Monday, July 25, 2005


The other day my friend Ginger and I went to the Mall of America for some power shopping. I stopped at Archiver's (that's not the unbelievable part. I can smell scrapbook stores from miles away, sort of like how sharks smell blood in the water) and bought a few things. Ginger and I sat on a bench while she fed her adorable new baby boy, and I left the Archiver's bag there.

A few stores later we realized this fact, and despite backtracking, we couldn't find it. I chalked it up to a lost cause. But! Ginger pulled her phone out about an hour later to check the time and noticed she had a message. It was my husband. Apparently, someone found my bag and returned it to Archiver's. Then, because for some inexplicable reason they ask for your phone number at Archiver's and I, also for reasons unknown at the time, had given them my mom's number, they called my mom. My mom called Erik, who called Ginger, and left a message. Great! So we rejoiced, and Ginger subsequently left her cell phone sitting on that bench.

A few stores later we realized this second mistake. Ginger went to security and reported it missing, then headed to Radio Shack to cancel it.

And yet, there is a happy ending to this story. The next day, the mall called her and said someone had turned the phone in. So it seems there are still good people out in the world!

Saturday, July 23, 2005


I just posted about our trip to Montana, but I did it in the order I wrote them, so if you want to read them chronologically, start from the bottom. :)

Now this is more like it

We got an early start on Sunday so we could hit the Highline trail which runs alongside Going to the Sun Road (the main road through the park). We were fairly concerned that we'd have another day of rain because it was so cloudy visibility was no more than 10-20 feet driving up Going to the Sun Road. We got out at Logas Pass and started our trek. The first section is a path along sheer rock. We couldn't see anything on the other side, the side where if you fall, you will fall a very very long way. I mean literally, we saw nothing. There could have been UFO's hovering 10 feet out and we would have missed it all.

Within about an hour or so, things were clearing up. This trail is 7.6 miles over fairly level ground. It ends at the Granite Park Chalet, which was built in 1913. We stopped there for an hour, and, crazy people that we are, decided to hike back. I started wondering how many people have fallen off the mountain just because their legs decide to throw themselves off rather than have to take another step. I was almost startled off the mountain by a huge bird flapping its wings in the bushes near me, and had to chicken fight with a mountain goat (he decided to go around me). In the end, we were glad we did it though. It's amazing to get back down to the ground and see how far up and away we climbed. It's a great sense of accomplishment.

Sunday's stats:
Miles hiked: 16
Wildlife spotted: hoards of marmots and squirrels, several big horn sheep, mountain goats, big bird that scared me

Adventures Foiled

We knew that there was a 50% chance of rain Saturdayy, but doesn't that mean that theoretically, 50% of that vast national park should be dry? We went in search of it.

We stopped at one trail which Erik insisted would be fun, but when a misty gail threatened to blow me into the Dakotas, I insisted more (which I am inclined to do) that there had to be somewhere better. Our next try was at St. Mary's Falls, which is a short hike to an impressive gush of water. We wanted to go further up the trail to some place my dad had recommended, but when we looked up and saw black clouds, we thought it would be a good time for a trail run. We made it back to the car only slightly damp.

Everyone had recommended Avalanche trail to us, which ends at five waterfalls. It was only about a 4 mile round trip so we figured we could outrun any rain that came our way. That was an erroneous assumption, especially since neither of us was wearing rain gear. The rain came so suddenly we had barely turned back. I used Erik's sweatshirt as an umbrella until it started dripping through. He ran for the car and I found shelter under the end of a canoe sticking off of a car. So much for that hike.

In the end, we went to a new hotel on the west end, read some books, and made use of their hot tub (ahhh!). I've concluded that God is not a respecter of vacations. I guess if it's a choice between Erik and Gina's perfect hiking vacation and the earth's regular need to be watered, God's going to side with the earth. I don't blame Him for this. It has to ruin somebody's day, so it might as well be mine. I feel no less loved. And besides, it makes you appreciate the sunny days even more. :)

Saturday's stats:
Miles hiked: a disappointing 2 or so, but that's ok
Wildlife spotted: 2 (oooo! Look honey! That big animal - is that a moose? It can't be a bear, its legs are too long. Oh, they're . . . ) cows

Climbing Mountains

Mountain climbing is a great analogy for life. There are two ways to climb a mountain I think. One is to climb it with focused ambition, the goal being the top. The second is to stop frequently along the way to rest and look, not just because you need to, but because you want to. I can be a bit of the former - always looking ahead, not stopping to enjoy what I'm in. So today I tried to be the latter and felt my ability to be awed grow each moment. I also found a part of myself that's braver than I thought. This part has been slowly growing since I've been married to Erik and realized that he's going on adventures and if I want to be with him, I'd better go too. Turns out he finds a lot of good stuff on those adventures.

We hiked to Grinell Glacier, which has starting at its trailhead frightening warnings about entering bear country. These warnings are repeated every 500 yards or so until you're thoroughly paranoid and have developed a fool proof plan for how you will escape the emminent bear mauling unscathed. Erik and I chattered non-stop for the first mile or so until we saw more bear bait ahead. We figured there was strength in numbers so we picked up the pace and met a family of 6 from my hometown! So that was a fun little quinkidink.

At the glacier, by request from a friend of ours, we tried to "hug the glacier" to no avail. You couldn't get that close. So we contented ourselves with getting off the beaten path a bit to find the top of the glacial waterfall we'd seen hiking up. The problem with getting off the beaten path is finding your way back when needed. We did find ourselves wallowing for a bit in the "this isn't fun anymore" stage while we struggled our way back. It's amazing how easy something can look when it's really not.

Going down is one of those things as well. The last two miles of the hike Erik sometimes encouraged me to look around but I was back in focus mode. One thing that motivated us was the promising thought of some cheese fondue served from 2-5 p.m. at the hotel. Whenever one of us lagged behind, we'd pick ourselves up with the very word, "Fondue!"

Back at the ranch, we did enjoy our fondue, some complimentary huckleberry frozen yogurt, and some relaxing hours reading while overlooking the lake. A good time was had by all.

Today's stats:
Miles hiked: somewhere in the vicinity of 13
Altitude climbed: 1700 ft
Wildlife sighted: regular sized chipmunks and various other small woodland creatures

I'm a Stranger Here Myself

Erik just picked up a book I've been hankering (I love that word) for called I'm a Stranger Here Myself by Bill Bryson. Bryson is a travel writer who lived in Britain for 20 years before returning to his native America. The book is a collection of articles he wrote for a British publication detailing life in America and his observations of the changes that had happened. It's laugh out loud funny in some places. I can relate quite a bit, being an "expat" (expatriate=person who lives outside their country of origin) myself. I particularly enjoyed his commentaries on junk food and the U.S. Postal Service. If you're looking for a good read, I recommend this one. If you're fortunate enough to live near me in Singapore, you can borrow it when I get back.

Welcome to Big Sky Country!

Erik and I decided to take a little vacation time this year in a place we've dreamed of for some time - Glacier National Park. We drove to the park Thursday morning and hit Hidden Lake Overlook trail. It's only about a 3 mile round trip, but I was a little surprised at the belly aching and outright refusal to try it by many people who stopped at the Visitor Center there. C'mon people - what are you doing here if you aren't willing to hike? Some people used their kids as excuses, but I didn't buy it.

The mountains there are so unbelievable that I had to remind myself I wasn't looking at a gigantic painting. Thursday and Friday night we stayed at Many Glacier Hotel which was built early in the 20th century. It's a beautiful, huge place overlooking a lake. It also capitalizes on the all American principle of supply and demand. While their prices certainly reflect the 21st century, they didn't seem to feel the need to make the ammenities keep up with the times. Our room was quaint, which is a real estate word for really small. I was glad it had a shower, but there are a lot of big Americans who would not fit in it. I think though that most of those people aren't usually the kind to go out and attempt to climb really big mountains.

Thursday's stats:
Miles climbed: about 5
Wildlife spotted: several mountain goats at close range (about 4 feet) and 2 well-fed chipmunks, bordering on gopher size. They got so close I thought they might scamper up my leg looking for food.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

First Class Passengers

Last Wednesday night Erik and I flew to Montana using some of the thousands upon thousands of frequent flier miles we've accumulated to and from Asia. We also used our privilege to fly first class. I've never done that before, except for the last 10 minutes of a flight I took with two friends to England when I was 13 years old. But that's a different post.

Our first class bonuses started right at the gate. Our one bag was 3 pounds overweight. The attendant said, "Sorry folks, looks like you're just a little over here. You'll have to take out a few . . . wait, you're first class! Here I am rambling on and on and you didn't even stop me. You're just fine then." So apparently first class passengers get a higher weight limit. Good to know.
On the flight, we got drinks early, and free snacks in abundance (you had to pay for them in economy class). All in all, it's a good deal. Too bad we can't afford it on a regular basis.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

The 4th of July

Erik and his brothers

Look at all that grass!

Enjoying a summer day

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Say what?

While Erik was cleaning a good amount of dirt off Megan's face yesterday (a result of working out in the yard for the afternoon) he said, "Boy, you sure did a number on your face Megan."
Ethan then asked, "What number was it daddy?"

Saturday, July 02, 2005

House of Hui's

So we thought, "We'll just find a restaurant by the movie theater - there'll be lots of them!" Or, the movie theater could be a lone structure in a vast residential area.

We ventured past the theater, trying to guess where we might find food. We turned down a street and found a strip mall that held one restaurant, "House of Hui's." That was when we made the silly mistake of saying, "Hey, yeah, Chinese food sounds good."

Nothing against House of Hui's. It's a nice little mom and pop establishment dishing out copious amounts of Chinese food, primarily through take out. But despite the fact that a lot of Chinese food in the states is made by people actually from China, something gets lost en route. You just can't get great Chinese food outside of China. When we left, Erik said, "I think I need to go for a really long bike ride tomorrow to get rid of all that fat." This, coming from the man with warp speed metabolism.

We saw War of the Worlds. I was expecting more of an action flick - which it was - but didn't know it would be so hide-behind-by-hands-heart-racing-afraid-to-put-my-feet-down suspenseful. At one point Erik said, "I can't see how this is going to end well." I won't give away the ending to tell you whether or not it does. If you're looking for a thrill, this is a good flick. Definitely entertaining. But the whole time I kept thinking, "Tom Cruise really believes this stuff!"

Tales from the Timberlands

Last weekend we braved the seven hour drive north to the Upper Penninsula for our somewhat annual visit with Erik's college friends. This event used to be held on Lake Independence, but our hosts have returned to their roots in the Keweenaw (pronounced, oddly enough, Keewenaw).

There are too many stories to tell from our time there. We had a blast! Ethan caught his first two fish and loved riding in the boat. Megan had her first bonding experience with a boy - 2 year old Kolson. The two of them played really well together. Erik was pretty good about not switching in grandpa mode too many times, "Back when I was in college here, I used to . . . " Because for those of you who don't know, Erik is a Michigan Tech grad, Michigan Tech being located in Houghton (in the Keweenaw). It's a beautiful place with lots of history - we actually spent our honeymoon there, but that's another story.

For those of you outside of the midwest, the Upper Penninsula is more commonly known as the U.P. People living there are known as Uppers (pronounced "yooopers"). One of the interesting things about the U.P. is the accent. You know how people talk about the Minnesota accent? Well, this is that times two. We stopped at a convenience store (which turned out to be a convenience liquor store) for a bathroom break. I asked a man inside if there was a bathroom and he said, "Uh, yah, I tink soh." That became the phrase of the weekend.

On the drive home, we narrowly missed running over a deer and a fox. I would also have liked to run over a particularly obnoxious Care Bears DVD in our possession. All in all, a great time. We just wish it wasn't 7 hours away!