Monday, August 31, 2009

Coffee, Liquid Smoke and hunks of Beef

Life -

Spent an hour or two wrestling with a hot water heater in the depths of my mother's root cellar. Again. If this current tact doesn't work then it's on to actually buying and installing an all new one. Frankly, at this point, that's something they should have done a loooong time ago.

I also went on a quest for some Gruyere cheese for a recipe we planned to make. Found some at Fred Meyers, but at the outlandish cost of $20 a pound and it looked old. After a bit of cell phone sleuthing, we found a cheese place at the Co-Op that was selling a much fresher sample for almost half the price. And their half pound was larger than Freddie's half pound. Fancy that.

It was the first time I'd been in the Co-Op, and it was kind of a surprise. In the same building, they have a grocery store, a fresh fish and cheese shop, a chocolatier, a coffee shop, a day spa, a hair stylist and a luxury-ish restaurant. Unfortunately, the restaurant looked too expensive and the grocery store was virtually empty, just a few organic veggies and lots of empty shelves. Very strange.

Writing -

Today's my last day of my rotation off, and I don't feel like I've accomplished enough, yet I'm perilously close to being burnt out. All told, I've written around 5,000 words in Graves, and I'm happy with what's there, but somehow I feel like I should have done more.

Often, sitting in front of my computer screen, I wonder what other people do for fun. I read a lot, draw and write, and watch movies every now and again, but what do "normal" people do for fun on stretches of days off like this? One of the days I decided that I would only write or read for a few hours, a decision I felt pretty guilty about. After a few hours of cleaning, surfing the Internet and twiddling my thumbs, I ran out of things to do.

The Last Sentence -

I'm riveted by the kid in the Griz sweatshirt's story.
- Graves

Saturday, August 29, 2009

In which the world tilts on its axis

Life -

It's been cooler here in sunny Pocatello, lately. Huzzah, I say. Since returning from Wyoming, there hasn't been a lot on the docket for "Life" really, just some dishes and some weed pulling. It takes me an entire afternoon to water my lawn, thanks largely to a strangely shaped yard, but I'm finally seeing some green in areas where there was none last year, and our various squashes, pumpkins and tomatoes are starting to grow up nicely.

We've decided that there is a vague possibility of a move to a different state next summer, regardless of selling any books or buying a motel, so I've started looking at our stuff to that end. We have a lot of knick knacks that will not be coming with us. Otherwise, it'll take a whole caravan of Uhauls to get us away from here...

It was my birthday on the 23rd, I turned 31, an age I'm not entirely comfortable with. That means it's been a year since the motel we were signing on blew up in our faces. Granted, in that time, we discovered that the owner was a horrible, sexist pig and it would have been agony working with him, and I've written one full novel with 3 others in progress, something that I've always wanted to do, but there's still that vague feeling of failure floating aver my head. And old-ness. 31... ugh.

Writing -

I've decided to make some pretty radical changes to my manuscript of the Whispering Ferns, thanks to the advice of you guys that have read it and some blogs I've followed lately. The beginning takes too long, so out is most of the conversations with his mom and lengthy build up, I'm going to jump right into the action, with Smith on the plane, heading to Washington. I think this will help speed things up a lot, and I can pepper the details of the back story throughout the first few chapters instead. I'm also adding a few more actual highjinks from the twins, I realized that I referenced them a lot, but they never really did much besides play video games and be bratty. I also want to expand his Aunt Grace's role a bit. I'm not sure that I ever really even described her that much, she's overpowered by Uncle Cannon, so she's gonna get beefed up too.

Could be a lot of work, but I think they'll be strong changes and by the time I'm done, I should know for sure from the contest whether won. (The obvious answer is no, but I need to wait it out all the same...) Then, when both of those are done, I can start sending my query out to agents.... Nervous!

I'm making good headway on my Zombie novel too, around 17,000 words so far, it's just getting to the gooey parts.

The Last Sentence -

I can't tell if it's from banging them against the glass over and over, or if she's chewed them to shreds.
- "Graves"

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Book Reviews - Bride Of Recent Reads

Whoops, almost a month between reviews again! I've gotta stop taking so long. This set took me so long to type up that I've read two books since I started! Still, thirteen books in 28 days aint too bad.

I have fallen in love with Hard Case Crime, publishers of fine reprint and original hardboiled crime novels. They all have a stylin' new cover, painted exclusively for the book, lurid titles, excellent retro design. I love them ever so much. They even have a mail order service. Forget magazines, I want a new novel in the mail every month! Maybe next month I'd get Satan Is A Woman, or Losers Live Longer! Hooray for old-school crime!

By Stephen King
2005, 184 pages

What a great book. I've read online that a lot of people were either in love with, or despised the ending of this book. Without giving anything away, I fell solidly into the Love category. I wish King would write more stuff like this! Two old newsmen tell a roundabout story of a fellah's death to a young female reporter. There's both more and less to the story than it seems.


By Ken Bruen & Jason Starr
2006, 254 pages

Bust was the first HCC novel I read, and it was a great choice. Psychopathic hitmen, sexy women, rich men. Double-crossing each other left and right, with just the right amount of sex and violence. A perfect, old school crime novel.


By David Dodge
2006, 319 pages

My first real disappointment with the HCC line. If i'd read the afterword first, I would have gotten a pretty good handle on why I don't care for this novel. It was written by a woman's father, she edited and revised it, and from what I can tell, both of them were pretty pretentious about the story. These kinds of books need a sense of fun, not a feel that they think they're writing something important.


By Lawrence Block
1961, 205 pages

I love Lawrence Block. His writing always gives me a real feel for the era, and his deliciously immoral characters give me happy feelings inside. Read this.


By Gil Brewer
1958, 220 pages

Man, this book got me the funniest look from my nephew (in-law) when he walked in and saw me reading it. Nothing like a book with the word VIRGIN on it, with a shot of a blonde with a gun and money in front of a fire to shock a ten-year-old! Sweet ride from the author of Satan is a Woman. A pretty, naive and crazy young girl convinces the TV repair man to bump off an old man and run away with his money. Sounds so simple...


By Brian M. Wiprud
2006, 239 pages

I've liked Wiprud ever since I picked up Stuffed at a used book store in Newport a few years ago. His characters are wacky, but not so over the top as to be completely unbelievable, and the stories are a rollicking good time. Unfortunately, Sleep left me a bit flat. I don't know if it was the fishing or that the main character seemed a bit less developed than his norm, but It left me craving one of his earlier books. It kind of seemed like a Hiassen book, actually. Good, but not qute as good as it could have been.


By Vistor Gischler
2005, 340 pages

Gischler is one of those authors that I like a lot, but have a hard time remembering him when I go to buy a book or am shopping in a bookstore without my used list on me. I bought Gun Monkeys, one of his earlier books in a creepy old used book store in Northern Montana, and never saw another until last year when I managed to track down the rest. The story of Poets, which gets pretty convoluted has a teacher waking to find a dead student in his bed, a drug dealer trying to go straight, a reclusive professor, and a few little surprises along the way. I really got a kick out of this, though there were a few aspects that left me thinking I'd missed a paragraph explaining things. I'm also anxiously awaiting the arrival of his newest, Go Go Girls Of The Apocalypse. That's right, Go Go Girls Of The Apocalypse. a title so good that I had to write it twice.


By James Rollins
2009, 397 pages

I really wanted to like this. I dig Rollins' adult novels, they're Indiana Jones style adventures with enough intrigue and black ops in them to keep you guessing and his first kids book looked to be more of the same, but for a younger set with a more over the top theme. Unfortunately, the plot is VERY over-the-top, with too many convenient answers. It was still fun, a great adventure and I'll read his others in the series when they're written, but this one left me rolling my eyes a few times too often to fully recommend it. Also, he uses the name Brontosaurus at one point, is that an accurate dinosaur name now?


By Michael Connelly
2008, 422 pages

Connelly is a great writer, and his Lincoln Lawyer character is one of my favorites, second only to Det. Harry Bosch, yet this installment left me feeling pretty flat. The two never really seemed to mesh, Bosch especially coming off as flat, though that may have been because we saw him from Mickey Haller's view. Still, I get the impression that he could write a quick thriller on the pot, and this one still had a twisty plot and good dialogue.


By Catherine Jinks
2005, 486 pages

Man, I checked this book out from the library expecting a completely different novel. Somehow, I thought with the catchy phrases, cartoony design and big logo that I'd chosen a kids book, completely disregarding the fact that I'd grabbed it from the young adult section. It's about a kid that goes to an evil villain high school/college, where miscreants are trained for a life of crime. I had expected a book about a 12 or 13 year old doing that, instead, getting a teen with all of the angst and hormones that go with it, but that didn't make it a bad book. It was still funny, clever and a great read, just not what I'd thought I was reading.


By Charles Knief
1999, 292 pages

I loved this book. Funny, poignant and really action packed, this was my favorite from Kneif so far. His character, Private Eye, John Caine is a fellow in his late forties that is about as hard as they come. He lives on a boat, enjoys Hawaii and gets his butt kicked a lot. He always gives back better than he gets though and walks away with the girl. The settings for the book are gorgeous and his supporting cast, especially crime lord Chawlie and officer Kimo are very memorable.


By Max Brooks
2006, 342 pages

Overrated. I love the cheeky humor and daily usefulness of Max Brooks Zombie Survival handbook, but this overblown, "History" of a zombie war that never was left my calling out for brains and staggering around. It wasn't horrible and there were a few slivers of brilliance, but there was too much focus on silly things. Some people I know love it. Good for them.


By J.A. Konrath
2008, 271 pages

Aww, man, did this book piss me off. Which is part of why I loved it. Joe Konrath's books all feature the detective Jack Daniels, her portly partner, her smarmy ex-partner, her mom, a friend, her evil cat and her boyfriend, as well as some of the best, soulless criminals around. For Fuzzy Navel, he crams all of them into a single house, surrounds it with snipers and shreds the walls with bullets. I read this in one setting and after the cliffhanger ending, if I'd had the next book, I would have read it too. Good, suspenseful, yet hilarious book.


What Is Right About The Grand Targhee Bluegrass Festival

Despite a lot of ill-advised changes, there is still a lot to love about the festival and though it gets harder to justify the expense each year, we come home quite happy about it nonetheless.

- The Music
The biggie. Although each year is filled with it's fair share of acts that leave me feeling "Meh" and this year in particular, there seemed to be a lack of true bluegrass bands, the music is still great.

The big standouts this year for me, were the Steep Canyon Rangers, a group of traditional bluegrass fellows and Solas, a gorgeous, spectacular band, straight out of Ireland. We listened to Solas on Sunday, my birthday, with a light rain drizzling overhead. It was absolutely wonderful. I was especially flabbergasted watching their accordion player. His fingers were like nothing I'd ever seen!

- The Room
Despite the negatives, our room this year was without question, the best seat in the house. Second floor, closest to the performers, it was just right to sit on the balcony or in the dormer window seat and listen to the bands as a cool breeze blew through the room. The first day, I had a migraine and even held in its wicked grip, I enjoyed lying in the room, listening to the performances. I felt bad for the poor maids that were left to clean our room after four days in it though.... whew!

- The Staff
The resort itself may be doing its part to alienate festival goers and empty their pocketbooks, but the staff at Grand Targhee were still top notch. Every one was friendly and polite, even when delivering bad news.

- Location
Sometimes I think that there is nothing more beautiful in this world than the Grand Tetons in late summer.

- Driggs, Idaho
The tiny town at the bottom of the hill, Driggs, ID has a lot of small town West appeal. Friendly folks, fun little shops and a few decent restaurants. Though a lot of their buildings are being overrun with Realtors. It's clear that in a few years, Driggs will be too cosmopolitan to be enjoyable, but for now, I liked it. We wandered the streets slowly, ate an overpriced and unremarkable breakfast at Milk Creek (Our regular feeding hole was closed for remodeling) grabbed some STELLAR sweets at Pendl's Bakery, got a raspberry malt at the corner drug store and bought a couple of used books from a store called "used books"

- Late nights
Booze, bands, fans, friends, mountains, midnight. You add those up, and every night, after the official festivus has ended, as amateurs and pros gather around in impromptu jam sessions, you get a crazy second life to the party. I rarely hit the sack until 3 or 4 am, wandering around the grounds with my friends, imbibing frosty beverages, joking and chatting and listening to the bands echo through the thin air. Saturday, a couple of friends and I sat in the darkness behind the Teewinot and listened to a jam session until 3am. Very cool.

- Family and Friends
The real reason this festival is such a blast, obviously. Every year, we meet with some folks that we love and spend three or four days together laughing, dancing, relaxing and generally hanging out. Some of them we see very rarely beyond that, but we still feel very close to them thanks to this one weekend. If we stop attending, this will be the thing we miss the most.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

What is Wrong about the Grand Targhee Bluegrass Festival

- The all-consuming lust for money.
This shows in all that they do. Some of it was almost embarrassing to watch.

- Ticket Prices
Between 2006 and 2009, ticket prices have gone from $90 to $130 for weekend tickets, which also ignores the standard, unavoidable Internet "Service fees" that they now charge, since switching from selling tickets at individual vendors to selling exclusively through an online service.

- That Online ticket vendor.
Used to be, you could buy your tickets at vendors all around the area, in locally owned, independent record stores. Now, online only, Whys should they support local businesses when they can eat the whole pie themselves and make it far less convenient for fans to get tickets?

- Parking Fees
This is new this year, and ridiculous. While those of us with full weekend passes are exempt, anyone with day passes are charged $10 a day to park. Which, I just noticed, is double what they state on their Myspace page.

- Ice, Ice, baby.
In prior years, while staying at the Sioux Lodge, our motel rooms of choice, you had to get pretty lucky at the ice machines on the first and third floors. The Ice went fast, but it wasn't too hard to get enough to keep your beverages frosty, just don't try and fill your cooler. Recently, they've fixed that. By removing the ice machines. Now, you can either compete with the other 96 rooms for ice from the single machine in the Teewinot Lodge, the equivalent of 4 blocks away, or, as the employees happily offer when asked, you can buy ice from the general store. At $3 a bag. Despicable. Especially when you consider....

- The Cost of the rooms
I love staying in the lodge at the festival. It fills with sounds of live music and laughter from the rooms. You have a convenient bathroom and shower, a place to sleep comfortably and it stays nice and cool thanks to a constant light breeze. Typically, after a year here, we would reserve the room again for the next year with a deposit. While talking with some other attendees, we learned that they had received a call a few months before the show informing them that the cost had almost doubled, and would they still like to hold their rooms? Now, Rich has remained mum on the costs this year, but I can only assume that they increased for us as well.

- The Rooms Themselves.
A few years back, when you stayed in the Sioux Lodge, you were greeted with a cozy fireplace in the corner, a full kitchenette complete with small oven, sink, fridge, battered utensils and dishes. There was a bunk bed, a cozy chair, a table and chairs, a couch and a queen sized Murphy's bed in the wall. In the last few years, they've remodeled all of that, keeping only the fridge, chair, table and making the bed a normal one.

What this does, is makes it hard to spend any long amount of time in the room, frankly. Making your own food is virtually impossible, and if you do, you have to do any cleaning up in the bathroom sink. Which is made even less fun when you consider that these rooms are typically serving 4-8 folks, and that bathroom is already pretty damn popular.

- Resort Amenities
This year at the resort, the restaurant was "Closed for a private event" which, we found out, was actually "Closed due to lack of employees to run it" If you wanted to eat, you either ate at the booths at the festival, of which, there was $5 a slice pizza, some Asian food, some Mexican, and a place that served burgers, jambalaya and other random food. Or you could go to the general store/deli, where you could feast on Starbucks coffee and a $6 burrito that had about a cup of filling in it. Or the Trap Bar, which had typically expensive bar food, but was pretty good, really. We never ate at the restaurant because we usually ate in the room, bringing our own planned meals, but I heard a lot of grousing about it being closed.

The hot tubs, both the one in the Day Spa/ Pool area and the one over in the main lodge were boarded up and shut off. What's up with that?

They removed the cozy porch swings from the main lodge as well, replacing them with huge recycling bins. I'm all for recycling my shit, but there were the same bins less than a quarter block in 4 directions. Apparently, it's blasphemy to walk that far to toss a can, but Ice is not environmentally friendly, so you have to walk a ways to get it.

- The Booths
In years gone by, there were around two dozen various gift booths and shops set up on the way to the festival. You could buy dresses, handmade beads, hats, toys, guitars, artwork, camping gear, face painting, hula hoops, cookies, candies, jam... essentially everything you would expect at a bluegrass festival. This year, they had either raised prices so high or scared off most of the booths, including the Weber guitar one, which was a standby. In their places, there was three clothing booths, all selling the same loose, hippie style tie-dye clothing, only one of which was made by hand, the other two were national brands, made in china. Two jewelry booths, a high end ski gear place and a huge tent that was plugging its cause "SAVE THE WEATHER!" Judging by the 6 inches of rain we got on Sunday, that booth was far more effective than I'd have thought.

The food booths were really disappointing too. Gone were the Cajun guys, the cinnamon almonds, the kettle corn, the turkey legs, all of the individual and crazy different booths, now, they all felt like they were run by the same guys, just with different themes in each tent. There was also three different places to buy your special commemorative Beer mug, which gave you the special privilege to buy beer to put in it. Bah.

- The music contests.
Every year they have a Mandolin and Guitar contest for amateurs, the last few years, the winner has been a kid. For instance, the guitar winner this year was around 11, and the mandolin winner was probably 17 and dropped his pick during the contest and had no stage presence. A sign that the contest runners lean heavily towards giving the prizes to kids rather than adults? The runners-up all got Medium T-Shirts. I know zero full grown men that can wear a medium T-Shirt. Then, of course, they announce the winners so late on Sunday that there are no other shirts larger to trade for.

There was more too, but that's enough, the major things that hurt the experience there. Keep in mind that I'm not asking for them to create a perfect festival experience, every one of these gripes are something that has changed in the last five years.

Next, the GOOD things about the Grand Targhee Bluegrass Festival!

Friday, August 21, 2009

In the land of Bluegrass, Sun and Hula Hoops

I'm currently fighting the last dregs of a migraine up at the Grand Targhee Bluegrass Festival. I don't what combination of odd sleeping schedules, being up for 25 hours, new elevations, dry air and high temperatures caused it, but it was a doozy, still is, kind of.

This is the fourth time I've been up here, and luckily, though they have continued to make a tremendous amoount of ill-advised changes, the important thing remains, good music.

It's odd, I'm not even a bluegrass fan, but there's something visceral about listening to it live with the Grand Tetons looming overhead that gets in your soul and makes it happy!

More on the festival later, off to some tunes!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Great Montana Trip of 2009 - Sunday Part II

After driving around for a while, we went back through White Sulphur Springs, where we decided to eat some lunch. We stopped at a spectacular little deli. The Corner Stone Deli, is the kind of sandwich shoppe that every town in the US should have. Nicely decorated in a modern looking country theme, with older waitresses that call you honey, rather than having a list of sandwiches to choose from, The Corner Stone has you take a checklist and choose every aspect of your sandwich, from bread to cheese to meats and toppings. And the have a huge selection. Roast Beef, Pitas, Corned Beef, a dozen sauces. GREAT STUFF. Of course, we didn't order the sandwiches, though we should have tried one. We ordered the fried chicken and potatoes with a side of their homemade potato chips, all of which were some of the best food we had on our trip. Highly recommended. I also liked the local brands scored into the rough hewn log floors, really cool touch.

After lunch, we drove around town for a while, looking at the old houses. There's also a great attraction there, I think they call it the Castle, a rich past resident's home that they give tours through. We went last time we were there, so we skipped it this trip, but if you have time, you should swing in there.

Then it was time for the cabins. We arrived shortly after Steve and his family and Rich and Sue. The cabins are a lot of fun. They're fairly rustic and run down, but it's pretty clear that it's intentional. Most have old fridges and antique wood stoves, and you bring your water in with a bucket. There's 8 or 9 cabins, with the owner's house, a fairly modern log cabin build home on the hill above. In days past, I guess the only real amenities were electricity and some outhouses but they've built a nice shower house/restroom in the corner in the past few years, which is great. You can feel like you're roughing it, yet still take a hot shower the next morning.

We were planning to sleep in Strontium, while the rest of the family shared three cabins. After a few hours getting things unloaded and generally goofing around, we all settled in for the evening and relaxed, playing in the stream that runs through the area, eating sunflower seeds and reading a blissfully CusslerCameo-free book, playing Frisbee. The weather was perfect. After a day in the sun and dry desert air of Montana, the little valley where the cabins were felt like heaven. They had a sweet smelling cool breeze and just the right amount of sun.

Then, disaster on a Three-Stooges scale! Steve and Co. decided to play volleyball with their newly bought official sized volleyball net. I don't know how many of you have ever tried putting a volleyball net together, especially for the first time, but it appears to be quite an ordeal! Now, I can only say appears to be, because I spent the entire time in my chair laughing at them, but it seemed to take a lot of effort just to get everything out of the box. And of course, they make the poles modular, without any identifying marks on them so that you have to fit them together via trial and error... granted, maybe looking at the instruction manual closely would have helped, but these were MEN we're talking about!

Just as things were looking up - they had one full pole assembled and had connected the same section together a half dozen times - Something seemed amiss. There was much head scratching an net waving. Poles were taken apart moved around, put back together. Alack and Alas! The accursed manufacturers had sent us two of the wrong pole, providing a pole sans holes where holes ought to have been!


Luckily, we all took it in stride and had a good laugh over it.

We cooked some excellent brats and wienies over the grill (As well as some satanically hot jalapeno ones) Soon, the sun lowered and the mosquitoes came out, but only briefly before the sun disappeared and it got cool, forcing the little blood-suckers back into hiding.

We spent the rest of the evening sitting around the campfire, roasting marshmallows, telling stories and amiably letting the day finish.

It was an all too brief time there, we had to leave the next morning, but even that short amount was quite relaxing.

The next morning we said our farewells to some very groggy family and headed home, stopping at the strange and wonderful cemetery in White Sulphur(More on that later), in Boseman to eat Cajun with a friend, and in Idaho Falls for dinner.

In Idaho Falls, we got a second flat tire. This trip was not a good one for poor Strontium's feet!

Overall, it was a very enjoyable trip. We hung out a group of people that I'd only been able to spend a short time with previously, I didn't permanently damage my eyeball with bug spray, we visited 5 graveyards and a ghost town, watched grown men frolic in streams and no one died!

Friday, August 14, 2009

The Great Montana Trip of 2009 - Sunday

Sunday dawned bright and dry. We ate a somewhat warm breakfast at the Busy Bee with the rest of the family (Not sure why it was so balmy, they must have had a busted A/C or something) and chatted for a while with everyone. Thanks to the heroic efforts of Mr. Steve, my rig was fully inflated and ready to roll, so we left town ahead of the rest of the group, who were planning to stay for church and lunch.

Our plan was to hit up a nearby ghost town before heading into White Sulfur Springs, which is West of the cabins where we planned to spend the next evening.

We decided on Castle Town after spotting it on a free map of Montana that we'd gotten from the gas station just outside of Yellowstone. It was located south of White Sulphur Springs, which happened to be the closest "Real" town by the cabins where we were staying that night.

It ended up being a pretty significant amount further into the ether than we'd planned, down a series of increasingly smaller roads until we were travelling down a largely deserted dirt road littered with Private Property signs along the way. Just before we gave up however, we spotted the sign for Castle Town. Loosely established in the 1870's, it serviced the nearby mine. Though I didn't know until later, it was also famous for one of it's residents, a young lady that tried to run a respectable restaurant before heading into infamy, Calamity Jane.

The one thing we did learn upon reaching Castle Town was that it is entirely located on private property. A fact that would have been GREAT to know miles and miles ago, possibly at one of the three signs we saw that pointed us to it. According to the plaque and many graffiti and bullet-hole ridden signs around the town, we were not allowed onto the property without explicit permission from the landowners.

Luckily for us, we happened to have a camera with a lens capable of taking photos from blocks away and at different angles that make it look just like we had walked up to the buildings and wandered around. We would never disrespect the wishes of a landowner keeping people from revelling in their cultural past, no sireee!

Loved Castle Town. All of the buildings were in just the right amount of disrepair to be both creepy and old and stable and safe seeming. More than anything though, wandering around the buildings just pissed me off. Here is a great selection of structures, and old school house, some residences, couple of businesses, in a surprisingly good shape and instead of letting sightseers visit and explore, or even just view from a respectful distance on an established path, the owners post no trespassing signs everywhere with explicit threats towards violators, then they let loose their cows to rampage through the buildings.

There were over a dozen big, stinky cows mulling around the buildings, crapping everywhere, breaking walls, tearing up floors. I never wanted to make my own hamburger so bad.

Enchanted by the buildings and pissed off by the owners, we left Castle Town and drove back down the winding road to civilization. Sort of. First we stopped at a little town and checked out their eclectic collection of dead end roads, outdoor jail cells and old motels and stopped into a gift shop at a old house/museum where we ate a piece of cake for the birthday of the former resident, peed and left before the next tour started.

We made a brief stop in Checkerboard, where we wrote our name on a dollar bill and hung it on the ceiling beside Dylan and Cami's - they had stopped there a week earlier while they were on their honeymoon, then hit White Sulfur Springs for lunch.

Uhh... To be continued! (Sorry... ran out of time this afternoon!)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Great Montana Trip of 2009 - Saturday Part II

All involved with this trip may have to forgive me if things are akimbo, it's been a while since the trip now, and for a good portion of Saturday, I had a migraine, so things are fuzzy anyway...

I left off with us prepping to leave for the family reunion, though I just realized that before that, Lindsay and I went and wandered around two other graveyards in the area, one that was full of old graves with new headstones, which was cool, I guess, but it lost a lot of the character. The other was better, more overgrown and old feeling. Eventually, I'll have to do some individual posts on the cemeteries we visit, likely on my Bugaboo site. Mostly because it doesn't get enough love.

Also, I'm still without a decently functioning computer, so I can't edit and upload any photos yet.

Anyway, we were still showering and prepping things when the rest of the family headed that way, so we got the directions and left shortly after them. Turns out, directions in a rural town are subjective. Never get a description that includes the words run-down or old, because that can be everything you see, whereas to a local, that could be the silo built back in '42 rather than '53

Anyway, as is our custom, we got lost. Drove around for a bit, ended up in a different town, came back, drove around some more... Eventually, we decided to head back to the Motel and wait for my in-laws, Rich and Sue to get into town (They were running about 4 hours late, thanks to some really poor diner service..)

Turns out, we had the right vague direction, we just didn't know that the road we needed ended, jumped about a mile down the road, then picked up again.

The reunion was held in a spacious garage on the Anderson property, and it was quite the spread. We made some bean dip in our crock pot, and it literally disappeared under the massive legions of food weighing down the tables in the garage. We're talking enough dead chicken to kill a man, 24 different salads, 63 varieties of grilled items, yet strangely, only a carafe of iced tea and some warm water to drink...

Considering we were in Montana in the middle of July, it was pretty nice. Still far too hot for my liking, but there was a great hustle and bustle feeling as kids ran around laughing, people hugged other people, men played horseshoes, old folks sat in the shade.

I was introduced to a whole passel of folks that I immediately forgot, ate a few bites, drank a lot of water. We sat down next to a super-friendly gentleman that, while I can't be sure, seemed to see into my soul with his gaze, found me wanting, attempted to convert me, only to be rebuffed by the special anti-god coating on my glasses.

It was fun, but the heat coupled with what I suspect was a pretty healthy dose of MSG in something I ate, triggered a migraine pretty quickly. After a while I had to retreat and Lindsay and I headed back to the Motel. By the time we got there, I was in full blown MIGRAINE. Seeing shapes, blurred vision, shaky, throbbing pain, Basically, I turn into a 250 pound geriatric six-year-old, if that makes any sense.

As we puleld into the lot, my low pressure warning came on, at some point at the reunion, Strontium had gotten stabbed in his rear tire. I just about ignored it, crawled into bed with my caffiene and pills, but we were headed to the cabins the next day, a Sunday and I had fears about doing so on a Doughnut or finding a tire place open. It was around four-thirty, so we called the only tire place in town, A&A tire. No answer.

I decided to head down to the gas station and at least add some air so taht I had an idea of how quick it was leaking. When I mentioned it to the girl at the counter, she told me that A&A should have been open, but in small towns, sometimes places closed early. No kidding?

Anyway, in my pill & pillow induced haze, I vaguely recall Steve and the rest of the crew coming back from the reunion and Linz explaining our problem.

"Well, did you call A&A" Steve asked.
"Yeah, but they didn't answer, I think they were closed."
"Did you try calling them instead of the store?"
" Should we have? Do you know them, or something?"

Yeah... in a small town, odds are good that they do indeed know the person. Odds are also good that if a tire store called A&A tire is closed early on a Saturday, that it might just be because they are hosting, oh, say, a family reunion at their house. It's even vaguely possible that you might accidentally take one of their nails home with you in your tire.

Happily, he wanted that particular nail back, so he met Linz and Rich at his shop and repaired Strontium's tire. Hooray!

I woke up later that evening feeling moderately improved and walked to the gas station for some food. ( I had missed the evening pilgrimage to the Busy Bee with the rest of the family) Ate some grub, read my book and sacked out.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

I've been Out Of My Head

And quite lax on updating this.

The primary reason is that for the last week, I've spent the time I usually use to post on my blog and keep up to date on other sites, taking care of my mom and brother's pets while they're in Oregon on Vacation. I've also been feeling blah for a compound of reasons, all mashed together with a heaping helping of too damn hot.

Luckily, today is rainy and I'm halfway through my rotation. And last night I managed to write more than just a sentence or two in my book.

Good enough for this week.