By Shel Silverstein
Standing on my elbow
With my finger in my ear,
Biting on a dandelion,
And humming kind of queer
While I watched a yellow caterpillar
Creeping up my wrist,
I leaned on a tree
And I said to me,
"Why am I doing this?"
Monday we had to check out by 11, so we had breakfast at the buffet in the hotel and then packed up the van. We met Paul's parents at Jean and Bob's house, where we picked up Granny and all went out to a fabulous Chinese buffet in Bothell. Afterwards the boys walked Ginger -- my in-laws' dog -- and we said goodbye. We drove to Ginkgo Petrified Forest State Park, where there's a huge preserve of petrified trees, a wider variety than are seen in most petrified forests which they suspect is the result of ancient floods that dragged trees down-river from the mountains and through the area. The park is small but very informative, and there's also a collection of Native American petroglyphs that were rescued from a valley that was later dammed in to create a lake.
Then we drove to Coeur D'Alene, Idaho, where we stayed at one of the most beautiful campgrounds I have ever seen. The tent area is on the shores of the river and offers boating and fishing in addition to a teepee, miniature golf and a playground, but the cabin area -- where we were, as we had decided before leaving that tent camping over a month with the possibility of rain just meant that everything we owned could end up mildewed -- was high on a hillside with a fabulous view of the mountains and lots of open space. Since we'd had such a big lunch, we had turkey sausage and cheese for dinner and then did a little hiking, a little swimming, a little mini-golf, and a campfire for s'mores.
The stars were glorious but we were surrounded by trees on all sides so we couldn't see Mars as it rose, though it's supposed to be large and spectacular in the northeast sky this month. I didn't mind, as there's nothing like being surrounded by massive pine trees and forest noises. We didn't see a lot of animals, just deer and chipmunk in the hills and red-winged blackbirds and assorted sparrows by the swamp. It was quite cool at night, temperatures in the 50s, and though the campground was quite full it was absolutely silent after 10 p.m. except for birds and insects.
Tuesday we had breakfast, hiked partway up the mountain so Adam could see the stratified rocks, then packed up and headed to Montana through the beautiful Idaho panhandle, on a road that wound through a pine forest between mountains past the oldest building in the state and the Cataldo Mission, a huge old church on a hillside that looked like a model train design. The entire town of Wallace in Shoshone County struck us that way as well -- as something concocted by someone setting up an HO-gauge model railroad. We stopped after lunch at the site of the onetime Bear Mouth trading post, then visited the Grant-Kohrs ranch, one of the largest cattle ranches in Montana in its day and now a cowboy history museum. It's in Deer Lodge, also the site of the Montana Territorial Prison -- which appears to have been modeled partly on the Tower of London, at least the outer wall, and is truly atrocious.
After an ice cream break we checked into a motel in Livingston, Montana. I was a bit puzzled as to why Paul wanted to stay in a motel instead of camping so close to Yellowstone...until I realized that the baseball All-Star Game was on. Not that it matters since we have plans to camp at Devil's Tower tomorrow night anyway. The kids swam in the little hotel pool, we cooked dinner in the little hotel kitchen, and we are watching the goings-on at Comiskey Park, which I hope to visit in a few days when we reach my onetime home, Chicago!
Sunset colors, Coeur d'Alene