Friday, October 26, 2007

Red Sox Nation

...a small enclave in NY. In Don's office, late at night, a few Sox fans got together. They had a Bostonian snack (but the pizza was from NY, no doubt the best in the world). And
they cheered! We have no TV reception at home, so the basement of the office is the official Red Sox Nation Embassy on the turnpike.

Monday, October 22, 2007


Last night the older kids went into the city to see a staged production of C. S. Lewis' The Screwtape Letters. If you live in NY, and you have older teens (or want to see it yourself), it's a wonderful play! They thought it was "awesome" "weird" and "thought provoking". They both liked Screwtape's smoking jacket...the link has photos, clips and theater information.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

More Wildlife--Yellowstone

In spite of the near disaster with the elk, our main goal in our visit to Yellowstone was to see as much wildlife as possible. I am not sure if we were simply very lucky, or if this is a typical roster of animals seen during a visit to the park, but we were delighted to see so many!

We saw bison the first night in the park--really the first we had seen. Up to our entering the part, we had see more cows than we ever thought possible, and the cows were simply everywhere. We also saw small herds of pronghorn antelope all over the west. I had never seen one in person except in zoos, so this was a big thrill.

Once in the park, however, we realized there was a trick to wildlife viewing: If there are cars pulled over, there is likely something to see. One of the best things we saw--and the photos don't really show this well at all--was a coyote preparing to pounce on, and then actually pouncing on, and then looking up, right at us, and munching on a small bit of prey. This photo is a reminder that I need a telephoto lens...

I know that Yellowstone is known for its bears, so we expected to see them everywhere in the park. We did not see any in the campsite, as we have in other parks (in Algonquin when I was 12, we had to chase the black bears out of our campsite with flaming sticks from the fire!). Instead, we heard rumors of bears, and followed up on them. The most interesting rumor was of a grizzly sow (female bear) with four cubs. Typically, a bear has two cubs, occasionally three. 4 cubs is rare, even among black bears, but it was most unusual for grizzlies. The chatter at the park suggested that she might have adopted the smaller cubs. Either way, we saw her! She was well below us on a hill,and followed closely by two cubs, with two others trailing a bit behind. While we only got a few good photos, we did manage to catch momma and one cub fairly well. Yet another reminder that I need a better lens. Can you see them in this photo? Their heads are behind trees, but you can make out the backs of both bears.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Habemus Dishwasher!

Hey, it's been two years since I pulled it out. What a relief! I could not find enough dishes to fill it tonight, as we have been using paper since we pulled the sink out three weeks ago. The dishwasher was installed that same day, but T didn't tell me that it would work until tonight. Gotta get that boy to talk more, initiate conversations, give out information more freely...

Physics and Gore?

Monday, Libby and I attended an open house at a local women's liberal arts college. As part of the program to introduce young women to the college, the students were invited to choose a class to attend. With neither music nor chemistry available during her time slot, Libby chose physics. Imagine her surprise when she sat in a class of about 80 students to view a film by a certain Nobel Laureate! She almost walked out...but to her amusement, the students began to laugh as the film rolled. Better yet, the professor provided an atmosphere of serious science, taking a critical look at the film, its star, and his ideas. Libby was delighted, and began her application essay as soon as she got home.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Yeah, We Do Weddings!

Libby (far right) and friends.

Super Volcano

Everything is warm and active here.

This looks like baked Alaska.


A small geyser

Bigger Geysers

Kids climbing up volcanic ash hill.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Storm King

And now, a break from the western/flashback part of our story...

We climbed Storm King last Monday! No, not the one out west, the one in NY, overlooking the Hudson River. It was 90 degrees F. here just above sea level, but it was cool and breezy on Storm King's lofty summit. Following the directions in Best Hikes With Children in the Catskills and Hudson River Valley, we climbed one of the most famous mountains in the region. It was a tough climb for me, since I have not climbed recently, and for the young ones, though they managed very well despite the hardship. L, who spends her summers in the Rockies, thought it was a bit of a hill. You won't see her in any photos because she was the photographer. My camera was in good and nimble hands.

The ascent was quite steep in places, but those with low centers of gravity climbed like kids. Those is us with higher centers, older knees, and more caution took a bit longer in the

climb. Everyone helped the younger kids when they needed it, but they were often so far ahead that we had to rush and catch up.

Storm King boasts a few "caves" made by falling rocks. Some you can climb right through. Several man-made columns were a mystery.

About halfway to the summit, a small cairn awaited the addition of a few more rocks.

If we had spent more time, we could have made it into a respectable cairn.

This grasshopper was near the summit, where we had a lovely picnic. Nice camouflage, eh?

The climb down was a bit trying. Our party was separated into three, with L, T and our young friend reaching the bottom first...

Here they are, just resting on the way!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007


Cody WY, not far from the East entrance to Yellowstone, seemed like a good place to have lunch. The restaurant had a sign board with local information...including a notice that the east entrance to Yellowstone was closed due to fire. Don rerouted us through Montana to the north east entrance. This put us in Yellowstone just before sunset, but our campsite was well to the south, so we did not get to set up camp until around 9pm, at dusk. No problem!

But our journey into the park was full of wildlife. The first thing was saw as we drove in was a herd of bison. Many of the bison were in the road, and there were young light brown calves everywhere! Later on our visit, we would see a video of people and cars being attacked by these animals which now seemed so calm as we drove by them.

We also saw some elk that first day. They also seemed so harmless!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Mt Rushmore

I almost forgot about Mt Rushmore. Since it is a major monument in South Dakota, and a reason to visit, I'll toss in a few shots. Honestly, though, this was not my favorite part of the trip. The best part of Mt Rushmore was when my kids pretended to stand upon a precipice to frighten me, while my husband kept telling them to "back up just a bit". I really thought there was a huge drop behind them, but it was only a foot down. Note the smirks and glances in my direction.

After Mt Rushmore, we buzzed over to see the Crazy Horse monument, in progress. Better than these man-made carvings, however, was a natural feature: Jewel Cave, which is mostly unexplored. We did not have much time, so we only got to head down for an introduction to the cave. Next year, Trip and Libby plan on the Spelunking tour. Still, in our 20 minute intro, we learned that the cave is huge, and still being mapped. Paul got to touch part of the cave (a sacrificial slab, as touching the cave leaves oil that can interfere with the cave's beauty and function), something he has always wanted to do. Having read How to Dig a Hole to the Other Side of the World, Paul is always skeptical when we enter a cave..."How come it's so cold when we are closer to the core...?" He is never satisfied with the answer (we just aren't that much closer).