Monday, August 28, 2006

A Sunset

Andrew with the sunset over Lake Superior

Lake of the Clouds

At the lookout point over the Lake of the Clouds (in the UP)

Intrepid Travelers in the UP

So I'm finally posting about our trip to the UP (that's the Upper Penninsula, in Michigan, on Lake Superior). It was lovely. Here's how it went:

Friday: Left around 9 am, with a stuffed car. Stopped in Merrill at the Council Grounds and a dammed up river for lunch. We made "roadside" guacamole & sandwiches. On the way out, got some corn & a watermelon off the back of a farm truck parked at a gas station. Freshest ever.

Along the 6 hour drive (yes, 6 hours), we stopped at Bond Falls to stretch our legs. Lucky accident that we happened to choose that freeway exit. Beautiful rounded waterfall, with a boardwalk to get views from either side.

Back on the road, we stopped to look at a dead porcupine (Tim would be proud!) We saw a bald eagle flying over the road, and later a mysterious bird of prey flying out from a tree. Andrew saw a deer.

Finally arrived at our destination: Peterson's Chalet Cottages. Cute, rustic little cottages close to their Lake Superior beach. The sand, waves, and driftwood made me feel like we were at the beach. I moved us in, and Andrew grilled dinner -- tofu dogs & roasted corn. Read on our screened in porch for awhile, and made it down to the beach. Also roasted marshmallows over the grill (we could probably have done it over the gas rangetop, but for some reason Andrew finds it more authentic to do it over charcoals).

Saturday: Pancakes for breakfast. Because even when pseudo-camping, you need pancakes. We set off for the Porcupine Mountains park, and sat puzzling over the trail map at the Ranger's Station. Had some trouble deciding what hike to do. Eventually we decided to check out the Lake of the Clouds (beautiful, quite a view from the bluff of the lake and sky) and then hike into Mirror Lake. It was a looong hike. 4 miles in, with a pitstop for lunch (tuna sandwiches again). Mirror Lake was lovely... very quiet and tranquil since you can only get to it by hiking. I waded a bit.

Back at the cabin... We went swimming in Lake Superior, much warmer than you'd expect. We had our inflatable creatures: My "magic dragon" Nessie (or Puff), and Andrew's beluga whale (ok, it's a killer whale, but whatev). We ended up staying out on the water till late... And then Andrew unsuccessfully wrassled with the grill until he decided to finish cooking on the stove inside (at which point the charcoals lit up -- apparently they just wanted time and oxygen). Finally, around 10 pm, we had our shish-kabobs & more roasted corn. And it was good.

After dinner, I wanted to take a drive. Both to look out for wild creatures, and to explore country roads. We went down one a ways, without seeing much... Got out to listen to the crickets and look at the stars. Very beautiful. I love being out in the quiet at night.

We then went to the beach, as Andrew had hopes of seeing northern lights. We sat there for about 30 minutes without seeing more than a faint light blue glow over the lake. Around I think 12:30 to 1 am, the lights started to... change. This light blue/green pattern would fluctuate, sometimes spreading a rainbow arc, then moving in columns from right to left. It was hard to leave, but it was getting quite late.

Sunday: Cereal for breakfast, as the pancakes put a cramp in our plans to get out early. We went back to the Porkies to see the various waterfalls along the Presque Isle River. This turned into an impromptu hike, as we went up the east and west sides of the river to make a loop, ending at the "island" of layers of I think shale. Saw a view of Lake Superior, went over a suspension bridge (over yet another great view of the river), and headed home.

Back at the cabin, we had lunch, and then went kayaking. Definitely had trouble getting in at first. But then it was lovely -- bright, clear, sunny day. I leaned back and was ready to go to sleep on the water. Then we decided to go swimming, with Nessie/Puff.

For dinner we again imitated our camping fare, with rice & beans & string beans.

For dessert, we headed over to this fried-food & ice cream only sort of place. Amazing ice cream. And, our real motive: to see them feed the bears. Yes, Merrie is probably groaning and planning a lecture on why-not-to-feed-wild-bears. But we wanted to see some, and as it turns out, our hiking didn't lead us into any bears' path. Unfortunately, this restaurant isn't very picky about what they feed these animals. We watched one young woman feed Fred, an old man bear, a Little Debi oatmeal pie. In other words, corn syrup & trans fat. Sorry, Fred. Also saw a couple of younger, leaner looking bears. Terrific red sunset.

After the bear adventure, we made a campfire down on the beach. Roasted marshmallows and drank beer. No northern lights, as it was a bit cloudy.

Monday: Decided to add an extra night.

So we had the chance to linger over breakfast, eat pancakes, and then head out to the Summit Mt. viewpoint in the Porkies. Short hike in, and then up a watchtower... view of the whole national park, Lake Superior, and the surrounding area. Gorgeous. And sunny. Watched a hawk dive.

On the way back, we had to search for food. Backtracked a bit, as it was hard to remember where things were along this long and nearly deserted road. Finally put together a taco meal. I had a fit over the little bit of lard added to the refried beans. I of course didn't suspect anything, as who the hell would add lard to beans? Why contaminate a vegetarian's source of protein with pig fat? Why make it not kosher just for like a teaspoon of lard? F*#@ you, Old El Paso brand.

Anyways. We also made it to the gift store. It was ridiculous. The crazy woman was obsessed with bears. She was playing a children's CD of corny songs about bears sung by a cartoonish voice. "When a little bear loses his teddy bear, he gives you a bear hug..." OVER AND OVER. Needless to say, we just bought a couple of postcards and got the hell out of there.

After dinner, we took a walk along the beach... And went back to the bear restaurant. More ice cream (my only regret is not getting their cherry flavor), more bears eating sunflowers & "food scraps." Watched the sunset at a pretty beach with driftwood and tons of perfect stones for skipping.

Tuesday: We packed up, talked with Chuck (one of the hosts), and headed to Black River Harbor. This was quite the round about way to go home, but provided us with one more adventure. Went along the river, stopping at a series of waterfalls... we ended up visiting 3 out of the 5. Nearly deserted. And very pretty. Reminded me of Oregon. On our way up the steps from one falls (which was highly reminiscent of Wahtum Lake's steps), we spotted a deer with two fawns. We froze, and watched. The doe approached us, circularly, and stopped at a little mound about 10 feet away. She was watching us VERY closely. She'd stamp her foot, and then duck, watching us. Stamp, repeat. Stamp, repeat. I started laughing. It was amazing how clearly you could read her... She was approaching us alone, checking us out, testing us to see if we'd move, if we'd try to go after her, etc., doing all this at a distance from the fawns. Eventually she decided we were harmless, and headed back. Then the little family trooped across the parking lot and toward the neighboring park areas. Saw another deer in the next parking lot. The place is crawling with them.

The harbor itself was pretty, we climbed on the rocks and tried to see where we'd been hiking, as we could see the ski jump on one of the local hills from our Summit Mt. hike.

Andrew got lunch along the way at a "pasty" place. Pasties are basically potpies in the shape of a hot pocket. It was like walking into a bakery from 1950. Cafeteria tables and chairs, women in flowery dresses, men sitting around with coffee and pastries... the town was rustic, with an old Sprite sign (truly old, like '50s style), and a dead downtown. Unfortunately they didn't have any veggie pasties warmed up. I later ate at Subway.

Stopped at a few places on the way back... Rib Mt., pretty closed up off-season... and then Devil's Lake for a swim with Nessie.

At home, we had a quick dinner of ordering pizza.

It was a wonderful trip!

I was reading the end of Women in Love, Ros & Guil are Dead, and starting the American section...mainly Wieland. While driving, we finished The Electric Kool Aid Acid Test on CD... Intrepid Travelers!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Reading & Madison

Haven't updated on our Madison activities -- but suffice to say, I've been doing a lot of reading. Since getting back from Oregon, I've (re)read Sense & Sensibility, Jane Eyre, Heart of Darkness, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Mrs. Dalloway, some T.S. Eliot essays, modernist poetry (Yeats, Heaney, Eliot, Larkin, Auden), The Importance of Being Earnest (woo hoo, 4th reading), and, basically, Women in Love (50 pages to go). What rather bothers me, is that I've read all this stuff before. The experience of re-reading has been intriguing (what I missed before, what it's like to read knowing the ending, so I'm reading for the pleasure of the text rather than the plot, seeing my old notes on the texts, etc.). I'm about to hit the American portion, so I guess this will soon cease to be a problem. Although I'll still be rereading Moby Dick, The Scarlet Letter, etc. Hmm. Quals reading isn't quite what I expected it to be, but it's also exceeded my expectations a bit. I didn't really expect to get as much as I did out of re-reading.

Anyway. As for real world activity... We had dinner with Katie & John the night we returned from Oregon, and stayed late. We've done the farmer's market thing (yay for early apples!). Last week we took a trip to Devil's Lake (where we read, waded, and played frisbee) & then revisited Pedro's for dinner. The veggie tamales were excellent (and I love their corn cakes), but I was a bit disgusted the next day when Andrew ate the remains of his 3 lb. burrito. Someone in the kitchen had (inadvertently, I assume) gotten some plastic wrap mixed into the burrito's insides. Yuck.

Last week we also took a drive to Blue Mound State Park. There's a nice loop through meadows (butterflies, and ever so many wildflowers), down by a creek bed (buggy -- could hear a strange vibrating hum of bees), and back out by an apple tree. Also climbed their look-out towers, which have a magnificent view of Wisconsin (since these mounds are like the highest point).

Well -- should go now. We're going to watch the finale of America's Got Talent. I hope Bianca wins...

I get terribly addicted to summer reality tv.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Reason may prevail (with compromises)

It looks like reason might finally prevail in the FDA's decision on Plan B -- with a compromise. If things go as planned, women 18 and over will be able to buy Plan B over the counter, and when they need it, rather than after a doctor has been able to fit them into his/her schedule (and has charged said women a hefty fee for those 5 minutes). Yes, the morning after pill might actually become something women (who've had a birth control failure or have been raped) can take the morning after. And, look at that! The intended use is built right into the name: it's Plan B (ie, not one's primary birth control method). And come on, who would really take Plan B every time she had sex, rather than taking the pill? Or using a condom?

Anyway, here's from Ellen Goodman's aptly titled article "Reproductive Rights Victory -- In the Bush Era?!" (Via Feministe)

Emergency contraception is the one swath of common ground in the abortion wars. Plan B can prevent pregnancy and, therefore, abortion. It tells you how bad things are when wrenching approval for contraception out of the Bush administration counts as a smashing victory.

Nevertheless, my champagne flute is still going to be half full. This is a victory with a big asterisk. The price of getting women 18 and older easy access to Plan B has been to exclude those under 18. It's hard to celebrate policies and politics that subject girls to bigger hurdles and solidify the message that motherhood is their punishment for sex.

Let's go back over this torturous history. In 2003, the FDA's scientific advisers overwhelmingly recommended Plan B as safe and effective enough to be sold over the counter without any age restriction. It was described as "safer than aspirin.'' The right wing promptly went ballistic and tried to cast Plan B as an abortion pill. When that failed scientific muster--emergency contraception does nothing if you're pregnant--the same groups got behind the push for escalating age restrictions.

First, a cowed and politicized FDA told the manufacturer to reapply, restricting the pills to 16 and over. Then, more than a year later, one acting FDA commissioner upped the age up to 17. Now the newest acting FDA commissioner, Andrew von Eschenbach, has pushed the age up to 18.

While I suppose we should be grateful that he didn't push it to menopause, why exactly did the would-be commissioner pick 18? Was there some new data? A new study perhaps? The most that any senator could get out of him at the confirmation hearings on his appointment was pretty cryptic: "I believe 18 is appropriate.'' With that, von Eschenbach won the title of "The Believer'' to match his friend and president, "The Decider.''

The arguments in favor of the age restriction are indeed matters of unscientific belief. The morning-after pill does not change the night-before behavior, a favorite argument of those who equate E.C. with promiscuity. Nor does it replace ordinary contraceptives.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006


The visit to Oregon was wonderful, busy, yet relaxing.

Getting to OR, however, was not so relaxing.

We left on the 25th via the Milwaukee airport. This involved driving there, dropping the car at a remote parking location, & taking a shuttle. All was well, the plane boarded on time, etc. Only complaint was crowdedness. The next leg of the journey was wretched. We boarded the plane in the midsummer heat, and, clever monkeys, they didn't/couldn't put on the air conditioning.

And then... (wait for it)

We didn't leave on time.

Shocking! (And yet not.)

Andrew & I found ourselves in the very back of the plane, positioned in the seating area between two (yes, two) sets of stinking box-toilets. Everything smelled like pee. When I bent to get stuff out of my bag, I could have sworn someone had peed on the wall at some point. Oh, and it was about 100 degrees, and there were about what, 200 people on the plane? And we sat there for an hour and a half. Oh yes, it smelled delightful.

The cause of the delay? One of the infamous "mechanical problems." You know, the type that mysteriously sets in after the previous problem-free flight, after everyone is already freaking boarded. The kind that equally mysteriously clears up after an hour or two of some supposed professionals staggering about somewhere out of view. Heaven forbid the plane be cleared of problems BEFORE loading hundreds of people on it. F*#% you, NW Airlines.

So. We did make it to Oregon. Found Mum & Mer waiting, hugs & stories relating the trip. Almost crying with laughing so hard. Ate on the way home.

Weds: Much activity. Scorching weather. Mer, Andrew, & I took a very long float down the canal -- walked to Aubert's bridge & floated to the end of Miller Road. Andrew wanted to try our smaller green floatie (easier to paddle about in), and we traded him for the larger River Rat tube. Andrew sat down in the green floatie, and immediately flipped over. One moment he was sitting down & getting settled, the next, somehow, his feet contrived to go up, as his head went under, and then the entire Andrew was lost into the canal -- rather like an accidental backwards somersault. Luckily, he came up laughing and with only one abrasion on his arm. I'm afraid I have no pictures.

Anyway, after our peaceful float, we had dinner, and then the fair. We waited in line forever (the Hood River fair of Odell was unexpectedly busy). Eventually, got in and saw the wild animals -- rather sadly caged. Amazing cats, including a rather playful bobcat. Awesome African porcupine. Large tortoise. Many unappealing snakes and spiders.

We had our share of fair fare. We split an elephant ear. Unlike other people, who walk while eating, we shuffled off to a corner and stuffed ourselves, getting greasy and sugary. Needed napkins -- so we got water & a snowcone, and the vendors gave me a single paper towel. Then Merrie bought cotton candy, and kindly shared. It was yummy.

We had a quick spin through the barns -- the sheep were baa-ing back and forth, and we got many a picture of one that had an old-man-goat voice.

Late night shopping trip to Rosauer's.

Thurs.: Busy day! Andrew made pesto from the basil bushes in Mom's garden. Then Mum, Mer, Andrew & I went up to Kingsley for a swim. We went the wrong way, so we had a scenic and bumpy detour. Almost stopped at the lower reservoir... perhaps should have stayed, but I rather wanted the real lake. Kind of windy, but I still wanted to swim. I ended up getting in, and once you do that, you're warmer in the water than out. So I paddled about, and eventually we all swam (even Merrie!) After, we went down the hill, and we took Mer's car to the wildlife rescue clinic in Mosier. I syringe-fed a baby bat, Andrew bottle-fed a fawn, and Mer fed a flicker (which died -- flighty little things). The young screech owl was my favorite. It bobbed about and dilated its pupils and I was rather worried it was going to attack me. I'll try to post a photo, because it was that cute. The eagles were hopping about, and the fawn frolicked a bit in the meadow.

Home -- pesto for dinner (ate outside w/ the mountain view), watched some America's Got Talent, and Scrabbled. Slept outside on the porch: many stars, some shooting.

Friday: Also super busy day. We made it up to Lost Lake, and took the trail around the lake. I waded a bit, and grazed on blueberries and huckleberries. Then we took the road to Wahtum Lake; along the way, we saw a mountain beaver on the side of the road. We stopped, and the mt. beaver went about its business as if there were no large jeep with five people idling next to him. He chomped off some brush, and proceeded to carry it under the jeep, and across the road. Somehow he managed to drop said brush, which Tim took as a memento. Very strange little rodent-fellow. The lake was windy and chilly. What is it, 254 stairs down to the lake? We took them, and ate our reward (cookies) by the lake. Explored around the shores -- salamanders and crawdads. After going back up the stairs, I was quite warmed up. For dinner: Feta/pasta/kale concoction. Slept out on the porch again.

Saturday: Family picnic! We took Tim's '56 Chevy, and arrived fashionably late. First time I'd seen so many cousins gathered in one place since Christmases of a decade ago or more. Very cool to see Janel (she's been in Turner's Fall, MA and doing poetry at Umass) & Mark (who's living in Santa Cruz). And I finally saw Debi's young children -- we ended up playing frisbee with Timmy for quite a while. Luckily, Andrew, who has camp counselor experience, tossed it back and forth with him -- and with Tim joining the game, I think Timmy was quite happy. Andrew became Timmy's favorite, although Delina favored me with a cup of "coffee." After sandwiches and wonderful cake (it had all the cousins' names on it -- I didn't eat my name, however, as I preferred a side piece with lots of frosting), we kids headed to Hood River. Went to Artifacts, and Andrew's Pizza for dinner. Dog River for coffee -- I had a nice Mexican chocolate frappe. And it was good.

Some errands after -- Wal-mart for sweatpants, etc...

Sunday: Portland day. We went to American Eagle (Mer was in need of staples, and the sales rack was as fruitful as I expected), Powell's books (got a stack of quals books, including the ever-elusive "Studies in Classic American Lit." by Lawrence), Everyday Music (my one selection was to share a Zombies hits CD w/ Mer), and Thai Orchid for dinner (sweet and sour stirfry w/ pineapple was OK but overly sweet; pad thai was pleasing as usual; Massaman curry which was my choice and, in my opinion, the yummiest). Quite a nice trip to the city.

Monday: Read in the morning (Wuthering Heights), and then went with Mum, Mer, & Andrew on a hike to Elk Meadows. Many legs to the journey: First a jaunt through the mild mountain forest -- quite level. Then crossing the river on a precarious bridge made up of various logs haphazardly thrown between the banks. This leads into the switch backs straight up a hill, which eventually get you to the levelness at the top. Then about a mile around the meadow (which was devoid of elk, and unfortunately clouds obscured what would have been a lovely view of the mountain). We stopped along this final loop to snack on potato chips, cookies, and apples... and were munching, when our snack-site was ransacked by camp robbers. Of the avian variety. Apparently they're also known by the slightly more dignified (but infinitely less accurate) description of grays jays. It was clear that these little beggars wanted food, and would do about anything to get it. So I had the bright idea of putting potato chip crumbles on my sweatshirted arm. They took the bait. I was quite nervous, God only knows what birds will do for food. Mer & Mum joined me, and we got some awesome photos & video. Voracious birds. Never had seen such things before. Right out of the Hitchcock movie. And since that soundtrack in entirely composed of bird noises/flapping of wings, the noises were reminiscent of the film as well. The birds were a highlight, and the chipmunks which seemed to perch in blueberry bushes and eat the litte unripe berries.

In the evening, we took a trip to Rosauer's & prepared for our camping trip. Tuesday morning we left -- it was awfully cold and windy at Lost Lake. Andrew set up the tent while me and Mer went to the general store for our camping pass, and then we set up camp a bit. I was cold, and went in the tent to read a bit. Shortly, I decided to nap. The others followed. We got up around 4 pm, snacked, and I urged everyone to at least do a bit of exploring before dinner. Went on what we assumed was the huckleberry trail. Ran into a scuzzy pond (but it did have redeeming water lilies). Mysterious combination of stand up grill, precariously leaning next to a tree, empty beer bottle, and discarded underwear. On the other side of the scuzzy pond, a condom wrapper. Andrew wisely observed: "I hope nothing bad happened here."

Ended up toward a trailhead into the Pacific Crest trail. Found a gravel road. Made Merrie and Andrew agree to take a drive out here after dinner in return for not hiking further. Had tofurkey dogs for dinner w/ canned corn. It was delicious. Everything made on a campfire is strangely good. Took our evening drive on Sentinel Rd... gravel road, leading to nothing. We got out, picked some huckleberries, and I killed many a mosquito (had to hit Andrew rather hard to kill some of them, but, what can you do?). We passed another mysteriously blocked off road, and I asked that we also explore that at some point when I had proper shoes on. Back at camp: S'MORES! We had a nice campfire, and warmed water for washing hands/ faces (it feels so luxurious when everything else is cold). S'mores are excellent. Slept quite well, and decided to sleep in.

Andrew made breakfast -- pancakes w/ huckleberries & chocolate chips. So good. We got ready pretty quickly, and made our way to the Lost Lake Butte trail. Switchbacked about 2.5 miles to the top, where we could see Mt. Adams, Mt. Hood intimately, and Mt. Jefferson hanging behind. Other hikers greeted us at the top. We made, I kid you not, tuna fish sandwiches w/ cans of tuna, a jar of relish, and the condiment packets we took from the store. And they were relished. Hung out for probably 30 minutes, listening to pikas beeping on rocks below the cliff, watching the little bits of clouds clear away from the mt., and taking pictures. Going down was much faster and easier.

I wanted to go swimming right away -- to feel clean and to make up for the hot hiking. Took our chairs and floaties to the lake, and claimed a little wooden dock. We read a bit, and then paddled about in the water: I alternately swam and clung to floaties. Mum arrived, and we had jambalaya (w/ leftover tofurky dogs, canned green beans, and squash), grilled squash, and salad Mum brought. Only problem: no forks! Andrew improvised with two spoons, and we washed old plastic forks. Then, as it was getting dusky, Mum headed home, and we headed up to Turner Rd. for a little exploring. This didn't go too far: We heard some sort of snoring/exhaling noise, definitely from a large animal. Mer and I predicted bear (Mer's prediction, however, was much more convincing). I quietly picked some berries, and eventually Andrew & I went to a nearby meadow-like area while Mer patiently listened. There, we had a view of the mountain against twilight, and the moon rising. Bats flitted. We heard their calls, but then we also heard one of the snorting sounds, frighteningly close (or so it seemed). I got rather freaked out, and we went back to find Mer. She came back with us, and we kept hearing the noises. Later, we got Tim's confirmation that we'd had a real bear experience! Probably two or three were ranging about, eating huckleberries and locating one another. We decided to come back in the morning, as Mer was shivering with cold and it was getting late. Back at the campsite, we had a roaring fire (Mum had brought more firewood), and we roasted many marshmallows and ate s'mores. Finally got to bed.

Thurs. we got up earlier, had more yummy pancakes thanks to Andrew, and set off to the Turner Rd. area again. We hiked along it quite a while, mainly due to my curiosity. It seemed we were in forested area -- saw an anthill -- but we eventually heard water & found that the road was emerging over a valley. Quite steep sides down, too. I kept urging us onwards, but Mer at some point turned back. I knew we'd get a view of the mountain soon, as we were rounding the bend... and we definitely got the payoff viewpoint. Picture perfect view of Mt. Hood, the sides of hills, and the valley beneath. Andrew & I took pictures. Headed back then, and caught up with Mer. Andrew & I took another exploring trip up a gravel road, stopped when it got overgrown and didn't seem to be going anywhere. I picked some more berries, and then we rounded up Mer and headed back to camp. We got out of our site right before 2 pm, as directed. And lucky, as another van-load of campers wanted to claim our place. So we took our tuna fish sandwich makings (round 2) over to the day use area, and claimed the lovely site with Mt. Hood over the lake, and flat rocks and a bench to sit on. Ended up floating a bit, and I swam. Deliciously cold. A pine squirrel tried to steal our cookies. Mer and I yelled from the water for Andrew to defend our baked goods. Andrew packed up the edibles, but the squirrel came foraging back. Incorrigible rodent.

Drove back home... We took turns taking showers. I sat on a blanket by the garden reading a bit, Andrew joined me. Then, we went to Crazy Pepper for dinner... Mer and I were quite strong against the chicken fajita burrito, and had the vegetarian version. Andrew alerted us to the yumminess of his chicken, and we were like, "we know." But I will relent and have a free range turkey when I come home for Thanksgiving. Somehow we all finished our dinners, and then staggered about Hood River trying (pretending) to work it off. Then another shopping trip, and home to watch V for Vendetta (which was awesome).

Friday we packed, and kept busy, as we were also leaving. Took a drive with Mum & Tim up to Umbrella Falls & Teacup Lake (Andrew was none too impressed with our scummy lake, but it was fun to visit the old berry picking grounds). Then Andrew, Mer & I went floating, from Hess Rd. down to our house. Quite cold! Showered, and dressed, we headed down to Hood River for First Friday. I purchased some lotion, soap, & face mask (pumpkin and apple, it smells so good I want to eat it). We went to Dog River once more, and I quickly finished my chai. Visited the new bookstore -- which had no Norton anthologies I could see. Listened to the homeschoolers' marimba band. Got a great view from the library park of the river w/ windsurfers. Ahh, Hood River.

Back home, we ate Santacroces pizza on the deck with the mountain view, and then listened to our Zombies CD while finishing up with packing.

Very sad to leave! And I didn't remember to properly say goodbye to the Prissy cat, who will undoubtedly remember and act even more haughty when I see her next.

Driving to the airport we had Strawberry Shortcake memories, and Andrew thought we were crazy.

The flights back were rather exhausting. Red eyes -- the first about 3.5 hours, with a break at what, to us, was 3:30 in the morning, followed by another short 1.5 hour or so flight. Very interrupted sleep. Who on earth books a red eye flight with a freaking BABY? Airlines should have a warning when you book a flight between the hours of 11 pm and 6 am: "WARNING: Children 3 and under not welcome on these flights. Consider other options if possible."

Southern WI is indeed the flatlands, after the mountainous NW.