Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Local Language: 1

There's a particular phrase I say pretty often and Jeremy recently informed me that it must be a Northwest phrase because he had never heard it before he lived in the Northwest. It is: " forever."

As in:

I haven't had brussels sprouts in forever!
I haven't been to the zoo in forever.
I haven't seen so-and-so in forever.

I wondered if I was the only one that said this, but other people in the Northwest say it too (at least in Seattle!) I haven't heard anyone here say it yet, but perhaps they do.

Minneapolites (or Minneapolitans) don't seem to have an accent - at least I haven't detected much of one yet. A few times I've heard what sounded like a Canadian accent (on the 'ou' words). I have yet to hear some interesting midwestern or Minnesota-type phrase - but I'll report as soon as I do!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

The First Day of Spring

Happy first day of spring everyone!

In honor of the day, Jeremy and I have been spring cleaning - putting moving boxes and different odds and ends in the attic and cleaning up the house a bit.

But to really celebrate, we got a little seed tray setup and I planted some marigold seeds. Jeremy played Vivaldi's concerto no. 22 in E major (otherwise known as Spring, of the Four Seasons). The seeds may not sprout at all, but we've got more room in our tray and we've been ordering seed catalogs - so we'll be growing something soon.

Of course, here in the good ol' midwest we're in the midst of a 24 hour snow advisory and we're supposed to get between 4 to 7 inches of snow by tomorrow evening. Ah, the joys of spring.

Monday, March 17, 2008


I miss recycling in Seattle. I didn't realize Seattle had one of the best programs around and was quite progressive in that. I remember the giant green tubs we had where I could toss in any recyclable: paper, plastic, cans, newspaper, cardboard, etc, etc. Of course they preferred glass in a separate tub on the side.

Minneapolis recycling is, I think, a pain in the rear! At least they recycle I guess. We are required to separate mail & office paper, shredded paper, newspapers, magazines, phone books, and cardboard into separate bags. (That's six different bags!) Also separated into separate bags are plastic bottles (but not plastic yogurt containers - what!?), glass bottles, cans, and batteries. We have to separate recycling into 10 different piles, and yet they don't provide the containers to do this. We're supposed to use paper bags. What about those of us who use canvas bags for shopping and don't bring home dozens of paper bags a week??

The Move: Day 7

Sorry for the delay, but we did make it to Minneapolis on Friday. We left western South Dakota around 8am and arrived in Minneapolis around 8pm.

It was a long day of driving. We had picked up so much snow and ice in the previous days and it just kept adding on. The tires made an awful squealing sound whenever we turned a corner. We took turns hacking ice off the car every time we stopped to get gas or tea.

We stopped in Sioux Falls for a late lunch at Bob's Cafe where we had the Big Bob - a burger with cheese and bacon and onions and barbecue sauce. It was very tasty!

So, for the rest of this post, I give you: the travels of Ant, our trusty road trip sidekick and mascot...

Friday, March 7, 2008

The Move: Day 6

Our goal today was to reach Rapid City, South Dakota. We left later than we intended from Sheridan so we weren’t able to make it to the alpaca farm.

After a couple hours of driving we turned off I-90 toward Devil’s Tower. It was a bit comical to be heading for this picturesque site while it was snowy and cloudy. We couldn’t see anything for quite some time, but finally the tower loomed in the distance.

We drove up to the base and had a car lunch of left-over tamale, bread, scone, cheese, and some beets for Jeremy. We took a walk part way around the tower. It was incredible. The weather was incredible too. When we had arrived at the base it was socked in and snowing. By the time we’d hiked to the base of the tower, probably only 20 minutes later, it was clear blue sky!

We said goodbye to Devil’s Tower, and then to Wyoming. We had made reservations at Jake’s in Deadwood (a restaurant co-owned by Kevin Costner) but the weather just wasn’t good enough to take that detour. Instead we found the Corn Exchange, a bistro right in Rapid City. It turned out to be right across the street from our hotel!

The Corn Exchange is a lovely bistro and restaurant serving a lot of local and regional foods. We settled on a glass of merlot from Washington (for old times sake!); a salad of mixed greens, candied pecans, fuji apple slices, and goat cheese; and wild Alaskan sockeye salmon with currant jam topping, grilled polenta with basil, and some veggies on the side. They also served bread and butter with a sprinkling of fleur de sel. We had just enough room to share one of their incredible desserts: pot de crème with 62% cocoa. Oh my word, it was incredible! Overall, a very nice meal and a great restaurant to relax in.

We pretty much went back to the hotel and collapsed. We’ve decided that today, Friday, will be our last day on the road. We’re pushing to make Minneapolisby the end of the day!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

The Move: Day 5

This was a long and amazing day. We did swim in the hot springs the night before and they were incredible. We considered taking a dip in the hot springs in the morning, but decided against it and got back on the road again.

We got back on I-90 and headed east toward Laurel, Montana. We had read about Lisa’s in Greybull, Wyoming so were detouring that way. (We had intended for Greybull to be on the way in our original route, till we found some of the roads we wanted to take were closed for the winter.)

As we passed into Wyoming we realized we had plenty of time so we kept our eyes out for some diversion. Just through Lovell we saw signs for the Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area. We stopped at the visitor center and got directions to the nearest hike. The woman we talked to said we might see bighorn sheep, wild mustangs, red-tail hawks, and other such animals. Well, we didn’t see any of those, but we did see the Bighorn Canyon which was breathtaking and incredible. I didn’t realize we were going to get to see it, so it was a complete surprise to me. The weather was fun too: it was mostly blue sky, with the sun shining bright, and snow falling from time to time. In the sunlight it seemed like silver confetti floating through the air.

We headed on to Greybull then and found Lisa’s. It seemed like your standard small town, but somewhat upscale, restaurant. But the food was so good I almost cried! Jeremy ordered a shot of whiskey, intending to drink a half or less. They delivered at least a triple shot! I’ve never seen so much whiskey in my life! (No worries, Jeremy didn’t drink half of his triple shot.)

Jeremy wanted to try one of their shredded-pork tamales as an appetizer. It was much bigger than we thought and very tasty. It included homemade salsa, sour cream, and homemade tortilla chips. Then they brought out a small loaf of their fresh-baked, hot bread with cold butter, a lovely salad with a peppercorn-parmesan dressing, and then the meal itself: the Peppered Eye, a charbroiled rib eye steak seared in peppercorns and covered in a pepper-brandy cream sauce with garlic crusted mashed potatoes on the side. It was astoundingly tasty.

We left quite full and satisfied with a 1 ½ hour drive to Sheridan, Wyoming where we would be staying at the Mill Inn. We had to pass through the Bighorn National Wilderness Area first. 80 miles of it.

The sun was sinking low but there was still plenty of light. We drove along through the most incredible scenery – plateaus and hills and valleys covered in scrubby trees and a dusting of snow. Every now and then there were signs pointing out granite or other kinds of rock formations and how many millions or billions of years old they were. Eventually the sun did go down and it got pretty dark. Jeremy drove along at a modest 20-30 miles an hour as we kept an eye out for deer and for stars appearing in the perfectly clear sky. The road was almost completely abandoned. Part-way through I started hoping we’d find a restroom soon and we also started wondering about the gas and how much longer it would hold out. We came around a corner and out of nowhere there was a huge lodge with gas pumps, a restaurant, bar, bathrooms, and maybe even lodging. It was just like an oasis in the desert.

We pulled into the snowy drive and tried to get in front of a half dozen snowmobiles parked at the pumps. Just as we came up beside them the car started having problems with the deep snow and slick pavement. We spun in place for a bit, just as the owners of the snowmobiles came out of the lodge headed our way. They stood around for a bit looking at us as our wheels spun away, then they finally offered to help push us up to the pump. We gratefully accepted. Jeremy pumped the gas and I went to use the restroom. The snowmobilers had been about to leave, but then they told us they’d wait till we were ready to go in case we needed help getting back to the road – which we did. After a good push we got back onto the road safe and sound. Thanks to those helpful (Minnesotan!) snowmobilers and for the presence of that beautiful lodge!

We finally got to Sheridan around 8:30 – more than 3 hours of driving what should have been 1 ½ hours. But it was a beautiful and fun trip. We stayed the night at the Mill Inn, a historic flour mill in town and quite a nice hotel.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The Move: Day 4

After another breakfast of bacon and eggs, we headed out. We had planned to return to Missoula and catch I-90 but my aunt said we could get where we were going by another route. So we went south instead and back by the Big Hole Battle Monument. (Actually, we had a bit of a detour into Idaho because we missed our turnoff!)

After passing by the Big Hole we started seeing all this brown stuff on the road. I thought it was dirt, Jeremy thought it was manure. We discussed it as Jeremy swerved left and right around the road trying to avoid the stuff. It had been windy the day before so we surmised that a truck carrying manure for fertilizer hadn’t been covered. We came over a rise smack into the source of the brown stuff: a whole herd of cattle walking down the road! There were two guys on horseback strolling behind and two herding dogs keeping the cows in line.

We slowed down and followed along behind the herd for some time. Every now and then one of the guys would turn and smile. Eventually, a truck came from behind and the guys waved him ahead and waved for us to follow. So – into the cow herd we went. It was tricky business trying not to run over cows and dogs.

We were getting stuck so one of the guys rode up to prod on the cows, so then we were trying to avoid running into him! We finally made it through and passed through Wisdom, the Antler Saloon, and on into the wilderness.

I forgot the roads we took now, but we were pretty much out in the middle of nowhere. Some parts were very snowy and others not. It is so beautiful around here.

We eventually joined up with I-90 and then stopped in Butte. We had done some research and were going to have lunch at the Pekin Noodle Parlor but it turned out they were closed. We went down the road and discovered Pork Chop John’s, sort of a fast food pork chop place, also offering hamburgers, hot dogs and such specialties as pork nuggets and deep fried hot dogs.

Lunch on board, we hit the road again. In Bozeman we stopped briefly at the Community Food Co-Op so we could pick up some food items for our picnic lunch tomorrow. It was a beautiful building and a great store with a coffee shop on the second floor. Seattle could use something like that. =)

Back on the road for a few miles we turned off at Livingston and headed south to Pray, Montana where we are staying at the Chico Inn. We mostly found this place because their restaurant looked really good. Then we realized they also had rooms. Then we realized they had hot springs!

We just got here and are going down for dinner in 15 minutes. Afterwards we’ll check out the hot springs. Very exciting!!

The Move: Day 3

After waking up, we had a big breakfast of eggs, bacon, and English muffins and a long lazy morning of chatting with friends Scott and Jen. We eventually dragged ourselves away for the lengthy commute (about 30 minutes) to my Aunt’s house in Darby, Montana.

We got to her house and promptly climbed into the car with her and her partner Mike. They drove us about an hour away to a little town called Wisdom. Along the way we passed through miles of burnt out forest – apparently from a forest fire several years ago.

In Wisdom we stopped for lunch at the Antler Saloon. Wisdom is a tiny little town and the saloon is a small place, with a few locals tucked in at the bar. We ordered a pizza and my word! It was one of the best pizzas I’ve ever had. I was really impressed.

After lunch we went to the Big Hole battle monument. In 1877 a band of Nez Perce was camping there and the American army caught up to them and there was an awful battle in which a lot of people were killed on both sides.

After returning home, Jeremy and I went snowshoeing up the hill behind the house. It had begun snowing and as we came out of the house there were two deer right outside the door nibbling on grass under a tree.

Dinner was buffalo burgers and squash and lots of conversation about living on a farm, owning chickens and goats, and how to take care of them. My aunt doesn’t have any animals now, but she had a lot when I was growing up.

We fell into bed, looking forward to our travels near Yellowstone on Day 4.

Monday, March 3, 2008

The Move: Day 2

Hello from Corvallis, Montana!

Sunday morning we attempted to have the "continental breakfast" at our hotel, but there wasn't much to be had. We checked out and found Frank's Diner. Frank's is a converted observation car. It was in Seattle for 60 years. After they lost their lease they moved to Spokane. We knew it would be a good place when they told us there would be a 25 to 30 minute wait! Our wait wasn't too long and Jeremy and I shared a "Li'l Frenchy" - french toast, egg, and sausage. Mmm, it was tasty!

We got back on the road and headed east. We stopped in Couer d'Alene for lunch items from the Pilgrim's Market - chevre for our scones and kale slaw. I know it sounds weird, but it was tasty! We also picked up some 91% dark chocolate made by Theo. The place is in Seattle, close to where we lived, and we never visited!

Back on the road, we came into Montana and took the cutoff near Missoula. Our travels today take us to my friends Scott & Jen who I met in Guatemala last summer. They have an incredibly beautiful home out in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by pine trees, mountains, cow fields, and the neighbors dogs.

It is so quiet out here! Day 3 we move on to visit with my Aunt, about 30 miles down the road...

p.s. there are more pictures to be seen here:

Saturday, March 1, 2008

The Move: day 1

Hello from Spokane, Washington!

I should backtrack a couple days and talk about our exit out of here. Jeremy and I packed like crazy on Thursday till late in the night. We had to finish packing the apartment, mostly the kitchen, and we wanted to pack the car as well. The idea was to take along any valuables and irreplaceable things, some plants, and suitcases. Our pile of stuff for the car kept growing and growing, but considering myself a Master Packer, I was undaunted.

At least for a little while. I must confess that after three boxes were put in the car, I had no idea how we were going to fit everything else! Jeremy took over and I continued in the house. We had Jedidiah over for a brief dinner and goodbye, packed for another couple hours, and fell into bed.

We were up early on Friday packing furiously again. I had reached my limit with all there was to do and the feeling that we didn't have enough time or boxes or room! But in the end we managed to fit everything in the car we needed and we had enough boxes.

The movers arrived promptly at 9:00. Moses, a short stocky guy covered in tattoos, and his helper, a sort of bumbling guy with crooked teeth. They were a great team and handled everything carefully. Two and a half hours later they drove off with (almost) all our worldly possessions. Hopefully we'll see them in Minneapolis!

After a brief lunch, Jeremy and I commenced with the cleaning. Well - we should have got help with that or planned it better because we weren't done by the time our check-out time came at 3:30. It was kind of disappointing for us and the landlords. But that's all over, so - moving on!

We drove over to Patty and Doug's house for our last night in Seattle. We whipped up a lovely pizza and eventually settled down to watch About a Boy. We woke up around 7 this morning, had a lovely breakfast of oatmeal with apples, and some scones. Then we were off!

We're heading east on I-90 for most of the way. We stopped in Ellensburg at the Yellow Church Cafe for lunch. We had a lovely piece of quiche, salad, and some biscuits. (Not as good as my biscuits, but what can you do?)

After a brief walk around town we jumped back on the road. Somewhere in the middle nowhere, we saw signs for a petrified ginko tree forest. We went to explore but found the interpretive center was closed.

We stopped for a pick-me-up tea in Ritzville (one of my sister Jessica's favorite places!) and then finally came into Spokane.

Now, we had made arrangements for staying with some friends overnight, but they had to cancel because they came down with some horrible flu. We tried to contact some local Friends (Quakers) for a place to stay, but that didn't work out. So there we sat, in a Shell gas station just off I-90, poring through a 2-year-old AAA catalog, calling hotels and whatnot in the vicinity looking for a cheap enough, but nice enough, place to stay. We finally settled on one up a hill near a big hospital. We dropped off our things then headed back west for a small dinner at the Latah Bistro. Wow - what a tasty dinner it was!

We're heading on to Montana tomorrow...