Archive for June 2013


June 30, 2013

bed brown tent

Aw, geeeeee.   How’s a mother supposed to sleep at night?

Just a few weeks ago I visited and hugged and kissed my daughter and son-in-law and  little  Cooper.    I just checked their iitinerary for this day:   They’re sleeping with the Bedouins tonight – in the Middle East.

bed and camel

I know how they got to Israel.    I just don’t know what their transportation was after that. . . .

There’s more to this story.


June 30, 2013


“I’m sorry, sir,  I don’t know who you are.”


I just blurted that out when the man who sold me this calendar gave me my change and asked me if I wanted him to write his name on the front of the calendar.    Huh?   An autograph from the cashier?


I had bought this beautiful calendar with original sketches of life in Saamiland because the pictures stirred something up in me.   Turns out the “cashier”  was the artist himself.

After he introduced himself and I got done blushing,  I handed him his calendar and graciously,  I hope,  asked for his autograph.    I should have known, there were signs all over his booth, at the FinnFest Tori Market  that I mentioned in the last posting.   Son and I  (and the little audience I had collected)  had a good laugh and we all moved on.

MAP  Saamiland

This is approximately the location of Saamiland, the purple.  I probably have Lapp  blood in me, and that’s right up there in that region.   My Grandma spoke a little about that region, but I was too young to really pay attention.


You’ve got to admit –  it’s pretty far away,  pretty remote,  and most people don’t even know it’s there.    My cousin had our DNA traced one time, and it went back to Stone Age people who lived on the coast of the Northern Baltic Sea 11,000 years ago.    I’m not sure how accurate that is,  but there are times when I can feel myself brooding by the cold dark sea, breathing in the beautiful scenery with the cold crisp air. . . .resting my mind.

Seems mighty nice sometimes.   Seems mighty nice right now, at times like these.

I’ve been home a few days, getting reacquainted with my home.  getting caught up with the news.    I can’t take it all in, all the changes.    I don’t want trouble, I don’t want strife,  I want to be quietly law-abiding. . . .

But I see our Rulers,  my Rulers,  not only think I’m one of those “clinging to their guns and their bibles,” in that infamous quotation,   but that I must belong to The Flat Earth Society,  and my Rulers “don’t have time for me.”    More ominous,  they think that I want to do harm to my fellow man, and that I’m likely an Enemy of Mankind. ( words reported in mainstream newspapers.)

Sheeesh!  Where is Daniel Boone when you need him?  “Them thar is fightin’ words.”

But I don’t want to fight.   I don’t want to be fought against.   I know an insult when I hear one — even when one comes out of my own mouth.  But mine was inadvertent.   These insults sound deliberate.   What are they leading up to?

It’s Sunday today.   The Church gives us these words to contemplate, in one of the many little prayers assigned for this day:  “….Grant that what we may ask in hope,  we may effectually obtain.”   Sounds a little funny in English, but it means that the Lord is compassionate and will hear us, and our prayers will be effective, God willing.       Just feels like it’s time for a lot more praying.

. . . looking out over the cold sea, alone and quiet, far away from impending troubles


June 29, 2013

Whoever you are,  you have an “ethnicity.”   That is,  you have an ethnic background – and one you should be proud of!   I have two,  Swedish and Finnish,  and this is an international celebration of the Finnish side –   the great and wonderfully fun FinnFest 2013!

Copper mines notwithstanding,  as in the last posting,  our main reason for going to the Far Far Far North was to attend this year’s FinnFest.


It’s not always held in this country,    so we decided we’d better take advantage of this year’s near-location.   That’s the Great Lakes in the photo, and that white star is where we had to go.


2  lovely town

Here is an aerial view from one of our brochures showing the beautiful (and very hilly! )  little cities of Houghton and Hancock, home of Michigan Tech University –  home to scholars and architects and engineers that do their work all over the world.     And home to many Finnish immigrants, who worked like second-class citizens in the mines and the forests,  saved their money to buy their own homes, and learning English so they could pass the citizenship test.   Their children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren place a very high value on education.   In this generation,  many Finns are now professionals of all kinds.

Remember:  it was the Finns who gave us Nokia — and all that followed!

Down on ground level . . .

3   finn dress everywhere. . . traditional Finnish dress was everywhere.  These dancers were in red and yellow,  but there were many shades of blue and green as well –  and most weren’t dancing!

Signs were bilingual,  Finn and English, because there were many people from Finland.    Son and I got the local newspaper that first day from our hotel:

SAMSUNGMy Grandma taught me how to count in Finn, a few Finnish words, and some Finnish songs,  but I couldn’t make my way through the first page of that newspaper.   The Finnish language is almost one of a kind, difficult to learn and impossible (!)  to spell.   Its roots are Ugaritic, shared only by some Estonian and by ancient Hungarian.   That’s it.   You either know it or you don’t.    It’s quite musical.   One rule of pronunciation is that every word is accented on the first syllable, but the words are many syllables long.

We were given a lovely “Program.”   123 pages.

5   program cover

It looked familiar.   Both of my children looked like that:  white hair,   bright blue eyes, pink cheeks.   Me too.   Later we all darken a bit, but Finnish children are quite remarkable looking.

The Program gave us the schedules for each day.   We had arrived right in the middle of the lecture program.  For the price of the day’s admission we could attend any of the lectures we wanted to.

6  serious lecturesThe lectures were very good,  serious and informative matters in Finnish history, Finnish health issues,   Finnish literature,  all kinds of Finnish issues, including their newly developed methods of education which has placed them at the TOP of the world’s educational achievement.   (You could Google  “Finland’s educational system” to see how they did that.)     Son and I heard different lectures but we agreed that any one of them would be worth the price of the day’s admission!

The Finns have in  the past endured Viking rulers,  Swedish rulers,  Russian rulers,  Soviet rulers,  and only very, very recently did they become an independent country of their own.     They are socialist now, but I have a feeling they will overcome that too.

Ethnic identity.   Ethnic pride.   Ethnic strength.

There was a Tori,  a giant Finnish marketplace,  displaying and offering all this Finnish ethnicity.   We spent a lot of time there!   And not a little money.    Hundreds of vendors,  I think.

7  Tori

There  was a parade at the end of the day – a good old-fashioned local parade with a mixture of small city pride (fire engines and local politicians and school marching bands)  and Finnish pride (saunas,  folk dancing…and a Finnish “politician,”  their current Secretary of State!)

8   Parade start

It began at 7:00,  just when Son and I finally found a place to eat.   We had just sat down in the restaurant when the parade began to go by – so we took turns jumping up from our table and running outside to take pictures!    (Of course, we all thought we missed the best ones when it was our turn inside.)

I met a lovely lady from Finland at the restaurant.   She was about my age and looked…somewhat like me.   While we waited for our table we talked and talked and talked….we wished we could be seated at nearby tables so we could continue,  but it was not to be.   Just a good memory now.

9   bonfire

It was Midsummer that night,  so thousands of people went out to the shore of Lake Superior to light the bonfire and…do whatever people do to celebrate Midsummer.     Pagan holidays are with us still!

Son and I missed the bonfire because we had to head further north for the copper mines, the historic fort, a search for an old campsite….through dark and eerie isolated fog-filled roads…..deeper into the northern forest.


June 27, 2013

1. Big MacSoooo…  My last trip for a while took me – and Son –  to the Far Far Far North.   To get to the Far Far North you have to cross the BIG MAC –  the Mackinaw Bridge, a wonder of engineering.  The five-mile long bridge that connects the two parts of the state of Michigan.

To get to the Far Far Far North, we had even more traveling to do, and only four days to do it.

We squeezed a lot in those four days.   First day was travel;   a full day of travel, stopping in to see my Friend-With-The-Camera – briefly – (he lives near the Big Mac)  –  then on to the smoked fish store,  then on to the pasty store,  then on to a family visit, of sorts,   then on to our motel, with more northward driving waiting for us in the morning!

The next two days were stuffed full with our intended northern activities.   We actually went as far north as a person can go in our country,  east of the Mississippi River:  47.2+ degrees latitude.     This is looking northward into chilly  Lake Superior, with the rocks standing out in the fog bank.


One of our “intended activities” was foremost on Son’s mind:  to explore an actual copper mine.   The area up there is very hilly, with ancient mountains that used to be higher than the Rockies.   They are now covered by thick forest.   It’s populated by the usual denizens of a northern forest…bear,  moose,  wolves…some people.

This is known as Copper Country because of the many millions of tons of copper taken out of the ground over the last two or three thousand years – perhaps fueling the development of the Bronze Age in Europe and the Middle East.  Eventually along the edge of the narrow road we found the sign we were looking for:   “Delaware” !    The Delaware Mine.


We turned in, followed the even narrower road,  and parked the car on the edge of a giant slag heap.   This is what was thrown out by the mining operations…not enough copper in the “slag.”


One very friendly older man worked there.   Only one man, with a pet skunk.   I held out my fingers toward him.    He was a very shy little skunk who cuddled deeper into the man’s arms after one sniff of me.   (hmmmph)

The man told us that we would first have to listen to a short video (so we knew how to act in a mine)  and then we’d have to choose a hardhat that fit us.


He told us the “tour”  of the mine was self-directed, there would be rough,  uneven ground to walk on, a long stairway down and then up when we’re done,  stay inside the barriers,  don’t run or make sudden moves so you don’t wake up the bats…that’s about it.   We could hardly wait!

We were directed to a little shed “way down there.”  That would be our entrance into the mine.   With a deep breath, we made our way downward….


It seemed like so much fun we didn’t even think of the rickety wooden stairs as a challenge….just…they were slippery and wet and a little rotten in places.   We were going to descend 100 feet on them.   (This was the good part while I could still take pictures.)


And then, at the bottom. . . .

SAMSUNGAnd the walkway:


And. . .

SAMSUNGYou probably get the idea.   But there was so much to do – and to see – and to experience – and to imagine!    There was a variety of colors and textures and things left behind by the actual miners from several generations ago.    There were holes in the walls through which you could peer down into deep chasms, and there were “collapsed” areas that led into deep debris-filled channels.   There were signs of blasting holes and rock faces cut just so, to allow the broken rock wall portions to fall in just the right place, widening the walls rather than creating obstructions.

SAMSUNGI had brought my radiation detector  (like a Geiger counter)  and son and I frequently checked the CPM’s,  the Counts Per Minute.   Somewhere around “30”  is normal background radiation.    We were finding over 200!

Frequent checking!

SAMSUNG There were seams of white quartz, maybe,  or Chalcedon,  and white fuzzy moldy stuff here and there,  and what I thought was whitish bat guano.   Then we found a little moth that was overcome by a white something.

SAMSUNGSon used his cell phone flashlight app so I could get a picture of it.   The moth was almost fossilized with a white crystalline substance.   It was the only other living thing . . . .formerly living thing.

We walked a lot down there.  I don’t know how much time we spent.   Time seemed irrelevant to us,  but I’m sure it was very important to the many men who worked down here.    It would have been stuffy and  damp, cramped and very noisy, dangerous and dark.

How happy they must have been at the end of each shift to see the sky at the top of the stairway:


It was worth that long climb just to see the light of day – even though it was a misty, foggy day.

Once outdoors we walked a trail that took us to the old ruins of stone mining buildings and left-behind, rusting machines.    This one reminded me how very noisy it must have been around there a hundred years ago:

SAMSUNGThere were giant pistons and giant pipes. . . .

But we really came to look for copper.   We went back to another part of that huge slag heap.    You can’t be afraid of heights around there!

SAMSUNGIt’s a long, long way down!

Son looked around for a long time, picking up and examining the rocks.   And then –  he actually found some copper!   He knew just what to look for,  a thin, flat,  slightly curved small rock of just the right color.SAMSUNG

He showed me how the piece could bend slightly, and inside was the shiny copper-colored copper.

Another trail led to an ancient mining site.    All kinds of digging artifacts have been found, as well as the crevice the ancient people had made by pouring boiling water into the cold rocks, and then banging and banging until pieces of the rock fell off.   Much of it contained usable copper.


This is a “banging” tool.   (My name for it.)   You held it in your hand and your fingers fit into that light-colored groove that was carved all around the rock.   Then you just smashed it into the side of the cleft that was made in the rock crevices.    Or something.    Brute force.

The whole day hit very close to ‘home.”    My dear father worked in a mine up there when he was 21 and 22 years old – my father, using his sensitive guitar-playing fingers to work in a mine. . . .until an accident crushed his chest, and he didn’t have to work there anymore.

My grandfather worked in a mine for 40 years.   I hadn’t known anything about his life underground.


June 25, 2013

Before I show you our “underground” adventures”  in the “upper lands”  of this state, I noticed it’s a Tuesday,  the day when I usually do a “tribute”  to that last infamous Tuesday,  11-06-12, and so I’ll just do a quick note on something I’ve been hearing on the news lately:

“Big Sis” – the head of Das Vaterland Security around here –  has a new motto:   “If you see something, say something.”   ( a la the soviets, in which snitching is  encouraged)

The one they put in the w hit e ho use, whatever you choose his name to be,  repeats the motto:   “If you see something,  say something.”   

Edward Snowden . . .   saw something . . . then he said something.

(There are those who believe he’s on our side.)







June 19, 2013

“Thithering.”   As in “hither, thither, and yon. ”   A handy phrase from the English dictionary.    I know I just got home from a long Western trip,  but I’m getting ready to go on another one tomorrow.    This time it’s family interests that compel me.

250px-KeweenawPeninsula_svg    Our destination in that white horn that juts out into Lake Superior.    It is the location of the international  FinnFest 2013 event.    A few years ago, this was a very important celebration for Hubbie who was 100% Finn,  and since I am one-half Finn, that means Son is three-fourths Finn;   and so we are going, Son and I,   to honor our Finnishness.

Lake Superior is the Far, Far North.  I’m packing jackets and sweaters — even in June.   I’ve been there before —  in June.

Let’s see…….am I forgetting anything for my suitcase?   Am I overlooking anything?     Like this man who intended to rob the convenience store he was seen walking into:

thiefThe video camera caught him entering the store.   He didn’t forget to put a bag over his head.    He just overlooked the fact that it was a transparent bag!

I have the usual pre-trip jitters.   What am I overlooking?





June 18, 2013

I remember when I was a tourist in Montana recently.   I needed to mail some postcards.   I was pretty sure of the cost of the postage,  but I just wanted to make sure, and my GPS knew where the post office was in that little town.   This is it.

butte p o

This was a small little city but it had plenty of people working in the post office.  One nice man called me over and asked what he could do for me.   I told him I just wanted a “price check” for these post cards.

He said:  “Let me see those.”

He proceeded to comment on my “pretty stamps,”  all black and gold, old Christmas stamps,  old one-cent stamps.  They actually did look nice.  We talked for a while about stamp collecting.  I had plenty of time, and he seemed genuinely nice, genuinely interested, as I had found many people across the northern tier of states,  Idaho,  Montana,  Wyoming,  the Dakotas….

He also commented on the post card photos of beautiful scenery.   So we talked for a while about where I had been. . . .post cards

And then he discovered what state I called home, since he read the addresses I had written out.   I’m pretty sure he read a couple post cards too!   Oh, well.   I had plenty of time and he really was nice.    Must be a result of…having plenty of time for people.

Today,  back at home,  rushing around doing errands,  I was stopped up short by a lady behind the cash register, and as she checked out my purchases,  it turned out she also was nice…and friendly….and interested…and from South Dakota!

south dakota   We talked mostly about the wide open spaces in this country, how you can drive for miles and miles,  hours on end, and not see another person,  a town, or even a house.  The land is beautiful – but empty!

So we talked on about how sparsely populated the world as a whole is.   I told her how I had done the math one time,  and if you take ALL the people living on this planet right now,  you could give them each a three-bedroom house and two acres of land, and you wouldn’t even fill up one-third of our own country – and the rest of the planet would be empty!

plains house

I did it for the state of Texas.  I fit everyone into Texas and a few surrounding million acres added in for good measure.     Every family had its own big house and two acres of land.    And then the lady at the cash register and I agreed we could put everyone in the Upper Plains of the U.S.  — just in case people would like to experience the four seasons.

It is a concept so opposite of what we are being told, that it sounds like it is way “yonder,”   way out there.    But truly,  if we were “nice” people who cared about each other,  if  we could take the time and  “do the math,”  we would discover:  we really all could live yon, way out there, comfortably, peaceably,  prosperously, without any overcrowding at all.

plains overview

Hither, thither, and yon.   We could stretch our minds yonder…..


June 18, 2013

I’m weary, right now,  and feeling a little down., so I think,  this Tuesday,  I’ll stick with recent themes here:   The on-going  Tuesday Tributes to 11-06-13;   and yesterday’s  “Hither, Thither, and Yon.”

“Not what we intended!”

Deer Feedingn1

It’s my bird feeder.   I moved it to the back yard for several reasons,  but the birds didn’t take to its new location very well.    I worried that all that bird seed would just rot away.    But I needn’t have worried.   It’s getting eaten.

Deer Feeding 2

Just not how I intended.

I saw some bumper stickers this afternoon, naming one of the names in the last presidential election, 11-06-12.    Our Rulers put one of them in the w hit e ho use. I wonder if those bumper sticker people knew what they were going to get.

Is it how they intended things to turn out?

Life disappoints, sometimes.    Then we adjust.   Leaders disappoint.   Promises made to us disappoint and then some of us get poorer.      Some of us lose our freedoms.    Some of us get sicker.  Some  of us die.

I had my radio on this afternoon in the car too.  As I was tuning up and down the dial I heard one young man say “….And then John  heard a voice saying ‘Come up hither!’ ”   I knew where that quotation came from!   It’s from the Apocalypse,  the last book of the Bible;  the “scary” one named Revelation.

And I happen to be teaching that one right now, although with a slightly different presentation.

Nevertheless,  what was that all about?   “Come up hither” ?

Hither means  “here;   to me.”      While John was having his visions,  a powerful voice from above told him:  Come up hither,  up to where I am,   up to me.   It was a voice of power and might – and of benevolence.   And John was willing.

So, now,   what if we think of having a Leader who doesn’t disappoint?    Not a leader that we voted for,  because we’re on his side,  but a Leader that is on our side?   One who came here and told us “Behold,  I go and prepare a place for you….and I will come again and receive you unto Myself.”      “Come … unto Me.” 

And that’s the voice who tells us “Come up hither.”   Power.   Truth.  Benevolence.  Safety.   Love.

We can rest thither.


June 17, 2013

Sorry for the delay;  I was out in The Spruce Tunnel gathering my thoughts.   (May you all find your “Tunnel.”) 

A very handy phrase:   “hither, thither, and yon.”

My Mom used to say this phrase to me once in a while when I was a child.   I knew what she meant.    She meant something that was “all over creation.”  Or sometimes someone going on aimlessly “all over the place.”    Or, more to the point she was making to me, something aimlessly spread out all over  (such as my clothes, or my toys,  or my attention).


The West is behind me now, like the sunset in my rearview mirror.   It feels like I have driven hither, thither, and yon.   And for the past few days I’ve been like a drop of water hanging off a willow branch, filling up as the water gathers in me, thoughts  filling me up as I feel the aftermath of my travels.    I know there is a grand unity in all that I experienced, and so I like this feeling of “gathering together.”Drop


When the drop gets big enough,  it will fall; and when my mind fills up enough,  I’ll have to write again.   And so I do now.

The world had enlarged again for me because I had seen such great beauty in our land. Such a wide variety of deserts, mountain ranges,  valleys,  vast horizons of sandy browns and reds or greens.   Skies of every hue.  And Americans  of every sort.

Or not really.   Mostly what I saw were nice American people of the modern sort.  I liked everyone I saw,  but I had never been so aware of our collective American minds,   now characterized by a curious lack of curiosity, a complacency, a conformity – even an urgent need to know what to conform to.

I won’t elaborate right now.   There is not enough room for the bits and pieces of consistent impressions gathering in my memory,  just as that water droplet grows in size on the wet willow branch.

Yet one thing I observed in “dinosaur land” travels:   The land that our nation was built upon, this portion of the earth, existed long before our Declaration of Independence was signed.   We all know that.   But it is certain that the generation of Americans that live here now are most likely going to be living in another completely different nation in the near future.

Complacency, conformity,  and a lack of curiosity is just what the New Leaders require in order to make their takeover complete.   The American people, as a whole,  will probably not be watching, they  will not be vigilant,  and they may be the last to realize they live under new governmental realities, where the Pledge of Allegiance is not known (in its original meaning)  and where the principles of the Constitution no longer apply (as they were originally intended).

It is the dream of totalitarianism.  It is the dream of world dictatorship.   The American Constitution was the last form of government to stand in their way.

It was a good idea, but the ideas are fragile in the face of the growing global (socialist) dictatorship —   that’s governing from the Top downwards,  not, as in America originally,  governing from among, by,  and for the citizens.   From the Bottom upwards, so to speak.

chicks many

Think of our nation’s principles this way:   As a box of newly hatched (ideas)  little yellow fuzzy chicks, being stomped on by a giant Boot.   They don’t have a chance.   There are a few protestations left,  but these voices are quickly calumniated, ridiculed, mocked, suppressed, and stomped down.    What’s left is conformity. . . .

Hither, thither, and yon can be a good phrase to remember.  It was good to spread out our principles (“all over the place”)  throughout the world:  the idea of freedom and equality before the law;  government by the people;  self-determination, equality of opportunity for those who work hard for themselves. . . .   This is not done through economic exploitation and warfare, nor through the artificial imposition of “equality of outcome,”  although those accusations are taught fanatically to our children by the socialists.      Worthy principles are lived out and then spread by example.

Hither, thither, and yon:   If that’s where our attention is  (“all over the place”), we must gather our thoughts back from dissolution and distractions, and identify what is  fundamental to our nation.

It was good for me to see the beauty and worth of our country;   helps to identify what is beautiful and important in our nation – the United States of America.

Flag Day:  June 14, 2013

flag white

“…allegiance to the flag and to the country for which it stands….”



June 13, 2013

The End of the Journey:   5,100 miles.   !7 days.

I was missed:


Spider webs on my mailbox!!

They better not have taken over the house.


EAST BY NORTH (The Last Legs)

June 13, 2013

Not my legs.   Last legs of the journey.

After the Badlands, I still had to drive all the way eastward  through South Dakota.   It was nice, nice farmland. . . only farmland. . . .    I went to church somewhere in South Dakota, and I was greeted enthusiastically by a man named “Steve.”   Dressed in a kind of green vestment.    (sighhhhh)   But very friendly people, happy people.

South Dakota presented me with more unusual signs.   Each time I got off the Interstate I had to deal with this:

20m MPH

I didn’t know my car could GO that slowly…and I wasn’t pleased to have to find out.    Why?    Why do they do that to cars???

And then there were some signs with unusual messages.    I needed to use the rest room:

Signs I hope so

I kind of thought I would….

And entering a convenience store –  I didn’t have a problem with this sign:

Signs A problem

No one was smoking a cigarette inside either.

I made the obligatory touristy Wall Drugs,   but I drove right by the Corn Palace.  (I’ve been there before, and – you know –  the closer you get to home,  the more you want to be home.)

One more overnight, though, before I reached home.    I had a pretty nice message on my bed in the motel room:


Cute little card with three-dimensional scrapbooking things on the front and also inside, with a nice friendly message inside too.   I’ve never received a card from a hotel before.

The next day I drove through territory that was becoming more and more familiar.    The terrain, the trees, the smell in the air,  the stores and familiar gas stations. . . . the toll roads!

All the way home I had good weather, dry roads, pretty clear skies,   but as I listened to the news on the radio, I heard the roads kind of “close up”  behind me.   Near Winnemucca, Nevada,  which I’d passed by a few days before,   there was a sudden huge sandstorm, causing a 27-car pile-up,  with injuries and one or two deaths.

A truck driver’s view:

SAMSUNGThe white is the light reflecting off the sand in the air.    The driver must have had his dash-cam on,  but you wouldn’t want to hear what he said as he was driving into that!

The local news showed photos of the aftermath.     You probably know what I was thinking;   “it could’ve been me.”

Sandstorm pile-up

And then in the mountains of Montana and Wyoming, there were such severe thunderstorms that cars were being blown around.     “Could’ve been me.”

Yesterday the severe storm went on through South Dakota.

The storm may have finally come to our area.   We’re dealing with “severe storms right now.    Son sent me a photo of hailstones….Oh, here,  I can show you:


Jagged and bigger than a quarter!    Son suffered paint damage on his car.

But I’d better shut down now….I know how to keep safe from storms at home,  but we often lose our power.    I’m just so glad I’m home for these storms.

EAST BY NORTH (In the Bad-Beautiful-Lands)

June 11, 2013

I think I lost a day here…..I must be getting sooooooo tired now.   I left off last time with the “road dropping out from under me.”    Well, then,  I found a place to park the Blue Cruze:


See it?   Way, way up there in the upper right of that photo!    My tiny, little car.      I took many photos in this beautiful Badlands National Park,  but not one of them was able to present the size and the grandeur and the beauty and the impact. . . .  The landforms there are just way above human scale.

If I show you just a few photos,  I will have held back from you more of my “best” ones;  but here are a few.   There were huge “folds”  in the earth:


Then there were many areas of bands – layers of sedimentary rocks, revealed by erosion:

BandsThere were thick, heavy clouds overhead, but then they would float away and then the colors would come out, but sometimes it was just impossible to wait for the sunshine.    There were areas of yellow and pink –

Pink Bands BeautifulThat’s some of the pink, in sunshine;  and here is pink and yellow:

Yellow reallyReally, there was a whole area of pink and yellow rocky hills that you could drive your car through or get out and walk around and take (inadequate) photos.

Here are some deep crevices in the shade again, though the shade made them no less breathtaking as you stand on the edge — and there was nothing stopping you from walking right out to the edge!


I call this one “walk the plank”  –  if you dare!

Walk the plankAnd just for perspective  — this isn’t me,  but a young lady whose boyfriend said “Go way down there so I can get you in the picture!”   Well, she did.  She ran down to the edge of the point as far as she could, but she had trouble standing….there was a strong wind all day, maybe 35 – 45 m.p.h.    She was very far from safety!

In the Wind

I would strongly, enthusiastically encourage everyone to go see the Badlands!  It’s worth the drive.   This is my third time there,  the first time I made the trip alone.   Three times, and I was still so overwhelmed by it all.   It really can be a safe place to drive:

Safe RoadsThere are miles and miles of these roads.  The Badlands Bypass is 31 miles long   I thought it would take me an hour or so.  I stayed for more than four hours.   There were many places to get out and take pictures and many trails to walk on.  Some were rough, right through the rocks,  and some were quite “civilized,”  such as this Fossil Trail, which featured a comfortable boardwalk and fossils to see:

Safe Fossil Walk

But everywhere you go, every pathway,  had these signs:

Snake Sign

I don’t know….there were a lot of people around,  but you never know.

IMG_2119I saw stairways only once.  They were pretty darn steep!    I thought this would be a good place for mountain goats!

Sure enough:

Mountain goats

They made funny “huffing” noises and didn’t seem to be concerned about the people at all.

A while ago, pioneers had to cross this land.   They showed pictures of wagons being let down and lifted up over these rocky precipices.    They showed photos of some of the pioneers who tried to settle here, but many starved or nearly starved because they didn’t know how to farm in the dry plains states.   It’s a different set of skills than farming in the verdant eastern part of our country.

Nearby was a preserved soddy, dug into the hillside, providing extra protection from the relentless winds.

Badlands homeThis area was “closed” – after hours.  I didn’t expect to leave “after hours”   but I was able to take a picture from a distance.   Imagine calling the Badlands your home!!   Or trying to.   Perhaps it wasn’t so pleasant a place to live, after all.

Well, I’m still headed eastward to my own home.   It’s time.   I’m glad I went eastward by the northern route – EAST BY NORTH.    I may live in the “north”  but it is still east of the Mississippi River.   A very different kind of scenery.    One that is Home to me.

Aw, geeeeee……Just one more before I go.   Sun and shade:

Sun and shade

EAST BY NORTH (Lookit what you got !!!)

June 9, 2013

Dinosaur skype cooepr    I’ve written before how Cooper knows how to initiate a Skype call.  Here he is skyping with his dinosaur (and me).    Little Mr. Electronic Gadget Man.   When I was at his house last week, he liked to dig in my suitcases and purse.   I had brought radios, an alarm clock, a wristwatch that chimes on the hour, cameras, cell phone, various chargers, an electronic spectrometer,  a radiation detector. . . .  I like electronic gadgets too!

Every once in a while he’d reach in and find something new and “wonderful.”   His face would light up and he would exclaim, “Oh, Grrrrma!!   Lookit what you got!!!”  

Such fun!!     (And for the next couple of days buzzers and alarms and my radio would start up at odd times. . . .)     But that little phrase of his  proclaimed all the delight his 2 1/2 year old body could possibly contain!

I found that a very handy phrase to express some of my delight at the scenery I’ve been seeing.


I would round a curve and see spectacular mountain views, then I’d round the next curve or up and over the next hill, and the view would be even more spectacular!   And inside,  I could say:  “Oh, my Lord God and Creator of All Things!   Lookit what you got!”  


Then after the mountains came a long day’s drive through the many-faceted emerald green hills of the high plains.

Green green

“Oh, My God!   Lookit what you’ve got!”       Your beautiful world!!    And you gave us the ability to see the beauty and lose our breath at the sight of some things.    Deo gratias!

To my great sorrow I’ve come to accept that my cameras cannot capture what I’m seeing and my words cannot give you what I’m feeling.    How could I say it all?

One word summary?     Gratitude.

The weather report was not good,  and the clouds darkened things, but up ahead there seemed to be blue sky pushing away the clouds,  just about where I needed to be in an hour or so.


Eventually, as I drove eastward through the bright green, the ground began to give out from under us!

Ground Falls away

And that is the next story.

EAST BY NORTH (A Good Day in Montana)

June 8, 2013

Nice little things made this a good traveling day.  If all goes well,   this might be the first thing you see in the morning.

Morning messageThey slip the receipt under the door to say “Youre all set.  Good-bye.   Have another good day!”       And the maids have made your morning brighter by doing this with the towels:

Morning duck  Whimsical.   Makes a tired traveler smile.

Then it was off across the green cattle ranges and snow covered mountains of Montana.

Green mountain driving

Taken out my window while zipping up and down the roads.   I had a goal.   I wanted to get to Bozeman to see the Museum of the Rockies.

museum front

The museum actually has very good and thorough display areas of pioneer life,  native american life,  and space, including kind of fun mock-ups of the equipment and rooms and things used by the astronauts on their travels to the moon.

But my interest was elsewhere.

skullThey really have here in this museum one of the largest displays of dinosaurs:  models,  bones in situ,  petrified eggs clutches,  videos,  charts, and 3-D educational earth models.   This is where the makers of the three Jurassic Park movies came for consultation.

I won’t post a lot of my photos.  but a few show some interesting things, not often seen.

Long Tail sh

Our continent was once warm and  moist and filled with dinosaurs of all kinds.   Ribs and femurs and jaw bones testify to the variety and to the sizes.      One day they just found a whole, intact tail of an 80-foot long dinosaur.    This must have been an exciting find out in the field!

There is enough evidence, as you’ve probably heard,   to show that some dinosaurs likely had feathers, and we can even tell the colors:

Feathered dino

(Models, of course,  but based on evidence.  This is a hungry feathered carnivore attacking a larger probably plant-eater.)

They had triceratops of all ages, kind of looking like a herd of them from one angle.

Din Tric herd

They did have a huge T-Rex and many other bones, many other models.   What made it fun is that in the background they played sounds of what the dinosaurs might have made…..low, long mournful foghorn-like bellows,   moans,  grunts,  chirps —   I began to look around for the room which held a model of a huge “swamp.”      that was a nice touch;  it added “atmosphere”  and a sense of being VERY glad I live today in the relatively cool and dry climate of northern North America!

Oh, this is all for now….


I had to leave.  It was getting late, and at the end of the day you start thinking about eating and finding a place to rest.

I headed further east,  putting the snow-covered mountains in my rearview mirror:

Mirror mountains

Then I found a nice restaurant called The Bozeman Trail, even though I was long gone from Bozeman.

Restaurant at night

What I did today made me so tired that it put me a day behind in posting my travels….

Till tomorrow night!



EAST BY NORTH – (Our Many Forks)

June 8, 2013

Dinosaur man Had to finally say good-bye to little dinosaur man.       Cooper lives at about 6600 feet elevation,  and as I left his home, I had to head downwards.


That’s a 12 % downgrade ahead on the road.  Way, way in the distance, right in the middle,  you can see some of the snow-capped peaks of the Sierras.  I stayed high in elevation all across Nevada  from 4,200 to 8,640 feet,   but I stayed pretty low in emotion, already missing Cooper and his family and not at all sure which way I was going to drive home.  I could go straight and quickly east, or I could take a little northern route and see some new sights.    East or north –  it was my Fork in the Road coming up soon.

By nighttime, at my hotel, I just wanted to go home,  and as fast as possible.    I wanted to “be” home.    But well-rested and in the morning sun,  I took the northern Fork.

Utah brought me to the salt flats

Bonneville sign

I stood on the shore of the Bonneville Salt Flats, marveling at the processes that formed these many, many miles of flat surface, as far as you can see.    That mountain in the distance is more than seven miles away,  but it didn’t seem that far.

Bonneville flats

It’s quite a sight to see.  At the rest area there you can walk right out onto the salt surface, but you’ll bring all that salt back into your car.    There are tire tracks leading off the highway;   people just can’t resist, I guess.

And then I took that north fork into Idaho.

Beautiful mountain scenery as far as your eye can see.      Imagine driving through this for hours and hours!


Interesting restaurants on that northern route too.


The food was good. Won’t get into what I ordered – ha ha.    But I had more food issues to come.    I stopped at a gas station with juice and snacks on my mind.   Right there, by the juice and snacks this gas station had a distinct flair for “outdoor activities.”

Maggots for sale

I just bought some apple juice for the road.

So here I am, committed to the northern route.   It feels good to have finally made the choice, and now I have a route,  a plan for the future.   I had plenty of time in the car, behind the steering wheel,  thinking of all the choices there are to make.   Each choice leading us down one fork in our road ahead — or the other.

EAST BY NORTH – 1 (More Courage and Heroism)

June 6, 2013

“Dum dum da dum…I don’t want to give up my life for you…da dum da dum dee dee……but I will if I have to to keep us all free….da dee dee…..”    ” Freedom ain’t free….da dum da dum dee dee….”American soldier….American soldier….da dum da da …..)


Cruising Montana Roads today. . . .and the Idaho Hills. . .


Decided to turn the radio on,  find out what these people listen to, as I pass by.   And those are some of the words I remember hearing in a song.     It’s D-Day today.  the Sixth of June.   These people are real patriotic and real manly…direct and friendly and good-natured.     It could be those mountains and never-ending hills and roads, and the vast pasture and ranch lands in the valleys and that Big Sky up above;  it just makes a person feel small and precious on that landscape,  and we’re all in this together and we need each other and we need to be free to live our lives and raise our families.   

And all this freedom to live and breathe and choose our ways “ain’t free”  as the song said.    

But I really want to write about a “journey”   that some other young men took on this day, a few decades ago.

omaha ready

Young men on a journey to one of the beaches in Normandy:  Omaha,  Utah . . . . five beaches in all, ready to receive them, the National-Socialist soldiers waiting for them.   The odds were not good for us.  We all knew that.   It was a long shot,  but it had to be done.   We were fighting for the freedom of Europe, and ultimately our freedom too.  

Many of these young men stayed there after the battle:

omaha cemMany Europeans visit this cemetery in Normandy every year, still feeling echoes of gratitude to the United States, for our contribution to freedom.    

I hear our Rulers are not teaching much about this in schools today, but it’s still  important to find out why we fought against the National Socialists of Germany, why was it so important, why was it worth the lives of so many young men.   

We’ve got to be CLEAR about this.   I read this, this morning, at the breakfast table:

“If tyranny and oppression come to the land  (The United States of America),  it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy.”    (written by James Madison)

We fought a foreign enemy on D-Day, 1944, but we did not give up our own constitutional freedoms at that time.     

Can the same people who fought for freedom then give up their freedoms now –  in the name of  “security” ?      I believe James Madison was right.    He is one of our Fathers.    He wanted to warn us.


CALIFORNIA – (Courage and Herosim)

June 6, 2013

Lest we forget,  courage and heroism built this nation.


Daughter and I had to read that plaque several times before we understood it.  Each time we read it out loud, we understood a little more, until finally – it hit us.   We were at the Visitor Center of the Donner Party Memorial.   This is a “hero plaque”  made for us today, so that we remember that,  at the risk of their own lives,  a small group of men returned to the scene of death and horror, hoping to find someone left alive to save in that terrible winter of 1846-1847.

It was hard to get into the mood of the memorial, because I was surrounded by such beauty:

donner lake

A few postings ago I put up the photo of Daughter and me on a Hobie on this lake,   Donner Lake.  It was so beautiful,  I remarked that I feel like I’m inside a picture postcard !

But the “beauty”  can turn beastly,  as the Donner Party Tragedy informs us.

donner mt snow

At this point, I know a little about how it happened:   greed,  indifference to human safety,  ignorance, arrogance, innocence and gullibility. . . .   A small wagon train of families headed out to the California coasts and valleys was led into harm’s way.  They left too late, they took wrong turns,  they had bad luck,  their leaders were criminally inept.    The result was that Donner Pass filled up with snow and the people could go no further.    They were left without food and with not very much shelter for the next miserable few months.     Many died,  many suffered worse horrors.

Here is their monument;  it’s a marker for two things:

Donner mon clsup

The names of the dead and of the survivors are on that monument, so it’s a marker for them.  But also,  the height of the monument that the statues are placed on is 22 feet,  the amount of snow that covered their wagons and make-shift cabins.    22 feet of snow. . . and more as the winter progressed.

There was a pathway  which led to  markers of where some shelters were.   There is a giant boulder that provided the back side of a fireplace that someone had made.   In the  Visitor Center nearby were pieces of their belongings:   buttons,  a broken pipe, a pot,  a shaving kit, a broken rifle, a little doll,  some clothing.   Everyday personal items;  and then this  –

Donner wagonIt’s a historically accurate  model.    I stood next to that woman.    She was shorter than I am,  but very, very, very thin.   I felt decadent next to her.   What an easy life I have!

I bought a few items in the gift store, including a journal written by one young man, 18 years old,  named Moses Schallenberger telling of his winter there.  I’m eager to read it because even though I came across the  Donner Party in my university history courses,  I want to hear it from a personal point of view,  from the words of a son, a part of one of the families that were destroyed that winter.

As some of you may know,  there are some sensational aspects to the history of the Donner Party.  We can afford to pretend to be shocked and horrified from this distance in time;  but in the end, this is a story of families which set out on their journey with the hopes and dreams that we all have for our families, and the willingness to undergo hardship to attain their own personal dreams.

Families.    We do it all for our families.      We want the freedom to search out and choose what is best for our own family.    A strong, safe family is the basic unit of any strong, safe, and free society.    It just always turns out that way, sociologically,  psychologically, historically.

Here is Cooper’s recreation center where he takes classes and learns about his world:


It’s within bicycling distance of Donner Pass.

He’ll learn about that some day.






June 5, 2013

I have another reason to be here in the West;  it’s a mission, taken on behalf of a couple of other people back home.   And because it’s Tuesday,  I remembered my mission, because Tuesday is the day I usually do a Tribute to 11-06-12

So here’s my “Tuesday’s Tribute,”   beginning with some questions for you:   What kind of a nation would give up its own sovereignty?    What kind of a nation would let a global force override its own laws?   What kind of a nation would conform and contort its own laws at the wishes of a hostile foreign governing force?   What kind of a nation would elect leaders that would be working with the foreign governing force?

Well,  this hostile foreign governing force once gave us Mahatma Gandhi to be our hero, but now it turns out that we are allowed to admire  only a small part of what he wrote. Only the part that conforms with the will of the foreign governing force.

We know that Gandhi wrote this:


But whenever people try to publicize this quotation,  it is ordered to be removed.     (Thanks  to  Natural News . com  for this information)

You see,  even though deaths by guns in our nation have gone down, way down, in recent years, 49% down, which is a major drop,  the rulers of this world want the people of the world to be unarmed.   I heard on the news that some in our nation have voted to contort ourselves to the general anti-gun movement of the rulers of the world, contradicting our own constitutional protections.

Oh, not all at once.  They will walk us forward into gun confiscation while denying each forward step.

What did Gandhi know that this nation doesn’t seem to know?

What did Hitler know in the last century that made it easier to control his people?   The same thing!    But he said he made Germany’s streets much safer by taking away the people’s guns.

Gandhi,  Hitler.   That’s just a matter of historic fact.

Some day we too will be “history.”


June 5, 2013

We still haven’t slowed down. . . .    Why am I here?    “To wear my self down to a nub,” apparently, attempting to be a part of Cooper’s days.

We went mountain climbing – again!

Climbing again

That’s a portion of beautiful Lake Tahoe in the background – otherwise known as Cooper’s Back Yard.   He climbed up and down rock faces, boulders, nooks and crannies, just have a good, giggling time.

He loves the beaches at Lake Tahoe, and he just plain loves water.   Here he is getting out of a boat – again !   Good sea legs and a life vest helps.


And what better place to meet a … well,  a girlfriend,  than at the beach, sitting in a puddle of mud!!


Cooper has the dance moves too –


And tumbling –

SAMSUNGCooper asked me to play “base-a-ball”   with him, but all I had to do was run after the ball.   He never missed!

SAMSUNGHe likes trains – a LOT –  and he likes monster trucks.   Uncle John gave him a  monster truck for Christmas and he’s become quite an expert in this self-propelled little vehicle.   And then to make it interesting,  he pretend-crashes into things.   What fun!

Car Crash

The day wouldn’t be complete without an hour or so in the park:

Cooper swinging highAnd that completes the Cooper Album this trip –  or so I think.

How can I say good-bye to this little treasure?


June 4, 2013


After taking forty pictures with my cell phone camera,  the little one said:  “Here, Grrrrma, take a picture of ME!”


“Here, Grrrrma, take a picture of my soccer ball!”


He’s an expert with electronic devices,  he’s 2 1/2 years old,  and he’s the reason I’m here.    I wanted to enter his world for this brief moment in time, because it will never be here again.

So here is his world – and here is the reason I’m exhausted all the time!

One day Cooper’s Mommy said “Let’s go out for lunch!”   “Okay,” we all said.   So we all took off on our bikes – in these forested mountain hills –  and pedaled off to lunch.


We didn’t send the little guy off on his own; Mommy wasn’t far behind sometimes. 


The main reason I came at this time in early June is to see Cooper’s ballet recital.  

Oh, yes,  he’s got the moves. . . .(over there on the right)


And then the little ones had to be led carefully off the stage.


Really, really, little ones!

But he’s not too little;  he’s really a “big, strong” boy:

Cooper’s Daddy says he discovered the rings only two weeks ago, and already he can support his own weight,  swing back and forth, and even try some spins.



And then a nice walk in the park, through the woods, over a nice metal bridge. . .


. . . leads Cooper and Grrrrma to some “mountain climbing.”    Me first,   then waiting for Cooper –


Then he’s King of the Mountain!


Then back down for more . . . .more activities. . . . more surprises for Grrrrma. . . .more reasons to be here. . . .