Sunday, August 30, 2009

Home for a spell

We are home, and it looks like it will stay that way until late October.  As much as we want to set sail again, even immediately at times, home has an irreplaceable quality, and we intend to savor it deeply for the coming months.

Kristin is off to school for her teaching masters, nervous and excited.  She will be finished in about a year or two, and since her classes are online, we are free to move about as we please.

I will be trading and helping my grandfather's french glass company, while tending to the dream.

A whole world is out there just beyond your front door. It is great to live in a country where, at any given moment, you are just a choice, a handful of actions, and a day of travel from the other side of the globe.  Of course, it is not that simple.  We also unfortunately live in a country where the conventional career plan tends to strangle would be adventurers with 2 weeks of vacation a year, student debts, and unrealistic living standards.  I think it is absolute rubbish, and as a result, am probably more likely to end up on a street corner than in an office cubicle.  Hopefully, neither fate is ever realized.  Being creative with one's career is a necessity to sate an insatiable travel appetite in the U.S., as it does not come easily along the paved roads of our conventions.  I hope that in my lifetime, our standards change, and more Americans will be able to take time off and travel freely. I think at least 4 weeks of vacation time a year is a reasonable standard.  As a result, people would probably be generally happier and more productive when they do work.

I feel very privileged to have seen such gleaming pockets of wonder during our adventures this summer.  Before our trip to the far East, a lot of people asked Kristin and I, "Why Asia?"  I do not believe that anyone that read of our exploits will pose that same question to us again.

There is no why and never was, as far as I am concerned.  Luckily, I met a girl that feels the same way, and we are just getting started.  More to come.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Delayed in Denver

Tired at Denver airport, we set up shop in this cozy little nook that we named Toenail Alley, after the sliver of yellowing toenail that we found in the carpet. It is modest home, smells like stale farts, and is thankfully only for the time being.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Back to Dallas

Well, we leave for Dallas in the morning tomorrow, where we have spent about 10 of the last 50 days.  It has been a great trip.  We were very fortunate to spend time with such great friends and my grandparents in a beautiful setting.  Montana is a place that everyone should visit at least once.  The sky is huge, the people are pleasant, and the fresh mountain air just eases you to a peaceful sleep at night.  Oh, and the temperature is almost half of what we will come home to tomorrow.  We have been enjoying temperature in the range of 40 to 60 for the last few days.  Which, compared to 100 and muggy, we will take any day of the week.

Yellowstone was a blast.  I have been enduring a Yellowstone bear drought for over a decade, and finally my bear search came to fruition in the form of a small black cub, chewing berries about a foot off of the road.

Fishing the boulder with grandpa was very fun and educational for the both of us.  We are better fisherpeople than we were a month ago.  Fly fishing is definitely a relaxing way to spend an afternoon.

We ate at The Grand 5 times, which is always a culinary delight.  I accidentally ran into Michael Keaton while telling a story about running into him about 20 years ago.  That was pretty weird.

We visited Pete and Carol's way up the Boulder river in the mountains, and spent the afternoon exploring streams and telling stories over homemade cherry strudel.

We visited Bozeman, shopping the downtown strip.  For the first time, I actually bought nothing.  That probably had something to do with the massive losses I sustained in the market today.  Ah the market, it giveth and it taketh away.  

I would like to thank my grandparents for being so perfect and allowing us to stay with them at their home.  They mean the world to us, and seeing them at their best in Montana is always moving and special.

Eat your heart out Lou

Things go at a much slower pace up here in Montana, so much so, that I forgot my loose commitment to provide you all with commentary on our trip.  We had a great trip in the park with my grandparents.  The highlights were seeing a bear cub from about a 5 feet away, a spicy pear salad with mixed field greens, glazed walnuts, cambozla cheese, and a balsamic glaze, as well as a ghost haunting me at the Lake Hotel until I finally was able to pass out at 2am.  It was frightening and delicious stuff folks.  We even researched the Lake Hotel in a bookstore, only to find out that 6 ghosts actually haunt the hotel, including ex-president Calvin Coolidge.  Strange.  

We left the park through the west exit, stopping to have unbelievably delightful ice cream cones in West Yellowstone.  On the way back to Big Timber, our Yukon XL was batted around the road like an apple red vespa.  A storm was rolling in from the Northwest, and with it came 70mph bursts of wind.  As the driver of this leg of our journey, I deeply knuckled the steering wheel and just tried to keep things as straight as possible.  We made it home just moments before a tumultuous hail storm blanketed the yard in atmospheric ice cubes.  Just one pegged grandpa in the head while he docked the queen under some cover.

On Friday, I went fly fishing with grandpa while Kristin spent the afternoon on the computer.  Loser.  We ate dinner at the wonderful Grand Hotel with Sonja and Ken as well as my grandparents.  The Grand Hotel has a magnificent dining room with one of the top chefs in Montana.  We were served lobster rellenos, spicy shrimp cocktail, kassari cheese flambe, and spinach salad dusted with crumbled Gorgonzola.  Yum.  The Grand Hotel has proudly been serving cattlemen, railroad men, miners, sheepherders, and travelers since 1890.  It is a great historic place.

Saturday, we did nothing,  but had a lovely dinner in the evening at the house.

Finally, we get to today, Sunday.  The day began with numerous desserts and brunch at the Grand Hotel.  We then took the long trip up the boulder to visit Pete and Carol.  They have a beautiful home right on the Boulder River, and a gorgeous pooch by the name of Brooke.  We decided that we want to set Brooke up with Kristin's golden Lou.  They are a great match.  We had a great time talking with Carol, Sonja, and my grandmother about traveling to Africa.  Kristin and I really want to visit the mountain gorillas in Rwanda, and Carol was telling us about her daughters trip out there last year.  Sounds very dangerous but interesting.  Pete and Carol make their own cherry strudels, even picking and pitting the cherries themselves, needless to say, they are delicious.

Tonight, Kristin and I went to eat at the The Grand Hotel and accidentally met up with our friend Dan Rostad for dinner.  We met another couple from Dallas, The Salazars.  I was telling them about running into Michael Keaton at The Grand Hotel many years ago when he was "Batman."  I was then quietly informed that he was sitting about 5 feet away from me, definitely within earshot.  I looked over at him, and he sort of shrugged and looked away.  It was pretty hilarious and a little surreal.

Fishing at Big Rock

I caught nothing, but on a day this gorgeous who cares

Trying to find the fishing spot

Casting at Big Rock

Saw this little guy on the way home


On the way to Pete and Carol's

Kristin meeting Brooke

Jeez, leave me alone lady

At this point she was trying to figure a way to set Brooke up with lou

Goofing off


Peter's work shed

The Boulder River - mighty fine fishing



Bear safe trash can

Looks like this everywhere

The Grand Hotel

Friday, August 14, 2009

Yellowstone II

A concerned raven


We stopped by the continental divide to enjoy the lilly pools

Road over the continental divide

A sleeping old faithful, when we pulled up, it was already going off.

The Old Faithful Inn

A geyser erupting in the distance

Castle Geyser, a rare one to witness, goes off about once per day

It was just starting to erupt as we approached it

Castle spewing high

One more shot of castle, named so for its
castle like natural fortification

A stream running through the Old Faithful geyser basin


A pool and some dead trees

Morning Glory

An ivory tree on the geyser basin

Whenever the walkways are empty, you know old faithful is erupting.

Black Sand Basin

Close-up of some stuff

Emerald Pool

Emerald Pool II

A small turquoise pool

The edge of Grand Prismatic

Grand Prismatic - it was a windy day and we saw about 6 hats
smoldering in the surrounding area

The fringe of Excelsior at Midway

Hot water draining into a river


A dog named Fidget

Up the firehole