Hodgepodge Madness

 Joyce asks the questions, and we provide the answers. See how others answered at From This Side of the Pond.

1.What do you love about your life right now? 

My life is fairly stress-free at the moment. I've managed to get some things done around the house (or make plans to get some things done) that should have been done a long time ago. I have the freedom to spend my day doing what I want to do.

2. March 26th is National Spinach Day...are you a fan? If so, how do you like yours prepared/served? 

I'm not a big cooked vegetable person, so if I eat spinach it's in a salad or on a sandwich in lieu of lettuce.

3. In this current season would you say you need to spend more time looking inward or that you need to get out of your head? Tell us why. 

Inward. I'm newly retired, newly widowed, and trying to figure out what the heck I'm supposed to be doing with my life now. I'm planning on taking the time to rediscover myself and what my purpose is.

4. Are you following the 'March Madness' madness? (That's US college basketball in case you're out of the loop) What's something that feels like actual madness to you right now? 

I'm mainly following UT...that's the real UT...University of Tennessee. The campus is 15 minutes from where I live. The Lady Vols are out but the men are still in. I don't know if I'll keep watching or not.

I need to keep what feels like actual madness to myself but believe me, it is utter madness!

5. How will you celebrate the Easter/Passover holiday this year? 

The Triduum is a very holy and sacred time of the year in the Catholic Church. We begin on Holy Thursday with an evening Mass. 12 parishioners will have their feet washed by the priests. I've had the honor to be one of the 12 and it is quite humbling.  Mass doesn't end on Thursday; it's "open-ended" until the Easter Vigil on Saturday night after the sun sets. Good Friday will be the Stations of the Cross by the youth at 3:00 pm, then Good Friday Service that evening. As I said, the Easter Vigil Mass begins at 8:15 pm and will last around 3 hours. Those who have prepared to enter the Catholic Church since September will finally be admitted! I will be playing my flute for Easter Sunday Mass. After that, I plan to just relax and maybe have the boys over for dinner if they're around. 
This is what the altar will look like on Good Friday. Completely stripped with the tabernacle (I've circled it) open and empty.

I have to add that the Easter Vigil Mass is my favorite Mass of the year. It doesn't seem like it's as long as it is; the time goes by very quickly. There are a lot more readings than a usual Mass and then there's the rite for the new Catholics. It's all just quite beautiful.

6. Insert your own random thought here. 

This is a picture of my MIL as she was being sworn in as a US Citizen in 2008 (I think it was).  She passed away last Friday at home following a prolonged illness. 
She was an incredible, feisty, little Danish woman who spoke her mind. Like CH, she lived a good life. She was the best MIL I could have asked for. She never meddled and only gave advice when I asked for it. She will be missed.

The Great West Trip 2023: Part 5

 This is a cross-post from Flyin' the Coop

When we left Yellowstone by the South Entrance, we immediately entered Grand Teton National Park. Except there wasn't a sign so I was a little confused as to where we actually were.  We were soon greeted by an amazing sight:

I was feeling pretty patriotic seeing this just as we left Yellowstone. I thought it was extremely exciting. And then, as we drove further into the Park, a bear ran across the road ahead of us and down the hill. And that was the extent of seeing wildlife in Grand Teton. 

As mentioned in the last post, we managed to snag the last spot in the Colter Bay Campground. A huge thank you to the person who canceled just before I booked it! When we rolled into the campground I had to show the employee that we had the reservation because his paperwork didn't have the updated reservation. I didn't take any pictures of the campsite; there was nothing spectacular about it. I think it may have actually been a tent site since we had to park on the side of the road. To the best of my recollection, there was a fire pit and picnic table. The public restrooms had a flushing toilet and sink but no shower. The next morning we went to the Colter Bay Visitor Center to shower and do laundry. The pay showers were amazing. I think we paid $5 each for lengthy showers. It helped that we were there fairly early and were one of the first ones there. There is also a store that has groceries, coffee and breakfast sandwiches, as well as a gift store. 
View of Jackson Lake
I was awestruck by the beauty
After we were showered and our clothes cleaned, we started driving out of the park. We came across a young couple carrying a bicycle wheel. We stopped and asked if they needed a ride somewhere. This couple was cycling the Continental Divide from just next to the Mexican Border up to Canada. They were walking to the post office (about a 10-mile hike from the campground) to pick up a part a friend of hers overnighted to her. They had both just graduated from college and were taking the summer to cycle before "becoming adults". Once we dropped them off at the post office, we decided to wait for them and offer them a ride back to the campground since we weren't on a timeline. I know they appreciated it, but we kept telling them that we would hope someone would do the same for one of our boys. 
View as we drove to/from the post office
We drove through Jackson and stopped for groceries. Honestly, I wasn't very impressed. It was so crowded; I wanted to get groceries and get out of there. It was too touristy for our taste.

At the last minute, we found a Harvest Host for the night. This was another dairy farm that had an ice cream/dairy shop. We weren't so thrilled with this spot. It was hot, there was absolutely no shade, and we were told to park right next to the cow pen. On top of that, this was our view:
Thanks, but no thank you. We ended up getting a hotel room for the night so we were cool and were able to take luxurious showers in Afton, Wyoming. This was a very cute little town whose claim to fame is the largest arch made out of elk antlers...over 3000 of them, in fact.
It would have been nice to have had a few more hours to look around. This one street is pretty much the whole town. There was a shortcut from the Oregon Trail that went through Afton (Lander Trail). "This shortcut saved emigrants as much as 7 days travel." If only we had known!
We made it to Utah!
Since we didn't get a picture when we originally crossed into Wyoming, after taking the picture in Utah we crossed the street & snapped this picture!
Finally...red rock! This was at a beautiful rest area in Utah
This was also taken at the rest area. So unique!
Moving on, we clipped Idaho and then made it to Utah. We discussed going to Craters of the Moon National Park. While it looks like a very cool place, we decided to keep moving on. CH has a friend in Park City, UT that he attempted to see. Unfortunately, we weren't able to make that happen. Our oldest son lived in Park City for a while so it was cool to see a glimpse of where he lived, as well as the skatepark where he spent some of his time.
This is a pavilion right next to a skatepark
Again, Park City was very crowded and hot, so we traveled on to Salt Lake City and spent the next day there. We didn't see much...it was well over 100 degrees. I hear people joke all the time, "But it's a dry heat" and now I get it. Yes, it was hot. Hot is hot, but without the humidity, it certainly didn't feel like it was over 90 degrees. We managed to see the Great Salt Lake in the distance before driving down to Provo (another hotel) for the night. People in Utah love to put things on the side of the hill:
The "Y" is for "Young"...of Bringham & Young. We weren't far from the university.
Afton had a star in the hill behind our hotel since it is in the Star Valley. This "Y" is on "Y Mountain" and was built in 1906 out of lime and rock. It has been reinforced with concrete and paint. Believe it or not, this project was not a university project; the idea started because the junior class of Bringham Young High School wanted to paint '07 on the mountain, which of course upset the senior class of '06. A compromise was reached with the university president and high school principal coming up with an idea. Originally, there was going to also be a "B" and "U" but after hours of hauling lime and rock up the mountain, the project was abandoned. So now there is just a "Y". There is a parking lot roughly a mile away and it is one of the most hiked trails in the Utah Valley. I had no idea you could actually go up there. I don't know that we would have done it, but it could have been a possibility!

So far, we have seen some pretty incredible sights. But what was coming the next day was the best yet!

A Springy Hodgepodge

 Joyce asks the questions, and we provide the answers. See how others answered at From This Side of the Pond.

1. Spring is officially upon us, no matter what the weather may be in your neck of the woods. Is there any 'spring cleaning' on your to-do list? What's your most dreaded task? 

There is so much to do. We have a couple of construction areas in the house right now; one should be finished by the end of the week. CH was a bit of a packrat...there are all kinds of cords that are in a couple of different places, plus old cell phones that need to be reset to factory settings. But, I have to find cords to charge them up first. I keep putting it off but it really needs to be done. Plus looking through all of the stuff in the basement so we can have a yard sale.

2. What's something many people seem to love, but to you feels like 'watching the grass grow'? 

Baseball games. Ugh. If there's beer and friends it helps. Otherwise, no thank you.

3. Mint grows in abundance during the spring season. Are you a fan? What's your favorite food with a 'minty' flavor? 

I like mint. Especially if there's chocolate mixed in with it. I don't know that I have a favorite food with mint...Just give me a peppermint candy & I'm good.

4. It's been said, 'Absence makes the heart grow fonder.' Agree or disagree? Explain. 

I think it depends on the situation. I think sometimes it makes you realize you can do with that person but other times it does make the heart grow fonder.

5. Are there any festive spring events in your city or town? If so, will you take advantage of them? 

I have no clue. I'm not a big fan of crowds so even if there were, I probably wouldn't attend. Usually, the Small Town doesn't have a lot of events going on. Sometimes the Rival Town will have little crafty things going on downtown but I haven't checked. The Big Town next to me has things going on all the time, but with not enjoying crowds, I usually pass.

6. Insert your own random thought here.  

I mentioned the construction areas in our house. Before leaving on our trip out West, we were getting ready to have a screened porch installed. CH's hospital stay put a delay on that. With warmer weather coming soon (fingers crossed!) I wanted to have it in place so I could enjoy the porch. I love to sit out in the mornings with a cup of coffee and read. Or in the afternoons with a glass of wine or beer. I'm really looking forward to this!

REVISED: After reading another blog post, I thought it would be a good idea to share a picture from 2 years ago. CH & I were in Ireland where we rented a camper van and traveled around the Republic of Ireland. Check out the Ireland 2022 tab at the top of my blog for more of the trip.
County Kerry on the Ring of Kerry...Ladies View is in the background
Don't forget to check out new posts on the Great West Trip 2023 every Monday!

Great West Trip 2023: Part 4

This is a cross-post from Flyin' the Coop
We entered Yellowstone National Park through the East Entrance and began driving through what I would call the mountain area. I had no idea that each part of the park would look so different. Our first stop was at an overlook. We had to stop because the views were spectacular. The pictures don't do it justice.
The obligatory picture at the entrance.
As we made our way through the park, we started to see random buffalo in the fields. There weren't big packs of them in this section but it was a thrill to finally see some.

We saw our first geyser/ hot spring of the day
First buffalo sighting!
We noticed this rather large crow sitting on the roof of the bathroom. It was pretty loud and Robert was able to get rather close to it.
We stopped at Calcite Springs and I walked the path to the overlook. The water was a stunning color.
The steam coming from the side of the river was pretty cool.
See what I mean about the color of the water?

These formations were made by volcanic activity

We were surprised that we hadn't seen as many buffalo as we were expecting. A quick talk with a ranger gave us the information we needed. We drove through what I would call the "plains section" and managed to see a lot of them. Babies, mamas, daddies, and even some pronghorns in the mix.

Buffalo mamas and babies
Pronghorns in the background mixing in with the buffalo
Having our fill of buffalo, we continued on. We stopped at the Albright station at the North Entrance and saw some elk as well as some interesting rock.
We were amazed that these elk were just hanging out in the midst of the visitor's center with a lot of people around
This rock looks like snow cascading down a mountain
In the afternoon we made it to the geyser section (as I call it) which is in the west side of the park. We opted to skip Old Faithful which I think turned out to be a good choice. We aren't crazy about getting in with the crowds and by the look of the line of cars, it was going to be pretty crowded. We stopped at Beryl Springs and got a pretty good idea of what a geyser looks like on a smaller scale and without a lot of people.
Beryl Spring is one of the hottest springs in Yellowstone.
It was named "Beryl" because of the blue-green color of the water reminiscent of the gem beryl.
We stopped at Flood Geyser just as it was finishing its performance. This is one of several geysers in the "flood area" of the park.
I couldn't find this so I'm going on the assumption that it's possible that this area floods since there is a stream/river flowing through this section.
Or maybe it's because it looks like it's flooded. If you know, let me know!
As we made our way to the South exit, we saw a few more geysers/hot springs which were just fantastic to drive through:
Our next mission was to find a place to stay for the night. I had the coordinates of a place to boondock but, surprisingly, CH wanted to find a campground instead. We stopped at one place and were pretty much told, "Good luck". I checked a campground in the Tetons and, as luck would have it, they had one spot left. We snatched it up right away. It wasn't the best campsite we've ever had, but it gave us a place to park the van.  More on that next time!

I realize how much we missed by doing Yellowstone in one day. This will be one place I want to return to and spend more time. There is so much to see!

Friday Fotos 2024 #4

Friday Fotos is a post where I can dump some photos from the previous week. The goal is to make me more aware of the beauty and fun in my everyday life. 

I don't have very many photos this week. I didn't keep up with my "picture a day"!

I think this is a cherry tree just starting to flower. 
Bradford Pears get a bad rap but when they bloom they are gorgeous.
We had a get-together over the weekend since one of my sisters came in from out of state. We're missing 2 siblings in the picture.
Here's everyone (minus the one taking the picture) who came. We always have a good time when we're together.
I got some extra time with my out-of-state sister. 
YS' dog waiting for him to come home from work. She's a pretty good girl but still has quite a bit of puppy in her. I've never seen a dog with such loving eyes!

How has your week been? What kind of pictures are on your phone for the week? Until next time!

Rollin' with the Hodgepodge

1. Thursday is National Pi Day...are you good at math? What was the last thing you had to calculate? Did you use your head or technology? Last slice of pie you ate? 

I am horrible at math. Numbers don't mean a thing to me, but I jokingly say that I can conjugate the heck out of some verbs in a couple of different languages! (I used to be able to, anyway!) I have to use technology...rarely can I use my head. The last slice of pie I ate had to have been pie from Buttermilk Sky Pie. It was probably the buttermilk pie, which sounds kind of gross but is actually quite good.

2. What makes a house a home? 

Laughter. And being comfortable. One of the boys' ex-girlfriends mentioned that our house was comfortable. That's exactly what I go for. My house is lived in!

3. Your current favorite green thing? 


4. How do you define achievement? How does your personal definition look similar to, or different than, society's definition? What's something you think is worth achieving in life? 

Being happy. Society says achievement is having that big house with the manicured lawn and having "things". That is definitely not my definition. If you can be happy and have joy, you have achieved great things.

5. What song is a good soundtrack for your life right now? 

I had to look through some playlists on Spotify to pick just there right one. Here is it:

6. Insert your own random thought here.

An old friend of mine from back in the colorguard instructing days and his wife bought a flat in Scotland that they will live in part-time. The wife has started a blog describing what that new life is like. She's an excellent writer and makes you feel like you are right there with them. Check it out here.  

Great West Trip 2023: Part 3

This is a cross-post from Flyin' the Coop

Decision time: Do we go north to Banff, northwest to Glacier, or south to Yellowstone? When I looked at how many miles it was to Banff, it looked like we would spend 6 days just getting there and back to Billings. So, we decided against it. We also decided against Glacier. Cody was of some interest to us, so we made the choice to drive there. The views were well worth it:

This house on top of the butte interested me. It seemed like it was the only house around for miles.

The different colors of the mountains/hills were beautiful.
Again, this sight struck me as interesting!
2 tunnels on the road: it kind of reminded me of Ireland.
After we arrived in Cody, we went by the visitor's center to get information on the town, as well as a recommendation on where to eat lunch. The young lady was most helpful and suggested Irma's. The official name is Buffalo Bill's Irma Hotel. Buffalo Bill Cody built the hotel in 1902 and named it after his daughter. The building is a working hotel; the rates are actually quite reasonable. Some of the rooms are historical while some were added on as late as the 1970's. 
The grill was recommended to us for lunch. We split a sandwich and had potato salad for a side. I'm super picky about my potato salad so I try to steer clear of ordering it at a restaurant, but theirs was just like my mom's! Quite a pleasant surprise!
This cherrywood bar was presented to Buffalo Bill by Queen Victoria. She shipped it to the hotel after his performance for her in London.
The fireplace is in the hotel section of the building. It is made from rocks, fossils, ores, and minerals from the Big Horn Basin.
After we ate we visited the Cody Historical Society and learned more about the town. I asked the ladies who were working if any of Buffalo Bill's family still lived in the area. He had 2 descendants (from Irma) who were in the area. One of them steers clear of the Cody name; the other one used it to make his fortune. Sadly, he was killed in an airplane crash. I wasn't able to confirm this by researching on the internet; there isn't much published about the family.

From Cody we headed to Yellowstone. There are several campgrounds along the way. We chose Rex Hale because it is the closest to the park gate that has a bathroom. Although we have a bathroom in the van, it's nice to have one close by so we can empty the cassette toilet before leaving. 
We almost turned around and went back to the Wapiti Campground since it looked like it was better shaded but there was a spot here. The camp host was extremely nice. He is a retired archeologist and was very interesting to talk with. Plus, the vault toilet was the best-smelling vault toilet I've ever been in! He kept it immaculate!
There are no showers, electricity, or other amenities here. But the views are worth it! Maeve looked great in that setting:

It was very quiet and peaceful; exactly what we wanted and needed. The host said there were little to no worries about bears. The North Fork Shoshone River runs behind the campground and if there are any bears to be seen, they would be fishing in the river. We chose not to chance it and stayed away.

That was our big day in Cody. We discussed going back into town before we headed to Yellowstone but then chose to keep going. Yellowstone has to have a post all on its own!

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