Monday, August 8, 2011

Glacier National Park

 Yesterday we crossed the border into Montana around noon.  We spent the afternoon in Glacier National Park.  As soon as Chris saw the water, he wanted to go for a swim. 

 We drove down into the valley and found this great little swimming hole with rocks to jump off of.

 Chris takes the plunge.
 Riley jumps in.
The water was very cold and crystal clear.  We had a hard time getting the boys out of the river.  It took over 15 minutes for Chris to regain feeling in his fingers, but he was still asking to swim again.
As we passed by Flathead lake, we stopped to buy cherries along the side of the road.  $4.00 for a pound of delicious, just picked cherries.  When we arrived in Missoula around 8pm, it was still 85 degrees out.  The boys were excited to find a hotel with a swimming pool.  I was excited that it also had coin laundry.  I took Trevor for a long walk and found a park like setting behind the hotel and, yep, you guessed it, a river runs through it.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

British Columbia

Reasons we love Canada #4:  Ketchup chips (and honey mustard and dill pickle)

Reasons we love Canada #5: this bench made out of hockey sticks.

Lunch in Jasper

The drive from Jasper to Banff

The only ugly apartment building in Banff are living quarters for the staff who work in hotels and restaurants like this one:

The boys decided they like Jasper better than Banff.  It seems more down to earth.  They even have a dog park. In fact, everywhere went, people wanted to pet our dog. 

When we were eating dinner in Banff, we sat next to a large group of Japanese tourists.  I was trying to entertain the boys by showing them how to make a chicken out of a cloth napkin (it works better with a towel).  I noticed an older Japanese woman watching me.  After made the chicken, I held it up to show her while say "bok-bok-bok-bok-bok".  She gave me a thumbs up.  I said "origami" which got a laugh out of her.

We spent the night in Calgary but did not go into the city.  Tomorrow: Glacier National Park.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Road Trip: Days 2-4

The boys have done really well on this trip so far. They haven't really even watched that many movies on the DVD player. They find other ways to amuse themselves in the car. For example: building forts in the back of the van and using coffee cup holders to make hats for the dog.

We stopped in Watson Lake to see the Sign Post Forest. Our only regret was not bringing our own sign to nail to a post.
But the real highlight of driving through Yukon Territory and British Columbia is the wildlife. On our second day we saw 4 black bears but they were in places where we could not pull over to take photos, like near road construction areas.
Matt noted that there are no emergency vehicle stations anywhere along the highway. He thinks they just helicopter injured people to the nearest hospital. I think they just let the bears clean up the mess. Why else would bears hang out by the side of the road? Maybe that's part of the Canadian health plan. Just kidding. I am actually a huge proponent of socialized medicine.

Buffalo on road.
Lake Muncho
Stone sheep

We stopped in Fort Nelson for some fried chicken at Dixie Lee.
Our top three reasons for loving Canada? First the wildlife. Second, they have a picture of kids playing pond hockey on the back of their five dollar bills. And third, they have labels like: Antler Ale, One Horny Beer.

From AK to AZ

Leaving Alaska
Entering Yukon Territory
A brown bear eating berries by the highway near Kluane Lake

The Wises are moving to Flagstaff, AZ. I know it's been a long time. Obviously, I've been very busy. When we were in Flagstaff for Sarah's graduation, we met some really nice people who offered us jobs at their family practice. Two years later, we are moving to Arizona. We are hoping Matt's new job will allow him to spend more time with our family. It's like he is going from four jobs down to one. He will continue to practice family medicine, but give up working in the Emergency room, Obstetrics, Hospital Medicine and Long Term Care. We have had 12 great years in Alaska. Now it's time for us to try something different.
So here we are, driving to Arizona. Matt and I are driving down with the boys and the dog. Maya will fly down with Nanna and the cat in two weeks. We didn't think 10 days in the car was going to be much fun for a 5 year old, who is a lot like the cat. They are both fiercely independent. But unlike the cat, Maya doesn't like to lie around for 20 hours per day.
Yesterday we drove 411 miles, from Homer to Glenallen. Today we made it across the Canadian border. We are spending the night in Haines Junction. We ate dinner at the only restaurant open after 9pm. It is run by some very nice German people (but the food is not German). They used to live in Whitehorse but it got too crowded for them. Tomorrow we hope to be in Whitehorse before lunch, and then spend the afternoon at Liard Hotsprings.
The highlight of our trip today was seeing a brown bear on the side of the road, munching on berries. We have also seen one young bull moose, one cow and one baby moose, two swans and a lot of ravens.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Maya Turns Five!

Maya turned five on January 2nd. It was a nice way to wrap up a very busy and fun New Year celebration. Her Aunt Kathleen came down from Fairbanks. Her Aunt Kristin came from Palmer. Uncle Michael and Aunt Karyn came from Anchorage with Cousin Boo. Uncle Michael brought fireworks and she stayed up past midnight to watch the fireworks show! We ate lots of yummy food and opened more presents so it was like Christmas and New Year all rolled in one.

On Sunday she had a few friends over for a birthday celebration. She played with all her favorite new toys and ate cake and ice cream. On Monday she celebrated her birthday at Kim's Kinderhaus. Then her friends Zachary and Weston came over to Grandma's and brought cupcakes and a present since they were out of town for her party. Today we will celebrate again with her friends at her other preschool. On top of all this holiday fun, we had a great time "elfing" ourselves with friends and family on Facebook.

Terry and Elizabeth gave us these fabulous birthday candles!

Fun with bendaroos!

We learned to make balloon hats and flowers, haven't learned how to make animals yet.

Playing with my new playdough set and my new Bambi
I love my Dora and Diego cake!

blowing out the candles

My friends Lawson and Lilly

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Garden District Tour

The other thing I really wanted to do in New Orleans was go on a tour of the Garden District. This is where the all the big fancy houses are. It was originally established as the city of Lafayette but couldn't compete with the Port of New Orleans and was eventually annexed. Another town in Louisiana took the name, hence Lafayette, LA.

There are so many interesting things about these old houses. Most of the features (besides decor) have to do with the heat. There are vents below the houses to circulate air. That's why they are called drafty old houses. Windows are very tall, almost floor to ceiling and open from both the top and bottom to let in more air. In the summer time windows are opened and the shutters are closed for privacy. The louvres can be adjusted so they can see out but passers by cannot see in. Ceilings where high because heat rises.

Then there's the architecture. I don't remember too much about this topic except the ones with big columns are Greek Revival. The ones with rounded windows and lots of arches are Italian style. Then there's the Queen Annes. Do not called them Victorians. "Victorian" refers to a era, not an architectural style. Having said that, here's the real dish: the famous houses.

This is the first house Anne Rice bought. It was a previously a church.

This an example of Gothic style, which is usually reserved for churches. So now we have a house that looks like a church and a former church that looks like a house.

This is the house of Archie Manning where Eli and Peyton Manning grew up.

This is the house Anne Rice actually lived in. She lives in La Jolla now.

This is John Goodman's house. It was previously owned by the lead singer of Nine Inch Nails.

Sandra Bullock's new house. Did you know her adopted baby is from New Orleans?
Sorry I didn't take pictures of the house where President Taft died. And the house where the likes of Mark Twain and Edgar Degas partied. BTW: Edgar Degas is the one who married his first cousin. He came to New Orleans to meet his mother's side of the family. He married his cousin, had 5 children with her, 4 survived. His wife was blind. He hired a woman to come and read to her. Then he ran away with the woman who read to his wife and left his blind wife with 4 children. His mother's side of the family took in Degas' wife, changed all the childrens' last names back to their mother's maiden name. The name Degas became a dirty word in New Orleans after that.

Oh, here's a Georgian style house. Georgian houses are perfectly symmetrical, inside and out.

Cemetery Tour

This is the cover of a book I found in a gift shop in New Orleans:

While we were in New Orleans, I dragged Matt on a cemetery tour. It was really fascinating. I learned so much about the history of New Orleans as well as everything you ever wanted to know about how they bury their dead in New Orleans.
Tour guides will differ in their opinions about in ground v. above ground burial. Some say they bury above ground because New Orleans is at sea level and it was hard to keep the coffins from popping up and floating away during the rainy season. Others maintain that 30% of the Netherlands is at or below sea level and they bury their dead in the ground. It's mostly about space. The above ground mausoleums are natural crematoriums that can be reused over and over. Therefor it's the original recycling program.
Cemeteries in New Orleans (there are 3 main ones that I know of) date back to the early 1800s. Each mausoleum or tomb is purchased by a family. Each time a family member dies, the marble front is removed (it's held on by screws) and the brick and mortar wall is broken. They slide the casket in onto a shelf, reseal the brick wall and replace the marble cover. The tomb should be left sealed for a minimum of one year and one day. This is too ensure that the remains are adequately decomposed. If the tomb is in good repair and has no leaks, it can get up to 200 degrees inside on warm days, creating a natural crematorium.
When the next family member dies, the tomb is reopened, the remains are bagged and tagged, sent for DNA confirmation and then swept to the back of the tomb where there is an opening into the "cellar" or caveau along with all the other deceased family members. After a year in the heat the remains are just ashes and skeletal remains. You can imagine how many family members can be buried in this type of tomb (maybe as many as 200?). If a family member dies within a year of the last burial, there are "rental" tombs you can use in the meantime. Imagine having all your relatives buried in one place. What a great way to track your family's DNA and history.
Cemeteries in New Orleans are still being used today. The tombs vary from one another just like the people of New Orleans, from old to new, simple to ornate. Some have all the family members buried there engraved on the marble cover. Some have sculptures on top or beside them. Cherubs and lambs symbolize innocence, perhaps a child or infant is buried there. An urn represents mourning. An urn with a drape represents deep mourning. Besides family tombs, there are group tombs such as veterans of a particular war, fire fighters, and even one for orphans.
Some tombs have fallen into a state of disrepair. Moisture is the worst enemy of the mausoleum. Some have been restored or renovated. Renovation is when a group of workers come in, re-plaster and repaint the whole thing to look brand spanking new. It's inexpensive and quick. But if the wrong materials are used, it doesn't breath and the whole recycling thing doesn't work very well. Restoration is more time consuming, laborious and costly, but it maintains the integrity of the original tomb.
Now you know almost everything I know about how they bury the dead in New Orleans. Matt and I have always thought traditional cemeteries are a waste of space, as are golf courses. He doesn't like golf because of the whole exclusive aspect. I realize that many golf courses are more inclusive now of the average person. My objections are the waste of water and heavy use of pesticides (how do you think they keep the grass so nice and green and free of weeds, IN THE MIDDLE OF A DESERT?) Matt thinks cemeteries should be combined with golf courses.
I kind of like the idea of my whole family all being buried in one place, instead of scattered all over kingdom come. But Matt reminded me the recycling program would never work in Alaska. We are missing the key ingredient: heat. In fact, when our folks die in the middle of winter, we have to wait until spring to bury them! And well, we have plenty of space. He also wondered if I would be buried in the Manalisay tomb or the Wise tomb. I guess this is where it's advantageous to marry a first cousin. Did I just say that?
Up next, the Garden District, where we'll learn more about history, architecture and even some first cousins that were married! I love this place.

A typical family tomb.
An old tomb in need of repair beside a newly renovated one.

Here is the oldest grave in Saint Louis cemetery #1. It's an in-ground burial.

Angel sculpture.

My favorite little cherub, no bigger than a foot long.
More trivia: Ever since the acid trip of Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda in Easy Rider, the Archdiocese of St. Louis no longer allows filming in St. Louis Cemetery. Newer films such as Interview with the Vampire are filmed at the Lafayette Cemetery in the Garden District. My photos are from both cemeteries.