My life has a superb cast but I can't figure out the plot.
~ Ashleigh Brilliant

Sunday, July 28, 2013

PNW Road Trip: Missoula-Idaho-Spokane

Welcome to Part 2 of Day #1 of our road trip from Sheridan, WY to the Pacific Northwest!


After our lunch in Butte, we continued on to Missoula where, despite only being halfway to our day's destination, we stopped to see the Carousel for Missoula. As we made our way through Missoula's downtown to the carousel, we passed this Studebaker wall mural...

... which proved prophetic, because just a couple blocks away in the carousel's parking lot, we happened upon the tail end of a classic car rally! And the first classic that met our eye had Molly's name written all over it! (Well, not literally - literally it had Route 66 stickers all over it - which also had Molly's name written all over them!) :-)

1959 Ford Ranchero & vintage Airstream

Of course we had to spend time among the vintage cars, parked prettily next to Caras Park (hmmm, a carousel and classic cars by Caras Park - this calls for some carousing!) :-)

1955 Chevy

A handsome lineup of oldies but goodies 
L-R: '54 Ford, '59 BW :-), '57 Chevy, '56 Chevy, '56 Thunderbird

And then we finally wandered over to the carousel, our purpose for stopping in Missoula to begin with (we are easily distracted, lol), where I didn't take it for a spin but did enjoy choosing and photographing a few of my favorite critters. You can read about all of the carousel's critters & chariots here. There's a Clydesdale named "Bud" that I didn't notice, but in reading about the ponies learned was "adopted" by Bunts and June Watkins, long-time close family friends of my late grandparents! Bunts owned a beer distribution business in their hometown of Havre (and later in Missoula and Spokane), so "Bud" the Clydesdale was an appropriate pony for him to sponsor!...

L-R: "Cannonball," "Snapples," "American Beauty"

"Catch a painted pony let the spinning wheel spin"...
~Blood, Sweat & Tears, "Spinning Wheel"

The sign on his ear says, "Only children are allowed to ride on Scafti. It's a balance thing." 
Do you think if I'd informed them I'm an only child, they'd have let me ride him? ;-)

After enjoying the cars and the carousel, we wandered along the path by the riverside and took time to smell the roses growing there...

Clark's Fork River

It was a beautiful but very hot day, so several others were enjoying the river by actually being in it... swimming, tubing (see the two in the photo above?), kayaking, and - get this - surfing the rapids!

I'd crack my head open on one of those rocks on my first try. 
As with riding Scafti, "it's a balance thing!" LOL

From Missoula, a beautiful drive through the Bitterroot Range and Lolo Pass brought us to...

I was more excited about gaining that hour than I was about entering a new state! :-)

We pulled over and I popped up through the sunroof to snap this evening telephoto shot of Lake Coeur d'Alene 

The drive through Idaho was really beautiful, but very brief - we were, afterall, crossing the state's skinny panhandle. So it wasn't long before we were in Spokane, eager for dinner at Boots Bakery and Lounge, an all-vegan eatery that just opened last year...

It was about 8:15 on a lovely evening and we were tempted to dine al fresco, but as you can see outdoor seating was very limited and being a Friday night in downtown Spokane - with the huge annual Spokane Hoopfest going on just down the block - it was very loud! So we ate inside the fun old building (you can see a bit of BW in the booth on the left)...

You choose your food from a deli case by the register where that customer is standing. The "lounge" portion of "Boots Bakery & Lounge" is a small area in the back, where a man was playing very pretty acoustical guitar music to the delight of a small audience gathered there. 

Unfortunately my dinner photos came out blurry, but I'm sharing the one of my plate anyway because while all of the food was absolutely delicious, their mac and cheese was the best I've ever had (and I think I make a pretty awesome mac-and-cheese if I do say so myself!) I loved Boots' mac and cheese so much I got more to go for eating the next day, but ate every bite of it later that night in our motel. And it nearly killed me to drive past Spokane on our return trip home at 7:30 in the morning - too early to get more Boots Mac and Cheese! (Which was probably a good thing, since I'd have wanted to bring several pounds of it home with me)...

The "Power Greens" salad was also awesome, and the Spinach Pesto Penne
 was really delicious too, but the mac and cheese ruled! 

We also bought treats from their vegan bakery, of course! :-) Two for dessert later that night in our motel room and two for breakfast the next morning with our coffee. These were dessert - the one on the left was peanut butter chocolate and it was okay, but the one on the right was unforgettable - a lemon coconut bar. OH, MY!!! I'll be dreaming of their mac & cheese and lemon coconut bars till I can get back to Spokane!

Things were a little hectic the next morning so I failed to photograph our coffee cakes (they looked pretty similar to the peanut butter chocolate one, on top anyway!) but BW's was banana pecan and mine was orange pistachio ginger. Again - YUM!!! In addition to coffee cakes and bars, Boots also makes vegan scones and muffins.

The room where we left all our coffee cake crumbs was in the Best Western Plus Bronco Inn in Ritzville, WA. We were zonked when we got there and finished the dreaded bag drag to our room a little before 11 that night - 17 hours and 740 miles (and a few pounds of great food) after leaving home that morning! Having no special expectations of our chain motel accommodations beyond hoping it would be clean and relatively quiet, we were very pleasantly surprised by how large and comfy our room was (as well as clean and quiet!) And it was also charmingly decorated with an Americana quilt theme especially appropriate so close to the 4th of July...

The second leg of our drive to Seattle the next day would be much shorter - but it would be another very full and fun day! So, Day #2 coming up soon!

Other PNW Road Trip posts:

Thursday, July 25, 2013

PNW Road Trip: Day 1 - Butte, MT

Welcome to Part #1 of Day #1 of our summer road trip to the Pacific Northwest, a vacation we took in part to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary this June. In two weeks we drove about 2400 miles, visited some beautiful country in four states and two countries, did and saw lots of interesting stuff, and between our Rebel, Kodak EasyShare and new iPad we took over 2000 photos. So needless to say, this is the first of many photo-intensive vacation posts! I hope to post the last one by Christmas. :-)

We left Sheridan at 6:45am on Saturday, June 29th, stopping briefly in Billings, MT for a quick breakfast from The Good Earth Co-Op. Our next stop was in Butte, MT for lunch, a town we'd never visited before, but one we found quite intriguing!

We begin with a view of part of downtown Butte (rhymes with "cute") as seen from the Visitors Center...

The M on the hillside, created in 1910, is for "Miners" (Butte's an old mining town as you'll soon see, and home to a college formerly known as Montana State School of Mines), while the red brick clock tower, built in 1916, was originally the railroad station and is now a TV station (KXLF TV). Apparently it's destined to always be a station of some sort! :-)

I also took this next photo from the Visitors Center. Butte sits very near the Continental Divide (I'd have photographed the sign if we hadn't flown by it at 75mph!), is the hometown and burial site of motorcycle daredevil Evel Kneivel, is known for its mining history (and resulting EPA Superfund Site) and Victorian architecture - and is, as you can see, surrounded by some beautiful scenery...

But the town's landscape also bears the ugly scars of its mining history, a history which gave it the nickname "The Richest Hill on Earth" and made it wealthy during its boom years, but left it toxic after more than a century of mining and smelting...

If the sight of the scarred hillside didn't clue you in to Butte's emphasis on mining, some of its street names - Gold, Silver, Copper, Iron, Quartz, Granite, Agate, Platinum, Mercury, Aluminum, Diamond, Ruby and Pearl - might. Starting with gold in 1864, Butte has also mined (and often smelted) silver, copper, lead, manganese, zinc, and molybdenum from over 500 underground mines and four open pit mines, including the infamous Berkley Pit. This 100+ years of mining activity has left groundwater, surface water and soils in the area contaminated with arsenic, sulphuric acid, and heavy metals including copper, zinc, cadmium and lead, caused fish kills in the rivers and created potential health threats from contact with and ingestion of contaminated soil, surface water, groundwater or inhaling contaminated air. This is why it's one of the largest EPA Superfund sites in the world, with Berkley Pit being the largest and most expensive portion.

My photos that show the mine area (which is now owned by Atlantic Richfield and is still active, though on a much smaller scale) are not nearly as dramatic as the Google Maps satellite image. Appalling what we do to Mother Earth, our fellow creatures, and ourselves and future generations in the name of profits.

Some of the money made during Butte's mining heydays was spent on the construction of some impressive buildings, built mostly from the 1880s to the roaring '20s, which today are currently in various states of grandeur, disrepair, neglect, and/or restoration - and which will be (with the exception of our lunch) the focus of the remainder of our visit to Butte...

Mother Lode Theater
Built in 1923 as a Masonic Temple and converted to a movie theater during the Depression,
after a $3 million renovation in 1996 it was renamed the Mother Lode Theater.

I have no idea what the history or function of this building is, I just thought its tall chimney and old brick had character, especially against that backdrop!

The Arts Chateau
We had no clue what this place was when we first drove by it, but thought it must be the Copper King Mansion (more on that shortly). We were close, but didn't learn till we got home and I was putting this post together that it was indeed built (in 1898) by the Copper King, William Andrews Clark, but it was for his son Charles. The 26-room house - modeled after a French Chateau that Charles had stayed in on his honeymoon and built in part by French craftsmen brought to Butte for the purpose - now serves as a community arts center, museum and gallery called The Arts Chateau.

An example of one of Butte's beautiful old buildings that's seen better days. The apartment on the left is occupied, the one on the right is vacant. We hope this building is slated for repair rather than terminal composting, but found it hard to tell with some of Butte's buildings if they were on their way up or on their way out.

We passed the above building on our way to The Hummingbird Café for lunch...

A vegan-friendly oasis that we were pleasantly surprised to find through Happy Cow, we were equally surprised to find it quite busy when we arrived, given how quiet the town seemed, though once we got our food we understood its popularity! It has a fun artsy/hippie/bohemian vibe that we enjoyed, and was much bigger than it looked... you can see one back room through the door to the left, but they continued on beyond that and ended in a cozy little outdoor courtyard with a couple of tables (which is where we'll take our food to eat next time we visit!) :-)

Service was friendly but slow, so while BW mapped out our next meal destination on the iPad I took my camera on a quick walkabout to photograph more of Butte's architecture. So we'll return to The Hummingbird for our sandwiches in a bit, after we've feasted our eyes on a couple more historic dwellings...

Another apartment building, this time in better shape

An example of the architectural diversity on which Butte has long prided itself

There's nothing like a window full of skeletons in June to catch the eye, and being a great lover of Halloween (though one who monotonously takes down her decorations on Nov 1!), I had to snap this photo. :-)

I took this shot with my telephoto just before re-entering restaurant, thinking these were more miner-baron mansions. And maybe they were once, but now they're buildings on the campus of Montana Tech of the University of Montana, originally the Montana School of Mines when it was founded in 1900.

And now it's time to dig up some minerals of a different sort, for lunch is served. :-)

I ordered the portobello (or as they spell it, "portabella") sandwich with a side of organic red roasted potatoes...

...while BW ordered the T.L.T. (made with their own homemade tempeh bacon) and the same side o' spuds... 

And then we swapped sandwich halves. We both agreed that both sandwiches were very tasty, but the T.L.T. was far and away our favorite! 

After eating our sandwiches and sharing a lemonade, it was time to do a little more exploring on foot and by car before leaving, especially since we were still trying to find the Copper King Mansion, and no one seemed to be able to tell us where it was! 

Love that second-story sunporch!

As you can see, a big thunderstorm was rolling in (it hit just as we left Butte). Which got us wondering - with all that metal - especially highly conductive copper - in the ground there, how many lightning strikes do you reckon they get? Don't know, but we left town in the nick of time that day!

Another second-story sunporch on the jauntily colored house on the left, and an intriguing third-story recessed porch and the first all-glass turret I've ever seen on the house on the right, which also appears to be getting a new porch railing soon!

This house, loaded with beautiful stained glass windows, was right across a side street from the Copper King Mansion (yep, finally found it, so it's coming up shortly!) 

Greek Revival
This home was probably the stateliest private residence we came upon (and it was for sale, though now I can't find a listing for it on the realtor's web site). The columns, portico and upper railings are all lovely and impressive, as is that handsome chimney! But now check out what was right across the street...

Needs Revival!
A contrast that pretty much sums up our impression of Butte! It's a city of antipodes - wealth and poverty, preservation and dilapidation, pristine beauty and monstrous devastation, cowboys and miners and artists and hippies - all living cheek to jowl. As I said, it's an intriguing town, and one we plan to spend more time in one day... maybe even springing for a night in this place (if they'll serve us a vegan breakfast!) - the hard-to-find-but-worth-the-search Copper King Mansion...

William Andrews Clark was one of the three principal developers of copper mining in Butte known as "the Copper Kings." The original cost of his 34-room Copper King Mansion, built from 1884-1888, is estimated at about a half-million dollars - or about a half day's income for Clark. By 1900, Clark had amassed a personal fortune estimated at $50,000,000 and was considered one of the wealthiest men in the world. In 1917 he added an addition to the mansion, but the cost of it is unknown.

The mansion has been privately owned by the Cote family for four generations, but is publicly accessible via tours or overnight stays in their five B&B guest rooms.

I imagine there are rather commanding views from this window! 

Speaking of which...

We bid farewell to Butte with this last look at the town, the mine-scape, and the mountains from the grounds of the Montana Tech campus (which you may recall seeing from outside the Hummingbird Café in an earlier photo). Now it's time to outrun the thunderstorms and head for Missoula, Idaho and Spokane! See you there in my next post! :-)

Meanwhile, see more of the world (and its skies, stormy and otherwise) with a visit to...

Other PNW Road Trip Posts:

Day #1, Part 2: Missoula-Idaho-Spokane

Monday, July 22, 2013

Not Your Grandma's Potato Salad...

Unless your grandma makes her potato salad with black beans, sweet potatoes, fresh mint, arugula, lime juice... 

I know you were expecting my next post to be my first vacation post, and I promise I've been working diligently and will have it ready this week. But this post does have a vacation tie-in, so it kinda counts!

When we were in Victoria, BC we went for a stroll through a residential neighborhood and stumbled upon a little neighborhood grocery store that had lots of organic produce and a small deli. They had one vegan item in the deli - a sweet potato, white potato, and black bean salad made with a vinaigrette. We bought some and shared it at one of their outdoor tables, and since we got back I've been trying to find a recipe to replicate it so I don't have to guess at the seasonings (we think cumin was one) and liquids involved. No luck yet, but in my search I did find this one, which sounded pretty interesting, so last night we made it for dinner. And interesting it is! A very unusual combination of flavors, it might not be for everyone but we really enjoyed it and will be making it again, including when BW's folks visit next month. It's very healthy and pretty, too, and even more flavorful the next day! We shared some with our neighbor, who later demanded the recipe. :-)

I was a good little blogger who obeyed the rule in fine print on the online publication where the recipe appeared, emailing Condé Nast last night for permission to share it on my personal blog with a link back to the original. They wrote back this morning telling me I could link it for free, but if I re-printed it here they'd "license the text for a fee based on usage." Well, Mr. Condé and Mr. Nast are just going to have to find a way to get along without my usage fee, I'm afraid! So here's the link to the recipe...

We omitted the olive oil (and BW, who was in charge of roasting the sweet potatoes, neglected to sprinkle them with the salt and pepper before roasting them so I just added the full measurement of both to the dressing). Since this batch was just for us we blew off using the lime wedge garnishes (or as BW put it, "We ain't about garnishes, we're about eatin' our food!" LOL) We were a little dubious about serving it on a bed of arugula (or in our case, a bed of organic arugula and baby spinach mix, since that's all I could find), but we really liked the combo! Oh, and the mint came from our little organic herb garden, our first harvest from it ever! So we're rather proud. :-)

Enjoy, and I'll see you in Butte, MT (virtually speaking) later this week! :-)

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Still on Island Time...

Hulloooo again! It's been awhile, but after a perfect 2-week vacation in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, culminating in a very relaxing week on Whidbey Island, I still find that even after nearly a week back on Reality Street...
Just replace those palm trees with pine trees, and in spite of a pretty full schedule and no time spent sprawled in hammocks it sums up the mood of much of our vacation! Especially that week on Whidbey - island time really is delightfully slower and more mellow. (Unless you're talking about Manhatten Island!)

Anyway, I've somehow managed to combine indolence with frantic busyness since we returned home at 11:15pm last Saturday. It's not fair that modern life demands jumping back into chores, work, and responsibilities immediately following a vacation - there should be a mandatory decompression time! One in which people continue to prepare wonderful meals for you, if nothing else. :-)

After the cooler temps of Puget Sound, this heat is only making me feel more sluggish. Though despite our temps in the 90's, I realize we don't have it nearly as bad as those of you experiencing the same (or worse) sizzling temps with the added mugginess. There really is something to the "but it's a dry heat" caveat! Anyway, I think we can all agree that Tessa's got the right idea about how to spend the Dog Days of Summer...

But what about your trip photos, I egotistically imagine you asking? :-) Well, between the Rebel, Kodak and iPad, we took over 2000 photos and videos during our trip! So needless to say, I'm so overwhelmed and intimidated by the prospect of sorting, culling, editing, uploading, and selecting the most blogworthy ones that I've hardly touched them yet (plus, I need a way bigger chunk of free time than I've had the luxury of this week). And August is going to be a busy month with various appointments, a trip to Havre to see my Mom, and a week-long visit from BW's parents, so I don't know how much progress I'll make. But I promise to whittle away at the massive photo stack and publish posts as I'm able! We saw and did (and ate) so much, and it was all so beautiful and wonderful and interesting and fun (and delicious), that I'm looking very forward to sharing it all! I'd love to think I could get a post of the first leg of our trip published tomorrow in time for SkyWatch Friday, but again - stupid, tiresome Reality Street will likely cut a pot-holed swath through those fun plans!

Meanwhile, stay cool if you're in the path of this US heat wave (and judging from this weather map, if you're in the US you likely are), and embrace that Island Time/Dog Days vibe as much as you can!


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  • THE HUMANE GARDENER ~ Nancy Lawson
  • THE WORLD WITHOUT US ~ Alan Weisman

There is still strong in our society the belief
that animals and the natural world have value
only insofar as they can be converted into revenue.
That nature is a commodity.
And that the American dream is one of unlimited consumption.
There are many of us, on the other hand,
who believe that animals and the natural world
have value by virtue of being alive.
That Nature is a community to which we belong
and to which we owe our lives.
And that the deeper American dream is one of unlimited compassion.

~John Robbins, "The Food Revolution"

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