Thursday, May 31, 2007

#215 The Mountain States

Driving through the mountain states of Idaho, Utah, and Colorado, we appreciate... Fascinating geologic features
913f UT on Hwy 6
Sonic Drive-Ins
909f UT M at Sonic
A bunch of national parks to explore including Arches National Park (1 of 5 in Utah)
1054f UT Arches - K at Windows
and Mesa Verde National Park (1 of 4 in Colorado)
1116f CO Mesa Verde - Spruce Tree House
Uncrowded fun roads to drive
919f UT on Hwy 6
We also appreciate all these things as yet unphotographed...
  • Rocks, rocks, and more rocks
  • Ponderosa Pines
  • Mountains
  • Wild animal life – jackrabbits, prairie dogs, antelope, elk, muskrat, ravens, lizards
  • Agricultural animal life – sheep, horses
  • Lack of storms, warm temperatures, and sunny skies
  • Bug-free windshield
  • Friendly locals
Yours in having trouble choosing between the northern plains and the mountain states,
Kelly and Mary

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

#214 Oh The Places We’ve Seen Cool Libraries

With so much natural beauty out west, some may not notice the libraries - their mistake. My 4 favorites are...

Twin Bridges, MT with an outdoor mural
751f MT Twin Bridges library mural
Boise, ID with an exclamation point
862f ID Boise library 
Hagerman, ID proud to be Idaho’s best
905f ID Hagerman Public Library 
Mesa Verde National Park
1115f CO Mesa Verde research library 
You can take the librarian out of the library, but you can't keep her from hitting the brakes whenever she passes one. 

Yours in library appreciation, 

Sunday, May 27, 2007

#213 Kelly and Mark Float the Boise River

Inspired by the UND students floating the Mississippi River from head to toe, Kelly and Mark successfully floated the Boise River today. Yea, it's the same thing.
853 ID Floating the Boise River

859f ID Floating the Boise River
Yours in photographing the historic event,

Friday, May 25, 2007

#212 Missouri versus Mississippi

Rivers are cool. On this trip, we’ve enjoyed some good river time. Yesterday’s list of our top 10 drives has us wondering if we could come up with a list of our top 10 rivers. That’s a little tricky, but we’ll try to work that discussion into our car time.

We played in the headwaters of the Mississippi River in Itasca State Park, MN.
420f MN K at Mississippi headwaters

We admired the natural beauty of the Missouri River north of Bismarck.
505f ND MO River north of Bismarck 

And today, we visited the headwaters of the Missouri River near Three Forks, MT. If you floated downstream in an inner tube from here, you would reach the Gulf of Mexico in 10 weeks.
711f MT K at MO Headwaters

Here the Madison and Jefferson Rivers collide to form what Lewis and Clark deemed the beginning of the Missouri River. More recent explorers point to Brower’s Spring 298 miles upstream as the true source of the Missouri. From this source, the Missouri River is clearly the longest river in North America. So an argument could be made that from the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi rivers just north of St. Louis, the combined river should be called the Missouri all the way to New Orleans.

Yours in renaming rivers,

Thursday, May 24, 2007

#211 Our Top 10 Drives

I-15 south of Great Falls, MT is inspiring. (And it’s an interstate highway!) This stretch of highway along the Missouri River between Great Falls and Helena is so inspiring that we’ve decided to add it to our list of the ten best drives in North America.
690f MT I-15 north of Helena

So what are the other 9, you ask? Well, we weren’t sure ourselves, so we spent some valuable car time working on that. Our only restriction is that we must have driven the route ourselves. Please let us know if we’re missing one of your favorites!
  • Cabot Trail – in Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Nova Scotia
  • Columbia River Gorge – between Portland and Hood River, OR
  • Going to the Sun Road – across Glacier National Park
  • Highway 93 – through the Sawtooth Range north of Sun Valley, ID
  • I-15 - between Great Falls and Helena, MT
  • Icefields Parkway – between Lake Louise and Jasper, Alberta
  • Lolo Trail - Highway 12 between Kooskia, ID and Lolo, MT
  • Seward Highway – south of Anchorage, AK
  • Trail Ridge Road – in Rocky Mountain National Park
  • Yosemite Valley – in Yosemite National Park

Honorable Mention
  • Generals Highway through Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks
  • North shore of Oahu
  • Rim Drive in Crater Lake National Park

Of course, now we're afraid to drive the famous Million Dollar Highway section of the San Juan Skyway in southwest Colorado. Something's going to have to go.

Yours in the car,
Kelly and Mary

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

#210 The Northern Plains

Driving through the northern plains states of Minnesota, North Dakota and Montana, we appreciate...

The use of lilacs for hedgerows
437f Lilacs as hedgerows
The Missouri River north of Bismarck that looks as it did 200 years ago when Lewis and Clark passed by
505f ND MO River north of Bismarck
Hay art
562f ND hay art
Uncrowded fun roads to drive
426f Itasca wilderness road
We also appreciate all these things as yet unphotographed...
  • The long vistas with big, big skies
  • Tumbleweed
  • Rolling, grassy, treeless hills that remind us of Kansas’ Flint Hills
  • The colorful rock pile
  • Wild animal life – ring-necked pheasant, wild turkey, deer
  • Agricultural animal life – cattle, buffalo, sheep, horses
  • Flashes of storms and cool spring temperatures
  • Friendly locals and waving drivers 
Yours in feeling that we are far enough away to see the big picture from here,
Kelly and Mary

#209 University of Mary

444f U of Mary in Bismarck

If you ask me, my life is the University of Mary.

But now, we’ve seen another University of Mary here in Bismarck, ND. U-Mary's main campus is located on 200 acres overlooking the Missouri River, about six miles south of town. Just like the real Mary, they have a great outlook.

Yours in higher education and lifelong learning,

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

#208 Paddling for a Purpose

Paddling 2300 miles from Lake Itasca, Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico on the Mississippi River sounds like fun, doesn’t it? Kelly thinks so. He’s long talked about canoeing the Mississippi. And that was our conversation again this morning as we approached the headwaters of the Mississippi River. How long would it take? Are there any rapids to navigate? Would we get swamped by a big cargo ship down by St. Louis? Would these infamous Minnesota mosquitoes drive us out of the canoe before we reached Bemidji?
20070522 Paddlers portaging
Serendipitously, we walked up to the Mississippi headwaters just as two University of North Dakota students were preparing to set off on their own 45-day odyssey down the river - camping along the way.
20070522 Paddlers loading
Our friend (and river expert) Rob told us that if we spit into the river in Minnesota, our spit will end up in New Orleans 90 days later. So, I guess these UND students will be traveling twice the speed of spit.
20070522 Paddlers paddling
Despite their gracious "we have plenty of room in the canoe" invitation to join them, Kelly grudgingly agreed to wait for the next opportunity to sail with me - no matter what size the boat.

To follow their journey, check out their blog. I know we will.

Yours in serendipitous and vicarious encounters,

Sunday, May 20, 2007

#207 Cedar Rock versus One Rock

Cedar Rock - Quasqueton, IA
- more than 1000 paying visitors per month staying about an hour
- overlooking Wapsipinicon River
- glass walls with view of woods
- seldom-used, brick fire pit
- small, hidden kitchen
- high-tech, under-floor plumbing
- designed by Frank Lloyd Wright

One Rock - Owatonna, MN
- fewer than 1000 paying visitors per month staying for days
- overlooking a Minnesota stream
- glass walls with view of woods
- oft-used, limestone fire pit
- large, inviting kitchen
- high-tech, frost-proof plumbing
- interior and kitchen designed by our friends and hosts

One Rock also offers binoculars for viewing the world's largest woodpecker, an exciting game of Loaded Questions, homemade cinnamon rolls, fire-roasted brats, walks downtown to Blast for ice cream, good conversation, and private concerts.

Yours in comparing architectural masterpieces,

Saturday, May 19, 2007

#206 World's Best Scottish Shortbread

We stopped at Sylvia’s Coffee House in Mount Vernon, Iowa for the best cookies in the world. Thanks to Shawna for the cookie tip and thanks to Ann Booth for twisting our arm until we tried a few samples of the homemade Scottish shortbread. Since we are on the way to visit our Scottish friends, we choose the Scottish shortbread to take with us. If the cookies survive long enough, we’ll have a cookie taste test with our friends (and expert cookie tasters.)
We love Mount Vernon - clear winners of today’s “friendliest people” award and home of Cornell College, a liberal arts institution whose beautiful campus is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Yours in cookie love,

#205 Where the Trek Begins

According to the folks in Riverside, Iowa, Captain James T. Kirk will be born on March 22, 2228 in their small town near Iowa City. There’s no arguing Riverside is already the birthplace of a clever marketing campaign.
Yours in joining the throng of pale technonerds,

Thursday, May 17, 2007

#204 The Land of Lincoln, Wright and Horseshoe Sandwiches

Springfield, Illinois is home to D’Arcy’s Pint, an Irish pub famous for its horseshoe sandwich, a.k.a. heart attack on a plate. (Thanks, Todd, for the Roadfood link.) Here Kelly tries the most popular version – the Buffalo chicken horseshoe – two slices of Texas toast, fried chicken, white cheese sauce, and about a pound of crinkle cut fries. Other meat choices are available, but Kelly wanted to have what everyone else was having. And the Guinness goes well with the Buffalo chicken horseshoe, don’t you think?
So fed, we’re off to what brings us to Springfield in the first place, the Dana-Thomas House. Frank Lloyd Wright started remodeling a modest Victorian home here in 1902 for a wealthy heiress. The finished product was a 12,500 square foot prairie-style home ornamented with 250+ custom art-glass windows. It’s decided. When I grow up, I want to be a wealthy heiress. The art glass windows in the Dana-Thomas House are fabulous and I’m already trying to figure out how to mix the sumac-inspired designs by Wright with the flowering dogwood of Virginia. It was here in the land of Lincoln that we learned Wright was born as Frank Lincoln Wright in 1867. Later, angered by his father, he changed his middle name to Lloyd, his mother’s family name. Who knew?
Our visit to Lincoln Land wouldn’t be complete without stopping by the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. Though fascinated by the Mary Todd Lincoln exhibit, I gotta say my favorite part was the theatrical presentation – “Ghosts in the Library.” Showing how historical archives grant us a better understanding of the past, it was a big hit with all the kids in the audience and with me.

Kelly’s favorite part was the "Civil War in Four Minutes" video. Of course, it’s a map thing. The video devotes one second to each week of the war. The names of the major battles appear on the map at the appropriate time and the casualty count is updated constantly in the lower right of the screen. As time passed, lines representing the advance and retreat of the war fronts waved across the map. Once Sherman made it to the sea, the Confederates were sunk. According to Kelly, the story Ken Burns took 18 hours to tell is summarized nicely in 4 minutes here, with a simple map.

So, we came to Springfield with thoughts of horseshoes and Wright’s windows, but we left thinking about Honest Abe.

Yours in the LoL,

Saturday, May 12, 2007

#203 Geological Influences

A couple years ago about this time, Kelly started his GIS career with the Indiana Department of Environmental Management.

I thought on his last day (yesterday), he might sneak out a little early, but no. I walked into his office at 4 pm to find him still working away. So I assume this means the environment remains in need of attention. Kelly’s colleagues entertained me while he checked the last items off his list.

It seems Kelly has been surrounded by geologists for these two years and I can say now with certainty, they’ve not been a good influence. They’ve encouraged him to fall off the wagon back into the abyss of rock collecting, so it’s left to the sane person in our family (me) to explain why we’re not moving any rocks from Indiana to Virginia - just like we didn’t move any rocks from Kansas City to Indiana.
I have repeatedly assured Kelly his rock collection is still safe on beautiful 67th Street back in KC under Glenna’s care. I thought I’d turned the corner in his rock rehab, then the IDEM geologists happened and now he’s teetering.

Our walk home through downtown was delightful, cool and breezy. But upon our arrival at home, I witnessed Kelly retrieve what appeared to be two fossil-laden clastic sedimentaries from his back pack. Not good.

So yesterday, Kelly’s IDEM career came to a close, but the effects linger.

Yours under the influence of geologists,

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

#202 I Walked Right Into It

I walked in to work one day last week on a beautiful day across downtown Indy. It was my last day to commute by foot and I was sad. Indy has given me a great opportunity to walk - when I chose - the mile or 1.5 miles to work.

On my way in, I dropped 3 letters in the mailbox, recycled a sack of paper at the O’Malia’s drop-off, and returned a book and video to the library. I’m used to doing these things – all on the way.

I smiled at the man who walks to work along Ohio Street each morning. He did not smile back. He has no arms and I spent a few blocks thinking about how I’d manage in his situation.

I passed the Paradise CafĂ© – a new restaurant on my route and where I planned to have lunch that day with a colleague. Indy’s downtown breakfast/lunch selection is A-1!

I picked up a plastic bag drifting over the sidewalk near the bus stop where lots of people were waiting. As I threw the bag away, I thought about the new law in California banning plastic bags at grocery stores – a good thing.

I passed the statehouse where the legislature just finished up their work for the year. The parking meters were all still hooded for their use. I wondered why they couldn't use the state parking garage. Too far? Too full? I am happy with their decision to increase the cigarette tax to fund health care.

I looked up at the state library as I walked by and wondered what I could have done there to make a bigger impact.

I passed the government center building (shown below) that is home to IDEM, Kelly’s office, and the cafeteria where we often met for lunch. Sadly, Kelly is giving up his IDEM job soon – a job he has enjoyed with people he will miss.

I crossed the downtown central canal and stopped to look at the people already walking there and the guy trying to ride his bike up the big green grassy slope. Soon there will be a building there. There’s a big yellow sculpture further north and past that the Buggs Temple will open soon for dining and for frozen yogurt at the north end of the canal. I’d like to try that sometime.

I entered the historical society on my last day of work to find a sign that reads “Today’s Events: Institute for Study Abroad.” That’s the name of Butler U’s office for study abroad. Perhaps I should go introduce myself at their meeting.

And that’s my transition from Indy to Charlottesville. I walked right into it.

Yours in locomotion,

Saturday, May 05, 2007

#201 Carry Me Back to Old Virginny

The Johnston blog, though dormant since March, is back!

The blog title will need to change. “Yours in Sharing our Global Voyage 2006” is old news and now we’re embarking on another exciting adventure... We’re moving to Virginia! On Thomas Jefferson’s birthday (that’s April 13 for you non-Jeffersonians), we accepted positions with the University of Virginia and are moving to Charlottesville.

I’ll let Kelly update you on his position, but let me tell you what I’ll be doing. I’ll be working as the Semester at Sea Librarian - managing the shipboard library collection, training librarians prior to each voyage, and spending one semester at sea every 3 years. As you know, last fall’s voyage was the trip of a lifetime and we are greedy enough to want to do it all again. We are thrilled to continue our international experiences with Semester at Sea.

Since we haven’t figured out how to live two places at once, we will close the Indy chapter of our lives, believing that we will be lucky to find the livable, walkable, neighborly downtown that we’ve enjoyed for these eight years.

Yours in wondering what the Charlottesville chapter will bring,