Friday, August 31, 2012

Thank you, Isaac

It's been a long time since we've had gentle rain all day; actually, I think this may be the first time this year.  I do hope this means the drought is over.  Cliff intends to sow some new grass and clover in one area of our pasture.  He's kept the soil worked all summer long, but if we hadn't gotten this rain, he couldn't have planted.  Now there's a chance the seeds will germinate after they are in the ground.  The best time to plant pasture in this part of the country is from August 15 to September 15; we really needed this.  There was an inch in the rain gauge when Cliff came in from the shop a couple of hours ago, and it's still raining.  If it takes a hurricane to bring rain our way, so be it.


 This morning I took my coffee and my Ipad out on the back deck and got a nice look at the blue moon.  OK, it isn't officially a blue moon until tonight, but that was close enough to suit me, since we won't be seeing the moon tonight.  When I woke up at 5 o'clock, I thought the sun was up, it was so bright outside.   


This picture doesn't do it justice, but there was a lovely sunrise this morning, too.  

*At 8 P.M. we have almost two inches in the gauge.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

I'm a free spirit


OK, maybe I didn't feel so ugly this morning.  The thing with me is, if I'm comfortable, I don't care much how I look.  I saw this on Facebook tonight and decided it would fit in well with a couple of pictures Cliff took of me this morning.  


We were getting ready to go for our usual morning walk and I decided I looked strange enough to have my picture taken.

I bought the hat in Canada.  I think it's made of some sort of plastic stuff, but it breathes well, and keeps the sun out of my eyes.  You can wad the thing up into a little bitty ball and it comes back to itself just fine.  I really like the hat, although I will only be wearing it around home.  


Then I told Cliff we needed a picture of my tattoo, since nobody has seen it for awhile.  

I watched about ten minutes of the Republican National Convention this evening, but I guess I forgot to drink the Kool Aid, because it wasn't impressing me much.  I'm sure the Democratic National Convention will affect me in the same way.  Maybe it would help if I bought some hip boots?  

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Checking in

Cliff's St. Louis sister, Charlene, and her husband Pat came to visit Saturday and left today.  We've had a great time with them throughout their stay, but especially Saturday night.  Their son and his wife came from St. Joseph to visit with all of us.  The oldest grandson was here with Heather.  Of course Cliff's next-door sister hung out with us too.  
You'd have to know my brother-in-law Pat to really understand what a clown he can be, and to appreciate how things went down once his son, a true chip-off-the-old-block, arrived.  Those two could make money as a comedy act.  We sat outside Cliff's shop until long after dark, all of us laughing until our sides hurt.  I wished several times that my daughter and her family could have been here; that was the only thing marring a perfect evening.  
My sister called Saturday to tell me she went to have a minor procedure done by a plastic surgeon (sun damage, I believe).  He left the room and a lady doctor walked in and started visiting with her, telling her about some patient with breast cancer who was getting a reconstruction.  Maxine said, "My niece is going through that right now."  
"What's her name," the lady doctor asked.  
"Oh, she lives forty miles east of Kansas City, so I'm sure you wouldn't know her."  
"We have a lot of patients," the doctor answered.  "What's her name?"
When Maxine told her, she said, "Oh yes, she's my patient!  She has the most upbeat attitude, and is always making us laugh.  When she had the drainage tubes in, she named them!  One was Jaxson.  We enjoy her so much."  
Yeah, that's my daughter.  Her doctors brag on her.  



Because the Nook edition of the first book in "The Hunger Games" series was on sale for $1.99 last week, I bought it.  It isn't really my cup of tea, but it held my interest just fine.  If you've read the book, you can imagine my frustration at the way it ended.  You have to get the next book to see what happens to the main characters!  I refuse to pay ten bucks for the second book, so I went to my library website to see if they had the digital edition.  They only have the Audio book.  Audio-books seem to put me to sleep, but I put in a hold for it.  There are thirty-six people ahead of me.  That's OK, I can wait.  
I just hope I can stay awake to listen to it.


Friday, August 24, 2012

I'm not in the mood for blogging

I may be taking a few days away from the blog.  Usually once I make this announcement, I suddenly get lots of stuff to tell about, so don't count on my disappearing.  



I am in a lousy mood.  I am depressed at this extended drought and its effects on my garden and the whole state of Missouri in general.  I gave up on having a fall garden because I have messed with soaker hoses all summer and I don't want to do it any more.  We won't even talk about the bugs eating holes in the tomatoes and peppers, living inside them, and causing them to rot.  
I am depressed by everything my daughter is going through, and I am depressed that I can't do anything about it.  Of course she will whip cancer, but the chemo that is saving her is making her miserable right now.  And even though we all know her chances are excellent, if you've been through this, you know there is always the big "what if" hanging over our heads.  I may as well put that out there, right?  You know it's true.  
I am depressed by the whole political circus, and especially depressed at the stupidity of the Republican party, which used to be MY party.  
I'm depressed by people who try to bully me into voting for someone I can't stand because if I write in the person I believe in, I am "throwing away my vote".  
No, I'm not.  I'm just being true to myself.  If I vote for someone I don't like or trust just so the other guy will lose, I'm being a hypocrite.    
I'm depressed because I bought some bananas at Aldi's the other day that were so very green, they won't ripen at all.  Hey, it's my pity party; leave me alone.
So if I don't have anything to blog about for a few days, now you know the reasons why.  
But knowing me, I'm liable to be back tomorrow sending more blather your way.


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Freebies

It's been awhile since I've mentioned Swagbucks on my blog.  It's a search engine that pays you to use it.  I generally use my Swag Bucks to buy Barnes and Noble gift cards with which I purchase Nook Books.  I manage to earn enough Swagbucks every four months to get a certificate worth $10 at Barnes and Noble, which generally gets me a book.  Since I read library books on my Nook (and on my Ipad), I don't often spend money on books.  When I get these e-gift cards, I choose a book that I think I will want to read more than once.  Swagbucks has promotional stuff that helps you earn extra points, but for the most part, I only use the search engine.  For instance, I don't use a saved link to visit Pioneer Woman; I type the words into my Swagbucks search engine.  I often use it to get to my own blog, too.  
Once in a while I end up having to use Google, but most of the time Swagbucks meets my search engine needs.  

Here's my most recent way of getting freebies, and it looks as though I will get rewards a lot faster than I do with Swagbucks:  MySurvey.com.  I've only been doing this one for five weeks, and I already have enough points to trade in for a $10 gift card for Amazon.com or Applebees or Outback.  If I wait until I have double the amount of points I've earned so far, there are $25 gift cards.  
I will admit the surveys are sort of a drag, but I'm retired and usually doing nothing really important anyhow.  And I like free stuff.  

I am still using Google Adsense.  It seems to take forever to get my reward, but that's because you don't get your money until it adds up to $100, and it depends upon you, my readers, to click on the ads here.  Seriously, who clicks on ads?  Obviously somebody does!  September 23, 2011, I received a check from Adsense for $102.11.  I think it took five years to get to that point.  Today I have $26.78 in unpaid earnings; at that rate, it will be around three more years before I get another check. 

So there you have it.  The little perks of my Internet existence.  The biggest perk, of course, is interacting with all my lovely readers, one of whom is responsible for introducing me to Swagbucks and the world of Internet freebies.  

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Strange

It wasn't even 8 A.M. when Cliff and I heard a motorcycle drawing nearer and nearer.  Sounded like a Harley.  I looked out and saw a guy on a motorcycle sitting in front of Cliff's shop, so I stepped out onto the porch.  He saw me, turned off the bike, and started walking toward the house.  I stepped back inside and watched him approach.  As he climbed the steps to our porch, Cliff and I both went to the door.  
"Hi," he said.  "I'm a friend of Marvin and Roxanne's; is that their house?"  
He was pointing at our old 100-year-old house.  Must not be a very close friend, I thought, if you don't know which house was theirs, and don't know they haven't lived out here for a year.
"No," I said, "that's their house over there."  I pointed toward the monstrosity.  "Their house was foreclosed on."  
"Huh," says he, "you'd think I would remember where they lived; I helped pour the basement."  
So the dude helped pour the basement but thought our obviously-old house was theirs?  
He must be smoking some of that wacky tabackie, or maybe he's just plain stupid.  Either way, he's a liar.       
"I just need to plug the battery into an electrical outlet," he says.  "It would only take about fifteen minutes, and I have the charger with me."
Cliff slipped into some house shoes and took him to the shop.  He did not, however, open the shop up.  He let the guy use an outside plug in.  They are still out there.

  
I don't know if I have told the latest developments on the neighboring house, by the way.  I tend to forget whether I told certain things in my blog, or only on Facebook.  The above picture is one I took the day of the auction.  I'm sure you think that floor looks nice, but it's spongy in several places, and the boards don't quite reach the walls.  See that space under the door?  Those people lived in that house for three winters with that space there.  Maybe they tossed blankets up against it to keep out the cold, who knows.    


Those beams might look good in the picture, but they are splitting.  The guy made his own beams from trees on the property and put them in the house still green.  So when they cured, they shrank.  One fell, while they still lived there.  
The bank wanted $95,000 that day, but the bid only reached $75,000, so it was no sale.  
Somebody I know went to the bank shortly thereafter, thinking to get them down on their price.  At this point, $85,000 was the lowest they would go.  My acquaintance said they weren't going to pay that much, since the house is no good, and half the property is a ditch.  
A few days ago I saw a family over there going in and out of the house; a man walked back quite a ways on the property as if checking out how far the land went.  The same people were here the next night, and since they had access to the inside of the house, I assumed they had bought the place.  
But then last night, different people were over there looking the place over.  A man lifted a woman up so she could look in the window.  
I sure wish I knew whether someone bought it, and if they did, what their plans are for the house.  I would so love to see it gone.  

By the way, that guy's fifteen-minute charge must not be working out for him.  He and Cliff have been out there for forty minutes.  I think I'll go see what's going on.
*added later:  the guy told Cliff his life story out there.  He just got out of prison, after being in for four years.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Looks like a good destination for a motorcycle ride



This place is less than one hundred miles from us, so I believe we'll have to make it a motorcycle ride at some point.  Reservations are necessary, so if it rained (fat chance) we would be taking the car, of course.    

I'm in a pretty foul mood lately.  My daughter is feeling the effects of chemo, and while it's her lonesome valley to walk and I can't walk it for her, it still bums me out.  


Monday, August 20, 2012

around here

I haven't said anything about the garden lately.  Remember the big plans I had to plant a fall garden?  In fact, just before we left on our vacation, I did plant some beets and cabbage, and thoroughly wet the seeds down with the soaker hose so they would germinate.  Then I was gone for ten days, and returned to find absolutely nothing growing except a few hardy weed seedlings.  Even though it was too late to do so, I would have tried planting more; but I was tired from our travels and depressed at the lack of rain, and besides, I didn't have any more beet seeds.  Goodbye, fall garden.    
The tomatoes are still giving us plenty for the table, and sweet peppers are producing.  Other than that, I am done with gardening for this year.  
I will be buying some apples at a local orchard before long.  The apples are three weeks ahead of schedule. 
The drought has killed at least three of the young Norway Spruce trees and a dogwood tree, and who knows how many perennial flowers.  I'm seriously tired of fighting it.  Our cows still have alfalfa to graze, although it's dry and crackly; I'm thankful for our "accidental" alfalfa.  We have hay for this winter.  But we will have to buy hay next year for three cows and their calves, and if this dry weather pattern continues into next year, something will have to give.  One thing about it, Babe's calf would be old enough to sell at hay-buying time, and would probably (if the drought ends) bring enough money to buy hay for the others.  
Right now, due to farmers selling cows they have no way of feeding, there are fewer cattle than at any time since the Department of Agriculture started keeping records in 1973.  So even if the drought ends, there are going to be fewer mother cows having calves, and that means less beef.  Which, of course, means  higher beef prices.  
As far north as we went on our vacation, we never did really get out of the drought.  If I am depressed about the situation, think how the farmers feel who depend on their crops for their livelihood.  
Enough of that:  We have three calves coming over the next few months, and I already have two of them named.  The February calf, as I already mentioned, will be named Bouncer whether it is male or female.  The November calf, due around Thanksgiving, will be Turkey.  I guess Babe's calf, due in a month, will have to do something notable to give itself a name.  I would not be surprised to have all heifer calves this time around, since there have been nothing but bull calves for three years.  The odds say it is time for some girl calves.  Funny thing is, at this point I don't much care what sex they are.  


At the fair yesterday, I noticed Cliff admiring a new John Deere tractor on display.  (Don't you love it when you have a finger in the picture?)  


When I saw the price, I told Cliff, "Move away from the tractor, and nobody will get hurt."  
You should have seen the sticker prices on the really big ones.  

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Went to the Missouri State Fair today

We went last Sunday too, but we didn't get to see any horses or Jersey cows.  Today was a perfect time to go, with temperatures in the low 80's and most everything half-price, including entry to the fair and most of the fair food.  First of all, we walked through the barns, where I drooled over the lovely Jersey cows.

Then we watched the young people showing their Jerseys:



But the highlight of the day was the Budweiser Clydesdales.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Throwing stuff away

There are several plastic containers stacked in on corner of our garage back here at the trailer house.  Three of the them are full of Christmas tree decorations and Avon Christmas plates.  I don't think I will be doing any more Christmas trees, except for one that's about three feet tall that I can just plug in and forget about it.  So I need to get rid of the Christmas stuff.  However, Granddaughter Amber has asked me to let her go through them because she is sentimental about some of the Christmas stuff.  Meanwhile, there stands the stack that takes up the most room, waiting.  Next time she is here, she is going to have to make some decisions, because these are the items that would be easiest for me to toss, out of all the containers in the garage.
The other containers are full of pictures and keepsakes, both mine and my mother's.  Every once in awhile I go through them and toss some stuff, but yesterday I decided to get serious.  There are a lot of pictures that won't mean a thing to anybody, once I'm gone.  My children never knew my grandparents, for instance.  
Years ago a local publisher published and recorded, by other people, five songs I wrote.  My mom had those records and I had some.  I've kept them for years, I guess just to prove to myself that once upon a time somebody sang and recorded something I wrote.  Yesterday they went to the trash.  They're 45 RPM records.  Who has anything capable of playing them?  


This was my mother's hope chest.  It really needs to go to the ditch, it's in such deplorable condition.  The lid is warped, and one leg is missing.  At one time I was going to try and strip the varnish off it, but  it didn't strip so easily and I gave up.  It was stored in the barn for a long time.  It isn't as big as you might think, only thirty inches long and fifteen inches wide.  My mother's dad, the grandfather I never knew, made it from walnut harvested on their farm.  A former co-worker who works with antiques was going to fix it up for me, but then Cliff retired and I decided it would be silly to pay somebody to fix something up that nobody wants but me.  My sister thought maybe her artistic grandson might want it, because he could so something creative with it.  So far I haven't heard anything on that.    
I am so close to asking Cliff to haul it to the ditch, but right now I just can't.  I also don't want to beg somebody to take it, or to expect somebody to care about something just because it's eighty-five years old, built by a long-gone relative they never knew.
And then there are pre-divorce pictures showing apparently happy families that long ago split up and went their separate ways.  But their children are in the pictures, and what if those children should want them sometime, perhaps to see who they resemble?  Hmmm, decisions, decisions.  That's why I always get depressed in the middle of doing this throwaway thing and stop before I'm done.  

Friday, August 17, 2012

Babysitting a Great Dane

My grandson and his girl friend have watched my dog Iris several times when Cliff and I went on weekend trips.  We really appreciated it, since it costs $15 a day to board her.  Nobody usually volunteers to dog-sit for us; Iris sheds like crazy, and attacks a television any time there's an animal on.  She's a total nutcase.    

So, I owed them.  I told them Titan could stay here during their six-day vacation in New Mexico.  I do love Titan.  He's very affectionate, and only wants to please.  
He also stinks.  He has the worst doggie-odor I've ever experienced, I think that's because he isn't neutered.  Not to mention that he occasionally passes gas, although that's only happened four times since he's been here.  Another thing... he sheds as bad as my dog, Iris.  The only difference is that his hairs are very short.  So I know when it's his hairs on the screen of my Ipad.  


I took a picture of Titan to share on Facebook.  He was laying on my feet and I thought it was hilarious.  After I posted the picture, I realized the most noticeable detail in the picture was his testicles.  Oh yeah. 
The grandson brought Titan's kennel so that in case we went someplace, we could put him up.  Because lately, when they leave him at home alone, he's been destroying things to show his displeasure that they left him behind.  I had to drag him in there the first time, but after he found out I was going to give him a treat, he was glad to enter his cave.  
When Titan is at home, he sleeps on the couch.  At my house, the rule is, no dogs on the couch.  So I take his bed and blanket to our bedroom, put it beside our bed, and shut the door with all four of us... me, Cliff, Iris, and Titan... enclosed in a room together for the entire night.  
Did I mention that Titan stinks?  And that he tends to have a little flatulence problem at times?  
I do love that dog.  I love our grandson and Heather.  I owe them this favor.  
But from now on?  Never again.  I will put Iris in a kennel for $15 a day.  
Titan is well behaved, though.  I'll give him that.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The worst thing that happened on our vacation

On Friday evening, the sixth day of our adventure, I decided to check our bank account online.  I'm the world's sloppiest bookkeeper, so I like to check from time to time to see if I've messed anything up.  We didn't have Internet at that particular motel, but I have AT&T on my Ipad, so I used that.  
Our account was over $400 in the hole.  
Now if I'd had wifi, I could have checked all our transactions to see what went wrong, but the Ipad, although it will let me see the balances, won't let me look at transactions.  I had no way of finding out why our checking account would suddenly have a deficit.  We had not even used our checks or debit card in over ten days.  
The only thing I could think of was that somebody must have hacked into our account, perhaps when I was hooked up to an unprotected Internet connection at a motel.  
That was Friday night.  Saturday we got on the road early; as you can imagine, I had some sleepless nights.  I couldn't call the bank until they opened on Monday morning at 9 A.M.   
When we arrived at Mount Rushmore Monday morning, it wasn't 9 o'clock, but Cliff reminded me that we were in a different time zone.  We found a bench in a quiet location and I called, scared of what I might hear.  
The bank's bookkeeper came on the line, I explained my dilemma (almost crying), and she did some checking.  
"Did you cash a check for (a certain amount) last Friday?"
Although this was better than having my identity stolen, my heart fell.  
"Cliff," I whispered, "those people wrote us a hot check."  
Neither of us could believe it.  They just didn't seem like the type. 
I had the bookkeeper transfer money from Cliff's tractor fund to checking, so there wouldn't be any more surprises.  
When I got a chance, I wrote a snippy email to the lady with whom we had the transaction.  Turns out she had even had worse problems than ours.  
She answered my email saying she had been out of town to a relative's funeral and got home to find someone had written her a bad check for three times the amount of the one she had given me.  So she had checks bouncing everywhere.
These are people with whom we have had previous dealings, and Cliff and I both felt they were trustworthy.  Her story, as told in email, rang true.  I apologized for being hateful in my first correspondance.  
She replied that she did not have the total amount, but that she would deposit what she could in our U.S. Bank account the next day.  That isn't our major checking account, but our other bank is local, and she wanted to deposit the money herself in a bank close to her so there would be no mixups.  She said she would deposit it that very afternoon, and would touch base with me when she was ready to go to the bank.
No money was deposited that afternoon, and I heard no more from her.  Cliff and I still decided to give them the benefit of the doubt.  
Another day passed with no word, so I sent an email and said, "Please keep me in the loop."  
No answer.
Yesterday Cliff called both their phones and left a message.  
This morning I got an email saying to check our bank account for the money at noon.  
Indeed. it was there.  
I still don't believe they were trying to bilk us.  Perhaps they were busy putting out fires from other checks that had bounced back to them.  I don't think I am that bad a judge of character.  
If only there had been more communication, it would have all been different.  As it is, there is a bad taste left in this old lady's mouth from all the worrying I've done for several days.  It really put a damper on our vacation.  

When Jody has her calf in February, its name will be Bouncer.    



Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The bear series




Thanks for the smiles, David.

Vacation, 2012: The End

I should mention at this point that except for the fear of not finding a motel room in Rapid City, the bikers were no problem at all.  In fact, I think they made our time in South Dakota more interesting.  


Our next stop after leaving Needles Highway was Wall Drug, which has expanded a lot since I was a kid.  If you've ever traveled in the direction of Rapid City, you have seen many signs advertising the place many miles from its location.  I suggest you read the history of Wall Drug HERE.  It's inspirational. 


We didn't spend a lot of time here, just enough to drink a five-cent cup of coffee and find a marked-down souvenir coffee cup to take home.  


 I told Cliff we didn't have to drive clear through the Badlands; all I wanted was to get deep enough in so that's all we could see.  



As we were leaving the Badlands, we came to another place I just had to see:  Prairie Homestead.





This is the real thing, not a replica


White prairie dogs were everywhere!  I don't see how the settlers here managed to have a garden with these little pests around.  
From this place, we headed toward home.  We spent Sunday night at the Thunderbird Lodge in Mitchell, South Dakota, and arrived home the next day around 4 P.M.  
Cliff and I agree that the Colorado Rockies are prettier than anything we saw up north, and they are much closer to home.  We had quite a road trip and are glad we went.  
For those of you who think we should have reserved a room, that might be fine with you.  If we were going to Glacier National Park again, we might try to find something.  But they say you need to get your room at least six months ahead:  at our ages, we don't know if we'll even be alive in six months!  Besides, we don't plan to go there again.  Now we know what it's like, and once is enough.  The only distant place I would still like to see is the Grand Canyon, but I wouldn't say it's on my bucket list.  
We have decided you can't beat Colorado as a destination, no matter how far you travel in this country.  We won't make reservations when we go.  We have never had a problem finding someplace to stay there.   
And that's the end of our vacation.

Monday, August 13, 2012

South Dakota

The closer we got to the Black Hills, the more bikers we saw.  We started seeing "Sturgis riders, welcome" at the Interstate exits.  I searched my GPS for Rapid City motels and began calling.  The first several I called were booked up, but I finally found an out-of-the-way place that had a room available.  I gave the lady my name and told her we were about half-an-hour away, and she said she would save it for that long.



Whew.  This was probably the oldest motel we stayed at during our trip, and at $79 per night, it was the highest-priced.  It was very clean, though.
We got settled in and went down the road to get bread and other necessities, cooked and ate in our room, and started planning for the next day.  There were four things I wanted to see:  Wild Bill Hickock's grave at Deadwood, Mount Rushmore, Needles Road, and the Badlands.  I recalled seeing all but the first-mentioned of these when I was a teen.  
Sunday morning I found a bearded guy in the office and asked him about these places.  
"Just what do you want to see in Deadwood," he asked.  
"Wild Bill Hickock's grave," I told him.  
He looked at me as though I was crazy and explained to me that the town of Deadwood would be nothing but a parking lot full of Harleys, due to the Sturgis rally.  
"Oh, I thought all those people would be in the town of Sturgis."  
Now I got a REAL look from the guy who, turns out, was a biker himself.  "They'll be all over this area," he said with a sigh.  
"OK, maybe we'll skip Deadwood.  It's out of the way anyhow."   
I could tell he agreed with my decision, and I knew Cliff would be glad at this turn of events.  He has never understood my fascination with outlaws, but Ladies Love Outlaws, you know.  
So we were off and running, and before you know it we saw Mount Rushmore in the distance.

Because Mount Rushmore is a National Memorial, our golden age passport got us in free.  


There were more motorcycles than cars at the entrance.  


This group was called "Sober Riders".  I'd say they are smart riders.  


And there we are!  
We made a quick pass by Crazy Horse Memorial, but we didn't go in because there isn't that much to see.  I don't think the world will last long enough for them to finish that project.  Next, on to Needles Highway:






I'm going to break up this days activities into two or three entries because we did so many things in such a short time.  Next stop, the Badlands.  


Sunday, August 12, 2012

Going south

After leaving the buffalo-jump place, we were ready to go back to the U.S.A.  We weren't going straight home, though, because I wanted to see the Black Hills and the Badlands of South Dakota.  The interstate took us right past there anyhow, and I had not seen that part of the country since I was a teenager.  
There was a duty-free store just before we crossed over the Canadian border.  I had been looking everywhere for a Canada sweatshirt to take home as a souvenir, and anything I found was either overpriced or had a hood on it.  We keep our house pretty cool in wintertime, so I wear sweatshirts inside a lot, and can always use another one; don't need the hood, though.  Luckily, I found what I was looking for right there on the border, at a reasonable price.
As we were waiting in line to cross back into our own country, we watched a guard carefully searching the car ahead of us.  My heart sank, not because we had anything we shouldn't have, but because the back seat and trunk were so full, and everything was so messy (wet tent, remember?) that it would be embarrassing to have it all searched.  However, we were asked a couple of simple questions and waved on our way.  
Towns are few and far between in Montana, and many of the towns you do find are tiny.  All of them seem to have a casino, though, stuck in the back of a gas station.  According to the GPS, we would arrive in Billings between five and six o'clock.  Billings is a big city spread out over a long, narrow valley, and we were confident we would be able to pull off the Interstate and get a room with no problem.  
What we didn't know was that the state fair was going on in Billings.  Every motel in town was booked up.  I searched on the GPS for motels in Billings and called half a dozen before I finally gave up.  We stopped at a Wendy's and got something to eat, because things didn't look too promising on down the road as we looked at the map.  
It was almost eight o'clock when we found an old-but-clean motel in Stanford, Montana, a town even smaller than our little town; I'm sure the only reason there was a motel there at all is that it's in the heart of hunting country.  
A couple had parked their Harley and were checking in just ahead of us; when they mentioned they were going to Sturgis, I panicked:  We were going to arrive in the Black Hills at the start of the Sturgis rally!  Once again, our timing was awful.  Would we find a motel there, with thousands of bikers visiting?  This time there was no tent to fall back on; we left it at a dumpster in mid-Montana.  
Here we go again!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Another day in Canada

Sunset motel had no vacancies by the time I woke up Saturday morning.  I was a little disappointed that I couldn't get their free Internet to work for me, but I decided not to make an issue of it.  We took Cliff's sister's two wet chairs inside the room when we first arrived and set them up so they could dry.  The tent was still in the trunk, slowly mildewing.  We had not yet found a big enough dumpster (or one with a big enough opening) to throw the tent in.  

This was next door to the motel.  It had been a long time since I had seen an A&W.  Cliff and I were amused by the fact that the place was open for breakfast.  Root beer for breakfast, anyone?  
The Fort Macleod museum opened at 9 A.M., but we went a half-hour early and strolled through historic downtown.  Nothing was open, but it was fun looking at the old buildings.  


If the timing had been right, we could have done a tour of the Empress theater.  


When the fort museum opened, we bought our tickets (AAA discount, by the way) and proceeded to learn the history of the North West Mounted Police.  I think Cliff read every single word there!  I was watching the time because there was a musical ride coming up that I didn't want to miss.  When it finally started, I couldn't find Cliff.  He was still in the first room of the museum, reading and learning.  He finally heard the commotion, though, and joined me.    

video

I really enjoyed the musical ride.  It went on for quite a while, and the horses were well coordinated throughout.  Cliff and I wondered what breed they were, so I asked:  turns out they were all quarter horses.  I'm used to looking at 'Tude as an example of a quarter horse, so these horses seemed smallish to me.  

After spending two or three hours at the fort, we traveled a few miles (or should I say kilometers?) to the middle of nowhere to see the Head-Smashed-In Buffalo jump.  Because, you know, I love stuff about Indians.  It's a spot where, for many centuries, native Americans drove buffalo over a cliff to kill them for food and clothing.  When I told Cliff I wanted to visit the place, he said, "What's the point?  All you're going to see is a cliff."  
I showed him their website on my Ipad to let him know there was an interpretive center there:  We would see more than just a cliff in the middle of nowhere.  


 This is the sight that greeted us as we entered the building.  

 It seemed like we could see forever.  When we got to the end of this walk, there was an Indian fellow sitting there sharing stories about the native people.  

 There, on the rock in the middle of the picture... can you see the marmot?  

We both thought the sky seemed bluer in Montana and Canada.  Less pollution, maybe?  
On a side note, the glaciers in Glacier National Park are almost all gone, thanks to global warming.  I guess if we can live without the dinosaurs that disappeared long ago, we can live without the glaciers.  "This is the way the world ends, not with a bang, but with a whimper."  

That's such a solemn note on which to end this entry, I'm going to lighten it up a little.  My pesky photographer friend has been playing with my vacation pictures, and here's what you get: