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Saturday, August 29, 2009

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the wisconsin trip we took in july was quite long and not long enough -- i find that true for a lot of trips. of course, more of this trip was spent in the car than in wisconsin, but that was part of the fun. we were gone for 2.5 weeks and could have easily eeked out some more time in south dakota or at craters of the moon.

the goal was to drive to wisconsin, spend some time w/ sven's family, attend kenyon's memorial service, then drive home, stopping at places like the caves near mt. rushmore & craters of the moon on the return trip.

we tried to make roughly 500 miles a day:
to wisconsin:
wallace, id: a sweet town with a nice interactive mining exhibit.
miles city, mt: i was surprised to find i couldn't make it through montana in one day.
glendive, mt: a dinosaur museum w/ giant bible quotes on the walls.
enchanted highway, nd: gigantic sculpture garden & metal maze in the middle of nowhere.
fergus falls, mn: a pool shaped like minnesota & a very cheap whirpool suite.
coloma, wi: our destination!

i enjoyed getting the chance to experience a part of sven's family life i've never known: coloma is an area sven's family has lived in for generations. our first night we saw fireflies, which felt like it made the whole trip worth it. we spent a lot of time with people i haven't seen since shield's wedding and edmonton. they're a fun bunch, though, especially sven's nieces and cousins. we spent a lot of time barb's lake house, and i loved the pedalboats. i could get used to lake life! sven sorted through a bunch of childhood stuff still stored in the old church. 4th of july had plenty of fireworks and i brought lots of glow necklaces & glowsticks to pass around. shield's birthday is on july 4th, so there was cake, too! the memorial service itself was a "celebration of life" at the claussen family music show barn, after which we all drove to the cemetery to witness the internment, then headed back to the barn for dinner. it was quite nice, actually, and it went off without a hitch.

returning to portland:
worthington, mi: tornado hail shattered trixie's windshield in two places.
sioux falls, sd: vegetarian meats! in the midwest!
mitchell, sd: the corn palace
wall, sd: wall drug, which mph recommended but we couldn't have missed because there were 84 billboards promoting it.
rapid city, sd: very expensive during tourist season. saw saw jewel cave, wind cave and one of the most peaceful campground location i've ever seen (pity we didn't camp there!).
devil's tower, wy: i'd never been here before, but it is pretty awesome and the trail around it is quite nice.
billings, mt: two more scary storms.
yellowstone: google routed us through here but it cost an extra $25 and a lot of time. we skirted the edges to get to Idaho so we didn't see much, but I was impressed with beryl springs. we also saw antelope, deer, buffalo, a bald eagle, and a coyote on the road eating a bird.
craters of the moon: what a neat place to camp! we climbed around in indian cave, dewdrop cave & boy scout cave, which still has ice in the summer. boy scout cave also had two boys that were stuck and one was crying; sven had to talk them out. sven also explored buffalo cave while i stayed outside w/ a walkie talkie. the stars were beautiful, and i took advantage of the "sky walk" iphone app to look up some messier objects while sipping warm french onion soup. jupiter almost blew me away: it was so bright i thought it was faumalhaut!

i was dubious about getting a new piece of technology right before a big trip, but i have to say the iphone was a perfect travel companion. having access to driving directions and "where is the closest health-food store or taco bell" was really helpful. and without it i certainly wouldn't have regularly updated twitter, twitpic and youtube with silly videos of toby & gregory. i feel like i got more pictures because i could easily carry it around in my pocket. i switched between pandora & the ipod depending on whether i had an internet connection or not. also, how could i have kept up with the wailing from portland's first heat wave this summer without it? ;)

but trixie was surprisingly temperamental during the trip, frequently throwing suspicious, unresolvable errors. once she didn't start her gas engine at all and i thought we were going to have to stay an extra several days in rapid city. we found the jumpstart battery box very helpful in that situation (and later we used the box as a power source to recharge the iphone and inflate the air mattress). i love trixie to death: she was a great deal better to bring than the svan and she's behaving fine now, but it makes me a little nervous to take her on a big trip again.

i appreciated mph watching over the house while we were gone, checking to make sure the watering system sven set up for the garden this year didn't explode and sampling the raspberries that were ripe right while we were gone. i kind of missed not being able to ride rose for so long, especially since i had just converted her. (barb just got a new bike (an ice-blue Giant named "freya"), but she was a 21-speed, which i still don't understand, and made a terrible racket.)

only a few minor things were less than stellar: wisconsin had pretty awful food (doubly so if you're vegetarian like sven). minnesota & wisconsin have a really disconcerting amount of anti-abortion billboards. the fireworks on the 4th were a little too exhuberant and the people shooting them weren't being very careful: two of them zipped back into the crowd (us!). i had a little meltdown in a grocery store in idaho. i got a cold on the way home. i lost my back filling while brushing my teeth camping. at craters of the moon, there was a terrible ampitheatre astronomy program that was much more like a mangled book report than anything with interest in, love for or knowledge of stars.

but overall, i really had a good time. i'm still playing catch up on some tasks over a month later (like, say, this blog), but we got unpacked and back into motion pretty quickly. whew!

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