Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Today's blog entry comes to you from not-so-sunny California. Yes, we have finally reached our furthest point west of the journey and are currently camped out under the giant redwoods. JP says it's like camping in the "enchanted forest". It reminds me more of "Jurassic Park". Part of the movie was filmed here and I keep expecting a velociraptor to surge out from behind a fern and eviscerate me. But then, "Return of the Jedi" was also filmed here, so maybe I can hope that some kind Ewoks would come save me from any dinosaur attack.
The trees are astounding, though, even without dinsosaurs and aloien teddy bears.
The beach here is also lovely, if a little cold. I thought my Burkina acclimatised offspring would barely dip a toe in the frigid north Pacific waters, but they went right in.
Since the blog entry in Pocatello, we have been to Boise, Idaho and Portland Oregon. Many adventures were had, too many to recount today. We had a great time visiting family (in Boise) and friends (in Portland) and now are ready to head back east. Tomorrow we'll pack up the tent and head for Nevada.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

I am blogging to you from, of all places, Pocatello, Idaho. We are spending two nights here, taking in the local ambiance. And there's a lot of ambiance to be had down at the local Walmart, I'm here to tell you. We had to stop in to get food and buy a towel for JP. He left his in Yellowstone. Right now, undoubtably, a lucky grizzy bear is enjoying the use of a light green pima cotton bath sheet. But that act of unintentional generosity towards wildlife left JP without a very necessary item. So, we did a little shopping and observation. Pocatello is just south of a large Shoshone reservation, so there were lots of Native Americans. Ditto cowboys. Even square dancing-type "cowboys" and their lady partners sporting huge, stiff skirts like enormous,, demented Chinet plates!
One gentleman in the bakery department gave us quite a show. He had a severe case of "plumber's pants": an unacceptable amount of rear cleavage going on. Mallory was aghast "LOOK MOM! That guy's gonna lose his PANTS! I quickly convinced her to discuss the matter more quietly and steered the kids in the opposite direction. But then I realized that we did need bread...I turned around and there was the full, panoramic view. It looked distressingly like two gigantic loaves of rising bread wereb trying to escape out of the back of his pants. I did an about face and decided to go to the packaged bread aisle instead. Wonder Bread makes whole wheat now, did you know that?
The BEST thing about Pocatello so far is the extremely great powwow that we went to last night. The Shoshone are having a big festival this week and the main attraction is the dancing. We got there just in time for the Grand Entrance. It was really spectacular, with dancers from tribes all over the central and western USA.
If you haven't checked the Photobucket album lately, do so. There are pics in the Camping subalbum. There are photos from South Dakota and Wyoming. Idaho will soon follow, with views of our trip to Craters of the Moon National Park.
Note: Today's pic is from Mamoth Hotsprings in Yellowstone.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

I started this trip with rosy visions of me merrily blogging along as we drove and camped across the western USA. I guess I sort of neglected the fact that said trip would involve lots of, well, driving and camping. Both of these activities are amazingly time consuming. When you camp; the basics of living take on huge porportions. At home, when you take a shower, you just walk into the bathroom and the whole thing is pretty quickly over. When you camp, you have to do a scavenger hunt before you even get anywhere near the water. Where is your towel? The soap? Are clean clothes even a remote possibility? And when you add four kids into the mix, the fun really begins.
As for the driving aspect, we have been through Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota, Wyoming and are now in Montana. That's a lot of roadtime. The kids are mostly happy just to listen to music and look out the windows of the van. Yes, we rented a big van to hold all of us and our huge volume of camping stuff. It's a "conversion van", I was told. So, you climb into the thing a Catholic and come out an hour later saying "Hey, now that I think about it, that Mohammad guy made a LOT of sense. Where do I sign up?"?
I am currently blogging from West Yellowstone, Montana. We just spent the day at Old Faithful. We watched the famous geyser erupt, along with about a thousand other tourists. ( No, the tourists didn't erupt, though that might have added a lot to the drama.)
Last week, we saw Mount Rushmore and visited Jewel Cave (second longest cave in the world, people.) Then we went on to camp at Devils Tower as featured in "Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
We will be here at Yellowstone until Friday. After that, we will head into Idaho. Famous potatos and all that.
So far we have seen: bison, moose, elk, deer, chipmunks (much beloved by the twins) and many, many, many bikers. Yes, it's Sturgis motorcycle rally time ( official sponsor: Jack Daniels) and the Harleys abound, as do their leather-clad owners. Bikers from all over the USA converge in the Black Hills region and rule the roads for a couple of weeks. Related story: One night, some bikers came into camp late, their engines roaring and thumping, as Harley engines have a tendency to do. We were all sleeping, but were woken by the racket. Severin yelled "Hey? Are you just 'too cool' to buy a car, or what?" The engines shut off abrubtly and Severin disappeare ddown into the bottom of his sleeping bag. He was sure that they'd heard him and were coming over to defend their honor.