Decorative

Posted on 7/30/2012 09:53:00 PM In:
In general, I hate casinos.  No matter where it is or how long it's been since I was in one, the moment I walk through the door, they all smell the same: a mixture of cigarettes, cooking grease, body odor and desperation.  The Montego Bay has that exact same smell...

but also some cool decorations in the restaurant.




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In-Between

Posted on 7/29/2012 09:44:00 PM In: ,
Ever since I was little, I've been fascinated by those in-between places in the world like Four Corners or the Haskell Free Library.  In Celtic mythology, transition places - shorelines, doorways, dusk and dawn - are supposed to be places or times of power and magic and for whatever reason, I've always been fascinated by that idea.

My cousins and I used to go to visit our grandparents who lived near the Idaho state line and we loved walking across town and over the bridge that spanned the river border between the states.  We'd casually say to each other, "Hey let's walk to Washington today," and feel very grown up about our pre-teen selves because we could control enough about our existence that we could literally be in another state without relying on adults to do so.  It was less than a mile's walk, if I remember correctly, but still, ANOTHER STATE YA'LL.  And we didn't even tell our parents!  Then we'd spend an hour slowly walking across the bridge and trying to determine the exact place in the middle when we would be standing in both states. 

Whenever we were driving and crossed a state line, I was the kid who wanted to stop the car at the Welcome to [insert state name here] sign so I could say I stood in two states at once.  Needless to say, that was probably tiresome for whomever was driving the car and we seldom stopped.

I still love those places for some reason and if you're like me, Wendover fits the bill.  There is a large hotel/casino that straddles the border and since gambling is legal in Nevada, but not in Utah, the parking lot is on the Utah side, while the casino is in Nevada.

I encouraged the girls to try and stand in both places at once while I took a photo.  They obliged, but missed the mark just a little. 

Shh, don't tell them.



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Potpourri and Ginkgo Biloba

Posted on 7/25/2012 03:20:00 PM In: ,
It's summer.  (Newsflash, huh?)  For a variety of reasons, I am having a hard time committing to anything at this point... at least anything more complicated than sitting on the couch in my underwear watching TV.  And even then sometimes I forget I'm doing that and leave the room, only to come back later and realize that the movie I paused twenty minutes ago - while I went to the bathroom, and then started to clean the bathroom and then started to put away the dishes in the dishwasher and then got out the iron and then brought the ironing board back into the living room - has now timed out and I have to speed forward from the beginning to find my place again.  Only I can't, because I can't remember what happened the twenty minutes before that while I was still watching. So then I start the movie from the beginning again only I remember seeing this part, but Oh look! A bird!

What follows is the beginnings of several blog posts I started to write and then forget either what I was doing, or what had happened once I started writing.

Now, off to order some Ginkgo Biloba on the internet.  This won't end badly, I'm sure.


The KingofHearts and I have been married fifteen years.  Some say that as couples remain married, they grow to love one another more each day, some say they grow to put up with each other, some say that they grow to look like each other.

The number of times in the past month one of The Children has said something or other and both The KoH and I have responded with the exact same words at the exact same time, in the exact same sarcastic inflection, reminds me that in our case, we just have grown the same brain.


The Caterpillar is preparing to go to Big Girl School soon and in preparation she suckered convinced The KoH into buying her a new backpack.  This morning when I was getting ready to take them to summer camp, she came out of her room with her backpack on and started to walk out the door.  I stopped and said, "What's in that backpack?"

Wordlessly, she turned around, walked back into her room and proceeded to pull pretty much everything that was ever brought into her room out of her backpack and pile it on the floor.  Then she put the empty backpack on her back and walked out to the car.  Not sure how helpful school will be for her in finding a future career, but if it isn't, she can always become a British Nanny.


We watched some friends' dog over the weekend and the cats were sooo disappointed with us in that decision.  They pretty much spent the entire weekend in the basement, except for one time when the dog was lying on the floor sleeping and I happened to look up from my computer in time to see one of the cats caaaaarrrrefully sneak out from the basement and behind the dog into the kitchen, where she grabbed a piece of food out of the dog's dish and ranlikehell back downstairs with it.  

Even after the dog went home, the felines were still not quite sure about our respect of their mastery over their domain and spent the next two days just making sure the dog was really for realz gone.

Dog has been gone for two days now, but cat sits as sentry, just to make sure.


We went out to a local fast food restaurant the other night and it happened to be kids' night.  There was a free face painter there.  I'm used to just a heart painted on the cheeks at events like these, but this guy stepped up the game and has created an unreasonable expectation for every other face painter person out there.


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Hairy

Posted on 7/24/2012 08:38:00 AM In:
The KingofHearts is experimenting with hair lately.  I'm thinking he either needs to invest in a good rubber band, or stay out of the wind.



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Herald

Posted on 7/23/2012 08:31:00 AM In:
The Salt Lake City Temple has been photographed so much, it's not even worth it to try and take a picture that hasn't been done and done a hundred times before. Still, one must try, mustn't one? 



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Conference of Two

Posted on 7/22/2012 08:24:00 AM In:
The LDS Conference Center has replaced the Tabernacle as the building where the Mormon Church holds most of it's major meetings now and we took a quick tour in Salt Lake.


Loved this glass piece.  I could have crawled up inside it, had they let me... and if I had the ability to defy gravity. It's in the ceiling.


We basically had our own personal tour guide, which you might think was pretty cool.  I did too, until I learned that the people right in front of us got to go up and sit in the choir seats up by that amazing organ.  Then I was kind of irked I didn't know the choir director too.



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More Desert Flowers

Posted on 7/21/2012 08:09:00 AM In:
More desert flowers. It was crazy how much stuff was blooming when we were on this hike.  If you think I've posted a lot of desert flower pictures this month, just consider how many I threw away.  I promise, I'm almost through the entire set.



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There's a Bird on Me

Posted on 7/20/2012 07:48:00 AM In:
While we were here, gazing upon the face of Christ, the girls spied a bird that had somehow gotten into the building and began chasing him around the room. Pretty sure the bird almost had a heart attack, as did I when The Caterpillar climbed up on the furniture and tried to reach out over the balcony for him.  I wanted to stick around to see what happened when that bird perched himself on Christ's head, both to figure out who got the job of cleaning it off and so I could lead everyone in a rousing rendition of We Like to Perch on Scorsese's Head, but we didn't have that kind of time.



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Shot At

Posted on 7/19/2012 07:42:00 AM In:
I keep trying to throw this photo out because it's not particularly interesting or well-shot, but every time I move it towards the recycling bin on my desktop, something stays my hand.  I love it and just can't part with it.  I guess some people also have pets like that... or husbands.    



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Health Food

Posted on 7/18/2012 07:39:00 AM In:
The KingofHearts tried to order lots of salads while we were traveling, you know... because he wanted to be healthy. Good thing, too, because I'd hate to see the non-healthy option on the menu.



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Twin Pines

Posted on 7/17/2012 07:28:00 AM In:
Yes, yes, I'm fully aware that these are not pines. But when I caught this view from the car window, I couldn't help but think that this would have made an excellent place for Marty McFly to hide his DeLorean.



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Puff Balls

Posted on 7/16/2012 07:35:00 AM In:
This is as close to I ever got to understanding that Popcorn Popping on the Apricot Tree song when I was growing up.



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Sage Advice

Posted on 7/15/2012 07:12:00 AM In:
More desert vegetation. I love how the bark on sagebrush eventually collapses under it's own weight and dryness and then it splits and twists like some sort of fractal image.  If you've never hung out in the desert after a rain or in the early morning and smelled the sagebrush, you have missed out, indeed.



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Landmark

Posted on 7/14/2012 09:00:00 AM In:
When people at work asked me where we were headed in Nevada I'd say, "Well, you know where Las Vegas is right?"

"Yeah."

"OK good. Well, it's nowhere near there.  What you want to do is find the only two places in the northern part of the state with any people in them, then go as far away from those two places as you can possibly get.  That's where we're going."

This is the major landmark in the area and when I giggle like a fourteen year old boy everytime I pass by it, everyone looks as me strangely and says, "I don't understand. Why is that funny?"


No reason, I guess.

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Desert Grasses

Posted on 7/13/2012 06:51:00 AM In:
Believe it or not, this is pretty darn green for high desert.  There's something stark and wonderful about desert vegetation and it might be hard to learn to appreciate it, but once it does become a part of you, it never quite leaves you.  I don't miss the nine months of summer, I don't miss the waking up at 2:00 am and seeing the thermometer is still showing 103 degrees, but I do miss the beauty of the desert.  



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Symbiotic Sin

Posted on 7/12/2012 09:13:00 AM In:
Once, when I was in middle school biology class, the teacher introduced the concept of a symbiotic relationship and gave us the example of a lichen to demonstrate.  

"A lichen," she opined, "is usually a fungus and a photosynthetic partner that depend on each other for survival.  So it's basically a fungus and an algae that are cohabitating."

That's when some kid in the back of the classroom piped up with, "Oooooo! LIVING IN SIN BABY!"

There has not been one time in the rest of my life on this earth since then when I've encountered a lichen and NOT thought about that moment.



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Lions and Beehives and Houses, Oh My

Posted on 7/11/2012 07:37:00 AM In:
Back to Salt Lake today, and I know this blog has been treading dangerously close to that line of come over to my house and look at these slides of photos from my vacation as of late. (Treading, who am I kidding? This blog has stomped all over that line.)  I hate it as much as you do.  But truth be told, I have pretty much only one friend and she doesn't want to see them either.  So, here you go.

We had brunch at the Lion House in Salt Lake the last day we were there because the KingofHearts had never had one of their famous rolls and I figured there are just some experiences in life one shouldn't miss.  And now, after our eating there once, he's had that experience several times.  Toldya they were good.  The Shortlings enjoyed the spread and the incredibly nice employees there and they insisted I photograph it.  It may not be a, splendid presentation, but yummy, nonetheless.


The Lion House and the The Beehive House are two of the first residences in Salt Lake City and where Brigham Young (who founded the city) lived from 1855 to 1877.  Now, most of it is a museum, and the lower floor is a cafeteria that specializes in recipes that would have been similar to what was actually served when the Youngs lived there. (Or at least similar-ish.)  I'd taken the tour through the houses several times, but the rest of the family hadn't, so we took a look around.  These aren't great photos, taken on my phone, but here are a couple of details from the house The Shortlings enjoyed. 

Brigham Young's hat and cane.  As I understand it, this is the cane her thrust into the ground when he looked out over the Salt Lake Valley and said, "This is the place."  But now that I think about it, he probably had a lot of canes in his time, so maybe this wasn't that exact cane, but rather just a cane he owned.

There is some really amazing woodwork in these buildings.

Brigham's daughter Clarissa's wedding dress.  The Dormouse was especially enamored by this.  Me too, but for me it was more because I couldn't believe how tiny she was.

Loved the shadows the old style light fixtures throw on the walls.


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Old Mill Pond, Sans Pond

Posted on 7/10/2012 08:14:00 AM In:

While atop this mountain in Nevada, we looked down and noticed an old abandoned mill:


We decided to investigate.  The Children spent their time racking up points on their what wildlife have you chased today chart (several lizards, mormon crickets, a snake, a golden eagle, and one very frightened jackrabbit) and reminding the wildlife why it stays wild: to avoid The Children.

No one we knew really could say very much about this mill, its history, or the nearby mine, but we did find a few core samples with bits of gold in them.  (This is gold mining country.)  Those core samples may or may not have followed us home. (May.)  Those core samples may or may not have paid for our trip.  (Not.)

I could have spent days poking around here and picking up what really just amounts to trash, but it's rusty trash so it's ANTIQUE!  I love old buildings.  So of course I took about eleventy jillion photos of this place.  Here are my favorites:













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Hastings Cutoff

Posted on 7/09/2012 07:06:00 AM In:
The California Trail Interpretive Center had been open for a mere two weeks when we visited it in Nevada. We didn't even know it was there; just stopped by as we drove across I-83 and thought it'd be a good place to let the kids use the bathroom.  Instead we ended up staying hours.  The museum focuses on following each of the different groups that followed the California trail at one point or another and all the reasons they went.  It's kid friendly and the docents were super nice and very cool with the girls.  This is my era of interest and yet I still learned quite a few things I didn't know before.  I highly recommend.


They also had exhibits on the Native Americans of the area and had several real life examples of dwellings, which the girls really enjoyed trying out.


The museum is situated at the end of the famous Hastings Cut-off, which the Donner party took as a short cut to California.  Basically, they met back up with the regular trail after coming through that canyon in the photo below.  But they left too late, didn't stock up on supplies when they should have, and, well... results were not ideal as I'm sure you've heard.  We hiked up the hill behind to get this view.  Hard to believe something so beautiful turned into something so bad.


If it hasn't been completely obvious through these posts about our trip to Nevada, The KingofHearts and I spent a lot of our time there seeking out historical sites and learning opportunities for The Shortlings.  It's not something we even plan; just more of a compulsion.  Of course talking in general is a compulsion for the both of us.  Talking when we have a captive audience is just a bonus.  "See thatThat is blahblahblahblah and the historical significance of that is blahblahblahblah..."

"But Mooom, I'm only four."

"Well, you've gotta learn it sometime."

Oh lordy, it just occurred to me that I've turned into my Grandfather.   

At some point while we were driving around and either The KoH or I was pontificating on an historical event that happened near here or what the early settlers had to deal with or some such thing, I started to wonder when the kids were going to be sick of our schtick. 

Just about then, The Dormouse piped up with, "You know what I love about our family vacations?"

"No, what?"

"Well, where ever we go, whatever we see, it always seems to turn into a history lesson."

"And you like that?"

"Yeah, I think it's really cool."

Raising nerds, people.  And that's fine by me.

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Wake Me Up Before You Go Go

Posted on 7/08/2012 09:27:00 AM
I suppose I should be glad that my child wearing a mini skirt and pink go-go boots is leaning against a shopping cart and not a pole. But even so, I don't like her work ethic.



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Pony Express House

Posted on 7/07/2012 10:49:00 AM In:
If you're looking for continuity of postings, that's something you won't find here.  I'm fully aware that I've jumped from DC, to Utah, to New York, to Nevada and back again multiple times over the past week. (I was in Baltimore this morning and Virginia last week, by the way.  It gets confusing even for me.)  It would probably make more sense if I ordered these posts in some sort of chronological fashion (perhaps the order in which the photos were taken might be smart). But that's not how my brain (and my life) works.  Just a little glimpse into the jumble of thoughts bouncing around inside my head.  And now, you're more glad to be you and not me than ever, aren't you? 


This tiny little cabin is an actual Pony Express house.  We stopped here to see the Museum in Elko and found that the museum was closed that day.  I seem to have a history with that. Anyway, there was nothing open at the museum, but they do have this little exhibit outside. 

Billy Fisher rode the Pony Express in eastern Nevada and later in the Utah Territory. In July 1860 Indians went on the warpath and destroyed the stations between Ruby Valley and Salt Lake City. Since there were no riders waiting to accept the mochila, Fisher rode the entire 300 miles, covering the distance in 30 hours using 8 horses and mules.

The Ruby Valley Pony Express Station was relocated to the grounds of the Northeastern Nevada Museum in Elko in 1960.

It struck me how tiny it was, but then I guess this was just a place to rest and eat before moving on, so it was probably big by those standards.


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Bonneville Salt Flats Excursion

Posted on 7/06/2012 10:19:00 AM In:

Driving through the area between Salt Lake and Reno, we kept trying to explain to The Shortlings what the Salt Flats are and how fifteen thousand years ago, The Great Salt Lake used to be much greater... and saltier.
 
Imagine a place so flat you seem to see the curvature of the planet, so barren not even the simplest life forms can exist. Imagine the passing thunder of strange vehicles hurtling by on a vast dazzling white plain. This is not an alien world far from earth; it is Utah's famous Bonneville Salt Flats.  

But there's really nothing that compares to actually seeing it in person, so we stopped at a rest stop to let the girls get a good look.  I know there are a lot of photos here, but it's so very different from anything you'll see on the right half of the map, I decided to include the whole photo essay.  Scroll by quickly if you like.

We kept telling The Dormouse about how people spelled out things with dark rocks along the side of the road between Reno and Elko, so she was excited to see this tradition here too.

It's such a giant expanse of... nothing.  I keep wondering what the pioneers thought as they first encountered this and I think it falls along the lines of, "Oooooh.... craaaaap."
 
So did The Dormouse.

The Caterpillar immediately slipped in the mud and broke through the crusty surface of the earth.  Underneath is a thick, slimy dark mud.  She was less than thrilled.

And required The KingofHearts to take her back to the rest stop for a quick foot bath. Too bad that wasn't there for the pioneers.

Salt crystals

In some places, the salt is up to six inches thick.

The Dormouse couldn't have cared less how dirty she got.  She's a little less OCD than The Caterpillar.


But even she didn't venture into this.

This looks like a blooming flower in the desert,

...but it's actually the exposed tip of a 4x4 buried in the ground.

Nothing that sits there for any length of time is beyond corrosion.

I have googled until my fingers are bleeding, and still I cannot find any information on this man-made formation.

It's basically a square within a square of 4x4s buried in the ground and then left there until they are pretty much beyond recognition.  Then inside the square, there's a big X of metal pipes also buried up to about an inch.  If anyone knows what it is/was, feel free to enlighten me because The Dormouse's theory involved a landing place for an alien ship and I wasn't able to provide any more reasonable possibility.

Close-up of the wood pillars.

Not a clue what this is.

But this is still recognizable.

It probably goes without saying that The Dormouse needed a foot bath before we were done too... but for different reasons.

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Married, 40ish mom of two (or three, or four, depending on how you keep score) who stepped through the lookinglass and now finds herself living in curiouser and curiouser lands of Marriage, Motherhood, and the Washington, D.C. Metro Area.

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