel journals of Carrie. My sincere apologies to all my faithful readers. And by my comments I see that I have some new readers... welcome to my world.

I left you in Jefferson City, MO. On Monday I traveled back to Kansas, spent a few hours working on projects for Aunt Cindy, and headed across town to spend some time with more family. I didn't get to visit Aunt Laila and family on my previous stop in Kansas so it was fun to spend some time with them. Laila had a fun girl day on Tuesday, going out for coffee, getting pedicures (the fanciest I have had yet... pictures coming), and then out for lunch. In the evening we carved pumpkins before the kids went to bed. On Wednesday I headed back over to help Aunt Cindy finish her projects and stayed one last night with them. Thursday Grandma and I went out to lunch before I headed across town to Laila's again as I planned to leave from her house the next morning on my next leg of the journey. After playing phone tag with cousin Evie, it worked out for me to see her on my way back to the ranch.

So Friday morning I headed out once again. This time north for 8 hours from Wichita to Souix Falls, SD. All interstate, I must admit, fortunately I had a few books on cd to break up the monotony. Evie and I had a wonderful evening of catching up and some wonderful Italian food. It is so fun to get to know your cousins as adults... especially when I was always so much older.

Saturday I climbed back in my car and headed west across South Dakota. I like to describe my trip plans as 'as the spirit moves'... and that was true of this leg. I saw a sign on the interstate for the Laura Ingalls Wilder house in DeSmet, SD and turned north. I found the homestead, which by the looks of it would be crawling with tourists in the summer, and was the only car in the parking lot. The visitor center was closed but all of the buildings were open and maps on a table on the porch. So I did the self guided tour. It was very well done with lots of explanations in each of the buildings. I thoroughly enjoyed having the place to myself and indulging in some photos. (pictures coming soon) I headed west again on small highways (so much more interesting). The skies were quite breath taking and I pulled over more than once to take a few photos. I eventually made it to the ranch just at dusk and in time to take a few sunset pictures.

Sunday was a beautiful 70 degree day. Probably the last they will have this year as the temperatures dropped into the teens Monday with some snow flurries. I rode with Grandma and Grandpa to Sundance, WY for a great-aunt's 80th birthday party. It was fun to catch up with some cousins I hadn't seen since I was in middle school, and meet a few I had never met. We were back at dark and Aunt Beth had asked if I would come to youth group at their house that evening to talk about some of my missions trips. It was a fun evening of being around high schoolers again. Makes me miss all of my 'kids' up in AK.

Monday was frigid as the wind chill was close to zero. Grandma and I worked on her computer some and washed windows (on the inside, fortunately). In the afternoon I went over to see another cousin and his new wife. It was so fun to catch up on their lives.

It is such a blessing to be able to see family and friends. I am truly blessed to be able to do this trip. My life is so rich for having so many family and friends to love and be loved.

PS Sorry that there are no pictures on this post ... Grandma has dial up...

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Going West

Yes, my return trip has begun. I had wanted to go onto NC to visit my dear friend there, but felt that it was time to go west once again. After a long chat with her on the phone as I drove (yes, I have a hands-free speaker) I felt better about my decision to return west. But it was not an easy one. I had tossed and turned until 3am the night before wrestling with the next step of my journey.

I droved all interstates for the first time on my trip, thus far, driving north from TN, through Illinois, and west to St. Louis. The St. Louis Arch was too tempting to pass by without a short visit. So I guessed my way through down town until I found the parking for the arch. I spent nearly an hour walking around taking photos, watching people, and stretching my legs. It was a very cool stop. As I was there the clouds started moving in making for a dramatic sky. But as I drove the rain began to fall once again. The last two hours of my drive to Jefferson City, MO were in the rain, which wasn’t too bad, as I was focused on a book on cd that I was listening to. I have been saving the books on cd for interstate driving because it can get so boring without little towns to gawk at and fun signs to chuckle at.

I arrived at my college roomie, Lorrie’s house just as it was getting dark. We went out for dinner and started our catching up. We had both driven a lot that day, me from TN and her to and from Kansas City, so we didn’t stay up too long.

Today we got up and readied our selves for church, went to church and out to lunch. On the way home Lorrie drove me around this very cool town, looking at old brick houses and quaint neighborhoods…all very picturesque with their fall leaves and pumpkins on the doorsteps. We went home and changed into warm cozy clothes and headed for the coffee shop where we have been for the last hour catching you up on my life and laughing about one thing or another.

So now, my public, you have been up dated on my great adventure. Tomorrow I am going back to Wichita for a couple of days and then continuing west.

Visiting Family

Wade had to go to one last day of work before he gets deployed on Tuesday. So I got to hang out with Annadeidra and the kids all day. It was dumping rain all day so we were house-bound. We had a good time playing, visiting, and loving on the babes. Wade really wanted to smoke some meat so he came home at noon and brought us charcoal and woodchips and asked us to start it. So I got a lesson in smoking ribs. It was fun and ended up tasting really good. Wade, Annadeidra, and I played some cards that evening and laughed a lot.

Friday morning we headed for Nashville. We were going to the zoo. It had been a long time since I had been to a zoo. It was a chilly day, but we had lots of fun walking around and looking at all the animals. Kyrstin was enthusiastic about all of it, from the monkeys to the snakes, the elephants to the spiders. The sun finally came out later in the afternoon and warmed us up. It was a great adventure to share with them.

Saturday Morning I said my goodbyes… it is always hard to leave family. And I think it is even harder to leave the nieces and nephews because they don’t understand time and the whys of things. And as much as I don’t want to think about it, it is hard to say goodbye to Wade knowing he is going to Iraq next week.

So it was with a heavy heart and damp eyes that I started west…

Travel Day

I set out on Wednesday morning from Missouri and continued my journey east. I choose to take highways instead of the interstate and was rewarded for my effort. The fall colors are coming out in full force and it was breath taking. I went through a corner of Mark Twain National Forest and I could just imagine Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn adventures under the canopy of colors…boys running across picture perfect fields and throwing rocking into the bubbling brooks…quite idyllic, all in all.

I am sure that I took the long way, but it was worth it. The best sign of the day goes to a very pretty little town that welcomed me to “Steelville, MO Floating Capital of the World” … I chuckled at the irony all day.

I continued east and crossed the Mississippi River and a couple of other big rivers. One bridge was so interesting I pulled my camera out while driving and started shooting without looking. The pictures turned out pretty good.

I arrived at my younger brother, Wade’s house just as the sun was going down. I got to meet my nephew, Ashton for the first time and love on my little niece Kyrstin. I will remember that night fondly as sister-in-law Annadeidra brought home a smoker and we all pitched in to put I together in the dark back yard… quite entertaining.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

New Tribes Mission Training Center, Camdenton, MO

Sunday morning I drove from Sterling to El Dorado to have lunch at Grandma’s with Phil, Cindy, Julie and Grandma. It was fun to chat with them for a little while before I headed to Missouri.

That evening I arrived just in time for Avery’s 3rd birthday party. And appropriately enough, it was a campfire with moose meat and little smokies. Very Keller-esk. After the festivities and the kids went to bed, Jane, her friend Bailey and I sat around the campfire talking. It was so much like many of my Jane and Zach memories, just different location.

The next morning it was raining and proceeded to dump rain all day. I tagged along to class with Zach and Jane. I was playing a bit of catch up, but it was very interesting. They had a discussion to go to so I headed back to their apartment to do some laundry and things. We hung out at the apartment all afternoon because the weather was so wet. Then that evening all of the other pilot wives in the program (8 in all) came over for a baby shower for one of the girls. It was such and interesting evening of conversation. In many was it was a typical girls get together… food, chocolate lots of laughter. But they have been studying so many Biblical things that the conversation would seamlessly deviate to deep Biblical topics and back to labor pains… such a unique passionate group of people. Jane has some very amazing friends to join her on her new adventure. And they all have equally amazing husbands that are friends to Zach. God is taking very good care of them.

Tuesday morning I really wanted to go back to class with them because I wanted to hear the end of the previous day’s discussion. It was excellent. I was really struck by the quality of training that they are receiving. Not only are they studying cross cultural situations, but it is also a condensed seminary course as well. Makes me wish I were staying to study with them.

Jane and I took a walk in the afternoon when the kids were napping and I got to see the campus. It is a very neat place. Then in the evening all of us drove up to Ha Ha Tonka Park. It has castle ruins and an amazing view. The kids all ran around like crazy and loved it. Then we headed home to enjoy an evening of conversation. And I helped Jane set up a blog... ... check it out sometime. When they went to class in the morning I drove off on my next leg.

More on that journey in the next blog…

Monday, October 16, 2006

College Homecoming

What an interesting thing to return to your alma mater after 10 years of life experience. It is still the place I knew so well in my 4 year residence… and yet it is quite different. Some of the faces and names are the same, but many are gone. And in many ways it is the people that hold my loyalties. The buildings are there with a few additions and updates… very nice updates, I must admit.

But my trip back would not have been so good had it not been for some old friends. My freshman roommate, Jan and her family; my friends Brenda and Clayton and family; my sophomore roommate Robin and her family; and friends Brennon and Kristy Riffle. The people that knew my name and cared about me… they are the reason it was fun. I loved the nostalgia, but catching up with friends was the highlight. Oh, and Sterling won their football game… which was very different than when I attended.

Friday I spent the day wandering around campus and looked up some faculty and staff, Ginger Reed, Dennis Dutton, Kathy Glynn, and Coach Mary. But they were about the only ones around that I knew well enough to stop in to say hello. It was fun to watch the students as so much is still the same, but with new faces. I spent a few hours in the afternoon with my computer in the library (that opened my last semester at SC and I only got to use to finish my senior thesis). Then I headed back to Jan’s house in the country and took a few photos on the way. They weren’t home yet so I sat on the porch and enjoyed the beautiful late afternoon with the cats and a good book. We had another fun evening with the family.

Saturday Jan and the boys and I headed into Sterling for the parade. (Campbell had the wittiest float as usual) And then caught up with Robin and Brenda and families at the Alumni gathering spot where there were inflatable toys for the kids. We toured the new dorms and Cooper’s renovations before heading to Lyons for lunch. We were back for the game at 2 and scanned the stands for the first half for our friends. We finally found them after half time… watching the kids play in the grass by the sidelines. The rest of the game was less about the game and more about visiting. It was such a fun afternoon. Jan and I headed back home and passed the boys on to Kevin. Then we took off for a quick dinner in Hutch before coming back for the musical (which was excellent… also different than when I attended).

All in all it was good to ‘come home’. It is another piece of who I am… much like many of my stops on this journey. They are all snapshots of my journey.
(photos coming soon... I need to download ;-)

Friday, October 13, 2006

Week 2

Week 2 has not been nearly as exciting and interesting as week 1. So I have not been as consistent at writing.

I have been at my Grandma's house in El Dorado since Monday. Monday, Tuesday, & Wednesday I spent helping my aunt Cindy and uncle Phil work on a presentation about the need of New Tribes Missions in West Brazil. They had a conference that they had to go to this weekend and had asked for my help. It was fun to use some of my office skills to help them. We finished the projects and they headed out Thursday morning.

On Tuesday night I was able to go visit some college roommates in Wichita. I had so much fun visiting with Brenda and Clayton and their three adorable children. (picture coming soon) It is hard to believe how fast time flies. It really just feels like it was the other day that we were staying up late at night in the dorms procrastinating on our homework.

After lunch with Grandma and uncle Rodney on Thursday, I headed to Sterling and the home of a college roommate, Jan. It was a nostalgic drive through the farm land of central Kansas. And I have decided the highways are much more interesting than interstate. On my way to Sterling: I saw a bearded Mennonite man in a straw hat cross the four lane highway with his horse and wagon (always picture-esk). The vibrate green of the sprouting winter wheat next to the brown fall colors of the milo fields, made for a dramatic contrast. And the birds, I forgot how many birds there are here, swooping in and out of the fields.

I had a fun evening catching up with Jan and Kevin, getting to know their two boys. (picture coming soon ) What a blessing to be able to see so many friends on this trip and meet their families.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

The End of Week One

Day 7, 8, &9

Minneapolis & St Paul
After sleeping in a little and having a cup of tea and an almond croissant, purchased the night before at a yummy French bakery, we ventured out to the famed Mall of America. Not to shop or ride roller coasters as some might, but to drink coffee and use free internet. I used this time to catch my blog up and check email. After a couple of hours we walked around a little. Then we were off to Ikea across the street. Not to shop as many would, but to have Swedish meatballs for lunch and purchase a gift card for Amy’s sister. Some of my friends may be lamenting our lack of shopping time in such a goldmine, but we had so little time, so much to see, and so little spending money, that we thought it best.

To finish our day in the Twin Cities, we went to the Walker sculpture gardens and museum for several hours and then headed for dinner. And not just any dinner, we had reservations at the Carousel restaurant, 22nd floor of the Crown Plaza, on the rotating level. Amy had a coupon. It was wonderful food, spectacular view of the city, and good friend time…and quite memorable. It may be hard to top that meal for quite sometime.

Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Saturday morning I headed out for another day on the road. I was heading south today… destination: Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and my childhood friend, Sarah Lunsford Blickens. It had been ten years since I had seen her and met her husband and day old daughter. Needless to say, I was excited about the opportunity to catch up with her. I finally pulled into Cedar Rapids about 2 and met her for a late lunch. We had a little time to just chat before her oldest daughter, Sierra was dropped off. Then we went to her house to meet Kayla, her youngest daughter, and Zach the husband. It was fun to share pictures of our families and talk about what who we were as adults. I stayed for a little while, listened to two poems and a song by a little blonde cherub, and then had to leave once again. A couple of hours visit every 5 to 10 years and an email on our birthdays is an unusual way to keep up a friendship. But I am so glad that it works and we haven’t lost touch.

Kansas City
I listened to two awesome cd’s that the Blickens gave me for the next couple of hours as I headed to Kansas City and the home of my good friend Carrie Korf Luce. Carrie and I were at Sterling College together for 4 years and in Japan for 2. We have many fun memories together, to say the least. I arrived at about 10:30pm but that didn’t keep us from staying up until almost 12 talking. This morning I met Sophia, Carrie’s adorable 7 month old daughter. Jeremy had to work so Carrie, Sophia and I went to church and out to lunch. Then we sat, talked, shared photos, and reminisced for the rest of the afternoon. Jeremy, who I met for the first time last night, came home from work and we went out for Chinese food. It was a very, very good day.

Tomorrow, Wichita…


Thanks for all your comments! It is fun to hear everyone's thoughts. I have to admit that I do think of what I want to share with my reading audience as I drive. Lots of time for that you know. I haven't written for a few days and will fill you in on my adventures as soon as I can... with pictures of course. Marie, you will know what Amy T. looks like... Misty, I do have a few cityscapes, but do prefer the nature most of the time.

Over and out from the road.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Day 6 (written on Day 7)

Today was my farthest driving so far. I left the ranch at 7:30 am this morning and headed east. And just kept going east on hwy 212. It was an easy road with little traffic and lots of little towns. My favorite town was Gettysburg, South Dakota. The welcome sign said “the town where the battle wasn’t” and at the other end of the town the mileage sign gave Gettysburg, PA 1450 miles. It gave me a good chuckle.

I listened to a book on cd and drove onward only stopping for gas and bathroom breaks. My only pictures were a few as I left the ranch. I was tempted to stop once for a photo but maybe on the way back….

I arrived in Minneapolis a lot earlier than I expected and arrived before my friend Amy at our meeting spot. I only had to wait 15 minutes before she arrived. It was a fun evening of catching up between cleaning her house sitting house because the owners were coming home. We finally got to her apartment near 11:30pm and I was so ready to sleep.

I am so glad I have a day to hang out with her here before I head on down the road. Who knows what today will bring.

It was nice to only drive a few miles today.

I woke up at 6am… the earliest yet for the trip… to have breakfast with my uncle before he left for various rancher duties and my cousin before he left for high school. After a hearty breakfast the guys left and my aunt and I sat in our pajamas until nearly 10am catching up on life. Then I dressed and worked on catching up my blog because they have dsl and Grandma doesn’t (by the way, Peter and all other computer aficionados reading my blog, my cousin’s high school gave every student a brand new laptop and they aren’t allowed to turn in paper homework… only email it in to the teachers for grading… who knew in the middle of no where South Dakota they were so technically savvy?)

Then I headed to the Hugh Ingalls Centennial Ranch… in other words ‘Grandma and Grandpa’s house’. Yes, the little house on the prairie. Only they added on since I was last here six years ago and it isn’t nearly as little as it once was. It is a bit different to be writing you from the guest room that was once their master bedroom with all of their original furniture still in it. Once when we were kids visiting in the summer they wanted me to take a nap. I remember lying on their bed with Grandma and she told me I didn’t have to sleep, I could just “play possum “. I had never heard of this before and she demonstrated for me. I think I ended up taking that nap under the guise of ‘playing possum’. Grandma’s are sneaky like that.

The after noon was spent in sweet conversation with Grandma. We talked a lot about memories she had and her brothers, some of our cool homesteader relatives and their stories, the droughts and good books we had read. It was a wonderful afternoon with Grandma all to myself. I did manage to go for a bit of a walk to take a few photos (I didn’t want to get out of practice). The cold prairie winds were whipping around and I was thoroughly chilled by the time I came back in.

I head out for a long day on the road tomorrow to see my friend Amy T. I have high expectations of a rousing time with my spunky red-headed companion.

PS Jenny, I got to see my special buddy who first dubbed me his ‘birthday present’. It was a very sweet visit as he is 81 and still quite charming.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Tuesday's Blog (on Wednesday)

Falling to sleep to rain on the roof and waking to fresh snow on the mountains. It was a magical morning that I drove with my back to Yellowstone. Fog and mist were to be the theme for today’s weather. The fog lay like soft pillows scattered on hillsides from Wyoming, through Montana and into South Dakota. I like how fog lends itself to a certain mystery about a landscape… like you don’t quite know what it is partially hiding… only a hint of a rock or tree…not the stark reality of it.

I chose to drive over Beartooth pass that is closed half of the year. I think I chose this just because it was still open… while beautiful, it was quiet stressful. And last night’s fresh snow was a stark reality of why they don’t open it all year. It was a very slow drive to Billings from Cooke City over the top of the world, as it seemed in the fog, and regretting my choice of roads on more than one icy corner. By the map it should have been a nice little jaunt and I would have been in Billings by 10am to find a wireless hotspot and upload my blog and photos from yesterday. 4 hours and 132 miles later I was in Billings and I had to move to make it to Aunt Beth’s for dinner. But I love Montana, if for nothing else, the speed limits and road conditions… both excellent for driving fast.

So I took one short stop for myself despite my dinner plans, I stopped at Custer’s Battlefield National Memorial. What I thought would be 15-20 minutes, took an hour (maybe timing should be the theme for the day). It was so interesting that I got lost in the history and story of it.

On my journey today I was told to ‘Vote Crazy Hair for Sheriff’, saw a horse standing at someone’s back door looking like he wanted to be invited in or waiting for someone to jump out and hop on his back, had to slow down for a herd of antelope to skitter across the road in front of me, photographed a cemetery that made me think much more of the landscape of the plains, and used my windshield wipers much more than I had hoped.

Tonight I had a steak dinner with family… there is no better way to finish a day than with family!

Day 3 (Monday's Blog posted Wednesday)

I learned something about myself today. I learned that as much as I would like to take really good classic photographs, I don’t want to do it with a crowd. I would rather discover something new on my own.

I woke early to get to a great photo location this morning. But, alas the skies were gray. I found the location and there were already 10 cars there and a flock of tripods set up in ‘the perfect spot’. I was late and not too eager to join them. I think hobby photography must be a bit like combat fishing in Alaska. You just have to get in there close and hope that your lens gets a great shot no matter how many others are at your elbow. My problem is that it isn’t a unique shot and there was very little creativity in composition. So I drove on toward Yellowstone. I did have to stop for a reflection shot or two. The fall colors and still water were too much to pass up.

On my journey through Yellowstone I stopped quite a lot, was a little more discriminate on my photos than yesterday, and just kept my eyes open for cool things. This really is a beautiful place! Just about every other corner was a ‘wow’ or ‘beautiful’ or ‘amazing’. The weather didn’t cooperate today. The clouds stayed and about 1pm it started raining and rained the rest of the day. I still saw some cool things, but was less likely to get the camera out in the rain.

Tonight I am in Cooke City, Montana, just outside the northeast gate of Yellowstone. No wireless internet tonight, so I will have to find a hotspot in Billings in the morning.

Sunday, October 01, 2006


My plan was to go over the Teton Pass early in the morning. I did get up before the sun, but being spontaneous I decided to drive up to Grand Targhee Ski Resort that is just outside of Victor. The fall colors were AMAZING and I watched the sunrise over the Grand Teton Mountain….

Then when I finally came down out of the mountains, I stopped for coffee and it was nearly 10 when I headed over the pass. I had to stop at the top… it’s something of a tradition for me. When I drove to college my freshman year it was my first stop and I remember sitting on the hill side and praying about my future. It is a very vivid memory for me. Once again I stopped to pray about my future. These things just come around full circle.

On the other side of the Teton Mountains, I drove past Teton Village and into Teton National Park via the back road to Moose. It was spectacular. At one point took a road that was supposed to lead to a trailhead and when a sign appeared about a mile in that said high clearance recommended… I took the dare. It was almost as good as Archangel Road for my Alaska friends. So I bounced my way down the dirt road until I saw a clearing with some buildings. So I got my camera, my arsenal of lenses, tripod and headed out across a grassy meadow. It turned out to be historic buildings that the forest service is trying to save… and oh so picturesque right there in front of the Grand Teton Mountain. It reminded me of being in the Swiss Alps with my friend, Anita… it just made you want to sing.

The fall colors are at their peak and it makes me extra photo-happy. I drove on through the park, stopping every once in awhile. Had lunch at a picnic area and downloaded the 237 photos that I had already shot that morning and tried to take a little nap in my car. It didn’t work because someone spotted some elk from the parking lot. So that was that. I drove onward to Signal Mountain Summit and on the road met a mama mule deer and her two babies. At the top…with a stunning view… I had some time with God in his amazing creation. Who could ask for a better sanctuary?!

I headed back to Jackson, my destination for the night. My one last stop was at the famous Snake River Overlook at sunset for my attempt at looking professional. By the time sunset had started there were at least 8 other people lined up with their tripods and fancy cameras. My little set up looked pretty pathetic… but I tried to look like I knew what I was doing. 150 photos later, I was freezing and ran back to my car.

So my eyes are tired of drinking in the landscapes around me and I am off to bed. Tomorrow... Yellowstone! And many more pictures

Oh yeah, the total photo count for the day… 452