“Turn at the Rotary”

I was blog stalking Domesticated Combat Boots, and she is currently in Boston. It made me reminisce of when we lived in Western Massachusetts, in fact we lived there when I started this little blog. Paul was stationed at Westover Air Reserve Base in Chicopee, working with a reserve unit, as basically a guy who trains the Reserve Marines. We had lots of wild and crazy stories there, and lots of really good friends were made. But one funny memory that sticks out, was when we very first entered New England.
sunset at cape cod
It was beautiful a sunny day, and we were totally lost. This was before smart phones, and google maps. I had a list of directions printed out, and my trusty Rand McNally map in my lap as Paul drove. It was me and him, the Jeep and the U-Haul. Trucking along interstate 95. We were in New York City, and desperate to get to Massachusetts. Traffic was probably horrible and we were desperate for a short cut. The “Merritt Parkway” would get us off Interstate 95 and maybe even be a little faster! So we took our exit and ventured off our “Mapquested” path.
Somewhere around Greenwich, Ct we saw a sign on our little, beautiful, scenic highway that said something along the lines of no towing, or no trailers. This would explain people waving at us and giving us the finger, yelling from their cars, they were not welcoming us, We were not supposed to be there with our little U-haul. So we got off, unsure of where we were, and hoped for the best. We could not find our way back to the Interstate, and after, who knows how long (seriously, that was 10 years ago, I am surprised I remember this much) we stopped and asked for directions.
somewhere in our neighborhood in Chicopee
I remember it was a mechanic, some older guy, gave us directions. “Go blah blah blah, to the rotary, and blah blah blah”
So we drove off, and starting going over his directions, and looked at each other and said “So, What’s a Rotary?” We pulled over again, and started making phone calls, I think we called everyone we could think of and no one knew. Again this was before smart phones, so we didn’t have google at our fingertips. Finally I called my grandmother, thinking she has to know. Her best guess was an old pay phone, like a rotary phone. So we drove on, looking for an old pay phone. We never found one, but we did eventually find the Interstate. We arrived in Chicopee late that night and I think it was several days later when we saw a sign that said Rotary with a big arrow, this is how we learned that a rotary is a traffic circle, and not an ancient pay phone.
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Daiso Japan!

The day we went to CoCo Ichiban (well, both times, we’ve been twice now) we also made a trip to Daiso Japan, also known as “The 100 Yen store”. In Japan Daiso is a chain of 100 Yen stores that is similar to dollar stores, but better quality, at least in my opinion. And lots of functional things, cleaning, makeup, storage, foodware, decor, notepads and stationary. Some of my best memories from Japan are going out with one of my best friends in Japan to get pedicures, have Sunabe Gyro, and then going to the 100 yen store.
So of course I was thrilled to find out there was some located in California, and they were promptly added to my “to-do” list. The nearest one is a bit of a drive, it’s about an hour north of here, but so worth it.  We make a day of it and also go to Coco Ichiban, and there is also a Japanese grocery almost right next door to this Daiso, so it all works out nicely. It’s almost like being back in Okinawa for a couple of hours.

Walking inside it’s like being transported back to Japan, the store looks just like the ones in Japan, they carry all the fun things that I miss being able to get everyday. And just about everything is only $1.50! Some of the larger items are $3 to $5 but I don’t think anything is more than $5.
We had so much fun, and I am already planning my next trip!
I wish I had taken  more pictures, but the store was very crowded both times (on the weekend) and I think it’s a little weird for me to be walking around with my DSLR taking pictures inside a store.

Glacier National Park Part 2

And Now I bring you part two of our trip. We start where we left off in my last post. We had just finished with Many Glacier and we were headed to St. Mary. Entering on the East side of the park in St.Mary is the Going to the Sun road which cuts directly across Glacier. Spectacular views. Spectacular!
(as always click on images to see larger image)

Logan Pass

This guy kills me. He looks so pissed I am taking his picture.
“What? You want me to pose again? shove it”

Goodbye Glacier, see you again someday. 

Glacier National Park (part 1)

For the first time since our Honeymoon in 2006 Paul and I went on a real overnight vacation. We’ve had lots of stay-cations and day-cations, we’ve road-tripped for work and to see family. But we’ve never had our own trip where the destination was our choice, family fun, no goals, no “just drive, so we can just get there”. We decided we are long overdue. 
Another really nice thing about this trip was we didn’t really have much phone service the whole time, so it really was just the two of us. 
I am going to break this up into a couple posts so we don’t go into picture overload all at once. 
First Family Vacation
The first night we drove up to East Glacier. We stayed in a cute little motel (Mountain Pine Motel) that had a very retro feel, but it was very clean. Not a lot of amenities, our room had two beds an old TV, towels and bar soap (and of course I forgot shampoo) But considering we are right outside the park, for the price, I was very pleased. Most of our neighbors were hikers, after we arrived and they dwindled back in most of them sat outside and drank a beer while they took their hiking boots off and unloaded their gear from their cars.
If you ever go to Glacier I highly recommend Mountain Pine, It was clean, the grounds were beautiful, lots of grass and trees. I think they are pet friendly, I saw people with dogs, but we didn’t bring our monsters.
The hotel manager (Cute little old man) gave us a really nice map and basically outlined our trip for us. I am so glad he did, because we had no intention on going to Two Medicine (blue arrow) or Many Glacier (pink arrow). 
Today I’ll share with you those two places. 

Running Eagle Falls Trailhead
Two Medicine Lake

Drove down to the shore of Lower Two Medicine
On our way in Lower Two medicine was very calm and the Mountains reflected perfectly off the lake, so on our way out we decided to explore and drove down a washed out dirt road to try to get a picture. We got down and it wasn’t calm anymore, but it was still beautiful. 
On our way back up the washed out dirt road though we almost didn’t make it back to the main road. I was really upset because I thought we were about to ruin our vacation and it had just started, we had literally only been out of bed maybe 2 hours max. Lesson learned, don’t take your Jeep, no matter how BA it is, off-roading, with crappy road tires. After about 10 minutes of trying we got up the hill and back onto the highway. 
rain coming in looking in to Lower Two Medicine from the main highway headed North.

obligatory selfie
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lower two medicine panorama

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Lower Two Medicine panorama 2

after we got back on our way a storm started to roll in, lots of rain and lightening on our drive from Two Medicine up to Many Glacier. 
Family Fun! 

Look at all those Glaciers! 
Once we got to the end of the road at Many glacier we noticed the clouds were parting and the sun was peeking through, it would be a good day, the rain would eventually stop and the sun would come out! 
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Many Glacier view from the Swiftcurrent Lodge parking lot

Stay tuned for more Glacier National Park coming soon! 

Ringing Rocks

Once upon a time I picked up a silly book about oddities in Montana, Montana Curiosities: Quirky Characters, Roadside Oddities & Other Offbeat Stuff. Fun little book, with all kinds of silly, neat places to visit. One of the fun things that’s really close to us is the Ringing Rocks outside Whitehall, Mt. It’s only about a 20 minute drive down the freeway and then up a dirt road. So why not? 
What are ringing rocks? well they are some rocks with a weird geological feature. When you hammer on them they make more of a bell tone that rings, as opposed to just a “bonk” or a “tink” from the hammer.
So back in March, While Paul’s mom was visiting us we made a family trip out there. It was pretty neat, the rocks certainly made different noises, I even took some videos, but the sound quality is very poor and you can’t really hear the pings and pongs. 
There was also lots of rocks available for Paul to climb on. Because that’s what boys do, right?  

Oh my gosh E was so tiny 6 months ago!


Wyoming Vacation & Marine Corps Ball

One super upside of Recruiting Duty is the awesome Marine Corps Ball weekend. For the last two years we have had the awesome opportunity of spending the weekend in Jackson Hole, Wy at the Spring Creek Ranch. We are allowed to do this because our recruiting station is spread out over 4 states, so continuing training is hard, because everyone is spread out. So part of the weekend is spent with the recruiters in training. 
Wednesday we drove down to Wyoming, it was such a nice drive, we only got a little lost, we laughed and had fun the whole 6 hour drive. 

Our minor detour was when we missed our turn and headed towards West Yellowstone and Quake Lake. We saw this cool river (above) and took a few pictures. Shortly after I realized we were on the wrong road and got back on the right path. 


Paul and I back in our room afterwards. 
look at that belly! 

The ball itself was fun, the guest speaker was quite nice, short and sweet, but funny and he didn’t drone on. Food was pretty good and the cake was great, too bad I only got a piece as big as my thumb (I had been craving cake for two days, so I wanted more). We cut out early because it was snowing, and a bit cold inside, and neither of us were drinking, so it was a little boring, with everyone drunk and dancing, and I couldn’t really dance because I am huge and achey. But we had a good time. 

The views at Spring Creek are just breathtaking, and I am so grateful for the opportunity to have gone there. This year and last. It can be so relaxing and pretty, so nice to just poke around and take a few pictures (even though it’s cold as shit)  

The Drive home Saturday was a mess, it started to snow the night before and it was just really really yuckie. The roads were shitty almost the whole way, except about 80 miles in Idaho. We took the freeway home, although its a bit longer we were hoping for better road conditions, they may have been better, but still not good. Regardless, it was still a beautiful drive.

 Okay this next picture you have to click on to get the full effect. See we were just outside Helena, about 30 miles, and we come across this pasture full of cows, but I noticed the brown cows and the black cows were separate. I thought it was weird but as we passed I realized the brown cows were not cows at all, but Elk, lots of Elk! Maybe 30-40 Elk! and if you click for the full image and you look closely standing in the middle you can see 2 big huge Bulls! there are several smaller Bulls you can spot if you have your elk eyes on.
This picture really made me want to get a better telephoto lens, I cropped the crap out of it and it’s still hard to see.  The second picture is an uncropped, just from the side of the road, photo.


The end. 

We are home now and slowly getting back to real life. I have a boat load of laundry to do, and We are still playing the waiting game on housing in Butte, I really hope we hear something by this week. 

– Alana
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Gates of the Mountain Boat tour

Last week Paul and I went on the boat tour at Gates of the Mountain. I first heard about it last year and was very excited to do it, but over the last year things have just not allowed us the time to do this. Paul has been super busy, I’ve been super busy, when we do have time, we don’t feel like it, or it slips my mind. 
But we got around to it last week, and it was so cool! 
(click for larger images)
The canyon is made up of primarily limestone.  
It has been filled about 16ft above it’s natural water line due to Hauser Dam.
 Bald Eagle 
Canyon Monster 
Cave Drawings from ancient Indians, dated to be over 1200 years old!
 
The boat we rode on
First day of my 3rd Trimester! 
– Alana

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Annual Challis Caping Trip 2012

We just got back from our Annual trip to Challis Hot Springs

This is the post from last year: Challis Hot Springs 2011
I took way more pictures last year so check them out.

Our annual trip to Challis is for Paul’s Recruiter training, and mandatory fun time. Anyone in the military knows about mandatory fun time. Most units we’ve been with it’s a day, family day, where everyone gets together for a BBQ and other outdoor fun. But since we are all spread out over several states we have to meet in the middle.

This year was a day longer than last year, and in my current condition that was one day too many. 4 months pregnant, camping in 80 degree weather for 5 days was too much. I felt like a party pooper but I was just having such a hard time during the day. But we still managed to have fun.

We had some problems with this little guy at first. He was attacked shortly after Challis last year and has shown quite a bit of fear based agression towards other dogs since. Although we’ve been training against it, but this weekend was tough for him. There were so many families, and about half of them had dogs. As each day went by he calmed down more and more, but he was still a hand-full with his incessant barking and he would often run to the end of his lead with his lunging and barking.

Cooling off
our campsite, we are the one in the back with a screen room.
Beating the heat.
Cooling off in the AC in the car because it was just too damn hot.
The biggest deal this weekend (to our little family) was Paul’s reenlistment ceremony.
It was done on the last full day after the eco challenge.
4 more years in the Marine Corps for our family.
She won't eat out of her bowl, only off the floor.
Aiko wouldnt eat out of her dog bowl the whole time, so she ate off the floor.
The drive home Renji was very anxious to get there.
Naked doggies
And now I have two pooped out naked doggies. They get to be harness/collar free for a few days because they have been living in harnesses all week and have some areas that are a rubbed a little raw from them.
(and they are so cute naked)

Have a lovely day, and remember to find me on Facebook!

-Alana

Memorial Day Weekend Roadtrippin!

In the days leading up to Memorial Day weekend, our weather got progressively worse. Cold, rainy, yuckie. Then on the Sunday it snowed. By the time I got up it had melted at the house, but you can see it in the hills about a mile behind us. 

We decided to drive to Missoula, because it was supposed to be a bit warmer, and we wanted to go to the mall. So we got in the car and headed out. 
I’ll call this bit

Roadside Photographer: 
Here is the view of Mt. Helena. 

Then we headed into the Mountains, through McDonnell pass towards Missoula. 

And there was a little snow in the pass.

But on the other side when we got back out of the mountains, things got greener. 
This is a Beaver Slide. 
It’s a contraption used for stacking hay in a big ol pile. 
unfortunately I didn’t get any pictures of the hay piles.

Barn

Beavertail Rd. 
Lots of beaver references in Montana. 
After a few hours we made our way home. Missoula is only slightly more exciting than Helena. 
Silent Hill? 
This totally reminded me of the beginning of that movie. 

icky snow.

I even made a little video. It’s not the least bit exciting, and I move the camera way too much, But I am learning.
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=So53pGfNN4Q]

Have a lovely day, and remember to find me on Facebook!

-Alana