About Me

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Portland, OR, United States
I am finishing up my midwifery apprenticeship and plan to be a real midwife early in 2014!

Monday, July 30, 2007

A Good Vacation

I will stop, amid more and more laundry that continues to pile up to tell you about our good vacation!

We started our vacation in Bend, Oregon. We had two reasons for heading to Bend--first, that Paul's brother's kids are staying with family on their mom's side for a few weeks in Bend, and since they live in San Antonio, we wanted to take advantage of them being so close to see them. And the other reason is that we've been wanting to see the high desert museum in Bend ever since we moved to Portland. So, we took CJ, my nephew,along with us to the museum and had a great time! I was impressed by how the museum really seems to have worked hard at going lightly on the land, and not destroying a bunch of trees or natural landscape. But I thought I'd learn much more about the actual natural landscape than I did--we found it to be more about the people who have lived there--Native Americans and pioneers--than about the flora and fauna. Sure, there was that too, but not a whole lot of explanation of that side. All in all, a good time was had there, and I didn't feel it was too huge of a museum to see in one day.

So, after that we went and picked up Faith, CJ's sister, who has a summer job and couldn't come with us to the museum. We had dinner at Kebaba's, which had great middle eastern food. Faith and CJ have never had middle eastern food before. CJ didn't seem to be all that impressed with it, but Faith enjoyed it a lot. She told us there that she plans to attend culinary school. I said, oh! we should have had you cook for us instead of taking you out! Faith is 15 and CJ is 11, and we had a thoroughly enjoyable day and evening with the two of them.

And then we were off to Yellowstone! We had such a great time there. We camped, which is always fun. This was a different sort of camping trip for us though--we usually have lots of time to relax at the campsite. But at Yellowstone we were always wanting to go and see the sights. Our first day there we were driving along the road and saw people looking over an overhang, so we stopped to look. What I saw took my breath away. A whole herd of buffalo--probably 60 or 70! We were to learn that this was a small herd! As I looked down in that valley, tears came to my eyes as I saw what I never thought I'd see, and I thought, wow, we haven't destroyed *all* of the land. I thought bison herds in the wild went away back when we were doing that manifest destiny thing.

We soon learned in Yellowstone that as we drove along, if we saw cars pulled over at the side of the road, and people out of their cars, it meant there was wildlife to be seen. This sometimes happened at the rate of about 3 times per 10 miles! Elk, deer, bison, an elusive moose. Over and over! We never saw any bears, though. Perhaps because of the heat wave? One thing that was extremely disappointing to us: we were told that yes, you can see wildlife from the road, but the animals are not really in their own habitat there. Get out on trails and see them where they really live. So we did. Once we took a five mile hike. But we *never* saw wildlife while hiking, any bigger than a raven, that is.

I have permission to blog this.....one night we decided to get ambitious, even though we didn't have a whole lot of time sitting in the campsite. We decided to make a dutch oven stew. I learned how to do dutch oven cooking at Patrick's Point, where people have all the right implements for doing cooking over the campfire and we could borrow. All we have are the dutch ovens. But Paul found an old bent tent stake and was using that for lifting the lid of the dutch oven. Which you can do with a towel or pot holder, but if you have hot coals on the top you'd have to brush them off or they'll catch fire. So, we made a beautiful stew, and then I put dumplings on the top. Oh, it was looking good. And then it was ready. The stew was cooked to a beautiful carmelized yummyness, and the dumplings were cooked through. Paul lifted the pot with the tent stake, and was going to put it on the table when...it dumped upside down on the ground! My first thought was that we could skim what was on the top off and eat that....but there was no way. There was dirt throughout. He was *so upset!* I thought we should just go check out the lodge restaurant....but he really wanted that stew. No, I can't make more, I told him! Where would I get the vegetables? Heaven sake. So, what we did was to pick through and we picked up each piece of carrot, potato, and cauliflower. We rinsed each bit off. Then we cooked it again and I made more dumplings to go on top. Well, it was edible, though crunchy. And, as Paul said, probably better than anything we would have gotten in the restaurant.

In retrospect, I was thinking, thank God it didn't fall on Paul! That would have been truly disastrous.

One night there was a special program by Jack Gladstone, who is a Blackfeet Indian (he used the word Indian, so I'm going to use it here instead of Native American!) who is a singer/songwriter. We really had no idea what kind of a program we were going to, and I have to hand it to him--he was particularly brave for presenting these issues to a mixed crowd--people who are not necessarily there because they agree with his point of view, or who chose to go see him particularly. He addressed lots of progressive issues, such as consumerism and gas consumption, and of course how the white folks have treated the Native Americans. He reminded me of John McCutcheon, in that he really has a talent for railing on an issue without it seeming hostile! We bought a CD of his. If you have the opportunity to see him in concert, I'd highly recommend it! His website is here: http://jackgladstone.com/

Now, we were in Yellowstone camping the day that the Harry Potter book came out, the seventh and final book in the series. I had expected that the kids would absolutely *have to* have it right away. I found, online, a bookstore in Jackson, Wy that said "if you're passing through Yellowstone, this is where you can pick up the book", so I ordered it there. But the day before we left, I mapquested it and found that Jackson is a three hour drive from Yellowstone! We'd even planned on going to the midnight party. Can you imagine? Us getting back to our campsite at around 4 in the morning. Yeah, that didn't work for me. So I gingerly asked the kids if it'd be alright to wait until after we left Yellowstone to get the book. They said, fine! Phew! We picked it up in Gardiner (which would have been closer in the first place) on our way out on Monday. Zac is still reading it, but the rest of us are finished and we all liked it. It seemed pretty disjointed at the beginning, though. And like they went for months without really doing anything. But the end was satisfying. Although I thought the epilogue seemed somewhat contrived.

Hibi finished the book before we got to our next destination, which was near Bigfork, Montana. We wanted to be near Glacier, but this was the closest we could find that was what we wanted: a cabin. It was a 1 1/2 hour drive to Glacier, so we only went once. But here's the funny thing: I was expecting the crowds at Yellowstone, not Glacier. But it was the opposite. Or maybe Yellowstone has just been better at managing the crowds. The roads in Glacier were in disrepair, and everywhere there were huge crowds of people. We actually just drove right through on Going to the Sun road and went to visit the Blackfeet reservation on the other side. There is a museum in Browning which we thought was very interesting, and Paul bought a flute at the trading post, which has such a nice tone!

We went back to the visitors center at St. Mary for a presentation of Native American dance. That was really cool. All the dancers had on traditional, hand-made costumes and all danced spectacularly. Then we went back outside the park for dinner, to Park Cafe (http://www.parkcafe.us/aboutus.php) and I've gotta say: I didn't think we'd find vegetarian food in Montana. But this was the place! Not all vegetarian, but plenty of options for vegetarians and vegans, and quite tasty. The cafe reminded me of an old-fashioned country cafe, like the Whistlestop Cafe in the movie Fried Green Tomatoes.

On our way to the cabin, we found one of the coolest food co-ops I've seen. I think it even rivalled my very favorite, Rainbow Grocery in San Francisco....it may have even been better! Shh! Don't tell anyone I said so! It was in Bozeman, Montana. I think I want to drive through Montana again just so I can go back to that co-op. :-) http://www.bozo.coop/ So, that's two great places in Montana to find vegetarian and whole foods!

So, then we were on our way back home. We took it in two days, so we stopped in Spokane for the night. There, we made a discovery: our very favorite movie, Benny and Joon, was made in Spokane! So, we had to walk over to the riverside park to see where they shot those scenes. In the morning, we went to Ferguson's Cafe, where they shot the diner scenes. It was cool seeing it, and they had a wonderful stuffed french toast! Then we went looking for the auto clinic that Benny owned in the movie, but we never found it. Ah, maybe next time we'll become full-fledged Benny and Joon nerds.

Oh, and before we got to Spokane: we stopped in Missoula for lunch and went to Bridge Pizza (http://www.bridgepizza.com/index.html). Paul and I had eggplant parmesan pizza! It was delicious and I'd definitely go back on this theoretical road trip through Montana!

I have no pictures for you at this time, alas. I had "camera" on the list that I checked a zillion times before we left home. But the camera still stayed home. The kids had disposable cameras, though, so when we get those developed I'll let you have a peek.

Thanks for reading my disjointed review of our vacation, those who are still reading!


Molly Newman said...

Wow--what a busy, wonderful trip! I loved reading all the details and am especially jealous of your wildlife sightings and all the yummy food you had. Can't wait to see some photos!

You know, we never did make it to Yellowstone when we were living just one state away. Maybe sometime next year we'll actually do the drive. I can't imagine how wonderful it must be to see a herd of live, wild bison just milling about like that... got goosebumps just reading your description of it.

Christina said...

I have lost your email address, too. Isn't that crazy? Thanks for the info. I am going to try the one in NW and see what they have... my email address is cdblankenstein[at]hotmail[dot]com

take care,