Friday, May 31, 2013

Smoke Em' If You Got Em'

As many of you know, our previous posts have been heavily scenery and food oriented. We love to see new and interesting places and we love to eat haute or even not so haute cuisine.

Before we left Canada we had the good fortune to find a smoker/grill. One of my friends suggested that if we couldn't find room for it in the car, we should just drop it off at his place.....hahaha. Here is the box of promise.

As is usually the case with these things, the box contains and almost bewildering assortment of bits, pieces and whatnot. Somehow I have to make sense of the plethora of stuff. Aha, sez I to me, there's a book of instructions.

Incroyable! Cette livre d'instruction est en Francais! Now, that having been said, and while I parler Francais un peu, they also had one in English. I turn to page one and start looking for parts to assemble. Here is the assortment of constructibles laid out in haphazard fashion.

Let's see. Tab A fits into slot B. Nothing is quite that simple. I started to put pieces together, and ended up with this unlikely looking contraption. so much for part 1.

Once I had the bottom of the Gizmo affixed to the Whatchamacallit, it started to look a little more like a useful appliance instead of a bewildering assortment of stuff.

The next thing to assemble was the lid. Affixing the chimney and handle came next. Once the appurtenances and whatnot were added it was time to put the topses to the bottomses.

The warming rack attached, the side rack mounted and we're almost done

The tray to hold the coals ( adjustable) and the grates were added and the directions said, You have completed the assembly.

The completed assembly. Now all that remains is the cleanup, the briquettes and the meat, meat and more meat. Once the fantastical machine de cuisine has been tested, I will report the results.

In the meantime bon appetit!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Oh, my aching self!

There is a certain primal satisfaction that comes with working in the dirt, but it comes at a cost. This is particularly true for those of us who aren't used to bending, lugging, digging and planting. Of course the local home improvement outlets are only too happy to take our money. The pile below contains 10 bags of mulch, and 1 bag each of composted manure and potting soil.

We had a new fence put in back in February, Now we needed some climbing plants to fill in the gaps in the cyclone fencing. We got 4 honeysuckles to plant and they will grow vigorously to fill in the fence. The big bonus is that they smell awesome and will flower all through the summer and fall.

We also got petunias, hosta, caladium, lilies and blue star laguna.

The caladium are really pretty with bright red leaves.

This is the bed in the carport, complete with hosta and caladium. We did a little remediation for the soil and it is topped with bark mulch.

We got some very nice lilies which will be put along the south side of the garden. They are a little less tolerant of full sun. We decided on two colors, yellow and red.

On the side of the yard we put hosta and astilbe. The hosta may need to be moved, because there is more sun here than we had previously thought. The astilbe is far enough back to be in the shade.

The last thing to go in today was a hydrangea. it should do well here and almost fill this space under the kitchen window. The space is about 5X5'.

The pile of supplies is gradually dwindling. Now we need to get on with the back yard, the side yard and the honeysuckle for  the fence. Thank God for hot water to shower with and Aspirin.

This completes my little narrative. The only thing that doesn't hurt on me is my typing fingers. Thank you for following along. Talk to you later.

Friday, May 24, 2013

The Long and Winding Road

Had I known that the day would be as long as it was, I might not have been so cheerful as we packed up at Little America. There was a light mist falling and it was cool enough for a jacket. This is the first time I had worn a jacket since we left Mom's on Sunday.

As you can see we slept in this morning. We got rolling around 07:00 heading south from Cheyenne. There was a warning on the radio about the possibility of reduced vision due to fog.

The fog was fairly light as we headed south out of town. We utilized the drive through breakfast option again today, although they had a lovely restaurant at Little America. We were anxious to eat up some miles. We headed for Colorado.

The fog got a little thicker and we had to slow down a bit,  but not too much as we continued to keep weather eye out. We also wanted to make sure we could see clearly enough to get our next shot.

Here is the shot we were waiting for. Welcome to Colorado. Thus far we have passed through BC, WA, ID, MT, WY and now CO.

The road stretched on wide and open. The scenery in this part of the world is not overly inspiring except if you have an abiding interest in sky scapes. There is an abundance of  sky available to see!

We bypassed Denver on a Toll Road. The toll booths have been removed and one has to log on to their website, to pay electronically. It probably saved us about 3/4 hr. of travel and cost $9.75 We turned left and headed across I-40. This time we turned off at Limon and headed down 287. After a short drive we came to the town of Hugo.

The bank has a statue cast in bronze outside entitled "Partners" It shows a rancher with a newborn calf talking to his cowgirl. The faithful dog stands guard. The lady has a ponytail, ball cap and daisy earrings, with a hole in the elbow of her jean jacket, while the rancher has frayed cuffs and worn boots.  The statue speaks to a hard life, but one with self-sufficient rewards.

It is interesting that this is the First National Bank of Hugo. Now I could see Hugo City Bank, Hugo Regional Bank, Hugo Citizens State Bank, but Hugo National Bank.....c'mon....what?

We continued south of Hugo and found more flatness. You can look until you see the curvature of the earth. It reminds me of a joke about Saskatchewan. If your dog runs away you can watch him leave home for 3 days!

We came to Wiley. What's in Wiley you ask? Well, there's a gas station.

If you look to the left of the gas station you see this view.

Apparently this is a busy time of year for Wiley. What transpires during Hay Days? I know not!!

The long views continue, broken by an occasional butte eight or nine miles away.

We continued to travel south until we came to the border of our destination state.

We entered Oklahoma at the panhandle. This is an interesting feature of the state. Where Colorado stops and Texas starts there is a thin strip of land about 35 X 166 miles that somehow got attached to OK. Ah yes. Oklahoma where the wind comes whistling o'er the plain. There is increasing use of that self same wind. Although the investment is steep at first, the raw material of generation (wind) is free!!

The landscape continues to amaze. It goes from flat and dry, to hilly and dry. This area has been in drought for the last 3 years.

Apparently someone has enough time to paint rocks white and place an eco-ad for St. Paul's Methodist Church. This must have taken some time to complete in the dry heat.

We stopped in the little town of Stratford TX. to get gas. Scooterchick spotted this garden decor store across the road, and we stopped long enough for a look. You will see the result later.

We continued south and went through the town of Dumas TX. It was about then that is started to rain. It was light at first, but got harder and steadier, then increased in intensity to a regular Texas gully washer. Then interestingly enough it changed to hail. I had heard about this type of weather.

We turned on the radio to check the weather and neither of us was surprised to hear the "brahn-brahn-brahn" tone followed by a warning from the National Weather Service.

I asked Patsy to keep an eye out west as the radio forecast, strong rain, hail, probable thunderstorms and a strong possibility of Tornadic activity. This was considered a Tornado Watch. When it elevates to a Tornado Warning, that means get under cover, it's about to get hinky!!! I thought we should keep traveling and vacate the area. We did stop to get some Fried Chicken to eat while driving. and everyone in the area was keeping one eye on the sky! We drove past a deserted amusement park.

When we reached Amarillo we turned east. The sun was getting low in the sky and the red clay dirt showed itself as we headed back towards Oklahoma.

The dirt is quite striking in the right light, and as the sun sank in the sky we drove on.

The sun sank lower as we went through Clarendon TX. It has a bleak feel to it. Ramshackle houses and trashy yards. It's sad to contrast some towns so neat and well kept and others nearly deserted & junked.

As we traveled east the sun was setting and we tried to catch a few pictures of the prairie sunset.

The colors in the sky are usually just spectacular at sunset. This is the norm rather than the exception.

It was about 9:45 when we arrived in Lawton. This means we had been on the road for just about 18 hrs. and 725mi. We were feeling tired.....not too tired. Scooterchick was thrilled to see Miss Vicky.

I also renewed my love affair with my scooter - Maj- She was waiting patiently for me. I had a fresh insurance sticker for her. I knew she was itching to roll. Soon my sweet....soon!

You will recall the stop in Stratford TX at the outdoor store. This is what Scooterchick found. They are topiary frames. You put the feet in the ground and plant ivy in the center. The ivy then fills in and the globe is "greened."

Well, that's all for now. You may feel it's altogether too much! I wish you well regardless. Until next time be nice to yourself, and be nice to others!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

All Billings to Cheyenne

We woke up at 05:45 this a.m. and got ready to leave Billings. We had one last stop to make. I needed to buy a fridge magnet that said Montana, since we were heading for Wyoming and we only have about 7,490 magnets on our fridge so far, arranged in geographic order of course.

The road was open ahead of us, and the sun was starting to come up. The interplay of sun, cloud and shadow was worth a couple of pictures. This is looking South.

This is looking towards the East. The landscape is folded and buckled. Scooterchick says "it looks like someone forgot to make their bed." I found that an apt description.

This is slightly south of East. The rumpling continues unabated.

Soon enough we reached the state line. We stopped for a picture of the welcome to Wyoming, the Cowboy State sign. Saddle up sez I.

We stopped in the town of Ranchester to get some fuel. The sign in the foreground, the Tongue Valley Association in the background. But wait...there's more to Ranchester than meets the eye.

This is the Main Street of Ranchester. That's right it's a regular hive of activity. I can imagine folk sitting on the porch waving at passing traffic. Because. hey it's an occasion!

There is a large carved wooden eagle on the front lawn of a local business. It's about life size, compared to the ones we see in Squamish when they come to feed on Salmon.

There is a former gas station for sale by owner. I wonder if the 38 Ford is included in the price?

We continued moving South and took this picture of the broad prairie. The Bighorn Mountains are visible snowcapped in the far background.

The landscape folding continues. One can look across the veldt and count multiple lumps, bumps and swales. It looks as though the landscape was created to confuse anyone traversing it on horseback or on foot.

There was evidence of forest fire in the recent past. In numerous locations we saw blackened trunks, with the branches still intact. I suppose this would indicate a fast moving fire.

In this photo more of the trees have fallen due to the burn. Slower and hotter than the previous picture.

We rode on South and saw the turnoff for Custer's last stand. Didn't work out so well for George eh?

There was a park on the other side of the freeway with Tepee Sculptures, an Indian Warrior and numerous flags and sculpted animals. We did not stop.

This park had something to do with the Warrior Trail. This is a nationally designated stretch of Hwy 212 that starts in Minnesota and ends at Yellowstone National Park. Charles Kuralt called it the loveliest highway in America.

We felt the first pangs of hunger and stopped at PoBoys Steakhouse in Casper for lunch. The main dining room was closed until dinner, but they had service in the Pump Room.

This room serves as a lounge during dinner hours and restaurant at lunch. It had big comfy barrel chairs and a reasonable lunch menu. We pondered our choices.

At the entrance to the room was a stained glass panel showing the motif. The walls were covered with pictures and memorabilia from the early days of the oil boom.

I decided to go with the Cali Melt. It contained a Grilled Chicken Breast with a zesty sauce, Sliced Onion, Tomato and Guacamole served on Grilled Sourdough Bread with Crispy Yam Fries.

Scooterchick opted for a Bison Burger. It was massive and came with a Happy Face bowl of Cottage Cheese. She was unable to finish it all. 

Heading south from Casper we only had about two and a half hours to go. The landscape continues to amaze. Rolling hills to the left.

These gradually gave way to flat topped buttes. The change was interesting but there was more interesting territory to come.

We passed through an area of hoodoos. These are outcroppings of stone weathered by centuries of wind. Every time we got out of the car the wind was blowing stiffly. We could feel it buffet the car when we came through cutbanks in the highway.

We enjoyed looking at these anomalies, and saying "this one looks like this, or that one looks like this."
You have to decide for yourself what they resemble.

They come in all sorts of fantastical shapes.

We stopped at a rest area and found we were only a short distance from an area of the Oregon Trail, where passing wagons left ruts going up a draw. The ruts remain today. There is a sandstone cliff where passing travelers inscribed their names and the dates of their passage. Those names and dates remain today over 160 years later due to the dry climate. We did not investigate further as we need to leave something to see on our next trip.

About half an hour later we rolled into Cheyenne, and started to look for a hotel. I don't know what it is about Cheyenne but the hotels here are pricy. Rooms we could rent for $60 or so elsewhere go for over $100 here. Oh well, we need somewhere to stay, so we found a place.

We decided on Little America. This is a company we have referred to in a previous post, where they combine all functionality for the casual, business or professional traveler. Whether you are ridong a bike, or driving a big rig, they can accommodate all your requirements.

 The had pansies at the portico.

The entryway was grand, but it only gave a hint of what awaited in the lobby. They also have an executive 9 hole golf course with lakes interspersed throughout the greens.

When you enter the lobby there is the statue of an Indian Brave, replete with ceremonial regalia to greet  the weary traveler.

Immediately opposite, there is a stuffed Emperor penguin. Why?......I don't know.

The walk to the registration desk takes one past a very well stocked gift shop. It contains all the necessitos for the greenhorn to "cowboy up".

After passing the gift shop, we enter the lobby proper. Using the people standing at the registration desk, you get an appreciation of the scale of it.

There is a Remington sculpture on a table.

Additional bronzes grace a table at one side, where a decanter with Lime and Strawberry Ice Water reposes with glasses and napkins in case you want to slake the thirst that comes from galloping over the plain. There's also an ornate mirror in case you need to check your "look".

At the other side of the lobby is a large oil painting with a couple of chairs to rest and knock the dust off your boots.

There is also a chess board with a couple comfy wing chairs to ponder your next move.

We drove to Lodge Four, and found our room. There are a couple chairs to rest in the cool of the evening. We sat for a couple of minutes in the ever present Wyoming breeze.

The room itself was generously proportioned. It had a King Bed, a 37" flat screen TV, Fridge, Microwave and Wifi. What more could two tired travelers need?

This is the view towards the door. There is also a Queen Anne-like desk. hey, we have stuff we can pile on that. We proceeded to bring in our overnight stuff from the car.

The bathroom was also generously proportioned. When I think of the bathrooms we had in European hotels, where showering, handwashing or toilet usage required contortions to fit oneself to the miniscule facilities, I prefer the American version.....spacious.

We settled down to coffee, blogging, a snack and sleep. We have been burning the candle at both ends, and throwing cups of gasoline at the guttering flames. An early night is indicated to recharge the batteries. Seriously when one starts feeling nauseous and shaky from lack of sleep, better listen. I did manage to snooze for an hour or so in the car while Scooterchick took the wheel.

I bid you good evening!