OK, now I can write a proper blog posting! As I said before, I really am grateful for mobile blogging technology. Even though you're limited as to how many characters you can post at once, and typing on a cell phone keypad is unbelievably tedious, it's still a decent way to keep in touch and to pass the time while riding for hours in a car. Geez, today I was dying to get home to see to my kitties. We stopped for a good square meal in the northern metro Atlanta area and then went and rented a DVD; if we hadn't done these things we would have gotten home around 6:30 CT.
Since we had planned to visit Alex's grandparents on the way back, we took our time on the first day of the drive home (Thursday.) Driving through northeastern Wyoming (gorgeous, wild, weird country BTW) we decided to detour off the interstate to see Devil's Tower, a site that has a held a deep fascination for me even before the 1977 release of "Close Encounters of the Third Kind." It was really great; being the offseason, there were literally no other tourists in the park while we visited. We were in a hurry but we still drove up to the visitor's center and did the short walk to the summit. I have plenty of pictures which I will post very soon.
Other things happened on the trip that I will no doubt recall as context allows. Foremost in my mind is seeing magnificent wildlife that I never have encountered before. I saw a beautiful lone grey wolf on ranchland just off Badlands National Park in South Dakota; antelope (not a big deal for Westerners, but definitely a big deal for Southerners); various kinds of birds of prey that I could not identify by sight (and since I am used to seeing and being thrilled only by Southeastern red-tailed hawks, that was a big deal); and finally, three bald eagles. We also saw white-tailed deer and some mule deer, different from the deer here in Georgia.
If I were able to spend more time there I would be able to look more closely at the flora and fauna. I am no arborist but I have a decent vocabulary about the local trees. I'd love to be able to compare the trees in Montana with the trees here. One thing I did notice is that Montana has the kind of pine tree that we down here refer to as "scrub" although I'm positive it isn't the exact same kind of tree. First cousins, perhaps.
Visiting Alex's grandparents was another highlight. I only met them once before, very briefly, at our wedding, which isn't a good time to get to know anyone. They were very quiet there, but the afternoon spent in their beautiful north Iowa town got them talking and laughing. More visits are definitely required because they - Mrs. Kunz especially - seem to be treasure troves of history and stories about the family, which is precisely the sort of thing I die for. Next time we visit, it will be for several days and I will bring an audio recorder of some sort. One tiny story Mrs. Kunz spilt is that her great-grandfather - Alex's great-great-great grandfather, I suppose - marched in Sherman's army all the way to the coast. When he got back he stuck his rifle in the ground, and it became part of the fence of the family farm. Of course I had to joke about her great-grandfather burning down my great-great grandparents' homes and towns. Amusing now, but all too real in actuality. It was interesting talking about the Civil War with them. They are my parents' age, and my own grandparents were of the age to be their parents. I want to talk more with them. They are wonderful people.
I'm blogging today from Liquid Planet in downtowm Missoula, Montana. It's a very nice coffee bar/internet cafe that also sells wines, but doesn't serve the wines it sells. I like it. In fact, I like Missoula. It'd be great to live here.
I had a job interview this morning, and Alex did too. Alex is still out at his. I think mine went well - it was mainly a matter of selling the owner of this small company on the idea that a designer/art director is something that could be beneficial to his small-but-growing business. He was already 80% on board with the idea anyway, but he was worried I might not be busy enough full time. I told him I'd be happy to do whatever needs to be done around the office in that case, and I hope he wanted to hear that.
My interview in Belgrade also seemed to go well, and I just got a call from a company in Livingston that also wants to talk to me. I haven't heard anything back from the DC people which is just as well. I like mountains better than urban sprawl anyway.
Yesterday we went to the Montana Snowbowl. I've never been on skis or a snowboard in my life so it was pretty interesting to say the least. Add to that the fact that I am a totally unathletic klutz and you have a highly humorous snowboard lesson. The instructor mostly had to keep saying, "no worries, no worries!" If I'm going to learn to snowboard I've first got to get over being scared of falling! Also I need to build up the strength in my knees and legs. I may get one of those ball-and-plank balancing gizmos and work on that this summer - especially if we do indeed move out here.
Personal to Wendy: I wanted to come by and see you but we had 2 days to get out here. That's two 16-hour driving days, with no time to stop (although we did spare an extra 45 minutes to loop through Badlands National Park.) I promise if we move I'll come by your place in Arkansas. I really, really hope that happens.