Friday, April 29, 2011

Bozeman, Yellowstone, and Heading Home….

After arriving in Bozeman, we had an extra day to kick around so we drove here and there a bit.  Ever forgetting something, we made a trip to the local Wal-Mart to pick up a couple of things that we found we were in need of.  As we walked through the parking lot, there was a sign in a spot right next to the handicapped parking.  I got so tickled when I saw this sign (I’ve never seen this before!):

It’s not that uncommon to see an airport, even in a smaller community, but I’ve never seen such a scenic route taking you there:

We also knocked around the historic part of town, and I found just the perfect house:

Here is another sign that was on that very residential street, and it is certainly not something I’ve ever seen in Texas:

Bozeman seems to be a very “organic”  and green town in many respects.  I saw a lot of people riding bicycles – not wearing biking pants and helmets via Lance Armstrong, but even wearing skirts and sandals with their groceries safely secured on the back.  I had visited the very large organic food co-op on my first visit, but I hadn’t noticed this little co-op tucked among the quaint shops on Main Street.  I wonder:  how many organic food co-ops are there in town?

We spent some time in our room, and a very antsy Alan passed the time by keeping connected on Facebook:

I love watching local news when I am visiting an area, and I have been struck by the local news anchor.  While still attractive, she is not a blonde, 20-something, contact lens wearing slip-of-a-girl (which seems to be a major requirement for Fox news anchors -- Hooray for women of wisdom and substance!):

On “Yellowstone” day, Alan was up a little before 5:00 a.m.  He was supposed to be at the bus station across the street no later than 7:15 a.m. (not too bad), but at 6:00 he announced that he was going to go on over.  He had stepped out for a while and had noticed that several people were already there.  I was instructed that I was NOT going over with him (as I did last time) to wait for the bus; he would just say his good-byes in the room so as not to be the butt of “mama’s boy” jokes for months to come.  It reminded me of the day that my kindergartener told me not to kiss him in front of school, and in fact, I could just drop him off at the corner.  Oh, the pain in a mother’s heart!  Once he was gone, I figured I might as well get going myself, so I prepared to leave.  As I was loading the car I noticed that the bus was there.  I couldn’t help myself – I had to hide behind the bushes and take a picture of the bus.  I thought I was ready for all of this (after all, we did it last year), but I found myself unprepared for the incredible sense of sadness that I experienced as his bus pulled away.  I ended up crying like a real nit-wit.  My heart certainly goes out to any mother who sends her child away to war – I can’t even imagine how they must feel.  They have my utmost respect and empathy.

Once he was gone, there was no sense in dallying, so I hit the road.  I couldn’t drive past Sheridan, Wyoming, without stopping at this scenic turnout overlooking a beautiful valley:

Spending the night in Cheyenne, I have put my beloved mountains behind me.  I am on my way home.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

To Another Place and Time…

I’m writing this while sitting in one of my favorite places in the world…Bozeman, Montana!  Alan decided to return to Yellowstone to work this year (he’s even considering staying over the winter), and I am the one who got to bring him up.  After two-and-one-half days of driving, I have been transported to another world.
Here’s Alan, at home before we left, ready to go (he is really more excited than he looks; he just doesn’t like being in pictures or taking them):

For the most part, the trip was non-eventful.  I wish I had more pictures, but unfortunately my fare does not like to take pictures and I was a little busy driving.  We were in some VERY heavy rain for a lot of our drive through Oklahoma, and while driving through Oklahoma City the rain was so heavy that you couldn't see the signs for the exit until it was too late to take one.  Hooray for Tom Tom -- I didn't have to read the signs.  The rain wasn't exceptionally heavy throughout Kansas, although it was just misty and yucky for a lot of the drive.  For me, the most exciting sight in Kansas was the wind farm.  Even though I’ve seen it before, I still find it striking:

Kansas was more of an audio experience this time.  I lost talk radio just as we got past Hays and I started searching for a radio station.  I could only get one station at one point and it was an “oldies” station.  It was actually quite a hoot for me because it wasn’t playing songs from my teen and young adult years – it was playing songs that I remember hearing when I was quite a young girl.  There is nothing like music to take you to a certain period in time.  It was a little weird when I realized that I remembered the words to all of the songs; I can’t remember where I put my car keys half of the time!
On the second day, we got into Sheridan a little later in the day than we normally arrive on other legs of the journey.  On the drive through Wyoming we listened to a radio news show, “Wyoming Tonight”(?) and it’s always fun to get a feel for an area through its news programs.  Here are some of the big stories:
1.  Some highway near Riverton had had both lanes shut down for a while after a truck carrying some bees had gone off of the road.  The road stayed shut down until the area fire department took care of the bees.
2.  Gas prices in Wyoming are some of the lowest in the country due to the fact that they get a large supply of their crude oil from Canada, and Wyoming refineries are humming along with no problems.  I took this picture as we fueled up in Sheridan:

3.  Of interest to my husband, the hydrologist, would be the story about Wyoming taking measures to do some controlled releases of water in the area.  Apparently, Wyoming had a much larger than normal amount of snow pack this year, and coupled with the large amount of rain they have been getting/are expecting this week, they needed to do these controlled releases to make room in area lakes for storage of the large amount of melting snow/water.  This made me happy because I know that often having enough water is an issue in some places in this part of the country.
Sheridan is still beautiful, and I love being able to see the mountains, no matter where in town you are:

The best part of the drive for me is the area just outside of Bozeman.  That’s where you really start to see the mountains.  At first they were really “misty”:

Something that I found really exciting was that it began to snow as we went further up into the mountains.  The air temperature was cold enough for the snow, but the ground temperature was warm enough that it didn’t stick to the roads and posed no danger to a Texas driver.  I always love to see the snow covered trees, especially the little “Christmas” trees:

Once we were at the motel, I wanted a picture of the snow:

Alan and I treated ourselves to another “blast” from our past.  The “Dairy Queen” restaurant was everywhere when I was growing up, but they have all but totally disappeared from the area in which I now live.  However, Bozeman has a great Dairy Queen, and that’s where we decided to go for dinner.  Here is a picture of Main Street and all of the cute little shops:

After we ate, I took this picture of some birds that were sitting near a dumpster.  Holy cow!  I feed the birds at home (every day), but I don’t think I could keep up with these guys!

Alan doesn’t leave for Yellowstone until Thursday morning, so we are hoping to get out and explore a little tomorrow.  I can’t wait!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Stinky McFinkey, Order from Chaos, and Chickens

It seems like it has been forever since I have been able to read blogs (and I’ve missed that!) or write one of my own.  I have been so busy that it’s not even funny.  March is the “birthday” of Relief Society, our women’s organization at church and I was in charge of a big, blowout dinner celebration.  Although it did not occupy all of my time, it did occupy all of my brain cells for the first half of the month.   I am terrible when I have an event looming on the horizon; I can’t think of anything besides “the event” and do not switch gears very well.  It is almost paralyzing at times.  Glad that’s over.
I also began a new adventure in March (in fact, the week of the dinner).  It’s a long story, and it’s their story to tell (not mine), but the bottom line is that Miss Popper is no longer going to day care when her parents are at work.   She is now spending her weekdays with her old Lolee, who does the best she can to keep up.  It is actually quite comical to see us.  The little girl who arrives at my house around 7:30 in the morning has been roused from her blissful sleep by her mother, who insists on waking her in order to change her diaper, feed her, and all that stuff.  By the time she gets to my house she is quite done with it all and can be somewhat irritable.  I call this little child, “Stinky McFinkey”.  I do my best to console Miss McFinkey, I give her some breakfast and a bottle, and then I put her little fanny down for a morning nap.
Miss McFinkey insisting on feeding herself:

Nap time is where the magic happens.  Over the next hour or so, this slumbering child is transformed.  When she awakens, she is no longer “Stinky McFinkey” – she has become “Cutie McTooty”.   Little “Cutie” and I have a pretty good time for the rest of the day.  So far, we have both survived three weeks.  She is so sweet and we have been working on reaching her milestones (sitting up, etc.) together.  I love having my girl here, but I will say that there is a reason that 50-year old women are infertile.  I just don’t have the energy her mother seems to have. 
Here is my girl, having a great time playing:

When I am not trying to keep Miss Popper alive or doing church stuff, I have been trying to work on our yard.  There is a reason that I have never shown a full picture of our yard (only close-ups and snippets).  You see, our dogs declared war on our yard a few years back, and they seem to have adopted a “scorched earth” policy.  We also have a variety of building projects that were started, but not finished, resulting in piles of lumber and building materials scattered hither and yon.  This is the year that we are finally working TOGETHER to get our yard in shape.  Robert is working on finishing the mansion for the chickens and other items in an attempt to use up the lumber.  I am planting flowers, herbs, and berry bushes everywhere that there is sun in the hope that if there is enough stuff growing, it won’t be so obvious that we don’t have grass.  We are also looking at laying some more flagstones on all of the “paths” that the dogs have created.  We are trying to create order from chaos.  Once we are finished, I might get brave enough to show you some “before” and “after” pictures.  For now, I will just show you a couple of things that I found this spring that were inexpensive, but that I find oh-so-neat.
I found this cute little thing at “Dollar Tree” for one dollar.  By having Robert drill some holes in the bottom, I transformed it into a cute little planter, just right for one lone plant:

My favorite thing is the set of solar-powered butterfly lights.  I put them among the butterfly bushes (ha ha).  Once dusk arrives, they put on quite a show, changing colors in sequence.  Beautiful!

I am still enjoying our chickens, Opal and Ruby.  I do have to make time for them to run loose in the yard because the hawk is still in the area.  Too many times I go out into the yard, only to find feathers everywhere:

That sight still makes me sick.  Not my girls!  So they are kept safe when we are not in the yard and allowed to run crazy when we can be out there.  I tried to get a good picture of them tonight, but they don’t stay still for very long.  Here is a blurry picture that at least shows what big girls they are:

So that’s it!  That’s the big excitement here in Woodbury World.  Hope things are going well in yours!