Monday, October 27, 2008

Monday, October 20, 2008

Roxy visits...

Last weekend Larry and Erin were off to Eastern Washington to hunt, so Roxy (their dog -- a stray they found while hunting last year) came to visit Daisie. Daisie and Roxy love these visits, and they are circus events -- wildness and running, interspersed with coma-like napping. Here are a couple of videos for evidence.


video

Fortunately, the word "treat" has meaning for these two -- though you'll note that it pulls Roxy from far when we yell "come" -- Daisie doesn't move until she hears "treat!" and sees my hand in my pocket!

video

Friday, October 17, 2008

I forgot to say...

...that we traveled a total of 5002 miles on our trip! Randy drove every one of them...THANKS, RAN!

Best food: Aunt Bernita and Aunt Sal's home cooking!

Favorite stops: Randy -- riding 4 wheeler around the farmland of Manhattan, MT
Leslie -- Mt. Rushmore
Dad -- Mackinac Bridge
Mom -- home : )

Of course, the highlight for all was the visit in Michigan...a dream come true.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

East, West...Home is best!


We had a leisurely day of driving from Ritzville to home. As usual, we enjoyed the Eastern Washington scenery, the guys speculating on how soon some crops would be harvested; why they were still irrigating; what was going to happen with some of the taller alfalfa...




We crossed the Columbia at Vantage. I love Vantage...it's just so open, and wide...lonely, and so different from home. As a kid, I was always intrigued with the story of how the water from the dam covered the original town...Was it still there underneath the water? Did people get covered up too? (Heaven forbid!) What was it like to lose your whole town that way? And the bridge, with the whipping winds is just so big, and deliciously scary.


I also love the Wild Horse Monument on the hill just before you get there...horses running so free...



And then, finally our first glimpse of REAL mountains in the distance...People in the mid-west and further east just don't know what a REAL mountain is! I love seeing new country, but I don't think I could give up living surrounded by mountains...

Mid-westerners -- THIS is a mountain!


Soon it was raining -- now we knew we were almost home!




The last 2 hours of the drive are always the longest...familiar territory, so close -- and yet so far from the destination, traffic -- we hadn't seen traffic like that since a couple hours in Illinois! It was good to get back to Lynden and note the few things that had changed...Fall was more in evidence than when we left...But most things were wonderfully the same! We were home again!

The pillows go back in the house -- we're home!


It was a great trip...Dad and Mom held up well with all the hours in the car. We enjoyed each other's company...We got to be at Uncle Roger's home!...Every day we were reminded: "What a country!" and we came home still liking the place that God has put us, and understanding more why others like the places God has put them...

And with renewed thankfulness and perspective, we spent the next days thanking God for our own beds, : ) and homes, and pets, and community, and scenery...and family near and far. We have indeed been blessed!
"Boss -- is that really you?" Daisie jumped in the car and sat there while Randy unloaded it. She wasn't taking a chance on being left home again!

Billings to Ritzville, with an important stop inbetween!

Typical -- and beautiful Montana scenery...

Grain elevator in Manhattan...

More scenic Montana...

Homestake Pass...

In the distance, a huge open pit mine by Butte...
Lookout Pass...
Sunset near Spokane...
After a good night's sleep, we were on the road again -- down to the part of the trip that was all about getting home. Thankfully, we did have one last stop to look forward to...

We made it to Uncle Stan and Aunt Sal's by lunchtime...She told us she'd have a "sandwich waiting for us" and did she ever! We feasted on home-cookin' -- sloppy joes on bakery kaiser rolls, apple sauce, chips...and warm -- WARM! -- freshly baked apple crisp. : ) There was even coffee for the road...Aunt Bonnie's co-worker covered for her at the school and sent her over to see us for a little bit. It was great to visit with them and tell them a bit of what had happened since we saw them last. Then, it was time to hit the road, and see if we could make it to Washington yet that day. The Montanan's assured us that our timing was good -- Snow was predicted for their area in a couple of days! (Note: they did get snow -- and strong winds two days later! Billings got even more snow -- almost a foot!)

We enjoyed the scenery through Butte --massive open pit mines could be seen from the road. We stopped in St. Regis at the espresso stand -- more coffee! -- and took pictures of antique machinery for reference for Uncle Stan Likkel. : ) The view on the passes was spectacular once again, as we had lovely weather. In Idaho, we gained an hour as we passed back into Pacific Daylight Time. We were traveling so well, that we decided to use that extra hour and stay on the road until Ritzville. We could get rooms there at one of Mom & Dad's favorite motels, and have a nice short drive to home the next day.

That night at dinner, Dad said, "I'm kind of sad that it's almost over..." which made me feel very glad that he had had such a good time, and was not overly weary from all the days of travel...It's been a good, good trip!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Things we almost did...

Driving through the Black Hills...
The black rock of the Black Hills...
Fall in evidence...
Pactola Lake and Dam...

After some debate, and consideration of driving time required to get to Billings that day, we decided to skip the Crazy Horse Monument, and take Highway 385 through the Black Hills. It was a lovely drive, beautiful country -- Yellow aspens? alders? interspersed in the pines, and the black rock that makes the Black Hills was evident. Tidy ranches tucked in between the rolling hills...Sheridan and Pactola lakes shining blue in the sun...We really enjoyed that drive.

385 brought us through Deadwood. Dad said, "You'll be surprised what kind of town Deadwood is..." and he was right. I expected some ramshackle little cowtown, with grayed wood siding on sagging farm houses...and a tourist saloon or something. Instead, there were many brick buildings, ornate and tall. Apparently, some days past, Deadwood was a town of some significance. Still small for population, it winds through a narrow valley, and must thrive now because of tourism. There are way too many hotels for the number of people said to live there! If we'd had more time, it would have been fun to explore, and learn some history. All I know from the signs is that Wild Bill Hickok is buried there...I'm not sure thousands would come to see that...though I would have liked to have seen it...But we were pushing on...
Deadwood -- downtown...

I wasn't lying about Wild Bill's grave...


We returned to I-90 at Spearfish and soon were working our way through Wyoming...state of oil wells and repetitive scenery -- except for the Devil's Tower which we desired to stop and see...However -- when we finally got some accurate info about how long that loop of road would take, it was much too much (2hrs.) so we had to content ourselves with a distant view from I-90, which Mom PROMISED we would have. As we rolled around turn after turn, and no Tower in sight, we began to doubt her -- but she stuck to her guns, and she was right! Just a little further on, we could see it standing tall in the distance.

Though we had been disappointed to eliminate some of our desired stops, we determined that we WOULD take the time to go to Little Big Horn -- site of Custer's Last Stand. Along the way, we kind of lost track of our gas tank's capacity, and were unaware that there were only little towns left along the road until our destination. We went past a few signs for towns that were miles from the highway when Mom thought she remembered that Lodge Grass was close to I-90 and probably big enough to have a gas station.

We exited at Lodge Grass to find a reservation town...run-down, depressed, and not used to having visitors off the freeway. -- You could tell by the looks we got from...EVERYONE! The only gas station we could find had steel grates over every door and window, no paving around the gas pumps -- lots of wet potholes instead. People were busy gassing up beat-up cars and trucks, gas cans, motorcycles...We weren't feeling too sure that we should be there -- but we didn't know where the next station might be, and we knew we didn't have enough to get to Billings...So Randy started pumping, then discovered that it was $4/gal! We put in enough to get to Billings and got back to the freeway, deciding to keep an eye on the credit card statement, just in case! We left with thankfulness for our town, and our homes -- and some sorrow for the depressing conditions in which some people live.
We were now getting close to Little Big Horn, but the miles that day seemed to be taking long -- and by the time we got there it was almost 6pm -- closing time...So, once again, we saw it from a distance...I could see the fence around the graveyard, and the hill on which it lay...It gave me some perspective to imagine how the ambush took place...from a distance.
Oh -- that was a long day of driving! We did finally reach our goal of Billings, quickly got a hotel and some supper. On our way back to our hotel, Mom's phone unexpectedly rang -- We had no cell service in all of South Dakota and Montana, and Mom's was sporadic. That night it held up just long enough for Cait to call and report to Grandpa that one of his horses colicked badly that day. Cait had to call the vet out, and then they had to make the decision to put her down. Fortunately, it was very clear cut. Wendy was suffering, and would not get well -- so you do the humane thing. Cait had no doubts about the decision...She was just worried about telling her grandpa that one of his horses was gone. Of course, Grandpa and Grandma were more concerned about her having to deal with it than their feelings of loss...But Cait is a "horse-person" and she was actually the best person to handle that situation. Still kind of a surprise that one of the horses that Dad has had for years, would be gone when he comes home...When we were done talking to Cait, Mom's cell service disappeared again. We decided that God took care of Cait by letting her get through to us that night.

Mt. Rushmore


This was my favorite stop...beautiful Mt. Rushmore! And we were blessed with a perfect weather day in which to enjoy it -- clear skies of deep blue contrasted the gray-white granite of the sculpture...


When Jess was in Junior High, he wrote a report on Gutzon Borglum, creator of Mt. Rushmore. Mom had to do a bit of helping to get that report done, as I recall, so I learned a bit about the man and the mountain too. I remember Jess being irritated with me as I could not get the name right...I was always saying "Gutzum Borglon". : ) You'll be pleased to know, Jess, that I did not mispronounce once while we were there!


Having stayed only 2miles from the National Park, we got there early in the day, and the crowds were slim. A ranger we talked to said that they are open year-round, with about 1000 people per day in the off-season, and 10-11,000 per day during the summer! Though it was a sunshiny day, it was a bit cool, and we did not have summer size crowds to deal with...However, as the day passed, there were more and more people. We spent some time in the museum reading about the pointing system used to transfer the design from the models to the mountain, and about the tons and tons of explosives used...How do you get on a mountain, and carve an eye that is as big as you are? How can you make small cuts and angles in large stones and keep the plane of the design? Indeed, amazing!
For all that I already knew about Rushmore, I didn't know the "meaning of Rushmore". It was explained that these 4 Presidents were chosen for their significant contributions to the establishment of our nation: Washington, for his leadership in the founding of our nation; Jefferson, for the expansion of our territory; Lincoln, for holding our nation together; and Roosevelt, for his advancement of our international influence in modern times. Very fitting!

An extra bonus we enjoyed was seeing rangers rappel down Lincoln's face. They are doing their fall maintenance, filling in any cracks they find so that they will not fill with water, freeze and cause a fracture in the sculpture. They looked like flies on Lincoln's face! : )

Can you see the "fly"?


Too soon, it was time to push on...We were trying to get back into Montana yet that day. We did take the time to have a cup of coffee in the dining room that looks out to the mountain -- and we were pleased to find espresso! : 0 So there IS one place in South Dakota where you can get strong coffee! : ) Of course, I had to make a stop at the gift shop for the requisite t-shirts, and a stuffed buffalo for Daisie...And I will say it before you have to -- yes --I'm a bit nutty about my dog!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

From Platte to the Badlands...



Over breakfast, we had a great visit with Cousin Joe Tegethoff's sons, Ben and Joe, Jr. about farming, weather and life around Platte. They get 20 inches of rain per year compared to our 40 inches! Makes quite a difference in how you farm...Joe, Jr. had a beautiful crop of soybeans growing, but the rain came a couple weeks too late, and they dried up, as did his potentially record yield. By now all the soybeans were off, just the corn was left -- but that day it was raining, so corn harvest would have to wait. That was no problem, according to Ben and Joe, who said that any day it rains is a "glorious day"!

After breakfast, we packed up and drove out to Ann's house -- "drive 12 miles out of town until you get to the oil (a chip seal road as contrasted by mostly gravel ones); take the oil north 2 miles, turn left for another 3/4 mile..." Ann is Ben and Joe, Jr's. mom, and the wife of Joe, Sr. who passed on a number of years ago. She greeted us with coffee and cookies on the table. Karen Tegethoff, another "outlaw cousin" , as she put it : ) came by, and after a bit Sarah Veenstra, "the real cousin" also came. We had a great visit around Ann's kitchen table, some reminiscing, a fair bit of laughing, and passing around pictures of kids, grandkids, and even a few great-grands! We'd be chatting along and mid-sentence, Ann would stop and say, "Look at it pour out there!" We came to understand that a soaking rain is quite an event around Platte. I felt a little jaded, as I hardly noticed it at all! : )

Our enjoyable visit ended with us following Sarah to her home in New Holland, just 3 miles away -- practically next door by South Dakota standards! Sarah and her husband, Sam remodeled and added to a house "in town" and created a lovely home with an upstairs that can serve as a bed and breakfast, which is popular with hunters during the fall. Sadly, though they planned to spend their retirement years in their "Dutchmen's Den", Sam passed away not long after completion of the house. Sarah is such an ambition woman! She still milks mornings at the farm her son has taken over. Her house is spotless. She is busy on the farm, with the school and church. She cooks for the hunters that stay there, and she has done an amazing job of keeping up with family photos and scrapbooks. She had just returned from a trip to Alaska with a friend who is also a widow. It's obvious that she misses Sam terribly -- but she keeps her life full, and continues to be a gracious lady. I so admire that!

By the time we were done with our visits, it was lunchtime. A quick burger at Boom's Drive- In, and we hit the road. Our goal was to make it to Rapid City that night, and to drive the Badlands loop on the way. We enjoyed a stop at the Lewis & Clark Exhibits in Chamberlain. They had a replica of a keel boat. I was surprised to see how large these boats were, and can't imagine portaging them! They said the men often expended so much energy that they required 9 lbs. of meat each day! (Makes my stomach hurt just thinking of it!)We crossed the Mighty Missouri there, and it wasn't long before we drove out of the rain. By the time we reached the Badlands Loop, the skies were clearing.



Oh, the amazing Badlands! We had been impressed with North Dakota's Badlands -- but these are much bigger! You're driving along the sweeping prairie, and suddenly the land drops away next to you, and there are the spires and cliffs of the rough and rocky Badlands below. We enjoyed the road through this National Park. It descends from the upper prairie, winding through rocky passes to the lower prairie where you can see "The Wall" of Badlands spires circling around for miles. Then you climb again to views of the expansive upper prairie, and suddenly, it drops away again on the south to more beautiful Badlands...Such a curious phenomenon...How did they get there? They continue to erode and change all the time. We read that in 45 years, some places in the Badlands had receded a foot, as compared with the granite of Mt. Rushmore, which they say will wear down only 1/10 of an inch in 1000 years! If you ever have a chance to take this side trip, do it! It's worth the extra time!

The prairie drops away to Badlands...







The Likkel's head back to the car after a stop at a windswept scenic overlook -- our first stop in the Badlands.


"The Wall"
"The Yellow Mounds of the Badlands"


Then it was back to I-90, and pushing on to Rapid City. Study of the map, and info from one of the trusty rest areas (They are so well-stocked in the Midwest!) led us on a route that bypassed the city and rush hour, and brought us straight down to the little touristy town of Keystone, only a couple miles from Rushmore. Though off-season, it was still busy there, and we felt fortunate to nab the last couple of rooms at the Holiday Inn Express...We were ready to get out of the car and relax!

About Me

Needing an outlet for various thoughts rattling in my head, I've created two blogs -- One about my real life (leslieisverbose.blogspot.com) and one where I can vent. (leslievents.blogspot.com)