A New Dress

fabric 2

For some time I’ve had a new fancy pants sewing machine, which I got for my 25th birthday… 3.5 years ago. I have made some curtains, hemmed some pants, put on some patches, etc. But I wanted to really sew something, for real. That was the whole idea. So I finally got around to buying some fabric, which was the real catalyst, it is so cute! And picked a pattern. That was a little more difficult, but I found one I wanted (sans sleeves) since I really love 50’s style dresses and you just don’t find them (probably because it’s not the 50’s…). After a false start with the lining fabric and a few hitches along the way, I’ve almost got my dress made. I have learned a LOT. I’m sure this goes much faster if you’ve done it before, and I’ve got more fabric for more dresses or skirts, so I’m sure I’ll get better at this. But I am apparently either really lousy at measuring myself or I was really retaining a lot of water when I measured. As any good knitter knows, you try on as you go so you’re not sad at the end. So I’ve been trying this on and keep taking in the sides so the pockets aren’t actually in the back, and the front isn’t for someone 3 cup sizes bigger, etc. But it’s working!

Glacier National Park

I’ll do more of a photo essay here. That’s what we’re all here for anyways right?

We drove to Glacier National Park. It was beautiful.

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We hiked partway to Mount Oberlin. There was snow. (This is not Mt. Oberlin. This is the one next to it but it was very impressive)

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We hiked to Hidden Lake and saw baby goats!

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We hiked to Avalanche Lake and it was beautiful.

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We hiked to Sun Point, which was VERY windy.

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We tried a sampling of local brews.

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My favorite was Pigs Ass Porter. Mostly for the name and label, although it was delish.

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We then drove back to Bozeman and took a well earned shower. Some miscellaneous thoughts include:

Neil Young is not only the man, but is awesome road trip music. He inspires me, you can’t watch that interview and not think he’s the coolest. And right.
Road trips are awesome.
Not being plugged into the world is so necessary. Too bad you can’t live that way all the time without being considered a wierdo.
Once you haven’t washed your hair for a week, it kinda stops getting so dirty.
Bozeman has some awesome local brews.
Life out there seems much more relaxing, maybe because everytime I go there I’m on vacation.
I bought some great organic local yarn at The Yarn Shop there in Bozeman, the woman in charge was very helpful, I can’t wait to make my Bozeman Sweater.
Thank goodness someone thought to make National Parks. There are a LOT of things wrong with our society and the American life and culture, but this is one thing someone got right.

Into the Mystic

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To continue the exciting adventure (this one involves bears, it really is exciting)…
We went to the grocery store on the way, found some of Greg’s favorite beer (there seem to be a lot of these!) in CANS! and got some rice and beans, etc, and headed to the trailhead. It was 90F when we set off, and it was very warm hike. Getting to elevation was actually very nice, since it cooled off up there. The National Forest Service has cabins in Montana which are old ranger stations which you can rent for super cheap. There are typically 4 cots, a table, somewhere to store food, a woodstove and wood (a supply of chopped as well as wood to chop and replace what you used) some pots and pans, and a outhouse. These things are super. We’ve stayed in them before and I was super excited. The hike up to the Mystic Lake Cabin involved a lot of uphill, a beautiful meadow, and we were so excited to finally see the lake! Alas, the way to the cabin is over the river and through the woods (literally) and so by the time we got there we were about a mile past done. It’s 5.5 miles in, mostly uphill, and we had packs with our food and clothes and sleeping bags. My brothers are way more hardcore and their packs would be lighter. We’re on vacation, we brought beer.

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So we arrived at the cabin, which was great, and Greg went fishing, I pulled out the knitting, and soon enough we were hungry. Popped the beers in the river to cool off, cooked some rice and beans, and had a fantastic night. The rice and beans were beyond delicious. We were hungry, first off, and that always helps, but making something somewhat real in the middle of the woods is very satisfying. Up until this point Greg has sworn he doesn’t like card games or Scrabble. However, with nothing else to do, we played gin rummy and found that in actuality, he does like at least one card game! Yeah! This means I can stop playing solitaire. And lends hope towards Scrabble.

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We had debated a hike the next day, but it was so nice there, we decided just to hang out. Greg went fishing, I knit, played solitaire, and my favorite activity of the day, starting the stove. This stove is awesome. I rarely see cast iron stoves and even rarer ones that work. I was beyond excited to see that I could make water boil on this stove. The wood wouldn’t catch at first, but since I had all day, literally, I kept at it and eventually, we had fire. I cannot even explain how excited I was about this. I kept taking movies of the stove burning, I kept looking out to see if Greg was coming to show him my conquest, I boiled pot after pot of water, it was great. We reheated the rice and beans in the skillet, I had a great time with this stove. It pleased me beyond the point which it should have. But look at this thing, it rocks!!! Like my Philias Cadorette spinning wheel, I am endlessly pleased by the attention to detail. They could have made the handles less exciting, could have omitted the ships, not written THE GREAT MAJESTIC!! all over it and it still would have boiled water just fine. But they did, and it’s all the more awesome for that.

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We played rummy by headlamp, and eventually fell asleep. We didn’t bring a watch. We didn’t have one, and apparently my cell phone only tells you what time it is if there’s a signal, which in the middle of the woods there was none. It was so great to not know what time it was. It didn’t matter. We got up when the sun rose, went to bed when it went down and we were tired of playing cards with headlamps, ate when we were hungry, it was very… natural? organic? I guess just very nice. That second night we went down to the lake to watch and we found a bald eagle fishing in the lake, some elk on the other side, and I was beginning to think “there are no bears here.” The eagle was really cool to watch. We were laughing that eagles are so bad-ass that they evolved to have the white head and be easily spotted in the trees, like “dude, you can’t get me, I’ll scratch your eyes out! Just try it! I’m SO COOL.” Ben Franklin wanted a turkey as our mascot, but we agreed that a turkey just wouldn’t have the same, je ne sais quois.

Here’s the exciting part. As I said, we’d been all outside for days now, no bears. I insist on talking loudly when we’re hiking to alert any bears that hello! I’m coming. When I’m walking down to the river by myself, I preceed myself with “hello! Here I come!” over and over. I like to announce myself. I don’t want to startle anyone. Just before we reached the meadow on the way down, perhaps we hit a lull in conversation, perhaps the brook was too loud, perhaps we (unbelievably) weren’t stinky enough after not showering in 4 days, but somehow, just as I’d finally thought “hiking out here is so RELAXING!” crash! Bushes being trampled by a brown blur (the grizzly kind), about 50 yards ahead of us. I, despite my training, yell bear! and look around for cubs. Greg has more foresight and watches the bear, which simply crosses the path at high speed and heads up on the other side. It didn’t want anything to do with us, but scared the bejezzus out of us. We backed up the trail, waited a few minutes, and proceeded down again, banging sticks, yelling about how all we wanted was some coffee, and our car, could we please just get to our car, we’d like some coffee. The perfect bear sighting. Scared the crap out of us, but no confrontation, everyone behaved as the little pamphlet says they should (both us and the bear) and the rest went uneventfully, if totally paranoid. We yelled for the next hour and a half. And the couple we met on a hike up (with makeup and the question “so where does this trail go?”), after a warning about it, could be heard “whoop!”-ing every few minutes, which we thought was hysterical.

Got to the car, and went to get some coffee.

Our Fearless Heros drive a car on a very very bumpy dirt road…

And so we drove on. I’m very sorry if you’re from South Dakota or Eastern Montana, but I have to say, there is a lot of nothing in South Dakota and Eastern Montana. Which is fine. I was expecting that. And since I haven’t seen that much nothing since my epic road trip to Colorado with my brother*. And it was really beautiful. Also, aided with magic Dramamine, I knit on my hat on the car. Our destination was Falls Creek campground, which was a really super campground in Gallatin Range. It’s about 20-30 miles from Big Timber, MT, and you go down the valley and it is so incredibly beautiful. Then you enter the National Forest, and the road turns to dirt, then it really turns to dirt. Here is where we drive fearlessly despite the sounds of rocks spitting and ruts in the road and just a general “umm, perhaps a truck is a good idea. A beater truck at that.”

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We found the campsite eventually about 5 miles down, and picked spot #7, which was a perfect little spot on the river, with, what luck, a somewhat smoldering log in the firepit (and coffee and bacon bits on the ground, which with the bear warning, nervoused** me, but I cleaned it up and hoped for the best. Bad bad former campers.)

Now while back in Big Timber, we’d picked up some beer, since heading to a campsite without it was a ridiculous idea. And so, while refueling the car, Greg went into the place there and came out with Twilight. Twilight is somewhat nostalgic for us since we had that beer on our honeymoon, camping on the Pacific coast on the Olympic Peninsula, just above First Beach. If you ever go there, I highly recommend the camping there. Super. But I digress. So we opened the beers and were pleasantly surprised to be commended on our bravery.

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I gathered a few logs, blew on the smoldering log, and before you knew it, we were in business. I knit on the hat, Greg did some fishing, we made fake mac and cheese, it was great.

twilight and knitting

Greg Pleased with the fire

Fake Mac and cheese

After dinner and watching the fire burn out while it got dark, we secured our food in the bear box, and headed to the tent to sleep. With the notice which warned of “excessive bear activity” and the the roaring river which I decided would obscure any sound of said bear until it was too late, I can’t say it was best sleep ever. But like it always does, the morning came and was beautiful and cool, and we packed up and headed into town for some groceries and a trail map as we continued on to… Mystic Lake! Tune in next time for a great hike, through an alpine meadow, where two tired hikers will benefit from the elevation again and good beer in a can while playing rummy by headlamps. Super time. Promise.

*His graduation-from-high-school-present. I saved up my entire 2 weeks of vacation for the entire year, then in what nervoused my mother to no end, we headed out. My mother plans vacations to the second, which with 4 kids is probably necessary. When she asked me where we were going, expecting a list of hotel reservations and day to day “where we’ll be” I answered… “Um, well, we’re driving to Colorado.” She just about had a fit. But we went, armed with a AAA tour book and maps, and we had a fantastic time. I’ve approached all vacations, including this one, in that fashion and it’s worked out great.

** Yes, I use ‘to nervous’ as a verb. We now ‘friend’ people and all sorts of things, and this is hardly a highfalutin*** publication, so I’m going to use it since it’s in my vocabulary.

***The word highfalutin cracks me up.

Keep on Rockin’ in the Free World

Back from vacation. My husband spent a semester in Bozeman, Montana, which is where he loves to be. And I must say, I love to be there too. This is our second vacation together there, and with it I shall entertain you in installments. (Provided there is a ‘you’ to entertain, I am probably just talking to myself, but whatever.)

We left for Montana with a hockey back full of my pack, some sleeping pads and a tent (which the lady at the counter looked at skeptically, but it was under 50 lbs, and under 5 feet long, I swear), Greg’s pack, a fishing rod, and a backpack (with my knitting of course). The hockey body bag was to outwit that stupid rule where you now pay $25 for the first bag and $35 for the second. Sucker, we fit it all on one bag. Pfffft.

We landed in Minneapolis, and rented a Prius. (Which was the most brilliant idea ever. We got 50 MPG and slept in the back. Seriously super car.) We drove across Minnesota, through South Dakota, through “deadly lightning, 60 mile an hour winds, and golf ball sized hail” according to the warning system on the radio, and landed in Buffalo Gap National Grassland. One thing that was really cool was the rainbow after the storm. It went end from end and there was a double rainbow. Probably the coolest one I’ve seen, and a great prize for making it through without ruining the rental car with hail.

rainbow at the badlands

The grasslands are attached to the Badlands and apparently, you can just drive on up and camp there, free of charge. This is your land, you’re free to use it in a legal way. This, coming from Massachusetts, is beyond comprehension. But apparently true. So we pulled up, drank a few Fat Tires, and rolled out the sleeping bags in the back of the most best car, and slept.

good morning at Buffalo Gap National Grasslands

This is what you look like when you wake up after sleeping in a car, however comfortable, after being awake from 4 am to 11 pm. Moving on. Woke up super early (like, seriously 5 am), and drove through the Badlands. Several things are amazing here. First, at 6 am, it’s cold, in July. And there’s no one up (which I guess isn’t that surprising). I can just imagine rolling up in a covered wagon and thinking “Oh shit, seriously? Really?” But if you have a nice road, and a car, it’s really really beautiful. It makes you think about how long it took for that to happen, which only points out that your time here on earth is so stupidly small. Which is both really comforting, to be part of something so long and unending, and really anxiety inducing. Like, there is SO MUCH TO SEE AN DO and we have what, like 90 years? That’s not so much.

me at the badlands

And so the two travelers, on vacation, without internets and cell service, hurtle through western South Dakota and Eastern Montana on their way to the next campsite. What will they see?! What will they do! Which beer will they drink next! Tune in on Wednesday for… Falls Creek!! (Kinda makes camping sound exciting, doesn’t it? That’s what I’m going for, don’t sink my boat…)

Packing? What?

So, Kate, you’re going on a week long camping trip. Plane leaves 7:30 tomorrow morning. It’s 6 pm. You’re totally packed, right? What? You haven’t started? Hunh.
But, surely you’ve copied out a pattern for a fair isle hat to knit, charted the charts, and fished out the yarn, right?

fair isle hat

Oh, well yeah, I mean, it’s vacation, a week, no internets, gotta have knitting. Of course that’s done.

And that beer that needed bottling, you did that last night, right?

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Oh yeah, that’s done. Totally. Need beer for when we get back, right? Duh.

Packing. Right. Getting right on that…

See you in a week! Camping and hiking in Montana, Glacier National Park, Gallatin National Forest. Gonna be great. Just need to pack.

Weekend Roundup

Next week is my first week of vacation for the summer, we’re flying to Minneapolis and road tripping to Montana. Lots of camping. Should be packing. Really really should be packing. Instead I’m pitting cherries.

Last weeks CSA contained cherries, and we’d had a lot of cherries so I decided to pit them and make a cherry pie over the holiday weekend. I’ve never made a pie before, and it didn’t occur to me that it would be a big deal, but as we started making the pie dough, my parents kept saying “now it’s ok, it isn’t always perfect, don’t worry, don’t let it melt…” and other warnings that made me wish it wasn’t an hour before dinner. But all went smoothly, Greg is calling it the three swear pie, since there was minimal swearing in it’s assembly and it was DELICIOUS!!!! Joy of Cooking** provided the recipe, not fancy but really really really really good. Really good. I pitted the cherries and froze them so they didn’t go bad during the week and it was perfect.

a perfect cherry pie

We baked up the extra crust with cinnamon sugar which was delicious also.

leftover pie crust

Everyone was very pleased with it, it went in one night, which shouldn’t be surprising with 9 people for dinner. I never thought I was a pie person, apple pie doesn’t really do it for me, but this was really nice. So today when I was at Shaw’s and cherries were $1.99 a pound, I bought some, which is why I’m now pitting them instead of packing. But it’s guaranteeing at least one last cherry pie before the summers out.

The rest of the weekend was full of reading, beaching, family party, more beaching, relaxing, and then back in on Tuesday full swing with graduating from PT in the morning, so I’m officially back to allowed to run (YEAH!!!!!! This is super exciting), work, then a wake for a neighbor. Long day. Hug the people you love, you have no idea what will happen in the days and years to come.

Now for real, gotta pack.

**How to Cook Everything is the new Joy of Cooking, as far as I can tell, but there’s something very comforting about that thick book full of simple recipes that look exactly like the one my mom cooked from when I was little and still, and that little red ribbon to mark your place… Someday I do intend to check out How To Cook Everything since several people have referenced it, but there will always be a soft spot for the Joy.