Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Crazy Horse Monument

The Crazy Horse Monument
The scale model of the monument- 1/300th the size
The seventh and eighth generation grandsons of Crazy Horse
Artifacts from the Crazy
 This will be the last post about the trip we took. As I mentioned previously, it means more to us than to anyone else reading this. I did want to share one of the more memorable parts of the trip though. While we were still on the Lincoln Highway in Wyoming we stopped at one of the rest areas and spoke to a rather interesting fellow. He was sporting a long white beard and carried a Diamond Willow walking stick. Unlike the generic travelers that you see most everywhere, you could tell he was a character and he had an air of knowledge about him. I was drawn to his t-shirt. It showed Mt. Rushmore, which was on our list of places we wanted to visit on this excursion down south. Unfortunately, the buffoons running the government couldn't get their act together and the government was shut down, which of course meant that the national parks were all closed. I mentioned to the fellow that at least he got to see Rushmore and he said that it wasn't nearly as impressive as the Crazy Horse Memorial, right outside of Custer South Dakota. Well, that sealed it. We decided to go there instead. I have to say, it was well worth the trip. The Black Hills are beautiful, and I really liked the town of Custer. I was glad we were there after the peak tourist season. There is a museum on the outskirts of the monument with the largest display of native artifacts I'v ever seen. We were encouraged to watch a video about how the idea for the monument came about and the progress that's been made over the years. The sculptor was a Polish-American man by the name of Korczak Ziokowski. He met with the chiefs of the Sioux tribes back in the 1950's  who commissioned him to do the work. It became his passion and his life's work and he died without ever finishing it. He married and had ten children, seven of whom are still working on the project, using the detailed calculations that he left for them. Before he could begin he had to build steps to the top of the mountain-741 in all. He did the initial work with just a single jack and a ten foot steel bar to manually drill into the granite mountain. Eventually he was able to afford some equipment, a  pnuematic drill powered by an old Buda generator. He said one day he had to go back down the mountain nine times to restart the generator. Several times he was approached by the federal government with offers of money. It runs in my mind that ten million dollars was offered each time, but he had the foresight to decline, fearing that they wouldn't finish the project. No doubt he was correct. The project continues with money collected at the front gate and with donations of equipment and expertise from a number of commercial companies. If you would like to see more, google The Crazy Horse Monument, and for a really up close and personal look, you  can't go wrong visiting the monument and surrounding area. It's steeped in history and all manner of natural beauty. It took us sixty one years to make it there, I hope you don't have to wait so long.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Trip

The Payette River, Idaho

Shoshone Falls, Idaho Falls Idaho

Shoshone Falls/ Snake River
Momma  Jan at Shoshone Falls













   I thought I would spend a little time in the next few posts speaking about our trip. Obviously it means much more to me and Jan than to anyone else, so I won't go on and on, but we don't make it out of Alaska too often so when we do get a chance to go it's a kind of big deal. We left Juneau and flew to Seattle and on to Boise Idaho where we rented a car. I wasn't about to rent a car in Seattle- way too busy for me. When we got to Boise we waited for our luggage which never came. Hey... I just remembered that Alaska airlines has a policy that if you have to wait more than twenty minutes for your luggage they'll give you a twenty dollar credit or refund or some such thing. What the hell? Where's my refund? Those sapsuckers owe me forty dollars- twenty for Jan and twenty for me. It's not the first time they've lost my luggage. The last time we traveled to Wisconsin and Ohio, the airlines lost our luggage on both stops.What are the odds of that happening? Does the ticket counter put special tags on our bags that lets the baggage handlers know that they should send our stuff to San Francisco when we're on our way to Columbus or what? After a few times of having it happen, you kind of expect that they're going to lose it. I should carry a few decoy bags filled with confetti or dog crap that they can lose if they want to while I carry my bags on board and fight with the buffoons who want to try to stuff their seventy pound bags (also known as portable closets) into the overhead bin, taking up the space that is supposed to accommodate at least three passenger's luggage.  We spent the first night of our voyage in Mountain Home Idaho. A friend of ours lived there for awhile and it sounded like a nice place to visit; and it was. Kind of high desert. The folks there were friendly and the hotel was nice except for the fact that we got there on a weekend and the German Air force was visiting the air force base at Mountain Home and they all kind of converged on the hotel we were at so it was a little noisy until midnight or so. We traveled north and west on our way up to Cour'd laine, past some beautiful scenery in the mountains. Unfortunately it started raining buckets and I started thinking about mudslides since the road was right against the mountain on one side and bordered by the Payette River on the other, so we stopped short of our goal and ended up in Eastern Idaho at Idaho Falls. That was a nice place and we may opt to check it out for a winter get away some time in the future. We visited Shoshone Falls, about six miles outside of town and spent a few hours there. The sights were breathtaking and we could easily have spent the whole day there, but we needed to get underway and visit our daughter Camille in Cheyenne. We passed through a corner of Utah and saw some incredible rock formations. I asked Jan to get a picture of them at one point but she mainly got a silhouette of my nose, which I guess does somewhat resemble a rock formation, but I rather doubt if anyone would like to frame it and hang it in their living room.
We drove like mad for quite a few hours and decided to spend the night in Rawlins Wyoming. I don't think  I would ever do that again. It was by far the most expensive hotel that we stayed in and the restaurant is no more than a small tavern in the back of the the hotel. We had to listen to some drunken truckers go on about something or other. At one point some gal mentioned catching a King Salmon in Alaska and I almost ordered a beer and joined the conversation, but I was too tired and didn't want to take a chance of getting into a fight with a drunk and having my picturesque nose smashed.  The room was nothing fancy, but it kept the weather out so I guess that's what counts.  In an effort to keep this from being as long as the King James Bible, I'll go ahead and stop here and continue on in a future post. Hope you all have a great day!

Monday, October 21, 2013

What's that you say?


















  We began our trip several weeks ago by boarding the Alaska Marine Highway ferry, Aurora.   I dropped back to the cafeteria to grab a cup of coffee and watched with amusement as one of the officers posted the menu. I've had clam chowder before, and I've certainly eaten Rock fish, though not grilled. I have to admit though, I've never tried Beef Strokenoff. Sounds like something you might find on the menu of a brothel in Las Vegas or some such thing. When I saw that I had to do a double take. Then I started doubting myself, thinking that perhaps using a "g" instead of a "k" was wrong. I know that I've forgotten a lot of things as I've aged, but this is definitely the wrong spelling. Perhaps the officer was Russian and was spelling it the way she pronounced it, who knows. In any event I agree with a friend who, after she saw the menu, said, "I think I'll stay with  the cheeseburger.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Respect and Balance


















     I'm painfully aware that I haven't done a post here for several weeks. The fact of the matter is, I was on a vacation. I needed to go south to visit my mom and see how she was doing, so we turned it into a road trip of sorts. We flew into Boise and drove around Idaho for a few days, then across Utah and Wyoming to visit my daughter Camille. From there we went to Custer, South Dakota. Unfortunately, the elected officials whom we voted on to run this country are so incompetent and partisan that we were unable to visit one of the places that I had my heart set on visiting- Mt. Rushmore. It wasn't a total loss though. I thoroughly loved the Black Hills of South Dakota and we visited the Crazy Horse Monument and museum. We watched the seventh and eighth generation of Crazy Horse perform several native dances and it was a pretty impressive display. If you ever wonder about a great place to visit I would highly recommend Custer. The area is beautiful, the people are friendly and there's a lot to see and do. I wanted to go see the Custer State Park, which was open because it wasn't run by the feds, however, there were winter storm warnings with the possibility of one to two feet of snow, so we only spent the one day in Custer and beat feet trying to outrun the snow storm. I saw on the news last night that an enormous number of cattle were lost in South Dakota because of that storm. Anyway, we spent a night in Mitchell, South Dakota where we ate a real meal at a Perkins Family Restaurant.Up until then we had been eating barbequed this or that or things other than just a burger. It all kind of runs together. I do however remember that I ate meatloaf with mashed potatoes and gravy at Perkins and we topped it off with a piece of apple pie, which I had to take with me for future consumption since I was filled to the gills with meat loaf. While we were there I couldn't help but notice that there was a huge Cabela's store right next to the hotel, and since I'd never been to one, I felt the need to peruse it. Frankly, it was pretty darned impressive. There wasn't a whole lot that they didn't carry in terms of things that outdoor enthusiasts would need, particularly in the hunting and fishing line. I would have loved to have stocked up on some ammo, maybe a gun or two, some brilliant new composite arrows and a bow to shoot them, a tree stand, some clay pigeons, perhaps some bass or walleye fishing lures, in case I'm ever in the area again for more than a few hours, a couple rods and a four wheeler. As it was I settled for eight pairs of wool blend socks and some jeans. I wouldn't have bought them except for the fact that my socks, and my jeans for that matter, were developing holes. Of course I could have gone to any Wal- Mart to replenish my stock of clothes, but these items were made in America, something that I'm increasingly interested in supporting. I'd much rather spend a little more and be assured that I'm getting a quality product and that Americans are benefiting from my purchases. We went on to Iowa to visit my daughter Amber, being followed by severe weather all the way. When we arrived at her house we were greeted with tornado warnings. On the one hand it was a bit exciting and beautiful. The dark clouds were rushing under huge, white, billowy clouds, and there was non- stop lightning. It was a pretty impressive display of the power of nature. Unfortunately there were seventeen tornadoes that touched down in the area and there was some damage to some of the towns surrounding us. From there we passed through Illinois, Indiana and on to Ohio where my mom lives. All in all it was a pretty fun trip. I'll post a few pictures of the trip on my next post. The pictures above sum up the attitude that I believe we should all have when traveling. Respect and balance. As the posters state, it's more than just a place to visit, it's where we live. Whether you're visiting the Tongass or passing through Le Roy Illinois, please remember that you're a guest for however long you're there. Treat the folks you come in contact with with respect. It will make your stay more pleasant, they'll be glad you dropped by, and you may make a new friend or business contact.