Monday, August 30, 2010

Jason Conquers The Craters of the Moon

Well actually Jason AND Rebecca, but I only have visual proof of Jason doing the conquering.  This is maybe my favorite picture I have taken of Jason EVER! And to think he was not posing.  Actually I told him right after I took the picture about how cool it was and then he started trying to pose, which did not yield nearly as good results.  ANTM material he is not!  
The Craters of the Moon National Monument is in Idaho, and we stopped there on our way to Oregon this summer.  It was one of those spontaneous stops where we were looking at the map, saw that we were about to drive by it and thought, "hey, with a name like that we HAVE to stop and check it out!"  I've never noticed it on the map because usually we take I-80 through Idaho and this is off of Highway 26.  We took Highway 26 because we had decided to drive through Yellowstone, and thus ended up more North than the interstate.  A whim lead us there and I'm glad it did!  On the way to Craters of the Moon on Highway 26 you have to drive through a bunch of nothingness, but it was a little more interesting than other areas of nothingness because it is a Nuclear reactor testing site called the Idaho National Laboratory.  In the middle of all this is a little town called Atomic City, which through 1950's era neon lights proclaimed it to be the first city to be powered by nuclear power.  It all seemed very mysterious, with lots of dirt roads locked down with really big gates.  Intriguing! 
I would describe Craters of the Moon as a vast area of hardened lava flows with caves underneath.  This tour guide described it as "bla de bla bla bla.  Bla."  Etc.  He was probably the most boring tour guide ever in existence, and unfortunately we had a hard time escaping because we were the first ones to join the group and he took the time to learn our names and home towns.  Eventually, we were able to ditch the group and we explored the caves on our own.
 The caves themselves were very nice in particular because it was a very hot day and inside the caves it is very cool.
We imagined that it would be a good place for fugitives from the law to hide out.  Only a small area of the monument is accessible by paved trails and I bet there are tons of these little caves everywhere.  It would take forever for someone to notice you!  I'm taking a mental note of this.  
  We only went in the caves that didn't require crawling.  Jason was tempted, but I think the sharp lava and no protective gear deterred him.  Some were pitch black, and that was pretty neat! 
We also climbed up this massive hill of loose lava rocks.  That is a PERSON on the hill, that is how massive this hill is.  But silly us, when confronted with a challenge, we just can't resist!!  
The view from the top was... nice... Neither of us admitted it at the time, but I think it was kind of not worth it.  I was definitely huffing and puffing a little by the time we reached the top.  Did I mention it was a hot day?
  The view from this angle was slightly better.  But still not worth it.  

Sunday, August 22, 2010

I hope Jacques the Peacock doesn't damage Roslyn for life

While on vacation last month, Jason and I attended a baby shower for my long time friend Karen and her husband Mike.
Here she is looking gorgeous as usual!  Karen has always had the most contagious and charming smile!  
Karen and Mike look pretty uncertain that these items were on their registry, but I assure you they were!  We gave them a Munchkin Magic Mozart Cube that plays music and a Lamaze Jacques the Peacock.  We went to Babies R Us while in Portland to get the gift, and I was intending to purchase something useful and hopefully cute, like some baby blankets.  I wanted everyone at the baby shower to ooh and ahh at the cuteness of my gift, so I was planning to avoid the first aide kit and the diaper pail.  Let me warn you, shopping for registry items at Babies R Us is the MOST frustrating endeavor ever!  None of the aisles are labeled, so we ended up wandering around looking aimlessly for specific items like a tigger burp rag or a monkey shaped feeding spoon which were nowhere to be found.  Finally, we just went to the toy aisle and we were able to find these two things and we called it good. 
We thought the Lamaze Jacques the Peacock looked a little demented, but if they put it on their registry they must want it we thought, and we really wanted to leave the store so we didn't care at this point.  We provided gift receipts just in case.  Maybe Karen's pregnant mind made her think this was cute?  It is okay to return it, my friend!  Hopefully your daughter will love it, but I'm not taking credit for any damage this thing may cause. 
   Roslyn Eileen was born August 5th to two very wonderful parents!  Congratulations you two! 

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Naked Ladies and Under Cabinet Lighting

Jason installed the under cabinet lighting in our kitchen! 
Who knew this would require body contorting?  
I think it really adds a lot the the ambience in the kitchen.  Unfortunately, it also draws attention to the glaringly bare wall without a back splash.  This seems to be the natural order of things when it comes to home improvement!   Most likely, by the time we get around to updating every single thing in the house it will be time to start redoing everything. 
The Naked Ladies in our front yard are blooming!  They are called Naked Ladies because the green leaves completely wither away before the single flower stalk emerges much later in the summer.  I planted some other things in this flower bed behind them so it didn't look so, well, naked. 
What's best about Naked Ladies is that they attract hummingbird moths!  I've seen some incredibly crazy looking bugs here in Nebraska.  While I would count this as a reason why I love Nebraska, the fact that the crazy bugs are accompanied by a large quantity of mosquitoes and other undesirables probably cancels this out in my love/not love relationship with Nebraska.  Anyway, this variety is called the White-lined Sphinx, and it really does flap its wings like a hummingbird and drink nectar from flowers!  We saw these for the first time in our backyard with Gini and Eric, and we debated whether it was actually a moth or not.  Turns out that it is definitely a moth, and I am totally enthralled by this creature! 

Monday, August 9, 2010

Close Encounters of the Monument Kind

I've always been intrigued by this thing on the map called Devil's Tower National Monument and I've always wanted to stop there.  This time we did!  It is a truly odd thing to behold as you can see.  
One of the only things to do there is hike around it.  This was surprisingly more interesting than expected because it changes significantly from different angles.
   Do you see us down there?  What do you think, Christmas card photo?  
Apparently, a very popular thing to do there is climb around on it.  We were definitely not up for that, but I zoomed in on this crazy person with my telephoto.  We probably spotted 7 or 8 of these insane people while we were there.  
See what I mean by it changing from different angles?  Jason said he enjoyed this much more than he thought he would.  You can only properly appreciate and revel in it's majesty in person.  It's really fantastic that you don't have to travel far to see some really amazing things! 
We also made it to Yellowstone Park RIGHT when Old Faithful was doing its thing.  Supposedly, it isn't so faithful anymore, so we were pretty lucky to get there in time.  By the time I got my camera out, it was kind of done, but trust me it was very picturesque with the sun setting in the background!  Jason had never been to Yellowstone before so we decided to drive through, even though it costs $25, it was almost sunset, and we didn't have time to hang around there.  It reminded me how amazing this place is, and how we really need to go back and spend more time there.  Just by driving through we saw beautiful pools of unexpected colors, steam coming out of the ground everywhere, a bear, a moose, buffalo and lots of elk.  The best way to see wildlife is to watch for a bunch of cars parked along the road and tourists standing around and pointing.  I heard that someone got mauled by a bear at Yellowstone this summer.  Gee, I wonder how.