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September 2009 Archives

September 4, 2009

I had no idea

I'm writing from Bozeman, Montana, where Captain America and I are passing through on our way from Glacier National Park to Yellowstone and Teton National Parks on our 10th anniversary Epic Adventure.

Driving today, first along and then inside these great mountains, I realized I have simply never given much thought at all to mountains. Just never considered them - never gave them a thought. Being a born and bred beach girl, I've done coasts and islands, and a francophile, Paris twice, but oh, never this.

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I've been saying things like "I'm converted" about the mountains, but that's not really right. It's not like I'm switching from beaches, but shazam - add mountain girl to my bio. Captain America, who planned this magical tour, has had this in his soul since Boy Scouts at 12, and now it's in mine. Big sky country meant nothing to me before - but we drive into Yellowstone with my eyes wider and my heart bursting and I get it.

We kicked Glacier National Park's butt - these two total novice hikers decked out in all the very best gear did most of the Grinnel Glacier Hike Tuesday (before very responsibly turning back before the point of pain) and a good lot of the High Line Wednesday. We've seen big horn sheep and a lounging moose close up, mountain goats and a grizzly mom and cub from far, far away, and kayaked around the lake in front of Many Glacier Lodge where we stayed.

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I've made it to three great yarn shops now - Knit and Nosh in Helena, and Yarn Shop and Fiber Place and Stix in Bozeman. Bought me some Alchemy mohair laceweight that will remind me of the amber waves of grain we've seen for miles and miles, two ounces each of local Montana Lincoln wool to spin - some natural gray, some dyed barely processed salmon-y pink stuff, and two balls of Simply Shetland silk lambswool laceweight - mmmmmmm. Stix is, hands down, the most beautiful shop I've ever seen, and let me tell you, these Montana shops are BIG - one owner said of course - they have long, cold winters here! I've barely knit, even though yarn was the first thing I packed - there's just too much to see and do. This was on the Empire Builder train - the first part of the adventure in our sleeper car:

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In a word - Glacier National Park is a serious Bucket List item I didn't realize I had on mine, and I'm damned glad to make a check mark there, We'll go back, and I'll have more to say.

September 24, 2009

Epic Adventure, Part I

Captain America started planning this trip to celebrate our tenth anniversary well over a year in advance, which started with an idea of a motorcycle trip out West that's been perking for many years. Given that neither of us owns a motorcycle, and that though the thought of driving or riding on one is thrilling to me I'm not interested in dying young, I killed that after a year or two of incessant motorcycle talk. Then CA started looking at canned Amtrak tours - which, his travel agent sister-in-law informed him were a lot like Denny's - the food looks really tasty in the photos on the menu but tastes pretty bland at best on the table.

He then embarked on the perfect project for his soon-to-be unemployed self - he planned it all on his own, researching and calling and booking National Park lodges at precisely the right moment 364 days ahead. He also talked about it non-stop and ordered lots and lots of hiking gear since we don't hike - or didn't, but that's getting ahead of myself.

I admit - I spent most of the past year with my fingers in my ears going "la la la I can't hear you," both because he wouldn't shut up and because I was just going along with his dream trip - I didn't have that mountains dream in me. Had I planned it, we'd have gone to Costa Rica to go fishing and get deeply tanned. I would NEVER have planned a trip to the Rockies - wasn't on my list. Silly me.

Packing was fun - we had to consider a wide range of temperatures and conditions, and by the time I had all my stuff out for review, I realized it was everything CA has been buying me over the 12 years we've been together - Gramicci climbing pants, great tie-dyes from REI - I was being prepared and neither of us knew it consciously. I passed his packing inspection handily. Of course yarn was the first priority, and as I imagined I'd have ample knitting time over the two weeks, I planned my small Christmas present project and packed a lot of yarn, thinking I would make neat little tags with the cities the presents were finished in. Hah.

I never ever go away for a full two weeks - ever. Getting ready for that, at home and during the most hellish 60 days in recent memory at work, was challenging and stressful. I'm a serious slave to my routine, and that works for me - two weeks of complete unknown was just a tad anxiety-producing. I managed.

My single contribution to the planning was a reservation at Frontera Grill in Chicago on our first night of the trip. We stayed at the Fairmont Millenium, right next door to the Art Institute and walked to Frontera. It was perfecto - CA had a tamale appetizer that he said was just like his neighbor Mrs. Rodriguez used to make in Dallas - go figure. He's a picky eater and I'm not - and I think he enjoyed his meal more than I did. Score!

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Saturday we boarded the Empire Builder train after a quick stop at the Art Institute, which I don't think I've ever been to and which blew me (us) away. I visit museums differently since I've worked at one for the last nine years, and it was amazing. No time to hit Loopy - drag, but I had many more LYSs on my list.

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The modern sleeper cars on Amtrak bear little resemblance to the ones in North by Northwest, but did provide reasonable accomodations for about 30 hours as we left Chicago and went through Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota and into Montana - in fact, right up to East Glacier Lodge, our first night's pit stop. All but Illinois are states I've never been to before - many tacks for my map. We had a submarine shower and bunk beds - Amtrak could work a little on the thin cloth they call a mattress - a thin NASA foam one would go a long way.

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We got in four meals on the ride, which meant we ate with four different couples. We're not the most social couple but we held our own and had fun meeting all of them (even the woman who was so drunk she excused herself halfway through the meal).

From the train we saw:
Proghorn antelope
Astonishingly happy and rich fields of sunflowers blooming
Amber waves of grain - lots and lots and lots of it
Many cows with their frolicking, kicking, happy calves
A gigantic wind farm - I find these beautiful

And, just like Captain America said, those mountains I had never seen, appearing first like clouds far, far away, and then growing and growing and looming and holy cow we're in the MOUNTAINS.

We stepped off the train and threw our bags on top of this:

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While we walked across this path to the lodge:

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Part II coming soon.

September 28, 2009

They call me....

Little Bunny Foo Foo!

We interrupt our tale of the epic adventure to bring you some everyday news. Saturday, while re-layering my compost bin, I discoverd a mouse had made her nest inside it. The momma mouse made it out alive, but as I kept digging out the bottom layer, baby mice kept dropping into it from the middle somewhere.

In a split-second conversation with myself, I knew we'd be buying mouse bait soon for the garage (which the composter is in front of), so as adorable as those little mice were, I decided they would probably prefer a quick, painless death to one by poison and I bopped two of them on the head. I was apologizing as I did it - it's completely against my nature to kill something, let alone a cute little baby mouse, but let's be real - they would have been in my house or garage as soon as the weather turns. More mde it out than I bopped.

Today, after feeling like I had disturbed the force in the universe, I was totally vindicated when I arrived home for lunch and Captain America told me Fishy was playing wtih a mouse. A live one, in the house. Specifically, my bedroom closet. I warned CA to watch where he walked for the rest of the day and went back to work, wondering if I'd be sleeping with the mousies tonight.

No - Fishy is a brilliant and determined huntress! Remember, Fishy found and alerted me to the baby opossum in the kitchen ealier this year. She got it, and CA found her this afternoon in the hall with Indigo (enjoying the spoils of Bluefish's hard work), tossing the little thing around. No more mouse. Death by bop on the head or by cat - I choose shovel bop!

Had a great class Saturday afternoon with Wendy Knits on toe-up socks from her new book. She's a LOT of fun and we decided to start a Ravelry group to celebrate her term "toe cuppage" - the moment of success and joy when you achieve it - we're up to 30 members on the first day!

I've started knitting the yarn haul from the trip - this is a Shetland Shawl from Wrap Style in Simply Shetland's silk noil/wool laceweight from Stix in Bozeman - mmmm. I forgot how long the rows get on these triangles - I'm almost through the first ball of yarn.

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About September 2009

This page contains all entries posted to Dawn's Dream in September 2009. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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