Category Archives: Travel

State Fair Checklist

  • Ask boss for every day of the State Fair off. Check.
  • Get tickets and coupon books (that’s right, two books). Check.
  • Make grid of which kinds of dogs are at the Pet Pavilion on which days. Check.
  • Add what days there are bunnies at the bunny barn to the grid. Check.
  • Check where this year’s Park & Ride lots are situated. Check.
  • Install the State Fair app on my phone. Check.
  • Look at all this year’s new food with YA. Check.
  • Extra points for writing some of the new foods on the grid. Check.
  • Go over possible schedule with YA. Repeatedly. Check.
  • Purchase some more individual wet wipes. Check.
  • Dig the turtle purse out of the attic (it’s the perfect size for the Fair). Check.
  • Start a “take with” pile (purse, sunglasses, wipes, tickets, coupons, address labels, couple of band aids, couple of ibuprofen, collapsible food container). Check.
  • Watch the weather forecast like a hawk.  Check.
  • Do laundry so the clothes you like best are ready on Thursday. Check.
  • Get gas for the car (probably not needed, but what the heck). Check.

Except for getting some cash on Thursday morning, I think I’m ready!

What’s the last occasion you “prepped” for?

A Day At The Zoo

I came home from work yesterday at 10:00 am.  Friday is my short work day.  Husband asked as I came into the house “How about going to Bismarck to the zoo today”? I said yes, and off we went.

We haven’t been to the Bismarck zoo for years, not since our daughter was little. It was a fun day made really special by watching a zoo keeper train bobcats. They are trained, with raw meat treats, to follow verbal commands like sit, paws up, follow the target, and go in your crate. She also exposed them to sprays from a bottle of fly spray so they would tolerate the spraying. Raising one’s paw above one’s head allows zoo keepers to check paw pads for cracks or injuries, and underbellies for impending kittens or too much weight gain. Rufus, the bobcat male, loves being trained and is really good at all the commands. Ginger, the female, is a bit stubborn. Rufus hates the spray bottle. He very willingly went in his crate, an important skill to have if you need to go to the vet.

What a fun job!  The zoo keeper paired the command and its successful completion with a loud click and a morsel of raw meat. I don’t fully approve of zoos, but I see their purpose in protecting endangered species.  I would love to train bobcats! I wonder how they train the primates?

How do you feel about zoos? What are your experiences in training animals?

Questions and Answers

Because I have control issues, and because I am a better driver, and because Husband doesn’t like to drive our van, I do almost all the driving.  He says he doesn’t mind being a perpetual passenger.

Living out here means we have to drive long distances to get to places. There is something restful about driving miles and miles in a remote area. I can relax and clear my head. It also gives me and Husband time to have good conversations.  I am fortunate that Husband likes to do research, because when my mind is not focused on work or duties at home, I start wondering about things I see when we travel and ask Husband what the answers might be.   I should also add that when I pose questions, he won’t stop researching until he has an answer. I wonder about the music we listen to (What is the story behind Faure’s Pelleas and Melisande, and how many requiems did Faure write?”), or the terrain we are passing through, or any number of stray topics.

This trip, I somehow started thinking about General Custer, and what routes he took through ND and SD on his first Black Hills expedition. We were driving in the vicinity when we traveled to Denver, so Husband dutifully looked up the route on his phone. Then I started to wonder, “What route did he take to the Little Bighorn”?, since he left from Mandan where he was the commander of Fort Lincoln. Did he go straight west, or did he follow the river boat that took his supplies from Mandan up the Missouri to what is now Williston, ND, where the boat turned south on the Yellowstone River to get close to the Big Horn River. Husband looked that up, too. Custer probably traveled right through our town on his way to Montana. and met up with the boat after it got to the Big Horn.   This led to a lot of discussion on the use of flat bottomed river boats on the Missouri and Yellowstone rivers and the part they played in transporting cannons and equipment.

The only problem with researching while we drive through remote areas is the spotty phone service, but when you have hundreds of miles to travel, there is no rush to find answers, and every so often there is a cell phone tower.

What questions have you had lately? What would you like to research? How do you pass the time on long drives?

White or Brown?

Husband and I recently drove to Denver for his father’s  funeral.  Denver is a 10 hour drive for us, so we stopped in Newcastle, WY as a half-way point there and back. Newcastle is an old mining town, and still is dominated by extraction industries.  It has some beautiful scenery, and lots of wildlife. Mule deer wander around on Main Street. There are elk nearby.

We ate at a pizza and steak house the first night we stayed in Newcastle. I ordered a sirloin with mashed potatoes. The waitress asked me “white or brown?” I was a little puzzled by the question, but assumed that she was referring to the type of potato I wanted my mashed potatoes made from. It made me think that I was dining in a pretty fancy establishment that took such care with mashed potatoes. I  said “white”.  Imagine my surprise when my meal arrived with a nice steak and a lofty pile of mashed potatoes smothered in gloppy white gravy. White and brown in this restaurant refer to gravy, not potato varieties! I want only butter on my mashed potatoes, and I left the potatoes untouched and concentrated on my steak.

I talked with relatives at the funeral about my gravy debacle, and the only one who had experience with “white or brown” was a step-nephew  by marriage from Texas.  Something was lost in translation for me in Newcastle, but now that I know what the code means, I can order mashed potatoes with confidence!

When have things been lost in translation for you? How do you like your mashed potatoes? How do you make mashed potatoes?

Reaping the Bounty. Now What?

I travel just enough to get some airline miles but usually I don’t hit that sweet spot where you can turn them in for airline tickets. Instead I have magazines.  Lots of magazines – most of them food related (imagine that).  At this time of year, food magazines are always filled with recipes using the bounty of summer gardens.  And just in time too!  I’ve harvested all my basil (10 jars of pesto) and the tomatoes have just started to turn.  The first handful of grape tomatoes didn’t make it into the house but the two Romas went into a pasta and green bean salad yesterday.  I’m guessing in about a week or so, I’ll be overloaded with tomatoes and trying as many of this month’s magazine recipes as possible.  I think this one will be first:

Tomato Salad w/ Charred Corn & Peppers

4 ears of corn, shucked
1 c. roasted red peppers (save liquid)
2 T. olive oil
2 T plus 2 tsp. wine vinegar
1 ¼ tsp Aleppo pepper
½ tsp chopped oregano
2 ¼ lbs. tomatoes
½ tsp salt
½ c. queso fresco

  1. Grill the corn on medium heat until nicely charred, 8-12 minutes
  2. Cut the kernals off the cobs and combine with red peppers, 2 tsp of the pepper liquid, oil, 2 T vinegar, 1 tsp Aleppo pepper and the oregano.
  3. Slice the tomatoes, tossing with the remaining salt and tsp vinegar. Arrange on a plate and cover with the corn mixture, queso fresco and the remaining ¼ tsp Aleppo pepper.

Note: If you don’t have Aleppo pepper you can make a good substitute using 4 parts paprika and 1 part cayenne.

What would you like to do with an overload of tomatoes this year?

Branded For Life

I read with a great deal of amusement about the redheaded two year old who drove his electric John Deere tractor to the Chisago County Fair.  He made the national news and it was a relief to see something fun in the media for a change.

He is certainly an enterprising youngster, and I am glad his adventure was a safe one. I only hope this isn’t something that people bring up  for the rest of his life.

I hope there are other, more edifying things that will define him.  It would be terrible to be branded as a wild man at age two.

Tell about your experiences at the fair.

Strange Performance Opportunities

In November, Husband and I and four other members of our handbell choir are going to New York City to play in a massed handbell choir of 300 ringers at Carnegie Hall.  We have been invited to play a separate concert in Central Park, and last week, the silliest ringing opportunity thus far came from the Carnegie staff, who have arranged for us to play at Radio City Music Hall with the Rockettes.  We can sign up to perform in  one of three shows on November 29 and 30.

I just don’t know if I am up for the Rockettes. We don’t have to dress like the Rockettes, which is a blessing.  Husband  would look pretty silly in tights and high heels!  This trip is getting stranger and stranger!

If you could perform anywhere doing anything, where would it be and with whom?