Saturday, August 30, 2008

Financial Report 2008 Update

Here we are making ourselves closer and closer to the poverty bracket, especially since our new toy purchases (kayaks). Enjoy...

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Adventures in kayaking

Driving to the Tetons from Bozeman we took the Gallatin Gateway, home of the Gallatin River. We were just driving along minding our own business when there came this torrent of whitewater next to the road, and an idea was born. A couple days after getting back from the Tetons we had bought our first kayak.

So of course we had to try it out, Mike manned the kayak and Monica and I shared an inner-tube we had found on the side of the road that actually still held air. We figured for the first trip it would be best to conquer a less torrent-full river, so we chose the Madison.

Mental preparation, hard at work

And he's off

We had a very pleasant float albeit a quiet shallow one- although I did manage to knock Monica off the raft pretty good once. Much to Michael's dismay about a half hour through the trip his legs had gone completely numb. Apparently the boat was just a little bit too small for him. So it was time to buy kayak number 2.

But first it was my birthday
Yay my very special day

With Mike scouring Craigslist and the paper we found 2 kayaks the next day, and he decided he wanted something more streamlined so he could slice through that water, and be able to fit his legs in it.

This is it. We took it to the pond the next day and taught ourselves how to eskimo roll. It may look simple enough, but let me tell you it goes against everything that your little instincts tell you to do. If you stick your head up first out of the water you'll go right back under.

We both learned in his boat because it was easier to flip- who knew a whiffle ball on top of your head could look so cool. I'm telling you it's gonna be the next fashion.

Then the day after that I tried it in my boat- and after more hours and hours of practice got it to work pretty darn good.

So then the next day we decided we were ready. After spending the morning at the lake, just to make sure we had the roll down, we here headed off to the Gallatin.
I was so nervous looking at the river I was shivering despite the 90 degree heat.

I know it doesn't look like much here, but do a you tube search of the Gallatin River and you'll understand. I flipped twice, and Mike flipped once. He was able to get himself back over, putting that eskimo roll into practice, but I couldn't quite get it and had to bail out of my kayak instead. This left me floating down the river in my life jacket and Mike chasing after my boat. We eventually all reunited, and next time I'm gonna be ready with my roll. It was terrifying but really really fun. We're just waiting for the next warm day so we can go back again. Maybe I won't direct the kayak on top of the giant rock in the middle of the river next time around...we'll just have to wait and see.

Our newest additions.

The after shot: Cold and wet, but very happy

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Bozeman and Tetons July 30th-August 6th

The only other thing on our agenda was to get to Bozeman in time to meet Monica to go backpacking with her and Vince on the Teton Crest Trail.

So July 30th we were off once again

Goodbye plains of grain

That's right, Emilie can drive the vanagon too, and I did good. Well that is until we got off the highway and I killed it twice and managed to grind the gears, and than made the horn honk by turning the wheel, but I think the van was just a little grumpy- it obviously wasn't me.

And what road trip would be complete without being passed by the statue of liberty?
We spent our first night at the South Dakota Welcome center and by the end of the second day we had made it to the black hills. After a scenic drive we turned down a forest road and found a very nice spot to pull over and camp for the night.

We arrived in Bozeman on August 1st got some backpacking groceries and were ready to head to the Tetons in the morning.

Vince and Monica enjoying the view

After camping a night in the National Forest we were ready to start the backpacking.

On the trail

Taking a lunch break. It was about this time, about 4 miles into the first 13 mile day, that Mike and I both realized we had very significant blisters forming on our feet. I was lucky enough that I had sandals along with me, so I switched over to them, but Mike only had his hiking boots which he had to continue to wear.

We finally reached the pass and started down the other side

And down...

We finally reached this little picturesque spot with 3 more miles to go to the campsite.

Monica leading the way

Waterfall and snow and the longest 0.6 miles I have ever hiked

And finally home for the night, Marion Lake at about 10,000 ft.
This is when we found out that travelling from Iowa, about 600 ft above sea level to 10,000 ft above sea level in a matter of days just isn't a good idea. We both had a terrible night of sleep, and Mike woke up the next morning and lurched himself out of the tent sure that he was about to become reacquainted with his mac and cheese from the previous night. Luckily he managed to keep everything down, but we decided that between vicious blisters and nauseousness we should just head back to the trail head instead of continuing on for the next 4 days and not having a way to get down quickly.
Monica and Vince continued along the trail and Mike and I made our way back to the trail head, splitting the hike up into 2 days.

These flowers were all along the trail. I'm pretty sure it's some kind of columbine and I thought they were very pretty.

Hiking back along the trail, we were literally walking amongst the flowers

After we got out from the hike we took a dip in the Gros Ventre river, which was chilly but quite refreshing.

The Blisters
After a shopping trip through Jackson we went back to the National Forest for the next couple of days. Just sat and relaxed and watched the mountains change with the hours.

Our last night out we had gotten sick of soup and noodles, so went into town and bought some brats, real camping food. The only problem was when it was time to cook it had started raining. So we ended up cooking in the tent vestibule and watched the storm blow over. Everything was fine until about 10 that night when we started hearing low grunting noises very close by. We quickly evacuated the tent and sat in the car for the next half hour or so, occasionally shining the headlights to see if we could see anything. We never did, so eventually we went back to the tent very conscious of the fact that we smelled like cooked sausages. We both woke up the next morning, somewhat to our surprise.

We met back up with Vince and Mon the next day and had a nice dip in the Norris hot spring on the way back to Bozeman. Then we moved in at Monicas.

Mikes birthday and 6 Flags 7/27-7/28

Nyssa thought it would be a great idea to take Mike out for pizza for his birthday. Happy Joes was so nice they not only gave him a free ice cream sundae, but they even had the whole restaurant sing to him.

Lets all join in wishing Michael Happy Birthday on his very special day, Michael's turning 26 today, lets see if we can get him to stand up for us....clap clap clap....

We then spent the early evening driving to Gurnee IL so we could spend the whole next day at 6 Flags.

After a European make over Mike was ready for a night on the town.

Kumari drove over from Indianapolis and met us in Gurnee, and produced from her back seat a full size hula hoop- don't you travel with one?

It was a red t-shirt battle of the hula hooping. Mike has the faster cadence, but Nyssa seems to have the nonchalant hooping thing down...what do you think?

Kumari was of course the real pro, but it's her hula hoop after all.

The rest of the day was spent running around 6 flags and having a marvelous time waiting in line and occasionally riding a couple of rides.

Coffee shop intellectual meets rock star

I'm not quite sure what to say about that one

Reading up on the Supergirl Mike was elated to find out that she is just like him. Same height, same weight, and who could miss the shocking similarity of those brill ant blue eyes, they were obliviously separated at birth.

and of course the swings

Palisade Climbing and a Wedding July 11th- 26th

One of the few things we had planned for a long time in our generally lazi-fare lifestyle was Mike and Cayley's wedding on July 13th in the Chicago area. Miss Amber Andress was kind enough to let us stay at her apartment and take us camping.

Here Mike and Amber enjoy a pretty sunset at White Pines State park.

After a very nice wedding and a meeting with other Chicago folk we were off to Dubuque. In a vehicle this time.

Still trying to stay off the bike, we decided to check out some climbing in the area. Kepler Palisades seemed like a good place to go. The only problem was that the bottom of the cliffs were under the Cedar River. So we could climb from the middle up, but not get down to the bottom. Not very convenient.

Michaels mad

So we just camped instead, met an interesting fellow named Noodle and spent the evening chasing the raccoons away from our marshmallows.

Morning dawned and Nyssa was bright eyed and bushy tailed to hit those rock walls

On our way back to Dubuque we stopped in at Pictured Rocks near Monticello.

Nyssa showing that rock

Michael leading his way over a bulge

A few days later we decided to check out the Palisades on the other side of the river. Mississippi Palisade state park near Savanna Illinois. Mary drove up and the two of us and my fam came down .

Mary showing off her new specs. Whose sunglasses are better? You decide in our newest poll...

Mary brought Michael home made thin mints, for a birthday present,but they kinda melted a bit on the drive

Birthday Boy

And how old is Michael tomorrow?

Mary preparing for her first rappel, pretty scary

Check out the pro

Nyssa once again commanding some respect from that rock

My mom even gave it a try- I guess all that violin playing has given her forearms of steel- yay mom!

Nyssa trying the other end of things- I'm at the top being a very trusting sister.

Mike on a hard crack climb

Me trying that same hard crack climb, and nearly clocking Mary in the head


And then something peculiar happened. Nyssa thought she'd play around on the hard climb. And the whole time she's trying Mike and Mary are just giggling behind us...little did we know....

As we were finishing up the sun started to set over the river

Mary tried her hand at the really hard crack climb