Thursday, June 22, 2017

Soccer camp

Today was the next-to-last day for soccer. I would say that Max has had mixed feelings about it. Yesterday he complained that "someone took the ball away from him" and today that "someone beat him up." I heard Paul explaining to him that "that's soccer." But on the other hand, they had an assignment today to report three facts about their team country (each team of five kids had to choose a country. Max's team is Indonesia). Max reported that Indonesia is made up of 17,000 islands, 700 languages are spoken in Indonesia and it is the fourth most populous nation in the world. He spoke up clearly and Coach Mark said "good job." So I think he enjoyed that aspect of the camp. Much of the camp is also about " life skills," like respect, paying attention, discipline, etc. So he's gotten something out of it, I'm sure. 

       Coach Mark giving directions

     The kids listen with foot on ball

       Break time

     What a day and setting for soccer!

The coach shouts RESPECT! and the kids holler back "RESPECT - Shhhh! and give him their attention. 

The assignment for tomorrow is to make an Indonesian flag.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

My knee must be better

This evening, Ellen and I walked up the hill behind the house. That is the farthest I've walked in months. A month ago I could not have done that without paying a big price in terms of pain and swelling in my right knee. But I seem to have done it without any pain or swelling. I felt sort of weak - but I'm out of shape from lack of exercise. I then played a game of Scrabble with Paul and Ellen and won by 22 points even tho Ellen started out way ahead and my first seven letters were IIIRRCO! So, a good evening! 

      View from the top of the hill

                 The hikers 

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Alpine days

So, now we are at Alpine, taking Max to soccer camp, which he seems to be enjoying, and just hanging out, etc. Ellen fixed supper last night - meat loaf, cauliflower/mashed potatoes, fresh green beans - Yum!

Paul is just starting a respite from his very stressful job, a respite which may just be permanent. The house that has occupied him for the last year or more is finished, and OSM does not have an immediate new one for him. Which is good, because he wants to spruce up their house and put it on the market! So changes are in the air in Alpine. Stay tuned.

Right now, the lupine would probably sell the house in a heartbeat:

Lupine in its glory at Paul and Jenny's house
Lupine up close
Today after soccer camp we stopped at Hederlie Farms for some herbs. They have two very friendly turkeys there who come right up to investigate. Max was fascinated:

Max and turkeys

Yes, guys, you are beautiful!

Wyomng road-side scenes

We spent Saturday night, June 17th, in a Motel 6 in Gillette, WY. We had made the reservation as early in the day as we could because a few years ago, we had tried to find a room in Gillette and had found every roomed booked by transient workers - presumably in the coal mines or oil fields. But that was not the case this time. There has been a severe cut-back in employment in coal and oil because of the market, and the availability of natural gas and shale oil. This time, the motel was only partially occupied. We would not have needed to worry about finding a room. The motel was fairly new and the room very nice, but I forgot to take photos.

On Sunday, we drove on I-90 from Gillette to Buffalo, and then on U.S. 16 through the Big Horn mountains and down the Ten Sleep Canyon to Worland,  then U.S. 20 to Thermopolous, Shoshoni and Riverton, and then U.S. 26 over the Wind River range and through the Togwotee Pass to DuBois and the Moran Junction entrance to Teton N.P., and then down U.S. 89 to Jackson and on to Alpine. This was a beautiful drive. The scenery was varied and often spectacular. Much of it we had not seen before. Route 16, for example, is called "The Sweet 16" and is named The Cloud Peak Skyway Scenic Byway.

Our first fantastic view, coming out of Buffalo (which is an attractive town) was a field of wild flowers in the Big Horn mountains. We had to stop and get a better look:

A sea of wildflowers

Close-up of a bunch of lupine

Then around the Powder River Pass (9666 feet),  things got interesting geologically. The ancient limestone canyon walls were varied and beautiful:

Limestone canyon walls

More of same down the highway

The town of Ten Sleep, to quote Wikipedia,  was an "American Indian rest stop, so called because it was 10 days' travel, or “10 sleeps,” from Fort Laramie (southeast), Yellowstone National Park (west-northwest), and the Indian Agency on the Stillwater River in Montana (northwest)." Ellen stopped to find post cards.

Down the road toward Thermopolous we came to a roadside picnic area on the Big Horn River where we stopped, got out the food box and had an early supper:

Picnic stop on the Big  Horn

View of the canyon from our picnic table

 Then, before coming into Dubois, we came through some very colorful formations:

Painted desert
And then, of course, coming down from the Togwotee Pass, there is that first specacular view of the Tetons, enhanced this day by the low-hanging clouds:

The Teton Range

We ate at Whole Foods in Jackson and got to Alpine after 8:30p.m. - tired but happy!

Monday, June 19, 2017

The Devil's Tower

On Saturday evening and Sunday this past weekend, Ellen and I drove across the state of Wyoming from the very uppermost NE corner over to Alpine, which is on the farthermost Western border, almost in Idaho,  below Jackson. Our route started on Wyoming Rte 24, coming out of Belle Fourche, S.D., through Alladin, Alva, Hulett, and then by Devil's Tower National Monument. We were headed for Gillette, WY, where we had a motel reservation. This was an evening drive, and the light was beautiful. Much of the drive was in the Black Hills National Forest, and it was just a very lovely drive. As I get the opportunity, I will post on this blog scenes from this entire drive between the Soth Dakota border and Alpine, but right now I'll just post a couple of photos of The Devil's Tower, which is an iconic Wyoming site. It was, in fact, the first National Monument in the United States, proclaimed as such by Theodore Roosevelt in 1906. But that, of course, is just a fairly recent chapter in its significance. For millennia, it has been sacred to the indigenous peoples of the region. This creates some tensions even today. Hundreds of visitors want to climb its steep sides (not as difficult as it looks via some routes, and extremely difficult via others), but the Lakota tribe regards this as a desecration of a sacred site. A compromise: climbers are to stay off the tower in June, the time of Native American rituals at its base. Most honor this pledge, but a few have sued the government for violation of the separation of church and state!

The geological explanation for the formation of the tower is not certain. It is some sort of igneous intrusion into the landscape, but there are various theories as to how this happened. Some think it is the remnant of an old volcano. It is composed of phonolite porphyry which intruded about 40.5 million years ago. A characteristic feature are the vertical ridges which look like scratches left by a huge clawed creature. And indeed, Native American lore tells the story of two girls who climbed the tower to escape a bear which left its scratches in an effort to reach them.

The name "Devil's Tower" results (of course) from a mistake. In 1875, a European explorer misinterpreted a native name to mean "Bad God's Tower." Bad names stick, unfortunately.

I took several photos, but it was late evening and the details of the tower were in the shade. Nevertheless, I got a lovely shot with three deer grazing in the foreground. I'm including a commercial photo to show the "bear claw marks."

My photo, taken at about 8:00 in the evening
The more iconic view showing vertical ridges
The truly iconic version is the National Park Poster:

The iconic WPA/NP poster

British soccer camp

Max started camp this morning. He looks more comfortable with the ball. Ellen and I had an anniversary breakfast at Tootsie's after we saw Max settled into camp. Twelve wonderful years! Wow!

     Getting ready for camp

           Warm-up exercises

       Meeting the coaches

Sunday, June 18, 2017

My father

I'm thinking of you, dad, on this Father's Day. I have been reading aloud in the car a remembrance by novelist, Richard Ford, of his parents, titled Between Them. It is a very touching story, and it cannot help but cause the reader to think about his or her own parents in a new way.

Richard Ford's father was a traveling salesman for a starch company. He was a loving father, but absent a great deal, and Richard says he cannot remember his father teaching him any skill.

Dad, I remember your teaching me, e.g., :
   - how to play chess
   - how to shoot a bow and arrow
   - how to take clinkers out of a coal-stoker-fired furnace
   - how to do basic carpentry
   - how to drive a car
  - how to operate a mimeograph machine and make a stencil
   - how to write a sermon

I am grateful for your love and guidance, dad. You were a good father! It is a little hard, though, for me to stretch my mind around the realization that you died 60 years ago this May! You and mother are still very much alive in my heart and memory.

Barney Crockett (1896 -1957)