Precariously balancing on the shelf by our front window to take these photographs, guaranteed inferior results.
But my previous attempt, employing the tripod, was almost disastrous.
Tripods, like umbrellas were created for the express purpose of tripping people up.
And getting left behind somewhere.
In my opinion.
Lily did self-service breakfast this morning.
It seemed to have a strangely calming effect, as we were allowed to consume our own food in unusual silence.
Normally we are serenaded by progressively louder calls: “AOWT! AOWT! I WANT TO GO AOWT!”
Grant rose first this morning, complaining of fractious cats. Because for a change, I had been left in peace, I had been enjoying an extra snooze.
“Stay there!” said the man, but once the cats get their way with either of us, you have to give in and haul yourself up to face the day…
How many pieces of cutlery are required for a simple breakfast? For me: one teaspoon.
Grant employs the rest. A spoon to stir his cereal, a spoon to eat it, a spoon for his coffee. A fork and knife for cat food and another knife and fork for…?
Grant is one of those people who is incapable of shutting doors. I often think it’s because he equates it with freedom.
None of it matters in the very least. I just find it fascinating to wonder how our habits develop.
Its why I got a degree in anthropology.
Hard to believe I once had high ideals. Having bounced about a bit, growing up, I imagined myself to be sophisticated. In some ways I was, but I was also very naive in many others. I thought that studying mankind was the way to rescue our species. Then my anthropology guru informed me that anthropologists would not save the world. Philosophers would.
By that point, it was too late to change my major but it would not have made a difference. I arrived at graduation without the faintest foggy idea what to do. I had college loans to pay and I needed to support myself. My aunt had worked for BOAC so I knew, if I followed in her footsteps, that I would get rebated flight privileges.
It was intended to be a temporary thing. 38 years later I had had enough pondering the behaviour of our travelling public and I was no longer an idealist. For a lot of reasons.
Did I ever regret the choice I made, in 1969?
Who knows how different life may have been. But I managed to travel to many wonderful and strange places I would never otherwise have seen.
Some of the most spectacular though, were right here in the USA. No airline rebate required.
The following photographs are only scans and not great.
Twenty years ago this month, my brother and I took Dad on a trip for his 90th birthday.
We arrived in Yellowstone to see snow. on June 4th.
For me this was thrilling, as my preference would have been to view the park in winter.
The Smith men were less impressed and soon they were moaning about a traffic snarl.
If you go to Yellowstone, traffic snarls are part of the program. Soon we saw bison lumbering toward us.
It had been my ambition for as long as I can remember, to see bison in the wild.
The movie Dances With Wolves is still and probably always will be my favourite, because it is so visually stunning, particularly the scenes with bison.
To get up close to these magnificent beasts, was exciting beyond all expectations.
They are wild animals, though, and why anyone would be foolish enough to approach them defies logic.
Yet someone was severely injured quite recently, after doing just that.
People do all sorts of insane things in Yellowstone.
There is actually a book about them:
“Death in Yellowstone” by Lee H. Whittlesey.
It’s quite interesting!
Yellowstone sits on top of an active volcano, which was the only consideration I found slightly disquieting during our visit, being that I have always feared volcanoes.
(Which makes you wonder how I came to live almost on the flanks of Mt Rainier for 18 years.)
The famous geyser Old Faithful has erupted every 44 minutes to 2 hours, since 2000. It projects in the air 3,700 to 8,400 gallons of boiling water.
And yes, people get too close to it as well.
There have been many devastating fires in Yellowstone and they are a threat every year. But unusually, the current disaster is from floods.
The Yellowstone River is so swollen by recent rain and snow melt, it has reached an all time high level, washing out roads and bridges and undermining homes that have been swept away.
While I don’t feel the sadness that comes with a forest fire, it is none-the-less disastrous for the park to be completely cut off just as the peak visiting season arrives. Repairs will surely take some time.
It was yesterday’s news reports of this flood that reminded me of the visit we made in 2002.
We rented a spacious car and my brother drove us (he would not allow me to take the wheel once) from Seattle to Yellowstone, Wyoming and into the Badlands of South Dakota.
It was interesting to me to note that the bison in South Dakota were slightly different in appearance to those we had seen in Yellowstone, though I no longer recall in what way.
Maybe the South Dakota lot were darker in colour.
Our itinerary, carefully plotted by me, took us to The Little Big Horn in Montana, the site of Custer’s Last Stand 25th-26th June 1876.
With a very elderly father to consider, I spent much less time wandering about and reflecting than I was likely to have done by myself, but I felt something profound visiting that area and even more so when we went (because I insisted) to Wounded Knee.
How could one not be moved in a place of such stunning beauty, the site of such unspeakable inhumanity?
Even now it touches me, just remembering.
Devil’s Tower, in Wyoming was an easier sell to my hardened menfolk. It is, after all quite unusual.
The tower, standing 1,267 feet above the plain, is believed to have been formed as a result of volcanic activity.
It is held sacred by 20 Native American tribes.
What did I particularly enjoy about Devil’s Tower?
Unsurprisingly, it was these little chaps.
Even the Mssrs Smith chuckled.
How could you not?
Whatever else one may think of America, this continent is overwhelmingly beautiful. I have seen a small fraction.
But the good thing about being relegated to navigation is that you get to plot the course.
So when the weather was not great at the Grant Tetons, I just re-routed our return and it was splendid.
In every way.