Thursday, July 30, 2009

Comments from the Bug

Okay, so my five year old, Corwyn aka Buggy, has had some interesting insights over the past few weeks. I've decided to share a few examples.

1. During suppertime, or rather after for him, Buggy announces that his stomach hurts, so he must have to go poopie. He is in there awhile, and announces that his mission was unsuccessful. His solution: "I need to lay down on the couch for a bit until my belly melts the food into poop."

2. "Hey, I'm 5. I KNOW!" (apparently intellect comes merely with age)

3. "Hey! I'm SEERious!" (His greatest and last argument for telling uncle Jay that he needs to ride in the bed of the pickup- he lost)

4. After a serious debate with his brother about Devil's Tower being where the devil lives (or something similar. I sort of zoned out of it all), we hike the trail around the base of the tower. While going around, Bug falls behinds, and I slow down so as not to lose him. He decides he wants to pose on one of the rocks he climbed all by himself for a picture. But I do not have the camera, so he just looks at me, holds both hands up giving the peace sign (only his palms faced toward him, instead of out at me) and says in a sinister voice "The Devvvvilllll"

5. Both my kids enjoyed the rock climbing while on vacation. It turns out my oldest son, Josh, (who can trip over his own feet on a flat surface, and has a tendency to walk sideways if he gets distracted) is like a mountain goat on the rocks. It's really pretty impressive. Corwyn on the other hand, who has oftentimes found himself to small and short to participate in some activities, has developed a chip on his shoulder to prove to the world that he can do pretty much anything he wants. Jay Burns, myself, and my two boys are climbing rock outcroppings, while my wife is off somewhere taking photographs. We go up one outcropping just to find another that will take us higher. Jay and I are watching to make sure the boys dont take any undue risks, like accidental freefall canyon jumping or something equally as dangerous. We reach one rock fack that goes pretty much straight up. Bug begins to climb onto some footholds in an attempt to get ahead of his older brother. Well, it doesn't look all that safe to me. (from the same dad who has suggested that the kids should be playing on the freeway at least once, and threatened his own mother with the same ideas when he was younger and more agile) Looking over about 10 meters to our left, we see an easier way to get to the top. Buggy is having none of it. "I'm DOING IT...BY MYSELF...don't need your help"

And do it he did. Of course, not to be out-manly manned by a 5 year old, Jay and I were forced to make the same climb. With some of our hand and footholds, we found that they supported a 40 lb-er pretty easy, but acted as though they didn't want to have anything to do with us heavier, older guys. I can see it now, me and Jay crumpled in a heap at the bottom from falling when a rock gave way, and Buggy standing at the top with an evil grin, flashing his fingers and saying "The Devvilll!"

Friday, July 24, 2009

Camping in the heart of Bear Country

Well, for your entertainment, you lucky few who got in on the ground floor of this blog....HEre I am, decked out in high fashion with Doggles. Yes, I said Doggles...when your dog rides on the back of your 4 wheeler, and he needs to keep all that dust and dirt out of his eyes, turn to Doggles, the optimum product for Canine recreation optical protection. With state of the art plastic lenses, some straps and a few other things made from aritificial materials, how can you go wrong? Doggles....available where ever they are sold. And now, back to Bob Barker with a message about spaying and neutering your pets...

Jay's mom and stepdad came out to the campsite for supper, along with a couple other friends of theirs. Oh yes...I was surrounded by America loving hatemongers. It really was such a horrible experience, having to surrounded by essentially like minded people. And then there was Jay's mom, Linda. Oh yes, the woman who was my 2nd mom, and had tanned my hide on more than just one occasion after getting caught messing up with her boys. (I swear, trouble found us and wouldn't leave us alone..but did SHE believe us...noooooo, its always, "you boy's are gonna knock this stuff off RIGHT now"...suuuure mom! we'll get right on that.) Besides my parents, Jay's parents also suffered from enjoying child abuse just a bit too much. Clearly we were innocent victims of their mental illness. Didn't clean your room... beating. Peed on your little brother or sister for fun and then got ratted out...beating. Ratted out little brother for peeing on you...called a tattle tale, and then beaten. Didn't eat all the stuff on your plate, or skipped the 'nasty stuff' to get to dessert...beating. Oh YES, dear Mama Linda apparently being a grandmother cures that abusive nature.
You see, Linda was sitting across the table from Buggy during supper that night. I noticed conspiracy goings-on from there section of our camp (all good hatemongers develop the ability to see conspiracies at every turn you know). I couldnt figure it out, but there was a long time between Buggy starting his hot dog and finishing it. I clearly spelled it out for him that he ate the HotDog, then Fran's famous pork and beans (now made without gas!), and then he could have the chips on his plate. Linda was looking pretty suspicious and guilty everytime I looked over at her. I didn't know what was going on, but something was definitely going on. LAter on, with my super detective skills (also read lucky happenstance), Linda confessed to the crime of feeding Cheetos to Buggy under the table. It really was almost hypocritic treason. This was the same lady who threatened no dessert if we didnt finish our plates, and here she is, 20some years later feeding snack food to my youngest, on demand. I really couldn't believe this, and as I instructed Buggy as to the nature of getting his food eaten, Linda looks right at me and tells me to stay out of it. WHAAAAAT? Just as I felt I was losing the parental battle of wills to the child and his surrogate grandmother, a hero comes to my rescue. Chad, Linda's husband immediately looked Linda dead int he eyes and says "exactly". He had told her to follow her own advice and did so without coming off overbearing or nasty about it. But the message was clear. When in the outdoors, MEN run this world! Thanks Chad!

And the rest of these are views from our camping area. Pretty nice area around Deer Creek. But dont let that fool you...we were clearly warned that we were in the heart of bear country, and were reminded of that by the big metal box in the middle of our campsite that was specifically for placing our stuff into for protection from any bears that might be dumb enough to wander into our campsite. Not that it matters, WE'd just wake up Josh and Buggy, and send them out armed with sticks and rocks to teach that dumb bear a lesson. If that didn't work, well, us adults would clearly have a head start on the kids...(I'M JUST I know I'll be getting a phone call from my mother telling me just how 'not funny' that is..oh well).

You'll see, being rich elitists like we are, we got the mansion of all tents....yep, plenty of room, including a 'closet' and a little connected entry mat....I thought about taking some paint and painting "Welcome" on it, but then I realized I had a mental lapse in how the social order of things go, and that I hate people, especially those in the lower socio-economic levels, like my buddy Jay, who could only afford this little dinky tent, emblazoned with Hillary's political propoganda. But, I still associate with him, after all, he did save my life back in the Great Ravine Wars, so he squeezes through. Other than that, only rich country clubbers fit into my social circle. And of course even they don't get to just drop in unannounced. They have to call my secretary and schedule an appointment prior to even thinking about coming over. That includes during emergencies as well. Hell, I make my wife schedule her personal time with me, thats how important I am!

Now, to assure my manliness, let me tell you what happened that night. I was awoken my my keen sense of manliness which told me that I had to pee, and doing so inside the tent was probably not the best way to go. I may have come out to Wyoming to poke a bear, but irritating a wife by peeing on her is probably going to bring about a much worse fate. No matter how manly a guy is, this is a stupid idea, and any false sense of manliness would be exposed So I unzipped the entry and proceeded outside. WE had already been pestered by this random cat who spent most of the night yowling all over the place, looking for someone to pay attention to him or her. However, as I was outside watering a couple plants, I heard no cat, but many sticks snapping. My mind was messing with me hardcore. Had a bear come down out of the hills to see what's going to be his late night snack? I spent time divided convincing myself it was nothing, and wondering if I wasn't an idiot for dismissing the posssibility of a bear coming up behind me. Then the oddest thought came to my head. I have the canister of Bear Mace tucked under one arm while doing my business. Now, as any guy will attest, once we start, we like to finish uninterrupted. Cutting off the stream can be painful and is to be avoided at all costs. But what if a bear did show up behind me. Would I sacrifice my sense of relief watering-wise and turn on this bear with the mace? Would I use just one hand to mace the bear while finishing my business? Or would I turn around, drop the mace can and just pee on the bear? And would either of these options workout for the best?

Sure this seems like an awful lot of thinking to have been performed while merely taking a leak, but I assure you, I had been hydrating myself pretty well as of late. So, now that you have clear visions of me urinating while wearing Doggles, have a GREAT DAY!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

More from Yellowstone

We conducted a participant survey while in Yellowstone. It turns out that 5 out 5 Ground Squirrels prefer Nacho Cheese Doritos over the leading brands. I had one come up and sniff my leg and begin to beg for a handout. But then the people who's truck was parked next to Jay's showed up and scared the little bugger off. Obviously they are nature haters, and against interspecies diplomacy. Damn hatemongers!
After a few days, you can see that Jay was clearly tired of me being around and proceeded to kick me off a canyon cliff. He told me it was nothing personal but he "likes the wife and kids much better."
You ever wonder how a 5 year old manages to have total energy after a long day of traveling about??? Well, my kid has learned to flash his grill and take full advantage of his aunt and uncle (although in this one its me actually toting the little scheister around) and get them to give him rides everywhere we have to go on foot. At least as long as there isn't rocks to be climbed, or animal poop to be thrown.

And here we have Nomi and Jay standing outside enjoying the scenery I'm sure they take for granted now. Of course Jay has his morning coffee, otherwise he would have been the first bear I would have had to poke. And I would've been kicked off the cliff a lot quicker.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Visit to Yellowstone

Here you will fidn the most modern of abodes where we spent the night during our entire trip, our friend Naomi's place. Her hubby, my buddy Jay also gets the privilege of living here. I'd say he definitely got the good end of the deal here...a beautiful wife and a nice place she allows him to stay in!! They were gracious enough to open up their house to us while we were in the area for a few days, and take us everywhere. Talk about good gas mileage. Sitting in the driveway for 4 days really makes the travel cheap! When we weren't out exploring, we played a new game to me called Cardbles (at least I think that's how you spell it). The first night, Jed and I thought we were pretty cool, defeating our wive's soundly. Our last night there, the wive's returned the favor. I'm pretty sure they cheated, as they took our color of marbles this time around, as well as other un-provable ways to cheat. So we stand at 2 wins and 2 losses. Now I have to go back so we can hash this out and find a clear victor.

Here you will find that the normally wide awake and on the go Buggy even found that 6am can be just a bit to early sometimes. Apparently full days of hiking and climbing on rocks to throw stones off took its toll on his body. His older brother on the otherhand, seemed rather ecstatic about being in the front seat of the truck with us men.

Well it took us about 12 hours of going all over Yellowstone, but it finally happened. While I was fully prepared to write a scathing letter to the Wyoming Board of Tourism and their role in hiding all the bears from me, we finally found one. Thanks to the keen eye of my buddy Jay, he spotted this grizzly about 100 yards up a wooded draw, digging in the ground for grubs. It was a dream come true for my vacation out here. As promised, I poked a bear! Not to be outdone, both my sons saddled up and rode the bears. SHOWOFFS!

Of course we saw Old Faithful. This was well before the "bear incident". At first we had to wait about an hour, then they started getting sketchy on the +/- ratio of when it might happen. Then it began, sputtered, and disappeared...repeatedly. Naomi looked over at me, and sympathetically apologized to me, as there had been no bears and now Old Faithful was appearing to be broken during my first ever visit. Clearly the State of Wyoming was conspiring against me. But, eventually Old Faithful erupted. I guess the valve release operator (come on, we all know the 'natural' process being so timely is one of many government funded conspiracies) took a little longer on his smoke break than initially anticipated. Maybe his buffalo burger was a bit undercooked and he was dealing with certain lower GI issues? I don't know for sure, but he finally cracked open the valve and we got to see the eruption.
We sawe a bunch of people parked alongside the road, and found out there were a couple elk hanging out underneath a couple trees on the hillside. My wife got a great picture of one of them here. They still have the felt on their antlers. Pretty cool. And colorful steampots are okay, but the smell....woof! You'll also see a picture of some buffalos roaming around some steampots on the opposite side of the river. Two things you wont see in this picture are somewhat amusing and disturbing at the same time. We had 3 buffalos downstream from us, and eventually they attempted to outflank us and trap us from escape to the truck, and keep us between them and the river. Buffalos, being about the size of a tank had apparently been doing some battlefield reading in their downtime. Rommel, you magnificent sonofabitch! I read your book!
And the other incident unphotoed of course was Buggy, who chucked a big rock into the stream. What he didn't realize was that 'big rock' was actually a nice pie left by the buffalo at an earlier time. YUCK!

Wyoming- Part II

SO most of these pictures came from a daytrip my buddy Jay took us on our first day at his place. This monument stone, while unreadable here, denotes this place as Dead Indian Summit. Apparently during the Nez Perce march away from Union soldiers, one had been injured and left at this summit, where he was found dead by the soldiers. And thus came its name. It is along the St Joseph Scenic Byway.
And here is one picture of a cactus and its rosebloom, one of many dotting the landscape in this particular area.
A look over the river canyon. As usual, us boys just need some good rocks to be out on, and Buggy of course is quite content chucking rocks into the river. Ahhh, to be a 5 year od again, when the biggest decision of life is "Which rock should I throw over the edge first?"

And finally a nice look over the mountain ranges lying in the Yellowstone National Park area ahead of us.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Wyoming- the Second part of our vacation (pt 1)

So these first two pictures (I forgot that the last ones I choose end up being first...and our mouse is a bit busted, so the whole copy and paste to change order didn't work) are from the Bighorn Mountain Range in Central Wyoming. One is of a mountain, the other is looking from the roadside back over the stretch of eastern Wyoming we had just crossed. As we neared the top of the mountains during this trek, the sun was going down and it was a rather winding road, with lots of construction going on. I did about 13 miles on a dirt road bed they had removed the pavement from. I spent time trying not to hit the orange cones on one side, and not falling off the slope on the other. FUN!!! The trip down the western side on 10% downgrades for another 13 miles or so while winding back and forth was really good for my nerves! But obviously we made it, since your'e reading about it from me, rather than some actual news publication detailing the accident. Coming back in full light was much easier, and better for photographs, although we took less on the way back through. My wife took a total of 670+ photos during our vacation, along with some video.

And our first stop in Wyoming was Devil's Tower. We got here a day early after deciding Deadwood was a gambler's paradise, instead of the slightly fmaily friendly town it was 20 years ago when I last visited. A very interesting landmark, Devil's Tower was supposedly formed by a volcanic intrusion exposed after all other sediments surrounding it were eroded away. My personal professiona opinion is that it was the model for the Tower of Babel, but with the original architect killed in a building accident (something about a steel I-beam falling from the makeshift crane's hook), it was forgotted about and never torn down to use the materials for future building products As you can see, the boys STILL only need rocks to climb on to be satisfied with themselves. One guy was nice enough to offer to take a family photo for us as we hiked around the base. I'm the photogenic one with the hat on.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

More from the Black Hills (SD pt 3)

The Needles Highway, a scenic byway that loops through Custer State Park area of the Black Hills. A few very narrow tunnels are long this route that only allow one vehicle through at a time, from either direction. I tried to get a picture of that, giving you a visual idea of just how narrow I really mean, but for whatever reason it just wouldn't be accepted when I tried to upload it. A couple of the pictures show the "needles" formed by rock giving the area its name. And then there is the picture of me WAY out on the rocks. It was a difficult treck with a lot of deep crevices between rocks to get that far...even more difficult trying to get back up and out of there. Then you also see the boys and I where we had scaled a rock outcropping. See? Men and boys are both really simple. Give us some rocks, and nothing else, and we are perfectly entertained. When my wife told the boys it was time to move on they were disappointed, especially Buggy who hates to let go of a good thing. Secretly, I was a bit miffed as well. Like I said...simple.

I got a picture of my wife and the boys in front of Mt. Rushmore. This was their first time in this part of the country, and here at the national monument. If you look REAL close at this upward shot of President Jefferson you'll notice he didn't get his nose cleaned out before posing for his portrait in rock. Nevertheless, Mrs. Jefferson was disappointed that it turned out too big to take back home to hang up in the parlor. She was particularly impressed with Mr Borglum's work.

Pictures from the Black Hills (SD Pt 2)

Dinosaur Park, located on top of a hill in Rapid excuse to stop for a bathroom break, and a cheap thrill for the boys.

Bear Country USA. Imagine a safari tour and a zoo having a baby. That's what this place is. A long caravan of cars traveling through a series of semi-fenced off areas with different animals that included Arctic Wolves, Reindeer, Bears, Bighorn Sheep, Buffalo and more. Here are just a few pictures from there. Yes, I said I was going to poke a bear, however staging a bear in a nearly domesticated setting just didnt seem fair to the bear. I chose to wait and find a truly wild beat to poke out in actual wilderness.

One stop we made outside of Rapid City was The Cosmos. A very weird place, that I once visited 20 years ago. The picture of me might throw you off, but don't worry, I'm just overcompensating for my gut making me front heavy. The picture of the boys shows them standing on certified level-to-each-other platforms. Notice the serious change in size disparity when they switch places. I was used as an example in the house to show the tourists the weird effects of the area. I was to grab onto a bar and do some gymnast maneuver where I raise my legs up to make an 'L' shape out of my body. Doing it in one direction was supposed to be easier than the other. However, my abs and hip muscles never having been all that strong, it seemed pretty hard either direction. I don't think our guide/host was planning on such a weenie for that particular exercise

Pictures from South Dakota- Part 1

The following pictures are all taken while in South Dakota during our family vacation. All locations shown here are prior to reaching the Black Hills region of the state.

Apparently, the people of South Dakota are enamored with the idea of corn, and here is the corny mascot in front of Mitchell's (SD) famous Corn Palace. Being from Iowa, where we are surrounded by nothing but corn that is only mildly interrupted by some soybeans, hogs and cows, we chose to have the kids pose with an ear of corn???

This picture was taken in the "Backyard" of Wall Drug. In case you were curious as to just what a jackalope looks like, this is animal representation is a vastly oversized model. It is a popular picture spot for tourists with kids.

And here is that infamous Corn Palace in Mitchell, SD.

Josh refused to pose with the saloon girl statuette. As you can see here, Bug had no issues...notice his hidden hand holding onto her opposite side's waist area. What a ham!

The last of these photos are all taken in the Badlands, with the exception of the one of my wife with Buggy, which was taken at the campground in Wall, 8 miles north of the Official Badlands National Park area