According to Jimmy Buffet,
You need a holiday
take a holiday
find a place to find yourself
take your life down off that shelf
quit acting so blase
While the lyrics do sound better set to some vaguely Jamaican music and accompanied by umbrella drinks, the man has got a point. So on Monday, June 25,* I sent Zeke parrot to be boarded, said goodbye to the cats, packed the dogs in the car, and headed out to cross South Dakota in one day and then press on to Bozeman, MT the next. Here’s a pic of Ricky enjoying the 60 mph wind outside Storm Lake before he realized he’d be trapped in a car for two days with me singing my collected Jimmy Buffet and Johnny Cash albums (click to embiggen):
Our destination, Bozeman, was selected as the site of a family quasi-reunion because it was roughly midway between me in Storm Lake and my brother in Portland. I was the only family member who had been there before and remembered it as a neat college town, so I was relieved when the family enjoyed our stay.
Crossing South Dakota on I90 is an experience in desperate tourism, as roughly a dozen attractions, several of them centered around Mt. Rushmore, are advertised via billboards at what seems like 10 foot intervals: see Mt Rushmore, see this cave, see that cave, WALL DRUG, Pioneer Auto museum, 1880 Town, see this cave, see that cave, Corn Palace, WALL DRUG, Reptile Gardens, WALL DRUG and on and on and on. I couldn’t stop at anything long enough to sightsee, since I had the dogs in the car and temperatures in the Badlands**** topped 105 degrees.
The badlands were beautiful to my desert-longing eye, though, and the Black Hills around Spearfish, where we stayed the first night, were lovely. But it was the next day, about 45 minutes into Wyoming, that I felt I was once again in the West. Three iconic symbols welcomed me back: 1) sagebrush; 2) prong horned antelope (although it’s been so long since I’ve seen one, my first thought was “what’s wrong with that poor donkey?”) and 3) a place name incorporating the words “dead horse.” As Johnny Cash crooned just about then, “This is my land, these are my people.”
Clockwise from left to right, that’s me (sporting more gray hair than my older brother…hmmm…Grecian Formula?), BIL Leroy and sis Linda, from Kansas, nephew David (who joined us from Calgary), bro Henry and SIL Jan, and nephew Michael, also from Kansas.
I gave Linda my old digital camera, which she received in much the same way ancient peoples received fire, with fascination and fear. We don’t know if she’ll ever figure out how to download pictures and attach them to emails; she may institute a cargo cult and try to replicate my computer desk to call back and appease the digital gods.
Here also is a rare pic of BIL Leroy, a Kansas farmboy born and bred and highly suspicious of food that does not combine meat, potatoes, gravy, and white bread, eating at a fabulous taqueria we found.*****
Bozeman is darn nifty place. About 100 feet from the taqueria was a great little yarn shop, Stix. Here’s a pic of SIL Jan making one of several purchases (we went back every. single. day) and another pic of the shop. Yarn addicts will see why we loved it. The third pic is of the Argosy scarf that I bought some Noro Silk Garden yarn to make.
The next day, Jan bought some more yarn and started the same scarf, after finishing a purse she bought supplies for and began knitting on day one! We love Jan because she’s kind and smart and funny and somehow misguided enough to put up with our brother and it’s a good thing she’s so darn likable because she’s the kind of person who does everything well: knitting, check; stained glass, check; basket weaving, check; raising a nifty son as a working mom, check; cooking, check; cross stitch, check; riding a bad-ass cruising motorcycle, check; gardening, check; making little filled chocolates with patterned tops, check — and more that she’s probably keeping from us because Schaechterle women have tender egos. I wouldn’t be surprised to find out she dons a spandex outfit and cape at night and roams Beaverton, Oregon, fighting crime.
And speaking of knitting, which we were somewhere in that last paragraph, sis Linda recently retired from teaching elementary school for, well, forever, and Jan and I got her started knitting. Now, I know that when I began knitting a few years ago, Linda rolled her eyes at how much it consumed me, both the doing of it and the collecting of yarn and patterns. Ha Ha Ha! (that’s me having the last laugh) — in less than 1 week, Linda started a scarf, started and finished a dishcloth, bought more yarn and needles and pattern books than she probably wants to discuss with her husband, and knitted so much we didn’t have time for the traditional family game of slaughter-Inez-at-Scrabble.
Phew, Back to Bozeman. You gotta love a town that features a revolving, anatomically correct horse above the Army-Navy shop,
and a town that’s so dog friendly. We saw dogs everywhere downtown, and many shops put out water and treats for them. Here’s Henry visiting with a bloodhound. First I’ve ever seen — you just can’t imagine the excess of jiggling skin these guys have (the dog. Well, and Henry a little bit):
I didn’t take the dogs downtown (although they got about 4 walks a day) because Ricky is leash aggressive to many other dogs and Violet would stop to visit every. single. person. (and dog). Here’s a pic of Ricky in the motel, contemplating life as trucker in thrall to the siren song of the open road:
So that and much more was our vacation/reunion. The guys fished while we knitted. We went to the Museum of the Rockies to see the dinosaurs and the traveling King Tut exhibit. After three days of family-izing, we all hit the road. Here are Jan and Henry, sans their leathers, posing by their bikes:*******
And now vacation is over and I have to start thinking about the coming semester — in a week or so. For now, I need to refinish my patio furniture, finish a few craft projects, and nap. I love summer.
*Coincidentally, sis Carol’s 49th birthday. She wasn’t on our trip, but she was in Ireland at the time, so we don’t feel too sorry for her, though we did miss her**
**Had we played Scrabble, we would not have missed her, but rather reveled in her big-bunch-of-points-and-on-a-triple-word-score absence***
***Sis Diane and her husband couldn’t make it either, and were sorely missed, especially since we knew they weren’t having a better time in Ireland. Our goal is to try this again in two or three years, perhaps in Reno.
****What an understated name. More accurate would be HotterthanfreakinMosesinafryingpanlands.
*****Leroy is a wonderful guy. He spent two days in Storm Lake working around my new house, restoring electricity to an outside outlet and repairing the teak outdoor furniture I recently bought at a thrift shop******
******$30 for three pieces of teak furniture! Refinishing it is my next step
*******Henry’s bike is a Harley. Jan’s is a Suzuki, a fact that Henry will quickly point out should anyone dare to refer to Jan’s bike as a Harley. He also wears Harley clothes and even Harley jewelry. See why we love Jan for putting up with him?