The Summer of B’s . . . Bayfield, Boston & Bristol

Or we could just call this: How I spent my summer vacation.



The toad outside the bath house at our Bayfield campground. Judging by the cabbage moth next to it, I may have interrupted its late night snack.



The other Madeline Island ferry.



Docking at Madeline Island. It’s a busy place in the summer.



The Sunken Ships glass bottom boat tour out of Bayfield. The tour takes you over the top of two of the wrecks. The water clarity that day was amazing.



Just one of the many lighthouses on Lake Superior. I believe this is the Raspberry Island Lighthouse.



Bayfield at dusk.



The Mayflower II; Plymouth, Massachussetts.



Plymouth Rock.



DH & BooBoo watching one of the reenactors at Plimoth Plantation split logs into boards.



4th of July in Bristol, Rhode Island. Bristol is home to the oldest, continuous 4th of July celebration in the nation. 2015 marked the 230th year of the celebration. Our little hometown band marched in their parade.



All branches of the military were represented, as well as the police, fire fighters, ambulance crews, etc.



This float had “living sculptures”.



A bit of noise and smoke from one of the parade groups.



And here they are! Our hometown marching band. They are marching sans jackets due to the heat. Oh, and that flute in the front row . . . yes, that’s Ditty.



One of the many plaques in Boston’s North End Garden. There is also a very moving memorial/tribute to the military personnel who lost their lives in the wars in Iraq & Afghanistan.



There were lots of moon jellyfish in Boston Harbor.



BooBoo & I at JFK Library & Museum. Yes, he’s just about as tall as I am, but my extra half inch of height doesn’t show up well in pictures.



Boston Harbor Arch.



The U.S.S. Constitution in dry dock for repairs and restoration. She’ll be high & dry until sometime in 2017, but they still allow tours of the ship now that she’s secure.



The U.S.S. Cassin Young, also on display at the Navy shipyard.



Clock tower. Boston.



The catamaran we rode for our whale watch tour.



The fort at Castle Island, from the top deck of the catamaran.



Boston Harbor Light.









and more Whales! It was so cool to see these giants up close. We saw Humpbacks, Finbacks and Minke whales.



DH & BooBoo with the Elizabeth Montgomery statue in Salem, MA. Well, it is the “Witch Capital”.



Salem also has Stickworks, a sculpture by the same gentleman who created a stick house sculpture garden at St. John’s University.



And finally, a view of the sunrise over Fearing Pond; Myles Standish State Forest, Carver, MA.

I’m glad the rest of our summer travels will just be short weekend hops to camp with friends. This busy summer is going way too fast! Hope you have time to enjoy your summer.


Life Update

Well, I haven’t posted in awhile so we’ve got some ground to cover.

Last week Ditty, BooBoo & I were at Girl Scout Daycamp.  BooBoo gets to come along because the daycamp director doesn’t believe her volunteers should have to pay for babysitting when they are giving their time to her for free.  So BooBoo plays with the other Tag-A-Longs (their unit name and a great GS cookie flavor) and roams around camp finding all sorts of adventures, weird looking bugs, etc.  One year, he decided he was Harry Potter and he had various versions of the Nimbus 2000 (large sticks) hewould ride on.  That’s a year I wish I could freeze and replay the way little kids watch the same movie over & over.  He was nicknamed the “Camp Wizard”.

We had a great time and are sad that our little “Brigadoon” is once again done for another year.

During that week, that Monday evening to be precise, Ditty & I came home to discover that DH & BooBoo had gone shopping.  Or perhaps a better phrase would be “gone buying”.  We are now the proud (?) owners of a used pop-up tent camper.  DH & I had been watching craigslist and were looking to get a nice used pop-up camper, but I had assumed that I would be able to at least look at photos online before we bought one.  I also assumed that “we” had stopped looking for awhile since I was going to be busy that week.  Silly me. 

This one came stocked with all the dishes and appliances the seller had used in the camper and the indoor/outdoor carpet they had used as a ground cover in front of the camper.  If you’re a non-camper, you’re probably thinking “That’s great!”.  Personally, I’d like to know why they parted with everything.  In other words, where did that mouse they might have found get in?  I’ll be thoroughly shampooing all of the upholstery later today and cleaning every knook & cranny of the camper.  I will also be disposing of much of the dishes, etc. that they so graciously gave us.  The “Free” box will be at the end of the driveway by tomorrow morning.  I just don’t want to deal with their stuff and we’ve already replaced the stained indoor/outdoor carpet with one of those woven plastic camp mats from Walmart.

Soccer tournaments start up this coming week for Ditty & BooBoo.  Ditty has possibly 3 nights of tournaments; Monday, Thursday & Friday.  BooBoo has two nights; Tuesday & Saturday.  Guess I can always go out for coffee Wednesday night, since I’ll have nothing to do (insert laughter here).  BooBoo’s team won their first game ever last Tuesday night.  They had tied one game previously.  That puts them in last place in their four team league this season.  Ditty’s team has done much better, they’ve lost 2, tied 2 and won 5.  The tenth game was cancelled due to extreme heat.  Not a bad record for the year.  We’ll see how they do in tournament play.

We camped again at St Croix State Park mid month with DH’s sister, brother-in-law & their family.  It was great fun and very laid back.  We spent about two and a half hours on the river in canoes & kayaks, some of which was spent on the sand bars just wading & swimming.

Prior to leaving for that trip, we found these guys (three of them) sleeping in the big tree in our front yard.

Sorry about the bad shot.  It’s hard to get a good picture when they were in the middle of all those leaves.  Of course, they had to go, one way or another, since raccoons can carry rabies.  Happily for DH, the kids and the raccoons; they were no longer in our tree when we got home the following Sunday.

We’ve got some more camping planned for this summer, but first it’s time to tackle that camper.  Wish me luck.


We went camping over last weekend at one of our lovely state parks.  Due to the busyness of the weekend though, it wasn’t as relaxing as it could have been.  We got to the park around 2:30 and set up our tent only to quickly change clothes and leave for our WI nephew’s graduation party which was a 2 hour drive from the park.  In perspective, the drive would have been about 2.5 to 3 hours from our house depending on traffic in the Metro.  Also, the state park we stayed at is about 2 hours from our house.  Had I known how far away the party was, I would have transferred our reservations to a state park that was in between our house & the party rather than one that was equidistant.

On Saturday, we rented canoes at the park.  DH really believed that 4 hours on the river would be fun.  Had the wind not been blowing upstream at 10-12 mph, it probably would have been fun.  As it was, I was glad when we finally got to the landing and could be done.  After that, we made supper, ate and DH & BooBoo went to see the ranger’s movie presentation on eagles.  We played a few games, had s’mores and went to bed.  Sunday, ate breakfast and packed up camp.  We stopped at a nice park for lunch and went on a guided tour of an 1850’s fur trading post, then home for showers, supper and 6pm Mass.

That was a bit much to pack into a weekend away from home.  This weekend at least BooBoo & I can relax.  For awhile anyway, on Saturday morning.  Next weekend will be better.  I can hardly wait. 

One more weekend until we go camping with our friends.  It might sound silly to people who don’t enjoy camping, especially after the above.  We have so much fun and laughter on the weekends we camp with this group.  And there is definitely a lot of relaxing.  No pressure to do stuff, just sitting around talking and enjoying the weather.  Hopefully, the weather will cooperate.  But if not, we’ll still have fun & relax.

One of these days, I’ll get the photos off my camera & into my computer.  Then I can update this blog with some of the beauty & fun of life.

Building Bridges

or how I spent the tenth anniversary of 9/11.

“The hardest thing to learn in life is which bridge to cross and which to burn.”  David Russell

Some bridges lead to new opportunities, new friendships, new experiences.  Others seem to lead to hatred, distrust, or apathy.   Cross those bridges that lead to good things, burn the ones that contain nothing good. 

People continually ask others, on the anniversary of some event, where we you when. . . , or what do you remember about . . . especially if they are having trouble dealing with their own emotions about the event in question.

Personally, I will always remember 9/11/01 simply because my son was born in the wee hours of the day before.  I’m glad he wasn’t one of the babies born on 9/11/01.  It would be a shame for him to constantly be photographed and interviewed simply because his birthdate coinsided with a date that was linked to tragedy.  I’m glad that he will be able to do things without an entourage of paparazzi trying to make normal things seem extraordinary just because they are being done by “a child of 9/11”.

I would hope that people are moving forward from the tragedy of that day.  Our world is still turning, there are people being born, living and dying without much notice being given them.  Yet these people might be the ones who figure out how we can all live better lives.  Lives that show we care about all people and that we refuse to give in to hatred and bitterness.

I spent 9/11 this year camping with my husband, our son, our daughter and some very good friends.  We laughed, joked and had a great time just being people of the here and now.  And now it is time to get back to the reality of Monday and the work to be done.

Yellowstone, the conclusion

The end of the trip was magical.  We found two of the formations I had seen 30 years ago as a young teen on a youth group camping trip.  The drive home was also beautiful.

On the final day of our stay in Yellowstone, Ditty and BooBoo were sworn in as Junior Rangers, having completed all of the program requirements.  We also found out about a Girl Scout & Cub/Boy Scout badge that they can earn.  It should be listed on the National Park Service webpage.  We’ll have to go check that out.

And yet there was still more to see.  Firehole Falls on the Firehole River.

With this bison on the path, it seemed like my wish to see two of the sights from my past trip would go unfullfilled.  But we managed to get safely around the big guy.  And saw this:

Fairy Falls.  In spite of the difficulty in finding it, the bison on the trail, having to remove my moccasins due to the very wet trail and the remarks of several other people  (“She doesn’t have the right shoes for hiking!”  I mean really!  Have you never walked in moccasins before?  They are totally the right shoes for me on a long trail, since comfort is key to my walking any distance.),  I was beginning to think I wasn’t meant to see this again.  Perseverance!  That’s my last word on it.

Oh look, more bison.  Thankfully, we were already here:

Imperial Basin.  When I was here 30 years ago, this was known as Imperial Geyser.  The name change didn’t help me in finding it again either.  Glad we did though.  Sometimes it’s nice to revisit an area to see if it still looks the same.  Fairy Falls did.  Imperial did not.  And I would have sworn there were boardwalks here thirty years ago, but either they took all the boardwalks out or my memory of the hike was confused with the many other hikes we did on that trip.

Grand Prismatic Spring.  Yes, it sure is!  This is one spot where the name truly fits the scene.

The drive home took us through Montana’s butte country,

and Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota’s Badlands,

Wild mustangs at Teddy Roosevelt National Park.  We didn’t go into the park itself, just flew by on the Interstate.  DH said that we need to make this park a vacation destination someday.  I agree, it would be another fun camping trip.

That’s all for our trip to Yellowstone.  If you can’t make it there yourself, does have e-fieldtrips appropriate for grades 5-8, ages 11-14 on their website.  One caveat though, they are not as thorough an experience of Yellowstone as we got by going there.  So make time for this trip.  You won’t regret it.

Yellowstone, Part 3 (with bears)

I know, this is beginning to bring back memories of the sequels that never end.  But I promise, it’s worth it. 

Gibbon Falls.

Part of the view along the Norris Geyser Basin.

The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.

And the osprey nest we saw while there.  One of the parents had just brought food back to the chicks in this photo.

Yellowstone Lake on the east side of the park.  The water was colder than Lake Superior when we were there.  How do I know?  Because DH dared Ditty and BooBoo to wade out to a rock about 2 feet from shore.  Ditty then dared him to join them or be called a chicken.  Yes, he went out there too, then told me how cold it was.  I wasn’t about to go wading in any lake backed by a snow covered mountain.

More elk.  These beauties were the reason trails were closed to tourists in West Thumb while we were there.

Gee Frenchy, you keep complaining about the snow & the cold.  How deep was it?  Well, the top of this snowbank is taller than BooBoo & almost as tall as Ditty.  She’s 5’2″ at this time.  What a kick in the summer vacation.

Your sneak peak at this year’s Christmas card.  Yes, we do have a shot where BooBoo isn’t being goofy, but he prefers this one so that’s what we’ll be sending out.

And, the Kepler Cascades.  Now on to our day trip into Grand Teton National Park.  Shortly after crossing into the Tetons, we came across a mother grizzly & her cubs.  Those pictures require a zoom & crop session so I’ll share the ones we got in Yellowstone in this post instead.  We decided to hike the trail to Hidden Falls while in the Tetons and here’s what we saw.

The view on the Jenny Lake trail.

Yellow Bellied Marmots.  I know there’s only one in the photo, but they were numerous on our hike.  And they seem to love getting their picture taken.  This one posed for us.

Hidden Falls.  The perfect ending to a two and a half mile hike.

BooBoo clowning around with a marmot.  “Get my good side.”

DH, Ditty & BooBoo took an extra hike to a moose viewing area one mile from the Jenny Lake trailhead and saw this guy walk out near the end of their watch.

What a view!  And this was just a photo of the landscape from the Jenny Lake Visitor Center.

Exiting the Tetons after a lovely supper at Jackson Lake Lodge.  The fifth day of our stay in Yellowstone saw us:

Checking out Sheepeater Cliff.

Stopping to view a heard of elk on our way to Mammoth Hot Springs.

Seeing this lovely terraced formation on the trail at Mammoth Hot Springs.

Bison trotting down the street in Mammoth.  We crossed the street for this group.  The mama has a russet (the baby) and a two or three year old with her so we weren’t about to put our backs to the wall, just in case she got further agitated.

Elk on the side lawn of a house in Mammoth (zoom lens optional).  These elk were so close to the sidewalk that I really didn’t need the zoom lens for this shot.  I would never try to get close to large animals like this but we walked up the sidewalk and had to turn around to get the shot when we realized they were there.

Mountain goats on the ridge north of Mammoth.  We saw three or four of them.  This was the best picture though.

Yellowstone Arch at the north entrance of the park.  On the way back to our campground, we saw

One bear, no

two bears.

And the bison nearby.

Just a quick update

Heading out Girl Scout camping this weekend.

Hopefully the rain doesn’t happen & the box oven bake-off is a success.

Enjoy your weekend.  I’ll try to post the next segment of the Yellowstone pictures on Monday.  DH finally burned them to a CD so I can upload them to the blog in the air conditioned comfort of my office/craft room/junkpile I mean “storage space”.

The “de-crapification” will need to continue soon.

Yellowstone Part 2

The first two of our six days in the park.

Mule deer.  I never understood why they were called mule deer until these three crossed the road in front of our van.  Of course, I’ve never seen their ears that upright before either.

A Uintas ground squirrel.  Didn’t need a zoom lens to get a picture of this little beggar at our picnic lunch stop.  Cute little rodent.

The view from our picnic spot.  We found that picnicking in the mountains in June can be a bit chilly.

What we saw on the drive up to our reserved campground.  More Snow.  We ended up having to transfer to a campground at a lower elevation to escape the snow.

Old Faithful geyser and the boardwalk full of tourists.

Old Faithful geyser from the backside.  We walked along the boardwalk trail at Old Faithful to get this shot of another eruption.  Without the tourists, it probably looks more like what the early trappers saw.

Castle geyser, also on the Old Faithful boardwalk.

Crested Pool.  Looks inviting, until you realize that the deposits along the outside are dissolved rock.  Explaining that to the kids made staying on the trails and boardwalks much easier.

Another deep blue pool. 

Sapphire Pool.  Certainly lives up to it’s name.

The mud pots around Yellowstone are always interesting.  The kids thought the dried mud at this one looked like a bird’s face.  What do you think?

But walking around to the opposite side, revealed that the poor bird has a monkey on his back. 🙂

The Hot Cascades.  Waterfalls of all sizes abound in Yellowstone.  This is definitely one of the smaller ones.

Not all of the bison had given birth yet with the spring thaw being delayed.  This one is dozing in the sun.  Ditty said she would have liked to keep sleeping too.

A pretty blue spouter.

The view from the top of the trail with the pretty blue spouter.

On another note, peace reigns in our house following the soccer tournaments this past weekend.  Both Ditty’s and BooBoo’s teams placed third, so there was none of the “my team’s better than yours” business.  And I’m glad that we no longer need to head to the soccer fields three times a week.

Have a great week.

Yellowstone, Part 1

Getting there is half the fun.  I don’t remember who first said this, but it’s so true. . . see for yourself.

A stop at the Sertoma Butterfly House in Sioux Falls SD yielded this shot.  One of the butterflies decided to hitch a ride on my hip rather than fly across the room.

Eventually I wanted to sit down, so I put the lazy butterfly on BooBoo’s arm instead.  Much to the delight of the boy.

This is just one of the many good pictures we got of the different moths & butterflies.  This is an Atlas moth.  It’s one of the biggest moths in the world.  To do the size justice, the photo would need to be quite a bit larger as the moth is the size of a man’s hand with fingers spread wide open.  And check out the tips of it’s wings. . . almost looks like snake faces, don’t they?

After spending the night in Spearfish, we headed into Wyoming and stopped at Devil’s Tower.  The kids didn’t remember seeing the Tower back in ’06.  Maybe they will remember this time.

Don’t you just love it when you’re entering mountain country and you can see the layers of mountains in the distance?  I know I do.

Entering the Beartooth Mountains.  Did I mention that crazy Lolita, our GPS, decided to take us on Hwy 14 instead of Hwy 16 to arrive at our second overnight spot?  Yeah, unless you’re an experienced mountain driver (or certifiably insane), I’d suggest overriding the GPS and taking Hwy 16.  DH was white knuckled due to lack of guard rails on this portion of the trip.

We stopped at Shell Falls in Bighorn National Forest for a supper break.  This was the view as we were getting back on the road.

Entering the Absaroka mountain range.

The first time you see elk on a trip is always exciting.

We stayed overnight at the KBarZ Guest Ranch our second night on the road and did a trail ride after breakfast the next morning.   The cabin suited our needs, the other guests were quite friendly and the folks who run the ranch were absolutely wonderful.  It was a very pleasant stay for us and I wished we could have stayed a bit longer.  They were having an archery shoot that weekend and I haven’t shot since college.  It would have been fun.  Hopefully we will get back there again someday.


With spending Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday at the the soccer fields this week, Ditty’s & BooBoo’s teams are both playing for 3rd place in their respective divisions tomorrow.  I’ll try to post the next installment of Yellowstone pics on Monday.

Enjoy your weekend!

Daycamp 2011

I finished another week of volunteering at a Girl Scout daycamp last Friday.  At daycamp, my camp name is Sparky and I teach OSS which stands for outdoor specialty skills.  Things like jackknives, compasses, trail signs, knots, tarp shelters and weather.  This year I had a young adult helping me.  Her camp name was Smurf.  No, she didn’t have blue skin.  And she may be coming back again next year.  That would be great.

I always feel bad dumping someone in the deep end if they’ve never taught before, so I basically had Smurf doing simple tasks with me.  On Friday, I asked if she was coming back next year and she didn’t say no, so I suggested taking her OSS binder home and looking over what we do and letting me know what stuff she’d like to teach the girls next year and I would teach the other stuff.  I hope she comes back.  She was fun to work with.

Last week was incredibly hot here in the great white north.  We definitely were not frozen anymore.  Monday’s heat index was 112, Tuesday’s & Wednesday’s heat index was 118.  At that point, I stopped paying attention to heat indexes because it just made me feel warmer than not knowing.  The campers were hot & tired, but who can blame them.  We’re used to temps in the 90’s in July, but with the extremely high humidity we were getting, the mugginess was just about unbearable.

In spite of the weather, we still had loads of fun at camp.  Thursday night was the sleep over for 4th grade & up.  We cooked hot dogs over a fire, made s’mores and enjoyed a second campfire later with songs and skits. 

Today is a rest day.  Tomorrow, it’s laundry & getting on DH’s computer to post some of the Yellowstone pics.

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